December 29, 2019

CHRISTMAS LEFTOVERS

 
Just in case you STILL have some turkey leftover, this is what we do each year with ours.
 
 
This year I made a version of our traditional Christmas Dinner Pie (which you can see here) using leftover potatoes instead of pastry as a topping.

All you do is to put all the Christmas dinner leftovers, including shredded turkey, sprouts, carrots, stuffing, bread sauce, parsnips, pigs in blankets - everything in fact - into a suitable sized dish.  Pour over the leftover gravy or make more if needed.  Top with sliced potatoes and spray those with oil spray (or brush with melted butter).  Bake for 30 minutes at 180 fan until the potatoes are browned and the filling is bubbling around the edges.  Delicious !!  We enjoyed ours on Boxing Day but many of the leftovers will keep for a day or two longer in the fridge before you have to use them up.

 
 
The next day I used my recently discovered risotto recipe to make a turkey, leek and pea risotto.  I used this recipe here but I used chunks of turkey (including the last couple of pigs in blankets that had amazingly escaped discovery in the fridge) and chicken stock (Oxo cube) instead of the smoked haddock and fish stock. I replaced the spinach with frozen peas, adding them with the turkey before the risotto went in the oven. 
The recipe serves 4 people so I simply halved the quantities to make a satisfying dinner for the two of us.  It was scrumptious!

We still have a little turkey left which is still good so for tonight's dinner we will probably have a turkey, leek and mushroom pie with a pastry lid.  There will be sprouts (fresh ones!) and carrots to go with it and almost certainly reheated leftover Christmas pudding with custard and home made brandy butter to follow.  Long gone are the days when I threw out the remaining turkey when I ran out of ideas to use it up.  Nowadays leftovers are one of the best parts of Christmas for me!

December 27, 2019

FRESH PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

 
It's not that long since I made my first upside down cake, only about forty years since they were fashionable!
More recently I found myself with a fresh pineapple that hadn't been used for its intended purpose so I looked on the internet for suitable cake recipes and stumbled upon this recipe on the Tesco website.  It looked incredibly straightforward.

 
In fact it could hardly have been easier, simply arranging the sliced pineapple in the tin and spooning the cake mixture on top.  No caramel topping to leak out of the tin and the easiest possible sponge cake mixture which I made even quicker using Stork soft margarine and the all in one method.  I didn't have a 25cm tin as specified in the recipe so used my 23cm tin and it was fine, just the right depth I thought.
 
 
In place of the caramel topping on the fruit you simply drizzle runny honey over the finished cake.  I didn't have any in stock so used golden syrup instead.  It was yummy!
 
 
The sponge was light, tasty and altogether delightful, the pineapple was sharp and delicious, offset by the subtle taste of the golden syrup which was not overly sweet.
 
 
It was such a success that I decided to make it again for this year's alternative to Christmas pudding, decorating the finished cake with a few glacé cherry halves and sprigs of rosemary from the garden for a festive touch.  It was quickly rustled up on Christmas Eve, the longest part of the preparation being to trim and slice the pineapple!  It went down really well, enjoyed with a little cream, custard, or home made brandy butter, or in some cases, all three!
 
Ingredients
1 medium fresh ripe pineapple
175g Stork soft margarine for cakes (or softened butter if you prefer)
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
175g self raising flour
2-3 tblsp milk
1 tblsp runny honey (or a good squirt of squeezy golden syrup)
 
Method
Preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 fan / gas mk 4.  Butter a 23 cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper.
 
Prepare the pineapple by removing the top and bottom and slicing off the outer skin and tufts.  Cut in half vertically and remove the woody core with an apple corer or sharp knife Slice into thinnish slices about the thickness of a £1 or 1€ coin.  Arrange the slices in the bottom of the tin, covering as much area as possible.  (You may have some pineapple left over.)
 
To make the sponge beat together all the remaining ingredients except for the golden syrup in a large bowl until smooth and well combined.  Add enough of the milk to loosen the mixture but not make it too soft. 
 
Spoon the mixture carefully over the fruit and level the top.  Bake for about 45 minutes until done.
 
Leave in the tin for 5 minutes then release the clip and leave to cool.  When cool, remove the ring, put a plate or cake stand upside down on top and invert the cake.  Remove the circle of baking paper and drizzle a little honey or golden syrup over the top.
 
Cuts into 10-12 slices.

December 15, 2019

SMOKED HADDOCK AND LEEK RISOTTO


Whoosh, where did the last few weeks go?
 
It's certainly not that there has been no baking going on chez nous.  Indeed, there has been an above average amount of baking, cooking and entertaining and consequently a shortage of time to write about it.
 
We returned to the UK at the end of October and immediately turned the house here upside down to have two bedrooms decorated, one upstairs and one downstairs.  (It's a bungalow with a dormer extension.)  So far we have done all the decorating ourselves but by now are thoroughly fed up with it so this time wielded the wallet instead of the paint brush.  Paul the decorator was a joy to have in the house (he is very house trained and totally unlike any workmen we have ever had the displeasure to meet before).  He did a brilliant job of first the upstairs bedroom then the downstairs, on consecutive weeks.  All very good but it still meant moving furniture yet again from one room to another then back again.  I swear I never ever want to do that again.
 
With the furniture still displaced we then put Daisy into the cattery, loaded Hugo into the car to return to France for just one week to "close up" the house there and say goodbye to it until next Spring.  When we got back to the UK we then had to restore the house here to something like habitable and get back to normal life.  Not that I can actually remember what normal is like. 
 
 
You may wonder what any of this has to do with a risotto but I have to say that this recipe is a joy to have discovered.
 
Our nephew and his girlfriend cooked this for us when we went round to theirs one evening last week to meet their new cat and dishwasher.  They bought their very first house a couple of months ago and Nick went round soon after to put in place the plumbing and electrics for a dishwasher - their first one of those too.  Having only ever previously lived in rented houses they haven't had the opportunity to gain DIY skills, all repairs having to be done by landlords, or, more often than not, put up with undone.  The dishwasher finally arrived and was successfully installed at about the same time as they got their own cat, having not been able to have one of those before either.
 
The cat Mavis is adorable, the risotto was delicious and rustled up in no time at all and the dishwasher worked brilliantly.  They are busy people, often getting home from work quite late, so having a repertoire of quick dinners is essential.  I asked for the recipe and couldn't wait to try it myself. 

You can see it here on the BBC Good Food website.  Curiously, some of the reviews describe it as bland.  Well, au contraire, for me/us it was packed full of flavour, utterly delicious, rich and creamy.  I made it myself this evening and even my dad enjoyed it too, it being the first risotto he has ever eaten (at the age of 91).  I used a Tesco fish stock pot (little plastic thing) and skinless, boneless smoked cod as that was what was available.  I am also looking forward to adapting the recipe using bacon and mushrooms instead of the smoked fish.
 
Ingredients
 
a small knob of butter
1 large leek, washed and thinly sliced
300g risotto rice
700 ml fish or veg stock
250 ml whole milk
375g (approx) smoked cod or haddock, skinned, boned and cut into large chunks
3 tblsp crème fraiche
100g baby spinach
 
Method
 
Preheat the oven to 200C / 180 fan / gas mk 6.
Melt the butter in a large ovenproof dish or casserole over medium heat and cook the leek slices for 4-5 minutes, stirring, until just tender.  Add the rice and stir for two more minutes.
 
Add the stock and milk, bring to the boil and bubble for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and sit the fish chunks on top.
 
Cover with a lid (or foil) and bake in the oven for 18 minutes until the rice is tender.
 
Remove from the oven and stir through the crème fraiche and spinach.  Season with salt and pepper and cover with the lid again.  Leave out of the oven for 3 minutes by which time the spinach will be cooked.  Serve immediately.
 
Makes 4 generous portions.

October 25, 2019

PUMPKIN, APPLE AND WALNUT SPICE CAKE

 
I made this cake for our latest cake and bake club meeting where the theme was "autumn".
 
It's a variation on a favourite recipe that uses tinned pumpkin purée.  You can see that recipe here.  I replaced some of the pumpkin with grated eating apple and some of the vegetable oil with walnut oil.
 
I used my "fleur de lys" Nordic Ware Bundt pan and the cake release recipe I posted recently.  The cake slipped out of the tin perfectly and in fact I could even tell that it was completely loose on picking it up and before turning it upside down.  It's such a relief when the cake doesn't stick.
 
 
 
This was my last meeting as club organiser and I was delighted that most of the bakes on the table were cakes (not quiches) just like the old days.  You can read all about it here.  My cake looked good without the maple syrup glaze I had planned to drizzle over it.  The tin makes a fairly plain cake look gorgeous and I thought it best not to detract from the design with any kind of icing.  It tasted good too and was sweet enough without any added icing sugar.  If anything I would add a little more spice next time, maybe a teaspoonful of ginger or mixed spice.
 
 
It had a nice texture, moist and soft without falling apart when cut.
 
 
Ingredients
 
200g plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
250g soft brown sugar
50g walnuts, roughly chopped
3 eggs
100ml sunflower oil
90ml walnut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g pumpkin purée from a tin
1 large eating apple, peeled and grated

Method

Grease and flour a large Bundt tin, or use cake release paste.  Preheat the oven to 175˚C / 155˚ fan. 

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt, spices, baking powder and bicarb.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly then add the oils, vanilla, sugar, pumpkin and apple.  Mix well then add the dry ingredients and the nuts.  Mix well to combine then pour carefully into the prepared tin.

Tap the tin on the worktop a few times to release any trapped air bubbles then bake for 40 minutes or until done.  Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.

Dust with icing sugar or drizzle with a simple water icing when cold.

Cuts into 12-16 slices.

October 22, 2019

COURGETTES ON TOAST


By this time of year we are usually well an truly courgetted out and running out of ideas how to eat our way through a glut of them. However, this year our courgette plants have not done so well, mainly because of the drought here in France.  We had a few yellow courgettes earlier in the summer, then the heat stopped the plants in their tracks.  The green courgette plant produced a few tiddlers then in the strong hot winds in August the top of the plant broke off and that was the end of that.

The weather has finally returned to something like normal and in fact for the whole of October we have had plenty of rain.  The grass has turned from a crozzled and desperate brown to a lush green and you could almost hear the flower beds sigh with relief as they soaked up the rain and started to grow again.  And now we are getting enormous yellow courgettes.


 
I was actually browsing my cook books for recipes using plums when I happened upon this one for courgettes. 
 
It's in a book by a lady called Fran Warde who you may not have heard of.  She co-wrote the cookery books of French recipes along with Joanne Harris, she of the "Chocolat" novels and film.  Those cook books are worth having just for the pictures alone and I have passed many an hour poring over the pictures of sunny French markets in darkest February, when the weather outside in Derbyshire was at its most foul.
 

 
The idea of courgettes on toast did seem like a strange concept but I couldn't resist having a go.  You make a mixture of grated courgette, egg, shallot and cheddar cheese, pile it on toast and grill until golden brown.  The most similar thing I can think of would be a tartine - toast with various fillings served here in France.
 
 
I also happened to have three quarters of a pain in the freezer - a pain is a large baguette and makes beautiful toast.  We need to use up as much of the fridge and freezer contents as possible before we go back to the UK for the winter so this recipe ticked several boxes - also using up an egg, some cheddar (which has already crossed the channel once), a stray shallot and a yellow courgette straight from the vegetable patch.
 
It was delicious.  Nick expressed a certain amount of scepticism but was immediately won over after the first mouthful.  We will definitely be having these again.
 
Ingredients.
 
4 chunky slices of bread
1 large courgette
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 small egg
about 50g grated cheddar cheese
a good dash of Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
 
Method
 
Toast the bread on both sides.
 
Grate the courgette and pile it into a clean tea towel.  Gather the tea towel up and squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the courgettes.
 
Put the courgette into a bowl with all the other ingredients and mix well.  Divide the mixture between the pieces of toast, piling it on top then pressing down slightly with a fork.
 
Place under a hot grill and cook until the filling is lightly browned and the cheese bubbling.  This will take about five minutes depending on the heat of your grill so keep your eye on it.
 
Serve immediately.
 
Serves two.
 
For more ideas on using a glut of courgettes:

October 18, 2019

HOME MADE CAKE RELEASE - NO MORE BUNDT DISASTERS!

 
I find preparing Bundt tins fiddly and time consuming.  Getting melted butter into all those nooks and crannies, then dusting with flour, is a messy job and it's easy to miss a bit.  Turning them out is always stressful and I have had to disguise many a damaged cake with crafty icing in the past.
I have had success with shop bought cake release in spray or liquid form but have been somewhat unsure about some of the ingredients and frankly some of them smell slightly unpleasant.
Home made cake release paste is a revelation and easy to make from storecupboard ingredients.  Simply put equal quantities of each ingredient in a mini chopper and blitz them to a paste.
 

 
Brush the paste carefully into all the crevices of your Bundt tin using a pastry brush.
 
 
Store the remaining paste in a jar in the fridge, bringing it out shortly before you need to use it each time.  Mine usually keeps in the fridge for several weeks.
 
 No more Bundt disasters!
 
Cool the cake in the tin for about ten minutes (turning it out too early can still result in disaster) and it should slip out easily and cleanly.  No more shaking, tapping or cursing needed!
 
 
Perfect Bundts every time!

 
Cake release
 
50g plain flour
50g vegetable oil
50g white cooking fat (I use Trex)
 
Measure the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor or mini chopper.  Process until smooth.  Or you could simply beat together in a bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Store unused paste in a jar in the fridge.  Bring it out of the fridge a few minutes before you next want to use it.
 
**********************
 

Mind you, nothing is ever completely certain as you can read here !! 

 

October 17, 2019

GINGER, RUM AND SPICE CAKE

 
Nick made this cake for our Macmillan charity coffee morning.
 
Ginger cakes are his favourite both to eat and to bake and he's always on the lookout for something a bit different.  This recipe comes from a book called "Make, Bake and Celebrate" by Annie Rigg and it includes instructions for decorating the cake with slices of candied pineapple.  I confess that we did buy a pineapple but decided that making the candied slices was a faff too far.  (We ate the pineapple for dessert another day.)  Instead, Nick decorated it with chopped crystallised ginger.
 

 
The cake was pretty faffy as it was, involving the making of a syrup and a cream cheese icing - the recipe for which was annoyingly on a different page (having to flip back and forth from one recipe to another is something I find very annoying).  In fact the recipe was exactly the kind of thing that Nick loves to get stuck into, remembering that he is a man who was prepared to caramelise carrots for a previous cake.  Myself, I just don't have the patience, always having a number of other things that need doing at the same time, such as ironing some jeans or hanging out the washing while the weather is good.  Nick has the knack of concentrating on one task at a time to the exclusion of all others.  (A well known male characteristic I suspect.)
 
 
Regrettably, I completely forgot to take a picture of a slice of the cake.  It was delicious with a hint of rum and plenty of spice.  It had a nice, even crumb and kept well for a day or three (in the fridge because of the cream cheese icing).  It got plenty of praise at the coffee morning and, basking in all the attention, Nick said he would definitely make it again AND would tackle the candied pineapple to go with it.  Brave man.
 
Ingredients
 
For the syrup
* measure half of the syrup ingredients for one cake as these quantities provide enough syrup for baking the pineapple slices, which we didn't make. Alternatively the leftover syrup keeps well in the fridge for several days.
 
100g caster sugar
juice of 1 lime
4cm fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tblsp dark rum (we used spiced rum)
1 cinnamon stick
3 tblsp water
 
For the cake
 
150g butter
75g golden syrup
75g dark treacle
175g plus 2 tblsp dark muscovado sugar
3 balls stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped (half will be used for the frosting)
3 tblsp dark rum (we used spiced rum)
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
100ml boiling water
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp ground ginger
1 large tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
 
For the cream cheese frosting
 
150g good quality full fat cream cheese
25g softened butter
1-1½ tblsp maple syrup (or you could use clear honey)
½ tsp vanilla extract
 
1 tblsp crystallised ginger, chopped for decoration (optional)
 
Method
 
First make the rum and ginger syrup by putting all the ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Simmer for 3-4 minutes until thickened (ours took much longer than this).  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
 
Preheat the oven to 170C / 150 fan / gas mk 3.  Grease and line a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment, or use a paper liner.
 
In another small saucepan, put the butter, golden syrup, treacle and sugar and heat gently until melted and dissolved.  Add half of the chopped ginger, the rum and boiling water and mix to combine.  Stir in the bicarb, which will cause the mixture to foam, and set aside.
 
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the middle.  Add the eggs and the syrup/butter mixture in thirds, beating well with each addition.  Stir well and pour into the prepared tin.  Tap the tin a few times on the worktop to release any large bubbles.  Bake for 45-50 minutes until done.
 
Leave the cake in the tin while you strain the rum and ginger syrup.  Prick the hot cake all over with a skewer and slowly drizzle 1-2 tblsp syrup over the top, letting it soak in.  Cool in the tin.
 
To make the cream cheese frosting, put the cheese and butter into a bowl and mix together until smooth.  Add the maple syrup or honey to taste.  Mix in the vanilla and the chopped ginger.
 
Turn the cake out onto a serving dish and spread the frosting over the top.  Sprinkle the chopped crystallised ginger over the frosting (if using).
 
Cuts into 8 - 10 slices.

October 1, 2019

APPLE AND BLACKBERRY CAKE


A while ago recipes for something called a hedgerow cake seemed to be turning up everywhere I looked.  There were numerous variations of the cake around but most had blackberries in there somewhere and also on the top as decoration. 



With friends coming round for a birthday tea and a few of my hedgerow blackberries going spare I decided to make my own version.  It's another adaptation of Mary Berry's apple and lemon sandwich cake which you can see here. 
When I made this cake before, I filled and topped it with lemon buttercream.  This time I filled it with a layer of bramble jelly and whipped cream and decorated it with cream and blackberries just like the hedgerow cakes I saw on Facebook.  I later added a light dusting of icing sugar to the top before serving.

This really is a nice sponge cake recipe, very moist with the grated apple in it and hugely adaptable.  I love recipes that I can change easily to use what I have in the fridge and can imagine an elderflower and gooseberry version, or apple and raspberry.  Lovely.

Ingredients

For the cake
225g each of baking spread, caster sugar and self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs, beaten
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and grated*

For the filling and decoration
a few tblsp bramble (blackberry) jelly
150ml double cream
a few blackberries

Method

Butter two 20cm sandwich tins and line the bases with baking paper.  Preheat the oven to 180C / 160 fan / gas mk 4.

Put all the cake ingredients into a large bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk until well combined.  Fold in the grated apple and divide the mixture evenly between the two tins.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until done.  Cool in the tins.  Turn out and fill with the jam and whipped cream, reserving a little of the cream for piping rosettes on the top of the cake.  Place a blackberry onto each rosette.  Dust lightly with icing sugar if you like before serving.

Cuts into 8 -10 slices.

*Mary's tip for grating the apple is a good one:  Cut the unpeeled apples in half and remove the cores.  (I find it easy to do this with a melon baller.)  Hold each apple half by the skin to grate it and as you do so you will be left with the skin only in your hand to discard. 

September 29, 2019

PLUM AND BLACKBERRY SLICE

 
 
 
As well as the gorgeous yellow St Catherine plums from our plum trees, the other week I ended up with a pound or so of blackberries.  We were out walking our dog Hugo and there they were.  We couldn't resist.  Apart from anything else, the blackberry harvest has not been great in our part of France due to the extended drought and reasonably plump ones were scarce.  These were not huge but quite tasty.
 

 
There were not enough blackberries to make a blackberry crumble and I didn't think I should go out and buy apples as I had all the plums to use up.  Pondering what I could make with the combination I remembered the Bill Grainger recipe for peach and raspberry slice which you can see here.  I had used it several times to make an apricot and blueberry slice which you can see here and I saw no reason why a plum and blackberry combination shouldn't work just as well.
 
 
I adapted the original recipe to try to counter the very moistness of the plums and hopefully produce a less soggy cake - more like a cake than a pudding in fact.  It worked.  It was delicious either warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or cold with a cup of tea or coffee. 
 
Ingredients
 
185g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder plus an extra ½ tsp
125g butter, chilled and diced
100g soft brown sugar 
100g caster sugar
300g approx. plums, halved and stoned - prepare enough fruit to almost cover the area of the tin
a handful of blackberries, picked over, washed and dried
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
150 ml milk
 
Method
 
Grease and line the base of a 24cm square baking tin.  Preheat the oven to 180C / 160 fan / gas mk4. 
 
Sift the flour and 1½ tsp baking powder into a food processor with the butter.  Blitz for a few seconds to make crumbs.  Add the sugars and blitz again to mix.
 
Tip half of the crumbs (I did actually weigh mine) into the prepared tin and press over the base.  Scatter the fruit evenly over the top. 
 
Add the vanilla, egg, milk and the other ½ tsp baking powder to the food processor and process to make a batter.  Pour this over the fruit and bake for about an hour until golden brown.  Cool in the tin.
 
Cuts into about 15 slices.  

September 27, 2019

A CHARITY COFFEE MORNING

 
Today is the day that the Macmillan Cancer Support suggest for holding a coffee morning to raise funds for the charity.  I held mine three weeks ago so that I could catch all our friends in France who might have gone back to the UK for winter by now.
 
 
It was, as several people pointed out, much like the old days of cake club.  Which is exactly what I was hoping for. 
 
The cake club I have been organising for seven years has gradually evolved into a lunch club, with quiches, salads, pies and even sandwiches appearing on the table.  For me it was always all about the cake but it turns out that some people were actually thinking that there were too many cakes and were pleased to see them gradually being replaced by the savouries. 
Now at meetings people bring all kinds of food, which for me is a shame because the cake club was unique.  It's no longer an afternoon get together over a cup of tea and a slice of cake, it's a buffet lunch.
 

 
At our Macmillan coffee morning, to go with the cakes, biscuits and buns, there was also a bring and buy stall where people were asked to donate any cast off items for sale.
 


 
The weather was perfect, most of the items were sold, we all stuffed ourselves with cake, people were very generous and we raised €165 for the charity.
 
It's sad though to think that I shall probably never again see another table groaning under the weight of so many gorgeous cakes!

September 26, 2019

PLUM AND ALMOND CAKE

 
In our French garden we have four plum trees.  One produces a few small, purple plums every year.  The other three were said to be Mirabelle trees but they're not.  Mirabelles are smaller and more round than these decidedly plum shaped plums.
 
 
Our trees produce a smallish oval yellow plum which is absolutely delicious and not unlike a Victoria plum.
 
I haven't had Victoria plums for a while now.  We are usually in France when they are in season in the UK and I do miss them.  So in stating that these plums are very like a Victoria plum I'm relying very much on my memory of how wonderful they taste.
 
This year the three trees have done incredibly well, which is amazing considering the drought that we have had here in France for three months.  For all that time we have been unable to water freely and have saved our precious rainwater in the water cube for our tomatoes and the plants we really didn't want to lose.  We have lost a rowan tree, an apple tree, several roses and numerous other plants.  It was impossible to keep up with the watering and in the area where the plum trees are everything else is brown and dead. 
 
And yet we have had loads and loads of plums and they just kept on coming.  I have used them for several cakes, bakes and crumbles, given bagfuls away and put more bagfuls in the freezer.  They have been an absolute joy.
 
 
For this cake I adapted a favourite recipe, called "fantasy cake" by Lisa Faulkner.  She was a Celebrity Master Chef winner some years ago and since then has written several cook books.  This recipe comes from the one called "recipes from my mother to my daughter" and I have used and adapted it successfully several times.  She makes the cake with strawberries but it works with any soft fruit or chopped stone fruit.  This time I made it in my lovely new "blossom" Bundt tin and it worked really well.
 
The cake was moist and fruity and the combination of plums and almond was lovely.  It was delicious with a cup of tea and also lovely served as a dessert with ice cream. 
 
Ingredients

175g spreadable butter
150g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour, sifted
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons milk
100g ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond essence
Approx 400g plums, washed, stoned and roughly chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C / 140° fan.  Grease and line a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin, or prepare a Bundt tin using cake release paste, spray or butter and flour.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl using a hand mixer (or wooden spoon) until light and fluffy.  Add the flour, eggs, milk, ground almonds and almond essence and mix well.  Fold in the fruit.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and level the top.

Bake for about ¾-1¼ hours.  Check after 45 minutes – mine was done in 50 minutes.

Cool in the tin for about ten minutes then carefully turn the cake out of the tin onto a wire rack to finish cooling.  Dust with icing sugar before serving if you like.

Cuts into 8-10 good slices.

September 15, 2019

BLUEBERRY CRUMBLE CAKE

 
 
You will know by now that I can't resist adding to my cook book collection, mostly these days found in local charity shops.
 
 
Well, it happened again - this book came with an extra recipe, a clipping from a magazine tucked inside the book.
 
This has happened to me twice before.  There was Sharon's Hotpot and Sandringham cake, both of which were magazine clippings that fell out of a secondhand book.  I was compelled to make both of them and they turned out to be very good.  My mum used to say that things come in threes so with the third clipping in front of me I just had to try the recipe!
 
 
The magazine that it comes from is Good Housekeeping and in fact you can see it on the internet here.  It's proper name is "blueberry and sour cream loaf" but I changed it because the interesting feature is the crumble topping rather than the sour cream.  In any case I didn't have any sour cream and rather than go out and buy some I used crème fraiche, which I did have.
 
 
The cake is made using oil instead of butter and in a very similar way to making muffins.  It had a very light and fluffy crumb and unlike muffins was still good several days later.  I thought the crumble topping looked a bit odd because it was not very brown, but in any case the cake was delicious.
 
Ingredients
 
For the topping
15g cold, unsalted butter
40g plain flour
15g demerara sugar
 
For the cake
50 ml vegetable oil
2 medium eggs
200ml sour cream or crème fraiche
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g self raising flour
175g caster sugar
125g blueberries
 
Method
 
Preheat the oven to 180C / 160 fan / gas mk 4.  Grease a 900g / 2lb loaf tin or use a paper liner.  (I used my small roasting tin which produces an oblong cake rather than a loaf shape.)
 
First make the crumble topping by rubbing the butter into the flour and stirring in the sugar.  Set aside.
 
To make the cake, sift the flour into a large bowl, add the sugar and stir to combine. 
 
Put the wet ingredients into a large jug and beat together.  Pour into the flour mixture and stir until almost combined.  Fold in all but a spoonful of the blueberries.
 
Turn the mixture into the prepared tin, scatter the remaining blueberries and crumble mixture over the top.  Bake for about 50 minutes until done.
 
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out.  Serve warm or cold.
 
Cuts into 10-12 slices.