Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Kentish Apple Cake

A lot of the time these days, emphasis is put on how bad the need for speed is. There are two sides to the story: people who want things done super quickly, and those who just want everyone to slow down and relax. This cake happily bridges the gap between both ideas.DSCF6696 This cake is a pure snap to make – just mix all the ingredients in one bowl and bake. I normally get nervous when something gets the label ‘idiot proof’ (if I muck it up, what does that make me?!) but this cake really does deserve this title. So that’s the part that makes need-for-speed people happy. Once its baked, that’s when you take your time. Slowly enjoy each bite of a generous slice served with another generous ‘dollop’ of Greek yoghurt. Sit, breathe, eat, enjoy. And that’s the slow-down-and-relax people happy.DSCF6710 This cinnamon-apple cake will fill your house with the most tempting of smells whilst it bakes – so this is worth it for the smell alone. This cake is one of those that is perfect to make for “when people ring and announce they are coming over”. It uses general ingredients that are pretty much always at home, is quick and as above looks, smells and tastes gorgeous (and also has no butter involved). It has a very soft and moist texture, dotted with the sweet bursts of sultanas and finished with the crunchy demerara topping. Yum.DSCF6706 Kentish Apple Cake, my Mum’s recipe (originally from The Telegraph)

Ingredients: 225g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
2tsp ground mixed spice or cinnamon
255g light brown soft sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
200ml sunflower oil
310g apples, cored and diced (roughly 3 apples)
100g sultanas
Demerara sugar

Method: 1. Sieve the flour, salt and spices into a bowl and then stir in the sugar.

2. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the eggs and the oil.

3. Mix until completely smooth and then add the apple and sultanas. Spoon into a lightly greased 30x20cm tin and sprinkle with sugar.

4. Bake at 180’C (Gas Mark 4) for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden. DSCF6717

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Quiche Lorraine

Living in London, it’s not all that often that you get to make use of local ingredients. We have a garden where we can grow tomatoes and there’s an apple tree – but getting produce from nearby farms or orchards or something, not really! Therefore an extra reason we enjoy going to our house in Suffolk is the chance to embrace cooking with fresh and local food.DSCF6427 DSCF5098For example, this quiche. The bacon – from the butcher up the road, from the pig farm we always drive past as we approach our house. The eggs – from Eddie the Egg Man (note: names have been changed :D) and his Honesty Box table outside his house. (An Honesty Box is where he leaves his eggs and a jam jar outside his house, trusting everyone to leave the right amount of money in the jar.) Both the eggs and bacon, I think, helped make this quiche extra special.DSCF6435I hadn’t made a quiche ever before, and don’t often eat it. But the time had rolled back round for a savoury bake and as I enjoy working with pastry I thought that it would be an interesting classic to cover. I was surprised with the simplicity – the filling takes seconds to make so the main time is spent on the pastry and final cooking. Although I had a few kerfuffles with making this recipe fit my tin, in the end I enjoyed the result. The filling was velvety soft, spiked with the salty lardons and sharp Cheddar. Accompanied by cherry tomatoes and enjoyed in the sun – pretty perfect. DSCF6421

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Rhubarb Tart

Happy Mothers Day! Today I am celebrating everything brilliant about my Mum, and that certainly takes much celebrating.DSCF6473I have so much to thank my Mum for. This blog, in particular, would be a very different place if it wasn’t for her. When I’m stuck for inspiration on what to bake, or my mind cannot find an “angle” for each post, she’s always there with an idea, a book, an article to show me. Even today’s recipe was her find, and boy am I thankful. My email inbox is full of emails from her, even if we are just one room apart, with links to gorgeous recipes and “This looks nice” , “Make this!” or “Isn’t this pretty…". Without those recipes and ideas I would never have broadened what I cook and the periods in between posts would be much longer!DSCF6449 Of course it isn’t just because of this blog that I am thankful towards my Mum. As I grow up I constantly realise little ways I’m like her, little habits I’ve inherited. There’s a little tune we both hum after we hang up the phone. There’s the shared sense of humour, shared love and dislike for different people. She’s a sensible one my Mum and always has the best advice and encouragement for me when I feel down or doubtful. Funny, kind, loving, beautiful: a worthy recipient of this pretty pink tart. DSCF6465 This tart, even if I say so myself, was gorgeous. Light cream cheese pastry, fabulously smooth Cointreau-cream cheese filling and the stunning topping of bright rhubarb. The rhubarb was bought from Greg Wallace’s new restaurant, Wallace and Co. , and was delicious. After stewing the rhubarb, you boil up the rhubarb juices to a thick syrup. This method creates more syrup than you need for the tart, but is so perfect spread over yoghurt or drizzled extra over your own slice of tart. You can find the recipe here, to save me typing it, and although this author did not enjoy it please do not be put off! I subbed in Cointreau for the Muscat as orange and rhubarb is a marvellous combination and it honestly was scrumptious. So, Happy Mother’s Day Mum, I love you! X
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Sunday, 7 March 2010

Baked Pineapple with Almonds

DSCF6444 Look at that blue sky. When you see a clear sky like that, how hot do you think it is out there? 15’C? 20’C? Wrong. Out there, it was a bone-chilling 4’C. Yup – deceiving weather. The time between winter and spring is often a funny one to cook in. Some days its freezing cold and you want December/January style food – comfort food at its best. Other days its warm and sunny and you want June/July food – salads and fresh fruit/flavours. That is precisely why Dan Lepard created this pineapple dish – perfect for the switch between seasons. DSCF6404Even, if like the sky photo above, its a sunny day but freezing, this pudding will hit the spot. The tropical juicy pineapple feels right for the sunshine, but the sponge on top adds the comfort needed to block out the cold. Genius idea. DSCF6402Shamefully before this pudding I had not cooked using fresh pineapple before and, unsurprisingly, it was so much more full of flavour than the tinned stuff. Definitely a fruit I will be returning too – perhaps with this pudding minus the sponge plus a big pile of yoghurt for breakfast. I varied the recipe a little because I had no brandy, and thought that the orange flavours of Cointreau would partner the pineapple nicely. Happily, it did and the pudding was as delish as hoped. Like Dan Lepard says, it is definitely best on day one straight after it comes after the oven – the next day it tends to go a little stodgy as the sponge soaks up those pineappley juices. So whether its hot, cold or impossible to tell from your computer screen, head over here to grab the recipe and get cooking. :) DSCF6393

Monday, 1 March 2010


Profiterole Story 1: At my parents wedding one of the puddings served up was profiteroles. However, as my Dad was busy greeting guests/celebrating/thinking about his speech/generally chatting away he never got one. All the guests were happily enjoying their “little bites of deliciousness”, filled with cream and covered in chocolate, but not one got to my Dad. And ever since then he has been making up for it by grabbing the profiterole chance whenever possible.DSCF6365Profiterole Story 2: I went on a week long cookery course a couple of years ago now, and one afternoon we made profiteroles. The lesson over-ran a little, and profiteroles tend to go soggy and flat when filled with their cream and left ahead of time. Therefore on the way home my friend and I were carrying three boxes: one of the delicate choux buns, one of lightly whipped cream and one of silky chocolate ganache – all waiting to be put together once safely home (aka safely near my Dad). Getting the tube home at the height of rush hour, standing in a packed London tube with wobbly boxes of rapidly melting cream, squashed between stressed office workers – quite an experience. Happily – the profiteroles were worth it. Yum.DSCF6368SO with these two profiterole memories with me I felt it was high time they were welcomed back to my kitchen. Choux pastry is a slight conundrum of pastry really – different to everything else. A light bun mixture made in a saucepan that puffs up to be fairly hollow and airy with a crisp outside, just waiting to be filled with all kinds of delicious things. I stuck with whipped cream, but for even more decadence these can be filled with pastry cream or ice cream. Of course choux pastry is not only made for profiteroles – it makes long eclairs, choux “swans”, choux rings, and savoury cheese gougeres. At big events and parties, profiteroles are traditionally served in beautiful towering stacks…but by the time I came to photograph these there simply weren’t that many left!
DSCF6359These profiteroles are good. Extremely good. Considering they are cream+chocolate+pastry it is no surprise they are very addictive. The pastry has to be done carefully and exactly right (this is the kind of recipe where baking becomes a real science) but is fairly simple when you get the idea and is so quick to put together. What are you waiting for? My recipe was from the classic Delia, which you can find here. You can also find all her tips on choux pastry here. Make. Eat. (Eat Another). Enjoy. Smile :)