Creme anglaise and apple muffins

Yesterday I made some creme anglaise to have with our rhubarb crumble. There was a little left over, so this recipe was just perfect.

It makes 12 muffins

90g melted butter
300g sr flour
150g plain flour
1 tspn cinnamon [ I love it so used 2 tspns]
165g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
250ml milk
60ml creme anglaise
150g cooked apples [I used cox and chopped them up before cooking]
2 tbspn demerara sugar

preheat oven 200C/gas 6/400F

Grease a 12-holed muffin tin or use 12 muffin cases.
Mix together the butter, flours, 1/2 the cinnamon, caster sugar, egg and milk till just mixed.
Fill the cases or holes half full of the batter, then make a deepish dent in the middle and add 1 tspn creme anglaise and 2 tspns apple. Add more batter on top.
Mix the brown sugar with the rest of the cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the muffins.
Cook for about 25 mins till golden.
Leave the muffins to rest in the tin, and then put onto a wire rack.

I like the texture of the muffins with the custard and apple and then the  crunchy topping. 
I think next time I'd use my tried and tested muffin recipe* and just add the fillings and crunchy topping.

*My usual recipe is 225g plain flour, 100g caster sugar, 2 tspn baking powder, 250ml milk, 120ml vegetable oil and 1 egg. Usual method of dry and wet ingredients and they're baked at 200C/gas6 for 20 mins.


Lemon and almond tarts

I've invited an old school friend for tea tomorrow, so wanted to make something nice for her.

Found this recipe in one of my Mum's old cookery books, and as I had my dil here this afternoon, and she's doing a cake decorating class, they seemed just the thing. I've changed the ozs into grams. and it worked fine.

Makes 12 little tarts
212 g packet shortcrust pastry [I used Just Rol}
50g butter
50g caster sugar
1 large egg
59g ground almonds
drop of almond essence [not the almond flavouring]
1 rounded tbspn sr flour
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1 tspn lemon juice [I put in a bit more as I wanted them to be lemony]
150g icing sugar
drop lemon food colouring
lemon juice

Preheat oven 190C/375F/gas5

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface,and then cut out 12 rounds with a cutter to fit a bun tin.
Cream the butter and sugar then beat in the egg and ground almonds.
Stir in the almond essence, flour, lemon rind and juice.
Divide this evenly between the pastry cases and bake for 20-25 mins till the sponge is golden and the pastry is cooked.
Cool on a wire rack.
Sift 125g of the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with enough cold water to make a thick icing.
Spread over the tarts and allow to set. Leave any left over icing in the bowl.
Add the rest of the icing sugar [25g] too the bowl and mix in a little colouring and enough lemon juice to make a thick icing.
Fill a small icing bag and pipe a lattice on top of each cake. Leave to set.

There's no real need to do the yellow piping - any decoration would do, but I had my dil to do it for me!

The glass plate they're on is one of my Grandmother's. I'd forgotten all about her glass plates till I saw a similar one in a local shop, so I hunted out the box in the attic.


Chocolate and honey madeleines

Am off today to look after one of our grandsons, so decided to leave something in the cake tin for himself.

Madeleines seemed a good choice, as I brought several tins back from France, and they've remained unused.

The recipe makes 20 madeleines.

150g dark chocolate
70g butter
5 eggs, yolks and whites separated
125g caster sugar
4 tbspns honey
150g plain flour

Preheat oven 190C/375F/gas5

Melt the chocolate and butter and leave to cool.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar till they're pale and thick.
Then add the chocolate mixture, the flour and the honey, beating quickly between each one.
Beat the egg whites, but not too thickly, then add these to the mixture, folding in.
Put the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour.
Grease the tins well, as madeleines stick!
Put a heaped teaspoon of mixture into each hole.
Bake for 8-10 mins.
Let them cool for a bit in the tin, before putting them on a wire rack.


Our garden

Thought I'd have a change from baking and post a few photos of our new garden. It's a pocket handkerchief size, so haven't much room. The first thing we did was to buy a good aluminium lean-to greenhouse, so we could grow some veg. We're growing tomatoes and French beans in bags.

The beans are doing well - have lots of flowers.

We bought 4 different tomato plants, and the cherry ones seem to be ahead atm.

I grew some 'Little Gem' lettuces from seed and have planted a few in between the tomatoes.

We brought some of our plants in pots back from France with us. This rose is lovely - it has a strong perfume. Have lost its label so can't remember its name! It was given to us, in a large pot, by our neighbours. They all arrived smiling, with one pushing a wheel barrow containing the rose and several boxes of wine bottles! What lovely people, and we miss them.

This shrub was growing in the garden and I've trying to find out what it is. Now that it's got flowers, I think it's a deutzia.

We also inherited this climbing rose, which I thought was a wild one, but it's covered in flowers.


Chocolate banana cake

Had a few really ripe bananas to use up so decided to make a banana cake. Then I fancied something chocolate, so changed the recipe into a chocolate version. I'm very pleased with the result. It's a very moist cake.

150g butter or margarine
150g light brown sugar
300g plain flour
2 tspn baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
4 tbspns cocoa powder
50g dark chocolate broken up [or chocolate chips]
100 ml vegetable oil

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease a 900g loaf tin.

Beat the eggs and sugar together.
Mash up the bananas and add to the mixture.
Beat in the eggs.
Mix the flour, baking powder, cocoa and chocolate together, then add these to the mixture.
Lastly add the vegetable oil, and give it all a good mix.

Spoon into the tin and bake for about 45 mins.
I found that because of the lumps of chocolate, the centre was quite soft. I checked to see if it was cooked in several other places.
Leave it to cool for 10 mins in the tin, and then turn onto a wire rack.

You can see the melted chocolate in the centre of the photo.


Pecan and maple syrup tart

Bought a large bag of pecans recently on offer from Julian Graves. My lovely friend Jackie brought us some maple syrup from her recent trip to Canada, so, a marriage made in heaven.

It's such an easy tart to make, and if you have some pastry in the freezer, it's even quicker.

250g plain flour
125g salted, cold butter
2 tbspn sugar
3-4 tbspn very cold water

I make this in the food processor, make double and keep half, wrapped carefully, in the freezer. I let the half I'm going to use, rest in the fridge for a couple of hours. I don't like sugar in pastry, even in sweet desserts, so I don't add it.

60g melted butter
100g sugar [I used golden caster]
180ml maple syrup
2 eggs
250g pecans

Preheat oven 190C/375F/gas5

Grease a rectangular tart tin. [I bought mine from Lakeland and have had lots of use out of it. It's loose-bottomed!] Roll the pastry out into the tart tin.
Beat the butter, sugar and maple syrup together with an electric mixer and keep beating while you add the eggs.
Put the pecans in the base of the tart then pour over the butter mixture.
Bake for 15 mins at 190C/gas 5 then lower the temperature to 170C/gas3-4 [depending on your oven] and bake for another 25-30 mins.
Let it cool in the tin.


Liz's rocky road cupcakes

I tend to make large cakes, so today, as my grandsons are coming for tea, thought I'd make them some small cakes. This recipe is from my friend Liz.

Recipe makes 12 cakes.

115g soft butter or margarine
115g caster sugar
2 tbspn crunchy peanut butter
2 eggs, beaten
85g sr flour
4 tbspn cocoa powder
100g plain chocolate chips
100g chopped pecans or walnuts [keep 24 to decorate]
200g plain chocolate
24 mini marshmallows

Preheat oven 180C/350F/gas4

Put 12 cake cases into a bun tin.

In a bowl, put the butter, sugar and peanut butter and beat till it's light and creamy [with an electric beater].
Beat in the eggs and fold in the flour, cocoa, chocolate chips and nuts.
Put the mixture into the cake cases.
Bake for 15-20 mins till golden and firm. Leave them to cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and leave it to cool a bit.
Spread most of the chocolate over the top of each cake with a knife, leaving some to drizzle over the top of the cakes, then add 2 marshmallows and 2 nuts.
Leave them to set.

Not a very good photo, but at least it's a photo! NEED a NEW camera!


Chocolate cake with butterscotch and speculoos

My lovely Dutch friend sent me some goodies recently, including some of my favourite speculoos biscuits. I wanted to use them in a cake of some sort, and found this recipe in a French magazine.
No cooking is needed for the cake.

125g speculoos biscuits [or any spicy biscuit]
4 dried figs, finely chopped
4 dates, finely chopped
2 tbspns sultanas
60g melted butter
200g milk or plain chocolate - broken into small pieces
15cl single cream
2 packets of Werther's originals or other butterscotch sweets

22cm cake tin - preferably a silicone mould

Crush the biscuits and mix them with the dried fruit. Press the mixture into the bottom of the tin/mould and put it in the fridge to harden.
Break the chocolate up into a bowl.
Put the cream in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then pour it over the chocolate.
Stir well till the mixture is nice and smooth. Cool.
Take the base mixture out of the fridge and pour the chocolate over, then put it back in the fridge again to harden [for about 2 hours].
When the cake's ready, put the Werther's into a polythene bag or tea towel and crush them with a rolling pin. Sprinkle them over the top of the chocolate.

Not a very good photo - this is the top of the cake. Good variety of textures - a crunchy, chewy base -  I liked the dried fruit added to the biscuits - then a smooth chocolate layer and finally the crunchy butterscotch topping. Not good for ones teeth, but delicious, and so easy to make! 
We have a new Sweet Shop just opened in town and they sell Keiller Butterscotch [showing my age] so you could use these instead. The cake itself isn't too sweet, but the topping is! As it uses dates and figs, could this count towards your 5 a day?!!


Orange and apricot loaf

Yet another version of my favourite bakes -  loaf cakes. I like these cakes because they're quick and easy to make and keep well.

175g dried apricots
150ml orange juice
400g plain flour
175g caster sugar
100g raisins
1/1/2 tspns baking powder
1/2 tspn bicarb
1/2 tspn salt
grated rind of 1 orange
1 egg, beaten
25g melted butter of margarine
sugar of choice to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven 180C/350F/gas4
Grease a 900g loaf tin

Soak the apricots in the orange juice.
Then put the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Add the apricots and orange juice, butter, orange rind and the egg and mix it all together. The mixture is very stiff.

Put it into the tin and bake for about an hour till it's golden and firm.

I used golden caster sugar, and only 100g, as 175g seemed a lot. I sprinkled some golden granulated suagr over the mixture in the tin.
Ready to eat with our afternoon cuppa!

The recipe is adapted from a book I've had for ages but not used much - 1000 Cakes and Bakes.

I found it a bit dry, and there wasn't much flavour from the orange juice, so would use a little more liquid next time and maybe some orange essence. An orange flavoured icing drizzled over?
I don't buy raisins often, but they were on offer - need I say more!


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