When I was buying ingredients for last week’s apple and raisin puff pastry tart I needed two cooking apples. However, the Bramley apples in the supermarket were being sold in packs of four. I’m making an apple and sultana crumble this week to use up the two that were left over.
I may have mentioned before that fruit crumble isn’t one of Justin’s favoured puddings – he thinks the crumble topping is too often soggy, floury and not very nice – especially if too thick or a bit undercooked.
I think my crumble topping recipe is none of those things; it forms large, crunchy, nutty morsels.
Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of it just before it goes into the oven for extra sweetness and crunch. You can serve it with thick, cold cream, hot creamy custard or a scoop of vanilla ice cream – they’re all good!
- 2 Bramley (or other cooking) apples, peeled, cored & roughly chopped
- 25g/¾oz butter
- 100g/3½oz sultanas
- 50g/1¾oz Demerara sugar
- 50g/1¾oz plain flour
- 50g/1¾oz porridge oats
- 50g/1¾oz flaked almonds
- 50g/1¾oz Demerara sugar
- 75g/2⅔oz cold butter, cubed
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
- In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat, melt the 25g of butter
- Add the chopped apples, sultanas and Demerara sugar and stir until the apples are just beginning to soften (about 5-10 minutes)
- Put the mixture into a greased baking/pie dish
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, oats, almonds and Demerara sugar
- Add the cold, cubed butter and rub into the dry ingredients - but not to much - you want the mixture to have quite large lumps
- Spoon the crumble evenly over the apple and sultana mixture so that it's completely covered
- Sprinkle a little golden granulated sugar over the top for added crunch (optional)
- Put the dish into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the crumble topping turns a lovely golden brown
- Serve with custard, thick pouring cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream
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.
- 75g/2⅔oz raisins
- 2 Bramley (or other cooking) apples
- 20g/¾oz butter
- 50g/1¾oz demerara sugar
- ¼tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 packet of ready-made, ready-rolled puff pastry
- Soak the raisins in a cup of hot, strong black tea for at least an hour
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
- Peel, core and rough chop the apples
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter
- Add the chopped apples, soaked raisins, sugar and ground cinnamon
- Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the apple just begins to soften
- Roll out the puff pastry and cut into two equal lengths
- Grease a 20cm/8-inch round or square baking tin and lay one of the lengths of pastry evenly into the tin allowing some overlap over the edge
- Spoon the apple and raisin mixture evenly on to the puff pastry
- Lay the other length of pastry over the top and brush with a little melted butter
- Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of golden granulated sugar over the top if desired
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the top of the puff pastry is a lovely golden brown
- Serve with vanilla ice cream or thick pouring cream
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
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
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.
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!
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.
Success on that front – so I was off to a good start!
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.
The flavours worked so well together – the sweet meringue combining beautifully with the slightly tart blueberries and the sweet, unctuous lemon. A real triumph!
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.
- 4 egg whites
- 200g/7oz caster sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar
- 150g/5oz blueberries
- 300ml/10½fl oz whipping cream
- 50g lemon curd
- Preheat the oven to 100ºC/200ºF/gas mark ½
- Line a large oven tray with baking parchment
- 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
- 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
- Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle
- Pipe 3 graduated circular shapes and 6-8 meringue kisses on to the parchment paper
- Bake for 1-1½ hours depending on how sticky or hard you want the finished meringue
- 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
- Beat the whipping cream until thickened and forms peaks. Set aside
- 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
- 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
- Repeat with the two other circles of meringue (the smallest goes on the top)
- Decorate with the meringue kisses
Remember last week, I failed to use the bag of pistachios in my store cupboard? Well I’ve used them this week… well most of them, anyway.
I’ve puréed them and whipped up a batch of pistachio ice cream adapting my basic no-churn ice cream recipe originally borrowed from Nigella.
It tastes nothing like the pistachio ice cream you can buy in a supermarket (in a good way).
It looks nothing like it either – but if you like it like that, by all means add a couple of drops of green food colouring to the mix.
Finish with a generous sprinkling of chopped pistachios and you’ve got yourself a quick, simple summertime dessert to enjoy on it’s own, in a cone or as an accompaniment to a hot fruit pie or brownie.