Cakes & Bakes: Lemon and blueberry Pavlova

Home-made lemon and blueberry Pavlova | H is for Home

One of the first things I remember baking as a kid in Trinidad are soupies. Plain meringue rounds, usually with a good dash of garish food colouring. I don’t think I’ve made meringue since then, so this dessert is a long time coming! This time the recipe will be a bit more sophisticated; I’ll be making a lemon and blueberry Pavlova. I’m not a great fan of dry, chalky meringue so I’m making it with a just about baked, soft, chewy Swiss meringue.

Four separated eggs and aluminium cup of sugar | H is for Home

For a successful meringue you need to ensure you do a few things. Firstly, use the freshest eggs possible. Next, separate you eggs – one by one – not into each other to ensure none of the yolk gets into the mix. If you don’t, the yolk of the last egg you crack splits, that would be all the egg whites ruined!

Swiss meringue mixture over a saucepan of simmering water | H is for Home

It’s also important to make sure that your mixing bowl and your whisk or whisk attachment are clean as a whistle. If they have any sign of oil or grease it will affect how well the egg whites form those all-important stiff peaks.

Beaten Swiss meringue mixture | H is for Home

Success on that front – so I was off to a good start!

Swiss meringue piped on to parchment paper | H is for Home

I decided on three graduated layers with whipping cream swirled with the gently simmered blueberries – and a small batch of my freshly made lemon curd.

Home-made lemon and blueberry Pavlova with jar of lemon curd | H is for Home

The flavours worked so well together – the sweet meringue combining beautifully with the slightly tart blueberries and the sweet, unctuous lemon. A real triumph!

Home-made lemon and blueberry Pavlova | H is for Home

Other great Pavlova fillings you could try are the classic strawberries, passion fruit & kiwifruit; mandarin; peach, pomegranate, banana & toffee (banoffee) or black cherry & chocolate (black forest). Or flavour the actual meringue with cocoa powder, fine ground coffee beans or – my new favourite – cardamom.

Click here or on the image below to pin the recipe for later!
Home-made lemon and blueberry pavlova | H is for Home

Lemon and blueberry Pavlova
Ingredients
  1. 4 egg whites
  2. 200g/7oz caster sugar
  3. pinch of cream of tartar
  4. 150g/5oz blueberries
  5. 300ml/10½fl oz whipping cream
  6. 50g lemon curdHome-made lemon and blueberry pavlova ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 100ºC/200ºF/gas mark ½
  2. Line a large oven tray with baking parchment
  3. In a heat-proof mixing bowl, gently mix the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar over a simmering saucepan of water (make sure the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water). Keep stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved
  4. Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan and, using an electric mixer, beat on a slow speed rising gradually to a high speed. Continue for about 3-5 minutes until the meringue forms stiff peaks
  5. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle
  6. Pipe 3 graduated circular shapes and 6-8 meringue kisses on to the parchment paper
  7. Bake for 1-1½ hours depending on how sticky or hard you want the finished meringue
  8. Put the blueberries into a small saucepan with a tablespoonful of sugar and cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool
  9. Beat the whipping cream until thickened and forms peaks. Set aside
  10. When cooked, remove the meringue from the parchment paper (you may need to use a palette knife) and allow to cool completely on a wire rack
  11. Put the largest meringue round on to a large plate and top with ⅓ of the whipped cream, ⅓ of the blueberry mixture and drizzle with ⅓ of the lemon curd
  12. Repeat with the two other circles of meringue (the smallest goes on the top)
  13. Decorate with the meringue kisses
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Blueberry pie

Slice of home-made blueberry pie | H is for Home

It’s been almost six months since I last posted a pie recipe on Cakes & Bakes. I’ve righted that wrong this week with a blueberry pie.

Blueberry pie pastry dough | H is for Home Uncooked blueberry pie pastry case | H is for Home

Blueberries, sugar & spice | H is for Home

My recipe is a hodgepodge of three others. The blueberry pie filling is from my vintage 1950s Betty Crocker cookbook, Dinner for Two; the sweet pastry is from Dorie Granspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours and the crème anglaise is from that catering college staple, Ceserani & Kinton’s Practical Cookery.

Blueberry pie pastry case and sugared blueberries | H is for Home

Much as I enjoyed this bake, if I were to make another blueberry pie, I’d do it a little differently.

Home-made blueberry pie and lid | H is for Home

Firstly, the blueberry pie filling was WAY too sweet for my taste. Perhaps it wouldn’t have tasted so sweet if the pastry I’d used had been just a plain shortcrust.

Uncooked home-made blueberry pie | H is for Home

Secondly, the filling recipe calls for ½ teaspoon of cinnamon; Justin liked it, but it just didn’t work for me.

Crème Anglaise ingredients | H is for Home

Thirdly (and lastly), I had my first slice with crème anglaise and my second (not straight after, obviously 🙂 ) with double cream. I much preferred the latter version.

Home-made blueberry pie | H is for Home

Perhaps I’ll test my 3rd portion with vanilla ice cream – all in the name of research on behalf of our readers, of course!

Blueberry pie
For the pastry
  1. 400g/14oz plain flour
  2. 120g/4oz icing sugar
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 250g/9oz very cold butter
  5. 2 egg yolks
For the filling
  1. 125g/4½oz caster sugar
  2. 30g/1oz plain flour
  3. ½tsp teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 375g/13oz blueberries
  5. 2 tbs butter
For the crème anglaise
  1. 300ml/½pt milk
  2. 25g/1oz caster sugar
  3. 2 egg yolks
  4. 2-3 drops vanilla extract (I used ¼tsp vanilla bean paste)Home-made blueberry pie ingredients
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For the pastry
  1. Put the flour, icing sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine
  2. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely - you'll have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pea-size pieces and that's just fine
  3. Stir the eggs, just to break them up, and add it them little at a time, pulsing after each addition
  4. When the eggs are in, process in long pulses - about 10 seconds each - until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds
  5. Just before your pastry reaches this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change, so listen out
  6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Very lightly and sparingly - make that very, very lightly and sparingly - knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing
  7. Butter the pie dish and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the dish and over the rim. Don't be stingy - you want a crust with a little heft because you want to be able to both taste and feel it. Also, don't be too heavy-handed - you want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don't want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly shortbread-ish texture
  8. Freeze the pastry for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking
  9. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 4
  10. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminium foil and fit the foil tightly against the pastry
  11. Bake the pastry for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil. If the pastry has puffed up, press it down gently with the back of a spoon
  12. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes. Allow to cool before adding the pie filling
For the filling
  1. Combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon
  2. Stir in the blueberries
  3. Turn into pastry-lined pie dish and dot with butter
  4. Roll out the remaining piece of pastry into a round and, using the rolling pin, carefully lower the pastry over the filling
  5. Press the pastry lid into the pastry bottom either with your thumbs or a fork. Trim the excess and brush the top with a little milk
  6. Bake at 175ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 4 for 25-30 minutes or until crust is brown and juice just begins to bubble through slits in the crust
For the crème anglaise
  1. Boil the milk in a medium-sized saucepan. Allow to cool a little
  2. Mix yolks, sugar and vanilla in a basin before adding to the milk
  3. Put the saucepan back on a low heat and stir with a whisk or wooden spoon until the desired thickness. Do NOT boil
  4. Pass through a fine sieve into a serving jug
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Lemon & blueberry cheesecake

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Slice of home-made lemon & blueberry cheesecake | H is for Home

Right, it’s official, cheesecake is H is for Home’s favourite cake!

Hobnobs ground in a food processor | H is for Home

It’s by far, the most baked Cakes & Bakes entry.

Cheesecake biscuit base made using Hobnobs | H is for Home

Juicing & zesting lemons | H is for Home

This week, lemon & blueberry cheesecake joins the ranks.

Eggs broken into a small measuring jug | H is for Home

Cheesecake mixture and blueberry purée | H is for Home

I’ve used Hobnobs instead of the usual digestive biscuits for the base. Frozen blueberries are available in the supermarket all year round and at a fraction of the price of fresh.

Adding blueberry purée to cheesecake mixture | H is for Home

Lemon & blueberry cheesecake put into a water bath before baking | H is for Home

Home-made cheesecake isn’t difficult. The secret is cooking it long & low. Wrapping the tin with foil and placing it in a water bath (bain-marie) makes sure it cooks properly all the way through without burning. You want the slightest browning of the top.

Top of home-made lemon & blueberry cheesecake before topping with fruit | H is for Home

Home-made lemon & blueberry cheesecake | H is for Home

It feels like a very indulgent cake… but I know the blueberries count as one of your 5-a-day. It leaves just one question, do the lemons make it two?

Detail of a home-made lemon & blueberry cheesecake | H is for Home

If you’d like to save this recipe, you can pin it from here.

Lemon & blueberry cheesecake
Serves 8
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
for the base
  1. 200g/7oz Hobnobs
  2. 75g/3oz butter, melted
for the filling
  1. 500g/17½oz cream cheese
  2. 350g/12oz blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  3. 3 lemons, zest & juice
  4. 200g/7oz caster sugar
  5. 3 eggs
  6. 150ml/5fl oz sour creamLemon & blueberry cheesecake ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas mark 2
  2. Grease the sides of a 20cm/8-inch spring-form cake tin
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter
  4. In a food processor, add the Hobnobs and grind to a fine crumb
  5. Add the ground biscuits to the butter and combine
  6. Empty the mixture into the base of the tin and smooth the surface evenly using the back of a tablespoon
  7. Bake the base for about 15 minutes then set aside to cool while you make the cake mixture
  8. Zest & juice the lemons. Set aside
  9. In the food processor you used to crumb the biscuit, add half the blueberries and lemon juice and purée
  10. In a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if doing it by hand) add the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar and mix thoroughly
  11. Gently whisk the eggs in a measuring jug before adding them to the cheese mixture in 3 stages, mixing well after each addition
  12. Add the puréed blueberry & lemon juice mixture followed by the lemon zest, making sure it's well incorporated
  13. Boil a kettleful of water
  14. Before pouring the cheesecake mixture into the tin, wrap the tin in foil to make it water tight
  15. Put the tin into an oven tray (at least 5cm/1-inch deep)
  16. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the tin and put the oven tray & cake into the preheated oven
  17. Fill the oven tray to about ½cm/¼-inch below the rim with the boiled water
  18. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes
  19. When cooked, turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven, with the door ajar
  20. When completely cool, top with the other half of the blueberries and put in the fridge
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Rhubarb and berry shortcake pie

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Rhubarb and berry shortcake pie |H is for Home

We have a rhubarb plant growing in a dolly tub our garden that hasn’t done at all well this year. The stalks normally stand tall and to attention but they seem to have lost their va va voom. They’re thin and bendy from the weight of their huge leaves. I decided to chop them all down today in the hope that they’d revive with more vigour next year.

We also still have an ice cream tub full of frozen blackberries that we picked late last summer. We kept some back when we did our jam & jelly making to use in compotes, crumbles etc. Ripening fruits are already in evidence on this year’s bushes so I thought I’d clear out the freezer in readiness for the new crop.

I found and adapted a rhubarb, blueberry and strawberry shortcake pie recipe found in Pie: Delicious sweet and savoury pies and pastries from steak and onion pie to pecan tart by Dean Brettschneider. It’s very much like a cobbler and is delicious hot or cold with vanilla ice cream, cream or – my favourite – a dollop of Rodda’s classic Cornish clotted cream!

Cakes & Bakes: Rhubarb and berry shortcake pie

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: makes 8 slices

Cakes & Bakes: Rhubarb and berry shortcake pie

Ingredients

  • For the shortbread
  • 125g butter, softened & cubed
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 225g plain flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • For the filling
  • 3–4 stalks rhubarb
  • 3tbsp Demerara sugar
  • 250g fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 125g fresh or frozen blueberries
  •  
  •  

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF/Gas mark 6
  2. Line a shallow 20–22cm round cake tin or flan dish with baking/parchment paper
  3. Put the cubed butter and caster sugar into a medium mixing bowl and, using a hand-held electric whisk, combine until light and fluffy
  4. Add the egg before sifting in the flour, cornflour and baking powder. Combine until just mixed
  5. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the tin/dish
  6. Set aside the remainder of the dough, covering it with cling film
  7. Trim & slice the rhubarb before putting it into a large, non-stick frying pan
  8. Sprinkle over the Demerara sugar
  9. Put the pan over a low heat shaking the pan occasionally, until fruit is almost tender
  10. Add the blackberries & blueberries to the rhubarb, gently mix for a few seconds before turning off the heat and allowing the fruit to cool
  11. Spread the lukewarm fruit over the shortbread base before carefully dabbing pinches of the leftover dough over the top, allowing a little of the fruit to peep through
  12. Bake for 30 minutes or until the shortcake top turns golden brown
  13. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack and then onto a serving plate
  14. Sprinkle with icing sugar, slice and serve!
http://hisforhomeblog.com/cakes-bakes/cakes-bakes-rhubarb-berry-shortcake-pie/

Cakes & Bakes: Banana blueberry cranberry buttermilk cake

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slice of banana blueberry cranberry buttermilk cake with cup of tea | H is for Home

We always have a stash of berries in the freezer. It’s usually a lot cheaper than fresh – and often more nutritious, not deteriorating on the supermarket shelves over time. And it means you can get hold of them all year round. It’s usually blueberries from Morrisons, only £2 for a 350 gram container. Sometimes it’s strawberries from Lidl.

I bought a container of fresh cranberries at Christmas when they were on offer, and put them straight into the freezer with the intention of doing something with them at a later date. The first thing I did was to use some of them in a smoothie. I thought the smoothie was quite tasty but after the first sip, Justin pulled a face like he’d just sucked on a lemon!

My second cranberry endeavour has been much more successful. I made a banana blueberry cranberry buttermilk cake. ‘Tasty. More an afternoon cake with a cup of tea, than a dessert cake.’, was the verdict. I think that meant he approved!

Cakes & Bakes: Banana, blueberry & cranberry buttermilk cake

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: makes 8-10 slices

Cakes & Bakes: Banana, blueberry & cranberry buttermilk cake

Ingredients

  • 115g butter, softened
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 60ml buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ¼tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch tsp salt
  • 3 bananas
  • 100g blueberries
  • 50g cranberries (I used frozen blueberries & cranberries, but you can use fresh if it's in season)
  •  
  •  

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. In a food processor, using the K-beater attachment, cream the butter & caster sugar until fluffy
  3. In a small measuring jug, lightly beat the eggs, before adding them to the butter & sugar, a little at a time, mixing after each addition
  4. Mix in the buttermilk and vanilla extract
  5. In another medium-sized mixing bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together - flour, baking powder, bicarb & salt
  6. Add the dry to the wet mixture in 3 stages, mixing after each addition
  7. Roughly slice the bananas and mix into the batter
  8. With a spatula, fold in the blueberries and cranberries
  9. Pour the batter into a greased 23cm/9inch loose-based deep sandwich cake tin and make level with the spatula
  10. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes away clean
  11. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes before running a sharp knife around the inside circumference of the tin and easing it away
  12. Allow to cool on a wire rack
http://hisforhomeblog.com/cakes-bakes/cakes-bakes-banana-blueberry-cranberry-buttermilk-cake/

Wednesday Wish: Fruit trees

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Blueberries, quince and damsons
Image credits: blueberries, quince, damsons

Spring is coming, spring is coming!

That means that we’ll be able to get back to using our garden again. It’s looking really sorry for itself at the moment – neglected, frost-shattered terracotta pots

Much as I love pretty, jaunty annuals, I never feel like they’re value for money. I prefer having bulbs – they bring pleasure year after year and once they’ve been planted, the majority of them just get on with it.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about investing a bit more and getting a few fruit trees. Top of my list are damsons, quinces and blueberries. I make jams & jellies so fruit from my own garden will make it all that more “home-made”.

Bluberries really suit where we live – they love acid soil and you can grow them in pots (the majority of our garden is cobbled stone setts). Damsons are famous for growing well “up north” – apparently they like a bit of damp – they’ll feel right at home with us then! I’ve wanted my own quince tree ever since I made a batch of jelly from a big bag of quinces given to me by a friend of Granny Glittens. They’re not the kind of fruit you tend to find to readily in shops or markets and the jelly is fragrant, delicious and a beautiful amber colour.

I think I’d like to turn our little plot into a micro orchard!