Snow day: 15 cakes, bakes and cosy dinners to keep you warm in a cold snap

Snow day: 15 cakes, bakes and cosy dinners to keep you warm in a cold snap

Come in from the cold and cook up a snow day feast 

Derval O’Rourke’s slow cooker stew tastes even better the next day

Thu, 24 Feb, 2022 – 09:18

Whether you woke up to a light dusting of snow or a full-on blizzard, one thing is for certain. A snow day sees us return to dishes that provide comfort and cosiness. From banana bread to the perfect chicken casserole, from warming soup to chocolate chip cookies, read on for our perfect snow day recipes.

Old-fashioned apple tart

recipe by:Michelle Darmody

With a flaky, buttery, golden crust and tender apples flavoured with orange zest, who could resist this afternoon delight?

Preparation Time

1 hours 15 mins

Total Time

1 hours 45 mins


  • 225g flour

  • 1 pinch of salt

  • 140g cold butter, cut into cubes

  • 55g caster sugar

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • 3 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and roughly sliced

  • ½ tbsp golden brown sugar, to taste

  • zest of 2 oranges


  1. Mix the flour and salt together and rub in the cold butter until it looks like rough breadcrumbs, do not over mix.

  2. Stir the sugar into the egg, mix it lightly until it begins to dissolve. Add this to the flour with a fork.

  3. Bring everything together with your hands then rest the pastry for an hour in the fridge or overnight.

  4. Heat oven to 200°C and prepare a 7inch round tin.

  5. Roll out half the pastry to fit the base of the tin. Place the apple slices on the base, sprinkle with the sugar and zest.

  6. Roll the remaining pastry and gently lay it on top. Pinch the pasty in ridges towards the centre. Dampen the edge of the base pastry with cold water to seal, press it into the pastry from the base and trim any excess. Cut a cross in the very centre of the top.

  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden on top and the apples have completely softened.

Creamy tomato soup

recipe by:Darina Allen

Deliciously easy, this soup can be made with good quality tinned tomatoes

Preparation Time

10 mins


  • For the béchamel sauce:

  • 110 g butter

  • 110 g flour

  • 1 pint milk

  • Few slices of carrot

  • Few slices of onion

  • 3 peppercorns

  • Small sprig of thyme

  • Small sprig of parsley

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 750 ml homemade tomato purée
    or 2 x  tins of tomatoes, liquidized and sieved

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 15 g butter

  • 250 ml homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock

  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil

  • Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

  • 120 ml cream


  1. Melt the butter and cook the flour in it for 2 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Use as required. Roux can be stored in a cool place and used as required or it can be made up on the spot if preferred. It will keep at least a fortnight in a refrigerator. 

  2. Put the cold milk into a saucepan with the carrot, onion, peppercorns, thyme and parsley. Bring to the boil, simmer for 4-5 minutes, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain out the vegetables, bring the milk back to the boil and thicken to a light coating consistency by whisking in 45g of roux. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, taste and correct seasoning if necessary.

  3. Sweat the onion in the butter on a gentle heat until soft but not coloured. Add the tomato purée (or chopped tinned tomatoes plus juice), Béchamel sauce and homemade chicken stock. Add the chopped basil, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.

  4. Liquidize, taste and dilute further if necessary. Bring back to the boil, correct seasoning and serve with the addition of a little cream if necessary. Garnish with a tiny blob of whipped cream and some basil.

    Tinned tomatoes need a surprising amount of sugar to counteract the acidity.
    Fresh milk cannot be added to the soup – the acidity in the tomatoes will cause it to curdle
    This soup needs to be tasted carefully as the final result depends on the quality of the homemade purée, stock etc.

Slow cooker beef stew with bake-and-smash potatoes

recipe by:Derval O’Rourke

This slow cooker stew tastes better the day after you make it

Cooking Time

4 hours 0 mins

Total Time

4 hours 0 mins


  • 400g lean stewing beef, cut into 3cm pieces

  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped

  • 2 onions, finely sliced

  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 litre beef stock

  • 2 tbsp flour

  • Bake-and-Smash Mash:

  • 4 small potato/sweet potato

  • 4 tsp maple syrup

  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

  • salt and pepper


  1. You will need a slow cooker with 3.5-litre capacity. Preheat the slow cooker (if recommended by the manufacturer).

  2. Place the beef, carrots, onions, garlic and bay leaves in the slow cooker. Use a whisk to blend the beef stock and flour. Pour the stock into the slow cooker, using just enough stock to cover the ingredients. Set the slow cooker to high and cook for 4 hours, stirring a few times.

  3. Prick the sweet potato and bake at 180°C for 35-40 minutes or until tender. Mash with the maple syrup and the thyme, salt and pepper and serve with the stew. 

Vanilla fairy cakes

recipe by:Darina Allen

A childhood classic and the perfect recipe to get kids started in the kitchen, these fairy cakes have a soft, velvety and irresistible crumb

Preparation Time

10 mins


  • 170g plain flour

  • 1 tbsp baking powder

  • pinch of salt

  • 140g soft light brown sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 tbsp corn or other flavourless nut-free vegetable oil

  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar

  • 240ml water


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

  2. Line 12 sections of a tartlet tin or small muffin pan with paper fairy cake cases.

  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Stir in the sugar. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until you have a smooth, liquid batter.

  4. Pour or ladle the batter into the cake cases, filling to just below the top of the case.

  5. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until risen and firm to touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

  6. Tip: If you are making these with children, place the batter in a jug for easier pouring into the paper cases.

Chilli con carne

recipe by:Paul O’Connell and Maurice McGeehan

This one-pot wonder is a firm favourite in my house

Preparation Time

60 mins

Total Time

1 hours 10 mins


  • 500g lean minced beef (10% or less fat)

  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1-2tsp hot chilli powder

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 tsp ground coriander

  • 2 tbsp plain flour

  • 150ml red wine or extra stock

  • 300ml beef stock, made with 1beef stock cube

  • 4OOg can chopped tomatoes

  • 4OOg can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

  • 3 tbsp tomato puree

  • 1 tsp caster sugar

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Rapeseed oil


  1. Place a large non-stick sauce pan over a medium heat, add a drizzle of rapeseed oil and then add the beef and onions.

  2. Cook together for 5 minutes, stirring the beef and squishing it against the sides of the pan to break up the lumps.

  3. Add the garlic, 1-2 teaspoons of chilli powder (depending on how hot you like your chilli) and the cumin and coriander. Fry together for 1-2 minutes more.

  4. Sprinkle over the flour and stir well.

  5. Slowly add the wine and then the stock, stirring constantly.

  6. Tip the tomatoes and kidney beans into the pan and stir in the tomato puree, caster sugar, oregano and bay Ieaf. Season with a pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

  7. Bring to a simmer on the hob, then cover loosely with a lid. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mince is tender and the sauce is thick

  8. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

  9. Serve with Mexican-style rice, Greek-style yogurt, guacamole and pico de gallo.

Fish pot pie

recipe by:Neven Maguire

For this weeknight staple, choose any selection of fish that you like for a wholesome, comforting dish

Preparation Time

15 mins


  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil

  • 1 onion, finely chopped 

  • 2 small leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced 

  • 4 tbsp dry white wine 

  • 400ml cream 

  • 675g mixed skinned and boned fish fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces (such as trout or salmon, hake and smoked cod or haddock) 

  •  225g raw peeled tiger prawns, thawed if frozen 

  • 100g frozen peas 

  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • pinch of cayenne pepper 

  • 1 × 320g ready-rolled puff pastry sheet, thawed 

  • 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

  • To serve:

  • lightly dressed rocket


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

  2. Heat the oil in a 25cm ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and leeks and cook for 4-5 minutes, until softened but not coloured. pour in the wine and allow to bubble right down, then stir in the cream and cook for another 8-10 minutes, until well reduced and thickened.

  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the fish, prawns, peas and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the cayenne pepper. Stir gently to combine.

  4. Unroll the pastry and use to cover the fish filling, trimming and cutting down as necessary, then pinch the edges to create a rim. Brush with the beaten egg wash and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until well-risen and golden brown.

  5. Serve straight to the table with a separate bowl of rocket.

Creamy chicken traybake with rosemary, smoked bacon and peas

recipe by:Aisling Larkin

Comforting and delicious, this dish is everything you need after a long day

Preparation Time

10 mins

Total Time

1 hours 10 mins


  • 2 tbsp oil

  • 1 tbsp butter 

  • 6 chicken fillets 

  • salt

  • pepper 

  • 30g Dijon mustard 

  • 10 sprigs rosemary 

  • 6 garlic cloves

  • 250g smoked streaky bacon 

  • 1.2kg waxy baby potatoes 

  • 200ml chicken stock 

  • 250-350ml cream 

  • 1 heaped tsp cornflour 

  • 100g frozen petit pois peas 


  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃ fan/200℃.

  2. Wash the potatoes and cut into cubes. Trim the chicken. Dice the streaky bacon. Mince the garlic. Boil the kettle and make up the stock. Mix the cornflour and 2 tbsp of the cold cream together until it forms a smooth paste. Stir in the rest of the cream, dijon mustard, garlic, stock and seasoning.

  3. Put the oil and butter on the baking tray. Pop in the oven and heat up for a couple of minutes. Take out and place on the chicken and bacon. It should sizzle on the hot oil and butter as it hits it. Place the potato cubes on the tray next. Pour over the sauce lay in the springs of rosemary, keeping two or three back for garnish. Feel free to use 2 oven trays to fit everything.

  4. After 45 minutes, remove the traybake, sprinkle in the frozen petit pois and gently stir it a little. Return to the oven to bake.

  5. Bake for fifteen more minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through fully.

  6. Serve with a simple green salad.

Lemon drizzle traybake

recipe by:Darina Allen

Whether catering for a birthday party, a family gathering or just baking for fun, this super easy traybake is a perfect recipe to make with the kids

Preparation Time

10 mins


  • 175g butter, softened

  • 150g caster sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 175g self-raising flour

  • freshly grated rind of 1 lemon

  • freshly squeezed juice of 1-2 lemons

  • 110g caster sugar

  • Optional:

  • 2 tbsp lemon curd


  • 10 x 7 inch (25.5 x 18 cm) Swiss roll tin, well-greased


  1. Heat the oven to 180°C.

  2. Grease and line your tin with a little butter and line with a sheet of parchment paper that comes up over each side.

  3. Put the butter, sugar, eggs and self-raising flour into a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate. Spread evenly in the well-buttered tin.

  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes approx. or until golden brown and well risen. Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the glaze.

  5. As soon as the cake is cooked, pour the glaze over the top, leave to cool. 

  6. If you want to ice the cake, mix equal parts icing sugar and lemon juice and spread over the cake, leaving to firm up before slicing. If you want the contrasting yellow lines, like in the picture, you will need to use the tablespoons of lemon curd. While the icing is still wet, quickly pipe lines with the lemon curd, about 2.5cm (1 inch) apart, across the top of the cake. Then draw the tip of a skewer or pointed knife through the coloured lines, at right angles, going in opposite directions each time, this is called feathering and may be done in lines or in a spider web pattern.

  7. When the icing is firm but not completely set, cut into slices. 

Classic lasagne

recipe by:Neven Maguire

This classic family supper is creamy, rich and bursting with delicate root vegetables and tender minced beef flavoured with tomato and fresh herbs

Preparation Time

15 mins

Cooking Time

5 hours 0 mins

Total Time

5 hours 15 mins


  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 1 large carrot, finely diced

  • 100g button mushrooms

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

  • 675g lean minced beef

  • 2 tbsp tomato purée

  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes

  • 50g butter

  • 50g plain flour

  • 900ml milk

  • 100g Cheddar cheese, grated

  • 14-16 lasagne sheets

  • salt and freshly grated black pepper


  1. To make the bolognese sauce, heat a large saucepan. Add the oil with the onion, carrot, mushrooms, garlic and thyme.

  2. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables have softened and taken on a little colour, stirring occasionally. Add the minced beef and mix until well combined, then sauté until well browned, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon. Stir in the tomato purée and continue to cook for another minute or two, stirring.

  3. Pour in the tomatoes and season to taste. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 2 hours until the beef is meltingly tender and the sauce has slightly reduced.

  4. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Remove from the heat and gradually pour in the milk, whisking until smooth after each addition. Season to taste. Bring the sauce to the boil, whisking constantly, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes until smooth and thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in most of the Cheddar cheese until melted.

  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 2 x 2.25 litre ovenproof dishes with a layer of lasagne sheets, breaking them to fi t as necessary. Add half of the bolognese and spread it into an even layer. Spread over half of the cheese sauce. Cover with another layer of the remaining lasagne sheets. Use the rest of the bolognese to make another layer and then pour over the remaining cheese sauce.

  6. Scatter the rest of the Cheddar on top and bake for 1 hour or until the lasagnes are bubbling and lightly golden. Serve straight to the table.
    This recipe is from Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook, published by Gill Books

Blueberry granola buns

recipe by:Michelle Darmody

These buns are packed with seeds and oats which will keep tummies fuller for longer

Preparation Time

15 mins


  • 100g wholemeal flour

  • 85g spelt flour

  • 1 tsp bread soda

  • 190g granola

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • zest of 3 oranges

  • 90g muscovado brown sugar

  • 120g dates, de-stoned and chopped

  • 370ml buttermilk

  • 120ml olive oil

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • 2 tbsp frozen blueberries

  • 1 tbsp porridge oats

  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds


  1. Heat your oven to 180°C and line a cupcake tin with 12 bun cases.

  2. Stir all of the ingredients together in a large bowl holding back half of the pumpkin seeds and oats.

  3. Divide the mixture between the bun cases, sprinkle with the remaining seeds and oats and bake for 20 minutes or until baked through.

Vegetable soup

recipe by:Darina Allen

Following the Ballymaloe soup formula (1:1:3:5), this versatile soup is smooth, hearty and bursting with flavour

Preparation Time

10 mins


  • 50g butter

  • 150g potatoes, peeled and diced

  • 110g onions, peeled and diced

  • 340g chopped vegetables of your choice, diced

  • 1.2l stock or 1l stock and 150ml creamy milk

  • seasoning


  1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

  2. When it foams, add potatoes and onions and turn them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover with a butter wrapper or paper lid and the lid of the saucepan.

  3. Sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and stock, bring it back to the boil and continue to cook until soft, and liquidise. Do not overcook or the vegetables will lose their flavour. Adjust seasoning.

Triple chocolate chip cookies

recipe by:Claire Ptak

Crisp outside, gooey inside…these might just be the ultimate choc chip cookies — plus they can be cooked from frozen

Preparation Time

10 mins


  • 200g (7oz) light brown sugar

  • 150g (5oz) caster sugar

  • 350g (12oz) plain flour

  • 100g (3 ½ oz) cocoa powder (Dutch)

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp bicarbonate powder

  • ¾ tsp sea salt

  • 250g (9oz) unsalted butter, soft

  • 350g (12oz) blonde (caramelised white chocolate)

  • OR USE 180g blonde Valrhona chocolate (caramelised white chocolate) or white chocolate (Valrhona is our favourite) and 180g  milk chocolate (Valrhona is our favourite)

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • Maldon sea salt for sprinkling on top


  1. Preheat the oven to 190˚C/375˚F/Gas Mark 5 (Fan – 170˚C/325˚F/Gas Mark 3).

  2. Combine the dry ingredients in your mixer on a low speed with the paddle attachment fitted, don’t overmix.

  3. Add the soft butter and mix until a sandy texture forms.

  4. Add the chocolate discs, eggs and vanilla extract and mix until a dough forms.

  5. Use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough into balls.

  6. You can bake right away or from frozen.

  7. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Arrange just 6 cookies on the tray to allow them to spread during cooking. Sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt.

  8. Bake for 14 minutes, tapping the tray on the oven rack twice during the baking time. This helps the cookie to flatten and the chocolate to spread, whilst remaining gooey in the middle. Leave to cool on the tray for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

  9. Serve chocolate chip cookies warm or a room temperature

    Note: Uncooked dough keeps for up to 3 months in the freezer.

Rather special chicken and herb casserole

recipe by:Mary Berry

An all-in-one dish to cook and serve. Sage was often used as a dried herb in recipes but now it is readily available fresh and is simple to grow. It comes with either green or purple leaves – they both taste the same.

Preparation Time

10 mins

Total Time

1 hours 10 mins


  • 250g (9oz) dry cured bacon, snipped into small pieces

  • 2 large onions, chopped

  • 8 skinless chicken thighs, bone in

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil

  • 30g plain flour

  • 150ml hot chicken stock

  • 150ml dry white wine

  • 2 large sprigs of thyme

  • Small bunch of sage, 6 leaves removed for garnish

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 200g (7oz) small chestnut mushrooms, quartered

  • 100g (4oz) full-fat creme fraiche

  • A knob of butter

  • Small bunch of parsley, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/Gas 3.

  2. Place the bacon in a large non-stick ovenproof frying pan or flameproof casserole and fry over a medium heat for a few minutes to render out the fat. Add the onions and continue to fry until the bacon is brown at the edges. Transfer the bacon and onions to a plate using a slotted spoon and set aside.

  3. Lightly season the chicken. Place the oil in the unwashed dish, add the chicken and brown over a high heat, turning once. Transfer to the plate with the bacon and onions.

  4. Scatter the flour into the dish (adding a little more oil, if needed) and stir to combine. Gradually incorporate the hot stock, whisking, and allow to thicken. Pour in the wine and return the bacon, onions and chicken to the pan. Stir well, add the thyme sprigs, sage sprigs and bay leaves. The sauce will be quite thick at this stage. Bring to the boil, season well with salt and black pepper and cover. Transfer to the oven for 30 minutes.

  5. Remove the dish from the oven and add the mushrooms and creme fraiche. Stir well and return to the oven for a further 15–20 minutes, until the chicken is tender.

  6. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a small pan over a medium heat. Add the whole sage leaves and fry until crisp.

  7. Remove the bay leaves, thyme and sage sprigs from the casserole and discard (some leaves will have fallen off to flavour the casserole). Stir in the parsley and serve with the crisp sage leaves on top.

    Mary’s tips
    Can be made up to a day

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