A final flourish: Bill Granger gives classic puddings an unexpected twist

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You can, of course, just go and buy dessert but why not go for the wow factor of a home-made pudding, says our chef...

I don't always make dessert, often getting more excited about preparing a few nibbles and a generous main, then cutting corners on the last course by reaching for a tub of ice-cream at the supermarket, or picking up a fruit tart at the local patisserie. I figure that if the French and Italians, with their gastronomic pedigree, are happy to serve bought desserts, why not me?

Then again, guests are always wowed when you make an extra effort with the pudding. So especially when entertaining a larger group, I try to go that extra mile. It's funny, but old classics are always guaranteed to hit the spot. No matter how much trends change in savoury food, people's tastes in desserts stay pretty much the same and nothing beats the comfort and familiarity delivered by a chocolate cake, crumble or tarte Tatin. To ensure my crowd- pleasers have the desired effect, I always try to tweak things a little, bringing in whatever flavours are inspiring me at the moment.

Salted caramel, kaffir lime, cardamom – little twists to keep things interesting and new.

Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com

Chocolate and pecan cake with toffee crème fraîche

What I love about this is that it makes a delicious, indulgent dessert, but if you leave out the topping and simply dust it with cocoa, it's also a great tea-time cake.

Serves 10

200g dark chocolate
125g unsalted butter
5 eggs, separated
200g soft brown sugar
150g pecan halves, very finely ground, plus extra for the topping

For the topping

200g crème fraîche
1 tbsp icing sugar
3 tbsp thick toffee sauce or dulce de leche

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Lightly grease and line a 23cm springform tin with baking paper. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, then set aside to cool. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and frothy. Fold in the melted chocolate and ground pecans.

In a clean metal bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks form. Stir k a quarter of the whisked egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Tip into the prepared tin and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, covering loosely with foil if the top starts to get too much colour. Cool on a cake rack before removing from the tin.

Place the crème fraîche into a bowl and stir in the icing sugar. Roughly fold through the toffee sauce and use a palette knife to spread over the cake.

Banana tarte Tatin with cardamom and lime

There are so many different fruits you can use in a tarte Tatin – apples, pears, plums, figs and mangos all work really well.

Banana tarte Tatin can be served with crème fraîche or vanilla ice-cream (Kristin Perers) Banana tarte Tatin can be served with crème fraîche or vanilla ice-cream (Kristin Perers)
Serves 8

Plain flour, for dusting
200g puff pastry
Juice 2 limes
5 ripe bananas, halved lengthways
100g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
4 cardamom pods, seeds only, crushed
Crème fraîche or vanilla ice-cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ Gas6. Lightly dust a surface with flour and roll out the pastry into a circle about 26cm in diameter. Place on to a dusted baking sheet and chill. Squeeze the lime juice over the bananas and set aside.

Melt the butter in a 23cm, heavy-based ovenproof frying pan. Stir in the sugar and cardamom, till the mixture turns a light caramel. Don't worry if the butter and sugar separate. Carefully lay the bananas, cut-side down, into the pan. Cook on the hob for 2 minutes, until the caramel has become a deep colour. Lay the pastry over the bananas, tucking the edges down into the pan. Prick the pastry with a fork and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden.

To remove the tart from the tin, place a serving plate over the frying pan and invert the pan and the plate with a swift movement. Be careful, as the caramel will be very hot. Serve warm with crème fraîche or vanilla ice-cream.

The kaffir-lime leaf adds an unexpected perfumed twist to Bill's Rhubarb crumble (Kristin Perers) The kaffir-lime leaf adds an unexpected perfumed twist to Bill's Rhubarb crumble (Kristin Perers)
Rhubarb and kaffir-lime crumble

The kaffir-lime leaf adds an unexpected perfumed twist to what is otherwise a pretty classic recipe. You can now get them in supermarkets, but if yours doesn't stock them, grate in the zest of a lime instead. Whatever you do, don't use those dreadful dried lime leaves sold with the spices.

Serves 8

1kg rhubarb, cut into 5 cm lengths
200g soft brown sugar
Grated zest and juice 1 orange
2 fresh kaffir-lime leaves
2 cm ginger, grated
115g plain flour
115g butter
100g rolled oats
Handful macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
Pouring cream or vanilla ice-cream, to serve.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Put the rhubarb, half the sugar, the orange zest and juice, kaffir-lime leaves and ginger into an ovenproof dish. Stir well to combine and bake for 20 minutes, until the rhubarb has started to soften.

Place the remaining sugar, the flour and butter into a bowl and rub the mixture between your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the oats and nuts and scatter over the rhubarb, pushing the topping down, into the fruit. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve with pouring cream or vanilla ice-cream.

Food styling: Rosie Reynolds and Marina Filippelli

Props merchandising: Rachel Jukes

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