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: Honey-roasted fig & marzipan tart

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Home-made honey-roasted fig & marzipan tart

We have some friends that live nearby who are having their kitchen renovated. For the next few weeks, all they’ll have to cook on is a single-burner camping stove.

Honey-roasted fig & marzipan tart ingredients

We’ve been in the exact same position in the past – it’s such a drag! We invited them round to ours for dinner tonight so we thought we’d cook them something that they can’t currently make at home.

Glazed figs before being put in the oven to roast

Justin’s making the main course – chicken breasts filled with a fennel, pastrami and chicken mousse with a spinach and pine nut lasagne – and I’m making the dessert.

Honey-roasted fig & marzipan tart before going into the oven

In keeping with the loosely Mediterranean theme, I’ve cooked a honey-roasted fig & marzipan tart. You can buy ready-made shortcrust pastry to make the base, but it’s really easy to make yourself at home – a 2-minute job… honest!

Honey-roasted fig & marzipan tart before going into the oven

I’ve not made this tart before – I hope it’s a hit tonight!

Honey-roasted fig & marzipan tart
Serves 4
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Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. 500g/18oz pack shortcrust pastry at room temperature or make your own
  2. 4 ripe fresh figs, stalks trimmed
  3. 1tbs lemon juice
  4. 1 tbs clear honey
  5. 100g/3½oz softened butter
  6. 100g/3½oz golden caster sugar
  7. 100g3½oz ground almonds
  8. 1 medium egg yolk
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
  2. Grease a shallow, loose-bottomed 20cm flan tin
  3. Roll out the pastry on a lightly-floured work surface
  4. Line the tin, carefully pushing it into the base & sides and making sure the pastry comes above the rim. Refrigerate for 30 minutes
  5. In the meantime, halve the figs lengthways and put them cut side up on a roasting tray
  6. In a small measuring jug, combine the lemon juice and honey before pouring the liquid over the figs
  7. Roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes until just soft
  8. Drain off the juice (if any) and reserve
  9. Remove the pastry case from the fridge and prick the base all over with a fork, line with a circle of greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 15 minutes
  10. Remove the paper & beans and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the pastry is golden
  11. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas mark 2 Leave the pastry case to cool slightly before filling
  12. In a food processor or using an electric beater, cream the butter and sugar until smooth & pale
  13. Add the ground almonds and whizz briefly to combine
  14. Add the egg yolk and 1 tbsp of the reserved fig juice and whizz again until smooth
  15. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the marzipan evenly over the pastry case base
  16. Gently press the figs, cut side up, into the almond mixture
  17. Bake for 1¼ hours or until the top turns golden all over
  18. Leave in the tin for 15 minutes before removing sides and transfer to a wire rack to cool
  19. Serve cool or cold with crème fraîche or clotted cream
Adapted from BBC Good Food Magazine
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: No bake double choc nut tart

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Slice of home-made double choc nut tart via @hisforhome

I’ve had quite a lot on this week, so didn’t have a great deal of time to dedicate to a long-drawn-out Cakes & Bakes recipe.

Double choc nut tart ingredients

This no bake double choc nut tart is short on time, but big on taste and impact.

Dark chocolate digestives and butter

It would be perfect to make for a dinner party where there are a few courses to juggle in preparation.

Dark chocolate digestive tart base

The chocolate ganache is really simple to make and is rich and unctuous – a chocoholics dream!

Melting dark chocolate with double cream to make a ganache

The base can be made with chocolate digestive biscuits or, if you’re in the US and can’t get hold of them, Chocolate Creme Oreos are a good substitute.

Chocolate ganache

I topped it with toasted chopped mixed nuts and finished with a few pecan halves but you can use walnuts, hazelnuts or whatever takes your fancy!

Chocolate ganache poured on to digestive base

Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche or clotted cream and a sprig of mint to garnish – just perfection!

Home-made double choc nut tart via @hisforhome

No bake double choc nut tart
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 250g/9oz dark chocolate digestive biscuits
  2. 100g/3½oz butter, cubed &softened
  3. 300g/10½oz dark chocolate, broken up into pieces
  4. 200ml/7fl oz double cream
  5. 1tbs mixed nuts, toasted
  6. 8 pecans
Instructions
  1. Add the digestive biscuits to a food processor and grind until fine crumbs
  2. Add the softened butter to the biscuit crumbs and pulse until combined
  3. Pour the mixture into a tart dish (I used a cm diameter round one) and press evenly into the base and up the sides using the back of a spoon
  4. Put the base into the fridge for 20 minutes to harden
  5. Put the broken up dark chocolate and double cream into a heatproof bowl. Put the bowl into a saucepan filled with water to a level where it doesn't quite touch the bowl
  6. Heat the saucepan until just boiled then turn down low
  7. Stir the chocolate & cream mixture to combine well and remove any lumps
  8. Remove the base from the fridge, pour over the chocolate sauce and shake slightly to level it out
  9. Return to the fridge for 20 minutes before sprinkling with the chopped nuts and placing the pecans evenly around the edge
  10. Serve as is or garnish with a few strawberries, blueberries and/or mint leaves
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Bakewell Tart

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Slice of home-made Bakewell tart via @hisforhome

This week’s Cakes & Bakes offering is a quintessential British classic – Bakewell tart.

Bakewell tart ingredients

I’ve never featured a Hairy Bikers recipe previously – but I do like lots of what they cook.

flour and butter in a food processor

When I looked at the quantity of ingredients, I thought that it seemed a lot. An entire pack of butter, 2 packets of ground almonds, 8 – yes EIGHT – eggs in the filling (and a further three in the pastry).

Sweet shortcrust pastry

The recipe supposedly makes one 23cm/9-inch tart, but I used less than half of the pastry and just over half of the filling that it called for.

Rolled out sweet shortcrust pastry

I’m not wasting anything though, both the spare pastry and the filling have gone into the freezer; I’ll be able to make another tart in double quick time next time.

Bakewell tart shortcrust pastry base

Bakewell tart is a perfect cake for our 4 o’clock afternoon tea break.

Raspberry jelly spread on a cooked Bakewell tart shortcrust pastry base

It’s not dry, but a sip of tea after every couple of mouthfuls works so well.

Bakewell tart filling ingredients

Almonds and fruity jam are such a great combination of flavours. Throw in some buttery pastry and you’re not likely to be disappointed.

Uncooked Bakewell tart

There’s a good reason it’s become a classic.

Home-made Bakewell tart

There’s at least 8 slices in the tart so that’s four days sorted – unless we’re incredibly generous and give a piece away!

Bakewell Tart
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For the pastry
  1. 425g/15oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  2. 1 egg, beaten
  3. 2 egg yolks
  4. 250g/9oz unsalted butter
  5. 100g/3½oz caster sugar
  6. ½ tsp salt
  7. 50g/2oz ground almonds
For the filling
  1. 400g/14oz ground almonds
  2. 175g/6oz caster sugar
  3. 8 eggs, beaten
  4. ½ tsp almond essence
  5. 3 tbs raspberry jam
  6. 50g/2oz flaked almonds
For the pastry
  1. In a food processor, add the flour, salt, sugar, butter and almonds and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  2. Add the eggs & yolks one at a time and pulse until a smooth dough is formed
  3. Bring the dough together into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for half an hour
  4. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/360ºF/Gas mark 4
  5. Grease & flour a 23cm/9in loose-bottomed tart tin
  6. Unwrap the chilled pastry and roll out onto a cold, floured work surface (this is a very 'short' pastry and at first will be difficult to handle)
  7. Line the tart tin with the pastry and trim off any excess. Prick the base with a fork, then cover the pastry lightly with a round of baking parchment. Cover the parchment with baking beans (I use dried chickpeas) put into the oven to bake blind for 15 minutes
  8. Remove the pastry base from the oven, pour out the baking beans (or chickpeas) remove the baking parchment and set aside to cool. If the base is still a little underdone, return it to the oven for a minute or two to dry out
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 165ºC/330ºF/Gas mark 2
For the filling
  1. Put the ground almonds and caster sugar into a bowl and combine
  2. Add the beaten eggs and almond essence and combine well
  3. Once the tart pastry base has cooled, spread a generous layer of raspberry jam onto the bottom
  4. Pour the filling mixture over the raspberry jam to fill the pastry case almost to the top
  5. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is baked through and golden-brown all over
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve warm or cold
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Redcurrant mazarin tart

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Half-eaten slice of redcurrant mazarin tart | H is for Home

Last week, you’ll remember that I set aside a small bowlful of redcurrants while I made the rest into jelly.

redcurrant mazarin tart ingredients

pastry ingredients for redcurrant mazarin tart base

What I had in mind for this extra was to make a redcurrant mazarin tart using a recipe I found in Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking… Scandilicious by Signe Johansen.

ball of pastry for redcurrant mazarin tart base

ball of almond pastry for redcurrant mazarin tart

It’s bit of a long-winded recipe to follow – the base, the almond paste (shop bought marzipan is much too hard) and the filling. But do give it a try, it’s worth the effort!

rolling pastry for redcurrant mazarin tart base

redcurrant mazarin filling ingredients

The amount of almond paste that is produced is slightly over what is needed. I plan on rolling the leftovers into little balls and then dipping them in melted dark chocolate; perfect little after-dinner petits fours!

uncooked redcurrant mazarin tart

redcurrant mazarin tart

The original recipe doesn’t call for leaving the tart in the oven while it cools, but I found mine needed a bit of a longer cook and it also helped stop the centre from sinking under the weight of all that fruit.

detail of a redcurrant mazarin tart

slice of redcurrant mazarin tart

The sweetness of the almond paste was a lovely match for the sourness of the redcurrants, balancing each other out. A little dollop of fraîche on the side is all you need to serve with it.

Pin the recipe here to try later!

Redcurrant mazarin tart
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For the pastry base
  1. 200g/7oz spelt (or plain) flour
  2. 100g/3½ oz butter
  3. 50g/2oz caster sugar
  4. 1 egg
For the almond paste
  1. 150g/5oz ground almonds
  2. 200g/7oz icing sugar
  3. 2tsp almond extract
  4. 1 egg white
For the filling
  1. 340g/12oz almond paste
  2. 100g/3½ oz butter, softened
  3. 100g • 3½ oz plain flour (or cornflour)
  4. 6 tbsp caster sugar
  5. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  6. 4 eggs
  7. 300g/11oz redcurrants, rinsed and de-stalked
For the pastry
  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour and butter together, or mix by hand in a large bowl, until it resembles breadcrumbs
  2. Add in the sugar and then the egg, and continue to combine until the dough comes together
  3. Cover the pastry with cling film and shape into a disc about 1cm/½ in thick
  4. Put into the fridge for an hour, or the freezer for 20-30 minutes
  5. Make the almond paste while you wait for the pastry to chill
For the almond paste
  1. Put the ground almonds, icing sugar, almond extract and egg white into a food processor and combine until a thick ball of dough is formed
  2. Turn the paste out onto a work surface and knead it a few times. Roll it into a log and wrap in cling film until you're ready to make the filling
  3. Any unused paste will keep for a month in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer
For the pastry pt II
  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 5
  2. Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is about 3mm/⅛ in thick (or as thin as you can roll it before it starts to crack) and about 30cm/12in in diameter
  3. Lift the rolled pastry into a 23cm/9in pie dish, cake tin or tart case (about 3cm-4cm/1¼ in-1½ in deep) and gently press into the sides and edges
  4. Trim any excess pastry from the rim. Prick the base of the pastry case with a fork, and blind bake on the middle shelf for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
  5. Prepare the filling while you wait for the pastry case to cool
For the filling
  1. Put all the filling ingredients apart from the redcurrants in a food mixer
  2. Combine until the mazarin is smooth and even, and all the ingredients have been fully incorporated
  3. Turn the oven temperature up to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
  4. Pour the mazarin filling into the cooled pastry case and carefully sprinkle the redcurrants over the top, gently pushing some of them into the mazarin mixture
  5. Bake on the middle shelf for 20-25 minutes until golden and well risen
  6. Turn off the oven, leave the oven door ajar and allow the tart to cool slowly in the oven
Adapted from Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking . . . Scandilicious
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Portuguese custard tarts

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Pile of home-made Portuguese custard tarts

Justin requested these Portuguese custard tarts after seeing Bruno Pinho make them on TV recently.

Portuguese custard tart ingredients

We strongly recommend that you give them a try too – they’re absolutely delicious!

Making sugar syrup for Portuguese custard tarts

In 2012, Bruno appeared in the Welsh village of Caerleon and opened a bakery.

Making custard for Portuguese custard tarts

Can you imagine the joy of a new bakery opening in your town and trays of these delicious looking tarts appearing in the shop window?

Adding vanilla seeds to custard for Portuguese custard tarts

If you don’t happen to have a Portuguese bakery where you live, fear not – they’re very makable at home… the recipe is quite straightforward, but does need following properly to get perfect results.

Making puff pastry cases for Portuguese custard tarts

You can make your own puff pastry if your really keen, but we got excellent results using ready made.

Uncooked Portuguese custard tarts

The custard tartlets look lovely with their shiny golden brown finish – and they weren’t left to cool for long before we had to try one…then two… then three… then four!!

Portuguese custard tarts fresh from the oven

The cinnamon and vanilla come through well, but don’t over-power. The lemon stops them being cloying or claggy. They’re best eaten on the day, but we guarantee that this wont be a problem.

Portuguese custard tarts cooling on a wire rack

Crispy puff pastry and a sweet, moist filling… did we mention that they were delicious?

Try them yourself – we’ve added it to Pinterest!

Portuguese custard tarts
Yields 10
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
for the sugar syrup
  1. 250g/9oz caster sugar
  2. 1 cinnamon stick
  3. peel of ½ a lemon
for the filling
  1. 25g/1oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  2. 12g cornflour
  3. 300ml/10½fl oz milk
  4. 4 egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg
  5. seeds from one vanilla pod
  6. 300g/10½oz ready-made all-butter puff pastry
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to at least 230ºC/210ºC fan/450ºF/Gas mark 8
  2. For the sugar syrup, bring the sugar, cinnamon and lemon rind to the boil in a saucepan with 250ml/9fl oz water. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering, then simmer for 3 minutes. Set the syrup aside until completely cool. Once cool, discard the cinnamon stick and lemon rind
  3. For the custard filling, mix the flours together in a bowl. Pour in a little bit of milk and stir until any lumps are removed
  4. Bring the rest of the milk to the boil in a saucepan over low heat, stirring regularly
  5. Gradually add the boiled milk to the flour mixture and whisk for 1 minute, or until smooth and well combined
  6. Slowly whisk in the sugar syrup until well combined
  7. Whisk in the egg yolks, whole egg and vanilla seeds until smooth and well combined. Set aside
  8. Roll out the pastry onto a lightly-floured work surface into a rectangle measuring approximately 50x30/20x12in; but more importantly, to a thickness of 1mm
  9. With the longest edge of the pastry rectangle facing you, roll the pastry as tightly as possible, brushing it from right to left with water as you go. Cut the pastry roll into 2cm/¾in-thick discs that are ¼ larger than the holes of your muffin tin
  10. Place the discs over the holes of your muffin tin and press them down firmly to the bottom & sides
  11. Fill each pastry cases with the custard until they are almost, but not quite, full
  12. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry has risen and the surface of the custard is scorched
  13. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving to allow the custard to set slightly
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/