• 1. Traditional milk tart with almond crust

    Makes: 1 milk tart
    Difficulty level: A little effort
    Time: 1 hour + 1 hour to chill


    200g (2 cups) ground almonds
    100g brown sugar
    50g cold butter, cubed
    30ml (2 tbsp) ice water

    4 large egg yolks
    50g cornflour
    250ml (1 cup) milk
    150g sugar
    seeds from ½ vanilla pod
    cinnamon, to serve


    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease a pie dish.
    2. For the pastry, combine the almonds, sugar and butter in a bowl. Using your fingers, rub the ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the ice water and mix until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and put into the fridge to chill for 10 – 15 minutes.
    3. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pie dish and bake blind until golden, about 20 – 25 minutes.
    4. For the custard, mix the egg yolks, cornflour and a little of the milk to make a smooth paste.
    5. Heat the remainder of the milk, the sugar and vanilla seeds in a double boiler. Once the milk is hot, add the egg mixture. Whisk continuously until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
    6. Pour the mixture into the pastry case, sprinkle with the cinnamon and chill in the fridge for 1 hour before serving.

    2. Cinnamon rusks

    Makes: 15 – 20 rusks
    Difficulty level: A little effort
    Time: 1 hour + 2 hours to dry


    250g butter, melted
    375g brown sugar
    500g self-raising flour
    5ml (1 tsp) cinnamon
    a pinch of salt
    30ml (2 tbsp) vanilla extract
    2 large eggs
    250ml (1 cup) plain yoghurt


    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
    2. Cream together the butter and sugar. Sift the flour, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the creamed butter and sugar. Mix well then add the vanilla, eggs and yoghurt. Mix until the dough comes together and press the mixture into a 5cm deep baking tin.
    3. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven then turn out onto a wire rack and cool.
    4. Cut into squares then return to a 70°C oven to dry out for 2 hours or overnight.

    3. Upside down apple, cinnamon and butterscotch cake

    Apple and butterscotch are a match made in heaven.

    Serves: 6
    Difficulty level: Easy
    Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


    150g butter
    150g (¾ cup) brown sugar
    5ml (1 tsp) vanilla paste
    45ml (3 tbsp) fresh cream
    4 Granny Smith apples, skin on and sliced into ½cm rounds
    100g butter, room temperature
    200g castor sugar
    2 large eggs, separated
    125ml (½ cup) milk
    180g (1½ cup) cake flour, sifted
    10ml (2 tsp) baking powder
    pinch of fine salt
    15ml (1 tbsp) vanilla extract
    2,5ml (½ tsp) ground cinnamon
    extra apple slices and butterscotch to decorate the top, optional
    fresh cream, whipped, or vanilla ice cream, to serve


    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Generously grease a deep 22cm fluted cake tin or baking dish.
    2. Place the butter and sugar in a saucepan and gently stir until the sugar has melted. Bring to the boil and allow to bubble away until thick and golden brown, for a few minutes. Stir in the vanilla and fresh cream and remove from the heat.
    3. Pour this butterscotch mixture into the greased cake tin. Arrange the apple slices on top, overlapping them to fit the base of the tin or mould. It doesn’t matter if you need to follow it with a second layer, as long as all of the apples are used.
    4. Cream the butter and castor sugar until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the egg yolks, milk, flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla and cinnamon until smooth.
    5. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until they form soft peaks. Gently fold into the batter and carefully pour over the apples.
    6. Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, for 40 – 45 minutes. It is done when a cake tester is inserted into the middle and it comes out clean but still slightly moist. Depending on your oven temperature, space and size, the cake can either bake slightly less or more than the recommended baking time. Check at 10-minute intervals after the first 30 minutes of baking.
    7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then loosen the sides with a knife. Carefully turn out onto a cake stand or serving dish and decorate with fresh apple slices and butterscotch sauce if preferred. It tastes great warm or serve it once cooled with some whipped cream or ice cream.

    4. Pear, ginger and oat cake with a dark chocolate drizzle

    A dense and moist cake that is perfect for afternoon tea. The ground oats add a slight crunch to this cake which goes really well with the tender pears.

    Serves: 6
    Difficult level: Easy
    Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


    120g (1 cup) cake flour
    10ml (2 tsp) baking powder
    pinch of fine salt
    60g oats, finely ground with a food processor
    125g butter, room temperature
    150g brown sugar
    1 large egg
    20ml (4 tsp) crystallised ginger, finely chopped
    1 x 400g tin pears, drained and sliced
    100g dark chocolate
    80ml (¼ cup) fresh cream
    vanilla ice cream, to serve, optional


    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Generously grease a deep 22cm x 8cm loaf tin, ensuring that you also grease the sides.
    2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Stir in the oats.
    3. In another bowl, cream the butter and 140g of the sugar together for a few minutes until light and creamy. Whisk the egg and ginger in and then add the sifted ingredients. Mix until just combined. Transfer to the tin.
    4. Add a layer of sliced pears, pushing them in slightly to ensure that they form part of the cake when baked. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top.
    5. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes. It should be golden on top and firm to the touch.
    6. Allow to cool for 15 minutes in the tin and turn out onto a cooling rack.Allow to cool to room temperature.
    7. Melt the chocolate and cream over a double boiler until smooth. Allow to cool down for 10 minutes, then drizzle over the cake and serve with vanilla ice cream.

    Pear trifle

    Serves: 6
    Difficulty level: A little effort
    Time: 55 minutes + 2 hours to chill


    Pears and jelly
    750ml (3 cups) muscadel
    250ml (1 cup) water
    100g (½ cup) sugar
    1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
    2 star anise
    6 pears, peeled
    20ml (4 tsp) gelatine powder or
    5 – 6 gelatine leaves
    60ml (¼ cup) water


    500ml (2 cups) milk
    3 cardamom pods
    4 pieces cassia
    4 egg yolks
    70g sugar
    15ml (1 tbsp) cornflour

    2 extra large eggs
    140g castor sugar
    150g cake flour
    7,5ml (1½ tsp) baking powder
    2,5ml (½ tsp) salt
    125ml (½ cup) milk, warm
    50g butter, melted
    2,5ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract


    1. Pour muscadel, water, sugar, vanilla and star anise in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Place pears upright in the liquid. Poach over medium heat until golden and cooked but not too soft, 15 – 20 minutes. Remove pears, keep the liquid, and set aside.
    2. Line a 28 x 18cm cake tin with plastic wrap. Return poaching liquid to heat and reduce to 750ml (3 cups) of liquid.
    3. Sponge gelatine and water together in a medium bowl.
    4. Remove the spices from the poaching liquid. Add 500ml (2 cups) of the warm poaching liquid to the gelatine and mix until dissolved. Pour the liquid into the prepared tray and place in the fridge for 2 hours or until set.
    5. Return the remaining liquid to the heat and reduce until syrupy. Set aside to cool.
    6. For the custard, combine the milk and spices in a medium saucepan over low heat. As soon as the milk starts to simmer turn off the heat and leave to infuse, 20 – 30 minutes.
    7. Combine yolks, sugar and cornflour in a large bowl. While stirring continuously, add half of the spiced milk to the egg mixture. Return to saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, strain through a sieve and set aside.
    8. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line and grease a 28 x 18cm rectangular cake tin.
    9. For the sponge, cream the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.
    10. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and fold into the egg mixture. Combine the milk, butter and vanilla in a bowl and stir into the mixture.
    11. Pour into prepared tins and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack.
    12. To serve, cut the sponge and jelly into 9 x 9cm squares and layer on top of each other. Warm the pears in the microwave and place on top of the jelly. Drizzle with muscadel reduction and serve with warm spiced custard.