SARAH RAINEY's new book reveals how to rustle up mood boosters fast

Scrummy showstoppers in just six minutes! As the nation bakes its way through lockdown, SARAH RAINEY’s brilliant new book reveals how to rustle up mood boosters fast

  • Here’s proof baking doesn’t have to be time-consuming, stressful or expensive
  • Sarah Rainey has tested (and eaten, in vast quantities) each one of these recipes
  • She said that they’re all showstoppers and really only take six minutes to make

Six minutes might not sound long, but it’s just enough time to open up a world of delicious possibilities — if you know how, Sarah Rainey says

What can you do in six minutes? Drink a cup of tea, reply to an email, hang up the laundry . . . Well, what if I told you that you could bake an entire cake from scratch? Or whip up a showstopping dessert for family teatime?

Six minutes might not sound long, but it’s just enough time to open up a world of delicious possibilities — if you know how.

Few things compare to the satisfaction of baking a mouth-watering cake and serving it to your loved ones. Or taking time out from the frustrations of working from home to make a decadent dessert to lift your spirits. These rituals don’t just feed our bodies, they feed the soul. At least, that’s how I see it.

In these not-so-ordinary times, perhaps it’s not surprising that we are turning to baking for comfort — but that doesn’t mean we want to spend hours on it.

After my first book, Three Ingredient Baking, came out in 2018 and led to my Inspire column, many readers said the same thing: they wanted more ‘ad break’ bakes — the type of thing you can rustle up in the breaks of your favourite TV show. And not just basic biscuits, but creations with real wow-factor.

So here’s proof, I hope, that baking doesn’t have to be time-consuming, stressful or expensive. It can be simple, speedy — and stunning.

I’ve tested (and eaten, in vast quantities) each one of these recipes — and I promise you two things.

First, they’re all showstoppers. I’ve designed each to impress, and the results should make them look far more complicated and time-consuming than they really are.

Second, they really do all take six minutes (or less) to make.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, the idea is not to time yourself, though. Sure, you can set a Ready Steady Cook-style challenge and race your friends, if that’s what floats your boat. If you do, I stick by the six-minute guarantee. But, at least the first time you make these dishes, there’s no need to rush.

Read through to the end of the recipe — some of them require a bit of additional chilling or freezing — and follow the ‘prep’ steps to the letter, weighing your ingredients, maybe chopping or peeling, pre-heating where needed and making sure you’ve got the right utensils to hand.

A note here: it’s the methods that take six minutes, not prepping your ingredients and kit. Next time around, you can do it faster. I hope it’ll help you put the fun — and a bit of magic — back into baking. Because that’s what it’s all about.

Forget the timing, forget the fact you’re creating a showstopper. The whole point of these recipes is to encourage you to bake — and to enjoy yourself in the process.

So dig your hands in, get your fingers sticky and your apron messy —and do it all with a smile on your face. Ready, set, bake!

  • Extracted from Six-Minute Showstoppers by Sarah Rainey (£14.99, Michael Joseph) out May 14. © Sarah Rainey 2020. Photography © Clare Winfield 2020.

Sloe gin jellies

Sloe gin jellies


  • 150g fresh blackberries
  • 4 gelatine leaves
  • 120ml sloe gin
  • 60g granulated sugar
  • 175ml soda water
  • 175ml cranberry juice (you can also use apple and raspberry or red grape juice)
  • Edible glitter, to decorate

START THE CLOCK: Arrange the blackberries in the base of your serving dishes (I use champagne saucers) and put them in the fridge to chill. This speeds up the setting process. Then, put the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water to soften them.

Meanwhile, heat the sloe gin and sugar in a small saucepan over a low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, take the pan off the heat. Squeeze any excess water out of the gelatine leaves and add these to the gin mixture. Stir to dissolve. Add the soda water and cranberry juice and mix well.

Decant the jelly into the serving dishes (don’t worry if the blackberries float to the top) and dust the tops with edible glitter.

Put them in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours. Serve with shortbread on the side (trust me, you won’t need any more gin). They’ll keep for 4 to 5 days in the fridge.

Butterscotch banoffee pie

Butterscotch banoffee pie


  • 120g dark chocolate
  • 10 digestive biscuits (150g)
  • 150ml dulce de leche or caramel sauce
  • 1 large or 2 small bananas, peeled and sliced
  • 300ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 pack instant butterscotch whipped pudding (59g)

START THE CLOCK: Put 110g of the chocolate in a Pyrex bowl and melt it in the microwave on high in 20-second bursts.

Meanwhile, crush the digestives to crumbs by blitzing them in a food processor (or you can put them in a bag and bash them with a rolling pin).

Mix the melted chocolate with the biscuit crumbs and transfer the mixture to a greased dish, using the back of a spoon to press it down firmly into the base and up against the sides.

Spread the caramel sauce over the base and arrange banana slices on top.

Whisk milk into the butterscotch powder for a minute or so until it thickens, and then spread this over the top of the banoffee mixture.

Grate the remaining 10g of chocolate and sprinkle over the top of pudding. Put it in the fridge to set for at least half an hour before serving.

It will last for 2 to 3 days if you keep it chilled.

Coconut berry pavlova

Coconut berry pavlova 


  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 600g frozen mixed berries
  • 300ml double cream
  • 35g desiccated coconut

PREP: Cut a circle of kitchen roll to around the same size as the rotating plate in your microwave. This is the base on which your pavlova will bake.

START THE CLOCK: Sieve icing sugar into a bowl and mix in the egg white. It should come together into a firm ball.

Place it on the circle of kitchen roll in the microwave and flatten it slightly to a diameter of no more than 8cm (it will spread). Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Keep an eye on it as you move on to the next steps, as the sugar can burn quickly.

Take the berries out of the freezer. Tip the cream into a large bowl and whisk it by hand until it forms soft peaks (this shouldn’t take more than 1 minute). Once it’s at the right consistency, stir in 30g of the desiccated coconut and half the mixed berries.

Carefully slide the pavlova base out of the microwave and on to your serving plate. Allow it to cool slightly before topping with the cream and the rest of frosted berries. Scatter the remaining desiccated coconut over the top.

Serve at once: the microwaved meringue is brittle and won’t keep well, so you have to eat it all in one go!

TIP: You can try all sorts of combinations with the cream and fruit. Whip in some cocoa powder instead of coconut, or top with sliced apricots and honey, or fresh mango, passion fruit and lime zest.

Pimm’s cupcakes

Pimm’s cupcakes


  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 60ml ready-mixed Pimm’s
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 150g self-raising flour, sifted
  • For the icing/decoration:
  • 30g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 25ml ready-mixed Pimm’s
  • 6 strawberries, halved
  • 12 sprigs fresh mint

START THE CLOCK: Beat the butter and sugar together using a whisk. In a separate bowl, loosely beat the eggs with the Pimm’s and citrus zest.

Add half the egg mixture to the butter and sugar, along with half the flour, and fully combine. Then add the other half.

Divide half of the batter between six cupcake cases, spaced out on a microwave-proof plate. Don’t fill them too much (a heaped tablespoon in each is enough) or they’ll overflow as they bake.

Microwave for 2 minutes on high, then repeat with the other six. The cakes should rise in domes to the tops of the cases and turn golden when they’re done.

While the cupcakes bake, make the icing. Whisk the butter, icing sugar and Pimm’s together to make a light, fluffy buttercream. Once the cakes are cool, pipe mounds on top of each and finish with half a strawberry and a sprig of mint.

Serve immediately — with a tall glass of Pimm’s (you don’t want any going to waste, after all). The cakes will keep for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container.

Choca-mocha cake

Choca-mocha cake 

  • SERVES 8-10
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 3 tsp instant coffee, heaped
  • 175g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 60ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 60ml sunflower oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the icing:
  • 1 tsp instant coffee, heaped
  • 130g icing sugar, sifted

PREP: Grease a 20cm-round, microwave-proof cake dish with butter and line the base with greaseproof paper.

START THE CLOCK: Mix the cocoa powder and coffee together in a small bowl and add 100ml boiling water. Stir vigorously until dissolved.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour and sugar. Add the coffee mixture, followed by the milk, oil, egg and vanilla extract. Beat to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake dish and microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes, checking throughout. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s risen and spongey (not wet) on top.

While the cake bakes, make the icing.

In a small bowl, add a splash of water to the teaspoon of instant coffee and mix to make a paste. Stir in the icing sugar, a little at a time, adding more water if you need to, until you have a smooth paste roughly the texture of thick cream.

When the cake is baked, carefully tip it out on to a cooling rack and immediately spread the icing over the top (or drizzle). You may want to put a plate underneath the rack as this bit can get messy.

If you like, sprinkle chopped walnuts, pecans or coffee beans around the edge of the cake for a pretty finish — do this before the icing sets so they stick.

You can serve it hot and gooey, as a stodgy pudding with ice cream, or wait until it cools and eat a slice with a cup of tea.

The cake will keep for 3 to4 days in an airtight tin.

TIP: A silicone cake mould tends to be best for this recipe, as it makes it easier to get the cake out without burning your hands.

If it is sticking, simply run a blunt knife around the inside edge to loosen it.

Nacho average cheesecake

Nacho average cheesecake 


  • 60g icing sugar
  • 20g unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large white tortillas
  • 100g white chocolate, 90g melted
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 250g strawberries, halved
  • 1 tsp runny honey

PREP: Preheat oven to 250c/fan 230c/gas 9 and cover a baking sheet with tin foil.

START THE CLOCK: Combine a tablespoon of icing sugar with the melted butter and brush over the tortillas. Using scissors, cut them into eight triangles (like slices of pizza). Arrange on the baking sheet, butter side up, making sure there are no overlaps. Then bake on the top shelf for 5 minutes. Whisk 90g melted chocolate into the mascarpone and sieve in the remainder of the icing sugar. You should end up with a thick, smooth consistency.

Take a small handful of the prepared strawberries (40g to 50g) and purée them — either with a hand blender or by squishing them through a sieve with a fork. Mix in the honey to make a coulis.

Remove the nachos from the oven. If they still seem a little soft, they will crisp up as they cool. Arrange on a platter and top with dollops of cheesecake mix and swirls of coulis. Scatter strawberries and grate the remaining chocolate over the top.

This won’t keep for more than a day! If you want to serve it later, keep the nachos in an airtight tin and everything else in the fridge, and assemble when you’re ready.

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