Blueberry Yoghurt Bundt Cake

Have had a silicone bundt mould for ages, but haven't used it. It's a friend's birthday today so I decided to make her a bundt birthday cake.
Her favourite fruits are blueberries, and they were on offer in my local supermarket - perfect. I decided to add some lemon flavour with the blueberries. I also had a pot of  natural yoghurt to use up, so added some to the mixture to make the cake nice and moist. I finished it off with some lemon glace icing drizzled over the top.
I love Ina Garten's lemon yoghurt cake link is here  which Smitten Kitten made into a lovely lemon and blueberry one -  link is here .
The cake mixture is really a sandwich mix, or pound cake or quatre quarts - most countries seem to have their own version.
I bought one of the Cake Release sprays so the cake would come out of the mould [my dil had problems getting her cakes out of bundt tins, so advised me to buy some].
So, it's a simple cake made to look more interesting by using a fancy mould!

Preheat oven 180C/gas4              
 Spray a 23cm bundt mould with Cake Release [or grease it with melted butter using a pastry brush]

Beat 225g of butter and 225g of caster sugar with an electric hand beater or in a stand mixer till nice and light and fluffy. Gradually add  4 eggs, one at a time, then fold in 225g sr flour, finely grated rind of 2 lemons and about a tbspn or so of juice, 2 tbspn of natural yoghurt and 250g of blueberries.
I found that using a spatula was a good way to get the mixture into the mould.
Bake for 45-50 mins till cake springs back when you touch it. Leave it to cool in the mould for 5 mins then turn out [hopefully all in one piece!] onto a wire rack.
For the icing, just sieve 100g of icing sugar in a bowl and add some lemon juice till you have the thickness you want. Drizzle this over the cake and leave icing to set.


Cinnamon, Cranberry and Apple Turnovers

I recently bought myself a Patisserie book, by Murielle Vallette. Among other things, I wanted to have a try at making my own puff pastry. This is an excellent book, as it has photos showing you all the steps. This time I didn't fancy making any of the suggestions in the book with my puff pastry, so made these easy turnovers. I adapted the ingredients from an idea I saw on Pinterest, which were turnovers using pear and walnuts. I had a search through my cupboard and found some cranberries lurking in the back. When I'd cooked the apples they were rather too mushy to put in the pastry, so I thickened them with some cornflour. I used Braeburn apples as they were in the fruit bowl, but you could use any apples. I decided to ice them with some simple glace icing.

2 apples peeled, cored and chopped into small dice
sheet of butter puff pastry
50g brown sugar
¼ tspn cinnamon
30g dried cranberries
250ml water

30ml cold water
½ tbspn cornflour

Cinnamon Icing:
65g icing sugar
sprinkle of cinnamon
water to mix

Preheat oven 180C/gas 4.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone sheet.
Cut the apples into small dice and put, with the dried cranberries, brown sugar, cinnamon and the 250ml of water into a pan and cook over medium heat for about  8-10 minutes till the apples become soft.
You need to thicken this mixture, so mix 30ml of cold water with 1/2 tbspn of cornflour and mix well. No lumps!
Take the apples off the heat and stir in the cornflour mixture till the apple mixture has thickened.  Cool.

On a floured board roll the puff pastry into a 15 x 12" or 38 x 30 cms [approx] rectangle (1/2 cm thick). Cut into 4 x 4" or 10cm  squares. Put a heaped tbspn of filling in the centre of the pastry square.  Fold the pastry into a triangle and press your fingertips firmly into the edges to seal the pastry together (if the pastry will not stick together you can use an egg wash brushed along the edges to help).  Put on a baking tray spaced out evenly.
Bake for 25-30 minutes till golden.  Let them cool and drizzle with some cinnamon icing if you fancy.

To make the cinnamon icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl.  Add the cinnamon and add a very small amount of water, adding more if you want thinner icing. Drizzle over the turnovers.

You can see by my photo that I didn't seal the edges very well, but they were delicious anyway! Liked the combination of apples and cranberries and the cinnamon gives them that gentle hint of spice. Think it was a good way to use my pastry, and maybe next time I'll try the turnovers with a different filling - like the idea of the pear and walnut, but maybe rhubarb and ginger .... ? Will make puff pastry again, but will try one of the ideas in the book, like chocolate millefeuille.


Walnut Caramel Tart

I’ve made a lot of cakes lately, large and small, and decided I wanted to make a tart. I bought a large bag of walnut halves last week, so decided they were just what I needed. My lovely friend who runs a cake shop gave me a few more of her recipes when we met up recently, and this tart is one of hers.
You can use shop bought short crust pastry or make your own – enough for a 25cm tart tin, so it’s quite a good sized tart. I made 12oz /350g of pastry – that is 350g of flour and 175g of fat, and I used a mixture of sunflower margarine and Trex, but you could use all butter for a very short pastry. This was just the right amount for the tin.
The tart’s made in 2 stages, the baked part with the eggs, sugar, butter and finely chopped walnuts and the topping with the walnut halves topped with caramel. So if you like walnuts, this is the tart for you!

Preheat oven 180C/gas4      You need a 25cm tart tin [with sides at least 2.5 cms]

You beat 2 eggs and 100g of caster sugar together till pale and fluffy using an electric beater or a stand mixer. Add 100g of finely chopped walnuts and 60g of melted butter and gently mix together.
Roll out your pastry to fit the tin and spoon the mixture in.
Bake for about 30 mins till golden
For the caramel – melt 150g of caster sugar in a pan till brown then pour in 100ml of very hot crème fraiche and mix. Boil this till it’s not grainy then add 20g of warm melted butter and stir together.

Decorate your tart with 100g of walnut halves and pour over the caramel and leave to set.

Quite a sweet tart with a really nutty flavour. The caramel topping finishes it off.


Louisiana Banana Cake

I'm going through a 'nostalgic phase' at the moment, having made coconut ice, coconut pyramids and an orange coconut cake in the last few weeks - all recipes from my Mum's notebook, and which I remember from my childhood.

I wanted to continue with the coconut theme, and I remembered a recipe I'd always meant to try. I have a few US cookery books and magazines brought back from when we lived there, and I've adapted this cake from a book called 'Cakes That Mom Baked' - it has 2 of my favourite ingredients in it - bananas and coconut. I've changed to metric measures and altered some of the ingredients.

When living in the US, we got used to the fact that a cake wasn't a cake unless it had 'frosting' on top.
This was usually a heavy butter cream, flavoured or coloured. This cake has a 'frosting' which is flavoured with banana and rum, and it's then sprinkled with shredded coconut [which I bought on Amazon UK]. I made it in a 900g loaf tin, but the original was made in a 24cm springform tin. It's quite a lot of ingredients, but I think the end result is well worth the effort.

Preheat oven 190C/gas5 and grease a 900g loaf tin [23x13cm] or a 24cm springform tin.

In a bowl mix together 300g of plain flour, 40g of cornflour, 2 tspns of baking powder, 1 tspn of bicarbonate of soda and 1/2 tspn of nutmeg.
Beat together 200g of soft butter and 200g of soft brown sugar till nice and fluffy, then add 3 beaten eggs and 2 tspns of vanilla essence; mix together well.
In a small bowl, mix together 100ml of buttermilk and 3 medium ripe bananas which have been mashed.
Add half of the flour mixture and half of the banana mixture to the batter and mix well.
Then add the rest of the flour and banana mixtures and stir to mix.
Add 45g of toasted pine nuts and 45g of shredded coconut. I found the coconut in a local Asian shop, but dessicated coconut would do. Mix it all together and spoon into tin.
Bake for about 45-50 mins till the cake is springy when touched.
Cool cake in the tin for 30 mins then put onto a wire rack.
For the frosting - beat 200g of soft butter with 450g of icing sugar till it's pale and fluffy, then fold in 2 small mashed ripe bananas, 125ml  rum, 1/2 tspn cinnamon,1 tbspn vanilla extract and 1 tbspn lemon juice.Beat it well to mix thoroughly then spread over the top of the cooled cake. Sprinkle with 150g of toasted shredded coconut to cover all the frosting.
To toast both the pine nuts and the coconut, I browned them in a dry pan on the hob, over a lowish heat; I know you can toast them in the oven, but you have to be very careful they don't burn, so I prefer to watch them.

I love the great mix of flavours - banana, vanilla, pine nuts, coconut etc. It's a lovely moist cake, and we loved the topping. I know it's a lot of calories, but for a treat, it's great!


Almondy Apple Dessert Cake

I'm always looking for new ways to use apples, and I found this recipe on Mary Berry's site. She calls it 'The very best Apple Dessert Cake'.
 It's a sponge cake mixture with an added tspn of almond extract, and you put half of the mixture in the bottom of a 20cm springform or loose bottomed cake tin, lined, then you put a layer of thickly sliced apples then the rest of the cake mixture. You sprinkle the top with flaked almonds and bake for about 45 mins.

You'll find the recipe here .

It's got a great almond flavour and a lovely moist sponge; I like the contrast between the cake and the apple layer, then the crunch of the almonds on top. We ate ours with some creme fraiche. I liked it cold, but my OH preferred it warm.


Chocolate Biscuit Squares

My grandsons popped in to see us yesterday with their Dad, and I wanted something for them to munch, as they're always hungry! I'd been looking through Mum's old recipe notebook and found this. It brought back lots of happy childhood memories - these were a staple for family picnics, carried carefully in their special tin. The boys enjoyed them too, and asked if I'd tell their Mum how to make them. Praise indeed!
Mum's recipe was in ounces, so I've converted it to metric.
It's a 'melt in the saucepan and add everything else' sort of recipe, quick and easy to do, and it doesn't need cooking.

175g plain chocolate [or milk if you prefer] broken into pieces
60g butter
250g digestive biscuits (crushed)
grated orange peel
125g sultanas
60g chopped glace cherries

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat then add the chocolate. Stir in the crushed biscuits, chopped cherries, sultanas and grated orange peel and mix till everything is covered in chocolate. 
Pour the mixture into an oblong tin with a sheet of grease proof or parchment paper on the bottom and leave it in the fridge to set. Cut into squares.
They have a good chocolate flavour, a nice crunch and soft pieces of fruit. You could vary the dried fruit and use cranberries or chopped apricots. They were just as I remembered them, and are very moreish.



Crumbly Blackberry Traybake

I try and buy things in season, but the punnets of shiny blackberries caught my eye this week, so I bought some. I know they have air miles, but nobody's perfect!
I love tray bakes,and I got the idea for this one from this Good Food site recipe.
It seems to be fashionable at the moment to add crumble tops to cakes and muffins, and I think it gives a great contrast of textures to a cake.I like my crumble a bit clumpy, not too much like breadcrumbs.

115g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
1 egg
280g sr flour
125ml milk
200g blackberries

Crumble topping:
115g caster sugar
85g pl flour
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
50g butter

Preheat oven 180C/gas4. 

Butter an oblong cake tin.

Beat sugar and butter together till pale and fluffy.Beat in the egg, then fold in flour and milk and mix well. Spoon into tin and sprinkle the blackberries over the top.

The crumble - mix sugar,flour and lemon rind together then rub in butter till you have large crumbs,then sprinkle over blackberries.

Bake for about 45 mins 
When cake is cool, cut into squares.

You could use other fruits instead of blackberries, and I'm going to make it again with blueberries.
I love the crunchy crumble, then the soft fruit and then the soft sponge.It would be great with some ice cream or creme fraiche as a dessert.

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 Fr...