Apple, Date and Walnut Pudding

These day, I only make puddings when we have friends or family for a meal - they seem to expect it! I wanted to make something tasty, but not stodgy.
 Hunting through my cookery books, I found one I'd bought a few years ago from the famous 'Pudding Club' in 'Three Ways House' in Chipping Camden.
If you've nor heard of this club, it was founded in 1985 to save our great British puddings. At the time, puddings were looked on with horror - much too fattening. So the club meets, eat their main course and then 7 different puddings are brought out and devoured. At the end of the evening, they vote for the best one.

Looking through the book, many of the pudds are very filling ,but I found one that was marked as 'healthy', and it does contain fruit, nuts and honey and very little fat. I suppose with the latest bad press for sugar, 120g would be classed as a lot, so perhaps it wouldn't be classed as 'healthy'! Many of the puddings are steamed, but this one is baked - a bonus for me as I don't have a steamer, and find using a saucepan a faff!

Preheat oven 200C/gas6

I used a 20cm square cake tin, but you could use a 20cm baking dish instead. Make sure you grease it well or the pudding sticks!

You chop up 480g of peeled and cored apples, 60g of walnuts and 120g of stoned dates into little pieces and put in a bowl. Add 120g of wholemeal sr flour, 120g of soft brown sugar and 30g of melted butter, 1 tbpsn of honey and 1 beaten egg. Mix it all together and put into your tin or dish. Bake for 30 mins.

We ate it warm with some creme fraiche and it was very moist, packed with soft apple, but I thought it was rather sweet - this was probably because I used eating apples instead of Bramleys, so I should have reduced the amount of sugar. The crunchy walnuts made a nice contrast to the soft apple. It was filling, but not stodgy. I cut it into 6 pieces, which gave everyone a very generous sized pudding. 


Chocolate Oaties

My husband loves biscuits, so as it was pouring with rain and I felt like baking something, I decided to make some for him.
What to make? I had half a tin of Carnation caramel in the fridge left over from a cake recipe my daughter tried, so thought I'd use some of this - not much, as it's so sweet. I like a biscuit with a crunchy outside but a soft centre, so decided to use oats and some plain chocolate to get the sort of biscuit I wanted. A couple of tablespoons of caramel would give it extra flavour, and add to the softish centre.
I found plenty of oat biscuit recipes on the net, but couldn't find just what I wanted, so I used a basic oat recipe and added my own tweaks to it.

I made 15 chocolate oaties from this recipe.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

100g butter, 100g soft brown sugar and 2 tbspns of Carnation caramel - spoon these into a pan and melt gently till all the sugar and butter have dissolved.
100g sr flour, 100g oats and 1/2 tspn of bicarbonate of soda - put these in a bowl and mix together then add to the butter mixture with 100g of plain chocolate broken into pieces. Beat well.
Grease 2 baking sheets [or use silicone sheets on baking trays] and spoon dessertspoonfuls of the oat mixture onto the trays, leaving space for them to spread. I put 8 on one tray and 7 on the other.
Bake for 15 mins, then leave the oaties on the trays for 5 mins to harden and put onto a wire rack.

We didn't wait long to try them with a cuppa and they were just right - crunchy and with the softer centre I like, and they have a great chocolate flavour.

I'll certainly make these again, but think I'll try them without the chocolate and add cranberries or sour cherries - there are lots of variations to try.


Cranberry, Pear and Pecan Cake

This is one of those cake that uses up the leftover Christmas bits and pieces. I had some cranberries, half a bag of pecans and some pears that needed using up. It's based on a recipe I picked up from one of the supermarkets - Sainsbury's I think. It has quite a thick topping, but it's delicious. It does take a bit of effort to make, but I think it's worth it. Pears and cranberries are 2 of our 5 a day!

It's an upside down cake, so you need a heavy bottomed pan about 26cms, as it has to go on the hob and in the oven. I used a Le Creuset saute pan, which worked well.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Make the topping - melt 75g butter and sugar in the pan over a low heat. Peel and core 900g of pears [about 6] and cut them into about 1cm slices then put them in the pan on top of the butter and sugar. Cook over a gentle heat till the pears are just soft; turn the heat up to caramelize them. Sprinkle 140g of cranberries and 75g of pecans over the mixture and gently mix the fruit together.

Make the cake - cream 120g of butter with 200g of caster sugar. Add 2 yolks [from 2 separated large eggs and a tspn of vanilla extract. Mix in half of 210g of plain flour [which has had 2 tspns of baking powder added to it], add 175ml of milk and then the rest of the flour. Mix it till smooth.
Beat the 2 egg whites till peaks, then fold into the batter gently.

Spread the mixture over the pears and bake for 35-40 mins,

Leave the cake to cool in the pan for 10 mins, but no longer, or the caramelized fruit and nuts will stick to the pan!
Turn out onto a serving plate so that the caramelized side is on top. 

I love the topping on this cake; it's crunchy, soft from the fruit, and goes really well with the soft textured cake.


A French Apple Cake

Our computer has had gremlins, so haven't been able to post. Hopefully this is now sorted!

I'm always happy to find a new recipe for an apple cake, and this one comes from a French friend. It's nice and easy to make, is different from the usual apple cake, and is a nice change from the heavy Christmas pudds and cakes. I've translated it from French, hence the odd looking recipe with tbpns and grams!

200g of plain flour
10 tbspns of caster sugar + 100 g
2 eggs + 1 extra
6 tbspns of milk
2 tspns of baking powder
4 tbspns of sunflower or rapeseed oil
4 apples [I used Braeburns]
100g of butter
1 tbspn of vanilla sugar [or 1 packet]
Icing sugar for the top

Preheat oven 190C/gas5
Grease and bottom line a 23cm springform tin.

Beat the 2 eggs with the 10 tbspns of sugar; add the flour, baking powder, milk and oil.
Peel and slice the apples thinly, then add to the mixture and mix in.
Pour into the tin and bake for about 30 mins.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, beat together the 100g of butter, 100g of caster sugar, 1 egg and the vanilla sugar.

Take the cake out of the oven and pour this batter on top * then put back in for another 15 mins till the top becomes golden. Take out, and cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with icing sugar.

*I forgot to say that I kept some apple slices back, and put them into the batter on top of the cake. They made it look more interesting!  The cake has a good apple flavour, a nice soft texture.

What does the topping taste like? It seems a strange mixture without any flour. The nearest texture I can think of to describe it is a British macaroon - the one with rice paper on the bottom and an almond on the top. It's not crunchy, but has a similar texture to the inside
. It doesn't really show up in this photo, but it makes a nice contrast with the apple cake.  


Galette de Rois

I wanted to make the traditional Galette de Rois, to celebrate the arrival of the 3 Kings. We ate many of these during our time in France, but only from the boulangerie or the supermarket. My friend who has the teashop, always makes one, and she kindly gave me her recipe. There's a bean or feve in the galette, and the person who finds it in their piece, gets to wear a crown and be king or queen for the day.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4
You take a sheet of butter puff pastry and fill it with a delicious almond cream.
For the cream - you need to beat 125g of butter till nice and creamy. Put 125g of caster sugar, 130g of ground almonds,1 tbspn of cornflour and a pinch of salt in a bowl and mix together.Add this to the butter and mix till smooth. Add 1 drop of almond extract then 2 eggs, one at a time. Put the cream in the fridge covered with clingfilm for an hour or overnight, to chill.
Roll out a pack of  puff pastry [about 500g] and divide into 2. Roll again and cut out 30cm circle using a plate. Then roll out again and cut out a slightly larger circle - about 6mm bigger than the other one.
Put the smaller circle on some baking parchment on a baking sheet. Mix an egg yolk with a tbspn of water or milk then lightly brush it round the edge of the circle. Put the cream into the middle and spread up to the egg wash. 
Put the bean in, but not in the middle, put it near an edge and press it in. Put the 2nd pastry circle on top of the first and smooth it gently over the cream not to have any air pockets; press it down sides gently. Score the pastry with the back of a knife to make a pattern.
Brush the top with eggwash, but don't let it drip over the edges or the pastry won't rise as much. Put 5 holes in the top - 1 in the middle and 4 near the corners. Put the galette in the fridge for an hour or so on the baking sheet.
Bake for 30 mins then take galette out and mix 1 tbspn of icing sugar with 1 tbspn of hot water and brush this over the top and put back in the oven for a minute to give it a nice shiny finish.

I should have made the pattern on the top deeper, as it didn't come out very well. The galette has a really lovely creamy filling, and the pastry is crisp and a good contrast to the soft filling.

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