British Pie Week has rolled around once again – an annual event in which we enjoy getting involved in wholeheartedly!
I use the week as an opportunity to make a kind of pie that I’ve never made before. This year it’s a home-made plum pie.
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of cloves, but it works amazingly well with the plums.
A drizzle of pouring cream or ladle-ful of custard over the top or on the side… a perfect cold weather pudding!
- 400g/14oz plain flour
- 120g/4oz icing sugar
- pinch of salt
- 250g/9oz very cold butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 750g/oz ripe plums stoned & thickly sliced
- 140g/oz golden caster sugar, plus extra
- ½tsp ground cloves
- 1 heaped tbsp cornflour
- Put the flour, icing sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine
- 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
- Stir the eggs, just to break them up, and add it them little at a time, pulsing after each addition
- 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
- Just before your pastry reaches this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change, so listen out
- 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
- 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
- Freeze the pastry for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 4
- Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminium foil and fit the foil tightly against the pastry
- 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
- Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes. Allow to cool before adding the pie filling
- Put the plums, sugar and ground cloves in a pan
- Simmer until the sugar dissolves and the plums are juicy (8-10 minutes)
- Combine the cornflour with a little of the syrup, then mix well into the fruit
- Boil for another few minutes, stirring until thickened
- Allow to cool completely
- Roll out the remaining piece of pastry into a round and, using the rolling pin, carefully lower the pastry over the filling
- 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 beaten egg
- Make a slit in the pastry lid to allow steam to escape
- Bake at 175ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 4 for 20-25 minutes or until crust is brown and juice just begins to bubble through the slit in the crust
- Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing & serving
- Serve with pouring cream or hot custard
Prior to making these flatbreads, I’d never heard of piadina. That’s strange really, seeing as flatbreads from other countries are so well known – pitta, tortilla, chapati, roti…
Piadina is from the Emilia-Romagna region of north eastern Italy. It’s an area renowned for its food; the same area that produces Parmigiano Reggiano, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and the origin of pastas such as tortellini, lasagne and tagliatelle.
This basic flatbread is traditionally made of plain white flour, lard or olive oil, salt and water and served as a street food. It’s eaten as an accompaniment to cheeses, cold meats and vegetables or with sweet fillings such as jam or chocolate spread.
These are quick, easy and delicious – devour them while they’re still warm with a selection of dips!
- 175g/6oz plain flour
- 1tsp salt
- 15ml/1tbsp olive oil
- 105ml/7tbsp lukewarm water
- Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl; make a well in the centre
- Add the oil and water to the centre of the flour and gradually mix in to form a dough
- Knead on a lightly floured surface for 4-5 minutes until smooth and elastic
- Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oild cling film and leave to rest for 20 minutes
- Heat a griddle over a medium heat
- Divide the dough into four equal pieces and roll each into 18cm/7-inch round
- Cover until ready to cook
- Lightly oil the hot griddle, add one or two piadine and cook for about 2 minutes or until they are starting to brown
- Turn the piadine over and cook for a further 1-1½ minutes
- Serve warm
- If you don't have a griddle, a large heavy frying pan will work just as well
With Shrove Tuesday coming up next week we wanted to mark the occasion with some super-fluffy buttermilk pancakes with blueberries.
Buttermilk pancakes are famously American, so we’ve adapted a recipe originally by Martha Stewart – you don’t get much more all-American than her!
Since we received our PizzaSteel a few weeks ago, we’ve not stopped using it – it’s absolutely perfect for using on the stove-top as a griddle.
The buttermilk pancakes go so well with the blueberries – they have just the right amount of sweetness. Add a final drizzle of real maple syrup and they’re a perfect Pancake Day treat!
- 220g/7¾oz plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½tsp salt
- 2 tbs sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 600ml/21 fl oz buttermilk
- 60g/2oz butter, melted, plus extra for the griddle/frying pan
- 125g/4½oz blueberries
- Pre-heat griddle/frying pan to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas mark
- Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl
- Add the eggs, buttermilk and butter and whisk to combine. Don't over-mix, the batter should have small to medium lumps
- Put the oven on its lowest setting
- Test the griddle/frying pan by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters, it's hot enough
- Using a pastry brush, brush a little butter onto the griddle/frying pan. Wipe off any excess with some kitchen towel
- Using a 100g/4-ounce ladle, pour pancake batter, in pools 5cm/2 inches apart from one other. Scatter the top with a few blueberries
- When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges (about 2½ minutes) carefully flip them over
- Cook until golden on the bottom (about 1 minute)
- Repeat with the remainder of the batter, keeping finished pancakes warming on a heatproof plate in the oven
- Serve with maple syrup
You may remember that we had a glut of eggs when we looked after our neighbours chickens whilst they went on holiday. Well, we had a freezer rearrange last week and realised that we had some egg whites that needed using. We also have a huge 1 kilo bag of dessicated coconut (not in the freezer!), two of the main ingredients needed for macaroons.
Seeing as it’s also Valentine’s Day we thought we’d make them a little extra special and made some coconut macaroon hearts drizzled in dark chocolate.
They probably take 10 seconds or so longer to make into hearts than the traditional dome shapes but don’t they look pretty?
If you prefer, you could also dip each heart into the melted chocolate instead of drizzling it… or omit the chocolate altogether, if you prefer.
I never realised that they were so quick and easy to make – just throw all the ingredients into a bowl, stir then spoon them on to a well greased or tray or parchment paper. A quarter of an hour in the oven, and they’re done!
- 200g/7oz dessicated coconut
- 200g/7oz caster sugar
- 4 medium-sized egg whites
- 1tbsp cornflour
- pinch of salt
- 2tsp vanilla extract
- 75g/2⅔oz dark chocolate
- Preheat oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas mark 2
- Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut, sugar, cornflour, salt, vanilla extract and egg whites
- Form the mixture into little heart shapes using a small cookie cutter placed on the baking tray
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes until the macaroons begin to turn golden brown Allow to cool for 5 minutes before lifting the hearts off the greaseproof on to a wire rack
- Break the chocolate up into chunks and melt by putting it into a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water
- Lightly drizzle over the macaroons
We’re still in the throes of our love affair with the humble beetroot! The two previous recipes we shared here were savoury bread products. Today it’s a chocolate and beetroot cake.
I borrowed a recipe from Jamie Oliver – it’s a ‘healthy eating’ one that he devised for cooking with children.
Instead of flour, it contains ground almonds and there’s a minimal amount of sugar as the beetroot gives sweetness.
The beetroot also gives it a deep and slightly earthy flavour – and works surprisingly well with chocolate.
It doesn’t have a light and airy consistency, it’s more like brownie than sponge cake – even with carefully folding in the egg whites…
…not that I’m complaining – it was really, really good!
If you have kids (or even adults!) that won’t eat their vegetables – this is a wonderfully clandestine way of sneaking some into their diet!
- 300g/10½oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
- 250g/9oz raw beetroot
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 150g/5¼oz golden caster sugar
- 120g/4¼oz ground almonds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4
- Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 20cm/8" spring-form cake tin
- Use scissors to cut out a circle of greaseproof paper, roughly the same size as the bottom of the tin, and use it to line the base
- Break 200g of the chocolate up into small pieces and add to a heatproof bowl
- Place the bowl on top of a small pan of simmering water over a medium heat, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water, and allow to melt, stirring occasionally
- Once melted, carefully remove from the heat and set aside
- Peel & grate the beetroot then tip it into a large mixing bowl
- Separate the eggs, placing the whites into a large clean mixing bowl and adding the yolks to the beetroot
- Stir the sugar, almonds, baking powder, cocoa powder and melted chocolate into the beetroot and combine well
- Whisk the egg whites until you have stiff peaks
- Using a spatula, fold ¼ of the egg whites into the beetroot mixture to loosen then, once combined, fold in the rest trying not to over mix
- Add the mixture to the prepared cake tin and spread out evenly using a spatula
- Bake for around 50 minutes, or until risen and cooked through
- To check if it's done, insert a skewer into the middle. If it comes away clean the cake's cooked
- Allow the cake to cool slightly, then carefully turn it out on to a wire rack to cool completely
- Once cool, melt the rest of the chocolate (in the same way as above), and drizzle over the top
- Serve with crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt
We absolutely love our butter in this household, it’s quite alarming how much of the stuff two people get through! With all the bread and cake baking, it’s not surprising, really.
When I saw this butter-licious, American butter-dipped biscuits recipe on Pinterest my mouth immediately started watering.
It may look like a lot of butter but it isn’t really – a mere 113 grams (that’s how much is in an American ‘stick’ of butter). Anyway, it’s been decided by all those hugely intelligent scientists that butter isn’t bad for you!
You’ve probably noticed from the photos that it’s not anything like what the average British person would call a ‘biscuit’. American biscuits are what we over here might refer to as scones (whether you pronounce it to rhyme with ‘gone’ or ‘bone’).
I had one with a fried egg (as you can see in the main photo), and another with some mature cheddar. I must say, I’m not used to having savoury food with a sweet bread product – it took a bit of getting used to, but I’d definitely be making them again.
If you’re not vegetarian like me, try them with chilli con carne, sausages, bacon & eggs – especially if the meats are sweet-cured or maple-glazed. Or, have it like the Americans do, with even more butter as a side to a main course dish and/or with gravy!
- 113g/4oz salted butter
- 300g/10½oz plain flour
- 1½ tbsp granulated sugar
- 1½ tbsp baking powder
- 250g/9oz buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/ gas mark 8
- In a microwave-safe bowl (or the dish the biscuits are being cooked in if it's microwave-safe) melt the butter in the microwave
- Put the melted butter into an 20cmx20cm/8"x8" baking dish
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder
- Pour in the buttermilk and stir until a loose dough forms
- Pour the biscuit dough into the baking dish (on top of the melted butter.) Some of the butter will run over the top of the dough, that's perfectly fine
- Cook for 20-25 minutes (rotating the dish 180º once during baking) - the biscuits should be golden brown on top and spring back to the touch