4/27/2017

Mini Chocolate and Ginger Puddings

I recently bought a set of 4 mini pudding basins, so had to try them out. I love the combination of chocolate and ginger so decided these flavours would be in my little sponge puddings.
The only drawback to these puds is that they need to be steamed.
Maybe you could do them in the microwave? Have made a large sponge pudding in my microwave, so perhaps these little ones would work too?

Lightly grease 4 small pudding basins [ I got mine from Lakeland].

Put 100g soft margarine or butter, 100g sr flour, 100g caster sugar, 25g cocoa powder and 2 eggs in a bowl and beat together. Chop up 25g dark chocolate and 50g stem ginger and add to the batter.
Spoon between the 4 basins  up to 3/4 full. Cover the top with circles of parchment paper then a pleated piece of foil.
Steam for about 45 mins till puddings are springy and cooked.

To serve with them  - chocolate custard.

Beat 2 egg yolks with 1 tbspn caster sugar and 1 tbspn cornflour to make a nice smooth paste.
Heat 300ml of milk in a pan till boiling, then pour it over the egg mixture. Pour back into the pan and cook over a low heat till it thickens.Take pan off the heat and add 100g dark chocolate broken into small pieces. Stir till chocolate melts.

Run a knife round the inside of the tops of the basins then tip out the puddings onto plates. Spoon some of the chocolate over the top and serve what's left in a jug.



I loved the little bits of stem ginger in the soft cakey pudding - gave it a bit of a zing - and the chocolate pieces hadn't quite melted.  The sponge had a soft texture and contrasted well with the lovely chocolate custard. A nice treat!



4/24/2017

Apple Custard Cake - French Style

We all know we can't have enough apple recipes, and my lovely French friend G sent me this one to try. She loves finding new recipes, and often uses ingredients from other countries, including the UK, which she finds in her local Carrefour.
I haven't made any kind of apple custard cake before, so it was just right to make for my family coming on Saturday. I've adapted the recipe as there wasn't a mention of what size tin to use; there rarely is in French recipes, simply says 'moule à manqué', a deep cake tin! G didn't say what apples she used, but I used Bramleys, as I didn't want the cake to be too sweet. She must have got the custard powder at the supermarket [but I always take of tin of it with me when I visit her, together with tea, marmalade and Marmite!]

Preheat oven 180C/gas4               Grease a 20cm springform tin and line base with baking paper

Make the custard for the cake first - mix together 2tbspn custard powder and 55g of caster sugar in a pan then slowly add 250ml of milk, whisking it in then slowly bring to the boil. Stir it over a medium heat till it thickens. Take it off the heat and add 20g butter and 2 tspn vanilla extract. Pour into a bowl and cover with some clingfilm and leave to cool.

Mix 40g custard powder together with 185g plain flour and 2 tspn baking powder. In another bowl beat together 200g butter and 110g caster sugar till nice and fluffy. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, then add the flour mixture, 1 tspn vanilla extract and 1-2 tbspn milk.
Peel core and thinly slice 3-4 medium Bramleys.
Spoon half of the cake batter into the tin and spread the cooled custard over the top. Drop the rest of the batter over the top in spoonfuls, and smooth gently to completely cover the custard. A little spatula is useful to do this.
Put the apple slices over the top of the batter, and sprinkle some cinnamon and demerara sugar over the top.
Bake for about 50 mins.





A very different sort of apple cake. The texture of the main part is very smooth and custardy, then the slightly solid apples with a hint of cinnamon. The top has a crunch from the sugar which contrasts nicely with the other textures. Using the Bramleys it wasn't too sweet. It's a nice tea cake or a good dessert, maybe with s scoop of vanilla ice cream or a spoonful of crème fraîche.
Slice the apples thinly or they might not be completely cooked.

4/13/2017

A Duo of Muffins for Easter

As I have already decided to make the chocolate cake in my last post for Easter,  I thought I'd make some small cakes for my grandchildren. They love muffins and they came to visit yesterday so we made them together.
The first one we made was topped with buttercream and my favourite  Cadbury's mini eggs, but the second batch was a great favourite of my 2 older grandsons - Crunchy Peanut Butter muffins.
I always use oil when making muffins - don't think it is really any healthier, but it sounds better than using butter.

For the Easter Muffins:

Preheat oven 200C/gas6           Grease a 12 hole muffin tin or use 12 paper cases.

Sift together 225g plain flour, 55g cocoa powder, 1 tbspn baking powder and a pinch of salt. Stir in 115g soft brown sugar.
Lightly beat 2 eggs in a jug then beat in 250g buttermilk and 6 tbspn sunflower oil.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and carefully stir in the wet ones. Mix till just combined - be careful not to over mix or your muffins will be hard.
Spoon the batter into tin - I use an ice cream scoop.
Bake for about 20 mins till risen and firm. Cool on a wire rack.
For the topping :
Put 85g soft butter in a large bowl and beat till fluffy; then sift in 175g icing sugar and beat together, then adding 1 tbspn milk .
Put spoonfuls on top of each muffin and swirl round, or you could use a piping bag with a large star-shaped nozzle to pipe the cream on. I did the one in the photo with a nozzle, but the boys just swirled with a fork to their hearts' content!
Decorate with a few of the mini eggs.



For the Peanut Butter muffins:

Same oven temp. and tin as for the Easter muffins.

Make the topping first - finely chop 50g unsalted roasted peanuts and add them to 40g demerara sugar; mix together.

Sift together 280g plain flour, 1 tbspn baking powder and a pinch of salt. Stir in 115g soft brown sugar.
Beat 2 eggs in a large jug then beat in 175ml milk, 6 tbspn sunflower oil and 175g crunchy peanut butter.
Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the wet ingredients. Mix together carefully till combined, but don't over mix.
Spoon into the tin and sprinkle the topping mixture over each one. bake for about 20 mins till golden.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.



Good crumb on the chocolate ones - firm and moist. Love the contrast between the cake mixture, the soft creamy icing and the hard crispy egg.
Am a great lover of peanut butter so these were also my favourite. The cake mixture is soft and moist with a lovely peanut flavour. It contrasts so well with the crunchy peanut topping.

4/04/2017

Rich Chocolate Mousse Cake

I went to a 50th wedding anniversary party a few weeks ago, and this was the celebration cake. It was delicious, so I asked my friend who made it for the recipe.

It's more like a solid mousse than a cake, but the chocolate flavour is so good. I have to say tho' that a slice is very rich. I made it last weekend as a try out for Easter, as I had friends coming for lunch.

For the cake you need ; 330g dark chocolate, 120g cocoa, 350g melted butter, 10 egg yolks, 330g icing sugar and 330g  whipping cream

For the ganache: 200g dark chocolate and 10cl single cream

You need  a 23cm springform cake tin lined with baking parchment

Beat the egg yolks together till fluffy. [Freeze the whites in batches for meringues?] Melt the chocolate and butter over a bain marie then add to the yolks and mix gently together. Add the cocoa powder and mix well. Whisk the cream till firm, and carefully fold into the egg mixture.

For the icing - melt the chocolate and cream over a bain marie. Spoon a thin layer of this chocolate ganache into the bottom of the cake tin, then add the cake mixture, smoothing the top with a palette knife.

Take the cake out of the fridge and cover top with the ganache, using a palette knife to smooth it over.

Put back into the fridge for at least 3 hours, remove when needed and carefully remove from the tin and serve chilled.



As I said earlier, it's very rich. My daughter added the mint and a couple of bits of chocolate for the photo, but it doesn't need any additions. A smooth, creamy mousse cake, perfect for a special occasion. Decorated with some chocolate eggs, it's going to be my centrepiece at Easter!

Note - as the cake contains uncooked egg yolks, it's not suitable for young children or pregnant mums.

3/26/2017

Lemon Cupcakes

I'm not a great fan of cupcakes as I find the topping too sweet, and I prefer muffins or our British fairy cakes. I was asked to make some for a special tea, so decided to make lemon ones, to use up 2 lemons which just happened to fall off my tree! The topping is a bit different as I used mascarpone.

 You need a muffin tin with paper muffin or cupcake cases.  Preheat oven 180C/gas4

80g flour
1 tspn baking powder
pinch bicarb.
40g ground almonds
75g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g melted butter
zest of 1 lemon

Icing:
250g mascarpone
juice and zest of 1 lemon
50g icing sugar
yellow colouring

Beat eggs and caster sugar together till white and fluffy.
Add the baking powder and bicarb to the flour and add to the mixture together with the ground almonds, butter and lemon zest. Mix together till a smooth batter.
Put the paper cases in the muffin tin and fill them 3/4 full with the batter.
Bake 15 mins till golden, then take out if tin and cool on a wire rack.

Beat the sieved icing sugar and mascarpone together, then add the zest and juice of the lemon and a few drops of yellow colouring. Mix well then spoon into a piping bag with a largish rose nozzle and decorate the cooled cupcakes. Keep in the fridge till you need them.



I liked the topping mixture, as the lemon counteracted the sweetness. If anything, I think I'd add a bit more icing sugar, but they proved very popular and others didn't seem to find them a bit sharp. I used yellow paste not the colouring in a bottle, as I find paste gives a better colour. The ground almonds gave a nice hint of nut to the cake, and they had a nice crumb, contrasting well with the soft icing.



3/11/2017

Lemon and Apple Tart

 I first had this tart in a little bistro-style restaurant in France. It's very different from the usual apple tart, using grated apples and including lemons in the filling. As I was in a hurry to get it made, I cheated and bought some shortcrust pastry from Waitrose, but of course you can make your own. The recipe was on a bag of sugar I bought ages ago in France!
What I loved about the ready-made pastry in France, was that is came in a round shape ready for the tart tin. Wish ours did!

You need:  a block of shortcrust pastry, 3 large eating apples, 150g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 80g melted butter and 2 lemons, washed well.

Preheat oven 200C/gas6.                          Grease a fluted tart tin.

Zest the 2 lemons and put it in a small bowl then add their juice. Grate the apples into a larger bowl then add the lemon zest and juice to stop the apples turning brown. Mix together.
Add the 2 eggs, the sugar and the melted butter and mix everything together.
Line the tin with the pastry then pour the mixture in.
Bake for about 40 mins till golden.


It's a lovely light tart and it makes a good dessert. The apples and lemons balance well - the apples taking away some of the acidity of the lemons.I like the texture - soft pastry and the contrasting texture of the grated fruit. I will certainly make this again.

ps the French bit that was on here was the recipe from the bag that I had typed and saved in Word ready to translate! Sorry I forgot to delete it.😮

2/28/2017

Bakewell Flapjacks

Flapjacks are one of my family's favourite things to eat and a Bakewell tart is another, so a combination of both is a marriage made in heaven!
I've been having a good sort out of my baking files lately - you know the ones, with cut out bits from newspapers, magazines, recipe cards you've picked up in supermarkets, handwritten recipes on scrappy bits of paper ...... and I came across a recipe for these flapjacks. I've changed it a bit to suit our tastes.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                 Grease a medium baking tin

Put 150g oats, 75g ground almonds, 45g plain flour and 45g caster sugar in a bowl and mix together. Add 150g melted butter, 3 tbspn golden syrup and 3 tbspn milk and mix well.

Put half of the mixture into your tin and press it down; spoon over 2 tbspn raspberry jam and sprinkle over 15g flaked almonds. put the rest of the mixture on top and smooth over. Sprinkle a few more flaked almonds over the top.

Bake for 10-15 mins till goldenish. Cool in the tin then mark into pieces.

I cut it into 10 decent sized flapjacks.



Very moreish! Lovely combination of soft oatie base and jam, then the crunchy nuts, more oatie cake then more crunch. A nice change from the usual flapjack - it's soft, so not for you if you like crunchy ones!



2/20/2017

Walnut, Honey and Banana Loaf Cake

I love making loaf cakes and this is one of my favourites. It's a recipe from my Mum's old notebook, which I haven't looked at for ages. As is often the case, using up some ripe fruit was the reason for making it. It's such an easy one to make - an almost all-in-together type of cake.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                       Grease a 900g laof tin.

For the cake you need; 3 ripe bananas, mashed, 110g butter, 8 tbspn runny honey, 110g brown sugar, 1/2 tspn vanilla essence, 2 eggs, 1/4 tspn bicarb., 1 tspn baking powder, 1/2 tspn cinnamon. pinch salt, 180g plain flour, 45g oats and 150g chopped walnuts.

In a large bowl put the bananas, butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix together till combined thoroughly - you may have a few banana lumps, but that's ok. Add the flour and oats and mix with a wooden spoon, but don't over mix. Add about 3/4 of the walnuts and stir in gently.

Pour the batter into the tin then sprinkle the other walnuts on top.

Bake for 40-45 mins.

Cool in tin for 5 mins then serve warm with some butter and a drizzle of honey.



Have to confess that I forgot to sprinkle the rest of the walnuts over the top! It's a moist cake with a soft honey flavour. There's a a good contrast of textures and flavours with the background honey flavour, the crunchy walnuts and the soft banana pieces. A tasty teatime treat, and a good use for ripe bananas.








2/13/2017

Mocha Cake

When I go shopping I often have a coffee mocha in the local café, so decided to make a cake with those flavours - chocolate and coffee. Nothing too complicated, but hopefully, delicious.

I used dark chocolate and a little cocoa for a chocolate boost and some strong espresso coffee.

 Preheat oven 180C/gas4                                                     Grease and base line a 900g loaf tin.

In a bowl mix together 200g plain flour, 2 tspn baking powder, 1 tbspn cocoa, pinch of salt and 200g caster sugar.

Melt 125g dark chocolate over simmering water or in the microwave then add 125g of chopped up butter and 150ml of espresso coffee and mix together till smooth.

Separate 3 eggs and add the yolks one at a time to the mixture. Add the flour mixture and mix together. Whisk the egg whites till stiff then gently fold these into the batter. Pour into the tin and bake for 45-50 mins.

Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then finish on a wire rack.

For the icing - 50ml strong coffee, 300g sieved icing sugar and 50g soft butter.

Beat the 3 ingredients together to make a paste then smooth over the cooled cake. Chill for about 2 hours before serving to allow the icing to set.



I roughed my icing up a bit with a fork as it didn't look too smooth! The cake had a great mocha flavour - maybe more coffee than chocolate, but delicious. It had a good texture and the cake contrasted well with the smooth coffee icing.

2/07/2017

Lemon Tiramisu

My family came yesterday and they love desserts, especially anything with lemon. I wanted to make something different from my usual lemon meringue or tart, so as I had a large packet of boudoir biscuits in the cupboard, decided to try and make a lemon tiramisu.
I found a recipe online, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted. I used both fresh lemons [from my tree in the greenhouse ] and lemon curd to give a good lemony flavour, as well as the small amount of Limoncello that was left in the bottle!

I used:

250g boudoir biscuits, 250g mascarpone, 2 lemons, 3 eggs, 100g caster sugar, 20cl whipping cream, 3 tbspn lemon curd and 4 tbspn Limoncello.

Cut one lemon in half and squeeze out the juice; mix this with 50g of the sugar and the Limoncello.
Zest the other lemon finely.
Whip the cream till it gets thick. 
Separate the eggs and beat the whites till firm peaks, then beat the yolks with the other 50g of sugar till the mixture is white. Add the mascarpone, lemon curd and lemon zest [keep a little bit to sprinkle over] then beat together to get a soft creamy mixture. 
Gently fold in the cream then the egg whites.
Cover a serving plate with some parchment paper. Dip half the sponge fingers in the Limoncello mixture then put them side by side on the plate. Cover these with half of the mascarpone mixture. Dip the rest of the fingers in the Limoncello, then put them side by side in another layer on top of the first.
Cover this with the rest of the mascarpone and smooth the top with a spatula.
Wrap with clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving.



My daughter took the photo, as you can guess! She works in the food industry so is very precise, hence the lovely square piece and the lemon slice! I must have some lessons from her! Oh, I sprinkled the zest on just before we ate it.
It had a really good lemon flavour, and the textures were good - soft sponge and creamy filling. I was very happy with the result, as were the family. Think it will become one of our family recipes.









1/30/2017

French Walnut Tart

I was shopping in Milton Keynes last week and came across a shop rather like the now sadly defunct Julian Graves. They had a special opening offer on walnuts, so I bought a large bag - nuts are good for you, anti-oxidents, omega 3 etc! I wanted to make something different to use some of them, and came across a recipe for a walnut tart.
It's from a tourist brochure I picked up somewhere in France, and this recipe, I was informed, is a speciality of the Périgord region. It brought back memories of when we lived in France, and my neighbour had a prolific walnut tree and would give my a huge carrier bag full. The only problem was you had to shell them all! At least the ones I bought were shell-free.

Preheat oven 200C/gas6               A tart dish about 23cm or a flan tin with a loose bottom.

For the shortcrust pastry -  125g flour, 75g butter, 25g caster sugar, 1 egg yolk, a pinch of salt and 25ml water
Make the pastry and line the tart dish or tin and put aside.

For the filling  - 500g walnuts, 150ml crème fraîche, 60g caster sugar, 1 egg and 2 tspn vanilla extract, icing sugar

Choose the best walnuts [you need to keep about half]  to decorate the tart, then put the others into a processor or blender and whizz to a powder. Add the crème fraîche, sugar, egg and vanilla and mix well.
Pour the mixture over the pastry and bake for 30 mins.
Take the tart out of the oven, decorate the top with the rest of the walnuts, sieve over some icing sugar and pop back into the oven for a minute or 2 for the sugar to melt.
Leave to cool.



I cooked my tart in a foil tart dish as I wanted to take it to a coffee afternoon. It was delicious - really nutty, and I loved the texture contrasts between the soft pastry, the cream filling and the crunch of the walnuts on top. Something different to try.






1/21/2017

Tarte Alsacienne

I love recipes using apples, and I made this tart for dessert when my children came last weekend. It's unlike the usual French apple tart, as it has cream in the filling with the apples.
It comes from a leaflet I picked up somewhere, several years ago, when we were in Alsace, and I've made it many times since.

Preheat oven 190C/gas5              
You need a large fluted and greased flan tin [preferably with a loose bottom] - 24-26cm.

For the pastry : 170g flour, 1 tbspn caster sugar, pinch salt, 125g cold butter cut into cubes and 2 tbspn cold water.
Rub the butter into the flour to which the sugar and salt have been added. Add the water and make into a ball. Cover in clingfilm and put into the fridge for about an hour.
Roll into a circle, and use the rolling pin to fit the pastry into the flan tin.

For the filling:
You need 4 apples  - I used Granny Smith, but you could use Golden Delicious or Braeburn, but not Bramleys, as they don't hold their shape. Peel and cut them into quarters, take out the core and pips and slice them carefully into neat slices. Spread them out evenly over the pastry.
Beat 1 whole egg and 1 yolk in a bowl with 6 tbspn sugar, 20cl of double cream or crème fraîche and 1 tspn vanilla extract. Pour this over the apples and bake for 50-55 mins till golden.


You can, of course, use your favourite recipe for shortcrust pastry with a little sugar added. I like the textures of this tart - the crunchy pastry, the soft fruit mixed with a lovely creamy layer.
 I have made it with Bramleys, just to try them, and they became mushy instead of keeping the pretty slices.




1/16/2017

Crumble Brownies with Pears

My family love Brownies and I usually make this recipe from Suelle's great blog 'Mainly Baking', but have a look there and you'll be spoilt for choice for Brownie recipes.
I wanted to try something different and, as often happens, I had a couple of pieces of fruit in the bowl that needed using - this time pears. So I decided to make a brownie base, then a layer of chopped pears and finally a crumble topping.
I didn't use Suelle's basic recipe this time, but one a friend gave me.

For the brownie part  you need - 200g dark chocolate, 50g flour plus 1 tspn baking powder, 150g butter [melted], 3 eggs and 125g caster sugar 


For the crumble - 75g flour, 80g caster sugar and 120g soft butter


You also need 2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into cubes.


Preheat oven 180C/gas4                 Grease a brownie tin - mine is about 25 x 20 cm [ or 10" x 8"]


Brownies - melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave or over simmering water. beat the sugar and eggs together then add the chocolate and butter. fold in the flour with baking powder.

Spoon the batter into the brownie tin and bake for 15 mins.
Make the crumble - rub the butter into the flour and stir in the sugar.
Take the brownies out of the oven, sprinkle the chopped pears over then top with the crumble.
Put back in the oven for 20 mins till the crumble is golden.



We loved these, although they didn't have quite squidgy texture that a normal brownie has -  probably because they are baked for longer. Lovely contrasts of texture - the soft brownie then the moist fruit and finally the crunchy topping. They won't replace my favourite brownies, but they are great as an alternative.

1/09/2017

Blue Cheese and Nut Palmiers

This is a very quick and simple appetizer  I made for New year's Eve. I used Roquefort cheese as that's what I'd bought, but Blue Stilton, Bleu d'Auvergne etc would do just as well.

You need 1 pack puff pastry, 200g blue cheese, 1 egg and some chopped nuts - I used a mixture of walnuts and hazelnuts whizzed in a blender, but not too small.

Roll out the pastry; beat the egg and cheese together and spread over the pastry. Sprinkle over the chopped nuts. Roll up the 2 long sides towards the middle then cut into 2cm slices.

Bake on a tray lined with baking paper for about 15mins at 200C/gas6.


Not a wonderful photo, but only had a chance to take one before they all disappeared! A tasty appetiser, and one which you could easily vary - change the cheese, add herbs, add chopped up bacon or ham. The list is endless.
I liked the combination of the blue cheese and nuts - different textures, the nuts adding a bit of crunch.
Must have a problem with my fan oven, as sometimes things nearest the back of the oven get too brown, as with this palmier!

1/02/2017

Galette des Rois

January 6th is Epiphany, when the Kings came to visit Baby Jesus, and in France you have a Galette for the Kings.
 It's a tradition to put a fève or bean in the centre of the galette, and whoever finds this in their slice is King or Queen and wears a gold crown [which is given with the galettes when you buy them in the baker's or supermarkets in France].
I made 2 galettes to take to my French conversation group today - one traditional one and one to which I've added some apples - not traditional!

For the traditional one you need:

2 packs puff pastry
125g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
100g melted butter
2 eggs beaten + one beaten egg to egg wash the top

For the apple version you just need to add 2 eating apples [I used Gala], 1 tspn cinnamon, a knob of butter and 1 tbspn caster sugar

Preheat oven 220C/gas7      A baking sheet covered with baking paper

Roll out the 2 packs of pastry and cut a large circle out of each.
Put the caster sugar, ground almonds and melted butter in a bowl and beat together.
Add the beaten eggs and mix well.
Put one of the pastry circles onto the baking sheet, then spoon the almond mixture on top, stopping 2 cm from the edge. Top with the other pastry circle.
For the apples version - melt a knob of butter in a pan, then add the apple cubes, 1 tspn cinnamon and 1 tbspn caster sugar and fry till golden. Spoon the apples over the almond mixture then brush the edge with water and put the other pastry layer on top. Press the pastry circles together using your fingertips.
Make a motif on top of the galette with a sharp knife. 
Brush the top with eggwash and bake for 25 mins.

This is my traditional one



This is the one with apples


My daughter did the traditional swirly pattern on the apple one, much better than mine, as I didn't cut deep enough so the pattern didn't really show!
I love the simple one, the crisp pastry contrasting with the soft almondy filling. The apple added another texture and flavour, but I prefer the traditional one.