We are ‘pudding’ rather than ‘starter’ people and always have a sweet ending to our daily evening meal.
Sometimes, I’ve got to the day and haven’t had the time to make a dessert. At times like this, there are a few quick sweet dishes that can be rustled up in about half an hour. One such is jam and coconut slice which is one of Justin’s favourites from his childhood – and also great for using up pastry scraps.
Another is an apple and raisin puff pastry tart – using a sheet of ready-made puff pastry, of course.
All it takes is a couple of cooking apples – peeled, cored and chopped; a handful of raisins (pre-soaking them for an hour makes them more juicy and adds another layer of flavour – strong tea, brandy or armagnac perhaps – so recommended but not a necessity if your in a rush); a pinch of ground spice and aforementioned packet of puff pastry.
Delicious served with cream, creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.
Some say life’s too short to stuff a mushroom, I say life’s too short to make home-made filo pastry. I’m more than happy to whizz up a quick batch of puff, shortcrust or hot water pastry – I think it tastes much better than shop bought. Filo, at least to me, is just that little bit too finicky and time-consuming to make from scratch.
That’s why I picked up a pre-made pack of filo for my apple & sultana strudel.
Yes, I know that filo (or phyllo) is Greek and apple strudel (or apfelstrudel) is German, but the former is the closest thing to the type of pastry traditionally used to encase the filling. Apparently you should be able to read a newspaper through it, it’s so thin!
The filling is quick to make, I added sultanas to my apples, but you could try adding walnuts, dates or figs instead. The trickiest part is the assembly. Place the pastry onto a clean tea towel or baking parchment before filling and use it to help with rolling.
It’s best served hot, and always with cream… or ice cream… or both!
In a recent post, we mentioned that Justin wasn’t a massive fan of fruit crumble – there was utter disbelief amongst some of our readers! We’ve talked through it over recent weeks – it’s good to get things out in the open. To be precise, he doesn’t like a soggy zone between the fruit & browned topping. The merest hint of uncooked, wet flour and there’s real distress.
Now we’ve identified the true cause of his phobia, we’ve been able to work through it together (with the help of a crumble counsellor) and have experimented with different methods. We don’t add any water to the fruit or pre-cook it any more – and top with thinner layers of crumble mix to produce crispy, crunchy perfection. There’s no stopping him now – strawberry, pear, plum – bring it on!
So, for this week’s Cakes & Bakes we’ve got a crumble – rhubarb, apple & cardamom crumble.
The cardamom adds a distinctive and really interesting twist…
…and chopped almonds in the topping also worked well.
So, the only decision left to make – custard, cream or ice cream. It was a custard kind of day for us!!
Second helpings for Justin – we really have moved forward from those dark, crumble-free years!
We’re big Apple Mac fans at H is for Home – in fact, we never part with them. We have a vintage Apple Mac SE30, iMac G4 and MacBook stored in the loft; and currently use a MacBook Pro and iPad Mini… and that’s not to mention the iPhone, iPod and iPod Nano!
If you have the space, wouldn’t all the various models look great displayed on a long shelf, charting the history of computer technology? A veritable Mac museum!
Way back in 1989, an Apple Mac SE30 would have set you back a cool $6,500 US. This one, for sale by & on behalf of Emmaus Bristol*, is currently a mere £26.00.
Emmaus Bristol provides “A bed and a reason to get out of it”. They are a community of formerly homeless people who do not claim benefits but work full time in their own recycling workshop repairing and refurbishing donated goods such as furniture, bicycles, electrical goods and bric-a-brac and selling to the public at reasonable cost.
It was much easier to apply then we thought – there’s a short, helpful video on YouTube that guides you through the process. We’re very happy with the way it looks. We love Charlie Brown – the newspaper cartoons, the TV adaptations – and of course the amazing music – various Jazz scores by Vince Guaraldi. This particular image looks like Justin & Fudge – staring at the view contemplatively – not saying much, just enjoying each other’s company. When the computer is turned on the Apple logo looks like the sun setting.
Vinyl Revolution makes decals for many MacBook models and they also produce wall art, fridgewraps, vehicle decals and are happy to take bespoke orders too.
Every year around this time we are given a bucketful of homegrown apples from the neighbour of Justin’s parents. Because they’re generally tiny and malformed I’ve usually turned them into apple cheese (no peeling, no coring).
There were about half a dozen biggish ones this year, so I combined them with some of the remaining bramble offerings that I had stored in the freezer and made an apple & blackberry pie. I may have confessed in some previous post that I’m not the greatest pastry maker – but I was going to give it another go!
Carefully add more water as needed, a little at a time, then finally bring the mixture together with your hands to form a smooth ball of dough that will leave the bowl clean (if there are any bits won't adhere to it, you need a spot more water)
Divide the ball of dough in half and make 2 smaller balls
Put the balls into a zip-lock bag or wrap in cling film or foil and put them in the fridge for half an hour while you prepare the filling
At this point, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
Wash & drain the blackberries and peel & slice the apples into 1cm chunks. Mix them together and set aside until the pastry is ready to come out of the fridge
Lightly grease a pie/flan dish (I save my butter wrappers for just this job!)
Take one of the balls of pastry from the fridge and roll it out so that it's about 4cm/2 inches wider than the pie dish
Carefully lift the rolled out pastry onto the pie dish using your rolling pin. Press the pastry down gently into the pie and up the sides
Spoon the apples & blackberries onto the pastry and sprinkle the granulated sugar on top
Take out the other ball of pastry from the fridge and roll it out so that it is large enough to form a lid on the pie
Using a pastry brush, dampen the edge of the bottom pastry case with water
Fix the pastry lid into position pressing it very firmly all round
Trim the edges with a knife
You can use these trimmings to make shapes to decorate the top of the pie - just affix them with a little brushing of water
Brush the top of the pie with a little milk then sprinkle on a dusting of caster sugar which will give a crisp surface when the pie is baked
Make a small hole in the centre of the pie for steam to escape
Put the pie on to a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes
Allow to cool a little on a wire rack, slice and serve
Serve with a little cream, vanilla ice cream or just on its own - although I think it's gorgeous with a dollop of clotted cream!