British bakes and Indian spice combine in Chetna Makan's creative creations, showcased in her gorgeous new book. The former Bake Off contestant tells Gemma Dunn how she hopes to inspire home cooks to 'mix things up'

She impressed judging duo Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry with her spice-infused recipes, but Great British Bake Off 2014 semi-finalist Chetna Makan maintains she faces her "best critics" at home.

"They love it when I make new things," she says of her two young children, Sia and Yuv.

"But they'll say if they don't like anything; they're very honest."

The youngsters like to help out too - "They chop stuff and make little cakes" - and the family, who live in Kent (her husband Gaurav is a GP), are well accustomed to Makan's unique recipes, which introduce colourful spices, aromatic herbs and other Indian ingredients into traditional Western bakes.

For Brits with a taste for real Indian cuisine, and aspiring home cooks who've followed her journey, however, she's hoping her debut book - The Cardamom Trail - will act as a springboard for culinary creativity.

"If people don't generally cook with spices, how would they know how to use it in baking?" reasons Makan.

"Baking requires measurements, so you can't just put things together, and that stops people trying.

"I'm hoping the book will leave people feeling confident enough to mix things up."

If you fancy trying your hand at baking with Makan, give these recipes from her new book a whirl...

Curry Onion Tart (Serves 10-12)

For the pastry:

  • 300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1tbsp smoked paprika
  • 150g chilled salted butter, diced
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 4-6tbsp cold water

For the filling:

  • 2tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2tsp black mustard seeds
  • 10-15 curry leaves
  • 4 dried red chillies
  • 4 onions, thinly sliced
  • Handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100ml double cream

To make the pastry, mix the flour, salt and paprika together in a large bowl.

Add the butter and coat it with the flour.

Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Mix the lemon juice and measured water together and pour in just enough of the liquid to bring the dough together.

Gently knead on a lightly floured surface for a few seconds, then shape it into a ball.

Wrap the ball in cling film and chill for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 3mm. Line a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin with the dough, leaving the excess dough overhanging the edge.

Prick the dough all over with a fork, then line it with non-stick baking paper, fill it with baking beans and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 20 minutes, or until the pastry looks dry and crisp.

Use a small, sharp knife to trim away the excess pastry from the rim, then leave the tart case to cool in the tin for 15 minutes.

While the tart case is cooking, prepare the filling.

Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and dried chillies. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the onions and cook over a medium heat until lightly golden.

Stir in the coriander and salt, take the pan off the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.

Whisk the whole eggs, yolk and cream together in a bowl. Fill the baked tart case with the onions and press them down a little.

Sit the tart tin on a baking tray, then pour the egg mixture over the onions. Bake for 35 minutes or until the filling is set and golden.

Leave the tart to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a serving plate. Enjoy it warm or cold.

This tart will keep in an airtight container for up to two days, or refrigerated for up to four days.

Pistachio, Cardamom and White Chocolate Cake  (Serves 10-12)

For the cake:

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp cardamom seeds, crushed to a fine powder
  • 100ml milk
  • 50g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
  • 50g white chocolate chips

For the icing and decoration:

  • 150g white chocolate
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • Few drops of vanilla extract
  • Handful of pistachio nuts, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Grease 2 x 20cm round cake tins and line them with non-stick baking paper.

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each addition is well incorporated before adding the next.

Now add the flour, baking powder, cardamom and milk. Beat for one minute until the mixture is light and creamy.

Now fold in the pistachios and white chocolate chips with a spatula. Once mixed, fill the prepared tins equally with the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins.

Once the cakes are completely cool, make the icing. Break the white chocolate into a heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of steaming water until melted, ensuring that the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water beneath it. Leave it to cool slightly.

Now cream the butter in a separate bowl and add the melted chocolate and vanilla extract. Mix well until light and creamy.

Spread half the icing on one cake, then align the second layer on top. Spread the remaining icing on top and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios.

This cake will keep in an airtight container for up to four days.

  • The Cardamom Trail: Chetna Bakes With Flavours Of The East by Chetna Makan is published by Octopus Books, priced £20. Available now