July 16, 2020

RUSTIC PLUM AND APPLE PIE


I hadn't made one of these in a while but I had a pack of ready made, ready rolled pastry in stock.  I fancied a fruit pie for pudding.
 
 
This kind of pastry comes supplied as an oblong in the UK, which is great for an oblong tart or quiche but not easy to use for a double crust pie in a round pie dish.  I then remembered this recipe for an open kind of pie, sometimes called a galette.  (Although to me a galette in France is a kind of savoury filled pancake made with buckwheat flour.)
 
You don't really need a recipe as such for this, just a guide. 
 
It's a sheet of ready made shortcrust pastry, placed on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and topped with two apples, peeled and sliced, three plums and a couple of nectarines, stoned and sliced. 
Scatter the fruit evenly over the pastry leaving about a 2" margin all the way round. 
Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of sugar (I used demerara) and fold the pastry over the fruit, pleating the edges so they stick together to form an almost complete lid.
Brush the pastry with milk and sprinkle with another tablespoon of sugar.
Bake at 200C / 180 fan for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit cooked and bubbling slightly.
 
Delicious served warm or cool with whatever you fancy - custard, ice cream, cream, crème fraîche.

July 11, 2020

STRAWBERRY, ALMOND AND NECTARINE CAKE


Internet shopping for groceries has been a bit of a learning curve and there's definitely a knack to it.  We frequently tend to over shop.  In part it's stocking up a little more than usual in case next week we're ill and self isolating or if there are no click and collect slots available.  It's also partly because you never know how much of what you order is actually going to be supplied.  After one or two strange surprises we now allow no substitutions and instead order other alternatives in addition ourselves.  The upshot of all this is that our fridge is constantly well stocked and we have never eaten so well in our lives.  Hence the "lockdown waistline"  situation.


So, with some fruit to use up before the next lot arrived I decided to make a cake that I had seen on a fellow blogger's blog, "What do you make of my cake?".  In it Jo posted about a BBC Good Food recipe for a raspberry Bakewell cake which she adapted to use up some rhubarb as you can see here.  I adapted it even further to make this cake, using some strawberries and a nectarine. 


I used almond extract instead of vanilla and just for the sake of it mixed in about a tablespoon of Amaretto as well for extra almondyness. 
It was moist and delicious.  We had a slice of it with a cup of tea, another slice with a glass of rosé, some as pudding with cream and a few extra strawberries on the side and, last of all, some as pudding with my new found delight, instant custard.  Deplorable habit but it is what it is!

This is definitely a cake to add to my repertoire of favourite cakes that can be adapted to whatever you have in the house, my kind of recipe.  Thanks to Jo for introducing me to the cake in the first place and you can see the original here.

Ingredients

140g ground almonds
140g butter, softened (I used Country Life Spreadable straight from the fridge)
140g golden caster sugar
140g SR flour
2 eggs
½ tsp almond extract
1 tblsp Amaretto liqueur
a handful of strawberries, halved
1 nectarine, chopped
2 tblsp flaked almonds

Method

Butter and base line a 20cm round, deep, loose bottomed or springform tin.  Preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 fan / gas mk 4.

Put all the ingredients except the fruit and flaked almonds into a food processor and blitz until well combined.  (I used a hand held mixer to do the job instead of a food processor.)

Spread roughly half of the mixture into the tin and scatter the fruit on top.  Dollop the remaining mixture over the fruit and carefully spread out  as evenly as you can using the back of a spoon or by hand.  Scatter the flaked almonds over the top of the cake.

Bake for 50 minutes until done and cool in the tin. 

Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Cuts into 10-12 slices.

July 9, 2020

RASPBERRY TURNOVERS

 
I was dying to try making these cute and tasty little puffs as soon as my roll of ready made, ready rolled puff pastry arrived in my "click and collect" supermarket order.
 
 
They are incredibly simple to make but absolutely delicious.  The raspberry flavour packs a punch and the sprinkling of crunchy demerara sugar on top is just right.  Ideal for a picnic or afternoon tea. 

 
The recipe comes from a delightful French blog called "Chic Chic Chocolat" which is full of gorgeous recipes.  Having a bit of O'level French or some experience of French ingredients would help with some of them but this one is so straightforward that you could have a go with the use of a dictionary if need be.  You can see the original here. In it the author uses a circular sheet of pastry and shows how to cut it to make the puffs.  In the UK ready rolled pastry tends to be in an oblong sheet which makes it easier although the shape ends up slightly different.  If your pastry is circular just follow the pictures on the original blog post.

I reckon you could also make these in exactly the same way using strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or even cooked apple or rhubarb.  Maybe even chopped plums, cherries or apricots.  I shall experiment and report back!

Ingredients

1 pack of ready made, ready rolled puff pastry
1 jar of raspberry jam - you won't need a whole jar (I used Bon Maman which has a wonderfully intense flavour)
1 punnet of fresh raspberries - you won't need a whole punnet (I dare say frozen would also work)
milk and demerara sugar to finish
icing sugar to decorate (optional)

Method

Take the pastry out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature well before using, at least half an hour.  Pastry that is still chilled will crack when you unroll it.

Preheat the oven to 200C / 180 fan.  Line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Unroll the pastry and cut in half along its length.  Cut each half into six squares of equal size.

Put a teaspoon of jam and one or two raspberries on a square, slightly off centre.  Dampen the edges of the square and fold it diagonally over the off centre filling to form a triangle.  Press the edges together then seal by pressing a fork into the pastry along the edge.  Repeat with the rest of the squares and make three small slashes in the top of each triangle.

Brush each puff with milk and sprinkle with demerara sugar.  Divide the puffs between the two baking sheets and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  The jam will leak out a bit but this adds to the charm of the puffs!

Serve as they are, slightly warm or cold, or dusted with icing sugar or decorated with a zig zag of icing made with lemon juice and icing sugar if you like.

Makes 12 turnovers (or puffs, however you want to call them!)

July 5, 2020

APRICOT AND BLUEBERRY CRUMBLE CAKE


This cake was made using a recipe that I said at the time was probably one of the nicest cakes I have ever made.  This time I made it using chopped apricots and blueberries. 


I really like recipes like this, that can be adapted to whatever you have in the house.  On this occasion I happened to have a few blueberries, left over from the daily sprinkling on our porridge, and some apricots. 

The apricots had been part of our "click and collect" shop from Asda.  They weren't great. 
We have tried the "click and collect" service from a few supermarkets and on the whole have found Asda to be very good.  One thing we have learned is not to allow substitutions for certain things.  For example, in our local Tesco, observing the youngsters trundling the trolleys of trays around the store you can imagine how a bean is just a bean to someone who might not be familiar with the difference between a green bean from Africa And the delicious and short season British broad bean. 
Having said that, I remain immensely grateful to each and every one of them for keeping us fed and safe during a truly horrible and trying time.

The great thing about "click and collect" is that you avoid the risk of being in the vicinity of other people.  One of the downsides is that it takes ages to navigate the supermarket website and you can make mistakes in ordering.  This is how I found a packet of instant custard in my shopping.  I have no idea how it got there but I confess that I am now hooked...….Mary Berry eat your heart out.
The other is that you end up with stuff that you would never in a million years have bought if you had seen it for yourself in the store.  The cauliflower that was only the size of a large apple was one of them and these apricots were another.  I could somehow tell from the package that they would be tasteless and nothing at all like the wonderful, juicy, tasty and fragrant apricots that were given to me in France last year (which you can read about here).

However, disappointing fruit often benefits from cooking and they worked really well in this cake.  It was, like the first time I made it, utterly delicious.  You can see the recipe here.

July 3, 2020

CHOCOLATE AND GINGER CAKE and the importance of licking the spoon!

 
It was my little brother's birthday recently and he came to have a socially distanced lunch with us to celebrate.  He's ten years younger than me and not so little any more!
 
The forecast was for a nice warm, sunny day so we opted to have a barbecue.  For dessert I made a raspberry trifle, a favourite of his and of Nick's.  For a birthday cake a chocolate and ginger cake was requested.  At the back of my mind I vaguely remembered a Mary Berry recipe for the very same thing and with a bit of googling found it in several places.  One is on the Sainsbury's website here and the other is on the Happy Foodie website here.
 
I have given both links because links have a habit of disappearing after a while.  I find it really annoying to find that a link for something I have got all excited about has disappeared altogether, but that's the nature of the internet I suppose.  Hopefully with two links to go at one of them should still be there in a couple of years' time!
 
In any case, the recipe comes from a book entitled "Mary Berry cooks the perfect" and of course that's where I had originally seen it - although my copy is in France and we are not.  Yet.
 
 
This particular book is a "how to do it" kind of book, not just a series of recipes.  However, Mary in her wisdom omitted to remind the reader of one very important fact.
 
You should always lick the spoon, as soon as possible.
 
When I was a little girl I was always allowed to lick the spoon.  As soon as the cake was in the oven I couldn't wait to do it and, with no little brother around for the first ten years of my life, I had it all to myself.  It's a custom that I have continued to this very day and it has on several occasions saved the day.  This day was one of them!
 
On licking the spoon I thought "it doesn't taste sweet enough".  Within nanoseconds I had realised why.  The carefully weighed out sugar was still in a little pot on the worktop and not in the cake!
 
The cake had only been in the oven for about three or four minutes at the most (I'm that eager to get to the spoon licking part) and it was still liquid.  I whisked it out of the oven at the speed of lightening.  Getting the mixture out of the tins and back into a bowl was a messy job and the tins had to be washed, greased and relined.  Luckily it's an "all in one" kind of cake recipe (my favourite kind) so all I did was beat the missing sugar into the mixture as evenly as I could and get it back in the oven pronto.   
 
The cake was delicious and a great success.  You would never have known how close it was to being a complete disaster- although you might have if I hadn't licked the spoon so promptly.
It had a lovely texture, a good chocolatey flavour with a hint of ginger and the frosting looked pale and inviting against the darkness of the cake.  The only thing I did differently to the recipe was to decorate with sprinkles rather than shavings of preserved ginger.
 
It was a hit with the birthday boy and everyone else and I shall definitely be adding it to my list of favourite cakes.  But I'll try to remember to put all the ingredients in next time.
 
Cuts into 10-12 slices.