Cakes & Bakes: Rhubarb and custard tart

Home-made rhubarb and custard tart | H is for Home

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.

Incredible Edible rhubarb, peas, onions and chives growing in Todmorden Train Station car park

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.

Stalks of rhubarb with metal colander

Everything is free for anyone to come along and help themselves – or even do a little weeding and clearing if the fancy takes them!

Measuring jug with eggs, custard powder and vanilla essence

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.

Making custard

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.

Pouring custard on tart pastry base

Rhubarb & custard is a classic British combination as is baked custard tart. I’ve put them together and come up with a delicious dessert.

Sticks of rhubarb in custard

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.

Home-made rhubarb and custard tart | H is for Home

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.

Rhubarb and custard tart
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Cook Time
40 min
Cook Time
40 min
For the pastry base
  1. 200g/7oz plain flour
  2. 60g/2oz icing sugar
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 125g/4½oz very cold butter
  5. 1 egg yolk
For the custard
  1. 400ml/14 fl oz double cream
  2. 100ml/3½ fl oz creamy milk
  3. 2 eggs, plus 2 yolks
  4. 100g/3½oz caster sugar
  5. 1tbsp custard powder
  6. 1tsp vanilla essence
  7.  
  8. Home-made fat rascals ingredients
  9.  
For the pastry base
  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 egg, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition
  4. 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
  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 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
  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, then transfer the pastry case to a cooling rack; keeping it in its tin
For the custard
  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, slowly bring the cream and milk to a simmer
  2. In a large, heat-proof measuring jug, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar, custard powder and vanilla essence
  3. Pour the hot cream & milk mixture into the bowl, whisking continuously
  4. Carefully strain the custard on to the cooked pastry base (don't overfill)
  5. Slice the rhubarb into lengths and place into a pattern in the custard
  6. Carefully put the tart tin into the oven (rearrange the rhubarb lengths if they drift in the liquid during the move!)
  7. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top begins to brown
  8. Remove from the oven, sprinkle a little granulated sugar over the top and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes : French pear tart

Slice of home made French pear tart | H is for Home

It takes quite a few stages to make this French pear tart but it’s well worth the time and effort. If you don’t think you’ll have the time all in one day to do it, you can prepare most of it well in advance and bring it all together on the day you plan to bake & serve it.

Sweet tart dough ingredients in a food processor bowl | H is for Home Mixed sweet tart dough ingredients in a food processor bowl | H is for Home

You can whiz up the pastry, press it into the tart tin and freeze it… weeks in advance.

I must admit, it has got to be – by a country mile – the most delicious pastry I’ve ever made!

Peeled pears and squeezed lemon

You can cut corners (and time) by using tinned pears or simply omitting the poaching stage if using fresh fruit.

Almond cream in a food processor bowl with bottle of rum in the background | H is for Home

The almond cream can be made a couple of days before and left covered & chilled in the fridge until just before it’s due to be put in the oven.

Almond cream in sweet pastry case | H is for Home

My rectangular tart tin is so large that I had to double up the almond cream recipe and cut the pears into quarters rather than halves.

French pear tart before being put in the oven | H is for Home

The resulting tart is very attractive (not to mention photogenic!) and can be cut so each person gets a neat slice of pear.

Home made French pear tart | H is for Home

It’s moist and sweet – sweet enough to serve with a dollop of tangy crème fraîche or thick Greek yoghurt on the side.

Home made French pear tart, detail | H is for Home Home made French pear tart, detail | H is for Home

The perfect bake for a dinner party or daily treat.

French pear tart
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Cook Time
55 min
Cook Time
55 min
For the pastry
  1. 200g/7oz plain flour
  2. 60g/2oz icing sugar
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 125g/4½oz very cold butter
  5. 1 egg yolk
For the pears
  1. 3 medium pears
  2. 1 lemon
  3. 1 litre water
  4. 250g/9oz granulated sugar
For the filling
  1. 85g/3oz butter, softened
  2. 150g/5oz caster sugar
  3. 75g/2½ ground almonds
  4. 2tsp plain flour
  5. 1tsp cornflour
  6. 1 egg
  7. 2tsp dark rum or vanilla essence
  8.  
  9. Home-made French pear tart ingredients
  10.  
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 egg, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition
  4. 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
  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 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
  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, then transfer the pastry case to a cooling rack; keeping it in its tin
For the pears
  1. Peel the pears, leaving them whole
  2. Bring water, sugar and the juice of the lemon to a boil in a saucepan just large enough to hold the pears
  3. Add the pears to the boiling syrup, lower the heat so the syrup simmers and gently poach the pears until they are tender when pierced with a knife - about 15 minutes
  4. Cool the pears to room temperature in the syrup
For the filling
  1. Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture is smooth and satiny
  2. Add the ground almonds and continue to process until well blended
  3. Add the flour, cornflour and egg. Process until the almond cream is homogeneous
  4. Add the rum or vanilla and process just enough to blend
To combine
  1. Fill the baked pastry case with the almond cream, spreading it even with an offset metal icing spatula
  2. Thinly slice each pear half crosswise, lift each half on a spatula and place carefully on to the almond cream to form an attractive pattern
  3. Bake the tart for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the almond cream puffs up around the pears and browns
  4. Transfer the tart to a wire rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature before removing it from its tin
  5. Allow to cool completely before serving
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Spiced apple & sultana pie

Home-made spiced apple sultana pie | H is for Home

We’re coming to the end of British Pie Week so we’re getting involved again and making a pie.

Sliced ball of shortcrust pastry

At the mere mention of the word ‘pie’ we usually get involved – any excuse! Yes, the saying may go, “As American as apple pie”, but we’re famous for our apples here in Blighty – and have no doubt been using them in pies for centuries.

Peeled, cored and chopped apples

We’ve rustled up a spiced apple & sultana pie for our Cakes & Bakes post… it’s quite a comforting, wintery version of the simple classic.

Saucepan of chopped apples and Muscovado sugar

Crisp, buttery pastry with a soft, warm, cinnamon-infused fruity filling… and finished off with thick, cold cream of course.

Trimmed shortcrust pastry pie base

You might have a bit of pastry left over – if you do, don’t just bin it, use cutters to turn it into shapes or letters to adorn the top.

Home-made spiced apple sultana pie top

The perfect, celebratory Pie Week pie!

Spiced apple & sultana pie
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For the pastry
  1. 240g/8½oz plain flour
  2. 120g/4¼oz cold butter
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 4tbs cold water
For the filling
  1. 4 Bramley apples - peeled, cored & chopped into 2cm chunks
  2. 50g/2oz butter
  3. 50g/2oz sultanas
  4. 75g/2½oz brown or Muscavado sugar
  5. ¼tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 2tbs milk
  7. 2tbs caster sugar
  8.  
  9. Home-made spiced apple & sultana pie ingredients
  10.  
For the pastry
  1. Grease a 9" diameter round pie dish
  2. Put the flour, butter and pinch of salt into a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs
  3. Add the cold water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing between each addition until the mixture comes together into a ball
  4. Flatten the ball into a disk and wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour
For the filling
  1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan before adding the chopped apple
  2. Add the sultanas and brown/Muscavado sugar and cook until the apple is slightly softened but still al dente
  3. Set aside to cool completely while you roll out the pie base
  4. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
For the pie
  1. Divide the chilled pastry into two, one ⅓ and the other frac23;. Put the ⅓ back into the fridge
  2. Roll out the other piece into a round about ⅓cm thickness and line the dish, carefully pressing it flat cut off the excess around the rim leaving a ½cm overhang
  3. Prick the base with a fork, cover with baking beans (or dried peas like I do) and blind bake for 15 minutes
  4. Remove the pie base from the oven and set aside
  5. Remove the 2nd piece of pastry from the fridge, roll out into a round, again about ½cm
  6. Spoon the apple filling on to the cooled pastry base and cover with the pastry round. Press into the pastry base and trim any excess.
  7. Brush the top with milk, sprinkle with the caster sugar and put back into the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top turns golden brown
  8. Allow to cool slightly before serving with cream or vanilla ice cream
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Cumin-spiced pumpkin chickpea pies

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Home-made cumin-spiced pumpkin chickpea pies | H is for Home

There were a couple of culinary firsts for me this week.

burying egg with egg shell when making hot water pastry

Firstly, I made a vegetarian hot water pastry, based on one I found in my Pie cookbook.

melting butter and suet in hot water

Instead of using lard, I used a bit of vegetarian suet.

making hot water pastry in a mixer

I’ve never, ever eaten a pork pie (I’ve been vegetarian since the eighties). I had to ask Justin if my pastry was anything like it is meant to be… seeing as he eats this kind of raised pie on a regular basis. In fact he eats pork pie every Thursday without fail – sharing it with Fudge on their walks after an early flea market forage.

rolling hot water pastry in cling film before putting it in the fridge

My other first was cumin-spiced pumpkin & chickpea pies.

lining pie tray with parchment paper

We bought a pumpkin at Halloween so I was looking for a new way of using it.

slicing hot water pastry

I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin pie. Granted, I’ve only had it the once, but it didn’t leave fond memories.

frying off chopped onions an cumin seeds

I much prefer these squash type vegetables savoury rather than sweet.

pumpkin and chickpea pie filling

It certainly makes a good substantial filling for this type of pie – great flavour too with the addition of the very complimentary curry spices.

adding filling to pumpkin and chickpea pies and putting on lids

This recipe makes quite a few, small pies. If like us you’re only likely to eat a few at a time, they can be frozen both before and once cooked.

cooked pumpkin and chickpea pies cooling on a wire rack

They’re the perfect little autumn pies!

Cumin-spiced pumpkin chickpea pies
Yields 15
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For the pastry
  1. 275g/10oz plain flour
  2. 1tsp salt
  3. 1 egg
  4. 60g/2oz butter
  5. 60g/2oz vegetable suet
  6. 110ml/4 fl oz cold water
For the filling
  1. 2tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 large onion
  3. 1tbsp cumin seeds
  4. 1tbs curry powder
  5. 1tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  6. 1 tin chickpeas (180g/6oz net)
  7. 750g/1lb 10½oz pumpkin, cut into ½cm cubes
  8. 2tsp salt
  9. cracked black pepper to taste
  10. 1 bay leaf
  11.  
  12. cumin-spiced pumpkin chickpea pie ingredients
  13.  
For the pastry
  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl
  2. Make a well in the centre and crack in the egg, then use the empty shell to flick a little of the flour over the surface of the egg so it's hidden
  3. Put the water, butter and suet into a small saucepan and set over a medium heat, stirring until everything dissolves and the water is just coming to a boil
  4. Remove from the heat and pour the hot mixture over the flour and egg
  5. Mix continuously with a metal spoon (I used the dough hook and my electric mixer) until the mixture comes together into a ball
  6. Tip on to a lightly floured work surface, knead briefly for about a minute before wrapping it in cling film, forming it into a fat sausage shape as you wrap
  7. Chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes to firm up before using
For the filling
  1. In a large saucepan over a low heat, soften the chopped onion in the olive oil
  2. Add the cumin seeds and then curry powder and chilli flakes and stir
  3. Drain and rinse the chickpeas under the tap using a strainer before adding to the saucepan
  4. Add the pumpkin, bay leaf, salt and black pepper, combining everything well before putting a lid on the pan and allowing it to cook for about 10 minutes
  5. Once cooked, set aside and allow to cool completely
  6. Cut a number of 1cm strips (2 per pie) of baking parchment to line the pie tin (I used a silicon muffin tray, see my image above). This is to help remove the pies easily once cooked
  7. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4
  8. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge, remove the cling film before slicing into 1cm rounds
  9. Roll out or flatten the rounds and put half of them into the lined pie tins so that there is an overhang
  10. Fill each pastry case with filling right to the top, before using the other pastry rounds to top the pies
  11. Fold the overhanging pastry over the pie lid, crimping the edges to seal
  12. Pierce the centre of each lid to allow steam to escape when cooking
  13. Brush a little beaten egg over each lid
  14. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes
  15. Allow to cool on a wire rack
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Spinach, cheese & onion tart

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Home-made spinach, cheese & onion tart | via @hisforhome

I bought myself a brand new, fluted loose-bottomed tart tin this week and couldn’t wait to use it!

ball of wholemeal shortcrust pastry

I decided to make a spinach, cheese & onion tart from a recipe that I tore out of a Telegraph magazine a few weeks ago.

wholemeal shortcrust pastry flan case

A couple of spoonfuls of English mustard adds a nice piquancy and depth of flavour.

wholemeal shortcrust pastry flan case ready to be blind-baked

We got six, good portions from the tart which can be eaten either hot or cold.

slicing onions and garlic

It’s perfect for a light lunch with a few salad leaves – and can be made well in advance if you’ve got guests coming and don’t want any last-minute stress.

washed fresh spinach

We had it the following night as more substantial evening meal pairing it with paprika-salted potato skins and mixed salad.

eggs, cream and English mustard

There are all kinds of flavour variations possible using this basic method – bacon, chorizo, smoked salmon, goat’s cheese, mushroom…

spinach, cheese &onion tart

Very delicious and very versatile.

Spinach, cheese & onion tart
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For the pastry
  1. 200g plain flour
  2. 100g wholemeal flour
  3. 150g cold butter, cubed
  4. pinch of salt
  5. 3tbs cold water
For the filling
  1. 30g butter
  2. 550g onions, peeled and very finely sliced
  3. 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  4. 450g spinach
  5. 2 whole large eggs, plus 3 egg yolks
  6. 300ml double cream
  7. 2tsp English mustard
  8. 150g mature cheddar, grated
  9.  
  10. cheese soda bread ingredients
For the pastry
  1. Put the flour, butter and pinch of salt into a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs
  2. Add the cold water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing between each addition until the mixture comes together into a ball
  3. Shape into a thick disc, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for half an hour
For the filling
  1. Melt the 30g of butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and gently cook the onion and garlic, with a little salt, until slightly golden, then add a good splash of water and cover
  2. Sweat on a low heat until the onions are soft and sloppy - around half an hour - stirring occasionally
  3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas mark 4 and put a metal baking sheet inside
  4. Roll out the pastry and line a loose-bottomed tart tin 27cm diameter or 20 x 28cm (keep any leftover bits of pastry)
  5. Chill for 20 minutes
  6. Take the lid off the onions, turn up the heat and let the excess moisture bubble off and the onions cook until they are golden and sweet
  7. Wash the spinach and cook in a covered pan with just the water left clinging to it, about 4 minutes over a medium heat, until wilted
  8. Drain in a colander and leave to cool
  9. Line the pastry case with parchment paper, fill with baking beans and blind-bake on the preheated tray for 15 minutes
  10. Remove the paper and beans and cook for a further 7-10 minutes
  11. Remove from the oven and use any leftover raw pastry to patch any cracks
  12. Squeeze the excess moisture out of the spinach, chop roughly, season and add to the onions
  13. Mix the eggs, yolks, cream and mustard and season well
  14. Spread the onion and spinach in the tart case, sprinkle on the cheese and pour on the cream mixture
  15. Put back into the oven, on the baking sheet, for 30 minutes, until set in the middle and golden
  16. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Apple & sultana strudel

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Bowl of home-made apple & sultana strudel with ice cream | H is for Home

Some say life’s too short to stuff a mushroom, I say life’s too short to make home-made filo pastry. I’m more than happy to whizz up a quick batch of puff, shortcrust or hot water pastry – I think it tastes much better than shop bought. Filo, at least to me, is just that little bit too finicky and time-consuming to make from scratch.

Apple & sultana strudel ingredients

Peeled & cored Bramley apples

That’s why I picked up a pre-made pack of filo for my apple & sultana strudel.

Uncooked apple & sultana strudel filling mixture

Cooked apple & sultana strudel filling mixture

Yes, I know that filo (or phyllo) is Greek and apple strudel (or apfelstrudel) is German, but the former is the closest thing to the type of pastry traditionally used to encase the filling. Apparently you should be able to read a newspaper through it, it’s so thin!

Brushing melted butter between sheets of filo pastry

Spooning apple & sultana strudel filling mixture on to filo pastry

The filling is quick to make, I added sultanas to my apples, but you could try adding walnuts, dates or figs instead. The trickiest part is the assembly. Place the pastry onto a clean tea towel or baking parchment before filling and use it to help with rolling.

Uncooked apple & sultana strudel

Cooked apple & sultana strudel

It’s best served hot, and always with cream… or ice cream… or both!

Apple & sultana strudel
Serves 4
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Cook Time
35 min
Cook Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 Bramley apples
  2. 50g/1¾oz sultanas
  3. 30g/1oz soft brown sugar
  4. ½tsp ground cinnamon
  5. 80g/3oz butter
  6. 270g (6 sheets) pre-made filo pastry
  7. 1tbs Demerara sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6 and grease a large oven tray
  2. Peel, core and chop the apples into large cubes
  3. Put the apples into a large saucepan with the sultanas, soft brown sugar, ground cinnamon and 50g/2oz of the butter
  4. Cook over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring to combine well, until the apple just begins to soften
  5. Set aside to cool
  6. In a small microwaveable bowl, melt the remaining butter (about 5-8 seconds)
  7. Fold the pastry sheets over in half, laying them out onto a clean tea towel or baking parchment
  8. Unfold the pastry sheets, one by one, and brush the top of each sheet with the butter using a pastry brush
  9. Using a slotted spoon to drain off the cooking liquid, place the apple & sultana mixture on the pastry forming a line along the long edge
  10. Sprinkle the rest of the pastry evenly with the Demerara sugar
  11. Using the tea towel/baking parchment as an aid, roll the pastry into a log shape, tucking in the ends so the filling doesn't fall out and place it onto the greased oven tray
  12. Brush the top with melted butter and bake for 30-35 minutes
  13. Serve hot
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/