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A Novel Idea.

A Formal Round-Up So let’s dive straight back into it, shall we? Suits When it comes to the jacket, make sure that it hugs your shoulders, is slim in the body and that it covers your bottom. The trousers should be slim, not skinny, and have a break that suits…

Nothing screams elegance like formal attire, but often occasions don’t call for a full suit. With the smart casual dress code being admired by many, how does a man pull it off? Recent advice has often made things confusing but I’m here today to strip it right down for you, giving you…

Virgil Abloh showcases one of his biggest inspirations in his next collection, the Royal style icon In the 20th year since Princess Diana’s tragic death, there has been a slew of books, documentaries and tributes dedicated to the people’s princess. Now, Virgil Abloh is taking it a step further, as the first…

This is a no-churn affair. You mix everything together, wodge it into a loaf tin, freeze and you’re done. I went to great lengths to acquire a bottle of Elisir San Marzano, which has a peculiarly Italian, chocolate-coffee-herbal hit. Feel free to use coffee, better still, a mixture of the two in its place.

Ingredients

For the meringue gelato cake

  • 300ml/10½fl oz double cream
  • 30g/1oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids, minimum)
  • 1 tbsp Elisir San Marzano
  • 8 meringue nests

For the chocolate sauce

  • 250ml/9fl oz double cream
  • 125g/4½oz dark chocolate, finely chopped or in buttons made for melting
  • 2 tbsp Elisir San Marzano
  • 250g/9oz raspberries, to serve

Method

  1. Line a 450g/1lb loaf tin with cling film, making sure you have enough overhang to cover the top later.

  2. Whip the cream until thick but still soft.

  3. Chop the chocolate very finely so that you have a pile of dark splinters, and fold them into the cream.

  4. Now, using brute force, crumble the meringue nests and fold these in, too.

  5. Pack this mixture into the prepared loaf tin, pressing it down with a spatula as you go, and bring the cling film up and over to seal the top, then get out more cling film to wrap around the whole tin. Freeze until solid, which should take around eight hours or overnight.

  6. About an hour before serving, make the chocolate sauce. Pour the cream into a saucepan and add the tiny bits of chocolate. Put over a gentle heat and whisk as the chocolate melts, taking the pan off the heat once the chocolate is almost all melted. If the mixture gets too hot, the chocolate will seize, whereas it will happily continue melting in the warm cream off the heat.

  7. Whisk again to amalgamate the sauce completely. Pour into a jug, whisking every now and again until it cools to the desired temperature. If you feel the sauce has thickened too solid, then stand the jug in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes, whisking frequently, before pouring. Or I whisk in a shot – about two tablespoons – of hot espresso.

  8. To serve the gelato cake, unwrap the outer layer of cling film, then unpeel the top and use these bits of long overhanging wrap to lift out the ice-cream brick. Unwrap and unmould it onto a board. I like to zig-zag a little chocolate sauce over each slice and sprinkle a few raspberries alongside on each plate.

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Savory cakes are very popular in France, they appear in boulangeries and with a side salad on lunch menus in a chic, but they’re most likely to appear at a picnic. They are super simple to make and can be adapted to use whatever leftovers you have in your fridge – just follow the basic batter recipe and get creative with the fillings!

Ingredients

  • 250g/9oz plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 150g/5½oz soft goat’s cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 80g/2¾oz pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 100g/3½oz prunes, roughly chopped
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 150ml/5fl oz olive oil
  • 100ml/3½fl oz milk
  • 50g/1¾oz plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a loaf tin measuring 22x11cm/8½x4¼in across the top and 6cm/2½in deep with baking paper.

  2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, goat’s cheese, pistachios, and prunes.

  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until fluffy and pale in color. Then gradually whisk in the oil, milk, and yogurt. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  4. Fold the flour mixture into the whisked eggs. Try not to overbeat as this will make the end result tough (it’s better to undermix).

  5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin.

  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a metal skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

  7. Leave to cool in the tin.

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Donal’s gloriously gooey chocolate lava cake is a big version of the molten chocolate fondant and comes with easy peanut butter no-churn ice cream.

Ingredients

For the chocolate lava cake

  • 175g/6oz butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g/7oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 125g/4½oz caster sugar
  • 30g/1oz plain flour

For the ice cream

  • 40g/1½oz butter
  • 75g/2¾oz breadcrumbs
  • 4 bananas, chopped and frozen
  • 3 tbsp smooth peanut butter

Method

  1. Preheat the oven 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease a 20-25cm/8-10in a baking dish with a little butter.

  2. For the cake, melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and gently stir through half the chocolate until melted.

  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until they become pale and thick. Pour in the chocolate mixture, then sift in the flour. Add the remaining chocolate and using a spatula, fold the mixture together until it is evenly combined. Pour into the prepared dish.

  4. Bake for 20 minutes. When cooked, the pudding should be slightly firm around the sides but the center should still be wobbly.

  5. Meanwhile, for the ice cream. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the breadcrumbs and cook until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

  6. Put the bananas and peanut butter in a food processor and mix until smooth and creamy. Put in a bowl with the breadcrumbs and fold through.

  7. Serve the lava pudding immediately with the ice cream.

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Small, but perfectly formed, this modern take on a retro classic is perfect for elevenses. Equipment and preparation: for this recipe, you will need a 16-cup mini cake tin or 16 x 5cm/2in chefs’ rings placed on a baking tray, plus a piping bag fitted with a 2D star nozzle.

Ingredients

For the cakes

  • 150g/5½oz butter softened
  • 150g/5½oz light muscovado sugar
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 150g/5½oz self-raising flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp coffee essence
  • 75g/2½oz chopped walnuts

For the filling and decoration

  • 150g/5½oz butter, softened
  • 450g/1lb icing sugar sifted
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp coffee essence
  • 200g/7oz walnut halves, finely chopped
  • 16 chocolate-covered coffee beans

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C(fan)/375F/Gas 5. Grease a 16-cup mini cake tin and line with baking parchment, or, alternatively, grease 16 chefs’ rings (5cm/2in diameter) and place them on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.

  2. For the cakes, place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, and coffee essence into a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended and smooth. Fold in the walnuts.

  3. Divide or pipe the mixture equally between the mini cake tins. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until well-risen and the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger.

  4. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes. When cool enough to handle, turn the cakes out of the tins and remove the parchment. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

  5. For the filling and decoration, beat together the butter, icing sugar, milk, and coffee essence in a bowl until smooth.

  6. When the cakes are completely cold, trim the tops if domed. Slice in half horizontally, then sandwich them together with about a quarter of the buttercream.

  7. Spread a thin coating of buttercream around the sides of each cake and then roll the sides in chopped walnuts.

  8. Spoon the remaining buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a small star (2D) nozzle and pipe a rose on the top of each cake. Place a chocolate-covered coffee bean over the joins.

  9. Arrange the cupcakes on the nicest cake stand you have and serve.

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Rich with fruit, chocolate, and cream, this 70s classic still has a place on our tables. This recipe uses dried sour cherries, but you can substitute good-quality bottled ones.

Ingredients

  • 225g/8oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 160g/5½oz self-raising flour
  • 65g/2¼oz cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 4 medium eggs

Filling and decoration

  • 340g/11¾oz jar of morello cherry jam
  • 2 x 80g/2¾oz packs of sweetened dried sour cherries
  • 2–3 tbsp Kirsch
  • 100ml/3½fl oz cherry brandy (ideally morello cherry brandy)
  • 500ml/18fl oz double cream
  • 50g/2oz dark chocolate, coarsely grated
  • fresh cherries, to decorate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375F/Gas 5. Grease 2 x 20cm/8 in loose-based sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment.

  2. Put the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and eggs into a food processor and blend until smooth and thick. You may need to push the mixture down from the sides a couple of times to make sure the mixture is well blended.

  3. Divide the batter between the prepared cake tins and spread it out evenly with a rubber spatula.

  4. Bake for 22–25 minutes or until the cakes are nicely risen and just beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tins. Remove them from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack. Take off the lining paper and leave the cakes to cool.

  5. When the cakes are cold, them in half, horizontally, with a long-bladed serrated. Take care to keep parallel to the work surface, to get a good even cut. Place the cakes back on the wire rack or a board, cut sides up.

  6. For the filling, put the jam in a saucepan with the sour cherries and Kirsch and place it over low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 6–8 minutes, stirring, until the jam has melted and the cherries are beginning to swell. Leave to cool for 15 minutes.

  7. Sprinkle the cherry brandy over the chocolate sponges, then spread three of them with the sour cherry mixture and leave to cool. Make sure that the sponge without the cherry topping is from the top half of a cake.

  8. Whip 300ml/10fl oz of the cream with an electric hand whisk until soft peaks form.

  9. Transfer one of the sponges (with the cherry topping) very carefully to a cake stand or plate – slide a cake tin base under the sponge to help you. Using a couple of pudding spoons, dollop about a third of the whipped cream gently on top of the cherry mixture. There is no need to spread it out, but try to keep the spoonfuls evenly spaced over the cake. Sprinkle with a little of the grated chocolate.

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