Cakes & Bakes: Prune tea loaf

Home-made prune tea loaf | H is for Home #recipe #prunes #tealoaf #fruitloaf #loafcake #baking

We’ve been having a busy first few days of 2018. I’ve been a bit tardy again this year with preparing & filing our tax returns so I wanted this week’s Cakes & Bakes to be quick and simple. This prune tea loaf is just the ticket!

Armagnac is the perfect pairing for prunes. However, if you prefer, you can swap this out for an equal quantity of freshly-brewed, strong black tea.

Serve warm, cut into thick slices, buttered generously accompanied by a cup of tea. After my little break, it’s back to doing the accounts!

Prune tea loaf batter in a lined baking tin| H is for Home Cooked prune tea loaf a lined baking tin| H is for Home

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Prune tea loaf
Serves 8
Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 200g/7oz prunes (Agen ones are best)
  2. 2-4 tbsp Armagnac
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 100g/3½oz brown soft sugar
  5. 250g/9oz self raising flour
  6. 75ml/2⅔fl oz milkHome-made prune the loaf ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF/Gas mark 3
  2. Grease & line a 900g/2lb loaf tin
  3. De-stone and roughly chop the prunes and put them into a medium-sized mixing bowl
  4. Pour the Armagnac over the prunes - it should just about cover all the fruit
  5. Cover with cling flim/Saran wrap for about half an hour to allow the fruit to absorb the liquid
  6. In a measuring jug, lightly beat the eggs before adding them to the soaked prunes and any un-absorbed liquid
  7. Add the sugar and flour and combine well
  8. Mix in the milk to loosen the batter
  9. Spoon evenly into the lined loaf tin and sprinkle a little granulated sugar evenly over the top
  10. Bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes away clean
  11. Leave the loaf in its tin to cool for 5 minutes before turning it out on to a wire rack
Notes
  1. The loaf will keep for a couple of weeks (if it lasts that long!) if wrapped in baking parchment and kept in an airtight container in a cool place
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Cakes & Bakes: Sourdough pancakes

Home-made sourdough pancakes | H is for Home #pancakes #sourdough #recipe

Sourdough pancakes are a quick, tasty and useful way of using up discard before refreshing your jar of sourdough starter.

I made some this morning because my starter has been sitting in the fridge half forgotten over the run up to Christmas. It’s now happily topped up and getting ready for one of my 24-hour loaves that I’ll begin making tomorrow.

Cooking sourdough pancakes on a griddle | H is for Home Cooking sourdough pancakes on a griddle | H is for Home

Sourdough pancakes make a fantastic meal topped with a couple of rashers of crispy smoked bacon and a splash of maple syrup – or so Justin tells me. As a veggie, I have mine with a generous pouring of the syrup or runny honey. The sourness of the pancakes, the smokiness of the bacon and the sweetness of the syrup are a winning combo!

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Sourdough pancakes
Serves 4
Ingredients
  1. 500 ml/17½ fl oz sourdough starter
  2. 1 egg
  3. 3 tbsp sugar
  4. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  5. 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  6. 2-4 tbsp milk
  7. A little butter or vegetable oil for frying Home-made sourdough pancakes ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Pre-heat a griddle or large heavy-bottomed/cast iron frying pan over medium heat
  2. In a large measuring jug, combine the sourdough starter, egg, sugar, oil and bicarbonate of soda
  3. Depending on the consistency of your sourdough starter, stir in a couple of tablespoons of milk
  4. Melt a knob of butter or brush a little vegetable oil on the griddle/frying pan
  5. Once the griddle/frying pan is hot, slowly pour circles of batter to the size of pancake you desire
  6. Cook until the bubbles begin to look a bit dry
  7. Flip and cook the other side
  8. Repeat until all the batter has been used up
Notes
  1. If you're cooking up a large batch at a time, set your oven to the lowest temperature, place a couple of plates on the shelves and put the cooked pancakes on them as you go along
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Adapted from Cultures for Health
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: New York maple-walnut cheesecake

Home-made New York maple walnut cheesecake | H is for Home #cheesecake #bakedcheesecake #recipe

Baked cheesecake is both Justin’s and my favourite kind of cake. I often make it for special occasions such as when we’re having people over to visit. The last time friends came to stay, I made a New York maple-walnut cheesecake. It was such a hit – with us and them – that I’ve been looking forward to making it again and sharing the recipe on here.

Making crumbs from digestive biscuits | H is for Home Digestive biscuit cheesecake base | H is for Home

I found the recipe on the New York Times website. It’s pretty similar to the one I make using a Gordon Ramsay recipe, with one… or should I say two great additions. Including maple syrup in cheesecake is delicious; Tossing and coating walnuts in hot maple syrup and then sprinkling them over the top is candied heaven on earth!

Cream cheese and maple syrup | H is for Home

I made a few little adjustments to the NYT’s original New York maple-walnut cheesecake recipe. For a start, I cut down on the quantities; much as I love cheesecake, 12 portions is too much for just the two of us. I also swapped the Graham cracker base for the more usual British version of digestive biscuit crumbs. Lastly, I doubled the amount of maple syrup in the actual cheesecake mixture as I thought the flavour was a little too subtle.

New York maple-walnut cheesecake | H is for Home

Also, the original method included an initial hot bake at 260ºC/500ºF for 15 minutes. This, I think, is to give the top of the cake a nice golden brown colour. It would have completely burnt my first attempt if I hadn’t been keeping an eye on it. This time around, I lowered the temperature and duration of this stage… it turned out perfectly!

The walnuts can be substituted for other nuts, I’d think that pecans or Brazil nuts – or both – would be wonderful.

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New York maple-walnut cheesecake
Serves 8
For the base
  1. 200g/7oz digestive biscuits (about 14 biscuits)
  2. 50g/1¾oz unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake
  1. 600g/21oz cream cheese
  2. 2tsp cornflour
  3. 200g/7oz caster sugar
  4. 120ml/4fl oz maple syrup
  5. 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  6. 60ml/2fl oz double cream
To finish
  1. 60ml/2fl oz maple syrup
  2. 1tsp cornflour
  3. 115g/4oz walnut halves Home-made New York maple walnut cheesecake ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4
For the base
  1. In a bowl, grind the digestive biscuits to fine crumbs (I use the end of a rolling pin)
  2. Add the melted butter to the bowl and toss with a fork until the butter has moistened the crumb mixture
  3. Grease the sides of a 23cm/9-inch, spring-form cake tin and scatter the crumbs evenly over the pan bottom, pressing it down using the bottom of a straight-sided glass or back of a spoon
  4. Bake for 10 minutes and allow it to cool
For the cheesecake
  1. Raise the oven temperature to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until soft and fluffy (about 2 minutes)
  3. Combine the flour and the sugar and add this mixture and half of the maple syrup to the cheese in thirds, mixing after each addition
  4. Add the eggs and the yolk to the mixture, one by one, beating after each addition
  5. Add the heavy cream and mix again
  6. Pour the batter on to the cooled base and bake for 5 minutes
  7. Lower the oven to 90ºC/200ºF/Gas mark ½ and bake for a further hour
  8. Switch off the oven, leave the door ajar and allow the cheesecake cool in the oven for ½ hour
  9. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours but no more than 24
To serve
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining maple syrup over a low heat until it bubbles. Allow to simmer gently for 1 minute until it has thickened slightly
  2. Whisk in the cornstarch and turn off the heat
  3. Add the walnuts and turn to coat
  4. Spread them out on a piece of parchment paper to cool and harden into praline
  5. Sprinkle over the cheesecake
Print
Adapted from New York Times
Adapted from New York Times
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: 24-hour sourdough loaf

Home-made 24-hour sourdough loaf | H is for Home #baking #sourdough #sourdoughbread #realbread #recipe

Someone over on our Instagram feed asked when I was going to share the recipe for the 24-hour sourdough loaf that I’d photographed. I forgot that I’d never actually blogged about it, so here it is!

Bubbling sourdough starter | H is for Home

It’s my new favourite sourdough bread recipe because it helps me plan my baking time to a tee. No more hanging around at bedtime for my bread to be ready to take out of the oven. You start at “zero hour” with a refresh of the starter and end with taking it out of the oven.

La Cloche baking dome | H is for Home

The 24 hour duration is a fairly loose timing. You can stretch or shorten the time line to suit by warming or cooling the environment of the starter and the rising dough. I like to time it so that my final prove takes place overnight. The recipe suggests refrigerating the dough for this 8-12 hour stage however, our downstairs cloakroom gets really cold at night – and the banneton takes up a lot of space – so I do the rise in there.

Sliced, home-made 24-hour sourdough loaf | H is for Home

It means I can get up in the morning, pre-heat the oven and La Cloche and enjoy lovely, fresh sourdough for breakfast!

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24-hour sourdough loaf
Yields 1
Ingredients
  1. 585ml/20½fl oz water at 27ºC
  2. 180g/6⅓oz 1:1 (100% hydrated) fresh sourdough starter that's been refreshed the night before and again in the morning (Hour 0)
  3. 900g/31¾oz strong white bread flour
  4. 9g/⅓oz fine sea salt
  5. a little rice flour for dusting your banneton (I can't recommend this enough!!)
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Hour 6
  1. In a bowl, whisk the warm water and starter and mix well
  2. Add the flour and salt (combined well) and mix until all the ingredients come together into a large ball
  3. Cover with cling film and let the dough rest in a cool environment for 1½ hours
Hour 8½
  1. Lift and fold your dough over, do a quarter turn of your bowl and repeat three more times. Repeat hourly 3 more times
Hour 12½
  1. Shape your dough lightly and place into a dusted banneton
  2. Cover with a shower cap or damp tea-towel and leave to prove on the side until the dough has risen by about 50%. This normally takes about 2 hours in a kitchen that is about 18-20 degrees, then transfer to the fridge for 8-12 hours
Hour 24
  1. In the morning, preheat the oven to 220ºC for 30 minutes to 1 hour before you are ready to bake with your La Cloche in the oven. The dish or La Cloche must be very hot
  2. Take the dish out of the oven and sprinkle a little flour over the bottom
  3. Put your dough into the La Cloche and slash the top of your bread using a grignette (or lame) then place the lid back on top and return to the oven as quickly as possible. Bake for 45 minutes
  4. Turn the heat down to 190ºC, remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes
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Cakes & Bakes: St Stephen’s pudding

Home-made St Stephen's pudding with custard | H is for Home #recipe #Christmas #pudding #steamedpudding

If Christmas pudding is too rich or stodgy for your taste, we have a delicious alternative for you to try – St Stephen’s pudding.

Home-made St Stephen's pudding mixture | H is for Home

It’s also a whole lot quicker to prepare than Christmas pudding. There’s no soaking of fruit in alcohol overnight or resting it before steaming. And besides, Stir up Sunday was last week and I’ve missed it!

Home-made St Stephen's pudding mixture in a pudding bowl | H is for Home

As the name suggests, St Stephen’s pudding is eaten on the “Feast of Stephen” – Boxing Day. Apparently, it was eaten at St John’s College, Cambridge on this day. I’ve only managed to find mention of this pudding on Delia’s website and the Cooking with the Saints cookbook. There’s also fleeting mention of the dish in The Ordinary, a 17th century play by William Cartwright where the character, Slicer utters, “Let the Corporal Come sweating under a breast of mutton stuff’d With pudding”.

Pudding bowl with parchment and foil lid | H is for Home Cooked home-made St Stephen's pudding in a steamer | H is for Home

I combined all the ingredients, pressed the mixture into a pudding bowl and secured the lid before putting it in the fridge to cook the following day. There’s no reason why it couldn’t stay in the fridge for up to a week before whipping it out for its 2-hour steam.

Home-made St Stephen's pudding | H is for Home #recipe #Christmas #pudding #steamedpudding

When I prepared it, I followed Delia’s recipe to the letter. However, if I was going to make this again (and I probably will) I’d add an extra 25 grams of sugar and only include the zest of half a lemon.

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St Stephen's pudding
Serves 4
Cook Time
2 hr
Cook Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. 110g/4oz white breadcrumbs
  2. 50g/2oz self-raising flour, sifted
  3. 50g/2oz light brown soft sugar
  4. 75g/3oz shredded suet
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 110g/4oz seedless raisins
  7. 2 medium Bramley cooking apples, peeled & grated
  8. grated zest of 1 lemon
  9. 3tbsp milk
  10. 1 large eggHome-made St Stephens pudding ingredients
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Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the breadcrumbs, flour, sugar, suet and salt
  2. Add the raisins, grated apples and grated lemon zest
  3. Stir thoroughly to combine well
  4. Beat the egg into the milk and stir into the mixture
  5. Pack the mixture into a well-greased pudding basin
  6. Cover the basin tightly with a sheet of baking parchment, then with a sheet of foil, make a pleat in the centre and secure with string
  7. Boil a kettle and pour the boiling water into a saucepan, about half full, place it on a medium heat and, when it comes back to the boil, fit a steamer over the top
  8. Steam the pudding for 2 hours, checking every so often that the water in the saucepan hasn't all evaporated away
  9. Remove the sheets of foil & baking parchment. Place an upturned plate on the top, quickly flip over and carefully lift off the pudding bowl
Notes
  1. Serve with custard or rum butter
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Adapted from Delia Online
Adapted from Delia Online
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Luxury mince pies

Home-made luxury mince pies | H is for Home #recipe #mincepies #baking #ChristmasRecipe #pastry #pie

My home-made luxury mincemeat has been ‘resting’ nicely for a month. It’s now just about ready for me to make my first batch of mince pies.

Making pastry cases for home-made luxury mince pies | H is for Home

We’ve got the luxury mincemeat, so how about a bit of luxury pastry too?!

Filling pastry cases for home-made luxury mince pies | H is for Home

I’ve gone for a buttery shortcrust pastry flavoured with almond. The flavours work so well together – and make for the perfect Christmas treat.

Plate of luxury mince pies and mug of tea in front of the fire | H is for Home

Compliment them with a cup of tea or glass of mulled wine, comfy chair and real fire (sleeping dog optional). It’s what Christmas (in fact, winter in general) is all about for us.

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Luxury mince pies
Yields 12
    For the pastry
    1. 180g/6⅓oz plain flour
    2. 70g/2½oz 'tant pour tant' (35g/1¼oz icing sugar + 35g/1¼oz ground almonds)
    3. pinch of salt
    4. 125g/4½oz very cold butter, cubed
    5. 1½-2tbs cold water
    6. A little beaten eggHome-made mince pies ingredients
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    Instructions
    1. Put the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds and salt in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to combine
    2. Add the butter and pulse again until you get to the fine breadcrumb stage
    3. Whilst still pulsing, add the ice cold water until the mixture begins to get lumpy - like dry scrambled eggs
    4. Empty ⅔ of the pastry on to 2 lengths of cling film layered one over the other at right angles
    5. Form the dough into a ball by lifting & bringing together the 4 ends of the cling film. Repeat with the remaining ⅓ of the pastry
    6. Chill in the fridge for ½ to 1 hour
    7. Once chilled, preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
    8. Grease a 12-hole or two, 6-hole muffin tins
    9. Lightly flour your work surface, remove your larger ball of dough from the fridge, unwrap and divide it into 12 equal pieces (about 20-22g each)
    10. One by one, roll each piece of dough into a ½cm thick round shape. Cut into perfect circles with a cookie cutter (or upturned drinking glass if you don't have one) that's slightly wider than the hole of your muffin tin. **Rolling each pie case individually means that you don't overwork the pastry by re-rolling over & over again**
    11. Gently press the pastry rounds into the muffin tin holes (handy hint: use a small lump of pastry to do this if you have long fingernails!)
    12. Spoon mincemeat into each pastry case and press down gently to level. Don't overfill
    13. Get the smaller batch of dough out of the fridge and again divide into 12 equal pieces (about 11g each)
    14. One by one, roll each piece of dough into a ½cm thick round shape. Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. I used a star-shaped cutter but you can make other Christmas-y shapes like holly leaves, snowflakes, fir trees and the like!
    15. Top each pie with the shaped pastry before brushing the tops with a little beaten egg
    16. Bake for 12-15 minutes
    17. Allow to cool in the tin completely before removing
    18. Put on a cooling rack or serving plate and sprinkle/dredge with icing sugar
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