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: Double espresso brazil nut cake

Slice of home-made double espresso brazil nut cake and double espresso in vintage 'Black Velvet' china | H is for Home

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.

Boiling milk and coffee in a saucepan | H is for Home

Chopped brazil nuts | H is for Home

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!

Double espresso brazil nut cake mixture in a pair of round cake tins | H is for Home

Cooked double espresso brazil nut cake layers cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

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!

Making the sandwich filling for the double espresso brazil nut cake | H is for Home

Chocolate icing filling ingredients | H is for Home

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?!

Iced & decorated double espresso brazil nut cake | H is for Home

Cakes & Bakes: Apricot dartois

Slice of home-made apricot dartois | H is for Home

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!

Frangipane ingredients | H is for Home Home-made frangipane | H is for Home

I decided on a recipe from Michel Roux’s Desserts: A Lifelong Passion and made an apricot dartois.

Ready-made puff pastry | H is for Home

Dartois is traditionally two layers of puff pastry with a sandwiched layer of frangipane or jam. It can occasionally contain a savoury filling.

Making an apricot dartois base | H is for Home

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.

Making an apricot dartois pastry lid | H is for Home

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!

Uncooked apricot dartois | H is for Home

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.

Cooked home-made apricot dartois | H is for Home

Serve warm or cold with a fruit coulis, cream or ice cream.

Cakes & Bakes: Peanut butter baked cheesecake

Home-made peanut butter baked cheesecake | H is for Home

It’s Justin’s 50th birthday today so, of course, I had to make him a birthday cake.

Crushed plain chocolate digestive biscuits for peanut butter baked cheesecake base | H is for Home

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.

Cheesecake cake tin wrapped with wet tea towel

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.

Peanut butter baked cheesecake batter ingredients | H is for Home

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.

Pouring peanut cheesecake batter on to biscuit base

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.

Chocolate topping ingredients for peanut butter baked cheesecake

I used mascarpone, but you can use Philadelphia or any other plain full-fat cream cheese.

Smooting chocolate topping on peanut butter baked chesecake | H is for Home

Results were delicious – a rich, indulgent treat.

Home-make peanut butter baked cheesecake with toasted mixed nut sprinkles | H is for Home

There’s only one slice left – that must mean that the birthday boy approves!

Cakes & Bakes: Sweet potato cake

Slice of home-made sweet potato cake | H is for Home

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.

Grated sweet potato | H is for Home

It often includes vegetables that she bought too many of, which was sweet potatoes this time around.

Vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract

I decided to incorporate them into a cake in just the same way you’d add carrot to carrot cake.

Folding flour into sweet potato cake mixture

Adding root vegetables to cakes isn’t immediately logical, but it really does work for any sceptics out there.

Pouring sweet potato cake batter into cake tins

We’ve made cakes with sweet potatoes, cassava and carrots in the past, you can even use beetroot and parsnips.

Cooked sweet potato cakes

The raw, grated sweet potato adds a moist sweetness and depth of flavour.

Frosted sweet potato cake

This sweet potato cake recipe also includes chopped walnuts and mixed ground spices, finished with a delicious cream cheese frosting.

Sweet potato cake with a slice removed

It’s a substantial yet light cake – the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

Click here to pin this recipe for later!

Sweet potato cake
For the cake
  1. 350g plain flour
  2. ¼tsp ground cloves
  3. 2tsp ground cinnamon
  4. 1¼tsp ground ginger
  5. ½tsp ground nutmeg
  6. 1tsp baking powder
  7. 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  8. ½tsp salt
  9. 350g sweet potatoes, peeled & grated (about 3 small potatoes)
  10. 235ml vegetable oil
  11. 300g soft brown sugar
  12. 4 eggs
  13. 1tsp vanilla extract
  14. 100g chopped walnuts
For the frosting
  1. 225g cream cheese
  2. 115g butter, softened
  3. 175g icing sugar
  4. ½tsp vanilla extractHome-made hot cross loaf ingredients
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For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 and grease a pair of 23cm/9-inch circular loose-bottomed cake tins
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour with the ground spices, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the grated sweet potato, vegetable oil and sugar and combine
  4. In a measuring jug lightly whisk the eggs before adding the vanilla extract. Stir to mix in
  5. Stir in the egg mixture to the sweet potato in 3 batches, stirring well after each addition
  6. Carefully fold the flour mixture into the sweet potato mixture
  7. Add the chopped walnuts and stir in so they're well dispersed through the batter
  8. Pour the batter equally between the two cake tins before baking for 20 minutes in the centre of the oven
  9. 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
  10. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before taking the cakes out of their tins
  11. Allow to cool completely (at least another hour). Make the frosting.
For the frosting
  1. Mix the cream cheese and softened butter until there are no lumps
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Brownie butter cake

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Slice of home made brownie butter cake | H is for Home

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.

Home-made brownie butter cake

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!