Recipes: Butternut squash, caramelised red onion, thyme and goats cheese tart

When the weather’s cold, turn up the homemade treats, says Graham Savage and Vidya Sarjoo of Edinburgh’s Cuckoo’s Bakery

Apple layer cake. Picture: Complimentary

Cuckoo’s Bakery was opened in 2011 by Graham Savage and Vidya Sarjoo at 150 Dundas Street, Edinburgh (0131-556 6224, and was shortlisted at the Scottish Baker of the Year Awards 2013, where their Black Bottom Cupcake won them the silver prize. They also have a concession in the cafe at Waterstones (128 Princes Street, Edinburgh, 0131-226 2666).

The winter months are one of our favourite times of the year. Not only do they offer an excuse to dig out the chunky knits, but it’s also a chance for us to indulge in some hearty, warming and very seasonal home-baking and cooking.

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It might only be November, but we have been working on our winter menus for some time now, looking at what produce is in season and reflecting on which dishes and cakes will really help warm and nourish our customers when they come to visit.

Winter means an increased dedication to hearty home comforts; homemade soups and savoury tarts which take advantage of the seasonal vegetables on offer are perfect. When it comes to winter baking, it is all about luxury and decadence. Our cupcakes become richer and more indulgent, often featuring chocolate, liqueurs and caramel to really treat our customers.

Ultimately though, our home-baking is all about simple, honest, great tasting food which is easy to bring together and enjoy at any time of the year, 
as this selection of recipes hopefully proves.


The ultimate comfort food crowd pleaser – perfect for warming up guests after a blustery winter’s day.

Serves 4

1 Sift the flour into a bowl and then add the butter and combine together using your finger tips, until it resembles breadcrumbs.

2 Make a well in the middle of the mixture and add the iced water. Using a metal knife, work the water into the mixture using a cutting motion. When it becomes difficult to combine, use your hand to knead the mixture and gather into a ball.

3 Wrap in cling film, flatten into a disc and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4 On a clean floured surface, roll the pastry to form a large flat circular shape. Lift and place on top of a pastry tin. Push down into the tin so it covers the base and edges and slightly overhangs.

5 Cut away any excess, then pierce the base several times with a fork.

6 Chill for 30 minutes. Then bake for 15 minutes at 180C/Gas Mark 4 or until golden brown.

For the filling

1 Part boil the butternut squash, coat with a little olive oil, add thyme, seasoning and roast in the oven at 200C/Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes.

2 Finely chop the red onions, add to the frying pan and cook with the olive oil for 20 minutes. Lower the heat, and add the sugar and balsamic vinegar. Cook for a further 10 minutes.

3 Beat the eggs in a jug, season, then add the milk and cream.

4 Scatter some of the goats cheese, onion and butternut squash onto the pastry case, pour over some of the beaten egg mixture and then repeat by layering the filling and pouring over the beaten egg.

5 Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes at 175C/Gas Mark 4, leave to cool and serve.


This is the perfect autumn/winter cake which can be decorated any way you like. Simple to make and very tasty.

For the sponge

1 Beat the corn oil and sugar for two minutes.

2 Whisk the eggs using a fork in a separate jug and then very slowly pour the eggs into the oil and sugar mixture and continue to beat.

3 Sift the flour and baking powder on top of the mixture and fold it in using a metal spoon. Add the apples and continue to fold.

4 Divide the batter between two 8-inch round tins. Bake at 170C/Gas Mark 3 for 40-45 minutes until golden brown.

For the frosting

1 Cream the butter with a hand mixer until soft and pale.

2 Sift the icing sugar on top and blend for two minutes, add the vanilla extract and blend for one more minute.

To decorate

1 Sandwich the two sponges together using the buttercream and the jam filling of your choice.

2 Using a palette knife, frost the sides and top of the cake with the remaining buttercream. Get creative and decorate the cake as you wish!


These are among our most popular cupcakes, thanks to their sweet toffee centre and soft sponge. They are surprisingly easy to make.

Serves 12

For the butterscotch sauce

1 To make the butterscotch sauce, place all the ingredients into a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until combined and boiling. Leave to cool.

For the sponge

1 Cream the butter and sugar until soft and pale. Add the beaten egg a little at a time until combined. Then add the golden syrup and treacle. Continue to blend until smooth.

2 Sift the flour and baking powder on top of the mixture and beat until combined.

3 Blend the pitted dates and boiling water in a food processor for two minutes and stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Add to the cake mixture and blend with a metal spoon.

4 Divide the batter between 12 cupcake cases and bake in a fan oven at 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes.

5 Once the cakes have cooled, use an apple corer to remove the centre of the sponge and fill with the cooled butterscotch sauce.

6 Make butter cream using the layer cake recipe given earlier.

7 Using a palette knife frost each cupcake with buttercream, then drizzle with butterscotch sauce to decorate.

Shopping list


280g plain flour

140g salted butter

4 tbsp iced water

200g peeled, cubed butternut squash

½ tbsp fresh thyme

2 tbsp olive oil

2 red onions

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp brown sugar

130g goats cheese

5 large eggs

10ml double cream

10ml milk


230g corn oil

290g light brown sugar

6 large eggs

290g plain flour

4 tsp baking powder

220g apples (peeled and coarsely grated)

For the frosting

190g butter

375g icing sugar

3 tsp vanilla extract


55g unsalted butter

130g light brown sugar

1 large egg

190g plain flour

1½ tsp baking powder

25g golden syrup

45g treacle

150g pitted dates

150g boiling water

¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the butterscotch sauce

90g double cream

45g unsalted butter

45g dark brown sugar

25g golden syrup

For the frosting

125g unsalted butter

250g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract