August 27, 2013


notablocker1I was stuck for something nice for dessert the other day, didn’t have time to bake anything and there was nothing much in the cupboards, what with being in France at the moment.  We don’t keep the amount of stuff here that we have in the UK and what we hadn’t already run out of had been used up by my brother when he was chez nous with his daughter for a holiday until a few days before we arrived.

However, one of the advantages of having family use the house in our absence is that they leave miscellaneous things behind to make up for the stuff they have used.  Hence I had a huge bag of lime flavoured Doritos and a box of cheese footballs to enjoy when we arrived ourselves !!


So I had a bit of a rummage and turned up a few boudoir biscuits (leftover from the making of a tiramisu in June), a tin of peach halves that someone else had left here, a jar of apple purée (we stock up and take plenty home with us after every trip), some squirty cream and a carton of apricot yoghurt in the fridge, a little box of mini marshmallows that I swooped on in Sainsburys before we came to France, thinking they might come in handy.

So I took a couple of tall sundae glasses and built something that almost but not quite might be a bit like a knickerbocker glory !!

This is what I would do if I would do it again:

Break the boudoir biscuits into pieces and drop into the bottom of the glass, moisten with a teaspoon or so of juice from the can of peaches.

Add a layer of chopped peaches, followed by a spoonful of apple purée and a good dollop of yoghurt.

Repeat the layers until the top of the glass is reached.

Chill in the fridge for at least thirty minutes then add a good squirt of cream and decorate with a slice of peach and a sprinkle of mini marshmallows.

Obviously the fruit variations are endless, and I could easily use bits of leftover cake of any kind if I didn’t happen to have made a tiramisu recently !!  In fact imagination is the only limitation when creating a notablocker glory !!


Not only that, but I am actually having the cheek to submit this to this month’s Teatime Treats Challenge !!  The theme this month is chilled desserts, organised by Kate of What Kate Baked in conjunction with Karen of Lavender and Lovage.  You can see the details here.

August 25, 2013


When Dom of Bellau Kitchen announced the theme for this month’s Random Recipe Challenge, “Grab and Run”, I knew straight away which book I would choose.  The idea is to choose within ten seconds which recipe book you would most like to keep above all others. 


I did hesitate for a second, wondering whether I might prefer Annie Bell’s “Gorgeous Cakes” but no, the Popina Book of Baking was definitely “The One” for me.


Then I had to open it at random and cook the recipe in front of me, assuming it was one I hadn’t made before.  Now that could be a problem as I have made lots of the recipes in this lovely book, but I was in luck.


I had never made this butternut squash tart before.  The interesting thing about it is that the pastry is not a regular shortcrust, not even wholemeal pastry, but is made from pizza dough, which meant using yeast.  Now that would be first for me, having never made bread or used yeast for anything before, except of course in our bread making machine.  Nick is the bread maker in the house these days.

popina2 popina3 

The recipe specifies using a spelt pizza dough but unfortunately when I opened the packet of spelt flour there was not enough left so I made a normal white pizza dough instead.  It was easy enough and gave a fairly businesslike crust to what is a very meaty meatless tart.


In the end I modified the recipe slightly.  The idea is to put half of the cream mixture in the tart, pile the vegetables on top and pour over the other half.  I did this and the remaining liquid did not cover the huge amount of veg.  So I decided to make another batch of the cream mixture and pour that on as well.  The alternative would have been, I suppose, to remove some of the filling.


Consequently the tart took much longer to cook than the time stated, more like 45-50 minutes rather than 30-35.  Even then it was still a little runny when I cut a slice so I shoved it back in the oven for a bit longer !!


So it turned out to be a monster of a tart !!  Very tasty and very filling.  I would definitely make it again and also possibly add some spices for interest, possibly cumin or some ginger.  We had ours on its own with some salad, but it would make an interesting side dish to go with a roast, or possibly chops or sausages.  It took us several days to eat our way through it and it kept well in a box in the fridge.

I give here my adaptation of the recipe.


For the pastry base:

220g strong white flour

1tsp quick dried yeast

½tsp salt

2tblsp olive oil

1egg, lightly beaten

80ml warm water

For the filling:

1 small red onion

400g butternut squash

250ml double cream

2 eggs

4tblsp grated parmesan cheese

1tsp salt

½tsp black pepper


Preheat the oven to 170°C / 150° fan / gas mk 3.  Grease a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin.

To make the pastry base, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the wet ingredients.

Using clean hands, bring everything together and work into a soft dough.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead for two minutes.  If the dough is still sticky, add a little more flour.

Roll out to 3mm thickness and use to line the tin but leave the edges untrimmed.

To make the filling, peel the onion and slice thinly.  Peel the squash, discard the seeds and cut into matchsticks.  Mix together in a bowl.

In a large jug, whisk together the cream, eggs, cheese, salt and pepper.

Pour half the cream mixture into the tin, spread the vegetables on top, then pour over the rest of the liquid.  Run a rolling pin over the tart to trim off the excess pastry.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown and set, but check after 30 for browning.

Allow to cool slightly before serving.  Serve warm or cold, with salad, or warm as a side dish to a roast.

Serves 8 generously and keeps for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge.

August 12, 2013


redcurrant jelly8

Bundt cakes, or rather, the tins you make them in, fascinate me.  You can get Bundt tins in such an enormous variety of shapes and designs that virtually anything is possible when it comes to fancy cakes.  If you want to make a cake shaped like a steam train, or a Christmas tree, there is a Bundt tin for it.  No longer is it necessary to carve up cakes and glue them back together in the shape you want.

The thing that has always puzzled me is what recipe to use.  I wondered if you could bake any recipe in a Bundt tin and it would turn out right.  I suspect not.  Then I stumbled upon a blog called Dolly Bakes written by Rachel, who makes all kinds and flavours of Bundt cakes and gives a basic, completely adaptable recipe that she says works every time.

It certainly worked for me when I was deciding what to do with the few redcurrants I had left over from making jam, jelly and relish.

redcurrant jelly3I use a recipe from Delia online for redcurrant jelly, which is incredibly quick and easy and works really well.  You can see it here.

redcurrant jelly4I had so many redcurrants this year that I decided to branch out and make strawberry and redcurrant jam.  It’s a recipe I had not tried before but the jam is delicious.  You can see the recipe here.

redcurrant jelly5I used just a few redcurrants for this relish which is absolutely gorgeous.  There are still some redcurrants to ripen on the bush and with those I think I will make some more of this.  You can see the recipe here.

So that just left a handful of redcurrants from my harvest so I decided to mix them with strawberries and make a cake.  Then I noticed that I had used all the strawberries so I used a few raspberries instead!

redcurrant jelly6 redcurrant jelly7 

I used a traditional Gugelhupf cake silicone mould that I got recently and very reasonably from Sarah at Silicone Moulds.  I still feel slightly nervous about using silicone.  Putting cake mixture into something so wobbly and then into a hot oven just somehow seems wrong!  But it worked perfectly.  I expect that sooner or later I will get used to silicone and learn to trust it!

I greased and floured the mould and the cake turned out fine with hardly a crumb left behind stuck to the mould.  But the shape was not as I expected.  The finished cake was not the dome shape of the mould but flatter.  I suppose logically this makes sense.  If you put that amount of cake mixture into a flexible object the weight of it is bound to make it sag or flatten.  I don’t know if there is a way round this, but the cake looked nice anyway.

redcurrant jelly9In fact, not only did it look nice, it tasted lovely.  Here’s the link to the recipe on Rachel’s blog:

I followed the recipe exactly except for the following adaptations:

I substituted strawberry yoghurt for the plain yoghurt

I substituted 2tsp rose water for the 1tsp vanilla

I added 100g of mixed raspberries and redcurrants.

redcurrant jelly2 The cake was huge, cut easily into thick slices and had a lovely crumb.  It would be great for a party, special event or cake stall as it looks so good and would probably serve 20 people.  It was still perfect three days later when we had the last slice made into a raspberry trifle.  So a great big “thank you” to Rachel for a great recipe that I shall no doubt be using over and over again.

As I used my few remaining redcurrants and a handful of slightly tired raspberries I am entering this cake into Kate of Turquoise Lemons “no waste” food challenge, currently hosted by Elizabeth of Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.  You can see the details here.

Calendar Cakes Challenge

Also, because it is full of the tastes of summer, I am also linking it to Rachel’s own Calendar Cakes challenge on her blog Dolly Bakes.  You can see the details here.

August 7, 2013


gooseberry and almond streusel squares6 I acquired a small quantity of gooseberries recently and thought I would like to do something a bit different from the usual crumble.  After no time at all I came across this recipe on the Good Food website.

The result was something like a cross between a pudding and a cake.  A dessert cake in fact.

It reminded me of school dinners. When I was a junior I went home for dinner but once I went to the “big school”, on the bus, I had school dinner every day. They were mostly delicious, cooked fresh at school from scratch every day by a small team of ladies, who would beam at us from the serving hatch. The puddings they made were wonderful. Apple pie, Manchester tart, baked ginger sponge, chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce, fruit trifle in summer and a sort of baked currant pudding which we affectionately called “millstone grit”.

They were all delicious, served with huge jugs of custard if appropriate (fights almost broke out over whose turn it was to have the skin) and the ladies would beam again as we scraped every morsel from our bowls. The empty bowls would be piled up on the hatch and the ladies set to tackling the washing up in the happy knowledge that they had fed us properly.

Happy days.

gooseberry and almond streusel squares5 So although I don’t remember having this exact cake for pudding at school it is very much the kind of thing that might have appeared on the table.  The introduction to the recipe suggests it can be served warm as a pudding or cold with a cup of tea and that reminds me again of the times I walked past the school dining room at the start of afternoon lessons and would see the cooks sitting at a table tucking into a cup of tea and slice or two of cold pudding.

gooseberry and almond streusel squares2gooseberry and almond streusel squares3

gooseberry and almond streusel squares4

For the cake you make a quantity of crumble, press most of it into the bottom of a tin, add the fruit and sprinkle the rest on top.  Easy peasy and absolutely delicious.  Perfect served warm with custard and nice too the day after, served cold and cut into squares, although it’s a little moist to eat with fingers.  Forks are required.

alphabakesI am entering this post into this month’s Alphabakes challenge is to bake something with the letter “G” in it.  Thanks to this month’s host, Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker, and her partner Caroline of Caroline Makes for organising this challenge.


250 self-raising flour

250 cold butter, cubed

125g ground almonds

125g light muscovado sugar

350g gooseberries, topped and tailed and rinsed (frozen fruit works just as well)

2 tblsp caster sugar

50g flaked almonds (optional)


Preheat the oven to 190°C / 170°fan / gas mk 5.  Grease a 27cm x 18cm (approximately) baking or roasting tin and line the base with baking paper.

Put the flour and butter in a food processer and pulse to form breadcrumbs (or rub in by hand).  Add the almonds and muscovado sugar and pulse briefly to combine.

Press two thirds of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the tin and as far up the sides as you can.

Put the gooseberries in a bowl and toss with the caster sugar.  Spread them over the crumb base.  Mix the flaked almonds into the remaining one third of the crumb mixture and sprinkle this evenly over the top.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and the fruit is just bubbling around the edges.  Cool in the tin.

Server warm with cream, custard or ice cream, or leave until cold and cut into squares.

Cuts into 8-12 squares, depending on how big you like your squares.