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Wholesome and Hearty

By Clodagh McKenna


This month Clodagh serves up a hearty feast, perfect for the chillier Autumn evenings.


There’s nothing quite like a warming pie when the evenings start to get chilly. The filling can be made the night before so all you need to do is roll out the ready made pastry, assemble and bake before sitting down for supper.

30g butter
4 skinless chicken fillets, diced
1 leek, finely sliced
280g mixed wild mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
250ml milk
100ml single cream
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves
500g pack of puff pastry (use butter puff or brush ordinary puff
with a little butter)
1 egg, beaten
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 4

chicken pie

If you can’t get your hands on wild mushrooms, you can use button mushrooms instead.



  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.
  2. Set a large saucepan over a medium heat and melt the butter. Add the chicken, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the leek and cook for a further minute.
  3. Add the chopped wild mushrooms to the saucepan and cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle over the flour, stir and cook for another minute, then pour in the milk and cream and cook until then sauce has thickened. Stir in the chopped tarragon.
  4. Roll out the pastry and cut it into four pieces big enough to cover four small pie dishes. Spoon the chicken mixture into the four individual pie dishes and brush the rims with beaten egg.
  5. Lift the pastry on to the pies, trimming off any excess. Press down and crimp the edges with a fork. Cut a couple of slits in the pastry to let the steam out and brush all over with the rest of the beaten egg.
  6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15–20 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.


This cake can only be described as dark and majestic. The bitterness of the Guinness is balanced by the sugar and the vanilla icing adds a fluffy lightness to balance it perfectly.

260g unsalted butter
300ml Guinness
100g cocoa powder
2 eggs
420g caster sugar
2 tsps vanilla essence
180ml buttermilk
300g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder

For the icing
100g unsalted butter, softened
300g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
300g full-fat cream cheese

Serves 10


You can also make mini versions of this cake, which look really cute, using the same cake mixture, just fill muffin cases and bake for about 20 minutes less.



  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C /350°F/gas mark 4. Line the base of a 30cm round spring form tin with baking parchment.
  2. To make the cake, heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat until melted. Stir in the Guinness, then remove from the heat and stir in the cocoa powder.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla essence and buttermilk and then slowly add the Guinness mixture, whisking all the time.
  4. In a separate large bowl, sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Using an electric whisk, slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and keep whisking until it is all well combined.
  5. Transfer the mixture in to the cake tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes. Test to make sure the cake is cooked by inserting a dry skewer into the middle of the cake – if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Set aside to cool a little, and then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. Meanwhile, make the icing by blending all the ingredients together using an electric hand whisk until light and fluffy.
  7. Place the cooled cake on a plate and generously spread the icing on top. The cake will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container.
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