Cakes & Bakes: Lemon curd and jelly tarts

Home-made lemon curd and fruit jelly tarts with a cup of tea | H is for Home

I had a bit of leftover lemon curd from last week’s Pavlova recipe… I also have jar upon jar of home-made fruit jelly in the store cupboard. As someone who hates to waste anything, I thought I would make some simple lemon curd and jelly tarts.

Making pastry tart cases | H is for Home

Whether you’re rubbing in by hand or using a food mixer, the shortcrust pastry is a breeze…

Filling pastry tart cases | H is for Home

…then fill with your preserve(s) of choice and bake. Start to finish in an hour or so. Perfect if you want to rustle up something quickly – or try a bit of baking with the kids.

Cooked lemon curd and fruit jelly tarts | H is for Home

You can leave them plain & simple – or perhaps pretty them up a bit. I garnished the top of the lemon curd tarts with a single blueberry and the jelly ones with a little sprinkle of dessicated coconut.

Adding garnishes to lemon curd and fruit jelly tarts | H is for Home

They’re a good finger food for a party or an afternoon or high tea. They’re simple, inexpensive and delicious – a great combination!

Lemon curd and jelly tarts
Yields 24
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Cook Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 180g/6oz plain flour
  2. pinch of salt
  3. 90g/3oz cold butter, cubed
  4. 3-4 tbsp cold water
  5. 8tbsp lemon curd
  6. 8tbsp fruit jelly or jam
  7.  
  8. Home-made lemon curd and jelly tart ingredients
  9.  
Instructions
  1. Put the flour and salt into a food processor and whiz briefly together to mix
  2. Add the butter cubes and pulse briefly a dozen times or so until you have coarse crumbs
  3. Trickle in the water continuing to pulse until the mixture resembles rough lumps and looks a bit like overcooked and dry scrambled eggs. Add only as much water as you need
  4. Tip the clumped crumbs onto a sheet of cling film and gently squeeze together into a ball without pressing too hard
  5. Wrap & chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
  6. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 6
  7. Lightly grease a tartlet tin
  8. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the pastry out thinly
  9. Using a pastry cutter slightly larger than the circumference of a tartlet hole, cut out pastry rounds
  10. Press the pastry rounds evenly into each hole (I use the end of my rolling pin as a tamper)
  11. Fill each pastry case with about a teaspoon of lemon curd or jelly/jam
  12. Bake for 15 minutes
  13. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tin before attempting to remove them
  14. Allow them to cool completely on a wire rack
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Lemon and blueberry Pavlova

Home-made lemon and blueberry Pavlova | H is for Home

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.

Four separated eggs and aluminium cup of sugar | H is for Home

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!

Swiss meringue mixture over a saucepan of simmering water | H is for Home

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.

Beaten Swiss meringue mixture | H is for Home

Success on that front – so I was off to a good start!

Swiss meringue piped on to parchment paper | H is for Home

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.

Home-made lemon and blueberry Pavlova with jar of lemon curd | H is for Home

The flavours worked so well together – the sweet meringue combining beautifully with the slightly tart blueberries and the sweet, unctuous lemon. A real triumph!

Home-made lemon and blueberry Pavlova | H is for Home

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.

Lemon and blueberry Pavlova
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Ingredients
  1. 4 egg whites
  2. 200g/7oz caster sugar
  3. pinch of cream of tartar
  4. 150g/5oz blueberries
  5. 300ml/10½fl oz whipping cream
  6. 50g lemon curd
  7.  
  8. Home-made lemon and blueberry pavlova ingredients
  9.  
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 100ºC/200ºF/gas mark ½
  2. Line a large oven tray with baking parchment
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle
  6. Pipe 3 graduated circular shapes and 6-8 meringue kisses on to the parchment paper
  7. Bake for 1-1½ hours depending on how sticky or hard you want the finished meringue
  8. 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
  9. Beat the whipping cream until thickened and forms peaks. Set aside
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. Repeat with the two other circles of meringue (the smallest goes on the top)
  13. Decorate with the meringue kisses
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Shortbread rounds, three ways

Home-made shortbread rounds with mug of tea | H is for Home

Whenever the biscuit stash in our store cupboard reaches critical levels there are normally two obvious options to remedy the situation. Firstly, I can whip out a pre-made refrigerator cookie dough roll from the freezer. Alternatively, if the frozen stock is depleted, I can whip up a quick batch of shortbread.

Vintage wooden shortbread round mould | H is for Home

Justin bought me this vintage wooden biscuit mould a few weeks ago, so it was a great opportunity to use it for the first time to make some shortbread rounds.

Home-made shortbread round with vintage biscuit mould sprinkled with semolina | H is for Home

We think the mould might be Indian so we’ve added a few spices in homage – cardamom, ginger and vanilla.

Three home-made shortbread rounds on a tray lined with parchment paper | H is for Home

The swirl pattern it makes is just beautiful – I needed to sprinkle some polenta into the mould so the dough didn’t stick and it also helped with the definition.

Three home-made shortbread rounds cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

We liked all three flavours. And it has to be said that, if we hadn’t been trying to think of suitable Indian spices for biscuits, we probably would never have tried cardamom shortbread – yet we both thought that it was very successful. I’ll definitely be making these again soon!

Shortbread rounds, three ways
Yields 3
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Cook Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 175g/6oz/¾ cup plain flour
  2. 50g/2oz/½ cup cornflour
  3. 50g/2oz/¼ caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  4. 115g/4oz/½ cup butter, chopped
  5. 1 cardamom seed, removed from the pod and ground
  6. ¼ tsp vanilla essence
  7. ¼ tsp ground ginger
  8.  
  9. Home-made shortbread ingredients
  10.  
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3. Lightly flour the mould with semolina (or plain flour if you don't have it) and line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment paper
  2. Sift the flour, cornflour and sugar into a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour & sugar mixture until it binds together and you can knead it into a soft dough
  3. Divide the dough into thirds (130g/4½oz each) and gently knead the ground cardamom into one, vanilla into the next and ground ginger into the last
  4. One by one, place each ⅓ of dough into the mould and press to fit neatly and evenly. Invert the mould on to the baking sheet using your fingers if necessary to gently to release the dough shape
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until pale golden in colour
  6. Sprinkle the top of the shortbread with a little caster sugar and cool on a baking sheet
  7. Cut the rounds into 'petticoat tails' whilst still warm
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Walnut and sultana loaf

Sliced, home-made walnut and sultana loaf | H is for Home

I’ve decided to make a walnut and sultana loaf this week by tweaking a basic white bread recipe that I regularly use. I didn’t have enough white flour in store so I substituted a quarter with wholemeal. It was a good decision as it added to the nuttiness of the finished loaf.

Home-made walnut and sultana loaf dough in a mixing bowl with cane banneton | H is for Home

Sliced or torn pieces of this bread will go amazingly well with a mild, creamy blue cheese such as Dolcelatte, Saint Agur or Roquefort.

Home-made walnut and sultana loaf dough profing in a cane banneton | H is for Home Home-made walnut and sultana loaf dough profing in a cane banneton | H is for Home

Another good option would be a couple of dipping bowls of good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Once the loaf’s a couple of days old, have it toasted and spread with butter and honey.

Home-made walnut and sultana loaf | H is for Home

Walnut and sultana loaf
Yields 1
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Ingredients
  1. 7g/¼oz fast action yeast
  2. 1tsp sugar
  3. 300ml/10½fl oz warm water
  4. 500g/18oz strong bread flour
  5. 1tsp salt
  6. 50g/1¾oz chopped walnuts
  7. 50g/1¾oz sultanas
  8.  
  9. Home-made walnut and sultana loaf ingredients
  10.  
Instructions
  1. In a measuring jug, stir the yeast and sugar into the warm water. Leave for 10 minutes for the yeast to begin working
  2. In a large mixing bowl add the flour. Make a well in the centre
  3. Add the liquid and knead until a smooth ball of dough is formed (I used my Kenwood mixer with dough hook attachment on a low speed for about 10 minutes, but you can do it by hand on a floured work surface for about 20 minutes)
  4. Cover the mixing bowl with cling film or put it into a large, clear plastic bag and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Add the salt, chopped walnuts and sultanas and knead lightly until the fruit & nuts are evenly distributed through the dough
  6. Place in a greased loaf tin (or in a well-floured banneton like I did) and re-cover and allow to prove again until doubled in size
  7. Preheat the oven to 260ºC/500ºF/Gas mark 10, put an empty roasting dish on the bottom shelf of the oven and fill a cup with cold water and set aside
  8. Once the loaf has risen, if using a banneton, grease a baking sheet and gently decant the loaf on to it, trying not to knock any air out of it
  9. Quickly & carefully pour the cup of water into the roasting dish before putting the loaf into the oven
  10. After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 200ºC/ 400ºF/Gas mark 6
  11. Bake for a further 20-25 minutes before taking it out of the oven
  12. Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before use
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Viennese fingers

Home-made Viennese fingers | H is for Home

Making these Viennese fingers made me realise just how poor my piping skills are! 🙂

Piping Viennese fingers on to baking sheet lined with parchment paper | H is for Home

Not just that, but also a reminder of how cold our kitchen is – it’s a rubbish environment for doing things things like proving bread and sourdough starter. The biscuit dough cooled and hardened inside the piping bag making it a nightmare to squeeze out through the nozzle. My first batch was a disaster! I piped them out to the 10cm that was stated in the recipe but they seemed way too long. They were also too thin and weedy. My second batch were better, I piped them to 5cm and the dough was beginning to warm up a little so flowed more smoothly. But I still have to put in some more practice.

Viennese fingers cooked and cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

As well as dunking the Viennese fingers in chocolate, you can dip them into chopped mixed nuts or dessicated coconut. But take care when you’re doing it – these are so crumbly they break easily (as I found out quite a few times).

Viennese fingers being dipped in chocolate, chopped nuts and dessicated coconut | H is for Home

Next time I make them, I’ll have a go at sandwiching two fingers together with layers of vanilla buttercream and my mixed berry jelly.

Home-made Viennese fingers and vintage tea set | H is for Home

Having mentioned a few problems, the resulting biscuits were both pretty and delicious. We’ll have to have a few delicate afternoon tea breaks this week!

Viennese fingers
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Cook Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 100g/3½oz unsalted butter, softened
  2. 25g/1oz icing sugar
  3. 1tsp vanilla extract
  4. 100g/3½oz plain flour
  5. 1tsp cornflour
  6. ¼tsp baking powder
  7. 100g/3½oz milk chocolate, chopped
  8.  
  9. Home-made Viennese fingers ingredients
  10.  
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas mark 3
  2. Tip the butter and sugar into the bowl of a free-standing mixer and beat until pale and light
  3. Add the vanilla extract and mix again
  4. Sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder into the bowl and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined
  5. Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle and pipe 5cm-long fingers onto the prepared baking tray. Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until pale golden
  6. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes
  7. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack until completely cold
  8. Tip the milk chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt either in the microwave on a low setting or over a pan of barely simmering water
  9. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth
  10. Dip both ends of the Viennese fingers into the chocolate and leave to set on baking parchment
Adapted from A Passion for Baking
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Date and walnut loaf

Home-made date and walnut loaf | H is for Home

This date and walnut loaf is outstanding as an afternoon tea cake. It’s like a cross between malt loaf, a Yorkshire tea loaf and sticky toffee pudding.

Date and walnut loaf tins | H is for Home

Justin can never get enough of teatime loaf cakes, so this was made with him in mind.

Date and walnut loaf tins | H is for Home

So, if you’ve got a packet of dates lurking at the back of your food cupboard (perhaps from Christmas) this is the perfect way to use them all up.

Date and walnut loaf
Yields 2
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Cook Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 450g/1lb stoned dates
  2. 1½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  3. 280ml/½pt boiling water or black tea
  4. 60g/2oz butter, softened
  5. 300g/12oz demerara sugar
  6. 2tbsp black treacle
  7. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  8. 450g/1lb plain flour
  9. pinch of salt
  10. 60g/2oz chopped walnuts
  11.  
  12. Home-made date and walnut loaf ingredients
  13.  
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Line two loaf tins with parchment paper
  3. Mix the bicarbonate of soda into the boiling water/black tea and pour over the dates making sure they're all covered. Leave until it goes cold
  4. Beat together the butter and sugar
  5. Add the beaten eggs
  6. Gradually add the flour, salt and chopped nuts
  7. Add the dates and the liquid they were soaking in. Combine thoroughly
  8. Divide the mixture between the two lined loaf tins
  9. Bake in the middle of the oven for an hour. Check on them after 45 minutes to make sure that their tops aren't cooking too quickly. If they start appearing too brown, cover the tops over with tin foil for the final 15 minutes cooking time
  10. Allow to cool on a wire rack
  11. To eat, slice and spread with butter
Adapted from Yorkshire W. I. Recipe book
Adapted from Yorkshire W. I. Recipe book
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/