Caramel Pear Cake

After watching GBBO last week, I thought I'd try my hand at making caramel. My first few attempts burnt or just didn't work, but finally I got the result I wanted. I didn't want a very dark caramel, just a sort of blonde colour. This is my friend's recipe, and it's not one that would win prizes for looks, but it tastes delicious. 

So you need: 150g caster sugar and 3 tbspn water for the caramel, 75 g caster sugar, 100g flour, 2 tspn baking powder, 1kg pears, 3 eggs, 125g soft butter, 3 tbspn milk and 1 tspn vanilla extract

Preheat oven 180C/gas 4                           grease and flour a 23cm cake tin

For the caramel: put the 150g sugar in a pan and add the water. Leave till it's become a light blonde colour,* then pour into the cake tin and leave to cool.

Beat the eggs with the 75g caster sugar till white and fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder, butter and beat together, then add the milk and vanilla and stir in.

Peel and slice the pears and put them in 2 or 3 layers over the cold caramel. Spoon over the batter and bake for 40 mins.

Leave in the tin to cool.

I think I'll add a tspn of mixed spice next time. It has a lovely soft texture, which contrasts well with the pears, and the caramel gives it another layer. A nice Autumnal treat. You could use apples instead of pears. *I didn't give much help on making the caramel. A video on You Tube is helpful!


Gâteau Madeleine

 I love the little madeleines you can buy in bags in France, so I bought a mould from a vide grenier for 1 euro, and it's been well used. This cake is a large version of these little cakes.

you need: 110g caster sugar, 1 tspn baking powder,120g flour, 140g butter and 3 eggs.

Grease and flour a 20cm round cake tin

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Melt the butter over a gentle heat and leave to cool. 

Whisk the eggs with the sugar till white and fluffy'

Mix the flour and baking powder, then add this alternatively with the butter to the egg mixture using a rubber spatula to mix.

Spoon into the cake tin, and bake for 9 mins at the 180C/gas4 temperature then turn oven down to 160C/gas3 for another 18 mins.

Cool in the tin.

When cool, leave plain or ice with some glacé icing.

I decorated mine with orange slices, and tried out a bit of drip icing, but you can also add chopped zest to the cake, or cinnamon or vanilla extract. It's a cake that is 'moelleux', soft and moist.
You can make the cake lighter if you use half plain flour and half cornflour. It's a great favourite with my family.


Gratin de choux-fleur

 I was given a medium sized cauliflower and as it's not my favourite vegetable, struggled to know what to do with it. Have kept a few French cookery magazines, and I found this recipe in a very old one from 1998!

 It adds potatoes, lardons [bacon pieces], crème fraîche and cheese to the cauli, which makes it much more interesting

You need: 1 medium cauliflower, 100g lardons [bacon bits], 500ml crème fraîche, 3 medium potatoes, 50 g of grated Conté,  a good strong Cheddar or Beaufort cheese, 1 egg and some salt and pepper

Preheat oven 200C?Gas 6                 Grease a gratin dish [this amount feeds about 4 people]

Break the cauliflower up into florets and peel the potatoes. Cook them in boiling water for 15mins.

Beat the cream and egg together and add a little salt and pepper.

Spoon the cauliflower into the greased dish, slice the potatoes and add with the bacon pieces.

Pour over the cream mixture and sprinkle over the cheese.

Bake for 15-20 mins then put under the grill for a nice brown top.

Even my veg hating grandson liked this! It's good on its own or as a side dish with a chop. A great way of using a cauliflower!


Gratin d'Abricots

 I love apricots, but usually in the supermarket they are in little punnets. I went to a market in another town at the weekend, and to my delight, they were selling them on a stall. 

This recipe comes from a free recipe card from one of the French supermarkets. It's a popular recipe with my family.

You need: 80g caster sugar and 80g soft brown sugar, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 50g ground almonds, 40g soft butter, 1kg apricots, 125g brioche [slices cut from a loaf], 200ml crème fraîche, 3 eggs, icing sugar to sprinkle

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                                Grease a large ovenproof dish.

Lay the slices of brioche in the bottom of the dish. 

Cut the apricots in half and remove stone. Arrange the halves over the brioche, packing together well. 

Sprinkle over the ground almonds and the brown sugar.

In a bowl, beat together the eggs, caster sugar, vanilla extract, butter and crème fraîche. Pour this over the mixture in the dish.

Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. 

Sprinkle over a little icing sugar before serving.

I like the texture contrasts - the soft brioche at the bottom, the juicy fruit and then the topping, again soft, but in a different way to the brioche. I've used plums instead of apricots and they work well. Am going to try it with sliced pears and maybe apples. It's a delicious way of serving fruit.


Biscoff Cheesecake with a Raspberry Coulis

 Summer at last, or at least for a few days! Raspberries are my favourite summer fruit, so decided to make a cheesecake. I bought a jar of raspberry coulis in Waitrose. This is a baked cheesecake. 

I adore the speculoos flavour of the Biscoff biscuits you get with coffee [and now in a jar], so used these biscuits as the base. 

225g Biscoff biscuits, 3 eggs, 175g caster sugar, a jar of raspberry coulis [or you can make your own by sieving raspberries],75g butter, 675g cream cheese and 1 tspn vanilla extract, a few raspberries to decorate

Preheat oven 180C/gas4            Line a shallow 23cm cake tin with baking paper.

Put the biscuits in a large plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Melt the butter and mix with the biscuits. Spoon into the cake tin and flatten with the back of a spoon. Put in the fridge to set.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the cheese and beat together with the sugar and vanilla extract.

Spoon it over the biscuit base and bake for 35 mins. Leave to cool then put in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Gently pour over the raspberry coulis just before serving.

I decided to pipe the coulis over the top as it was quite thick. Rather messy! I was trying to be clever and pipe round the side, but it didn't look good. It tastes delicious, but you could change the type of fruit and do a blackcurrant or redcurrant coulis or even a caramel one. It's very refreshing on a hot day.

Instead of coulis you could use fresh raspberries, adding some to the cheese mixture and decorating the top with them. 


Courgette Gratin de Tante Marie

Thought I'd post something different this time. When we lived in France we had a large potager, and courgettes grew everywhere they could find a space! Look away for a minute and you had a marrow!

This is my friend G's Tante Marie's recipe to use up some of them. It's useful as an a accompaniment to lots of meals, and is very easy to make.

You need for 6: 2 courgettes, 4 potatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tbspn crème fraîche, 100g grated gruyère cheese, 3 sprigs of thyme, salt and pepper

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease a gratin dish.

Peel the potatoes and cut into rounds, not too thick,  then do the same with the courgettes.

Spoon into the dish, strip the thyme off the sprigs and sprinkle over the thyme, together with the crushed and chopped garlic, pepper and salt.

In a bowl mix together the cheese and crème fraîche and spoon over the courgette mixture.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins.

A very simple, tasty dish. It goes well with pork chops or as an accompaniment to a bbq. 



Strawberry Cheesecake

 Now that the English strawberries are good value, I thought I'd make a cheesecake. I had a pot of mascarpone to use, so used it with some cream cheese [such as Philly]. This is very easy to make when you don't feel like cooking!

You need: 60g icing sugar, 200g digestive biscuits [or other biscuits of your choice], 50g butter [melted], 1 lemon, 250g mascarpone, 100g soft cheese [Philly] and 1tspn vanilla extract, few mint leaves

Blitz the biscuits in a food processor or blender. Add the melted butter and mix together.

Press into the base of a 23cm flan tin, pushing the crumbs slightly up the sides.

Beat the mascarpone with the cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Spoon into the tin on top of the crumb base. Smooth with a spatula.

Cut the washed strawberries into 2 [or 4 if large] and put the on top of the cream mixture, cut side down.

Cut the washed strawberries into 2 and put the on top of the cream mixture, cut side 

Top with a few mint leaves and put into the fridge.

A good dessert for a hot day, but nice for any time in the Summer.

Caramel Pear Cake

After watching GBBO last week, I thought I'd try my hand at making caramel. My first few attempts burnt or just didn't work, but fin...