Orange Meringue Pie

Orange Meringue Pie

I made this pie because I had seville oranges left over when I was making marmalade.  Lemon meringue works well because the sharpness of the lemon contrasts so well with the sweet meringue – the same is true of seville oranges.  This pie is a scrummy mix of flavours and textures; crisp, buttery pastry, smooth tangy orange filling and a crunchy but sticky meringue.

If you can’t get seville oranges (they are usually only available in January in the UK) then you can make it with navel oranges but add a little lemon juice for sharpness.

This recipe doesn’t use the peel and pith of the oranges but don’t throw them away – freeze them and use them next time you are making marmalade.

Ingredients

For the Pastry

225g / 8 oz Plain Flour

25g / 1 oz Icing Sugar

Pinch of salt

150g / 5 oz Butter (straight from the fridge)

1 Egg Yolk

3 tbsp Cold Water

For the Orange Filling

400ml / 14 fl oz of Seville Orange Juice (probably about 6-8 oranges)

Grated Zest of 1 Sweet Eating Orange

75g / 3 oz Cornflour

4 Egg Yolks

250g / 9 oz Caster Sugar

For the meringue

4 Egg Whites, at room temperature

220g / 8 oz Caster Sugar

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

To make the pastry

Grease a 25cm / 10” loose bottomed flan tin.

Sieve the flour into a large bowl and stir in the sugar and salt. Cut the butter into cubes and rub it into the flour mix until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg yolk with the cold water, reserve a tablespoon full of this mix and pour the rest into the pastry mix. Stir with a dinner knife until a dough forms. Pull together into a smooth ball, wrap in cling film and chill for half an hour. Alternatively you can do this in a food processor but don’t over mix the dough.

Roll out the pastry between two sheets of cling film and use to line the flan tin. Tuck it gently into the sides and leave the excess pastry to hang over the edge. Prick the pastry lightly all over with a fork and return to the fridge to chill for a further 20 minutes.

Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper (I find it easier to scrunch this up first, then open it out and it will sit better in the flan) and fill with baking beans. Place the flan case on a baking sheet and bake blind for 12 minutes.

Remove the greaseproof paper and baking beans, brush the bottom of the tart with the reserved egg yolk and water and return to the oven until the pastry is cooked through and slightly golden, about another eight minutes.

Lower the oven heat to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2.

To Make the filling

Put the cornflour into a bowl, add the orange juice a little at a time and stir until you form a smooth paste. Whisk the paste into the rest of the orange juice and stir in the grated zest.

Bring 250ml / 8 fl oz water to the boil, then pour in the juice mixture. Simmer gently, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well combined, and stir into the thickened orange juice. Bring back to a simmer, whisking until it begins to bubble, remove from the heat and pour into the tart shell.

To make the meringue

Wash a mixing bowl and the whisk in hot soapy water to remove all traces of grease, rinse and dry well. Pour in the egg whites and whisk until they form stiff peaks. Add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition, until the mixture is stiff and glossy.

Spoon the meringue over the top of the orange tart filling and pull into peaks with the back of a spoon. Bake for about an hour, until the meringue is crisp and lightly browned on the outside and soft and sticky in the middle.

Serve warm or cold.

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Spiced Pears with Chocolate Sauce

These spiced pears are sweet and soft and gently fragranced with cinnamon, vanilla and cloves.  The chocolate sauce complements the pears perfectly and the whole thing is helped along wonderfully with the addition of some vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients

For the Pears

1 lb 8 oz / 750g Golden Caster Sugar

1 Cinnamon Stick

2 strips Lemon Zest

1 Star Anise

1 Vanilla Pod

5 Cloves

A thumb sized piece Fresh Root Ginger

4 ripe Pears

Method

Use a pan that will hold all the pears snugly.  Half fill the pan with water and add the sugar.  Peel and chop the ginger and add to the pan along with the cinnamon stick, lemon peel, cloves and vanilla pod (halved lengthways).  Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutess to allow all the flavours to infuse.  Peel the pears and place them in the syrup, cover and gently poach for about 30 mins until soft. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool. The pears can be poached up to 2 days ahead and kept in the poaching syrup in the fridge.

For the chocolate Sauce

200g Dark Chocolate

5 fl oz / 150 ml Double Cream

5 fl oz / 150 ml full-fat Milk

A pinch of Ground Cinnamon

Method

Break up the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl.  Bring the cream, milk and cinnamon to the boil and pour over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted.

To serve, drain the pears and either dip them in the sauce or serve the sauce separately alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding – To Make or Buy?

bun scuffle sticky toffee pudding

In a recent post I mentioned that almost every pub I have been to in the Lake District has sticky toffee pudding (STP) on the menu. This is a fact which makes me very happy indeed. Two years ago Martin and I walked the first half of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast and each evening we would arrive at a campsite hot (or wet) and tired, pitch our tent, shower and head to the pub where, over the course of the week, I set out on a one woman mission to test all the STP on offer and determine which was best.

A funny thing happened – every night I enjoyed a great pud but every night the quality was exactly the same. This might appear to be an amazing co-incidence but in reality I suspect it is because every pub served the same STP. When you have a great product made by hand from 100% natural ingredients right there on your doorstep you would be foolish not to use it.

I am talking about Cartmel sticky toffee pudding. This pudding has featured on our family holidays to the Lake District for around fifteen years and I can easily recognise the distinctive taste. Over the years I have tried other commercially made STPs but few come close and I have often been disappointed by other, supposedly quality products.

However, it occurred to me that, having repeatedly bought such a good product (always with an extra jar of toffee sauce) I have never actually made a sticky toffee pudding myself – so I set out to see if I could improve on the Cartmel product.

The first thing I noticed was that there are hundreds of different recipes out there and the initial challenge was to find one I liked.  I started looking at chefs whose recipes I have tried and trusted in the past:  James Martin’s recipe looked good but seemed to have twice as many ingredients as any other, Jamie Oliver used yoghurt and Ovaltine in his which didn’t seem quite right to me but Nigel Slater’s looked about right so I tried it.  It was a complete disaster.  The recipe called for roughly chopped dates and I found that they all sank to the bottom leaving the final pudding unbalanced and stodgy and it went straight in the bin.  This may, of course, be my fault entirely and in someone else’s hands it could be perfect – just not, unfortunately, in mine.

Eventually, having read far too many recipes, I kind of followed my instincts and used a combination of them all (see below).  This resulted in a well risen, light but rich, flavoursome pud which was transformed to sticky unctuousness when the toffee sauce was added.

But was it better than Cartmel?  In the interests of fairness, and to enhance my social standing, I invited some friends round to a blind taste testing.  Ok, so I completely accept that seven people, all arriving at different times does not constitute a proper scientific experiment but it was good enough for my purposes.

Almost everyone thought that my pudding looked best although one friend thought the “gooeyness” of the Cartmel pud gave it a better appearance.  When it came to taste it was a different story – of the seven testers – two preferred my home made recipe, two could not decide (they could taste a difference but liked both equally) and three preferred the Cartmel pudding.  I lost – but feel in this instance that there is no shame at all in losing.

Those who preferred my pudding liked the “treacly” flavour that the muscovado sugar gave it, those who liked the Cartmel STP liked that it was somehow richer and more gooey.  The real point is that everyone loved both puddings.

If I was to work on improving my recipe I would probably put some sauce in the tin before adding the pudding batter and would try baking them together to see if it improves the texture and depth of flavour but, to be honest, I’ll probably just keep buying Cartmel.

Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding is now available in quality grocers across the country or by mail order from their website.

bun scuffle sticky toffee pudding recipe

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Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe

Sticky toffee pudding is not the lightest of desserts but it is wonderfully rich and flavoursome. In this recipe the dates are blended to a smooth paste with hot water so that they flavour the pudding evenly.  The use of dark muscovado sugar in both the pudding and the sauce adds a treacly bitterness which counteracts the sweetness wonderfully.

The sauce already contains cream so strictly speaking it doesn’t really need any further addition but it does work wonderfully well served with a scoop of clotted cream or vanilla ice cream.  If you have any toffee sauce left it is perfect served hot, on its own, poured over vanilla ice cream.  In fact it is worth making especially for that purpose.

Ingredients

175g Medjool Dates (stoned)

1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

300ml boiling water

50g Softened Butter

80g Golden Caster Sugar

80g Dark Muscovado Sugar

2 Eggs (beaten)

175g Self Raising Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 Vanilla Pod

For the Sauce

200g/7oz butter

200g/7oz Light Muscovado Sugar

200g/7oz Dark Muscovado sugar

1 Vanilla Pod

250ml/9fl oz double cream

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Butter a cake tin – 24cm x 24cm (8” x 8”).

To Make the Sauce

Split the vanilla pod and remove the seeds with the back of a knife. Put the vanilla seeds and the rest of the ingredients into a pan and heat slowly until the butter has melted. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Boil gently for a few minutes until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside but keep warm.

To Make the Pudding

Put the dates into a food processor and pulse until chopped. Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the boiling water, pour over the dates and blitz until blended.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then beat in the eggs, a little at a time. Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir until combined.

Split the vanilla pod and remove the seeds with the back of a knife. Scrape the seeds into the date and hot water mix and pulse once or twice to mix. Add this date mix to the bowl and stir well until completely combined.

Pour the pudding batter into the tin and place into the oven for 30 minutes until firm to the touch and then take out of the oven.

Prick the top of the pudding with a fork and pour over half of the sauce. Leave to stand for five minutes before serving with extra sauce and possibly some cream or vanilla ice cream.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog and would like to receive updates please “like” the bun scuffle Facebook Page or follow bun scuffle on Twitter using the links below. If you don’t use social Media you can email me fiona@bunscuffle.co.uk and I will send you updates by email.

Orange Marmalade Cake

I saw this recipe in the Jamie Oliver magazine some time ago and thought it looked like a plate full of sunshine.  I filed it in the “make later” part of my brain and waited for an opportunity.  That opportunity presented itself in the form of a wet afternoon and a fruit bowl full of oranges.

The cake didn’t disappoint – it is moist and soft with a bitter orange note from the fruit topping.  This is definitely one for the grown ups.

Ingredients

200g / 8oz Butter (softened) plus a large knob for greasing

4 tbsp Demerara Sugar

2 Small Oranges (thinly sliced)

200g / 8oz Golden Caster Sugar

6 tbsp fine-cut Marmalade

4 Large Eggs (beaten)

200g / 8ozSelf-Raising Flour

50g / 2oz Ground Almonds

Finely Grated Zest and Juice of 2 oranges

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°C / Gas Mark 4.

Generously grease the base and sides of a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin with butter.

Sprinkle the base with the Demerara sugar – this may seem like a lot of sugar but it counteracts the bitterness of the orange so be liberal with it. Arrange the orange slices on the base of the tin in a slightly overlapping layer.

Cream the butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in 3 heaped tablespoons of marmalade followed by the beaten eggs.

Fold in the flour, ground almonds, a pinch of salt, and the orange zest and juice.

Pour the cake batter into the tin taking care not to disturb the orange slices.

Place in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, till golden and firm to touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes. Turn the cake out onto a serving plate whilst still warm.

Prick holes in the cake with a skewer. Make a glaze by warming the rest of the marmalade in a pan with a little water. Spoon the glaze over the cake.

You can eat this cake cold as normal but it also makes a great dessert served warm with cream or ice cream.