Sorry for keeping you waiting

Baking Fix: Spring Cakes & Bakes

Clara McQuaid bakes up a storm with the best of the season’s fruit

Spring time is crumble time. Well, that’s not quite true: any time is crumble time really, its always a crowd pleaser. But in spring when you are not quite out of the Winter but not yet into the Summer, it’s nice to combine the fresh fruitiness of the beckoning summer with comforting warm crumbliness that’s reminiscent of chillier days. Anyway, there’s no need to justify baking this treat.




Oaty Apple Crumble – the ultimate comfort food






1kg apples, preferably eating apples

3-4 tbsp apricot jam

Juice 1 large orange




Crumble mix

140g porridge oats
100g plain flour
1tsp cinnamon
100g butter, cut into small pieces 100g light muscovado sugar

1 tbsp golden syrup





Preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.
Butter a 1.5 litre ovenproof dish. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples, mix with the jam and orange juice and spread evenly over the dish.
Mix together the oats, flour and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the butter in small pieces and rub in gently. Stir in the sugar and rub again. Drizzle over the syrup and mix with a knife so it starts to come together and form clumps.
Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the apples.
Bake for about half an hour until the apples start to bubble beneath the mixture.
Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving with custard, cream or ice cream…or all of the above!





Cupcakes – a one-bowl mixture





Whether it’s a cup of tea with friends, a children’s party or a treat to take along to the park on a pleasant spring day, cupcakes are loved by just about everyone. This recipe is simple and produces delectably light, moreish cakes. Good to make with kids, and they love decorating them too!





100g Self raising flour 100g butter

100g sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract





Preheat oven to 180C.
Butter a 12-piece muffin tin, or use individual paper cases. Blend all the ingredients together until you have a smooth batter.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until risen and golden.
Decorate with your choice of icing, chocolate sprinkles, Smarties or whatever you have in your storecupboard.





No-bake Orange Cheesecake





Often cheesecakes are considered a very ‘adult’ food, maybe because they can be rich and heavy. This version is family friendly in size and consistency. Make the most of the best seasonal oranges.





15 digestive biscuits

6 tbsp butter, melted

400g cream cheese

Grated zest 3 oranges, save the actual orange segments for decoration 200g mascarpone cheese

100g caster sugar

3 tbsp milk

184ml pot double cream






Butter a 23cm cheesecake tin.
Roughly crush the biscuits. Mix the biscuits with the melted butter. Put the mixture into tin, spread evenly and press down with the back of a spoon. Put the tin in the fridge and chill for half an hour.
Put the cream cheese, orange zest, mascarpone, sugar and milk into a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. Put the cream in a separate bowl and whisk until quite thick but still runny. Add the cream to the orange mixture and mix well. Take the tin from the fridge and pour the filling in, spreading evenly.
Decorate with the orange segments and put into the fridge until ready to serve. Best to allow about 4 hours, or leave overnight.





Clara McQuaid has trawled cake shops and dessert menus across the world, from central Asia to the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Europe. She has happily come to the conclusion that home bakes are by far the best.





Baking Fix : Hazelnut Cake