With recipes by celebrities, chefs and royals, new cookbook A Taste Of Home is raising money for leading homelessness charity The Passage. Here, Nigella Lawson, Nadiya Hussain and Diana Henry share their dessert recipes from the book.
When the coronavirus pandemic first hit the UK, millions of us were preoccupied with navigating the shift to home working, Zoom calls, and the complexities of furlough. But for thousands of others, there were far more urgent questions to confront: namely, the issue of finding a square meal and somewhere to sleep.
Six months after lockdown was first announced, and a disturbing picture of coronavirus-related homelessness has emerged. According to data compiled by the New Statesman, nearly 20,000 households across England have been made homeless during the pandemic, although it’s estimated that the true country-wide figure stands at around 33,000. Research from The Big Issue, meanwhile, shows that the number of people rough sleeping in London rose by a third during lockdown. Worryingly, two-thirds of those recorded were doing so for the first time. Homelessness is now an issue that stretches beyond the streets, from the “hidden homeless” living in temporary accommodation to those sofa surfing with family and friends.
In the midst of adversity, however, our wider communities have shown us the best of humanity. Take The Passage, the UK’s largest resource centre for street homeless and insecurely housed people. Based in Westminster, the charity has helped move hundreds of rough sleepers into emergency accommodation, and is continuing to provide support including hot meals to over 300 people, seven days a week.
Ahead of the charity’s 40th anniversary, and to coincide with World Homeless Day on 10 October, The Passage is releasing a special cookbook commemorating its invaluable work helping London’s homeless. A Taste of Home: 120 Delicious Recipes from Leading Chefs and Celebrities features 40 first courses, 40 main courses, and 40 dessert recipes that have been donated by much-loved names including Mary Berry, Yotam Ottolenghi and Stephen Fry, with all proceeds going towards helping the street homeless.
In recognition of the community spirit that has come to define 2020, you’ll also find recipes from many dedicated staff members. These include the head chef Claudette Dawkins, who has worked at the charity for 21 years and recently spearheaded the emergency food hub to provide over 20,000 meals for rough sleepers housed in temporary accommodation during the pandemic. The Duke of Cambridge Prince William, who has been patron of The Passage since 2019, has also contributed a foreword and his own recipe for spaghetti bolognese.
To give you a taste of the new cookbook – and encourage you to support The Passage’s invaluable work – we’ve three delicious dessert recipes to share here. For a dessert that will make grey days unfailingly better, Nigella’s Lawson’s sticky toffee pudding with a dark muscovado sauce is an upgrade that won’t disappoint. Nadiya Hussain’s baked cheesecake, meanwhile, makes use of honey salted caramel and a chocolate tiffin mixture to give a twist to a much-loved favourite.
And if you’re in need of a light, tart treat after a rich autumnal stew, Diana Henry’s baked apricots with silky marsala ice cream are the perfect palate-cleanser. Did someone say second helpings?
Baked cheesecake by Nadiya Hussain
Nadiya says: “There’s a homeless lady I used to see every time I went shopping. I would give something out of my trolley and some spare change and walk off. Other times I was too busy to even to bend down and hand over some food or change. One day, I parked up my trolley up, opened a bag of crisps and sat with her. We spoke about the weather, how she got there, and about our dreams. We laughed and then I went home. Let’s not let homelessness become normal. Let’s not walk past. Let’s stop, talk and provide the gift of time, because homeless people are not invisible and neither are their problems.
“A simple baked cheesecake is one my favourite desserts. It can sit in the fridge and be enjoyed over the course of a week, and that ultimate slice is the best slice of all. But sometimes I feel short- changed by the base. So here I’ve baked a cheesecake without any base at all, and instead topped it with honey salted caramel and a chocolaty tiffin mixture. It’s essentially a flipped-over version of the classic, but in my opinion all the best cakes are a little back to front!”
For the cheesecake
- butter, for greasing
- 900g full-fat cream cheese
- 200g caster sugar
- 150ml soured cream
- 3 tablespoons plain flour
- 3 medium eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
For the honey-salted caramel
- 50g butter
- 170g set honey
- 300ml double cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the tiffin crumble
- 150g digestive biscuits, roughly crushed (try putting them in a zip-lock bag and bashing them with a rolling pin)
- 75g unsalted butter, melted
- 30g demerara sugar
- 50g dark chocolate chips or chunks
- 50g toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/Gas 3. Grease the base of a 20cm round cake tin (not loose-bottomed, imagine the leakage!) and line it with baking paper.
Put all the cheesecake ingredients into a large bowl and mix, just for 1 minute or so, until it is well combined. You don’t want to mix for too long and incorporate any air.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, tap it on the worktop to release any trapped air, then level the surface. Bake on the lower shelf of the oven for 1 hour. Once the hour is up, open the oven door and wedge a wooden spoon in the door to keep it just open and let out the heat slowly. Turn the oven off but don’t remove the cheesecake until the oven is completely cold – only then put the cheesecake into the fridge to chill overnight.
The next day, make the honey-salted caramel. Melt the butter in a small pan on a medium heat. Add the honey and cook on a medium to high heat for 10 minutes, until the caramel is a golden brown. If it starts to catch, just turn the heat down slightly. After 10 minutes, pour in the cream, give it a mix and allow it to just come up to the boil. Take off the heat and stir in the salt. Set aside.
To make the tiffin crumble, empty the roughly crushed biscuits into a bowl and pour over the melted butter. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then add the sugar, chocolate and hazelnuts. Turn out the cheesecake onto a serving plate or platter. Loosely pile the tiffin mixture on top of the cheesecake.
Reheat the caramel if it has cooled too much, and pour over the cheesecake. For any of you who have had past cheesecakes fly across the table from the sheer brute force of fighting to cut a tight biscuit base, you are welcome!
From Nadiya’s Family Favourites (£22, Michael Joseph), out now
Easy sticky toffee pudding by Nigella Lawson
Nigella says: “This is just what you want for a Sunday lunch, cosy and comforting and indulgent. You might need a brisk walk afterwards!”
- 100g dark brown muscovado sugar
- 175g self-raising flour
- 125ml full-fat milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 50g unsalted butter, melted
- 200g dates, chopped
For the sauce
- 200g dark brown muscovado sugar
- approx. 25g unsalted butter, in little blobs
- 500ml boiling water
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/Gas 5 and butter a 1.5-litre capacity pudding dish.
Combine the 100g of dark muscovado sugar with the flour in a large bowl. Pour the milk into a measuring jug, beat in the egg, vanilla and melted butter and then pour this mixture over the sugar and flour, stirring – just with a wooden spoon – to combine. Fold in the dates then scrape into the prepared pudding dish. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look very full: it will do by the time it cooks.
Sprinkle over the 200g of dark muscovado sugar and dot with the butter. Pour over the boiling water (yes really!) and transfer to the oven. Set the timer for 45 minutes, though you might find the pudding needs 5 or 10 minutes more. The top of the pudding should be springy and spongy when it’s cooked; underneath, the butter, dark muscovado sugar and boiling water will have turned into a rich, sticky sauce. Serve with vanilla ice cream, crème fraîche, double or single cream as you wish.
Baked apricots with marsala ice cream by Diana Henry
Diana says: “Baked apricots are one of the best desserts, at the same time tart and honeyed. They’re good with a dollop of crème fraîche but are even better with Marsala ice-cream (which is basically Italian zabaglione in ice-cream form). This ice is rich and silky.”
- 20 apricots, halved
- 250ml dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 85g caster sugar
For the ice cream
- 6 large egg yolks
- 120g caster sugar
- 150ml milk
- 450ml double cream
- 100ml sweet marsala
- A squeeze of lemon (add it to taste)
Beat the egg yolks and sugar in an electric mixer for 2 minutes until pale and frothy. Heat the milk and cream together in a saucepan until it’s steaming then whisk this into the egg mixture, pouring slowly and whisking all the time.
Rinse out the pan, put the egg and cream mixture into it and set it over a low heat. Cook gently, stirring all the time, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon (if you run your forefinger through the custard it should leave a channel). Don’t get the mixture too hot or it will scramble.
Pour the custard into a bowl set in a sink full of cold water so that it cools quickly. Stir it every so often as it’s cooling. Add the marsala, taste and add a little lemon juice (oddly it intensifies the flavour of the marsala but you need to be careful not to overdo it). Cover and chill the mixture in the fridge.
Churn the custard in an ice cream machine then transfer to the freezer to firm up. If you don’t have an ice cream machine put the custard into a metal container and put in the freezer. You need to remove the mixture and beat it in a food processor (in order to incorporate air into it) 3-4 times during the freezing process.
Heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/Gas 4. Lay the apricots, skin side up, in slightly overlapping circles or rows in a shallow ovenproof dish. Mix the wine with the vanilla and pour it over. Sprinkle on the sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes (how long it takes depends on the ripeness of the fruit) until tender and slightly caramelized in patches. Leave to cool completely.
Serve the apricots with the marsala ice cream.
From A Taste of Home: 120 Delicious Recipes from Leading Chefs and Celebrities compiled by Kyle Cathie (£25, The Passage), available to pre-order now
Photography: © Nassima Rothacker
Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.