Petits - Beurre Bars

I like traybakes and bars and wanted to make something with blueberries. I found this recipe in an old French magazine and it used raspberries, so I thought I'd try it with blueberries and it worked very well. The French recipe uses Petits - Beurre biscuits and I found some in Sainsburys. Waitrose and Tesco also have them apparently, but shortbread or other plain biscuits could be used.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                        Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.

You need: for the topping:
175g plain flour, 150g of crushed Petits- beurre or biscuits of choice, 60g caster sugar, 50g of chopped walnuts, 150g soft butter,
for the filling:
 225g blueberries, 50g caster sugar, 3 tbspn water, 3 tbspn flour, juice of 1/2 a lemon

For the topping, mix the flour, biscuit crumbs, sugar and nuts together in a large bowl. Rub in the butter to get a crumbly mixture. Put half of this into the bottom of the cake tin and press down well. Bake for 10 mins in the oven then take out.
For the filling, put the blueberries, sugar and 2 tbspn of water into a pan; bring to the boil and and cook for 2 mins. Add the flour, 1 tbspn water and the lemon juice and mix well till thickened.
Spoon the fruit mixture over the baked crumb mixture then put the other half of the crumb mixture on top. Mark it into bars with a knife. Put it back in the oven and bake for 20 mins.
Cool on a wire rack then cut into bars.

A lovely crunchy topping, then the soft blueberries and then another crunchy layer. This would work well with apples or pears. A nice alternative to flapjacks.


Bakewell Cake with Cherry Jam

I thought I'd used up all my bits and pieces form the baking cupboard when I found a jar of Morella cherry jam lurking in the corner; it was a present from France from a friend.
I wanted something simple so decided to make one of my favourite cakes - Mum's Bakewell Cake - it has the ingredients of a Bakewell tart, but no pastry and is a 2 layer cake. It's the all in one method, so quick and easy to make.

Preheat oven 190C/gas5.             Grease and line the bases of 2 x 20cm sandwich tins.

In a large bowl beat together 200g soft butter or margarine, 200g caster sugar, 100g ground almonds, 100g sr flour, 1 tspn baking powder, 1/2 tspn almond extract and 4 eggs.
Divide the mixture between the 2 sandwich tins and bake for about 30 mins till golden. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 mins then turn out onto a wire rack till cold.

Put one of the cakes onto a serving plate and spread with 340g Morello cherry jam. Put the second cake upside down on top, so you have a nice smooth surface to ice.
Sieve 175g icing sugar into a bowl; add 5-6 tspns lemon juice or water and stir together till thick and smooth. Spread over the top of the cake and let it drizzle down the sides.

Toast about 1 tbspn flaked almonds in a dry pan over a medium heat for a few mins till they turn golden, then scatter them over the icing. Leave to set.

I had a pot of red glacé cherries in the cupboard, so added a few on the cake.

It's a nice moist cake with a lovely almond flavour. I love Morello cherries so the jam filling was delicious. Maybe you could use less jam - make a thinner filling, but for me it's just right.
I have to admit to not liking glacé cherries, but my son does, so he got mine! They just give a bit of extra colour and another texture to the cake.


Almond and Pear Tart

One of my favourite fruits is a pear, and I love anything with almonds, so decided to put the two together and make a tart.
The filling for the tart is an almond cream, a frangipane.

I used a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin and made a sweet shortcrust pastry case using 200g plain flour, 150g butter, 2 tbspn icing sugar and 2 - 21/2 tbspn water. Baked it blind at 200C for 5 mins then turned oven down to 170C and baked for further 10 mins.

For the filling 

85g butter at room temperature, 140 g caster sugar, 90g ground almonds, 2 tspns plain flour, 1 tspn cornflour, 1 large egg, 1 tspn vanilla extract.

You also need 6 tinned pear halves or you could use fresh ones. If you do, you'd need to poach them first.

Preheat oven 180C.

To make the filling - put the butter and sugar in a bowl or a mixer [with whisk attachment] and cream till white. Add the ground almonds and mix togther. Add in the flours then the egg and gently mix together. Finally add in the vanilla extract and mix in, then put mixture in the fridge for 2 hours till firm.
Dry the tinned or poached pears on kitchen towel the spoon the almond mixture into the pastry case and spread it over evenly. Slice the pear halves carefully so they will fan out in the tart. Press them, cut side down, evenly over the top of the mixture.
Put the tart on a baking sheet and bake for about 50 mins till the almond mixture comes up round the pears and becomes brown.
Cool on a wire rack then remove from the tin. Dust the top with icing sugar before serving.

The tart was sweet, but not too sweet, the filling was soft, moist and almondy, then the crunchy texture of the pastry. You could make the filling in advance and freeze it or keep in wrapped tight in the fridge for 2 days. Apples, apricots of peaches could be used instead of pears, so this is a versatile tart to have in your repertoire.


Blueberry and Courgette Cake

I like making cakes with vegetables, and have made a few different ones, but this is the first time I've tried making one with vegetables and fruit. I defrosted the big freezer and found a lot of blueberries I needed to use up, so this cake seemed a good way of using some of them.
I found the recipe in an old pull-out for Woman's Weekly magazine, but have changed several things to suit my taste. I also halved the recipe as the original one made 2 cakes.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4
Grease a 20cm springform cake tin.

Beat together 2 medium eggs, 125ml sunflower oil, 2 tspn vanilla extract and 225g caster sugar till nice and fluffy. Stir in 125g of grated courgette.
Sift together 185g plain flour with 1/2 tspn baking powder, 1/2 tspn salt, 1/8 tspn bicarb and 2 tspn cinnamon then fold into the wet mixture.
Gently stir in 165g fresh blueberries and mix.
Spoon into the tin and bake for about 35-45 mins. Cool in the tin for 20 mins then turn onto a wire rack.

The courgette made the cake moist; the blueberries were defrosted, so perhaps this added to the moisture. The time stated for baking wasn't enough- it took about 55 mins to bake. The top was crunchy and I was happy with the way the blueberries had spread out in the cake. There wasn't enough courgette to really see any specks of green, but it had a nice soft crumb and a good flavour with a nice hint of cinnamon. To me though, it was really a blueberry cake, and I don't think the courgette added much to it.

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