Recipe: The best ever Christmas cake {part 1!}

Tomorrow is Stir-Up Sunday! For me, this is the real start of the festive season. I know it’s traditional to make a Christmas pudding this weekend, but I usually make a Christmas cake; I love the decoration element, and how easily it can be shared around family and friends to spread a little festive joy. Over the years I’ve tried out various different recipes for Christmas cake, but this is the best one I’ve found. It doesn’t involve soaking fruit overnight, and the final result is gorgeously fruity, moreish and (sorry, Mum!) …moist. I’ve made many a cake which turned out to be slightly bitter or dry – such a disappointment after all the time and effort you put in – but this recipe is spot on.
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Recipe: Sweet potato and chipotle soup

This is such a cracking soup recipe for autumn. It’s suddenly become very chilly here in London – proper hat and gloves weather! – and while real life might get in the way of an urge to hibernate completely, a good bowl of soup can really warm up body and soul. It’s gorgeously silky and smooth, and I absolutely love the rich smoky flavour given by the chipotle. The hint of spice is super warming and really complements the creaminess of the sweet potato.
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Recipe: Pear and cinnamon galette

Who doesn’t love an autumnal Sunday? I’ve spent mine pottering in the kitchen, cooking up a feast for some of my favourite people, which was topped off with this gorgeous pear galette. I generally steer away from pastry (too much of a faff, and I lack the patience!), especially if I’m also juggling lots of different components for the first course – which I was today, with a roast chicken and all the trimmings to think about – but this was so simple it almost felt like cheating. No blind baking, no messing around with a fancy fluted tin – just a method so easy, even a pastry novice like me could nail it!
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Recipe: Apple and blackberry crumble cake {an award-winner!}

This is one of my absolute favourite cakes. I’ve made it so many times – including for a Women’s Institute’s cake stall at a street festival, for various afternoon teas, and more recently for the cake table at my lovely friend Jennie’s wedding – when it actually won a prize! I’d never won a prize for my baking before, so to say I was surprised is an understatement. Thrilling!
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Recipe: Lime and coconut cake

Ah, lime and coconut. It’s one of those flavour combinations made in heaven. I’ve wanted to attempt a cake like this one ever since I tried a deliciously damp and sticky slice at a tea room in Lincoln, and was determined to recreate it. The rich coconut works perfectly with the fresh sharpness of the lime. I love the slight chewy texture given by the desiccated coconut.
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Recipe: Crispy ‘seaweed’ kale with sesame seeds

Here it is: the final part in my trilogy of fabulous, fresh vegetable dishes. Kale has gained a reputation in recent years for being a bit ‘worthy’ – but there’s nothing of the #eatclean movement about this recipe. It’s a crunchy, salty, garlicky pile of joy which evokes those foil tubs of crispy ‘seaweed’ you get from the Chinese takeaway.
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Recipe: Steamed broccoli with chilli and flaked almonds

Recipe number two in my series making veg the star of the show! This dish takes broccoli to another level with the help of crunchy, fragrant almonds and hot chillies. Not a chilli lover? Try a grating of lemon zest instead to add a similar pop of flavour.
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Recipe: Balsamic roasted fennel

Welcome to the first in a series of three recipes, each based around one star ingredient: a vegetable! I love vegetables, and occasionally order a veg box to keep in tune with seasonal produce. It’s also a fun incentive to think up creative ways with gorgeous fresh veg. This week, I’m going to share three simple and delicious recipes, perfect as side dishes, but don’t be surprised if they steal the attention away from your centrepiece. First up: balsamic roasted fennel.
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