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.
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.
Much as I enjoyed this bake, if I were to make another blueberry pie, I’d do it a little differently.
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.
Secondly, the filling recipe calls for ½ teaspoon of cinnamon; Justin liked it, but it just didn’t work for me.
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.
Perhaps I’ll test my 3rd portion with vanilla ice cream – all in the name of research on behalf of our readers, of course!
- 400g/14oz plain flour
- 120g/4oz icing sugar
- pinch of salt
- 250g/9oz very cold butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 125g/4½oz caster sugar
- 30g/1oz plain flour
- ½tsp teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 375g/13oz blueberries
- 2 tbs butter
- 300ml/½pt milk
- 25g/1oz caster sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 2-3 drops vanilla extract (I used ¼tsp vanilla bean paste)
- 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
- Combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon
- Stir in the blueberries
- Turn into pastry-lined pie dish and dot with butter
- 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 milk
- 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
- Boil the milk in a medium-sized saucepan. Allow to cool a little
- Mix yolks, sugar and vanilla in a basin before adding to the milk
- Put the saucepan back on a low heat and stir with a whisk or wooden spoon until the desired thickness. Do NOT boil
- Pass through a fine sieve into a serving jug
We’ve been enjoying a very successful British summer of sport so far with Andy Murray winning Wimbledon (and Heather Watson the mixed doubles), Danny Willett taking the golf US Masters title and Chris Froome dominating the Tour de France. The England cricket team have been performing well, Lewis Hamilton leads the Formula One championship… and our Olympic prospects are looking bright.
What could we incorporate into this week’s Cakes & Bakes to mark the start of the afore mentioned Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro? Why brazil nuts of course!
I trawled all my cook books and the internet and eventually found Dan Lepard’s double espresso brazil nut cake recipe in the Guardian website’s Food & drink section. If you’re a fan of coffee & walnut cake, you’ll love this!
His instructions call for a coffee water icing but I found a chocolate filling that I fancied (from my Little Books of Delight: Chocolate Cakes), so I combined the two together. I also added some whole and chopped brazil nuts to garnish the top. Serve it with a double espresso, what else?!
- 70g/2½oz butter, melted
- 135g/4¾oz granulated sugar
- ½tsp salt
- 2tsp baking powder
- 2tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 120g/4oz plain flour
- 120g/4oz semolina flour
- 115g/4oz dried cranberries
- 115g/4oz chopped almonds
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/ Gas mark 4
- Grease a biscotti pan or large baking sheet
- Stir together the melted butter, sugar, salt and baking powder
- Beat in the vanilla extract and then the eggs
- Blend in the flours, cranberries and almonds
- Place into the prepared biscotti pan, leaving a 2cm/¾-inch margin free on each side of the pan, to allow for expansion. If you're using a baking sheet, form the dough into a flattened log about 28 x 10cm (10½ x 4 inches).
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool for an hour
- Slice on the diagonal into 4cm/½-inch thick pieces. Place them back on the baking sheet, standing them on edge if you can; this will ensure they bake evenly
- Reduce the oven temperature to 160ºC/325°F/Gas mark 3 and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden
- Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on a wire rack
- They can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks
I’ve been looking at a tin of apricots in our store cupboard for about 2 years. Every time I opened the door it said, “use me, use me”, but I always reached for something else. But not this week – it was finally the apricots’ time!
I decided on a recipe from Michel Roux’s Desserts: A Lifelong Passion and made an apricot dartois.
Dartois is traditionally two layers of puff pastry with a sandwiched layer of frangipane or jam. It can occasionally contain a savoury filling.
It’s quite a simple recipe – especially if you’re using ready-made puff pastry – and the pastry cutting is very straightforward too. Don’t be put off by the precision! The amount of frangipane made in the given recipe is HUGE! I halved the recipe (what’s half of 5 eggs? I just used 3 medium-sized ones) it still made half a kilo of the stuff. I set aside the 150 grams needed for the recipe then portioned up the rest into small lidded tubs and froze it all for use at a later date.
The resulting dartois is very attractive and very delicious. I don’t think it would look out of place in a French patisserie’s shop window!
I used tinned apricots, but peaches, pears, plums or figs also work really well. If you’ve got fresh fruit, you can easily poach it beforehand in syrup.
Serve warm or cold with a fruit coulis, cream or ice cream.
- 175g/6oz of unsalted butter
- 200g/7oz dark chocolate
- 75g/3oz crunchy peanut butter
- 125g/4½oz smooth peanut butter
- 3 eggs
- 175g/6oz of caster sugar
- ¼tsp of salt
- 50g/1¾oz self-raising flour
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6
- Grease a 30 x 20cm (12 x 8 inch) brownie tin and line it with parchment paper
- Put the butter, chocolate and crunchy peanut butter into a heat-proof bowl on a saucepan of simmering water over low heat and warm until just melted
- In a separate, small saucepan, gently warm through the smooth peanut butter
- Put the eggs, sugar and salt into a large bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved
- Using a rubber spatula, stir in the melted chocolate mixture and self-raising flour
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin
- Drizzle over the smooth peanut butter in 3-4 straight lines, then 'drag' through the peanut butter with a skewer or toothpick to create a marbled effect
- Bake for 20 minutes, until the cake is just firm to the touch, but has a slightly fudgy texture
- Allow to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes then lift out the block onto a board using the lining paper and cut it into 6-9 squares
- Serve warm or cold, on its own or with a scoop of ice cream or pouring cream
It’s Justin’s 50th birthday today so, of course, I had to make him a birthday cake.
I made a peanut butter baked cheesecake – seeing as cheesecake is his favourite kind of cake, and he’s quite partial to peanut butter too.
I also wanted to try out a tip that I found on the internet this week. Apparently, instead of using a Wilton Bake Even Strip (which helps keep your cake level and prevent a cracked top), you can wrap the sides of the tin with a wet cloth or tea towel.
It worked pretty well, there was a slight bulge to one side of the top which I put down to the overlap of the cloth. Next time I’ll use a cloth cut down to fit the circumference exactly. So long as the cloth is very wet, it won’t burn in the oven. Elasticated cloth, or nylon/polyester fabric probably wouldn’t work very well in the heat of an oven; stick with cotton or linen.
The plain chocolate digestive biscuits gave just that bit of extra depth of flavour over plain digestives, and baking the base for 10 minutes gave it a ‘biscuity’ taste and texture.
I used mascarpone, but you can use Philadelphia or any other plain, full-fat cream cheese.
The results were delicious – a rich, indulgent treat.
There’s only one slice left – that must mean that the birthday boy approves!
- 150g/5oz plain chocolate digestive biscuits
- 30g/1oz butter, melted
- 250g/9oz mascarpone cheese
- 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
- 100g/3½oz caster sugar
- 150g/3oz crunchy peanut butter
- 60ml/2fl oz soured cream
- ½tbsp cornflour
- 125g/4½oz soured cream
- 50g/2oz dark chocolate
- 15g/½oz caster sugar
- 3tbsp mixed chopped toasted nuts (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/325°F/as mark 3
- Grease & line and 22cm diameter spring form tin
- Using a food processor, grind the plain chocolate digestives into fine crumbs
- Add in the melted butter and combine well
- Tip the mixture into the prepared tin pressing down firmly & evenly using a cold metal spoon to form a level base
- Put the base into the oven for 10 minutes, when cool put it into the fridge to set
- After washing out the processor bowl, use it to combine the mascarpone, eggs, yolk, sugar, peanut butter, soured cream and cornflour to a smooth consistency
- Pour the mixture into the over the base and bake for 30-40 minutes until just set
- Allow to cool for half an hour on a wire rack before putting the tin into the fridge to chill
- In a small saucepan, gently warm the soured cream, chocolate and sugar stirring to form a smooth sauce
- Pour the mixture on top of the cold cheesecake and allow it to set in the fridge
- When cooled & set, run a sharp knife around the edge of the tin before easing the cake carefully
- Finish with a sprinkling of mixed chopped toasted nuts (optional)
I think we’ve mentioned before that we often receive ‘food parcels’ from Justin’s mum when we visit on a Sunday. They usually contain some chocolate, cheese, crackers, vegetables and a treat for the dog. Generally, things she thought looked interesting on her shopping trips during the week.
It often includes vegetables that she bought too many of, which was sweet potatoes this time around.
I decided to incorporate them into a cake in just the same way you’d add carrot to carrot cake.
Adding root vegetables to cakes isn’t immediately logical, but it really does work for any sceptics out there.
The raw, grated sweet potato adds a moist sweetness and depth of flavour.
This sweet potato cake recipe also includes chopped walnuts and mixed ground spices, finished with a delicious cream cheese frosting.
It’s a substantial yet light cake – the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
- 350g plain flour
- ¼tsp ground cloves
- 2tsp ground cinnamon
- 1¼tsp ground ginger
- ½tsp ground nutmeg
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½tsp salt
- 350g sweet potatoes, peeled & grated (about 3 small potatoes)
- 235ml vegetable oil
- 300g soft brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 100g chopped walnuts
- 225g cream cheese
- 115g butter, softened
- 175g icing sugar
- ½tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 and grease a pair of 23cm/9-inch circular loose-bottomed cake tins
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour with the ground spices, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt
- In a large mixing bowl, add the grated sweet potato, vegetable oil and sugar and combine
- In a measuring jug lightly whisk the eggs before adding the vanilla extract. Stir to mix in
- Stir in the egg mixture to the sweet potato in 3 batches, stirring well after each addition
- Carefully fold the flour mixture into the sweet potato mixture
- Add the chopped walnuts and stir in so they're well dispersed through the batter
- Pour the batter equally between the two cake tins before baking for 20 minutes in the centre of the oven
- After the 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas mark 2 and cook for a further 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cake come out clean
- Allow to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before taking the cakes out of their tins
- Allow to cool completely (at least another hour). Make the frosting.
- Mix the cream cheese and softened butter until there are no lumps
- Add the vanilla essence and icing sugar (sieve the sugar first if there are any lumps) and mix thoroughly. Cover with clingfilm and store in the fridge until the cakes have cooled and are ready to frost
- Once cooled, turn one of the cakes over so that the top is face down on a serving plate. Cover the top generously with frosting.
- Place the second cake on the first, with the top facing up. Cover the top generously with frosting. Serve. The cake will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.
We have a very attractive offering for this week’s Cakes & Bakes post – isn’t this layered brownie butter cake pretty? The deep chocolate brown and the warm yellow are very pleasing to the eye. It’s a really good ‘tea & cake’ kind of cake which scores even more points.
It’s the perfect thing for the two of us here at H is for Home headquarters as Adelle loves chocolate brownie and Justin loves butter cake. And both of us think the combination works really well. Correction, make that the three of us here… Fudge loves the crumbs!
- 225g/8oz self-raising flour
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1tsp ground ginger
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 115g/4oz butter
- 115g/4oz demerara sugar
- 115g/4oz black treacle
- 115g/4oz golden syrup
- 250ml/9floz milk
- 85g/3oz stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped
- 1 egg
- 80g/3oz icing sugar, sieved
- 2tbs stem ginger syrup
- 10g/⅓oz stem ginger, finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4
- Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin
- Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda & ground spices into a large mixing bowl
- Melt the butter, demerara sugar, treacle and syrup over a low heat, until all the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the milk
- Add the finely chopped stem ginger to the flour mixture, pour in the melted ingredients, stir thoroughly
- Add the egg and combine before pouring the batter into the tin
- Bake for 50-60 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes away clean
- Allow to cool completely before turning out onto a wire cooling rack
- Mix the sugar with 2tbs of ginger syrup to form a runny icing (add a tsp of water if necessary)
- Drizzle over the top of the cake before sprinkling with the finely chopped stem ginger (or crystallized ginger if you have it)
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