Cakes & Bakes: Almond and blueberry sponge pudding

Home-made almond and blueberry sponge pudding with custard | H is for Home

I’ve had a slow-cooker for ages and, like most people, don’t make use of it nearly enough. It sits lonely in my kitchenette waiting patiently for its opportunity to shine. Last week, I saw a slow-cooker recipe for a cherry Bakewell pudding and decided to convert it into and almond and blueberry sponge pudding.

Home-made almond and blueberry sponge pudding components | H is for Home

It’s a real no fuss, straightforward recipe. I swapped cherries for blueberries; however raspberries, strawberries, redcurrants or blackcurrants would work just as well.

Home-made almond and blueberry sponge pudding ready to be steamed | H is for Home

I highly recommend these reusable silicone pot covers as a green alternative to cling film. They come in six graduated sizes from 3-8 inches so fit containers ranging from ramekins to medium-sized mixing bowls. I use them all the time for storing food in the fridge and heating things in the microwave. I’ve now discovered that they’re perfect as a slow-steaming pudding lid!

Home-made almond and blueberry sponge pudding in a slow cooker | H is for Home

If like me you like a bit of a crispy texture, you can stick the pudding under the grill for a couple of minutes at the end of its cooking time.

Home-made almond and blueberry sponge pudding browned under a grill | H is for Home

We served our almond and blueberry sponge pudding with custard. The flavour combination of almond sponge and vanilla custard with a touch of fruity sharpness from the blueberries is a real winner.

Home-made almond and blueberry sponge pudding | H is for Home

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Almond and blueberry sponge pudding
Serves 4
Cook Time
4 hr
Cook Time
4 hr
Ingredients
  1. 150g/5¼oz blueberries, frozen and thawed
  2. 115g/4oz sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
  3. 110g/4oz butter, softened
  4. 2 eggs
  5. ½ tsp almond extract
  6. 75g/2⅔oz self-raising flour
  7. 75g/2⅔oz ground almonds
  8. 2 tbsp milkHome-made almond and blueberry sponge pudding ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Grease a 1.2-litre pudding basin, including the lid if it has one In a small saucepan, heat the blueberrries and the 3 tablespoons of sugar until the sugar dissolves and the fruit begins to burst and the juice is released. Remove from the heat before the fruit collapses. Set aside
  2. Cream the butter and the remaining sugar together until light and fluffy
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time until the mixture is loose and airy
  4. Add the almond extract and combine
  5. Fold in the flour and ground almonds
  6. Add in the milk and combine gently. The batter should have a light texture
  7. Put 100g of the blueberries in the bottom of the basin and pour the batter over the top of them. It won't fill the basin, but don't worry as this will give it space to expand as it cooks. Reserve the remaining cherries until later
  8. Cover the basin securely with the lid and set it into the slow-cooker crock
  9. Pour boiling water into the crock to come halfway up the side of the basin
  10. Put the lid on the slow cooker and steam on high for about 4 hours. It will rise, becoming a light, fluffy sponge
  11. Turn the pudding out onto a plate, piling the reserved cherries on top, and allow the blueberry juice to drizzle down the sides of the pudding before spooning into servings
Notes
  1. Serve warm with hot custard
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Adapted from Slow Cooked
Adapted from Slow Cooked
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

 

Cakes & Bakes: Honey almond brittle biscuits

Home-made honey almond brittle biscuits and cup of tea | H is for Home #recipe #biscuits

As with many of you out there, there’s been severe lurgy in the H is for Home household this week. Well to be honest, we’ve contracted a succession of bugs stretching back 2 months at least – one after another, sometimes overlapping. And that’s after not having had a sniff of a cold for the previous 5 years. It’s certainly been quite a grim winter. When you’re feeling under the weather, any baking has to be quick and easy. These honey almond brittle biscuits seemed like the perfect answer today.

Spooning honey almond brittle biscuit mixture on to a lined baking tray | H is fo rHome

The preparation was literally a ten minute job – and they then less than ten minutes to bake. A small price to pay for some delicious home-baked biscuits.

Home-made honey almond brittle biscuits | H is for Home #recipe #biscuits

And they were indeed delicious. The almonds and honey were a very good combination. There are lots of other potential ingredients to experiment with – peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans and coconut to name but a few. The biscuits were a lovely blend of soft gooey centres and crisp, crunchy edges. A little treat is always nice when your feeling sorry for yourself !

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Honey almond brittle biscuits
Ingredients
  1. 15g/½oz butter
  2. 15g/½oz double cream
  3. 75g/2⅔oz honey
  4. 35g/1oz caster sugar
  5. ⅛ tsp salt
  6. ½tsp lemon juice
  7. 25g/⅗oz plain flour
  8. 100g/3½oz flaked almondsHome-made honey almond brittle biscuits ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan on a low heat
  2. Stir in the cream, honey, sugar, salt, lemon juice and flour, until combined
  3. Add the almonds and stir to combine
  4. Spoon teaspoonfuls of the mix on to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Give each one lots of room as they spread out quite a bit while cooking
  5. Flatten slightly with the back of a wet spoon
  6. Bake at 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 for seven minutes
  7. Cool on a wire rack before eating
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Adapted from The Guardian Food & Drink
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Swedish almond cake

Slice of home-made Swedish almond cake | H is for Home

We’ve just about made our way through last week’s mammoth sourdough coffee chocolate cake. This week, Justin has requested another afternoon tea cake – so I’ve obliged with this Swedish almond cake… one of his favourite flavours!

Egg, sugar and flour in mixing bowls | H is for Home

I came across the loaf cake on the food blog, BakingBar. It’s a family recipe, passed down by David’s grandma.

Swedish almond cake batter | H is for Home

I only made a couple of little tweaks to the original recipe; I omitted the ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, added a sprinkling of flaked almonds and divided the batter into two, smaller loaf tins.

Swedish almond cake batter in loaf tins | H is for Home

As they baked, the smell of almond wafted through the house – I could barely wait for them to be taken out of the oven before I was ready to slice and devour!

Cooked Swedish almond cakes in loaf tins | H is for Home

Do sit tight and be patient though, allowing the loaf to cool for half an hour or so really does make all the difference. Brew yourself a lovely cup of tea, cut a couple of slices, take a set, put your feet up and tuck in!

Two loaves of Swedish almond cake | H is for Home

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Swedish almond cake
Serves 12
Ingredients
  1. 280g/10oz caster sugar
  2. 1 egg
  3. 160ml/5⅔ fl oz milk
  4. 1½tsp almond extract
  5. 150g/5¼oz plain flour
  6. 115g/4oz butter, melted
  7. ½tsp baking powder
  8. 30g/1oz flaked almonds
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/ºF/Gas mark
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg
  3. Beat in the milk a little at a time
  4. Beat in the almond extract
  5. In a separate, medium-sized mixing bowl sieve together the flour and baking powder
  6. Add the dry mixture to the wet and combine
  7. Fold the melted butter into the batter
  8. Pour the batter equally into two greased & lined 500g/18oz loaf tins
  9. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of both
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean
  11. Remove from the oven and allow the loaves to cool on their tins for 20 minutes
  12. Dredge with icing sugar, cut into slices and serve
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Adapted from Baking Bar
Adapted from Baking Bar
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Cranberry almond biscotti

Home-made cranberry almond biscotti with cup of coffee | H is for Home #recipe #biscotti #baking #biscuits

Are you a biscuit dunker? I’ve never been one for dipping my biscuits into hot liquid. However, these cranberry almond biscotti have made me change my ways!

Wet & dry cranberry almond biscotti ingredients | H is for Home

I’ve seen biscotti being produced on the Great British Bake Off but I’ve never tried my hand at making a batch.

Cranberry almond biscotti dough in a cake tin | H is for Home

Biscotti are Italian, twice-baked almond biscuits usually served with Vin Santo – a dessert wine from the same region of Tuscany. It’s this liquid that you dip your biscuit into before eating – I’ve only tried it with coffee so far – but give me time!

Baked cranberry almond biscotti | H is for Home

The traditional recipe is flour, sugar, eggs, pine nuts and almonds. However, there are updated versions that include an array of ingredients such as dried fruit, hazelnuts, pistachios, spices, lemon, coffee and chocolate.

Sliced cranberry almond biscotti | H is for Home

Biscotti is the plural of biscotto but I’ve never heard that term in my life. Perhaps it’s because it’s impossible to eat just one!

Knives between cranberry almond biscotti slices | H is for Home

Researching recipes, I discovered that there is such a thing as a biscotti tin. I don’t think I’ll be making biscotti often enough to warrant getting one – I used my 18cm/7-inch square brownie tin and it was more than adequate at tackling the job.

Cranberry almond biscotti cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

For its second bake, I sliced and transferred the cranberry almond biscotti on to a baking sheet and used stainless steel knives (don’t use knives with wood or plastic handles) to prop them up on their sides.

Home-made cranberry almond biscotti in a glass biscuit jar | H is for Home

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Cranberry almond biscotti
Yields 15
Ingredients
  1. 70g/2½oz butter, melted
  2. 135g/4¾oz granulated sugar
  3. ½tsp salt
  4. 2tsp baking powder
  5. 2tsp vanilla extract
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 120g/4oz plain flour
  8. 120g/4oz semolina flour
  9. 115g/4oz dried cranberries
  10. 115g/4oz chopped almondsHome-made cranberry almond biscotti ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/ Gas mark 4
  2. Grease a biscotti pan or large baking sheet
  3. Stir together the melted butter, sugar, salt and baking powder
  4. Beat in the vanilla extract and then the eggs
  5. Blend in the flours, cranberries and almonds
  6. Place into the prepared biscotti pan, leaving a 2cm/¾-inch margin free on each side of the pan, to allow for expansion. If you're using a baking sheet, form the dough into a flattened log about 28 x 10cm (10½ x 4 inches).
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool for an hour
  8. Slice on the diagonal into 4cm/½-inch thick pieces. Place them back on the baking sheet, standing them on edge if you can; this will ensure they bake evenly
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 160ºC/325°F/Gas mark 3 and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden
  10. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on a wire rack
  11. They can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks
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Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Prune and almond fruitcake

Slice of home-made prune and almond fruit cake | H is for Home

The first bag of Agen prunes I bought didn’t last me very long at all. I ate three a day, every day, from the day they arrived. I also used a handful or so of them in a prune and Armagnac tart. I’ve reordered the prunes from Amazon and this week and have made a prune and almond fruitcake; something a bit different to the traditional ones made using raisins, currants, sultanas and candied peel.

Home-made prune and almond fruit cake mixture | H is for Home

Justin, once again, requested an afternoon fruitcake to accompany a cup of tea. He likes to stop work for a short break about 3pm before charging back into his daily chores!

Prune and almond fruit cake mixture in cake tin | H is for Home Prune and almond fruit cake in cake tin | H is for Home

I had about 100 grams of marzipan leftover from my recent batch of simnel cupcakes so I sliced it into little cubes and spooned it through the cake mixture; a deliciously successful addition!

Home-made prune and almond fruit cake | H is for Home

As with most fruitcakes, if you can resist the temptation of slicing and eating it straight-away, the texture and flavour improves if left for a day or two.

Click here to pin the recipe for later!

Prune and almond fruit cake
Serves 8
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 115g butter, softened
  2. 115g soft brown sugar
  3. 2 eggs, whisked slightly
  4. 175g self-raising flour
  5. ¼tsp almond extract
  6. 200g pitted prunes
  7. 1tbsp flaked almondsHome-made prune and almond fruit cake ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3
  2. Grease a deep 18cm/7-in spring-form or loose-bottomed round cake tin and line base & sides with baking parchment
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
  4. Pour the eggs over the mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a tablespoonful of the flour between each addition to help prevent the mixture curdling
  5. Mix in the almond extract
  6. Fold in the rest of the self-raising flour and combine well
  7. Gently fold the prunes, stirring with a wooden spoon until well distributed through the mixture
  8. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level off the top with the back of the spoon
  9. Sprinkle the top with the flaked almonds
  10. Bake for 1&frac;12 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
  11. Once done, remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in its tin
Notes
  1. Store in an airtight lidded cake tin or plastic tub
Print
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Prune and almond tart with Armagnac

Slice of home-made prune and almond tart with Armagnac with a dollop of crème fraîche | H is for Home

About a month ago we were watching an episode of Food Unwrapped where they investigated the benefit of prunes in keeping you… ahem, ‘regular’.

The presenters did a little compare & contrast experiment where, each day, one of them drank a glass of prune juice, another ate a couple of plums and the third ate a few prunes. The last proved to be by far the most effective way of upping your fibre intake.

Rolled shortcrust pastry | H is for Home

The programme took a trip to Agen in France which apparently produces the best prunes in the world. That was it, I was straight online to order myself a bag of Agen prunes.

They didn’t lie, Agen prunes put all other prunes in the shade when it comes to taste and size. I’ve begun eating 3 prunes each morning and I can attest that the workings of my alimentary canal are markedly smoother than previously!

Blind baked pastry case | H is for Home

I searched through all my cookery books looking for a tempting recipe to try so as to mix my prune intake up a little. Eventually, I came across a prune and almond tart with Armagnac in Rick Stein’s French Odyssey. I don’t think I’ve not previously posted any of his recipes despite the fact that we love a lot of the food he makes.

Armagnac-soaked Agen prunes lining a pastry case | H is for Home Filling poured over prunes in a pastry case | H is for Home

We’re not big brandy drinkers and I couldn’t find anywhere that sold miniatures, but decided to invest in a bottle of Armagnac for this and future recipes – it’s often called for in both sweet and savoury dishes.

Stein’s instruction is to soak the prunes for an hour prior to using them. However, I think a more extensive soak (overnight / 8 hours or so) would improve matters.

Prune and almond tart with Armagnac | H is for Home

Not that the tart wasn’t incredibly good anyway – believe me, it was! Pairing it with a dollop of crème fraîche really works too.

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Prune and almond tart with Armagnac
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr
For the pastry
  1. 225g/8oz plain flour, sifted
  2. ½tsp salt
  3. 130g/4½oz butter, chilled & diced
  4. 1½-2tbs cold water
For the filling
  1. 300g/10½oz mi-cuit (semi-dried) Agen prunes, stoned
  2. 4tbs Armagnac
  3. 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  4. 35g/1¼oz ground almonds
  5. 55g/2oz caster sugar
  6. 200ml/7fl oz crème fraîche
To serve
  1. icing sugar (for dusting)
  2. additional crème fraîche (for serving)Home-made prune and almond tart ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Put the prunes into a bowl with the Armagnac and leave to soak for at least an hour, turning them occasionally to help them absorb the alcohol
  2. Put the flour and salt in a food processor or mixing bowl. Add the butter and work together to the fine breadcrumb stage
  3. Stir in the water with a round-bladed knife until it comes together into a ball
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and kneed briefly until smooth
  5. Rest the pastry in a fridge for about 30 minutes before using
  6. Roll out the pastry and use it to line a greased, loose-bottomed flan tin (2½ cm deep, 24cm diameter)
  7. Prick the base all over and chill for 20 minutes
  8. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF/Gas mark 6
  9. Blind bake the pastry case for 15 minutes then remove the blind baking gubbins and bake the case for a further 5 minutes
  10. Set the case aside and reduce the oven temperature to 190°C/ºF/Gas mark 5
  11. Drain the prunes over a bowl to reserve the remaining Armagnac
  12. Add the ground almonds, egg, sugar and crème fraîche to the Armagnac then beat together until smooth
  13. Distribute the prunes over the base of the pastry case and pour over the almond mixture
  14. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes away clean
  15. Allow the tart to cool before dusting with a little icing sugar
  16. Serve with additional crème fraîche
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Adapted from Rick Stein's French Odyssey
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/