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.
Click here to pin the recipe for later!
Apple and raisin puff pastry tart
- 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
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- 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
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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.
Eccles cakes. In my opinion – they’re not cakes, or even biscuits – they’re pastries!
We watched the Great Sport Relief Bake Off recently and one of the celebrities’ challenges was to make Eccles cakes. Whilst watching, Justin started going on about how much he loves them and why haven’t I made them yet.
To be honest, they’ve not really been on my baking radar. For one, they involve pastry which I’m not fond of making. For two, they’re just pastry with currants. But, to placate him, I agreed… and I always need the pastry practice!
I zig-zaged around the web and amalgamated a few recipes I found there. Most called for candied peel and/or orange juice, neither of which I like, to be added to the currants. I’m often a recipe purist but not in this case!
Remember a couple of paragraphs ago I said Eccles cakes are ‘just pastry with currants’? How wrong was I? They were flaky, fragrant, buttery & delicious… and NOTHING like the dried up old things you find to buy in the supermarket.
Cakes & Bakes: Eccles cakes
- for the puff pastry
- 225g/8oz strong flour
- 225g/8oz slightly-salted butter, straight from the fridge, cut into 1½cm cubes
- 4tbs cold water
- 1tbs lemon juice
- for the filling
- 15g/½oz butter
- 100g/3½oz currants
- 50g/1¾oz golden caster sugar
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 1tsp ground nutmeg
- to finish
- drop of milk to brush the pastry
- 1 egg white, beaten to glaze
- 10g granulated sugar
- Put the flour and 225g/8oz slightly-salted butter into a food processor and pulse about half a dozen times. Just enough to combine and not cream the butter completely
- Empty mixture out into a large mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and add the cold water & lemon juice
- With your fingerss, bring the mixture together just enough to form a loose ball of dough
- Empty mixture out on to a lightly floured surface and roll the dough out into a rectangular shape
- Fold the dough into thirds along the long end and roll out into a rectangle again
- Repeat the last step another two times before wrapping in cling film (Saran wrap) and putting it into the fridge for about an hour
- In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the 15g/½oz butter and remove from the heat
- Add the currants, caster sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and combine well
- Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas mark 7
- When the dough has cooled, remove from the fridge and roll out again to about a 3mm/?in thickness
- Using a 10-12cm/4-4¾in-diameter cookie cutter ( I didn't have one big enough so used a small glass bowl ) cut out 12-15 rounds
- With a pastry brush, one at a time, brush the circumference of each round with milk, put a teaspoonful of the currant mixture in the centre and carefully fold up the pastry to the centre
- Flip over and gently flatten with a rolling pin until you just about see the currants through the pastry
- Make three, small parallel scores on the top before putting it on to a greased 39cm/15in x 27cm/10½in baking tray
- With a pastry brush again, egg wash the top of each pastry, sprinkle with granulated sugar and put the tray in the oven
- Bake for 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown
- Remove from the oven, allowing to cool on a wire rack before demolishing with a cup of tea! 🙂