Festive Chelsea Buns

500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 x 7g sachet fast-acting yeast
300ml/10fl oz milk
40g/1½oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the tin
1 free-range egg
vegetable oil, for greasing

For the filling
25g/1oz unsalted butter, melted
1 dessertspoon maple syrup
75g/2½oz soft brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
100g/3½oz dried cranberries
100g/3½oz chopped pecan nuts
100g/3½oz dried apricots

Preparation method
Place the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the yeast.

Warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan until the butter is melted and the mixture is lukewarm. Pour into the flour mixture, add the egg and stir thoroughly until the contents of the bowl come together as a soft dough. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead well for five minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and leave to rise, covered with a damp tea towel, for one hour or until doubled in size.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out dough into a rectangle about 30x20cm/12x8in.

Melt the butter and add to the fruit mix along with the maple syrup, evenly sprinkle cinnamon and dried fruits/nuts mix on the dough.

Tack down the long side of the dough rectangle nearest to you by pressing it down onto the work surface with your thumb. Roll the opposite long side of the dough towards you quite tightly, until the roll is complete and tight. With a sharp knife cut into 10 4cm/1¾in thick rounds.

Place the buns, cut side up, into a silicone baking tray leaving about 1cm/½in of space between each one. You want them to be close enough so that when they rise further and then bake, they will bake with their sides touching. They can then be pulled apart and you get a lovely soft edge.

Leave to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

When the buns are ready, put them in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden-brown. Check after 15 minutes or so and cover the buns with foil if they are getting too brown.

Remove the buns from the oven, sprinkle with caster sugar, and let them cool slightly before transferring them from the tin to a cooling rack.

Vanilla Fruitcake

This is a light fruitcake, which goes down well for afternoon tea (if you have such a thing) or a coffee morning.. the base flavour is vanilla but this can be left out if you don't like it.

125g Caster Sugar
125g Butter (or margarine)
3 Eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
150g mixed fruit
1 tsp Vanilla Bean paste (trust me this doesn't work as well with cheaper essences)
Brown Demerara sugar for topping the cake before baking

Sift the flour and baking powder together and stir in the fruit... ensure it is coated.

Beat the sugar and butter together until light and creamy, beat each egg in well to the butter/sugar mixture and then beat in the Vanilla Bean paste.

Fold in the flour and fruit mixture and pour into a cake tin, I use an 8inch cake tin with paper liners but whatever you have will work. Smooth out the top of the cake with a spoon.

Sprinkle the demerara sugar on top of the cake mixture and put it in a pre-heated overn of 180 deg C or Gas mark 4 for about 45 mins or until cooked through.

Leave to cool in the tin... this is hard because it smells so nice but trust me it is worth it.