One of the things that Todmorden is famous for is Incredible Edible, a group of local people who have started something of a revolution, growing food in public places in & around the town centre.
There are vegetables outside the police station and local community college, herbs along the canal tow-path and in the train station and an apothecary garden in the grounds of the health centre.
Everything is free for anyone to come along and help themselves – or even do a little weeding and clearing if the fancy takes them!
The train station is on one of our daily dog-walking routes and it’s been lovely watching the progress of the peas, red onions, chives and the like.
This week, along with the dog, I left the house with a pair of scissors and a carrier bag and cut a few stems of rhubarb – to use in a rhubarb and custard tart.
Rhubarb & custard is a classic British combination as is baked custard tart. I’ve put them together and come up with a delicious dessert.
I used the same pastry recipe as last week’s pear tart and made sure to add a tad more sugar than normal to the custard recipe… and a tablespoonful of Bird’s Custard Powder.
The sweetness of the custard and the tartness of the rhubarb worked incredibly well – I’ll be making this one again before the end of the rhubarb season.
- 200g/7oz plain flour
- 60g/2oz icing sugar
- pinch of salt
- 125g/4½oz very cold butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 400ml/14 fl oz double cream
- 100ml/3½ fl oz creamy milk
- 2 eggs, plus 2 yolks
- 100g/3½oz caster sugar
- 1tbsp custard powder
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 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 egg, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition
- When the egg is 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 tart tin and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the tin. 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, then transfer the pastry case to a cooling rack; keeping it in its tin
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, slowly bring the cream and milk to a simmer
- In a large, heat-proof measuring jug, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar, custard powder and vanilla essence
- Pour the hot cream & milk mixture into the bowl, whisking continuously
- Carefully strain the custard on to the cooked pastry base (don't overfill)
- Slice the rhubarb into lengths and place into a pattern in the custard
- Carefully put the tart tin into the oven (rearrange the rhubarb lengths if they drift in the liquid during the move!)
- Bake for 40 minutes or until the top begins to brown
- Remove from the oven, sprinkle a little granulated sugar over the top and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving
I got, not one but two, pressure cookers in a mixed lot at auction last week. I’d been after one for a while – it’s a piece of kit that was always being used in my parents’ (and my friends’ parents’) kitchen.
I haven’t used one in decades. They’re superb for cooking bean, pulse and rice dishes in particular…
…but this is a ‘Cakes & Bakes‘ post, so a more suitable dish was required. I spent last night looking at all manner of pressure cooker recipes and decided on crème caramel.
Probably not something you’d immediately think of making in a pressure cooker – but it appeared quite straightforward, so ideal for me to reacquaint myself with the hissing and steaming beast.
The results were actually delicious!
- 100g sugar
- 250ml/½pt whole milk
- 3 eggs, 2 whole plus one yolk
- ½tbsp vanilla extract
- 125g sugar
- In your widest sauté pan, add the sugar and turn the flame to high and wait. DO NOT STIR - at most, pick up the pan and swish it around to make sure the sugar is evenly melted in the caramel
- As soon as almost all of the sugar has turned to caramel turn off the heat
- Hold the mould with your oven-mitt-covered hand, or some other protection that will not limit your dexterity yet protect your hand form the hot scalding sugar. With the other hand, pour a little caramel in the bottom and then swirl it around covering the mould internally and on the sides as much as you can
- Infuse the milk with the vanilla extract to almost boiling and then remove from the heat and allow to cool. You can do this stage using a large glass measuring jug in the microwave or medium-sized saucepan on the stove-top
- In another large measuring jug, whisk the eggs & extra yolk with the sugar
- Pour the cooled milk into the egg mixture. Combine well - the resulting consistency will be very liquid
- Pour the milk & egg mixture into the caramelized moulds leaving 1 cm/½" space from the top
- Cover the moulds tightly with tin foil
- Prepare the pressure cooker by adding a couple of cups of water and the cooking rack
- Fill the pressure cooker with as many of the filled moulds as possible that will stay level (my cooker only fit 2 of the Le Creuset heart-shaped ramekins at a time). Close and lock the pressure cooker top, turn the heat to high and when it reaches pressure, turn the flame down to minimum
- Count 5-8 minutes cooking time (time may vary depending on the size and thickness of the container(s) used)
- When time is up, turn off the heat and don't do anything wait for the pressure to come down naturally. If after 10 minutes all of the pressure hasn't released, relieve the rest of the pressure with the pressure valve. For electric pressure cookers, disengage the 'Keep Warm' setting when cooking time is up and turn off or unplug the pressure cooker
- When time is up, open the top and check for doneness by sticking a toothpick in the middle of one of the crèmes. If it comes out dirty, simply place the pressure cooker cover back on and wait another 5 minutes - the residual heat from the pressure cooker will keep cooking them. If the crème caramels are still liquid, cook under pressure and additional 5 minutes
- Let the crème caramels cool outside the pan for about an hour before refrigerating. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. If you need to do another batch, remember to add more water in your pressure cooker!
- To serve, simply turn each mould upside-down onto separate dessert dishes. If a crème caramel doesn't release on its own, insert a flat knife and run it carefully along the sides. Then, on one side pull the knife a little towards the centre to break the suction
- Replace the dessert plate on top of the mould and flip it over quickly
I’ve been meaning to try to make a Manchester tart for ages. It’s a fairly local dish although not all that common to find… and consists a host of things we both love! Bananas, dessicated coconut, jam and custard. A Northern dish made using exotic ingredients like bananas and coconut!
I found and slightly adapted a Marcus Wareing recipe I found online. There are lots of stages – it’s not quick to whip up, but it’s a scrumptious, filling dessert – I’ll be making it again soon!