According to Kantar data, sales of flour were up 92% year on year, in the four weeks leading to 22 March. While flour mills are working seven days a week to try to meet demand, at the moment there is only enough available for 15% of UK households to buy a bag of flour each week.
What that means for most of us is that the baking section of our local supermarket is utterly bare. But if you can’t get hold of flour, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a dessert that is both delicious and highly instagrammable (#runningoutofcatpicstosharewithfriends). Here are some ideas to take you beyond batter.
The great thing about making Tiramisu is that you don’t even have to switch on the oven. The other great thing about it is that you get to eat Tiramisu at the end of it all.
All of the ingredients are (hopefully) easy to get hold of at the moment. We checked around and most supermarkets seem to have sponge fingers (Savoiardi or lady fingers) in stock. You should be able to find them as a supermarket own-brand product. Here they are in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Waitrose. (We're not hating on Morrisons, by the way, but we were unable to get on the website to check stock.)
- 1 pint pot of double cream (568ml)
- 250g mascarpone cheese
- 75ml Marsala or Madeira wine (if you don’t have this you can use dark sherry, Kahlua, Grand Marnier, brandy, Amaretto or leave out the booze altogether)
- 300ml strong black coffee (cold!)
- 5 tablespoons of caster sugar
- 175g sponge finger biscuits
- 25g dark chocolate
- Cocoa powder to dust over the top
Make the dessert at least a few hours before you want to serve it.
- Add the cream, the cheese, the alcohol and sugar to a bowl and whisk the mixture until it’s thick and creamy.
- For the first layer, use half of the sponge fingers. Dip them one at a time into your coffee (but don’t let them get soggy). Lay them flat in a layer in your dish. Spread half of the creamy mixture on top.
- Repeat with a second layer. If you have a piping bag, you can layer on some of the mixture and then pipe the rest in decorative dots for a pro finish.
- Grate the dark chocolate on top.
- Cover and refrigerate for two to three hours. Dust over with cocoa powder before you serve.
- After eating, lie down flat and marinate in deep regret for one to two hours.
This is the cakiest non-batter-cake of our chosen recipes and should hit the spot if you’re craving comfort food. You can use almost anything you have at home for a topping (nuts, berries, tinned fruit, chocolate shavings) or go au naturel. It is, after all, largely cheese and nothing goes better with cheese than a fork and your face.
For the base:
- 250g digestive biscuits
- 100g melted butter
- 600g full fat soft cheese
- 100g icing sugar
- Half a pint of double cream (284ml)
For the topping:
You can choose any topping but one of the best, and simplest, is a punnet of chopped strawberries. Puree half of the punnet with 250g of icing sugar, sieve and pour the sauce over the rest of the chopped strawberries on top of your cake.
Making the base:
- Butter and line a cake tin with baking paper.
- Blitz the biscuits in a food processor or blender and add the melted butter. Blitz again. It should end up as an even mix with the consistency of damp sand (but even more delicious).
- Spoon the mixture into the tin and press it down firmly to create an even layer. Stick the tin into the fridge for an hour to set.
- When your base is ready, mix the cream cheese and icing sugar together with a hand blender or electric whisk. Slowly add in the double cream.
- Spoon the mixture into the tin, smoothing it down with the back of a spoon.
- Leave it to set in the fridge overnight.
- Add your toppings.
The best thing about a meringue is that you only really need two ingredients to make it. However, if you laugh in the face of two-ingredient desserts, you can also add (seed-free) jam to the meringue mix. If you mix it in roughly at the end, you can create a flavoured swirl. For a more vibrant hue, add a few drops of red food colouring to the mix.
- Three large egg whites
- 175g caster sugar
- Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract (this is optional)
- Preheat your oven to 140°C (120°C if it’s a fan oven)/ gas mark 1/ 275°F.
- Drop your egg whites into a large bowl and whisk them into soft peaks. While continuing to whisk, slowly add the caster sugar a spoonful at a time.
- You should end up with a stiff, glossy meringue mixture.
- If you’re using vanilla extract, add this now and whisk until it's completely mixed in. This is also the time to add jam, if you want to. You’ll need a tablespoonful of seedless raspberry or strawberry jam and you can also punch up the colour with a few drops of red food colouring.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper and dollop six blobs (this is the professional term) of meringue mix onto the baking paper. Make sure they are well spaced apart.
- Bake for approximately one hour for softer centres or one and a quarter hours if you prefer crispier meringues. Make sure you use your oven window while cooking to see how the meringues are coming along. If you want crispier meringues, they may begin to take on a golden hue on top when they are done.
- Switch off the oven and open the door to let them cool slowly. After an hour, transfer them to a wire rack. If you want to retain the softer centres, transfer them to a wire rack right away. Beware: if you cool them too quickly, they may crack.
Try to avoid opening the oven door to check on your meringues. Instead, crouch sadly in front of your oven, staring in the window like a Victorian orphan on a Dickens Christmas special.
You can use these little meringues to make sandwiches with a chocolate ganache (by simply melting dark chocolate in a bowl over a pot of boiling water), whipped cream, jam or lemon curd filling.
Essentially, this is just a meringue-plus recipe. Some people add a teaspoon of cornflour and a teaspoon of vinegar to the mix to help it retain its texture but if you don’t have those ingredients, you can still make it.
For the meringue base:
- 4 egg whites
- 250g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
Make the meringue according to the recipe above, but instead of separating it into dollops, make it into a large cake-sized disc that slopes down into the centre. After cooking it, open the oven door and let it cool slowly. If it gets too cold too quickly, it’ll crack. (You’ll usually get a few cracks but hopefully if you let it cool slowly, it won’t come apart completely. If it does, pretend that's exactly how you meant it to turn out.)
For the topping:
There are a number of ways you can go at this.
You can serve the meringue with fruit alone; with cream and fruit; or with a mascarpone cream filling and berry sauce.
All you really need is 450g of your choice of berries (strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are all perfect). Wash and hull them, cut them up and add to the top of the meringue just before serving.
If you want to add a filling, you’ll need 350ml of double cream. Mix it up with a tablespoon of icing sugar (and 120g of mascarpone, if you have a sweet tooth, an iron stomach and are really going for it) and spread it over the meringue. Then add the prepared fruit.
If you have some extra berries, you can make a sauce by adding two tablespoons of icing sugar for every 100g of berries and putting the mixture in a blender. Sieve the mixture. Pour the resulting sauce over the Pavlova before serving.
If Pavlova comes out nicely, it looks – as well as tastes – amazing. You will be feted on social media and will probably get a knighthood. If it comes out badly, it will still taste pretty good and you can use all the camera angle trickery you have learned over the years to pretend it was a huge success.
Want to read more? You might enjoy these related articles.
- How long will kitchen cupboard staples last?
- Make authentic pizza without a pizza oven
- Kitchen hacks for limited supplies