Life Recipes

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Recipes: Strawberry Cheesecake; Blueberry and Coconut Muffins; and Carrot and Walnut Cake

Tea and cake is one of life’s simple pleasures, especially when it’s enjoyed outdoors, say Acland Geddes and Pedro da Silva from Megan’s Restaurant & Deli in London, the authors of Summer Every Day

carrot and Walnut cake
ummer Every Day by Acland Geddes & Pedro da Silva, published by Ryland Peters & Small (€20.99)

Cheesecake is one of the few desserts that seems to cross all national boundaries. From New York bankers to Tuscan olive pickers, everyone likes a good cheesecake. This recipe sets in the fridge, so it's about as foolproof as any cake can be. That said, be careful what you leave in there with it: cheesecake absorbs odours like a sponge as demonstrated by Megan's not-so-popular onion-scented version.

Simple Strawberry Cheesecake

Serves 8-10

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300g oaty biscuits (we use Hob Nobs)

80g melted butter

3 gelatine leaves

500g cream cheese

350g natural yogurt

150g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod

200g strawberry jam

Fresh strawberries, halved, to decorate

A 25-cm/10-inch springform cake pan

A food processor (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F)/ Gas 4.

2. Start by making the base. Crush the biscuits to a rough powder, by hand or with a food processor. Add the melted butter, stir well and line the base of the pan with the mixture, pressing it down to compact it. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool.

3. Put the gelatine leaves in cold water to soak for 10 minutes, then remove and squeeze out any excess water. Put the now-floppy gelatine leaves in the microwave on high heat for 10 seconds to melt them.

4. Put the cream cheese, yogurt and caster/superfine sugar in a large mixing bowl. Halve the vanilla pod lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and add to the mixture. Discard the rest of the vanilla pod/bean. Stir well, add the liquid gelatine and stir again until it is all incorporated. Spoon the mixture onto the biscuit/cookie base, making sure it is level, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Arrange the halved strawberries on top, then spoon on the strawberry jam, or do it the other way round if you prefer. Return it to the fridge and leave for a hour or so.

6. To remove from the pan, run a sharp knife around the outside of the cake, where it meets the pan. Gently release the spring and lift out.

Blueberry and Coconut Muffins

The good old muffin: one of the most ubiquitous, well loved breakfast treats. The base recipe remains the same, regardless of flavourings. In effect, you make your muffin mix, then add whatever you want. In this recipe it's blueberries and coconut, but pretty much anything sweet goes. Raspberries, chocolate chips, banana and cinnamon… have some fun! You can even use beetroot/beet, but don't expect anyone to buy them because they won't. Trust me.

Makes 12


500g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

200g butter, softened

200g caster sugar

2 eggs

500ml whole milk

250g blueberries

40g sweetened desiccated coconut

A 12-hole muffin pan

A piping/pastry bag (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F)/Gas 4.

2. Prepare your muffin pan by cutting 15-cm (6-inch) squares of greaseproof/parchment paper. Find a circular object that fits snugly into each hole of the pan (a fun-size soft drink can works well), and use it to push the centre of each paper square into each section so it forms a little cup.

3. Sift together the flour and baking powder to remove any lumps, then set aside.

4. Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time while mixing, making sure the first has been totally incorporated before adding the next. Add the milk and mix well.

5. Fold in the flour and baking powder until you have a thick, viscous mixture, then add the flavouring ingredients, in this case the blueberries and coconut, stirring gently so you don't crush the berries into the mixture (unless you want to, of course: it's your muffin, you can do as you please). Reserve a little coconut for sprinkling on top.

6. Spoon the mixture into a piping/pastry bag and pipe it into each hole, filling it about halfway up (they will grow enormously in the oven), or use a spoon.

7. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Carrot and Walnut Cake

This is one of the very few cakes around that is genuinely dairy-free. Of course, that goes out the window when you slather it with cream cheese icing like we do at Megan's, but it's still a bonus now that lactose intolerance is on the rise.

Serves 8-10


180g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

150g caster sugar

3 eggs

110ml vegetable oil

240g carrots, grated

80g chopped walnuts

½ tsp lemon juice

For the icing/frosting 175g cream cheese

2 tbsp icing sugar

A 20-cm/8-inch springform cake pan, greased and lined with baking parchment

A hand-held electric whisk (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F)/Gas 4.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda/baking soda and cinnamon together. Pour the caster/superfine sugar into a deep mixing bowl and add the eggs. Beat together for a long time, until the mixture has almost doubled in volume and is an off-white colour. A handheld electric whisk helps.

3. Add the oil to the mixture, followed by the sifted dry ingredients. Fold in until it is well incorporated.

4. Add the grated carrots, walnuts and lemon juice and fold until well mixed. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. You can check whether it is fully cooked by inserting a skewer - if it comes out clean, it's ready.

5. To make the icing/frosting, just mix the cream cheese and icing/confectioners' sugar together and spread on top of the cooled cake. You can adjust it according to your desired level of sweetness; the quantities here are just a rough guideline.


from Summer Every Day by Acland Geddes & Pedro da Silva, published by Ryland Peters & Small (€20.99).

Photography by Kate Whitaker © Ryland Peters & Small

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