The secret to a silky smooth baked custard is the balance of eggs to milk and cream and gentle baking. This velvety one is teamed with macerated prunes for a memorable dessert.
Baked custard 500ml (2 cups) milk 500ml (2 cups) pouring cream 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped 5 eggs, at room temperature 110g (½ cup) caster sugar
Macerated prunes 250ml (1 cup) port 400g prunes, pitted and halved
To make the macerated prunes, heat the port in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot but not simmering. Pour over the prunes in a heatproof bowl, cover and set aside to macerate for 1 day.
Preheat oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced). Brush a shallow 2-litre (8-cup) ovenproof dish with the melted butter to lightly grease and place in a large roasting pan or ovenproof dish.
Combine the milk, cream and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat until almost simmering. Use a balloon whisk to whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined. Gradually whisk in the hot milk mixture. Strain the custard into a large jug and then pour into the greased dish. Add enough boiling water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the dish.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes (see Baker’s tips) or until set on top but the custard still wobbles slightly when the dish is shaken gently. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Place the custard in the fridge for 1-2 hours or until cooled completely.
Serve the custard in spoonfuls accompanied by the macerated prunes with some of the port.
The baking time will depend on the depth of your dish – the deeper the dish the longer the baking time will be. Always check your custard after 40 minutes though and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes if it’s not ready.
This custard will keep covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Indulgent is the one word (and possibly the only) that comes to mind when describing this dessert. Custardy bread, pecans, bananas and a rich caramel sauce combine to make this one very decent over-the-top offering.
Melted butter, to grease 600g day-old sourdough or crusty loaf, cut into 1cm-thick slices, crusts partially removed 60g butter, softened 3 ripe medium bananas (about 200 g each), thinly sliced 100g pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped 4 eggs 110g (½ cup) caster sugar 500ml (2 cups) milk 375ml (1½ cups) pouring cream 2 teaspoons natural vanilla essence or extract Vanilla ice-cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 170°C (150°C fan-forced). Brush a deep 2-litre (8-cup) ovenproof dish with melted butter to grease.
Spread the bread slices with the butter. Top half of the slices with the banana and then cover with the remaining bread slices. Cut each ‘sandwich’ diagonally into half. Arrange the layered bread in the ovenproof dish, allowing it the stick up a little, and then sprinkle with the pecans.
Use a balloon whisk to whisk together the eggs, sugar, milk, cream and vanilla until well combined. Pour evenly over the bread in the dish and set aside for 30-60 minutes or until the bread has absorbed all the custard.
Meanwhile, to make the caramel sauce, combine the sugar, golden syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until thickened slightly.
Sprinkle the pudding with the remaining pecans, pour over half the caramel sauce (reserve the remaining sauce) and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the top is golden and the custard is set.
Meanwhile, add the cream to the remaining caramel sauce and stir over medium heat until well combined and heated through.
Remove the pudding from the oven and stand for 5 minutes before serving with the warm Caramel sauce and ice cream.
This bread and butter pudding will keep covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature or cover with foil and warm gently in an oven preheated to 150°C (130°C fan-forced for 10-20 minutes (depending on the portion size).
This traditional English pudding is quintessential nursery food – nurturing, soul-warming and economical. Feel free to replace the mixed berry jam with raspberry, plum or strawberry to ensure the sweet but subtle middle layer suits your tastes.
500ml (2 cups) milk 55g (¼ cup) caster sugar 30g butter, diced Finely grated zest of 1 lemon 5 egg yolks 2½ teaspoons natural vanilla essence or extract 150g (2½ cups, lightly packed) fresh white breadcrumbs 85g (¼ cup) mixed berry jam (see Baker’s Tips) 1 tablespoon icing sugar, to dust
3 egg whites Pinch of salt 110g (½ cup) caster sugar 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract or essence
Put the milk, sugar, butter and lemon zest in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts. Use a balloon whisk to whisk the egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl until smooth. Gradually add the warm milk mixture, whisking constantly until well combined. Stir in the vanilla and breadcrumbs.
Pour the custard mixture into a shallow 1-litre (4-cup) ovenproof dish. Set aside for 15 minutes for the bread to soak up some of the custard.
Preheat oven to 170ºC (150ºC fan-forced).
Place the ovenproof dish into a roasting pan or larger ovenproof dish. Add enough boiling water to the roasting pan or larger ovenproof dish to reach halfway up the sides of the dish with the custard mixture to create a water bath or bain-marie. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the custard has almost set but still wobbles slightly when touched on the top. Remove from the oven and remove the custard dish to a wire rack. Set aside for 20 minutes or until cooled slightly (stop here if pre-preparing your pudding, see Baker's Tips).
Increase the oven temperature to 190ºC (170ºC fan-forced).
To make the meringue, use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. With the motor running, gradually add the sugar, a spoonful at a time, and whisk until the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture is thick and glossy. Whisk in the vanilla.
Carefully spread the jam over the top of the custard (see Baker's Tips). Spread the meringue mixture over the jam to cover, swirling as desired.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until the meringue is lightly golden (see Baker’s tips). Serve immediately.
If your jam is a little thick you can warm it in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring often, until runny, to make it easier to spread.
You can cover the bottom of the roasting pan or larger ovenproof dish with a folded tea towel to stop the dish with the custard sliding around when transferring it to and from the oven.
You can make this pudding up to the end of step 4 (note in method) up to 2 days before serving. Stand the puddings at room temperature for 30 minutes before continuing with the recipe.
You can caramelise the meringue topping with a blowtorch instead of baking it a second time for a more ‘dramatic’ effect if you wish.
Quinoa porridge is currently the darling of the café menu. This one is a no-fuss baked version teamed with tangy rhubarb and a vanilla and honey-spiked labna, so you can enjoy this beauty without even leaving home.
300g (1½ cups) white quinoa 500ml (2 cups) boiling water 55g (¼ cup, firmly packed) brown sugar 1 cinnamon stick 375ml (1½ cups) milk Toasted pistachio kernels, chopped, to serve
Vanilla-honey labna 1½ vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped 390g (1½ cup) greek-style natural yoghurt ¼ cup honey
Roasted rhubarb 550g trimmed rhubarb (about 2 bunches), cut into 6cm lengths 110g (½ cup) raw sugar
To make the Vanilla labna, place the vanilla seeds (reserve the bean for the rhubarb), yoghurt and honey in a bowl and stir to combine evenly. Line a sieve with two layers of muslin cloth or a linen tea towel and place over a bowl. Spoon the yoghurt into the sieve, fold any overhanging cloth over to enclose the yoghurt. Refrigerate overnight (at least 8 hours) to drain.
Preheat oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan-forced). To make the Oven-baked quinoa, combine the quinoa, boiling water, brown sugar and cinnamon in a 1.5 litre capacity (6 cup) ovenproof dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, to make the Roasted rhubarb, rinse the rhubarb and shake off any excess water. Place in a bowl with the sugar and reserved vanilla bean and toss to combine. Transfer to an ovenproof dish just large enough to hold the rhubarb in a single layer and cover with foil.
After the quinoa has been baking for 30 minutes, stir in the milk, cover and return to the oven with the rhubarb. Bake for another 20 minutes, stirring the quinoa 2-3 more times during baking.
Remove the foil from the rhubarb and bake both for a further 5 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and porridge-like and the rhubarb is still holding its shape but tender when tested with a skewer.
Immediately spoon the quinoa porridge into bowls, top with the rhubarb and pan juices, and a spoonful of labna. Sprinkle with pistachios and serve immediately.
The rhubarb can be roasted up to 2 days before serving and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. Remove from the fridge about 1 hour before serving to bring to room temperature
The vanilla and honey labna can be made up to 3 days before serving. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge.
This recipe was a little experiment. The question was: could French toast baked in the oven be just as delicious as when it is pan-fried in a generous amount of butter? The answer: Yes! And, as an extra bonus, it is so much easier to cook in large batches for more-the-merrier gatherings. So from now on I will be baking my French toast!
4 eggs 125ml (½ cup) milk 125ml (½ cup) thickened cream ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder 2 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 2 tablespoon finely snipped chives Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 4 x 2cm-thick sliced sourdough or wood-fired bread 50g finely shredded Parmesan, plus extra to sprinkle 60g Persian feta, coarsely crumbled, to serve Flat-leaf parsley leaves, to serve Tabasco sauce (optional), to serve
20g butter 1 tablespoon olive oil 600g mixed mushrooms (such as portobello, mushroom caps and button) 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or crushed 2 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan-forced). Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper
To make the baked herbed French toast, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, mustard powder and parsley in a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. Pour onto a tray, place the bread in the egg mixture and allow to soak for 5 minutes each side. Transfer to a wire rack over a tray and stand for 1 minute, allowing any excess egg mixture to drain away.
Place the bread slices on the lined oven tray and sprinkle with the parmesan. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
Meanwhile, to make the garlic mushrooms, slice any of the larger mushrooms and mushroom flats. Halve larger button mushrooms and keep any small button mushrooms whole. Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until the butter is foaming. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute or until aromatic. Remove from heat and stir through the lemon juice.
To serve, place a slice of the baked herbed French toast on each serving plate and top with the garlic mushrooms, Persian feta and parsley leaves. Sprinkle with pepper and serve accompanied by the Tabasco sauce.
This French toast is best served straight from the oven.
Traditionally made with apples, this classic upside-down French tart was created by the Tatin sisters who ran a hotel in France in the early 1900s. If you don't have an ovenproof frying pan, transfer the cooled caramel and pears to a base-lined 22cm round cake tin before covering them with the pastry and baking.
Ground cinnamon, to sprinkle Vanilla ice-cream, cream or crème fraiche, to serve
1 quantity Shortcrust Pastry 80g butter, cubed 110g (½ cup) caster sugar 1.1kg small (about 7) pears (such as Josephine), peeled, halved and cored
Prepare the Shortcrust Pastry.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 20–22cm (base measurement) heavy-based frypan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with the sugar and then arrange the pears, cut-side up, in the pan, cutting some of the halves into quarters to fill the gaps. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until the liquid becomes a dark caramel and the pears are almost tender and golden underneath. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside for 1 hour 15 minutes or until cooled completely.
Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C fan-forced).
Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the pastry out on a lightly floured benchtop to about 5mm thick and then cut into a circle about 26cm in diameter. Place the pastry over the cooled pears in the pan and carefully tuck the pastry edge around the fruit and down the side of the pan. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the pastry is deep golden and cooked through and the pear juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.
Place a serving plate with a lip over the top of the tart and invert. Serve immediately cut into wedges and accompanied by ice-cream, cream or crème fraiche.
With its shortbread-like base, tart apple filling and crunchy crumble topping, this is a slice that you eat with a fork or spoon, not your fingers. It's more suited to dessert than afternoon tea... although, by all means, feel free to indulge mid-afternoon!
melted butter, to grease 800g apples (such as Granny Smith or Golden Delicious) 75g (⅓ cup) caster sugar 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon thick cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush a 20 x 30cm shallow slice tin with melted butter to grease.
To make the Base, put the flour, baking powder, sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg with the vanilla, add to the flour mixture and use the pulse button to process until the mixture forms a soft dough. Bring together with your hands and then press the dough evenly over the base of the greased tin to evenly cover. Place in the fridge.
Meanwhile, to make the Crumble Topping, put the flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl and use your fingertips to rub in the butter until roughly combined. Stir in the coconut and almonds.
Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and put in a large bowl. Combine the sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over the apples and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the apple slices over the Base in the tin and then sprinkle evenly with the Crumble Topping. Set aside.
Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the base is cooked, the Crumble Topping is golden, the apples are tender when tested with a skewer, and the base is cooked through.
Serve warm or at room temperature cut into portions and accompanied by cream or ice cream.
This slice is delicious served either warm or at room temperature. It will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature or warm gently in the microwave to serve.
Rice pudding is the ultimate in comfort food. Coconut milk gives this version a contemporary twist and when topped with vanilla-baked rhubarb, it is a winter pudding you will want to make time and time again.
melted butter, to grease 110g (½ cup) Arborio rice 375ml (1½ cup) milk 270ml can coconut milk 2 tablespoons caster sugar 10g (2 teaspoons) butter toasted flaked coconut or roasted coconut chips (see Baker’s Tips), to serve (optional)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways 75g (⅓ cup) caster sugar 1 bunch rhubarb, trimmed, washed and cut into 7cm lengths (you will have about 550g trimmed weight)
To make the Baked rhubarb, preheat oven to 200°C. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, place into a medium bowl with the sugar, and toss to evenly combine. Add the rhubarb and toss to coat in the vanilla sugar. Transfer the rhubarb and vanilla bean to an ovenproof dish just large enough to arrange the rhubarb in a single layer. Sprinkle with any remaining vanilla sugar left in the bowl. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, give the dish a shake and bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender when tested with a skewer. Remove from the oven and set aside while baking the rice pudding.
Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C. Combine the rice, milk, coconut milk and caster sugar in a bowl. Stir with a fork until well combined. Transfer to a 1-litre (4-cup) ovenproof dish and dot with the butter. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 1 hour–1 hour 10 minutes, whisking occasionally with a fork so the rice cooks evenly, or until the rice is just tender and the pudding is the consistency of a wet risotto.
Serve the warm rice pudding immediately, topped with the rhubarb. Drizzle with rhubarb syrup and sprinkle with the coconut, if desired.
Roasted coconut chips are available from the dried fruit and nuts section of selected supermarkets.
Hailing from the 70s and reaching peak popularity in the 90s, sticky toffee pudding now sits alongside the likes of lemon delicious, rice pudding and chocolate fondants as a classic. Sweet, sticky and completely addictive, it is always a crowd pleaser.
200g fresh dates, pitted and chopped 250ml (1 cup) water 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature 150g (¾ cup, firmly packed) brown sugar 2 eggs 150g (1 cup) self-raising flour Cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 18 x 28cm shallow cake tin with melted butter and line the base and two long sides with one piece of baking paper, allowing the paper to overhang the sides.
Place the dates and water in a small saucepan, bring to the boil over medium heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until pulpy. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda and then set aside for 20 minutes or until cooled to room temperature.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar in a medium bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Use a large metal spoon or spatula to fold in the cooled date mixture and then the flour until just combined.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
Meanwhile, to make the toffee sauce, put the butter, sugar and cream in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer for 3 minutes.
Remove the pudding from the oven and pour a quarter of the hot toffee sauce over. Set aside for 5 minutes. Remove the warm pudding from the tin, cut into portions and serve drizzled with the remaining warm toffee sauce and accompanied by cream or ice-cream.
Any leftover pudding and sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat both separately in the microwave on medium in 1-minute bursts until warmed through.