I have two very easy recipes if you would like to do some baking this week. This lemon sponge is a lovely, comforting dessert; ideal to have with Sunday lunch. The lemon makes it light and fresh. I like it with blackberries, but you could try it with rhubarb, which is coming into season and works very well. Plums or raspberries are also good. You could serve it with whipped cream instead of the custard, if you like, or even a scoop of ice cream.


Next up is a recipe close to my heart. Children, adults – everyone loves these cookies. A good few years ago, we were filming for RTÉ in Flahavan’s at Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford and when we finished recording, Mary Flahavan put on a fabulous spread for the team. It included these cookies.

I asked her for the recipe, and this is it. We make batches regularly and put them in the rooms for our guests. Thank you, Mary (RIP), she is often fondly in my thoughts and especially when I bake these.

Flahavan’s is a fantastic business and one of our oldest food producers. The family has been in Kilmacthomas for more than 200 years, milling locally-grown oats and creating wholesome, natural foods. I was working in Waterford a while back and was delighted to be able to drop in for a chat with John Flahavan.

Happy Cooking,


Lemon sponge pudding with blackberries

Serves 4-6

  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 100g (4oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 4 lemons
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 50g (2oz) plain flour
  • 200ml (7fl oz) milk
  • 200g (7oz) blackberries
  • Icing sugar, to dust

    Custard, to serve

    1 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4). Butter a 1.5 litre (2½ pint) pie dish.

    2 Beat together the sugar and butter in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the lemon rind and juice with the egg yolks, flour and milk (it doesn’t matter if the mixture curdles at this stage).

    3 Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks have formed, then fold into the lemon mixture until evenly incorporated.

    4 Scatter the blackberries into the buttered pie dish and pour the sponge mixture on top in an even layer. Carefully place in a roasting tin half-filled with boiling water (a bain-marie).

    5 Bake for 30–35 minutes, until well risen and golden brown. Dust with icing sugar and serve straight to the table with a bowl of custard so that guests can help themselves.

    Oatmeal, cranberry and white chocolate cookies

    Makes 12 large cookies

  • 275g (10oz) Flahavan’s Progress Oatlets
  • 225g (8oz) butter, at room temperature
  • 150g (5oz) caster sugar
  • 100g (4oz) plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 100g (4oz) dried cranberries, roughly chopped
  • 100g (4oz) white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6).

    2 Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

    3 Blend the oatlets in a food processor until quite fine. Add the butter, sugar, flour and baking soda and blend again until the dough just comes together. Tip into a bowl and beat in the cranberries and white chocolate.

    4 Shape into 12 even-sized balls and arrange on the lined baking sheets well spaced apart, then squash them down with the palm of your hand to about a 4cm (1 ½in) thickness.

    5 Bake for 15–20 minutes, until they are a pale golden colour and soft to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool and harden on the sheets for a minute, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for a few minutes. Tuck in with a nice cup of tea.

    Read more

    Neven Maguire: make it a night to remember for all

    Neven Maguire: have a flipping fabulous day