Bakewell Tart

Bakewell TartThere is something quintessentially English about a Bakewell tart.  I don’t know why that should be because it is very similar to the quintessentially Spanish Tarta de Santiago and almonds are not exactly native to the UK but, nevertheless, the Bakewell tart is very English.

Bakewell tarts originate in the eponymous town in Derbyshire but before anyone from Bakewell gets in touch I must just say that the tart is NOT the same as the original Bakewell Pudding which is made from puff pastry and almond paste and whose exact ingredients are a closely guarded secret.

If the only Bakewell Tart you have tasted is the apparently “exceedingly good” cherry and fondant topped version that you can buy in supermarkets then you probably don’t understand my enthusiasm.  Bake your own and I assure you that you will.

You can eat this hot (with custard) or cold but I like it best at room temperature with a drizzle of pouring cream.

Bakewell Tart Recipe

Ingredients

Pastry

125g Plain Flour

75g Butter

25g Caster Sugar

1 Egg (separated)

Filling

150g Caster Sugar

150g Butter (at room temperature)

150g Ground Almonds

3 Eggs plus 1 Egg Yolk

2 heaped tbsp Raspberry Jam

The grated Zest of one Lemon

1 tbsp Flaked Almonds

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180° C / 350° F / Gas Mark 4

To make the pastry put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and 1 tbsp cold water and pulse until the pastry comes together. Alternatively you can do this by hand – rub the butter into the flour and sugar with your fingertips and then stir in the egg yolk and water with a knife.

Shape the pastry into a ball, flatten slightly, wrap in cling film and chill for half an hour.

Grease a 20cm / 8” loose bottomed flan tin. Roll the pastry out quite thinly (about 3mm) and use to line the tin. Prick the base all over with a fork and chill for 20 minutes before trimming the top.

Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Cook for 20 minutes until pale golden. Remove the paper and baking beans, brush the pastry case with egg white and return to the oven for 2 minutes.

Spread the jam in an even layer over the base of the pastry case.

Put the eggs and egg yolk into a bowl and whisk lightly. Cream together the butter and sugar in a separate bowl and gradually add the beaten eggs. Fold in the ground almonds and the lemon zest and use this mixture to fill the pastry case. Level the top and bake for 20 minutes.

Scatter the flaked almonds over the top and cook for another 15-20 minutes until set and a rich, golden brown.

Cool and dust with icing sugar.

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Apple & Rhubarb Crumble Pie

Apple, rhubarb crumble pie (2)Last weekend one of my sisters (I have three) came to stay.  She timed it very badly.  My mum was supposed to be moving house over the Easter weekend but a variety of unforseen circumstances meant that the move was delayed by a week.  So Debbie’s nice relaxed family weekend by the sea took an interesting turn and Saturday turned into a day of packing boxes and shifting furniture.  We were all nursing colds too so by the end of the day we were tired and grubby and aching in places we didn’t know we had muscles.

Being the ever attentive hosts, Martin and I then abandoned Debbie and went out to a friend’s wedding reception where we drank champagne and ate gourmet food.  I confess to feeling a little guilty – but only a little – and I did share the jar of Gummy Bears that I received as a wedding favour!

To make ammends we all took the day off on Sunday and had a lazy start with brunch at No 4 before heading home to a fire and a film.  On Sunday evening I made Lemon Chicken for dinner but also wanted to make a dessert.  I have made this one before and it should really be called indecisive pie.  The conversation goes something like this:

“Shall we have pie for pudding?”

“Yes or maybe a crumble”.

“OK, apple?  Or perhaps rhubarb?”

“I don’t mind either would be good…  Or maybe both?”

And so the apple and rhubabrb crumble pie was born and lo – it was good.  On Sunday the indecision continued and we served it with cream and ice cream too.  Decadent, indulgent and comforting, it was exactly what we needed.

If you are making this pie feel free to indulge your own indecision too; should you put raisins in the pie or cinnamon?  Add both.  Nuts in the crumble or seeds?  You know how it goes by now.  Experiment and enjoy, we certainly did.

Debbie is back in Manchester now and has taken our cold with her (for which I do feel guilty) so maybe one of her friends can bake her their own version of this pie – just until she is feeling better and can return the favour.

Apple, rhubarb crumble pieIngredients

For the pastry

225g / 8oz Plain Flour

150g / 5oz cold Butter

25g / 1oz Icing Sugar

1 large Egg

2 tbsp Water

For the crumble

75g / 3 oz Butter

100g / 4 oz Plain Flour

50g / 2 oz Demarara Sugar

50g / 2 oz Hazelnuts

50g / 2 oz Oats

For the fruit filling

3 Large Bramley Apples

4 Stalks Rhubarb

1 tsp Cinnamon

A Knob of Butter

2 tbsp or so of Golden Caster Sugar

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4.

To make the pastry put the flour, butter and icing sugar into a food processor and pulse until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg and water and pulse again until it forms a ball.  Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 mins.

Roll out the pastry very thinly on a floured work surface until just a little bigger than the size of a greased 28cm / 11” deep, loose-bottomed tart tin.  Lay the pastry over the tin and ease it into the base and up the sides.  Leave any excess hanging over the sides of the tin. Place on a baking sheet and then chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Once the pastry is chilled trim off the excess.

Peel, core and chop the apples and chop the rhubarb.  You don’t have to be too accurate about the chopping, different sized pieces at this stage give the finished pie a range of textures which I like.  Melt the knob of butter in a pan, add the fruit and cinnamon and put the lid on.  Cook over a low heat until only just beginning to soften.  Remove from the heat and taste; add the rest of the sugar if you want it to be sweeter.  Set aside to cool.

To make the crumble rub the flour, oats and butter together until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs.  Coarsely chop the hazelnuts and stir in along with the sugar.

Spoon the fruit filling into the pastry case using a slotted spoon if it is very liquidy.  Sprinkle the crumble mix on the top.  Place in the oven (still on its baking sheet) and bake for around 35-40 minutes until the pastry and crumble are both cooked and golden brown.

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Vegan Chocolate and Banana Mousse

Banana and chocolate mousse

I created this recipe for the vegan challenge – a month of eating an entirely vegan diet.

When I first started looking at vegan dessert recipes I saw so many variations of this mousse that I just had to try it.  I was really curious – could a dessert taste good if one of the main ingredients is avocado pear?  It sounded so unlikely I had to find out for myself.

The result?  It is yummy.  The avocado gives a really creamy texture, just like a “normal” mousse but the chocolate is strong enough to mask the taste – genius.  I salute the person who first discovered this.

If you doubt me – you should try it too.  This recipe is a keeper even when I go back to eating dairy.

I made a banana and chocolate mousse but you can leave the banana out if you like, just adjust the other quantities until you get the taste and texture that you like.  If it is not sweet enough for your taste add a little maple or agave syrup.

I used a bar of chocolate but if you prefer you can use a couple of tablespoons of raw chocolate (cacao) powder instead.

Ingredients

100g Plain Chocolate (dairy & caseine free – I used Green & Black’s 70% Cocoa Organic Chocolate but just read the label).

1 Medium Avocado Pear (very ripe)

1 Banana (ripe but not blackened)

2 tsp Smooth Peanut Butter

3 or 4 tbsp Almond Milk

Method

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.

Put the peeled avocado and the banana in a food processor and blitz until smooth.  Add the melted chocolate and peanut butter and blitz again until combined.  With the motor running add the almond milk a tablespoon or so at a time until you get a soft, creamy texture.  Go a little softer than you think because it will firm up quite a lot in the fridge.

Pour into serving bowls and chill for at least an hour before serving.

This looks like it serves 2 but it is very rich so use small bowls and stretch it out.

 

Lychee and Lime Sorbet

Lychee and Lime Sorbet

OK – I accept that lychees aren’t the most imaginative of desserts to eat with a Chinese meal but actually, they taste really good; sweet and delicately perfumed.  I added lime juice for a sharper note and made them into a puree.

You can use fresh lychees but this recipe works perfectly with the canned fruit as you can use the syrup too.  Did I really serve up canned fruit to my guests?  Apparently so – and they enjoyed it too.

You can make this sorbet without the egg white but it makes the finished texture lighter and fluffier.

Serve with some lychees on the side and maybe a drizzle of lime syrup.

Ingredients

3 x 400g cans Lychees in Syrup

50g / 2 oz Caster Sugar

1 Egg White

Juice and zest of 2 Limes

Method

Drain the lychees reserving the juice from 2 of the cans. Put the reserved juice and the sugar into a small pan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly for 1 minute.

Blitz the lychees in a food processor, when they are finely chopped, leave the food processor running and pour in the syrup..

Pour into a plastic container and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Next day, break up the frozen sorbet and return to the food processor. Blitz until really smooth, add the lime juice and zest and the egg white and blitz again. Return to the plastic container and re-freeze – preferably overnight.

 

 

 

Classic Lemon Syllabub

Lemon Syllabub

The first time I made syllabub I thought it was the height of sophistication – and actually I still do.

I made it for a Valentine’s day dinner in the early years of our marriage, I used Asti Spumante (bleurgh) because we had been given a bottle and I scrounged a splash of brandy from my dad, who always had a bottle of Martell in the house, and took it home in a tupperware container.

I was delighted at how well it worked and served it with langues du chat because I didn’t think that a custard cream would do it justice.

If you fancy a make ahead, rich, indulgent grown up dessert then this is the one for you.

Ingredients

2 heaped tbsp Golden Caster Sugar

1 Unwaxed Lemon

60 ml Sweet White Wine

1 tbsp Brandy

300 ml Double Cream

Method

Put the grated zest and juice of the lemon, the sugar, wine and brandy into a glass or ceramic bowl and stir.  Cover and leave in the fridge overnight until the sugar has dissolved and the flavours have mellowed slightly.

In a separate bowl whip the cream until it just holds in soft peaks – be careful not to overwhip or the whole mix will curdle.  Gently stir the lemon mixture into the cream until combined and pour into serving bowls (it looks pretty in champagne glasses).  Chill until needed.

Serve as it is or with a biscuit on the side for a contrasting texture.

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