Dark and White Chocolate Brownies

These brownies have become something of a Daylesford icon and they’re a staple at the bakery and in our farmshops. A crisp, sugary topping gives way to the soft, smooth dark chocolate filling which is contrasted with a lovely crunch from the shards of white chocolate that run through the middle. Decadent and rich, these are very hard to resist.


4 eggs

150g caster sugar

150g demerara sugar

350 unsalted butter

350g good dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

180g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

380g white chocolate buttons


Preheat the oven to 160ºC/gas 3 and line a 30cm square cake tin (or equivalent) with baking paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and both sugars until thick.

Put the butter and dark chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure the base doesn’t touch the water) and let the chocolate melt.

Let the chocolate cool a little, then add the beaten egg and sugar, and mix well. Gently fold in the flour, baking powder and vanilla extract and, when thoroughly combined, add the chocolate buttons and mix in gently.

Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, making sure you don’t overbake the brownies. They need to stay quite soft and moist in the middle, so they should be springy to the touch and, if you insert a skewer into the centre, it should come out sticky, not clean, as you would expect with a cake.

Take out of the oven and allow to cool in the tin before turning out on to a board or clean work surface and cutting into squares.

Recipe from A LOVE FOR FOOD, a collection of recipes from the fields and kitchens of Daylesford Farm (daylesford.com). 

Lemon and White Chocolate Cupcakes

These are really zingy, citrusy cakes. The sharpness of the lemon combines so well with white chocolate. It’s important to buy good white chocolate, as it makes a better icing; I prefer Swiss brands.

Makes 12

For the cakes

175g self-raising flour, sifted

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

Finely grated zest of 2 large unwaxed lemons

175g golden caster sugar

175g unsalted butter, really soft, in small pieces

3 eggs, lightly beaten

For the filling

12 tsp lemon curd

For the buttercream

200g good-quality white chocolate, finely chopped

200g unsalted butter, very soft

To decorate

12 fresh or crystallised violets


Apple corer

Large piping bag, fitted with a star nozzle


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and line a cupcake cake tray with 12 paper cases. I use a food mixer for this cake, but you could use a large bowl and a hand held whisk, or a food processor.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl. Split the vanilla pod lengthways, if using, and scrape the seeds into the bowl with the tip of a knife, or simply add the vanilla extract. Add the sugar, butter and eggs. Beat until well mixed, then divide between the cakes. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the cakes are golden brown and spring back to touch. Leave in the tin for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cakes are cool, remove the centre of each using an apple corer or a teaspoon and place 1 tsp of lemon curd into the centre. Replace the cake plug.

 Recipe from Bake and Decorate by Fiona Cairns (Quadrille Publishing) Photograph: Laura Hynd

Anytime, Anywhere Best Ever Chocolate Fudge Cake!

This recipe is one of my most requested – over and over again. Sure to delight everyone no matter the occasion and you don’t need to be hunting bears!

Serves 8

As with all cake baking please ensure all ingredients are at room temperature (including the buttermilk!)

For the cake

175g Unsalted butter, softened plus more for the tin

100g 50-60% cocoa solids chocolate, finely chopped

200g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100g ground almonds

275g dark muscovado sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs, lightly beaten

150ml buttermilk or natural full fat yoghurt

For the fudge icing

90g 50-60% cocoa solids chocolate, broken into pieces

40g unsalted butter, softened and diced

1 tbsp golden syrup

2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar

150ml double cream


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Butter 2 x 20cm round sandwich tins, each 4.5cm deep, and line the bases with baking parchment.

Place the chocolate in a bowl and pour over 120ml just – boiled water. Stir until melted, then set aside to cool.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, then stir in the ground almonds. In a bowl of an electric mixer (or in a bowl with a electric hand whisk), cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (this will take a good 5 minutes). Add the vanilla extract to the eggs. With the whisk running, very slowly add the egg mixture to the butter and sugar, adding 1 tbsp of the flour during the process to prevent curdling, then add the melted chocolate and the buttermilk.

Fold in the remaining flour very gently and divide the mixture between the tins. Bake for 30-35 mins, or until firm to the touch. Leave for a minute or 2 in the tins before turning out on to a wire rack. Remove the papers and leave until absolutely cold.

To make the icing, melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl suspended over gently simmering water. Make sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Remove the bowl from the heat, then stir in the syrup and sugar and, lastly, gradually pour in the cream until all is well blended and smooth. Allow to cool completely, then whisk until it thickens. Spread half on the base of 1 cake. Sandwich the 2 cakes, bases together, then spread the remaining icing on top.

Recipes from Seasonal Baking by Fiona Cairns (Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Orion) Photograph: Dan Jones

For more of Fiona’s delicious cakes, visit fionacairns.com