Pecan, Apple and Cider Cake

Something to cheer us up in these miserable days. Was given a bottle of local cider, and had several apples needing using up, so found this recipe from an old Woman's weekly magazine.

You need:
 330ml cider, 150g melted butter, 4 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated, 2 large eggs, 150g soft brown sugar, 300g plain flour, 2 tspn bicarb, 1 tspn mixed spice, 1 tspn cinnamon, 1/2 tspn grated nutmeg, 200g raisins or sultanas and 100g roughly chopped pecans.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4         Grease and line a 20cm spring form cake tin.

Pour cider into a pan and bring to boil. Lower the heat to simmer and let the cider reduce. You need about 100ml. Melt the butter in another pan and pour the cider over to cool a bit until just warm.

Mix the sugar and  eggs into the apples and pour in the butter and cider. Mix together.

Sift the flour and spices together then fold into the mixture. Finally add the fruit and nuts and stir together.

Pour into the cake tin and bake for about 1 hour.

Leave cake to cool in the tin for about 15 mins, then turn out to cool.

A nice cake to have with a cuppa. It has a soft crumb and as you can see, is full of fruit and nuts. I decided to have a proper cuppa with a friend and got out Mum's teaset. I think everyone had this Old English roses pattern! It keeps well in an airtight tin. You could use other fruit and different nuts. A useful recipe, rustic but very moreish!


Chocolate Chip Courgette Bundt Cake

I'm never too sure about veg in cakes. I quite like carrot cake, but didn't like the parsnip one my friend made, and courgettes, well I haven't really used them. So I was surprised to find that they were an ingredient in a delicious cake someone brought for a social evening recently. I asked for the recipe and this is it!

For the cake: 2 large eggs, 80ml runny honey,100g soft brown sugar, 120ml veg oil, 2 tspn vanilla extract, 100g vanilla yoghurt, 1 tspn bicarb, 1 tspn baking powder, 260g plain flour, 2 small courgettes, grated, 100g milk chocolate [chopped roughly]

Ganache: 50g milk chocolate, broken into pieces and 50ml double cream

Preheat oven 160C/gas3                       
Thoroughly grease and flour a large bundt tin  - make sure you do the corners. Put the tin on a baking tray.

Whisk the eggs, honey, sugar, oil, vanilla and yoghurt together. Squeeze any excess water out of the courgettes and add to the bowl. Mix well.

Sift the flour, bicarb and baking powder together in another bowl. Stir in the chopped chocolate.
Pour in the wet ingredients and stir till combined. Pour into the bundt tin and bake for 50-60 mins .

Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack, then turn out carefully.

When cake is cool, make the topping. Put the chocolate pieces in a bowl. Heat the cream in a pan till it just bubbles then pour over the chocolate. Leave to stand for a minute then whisk it till the chocolate has melted,

Drizzle over the cake.

This is a lovely moist cake. It has a soft crumb and the chocolate pieces still have texture. The ganache topping gives it an indulgent feel. I managed to get the cake out in one piece this time, but have had disasters before when using this tin! Make sure you spray it with cake spray thoroughly or grease and flour it well. Am going to make it in a loaf tin next.


Apricot and Almond Tart

A quick and easy recipe to use up a large tin of apricots I found in the back of my store cupboard. In season you could use fresh apricots.

You need:
a pack of shortcrust pastry [or of course, make your own]
a large tin of apricots [or 500g of fresh]
75g soft butter
75g caster sugar
75g ground almonds
1 egg
flaked almonds to decorate

Preheat oven 200C/gas6                      A 24cm tart tin

Roll the pastry out to fit the tin then put into the fridge.
Take apricots out of tin and pour off the liquid. If using fresh, wash them, remove the stones and cut in half.
Mix the butter, sugar, ground almonds and egg together to make a batter.
Pour this into the tart tin.
Arrange the apricots on top and bake for 30 mins. Take out of the oven and sprinkle flaked almonds on top then put back in oven for 5 mins.
The tart can be eaten warm or cold.

It was good eaten with some vanilla ice cream. You could use other fruits instead of apricots, maybe apples or pears.


Chocolate Galette des Rois with Frangipane

I always try and make a galette in January. You can find them in all the pastry shops and supermarkets in France, as they're made to celebrate the arrival of the Kings on January 6th. Have sadly lost all my little fèves that I collected [the little china figures that go into the galette des rois]. Whoever finds the fève is king or queen for the day and gets a crown!
Decided to make it a bit different this year and added chocolate to the frangipane.
It's so useful to have the puff pastry ready cut out into a circle, as in France, but a large dinner plate used to cut round to make the circle is fine.

You need: 2 packs of butter puff pastry, 200g dark chocolate, 125g ground almonds, 125g caster sugar, 125g soft butter, 25g plain flour, 3 eggs and 1 yolk, and 1/2 tspn almond extract

Preheat oven 200C                             A baking sheet

Beat the eggs and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add the almond extract, flour and ground almonds and mix well.
Break up the chocolate and melt in a bowl over simmering water or in a microwave, then add to the almond mixture [frangipane]. Add the butter a bit at a time, beating well.
Roll out one of the packs of puff pastry and cut into a circle. Spoon the almond mixture on, leaving a 2cm border clear round the edge and wet this border. Roll out the 2nd pack and cut another circle and cover the first one. Press the edges together firmly. Beat the egg yolk and add a few drops of milk then brush over the top of the galette.
Traditionally you make marks on the top, but this is optional. I just did a sort of crisscross pattern.
Reduce oven to 180C and bake for 20 mins till golden. Eat warm.

It is delicious, and we had it with some whipped double cream. It's very rich, but am not completely convinced that adding the chocolate improved the galette. I think I prefer it in its original form!


Season's greetings

                               Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy,                                           Happy New Year.


Malvern Pudding

I was given a bag of apples and wanted to make something different. Browsing through my recipe folder I found this recipe. It's an egg custard over apples, but the custard is made with cream.
Lovely to have as a pudding in this miserable weather.

For the apples:  50g butter, 1 kg cooking apples, 50g sugar and the zest of 2 lemons
For the custard topping: 825ml double cream, 50g sugar, 4 eggs plus 2 yolks, 50g demerara sugar and 1/2 tspn cinnamon

Heat a frying pan and add the butter and apples, peeled cored and sliced.  Cook for 6-7 mins till soft but still keeping shape. Add the sugar and zest and cook for a further 2-3 mins.
Pour into an ovenproof dish.
Beat the eggs, yolks and sugar together; warm the cream over a gentle heat then add to the eggs and gently mix in. Pour over the apples. Mix the brown sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the top.
Bake in preheated oven, 180C/gas 4 for about an hour, till set but still a bit wobbly.

It feeds about 8 people, and the next time I make it, will halve the recipe. It's really delicious, with the buttery cooked apples and the lovely creamy sauce. Love the 2 textures - the slightly tart apples and the creamy custard. I'll definitely make this again.


Toscakaka or Swedish Caramel Almond Cake

I love Scandinavian baking and have several Scandi baking books, but to honest, I've never baked from them. Reading an article recently on this type of baking, I thought I must use my books, so decided to make a caramel almond cake. I've adapted it from 'Scandilicious Baking'.

For the cake you need; 20ml milk, 1 tspn lemon juice [or 75ml buttermilk] 75g butter, 3 eggs, 150g caster sugar, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 150g plain flour, 1 tspn baking powder and a pinch of salt.

For the topping: 150g flaked almonds, 125g butter, 125g light brown sugar, 50ml milk and 1/2 tspn sea salt

 Preheat oven 160C/gas3                     Grease and base line a 23cm springform cake tin

Stir the lemon juice into the milk to sour it, or use 75ml buttermilk instead. Toast the almonds till they're a light golden colour [takes about 6 mins].
Melt the butter over a low heat then pour into a bowl and allow to cool. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until very thick and creamy - took about 5 mins in my stand mixer. 
Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together then gently fold 1/3rd into the batter with a metal spoon. Gently pour half the milk into this and fold in. Fold in another 1/3rd of flour, the rest of the milk and then the rest of the flour. Drizzle in half the butter, fold in, then the other half. Scrape the bottom of the bowl gently to get all the flour.
Scoop into the tin and bake for 25-30 mins till golden and firm.
While it's in the oven, make the topping. Put the butter, sugar, milk and salt into the pan and stir till butter melts. Keep over low heat for a few mins to thicken then stir in the almonds.
When the cake is cooked, turn the oven up to 200C/gas6.
Spread the almond mixture over the cake, then put back in the oven for 8-10 mins till bubbling and darkened. Cool in the tin for 5 mins then loosen sides with a knife and put onto a rack to cool.

It's delicious, and great contrast of texture between the soft cake and the crunchy topping. We ate it cold, but could be a dessert with some cream or ice cream. A bit of a faff to make the cake, but the result is worth it!