Sunday, 2 October 2011

Pear, Honey and White Chocolate Cupcakes

Pears are at the peak of their season right now, and while it's a long season and they keep well they're so much nicer when they haven't been siting around ages. I even picked mine from the orchard a few hours ago, so mine are really fresh. Cupcakes are always a good way to use up stuff. If you've got loads of fruit make a fruit cupcake. That's what I did last year when I had a glut of pears but this year I'm doing it for taste. Plus, who doesn't like cupcakes? The honey goes well with the pears and vanilla but make sure you use a proper honey like heather or clover, not just the nondescript squeezy stuff in those bottles. The cupcake overall has a very moist (from the honey) texture, and quite autumnal flavors. They were so good I'm gonna make some more to bring to the harvest festival. Mmmm... cupcakes!

Makes 10 cupcakes

For the cake batter:
3.5 oz or 100g softened butter
1/3 cup & 2 tbsp or 125g sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp honey
3/4 & 2/3 cup or 150g self-raising flour

For the compote and poached pears:
4 firm pears
2 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1/4 cup or 50g brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
a strip of orange zest

For the frosting:
1 cup or 200g mascarpone
2 tsp honey
5 oz or 150g unsalted butter
3/4 cup or 75g icing/confectioners sugar
3.5 oz or 100g white chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Peel the pears and put them in a pan with the crushed coriander seeds, sugar, honey and zest with enough water to just leave the stem above the water. Simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 190 C/375 F and line a cupcake tin with 10 cases. Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix the honey and eggs together until the honey is combined then add the egg mixture to the butter bit by bit taking care not to curdle the mixture, although don't worry to much if you do. Sift in the flour and fold lightly.  Divide between the cases a putting the pear chunks at the bottom of each case. Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

3. Take 2 pears and core them then chop them into small chunks reserving 10 slices for a garnish. Core the three remaining pears and put them in a pan to cook down. Once cooked to a puree, blend with a blender until smooth.

4. Melt the chocolate then leave to cool. Beat the mascarpone, honey and butter together with the icing sugar until smooth. Add the chocolate and vanilla and beat again to combine.

5. Once cool, make a hole in the tops of the cupcakes and fill with some of the compote. Pipe on the frosting and garnish with the poached pear.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Lemon buttermilk pancakes

Yum! Pancakes! I don't normally do this thing f getting up late and having a
leisurely morning brunch but today I did and enjoyed my lie in very much. In
fact I think this is the first time I've cooked pancakes this year. I adapted the recipe from Delia by adding lemon zest and curd but for such a simple recipe you could add a number of things: blueberries, raisins, nuts or maybe even half a mashed banana mmm... And as I was promised they were easy to make yet light and fluffy, just as a god pancake should be!


Enough for 3 or 2 if your both starving

3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup or 120ml buttermilk
1/4 cup or 60ml water
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp of lemon curd (preferably homemade)
1 1/4 cups or 150g self-raising flour
oil for frying

1. Mix together all the wet ingredients and the lemon zest together. Pour
into a well in the flour whisking until all combined Don't worry if you have
a few lumps as you wont notice once they're cooked.

2. Put  the pan on a mid heat and coat it lightly with oil. Once heated,
ladle about 2 tbsp of the mixture or enough for small pancakes. Once the
side are starting to cook and small bubbles are forming on the top flip them
over (this is about 2 minutes) and cook for another 2 again or until golden
brown. Continue until all the mixture is used up. Serve with berries and in
my case date syrup.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Lemon Mousse Cake

Looking outside, I can see that fall is definitiely upon us. Looking at the title of this post, it's not a very seasonal recipe but when everything is getting a bit chilly it's nice to have something a bit zingy.  It's not that rich and quite airy from the meringue and quite tart as well. In Summer I like to turn it into an amazing icecream cake by freezing it then taking it out to soften for 15 min. There are quite a few steps but each one is fairly easy to do and  each step (along with the cake itslef) can be kept in the fridge for a fair few days before combining (or eating!). There is intentionaly no sugar in the curd because the meringue is very sweet but if your lemons are really tart and you need some extra sugar just add it to the cream before whipping and combining.


Serves 10

For the shortbread base:
1/4 cup or 50g butter
1/3 cup & 1 tbsp or 50g flour
1/4 cup or 25g corn starch/flour
2 tbsp or 25g sugar
zest of 1 lemon

For the mousse:
2 egg whites
2 tbsp or 20g caster sugar
1/2 cup or 100g caster sugar
1/8 cup & 2 tsp or 40 ml water
1 gelatine leaf

2 eggs
juice and zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup or 50g butter

1 3/4 cups or 400ml heavy cream

For the candied lemons:
1 lemon

1. Rub all the ingredients for the shortbread base together until it starts forming clumps of dough then knead lightly to form a dough. Press into a 9" cake tin and bake for 15 minutes or until pale golden brown at 200C/390F.

2. Whisk the eggs then add to a saucepan along with the juice and zest. Cook until thickened and custard-like then stir in the buter until melted. Leave to cool.

3. Whisk the whites until stiff then add the 20g/4 tbsp sugar slowly until dissolved. Soften the gelatine in a bowl of water and set aside. Put the rest of the sugar in a saucepan along with the water and boil until the syrup reaches the soft ball stage on a sugar thermometer. Slowly pour the syrup into the whites, whisking constantly until combined, now add the gelatine leaf discarding the water and continue whisking until cool.

4. Now fold the lemon curd into the meringue and fold that again into the cream that has been whipped into soft peaks. Pour into the base and leave to set in the fridge for 3 hours before serving.

5. Slice the lemonand put in a saucepan with equal amounts of sugar and water to cover the slices. Simmer until the slices are tender and the liquid syrupy. Leave to cool and pour over the mousse.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Blackberry and Apple Streusel Tart

I've got another blackberry recipe. I tried to resist doing the
same thing but I saw them in the bowl and they were calling to
bake me. Also I needed to use up a BIG bowl of apples - and even
after that I had enough of the damn things for 2 litres of juice!
Anyway the pastry is really delicate so if you try rolling it out
within to pieces of baking floured parchment as I found out the
hard way, it's a lot easier. You could have this for other fruit
in season: blueberries and peaches would be good or maybe an all
nut one; seems like another post. If you try another idea tell me
how it went! Now for the recipe...

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups or 150g flour
1/3 cup or 80g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup or 25g confectioners/icing sugar
1/4 cup or 25g corn flour/ maize starch
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp water

For the filling:
5 small or 4 large cooking apples cored and sliced
a handful of blackberries
1/3 cup or 75g butter
1/2 cup or 90g brown sugar

For the streusel:
1/3 cup or 40g flour
2 tbsp or 30g butter
2 tbsp or 20g brown sugar
21/4 cup or 20g rolled oats

1. Sift together the flour, icing sugar and corn flour then rub
together until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the egg
yolk and water and mix until it comes together and form into a
ball. Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 390 F Put the pastry in the
freezer for 5 minutes while you grease the tart case. Take the
pastry out of the freezer, roll it out and put it in the case.
Blind bake it for 15 minutes, then remove the lining and bake for
another 10 minutes or until golden brown.

2. Put the butter in the saucepan along with the sugar and apples
and cook until soft but still whole. Pour into the tart case
making sure not to get any of the butter mixture in and top with
the blackberries.

3. Rub all of the streusel ingredients togther until chunky and
top the tart. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Ginger Brittle and Pear and Ginger Compote

I was reading the Guardian and saw Felicity Cloakes article on panna cotta, so I thought I'd make my own. The basic formula for panna cotta is 3 gelatine leaves to 1 1/4 & 1/3 cups or 500 ml of liquid to which you can flavor with pretty much anything. I use gelatine leaves because they're so much easier than the powdered form. All you have to do is soak them for 2 minutes and then they're ready to dissolve. I also had a fridge brimming with pairs (think bottom 2 shelves) and panna cotta with pear compote was born. I've added the brittle for crunch but you can't taste the almonds, just the ginger and caramel - which is the idea. If you have compote left it freezes well and its also good on muesli and yoghurt.

For the panna cotta:
1/3 & 1/4 cups or 200 ml cream
1 1/4 cups or 300 ml milk
3 gelatine leaves
1 vanilla pod
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the ginger brittle:
50g or 1/4 cup caster sugar
30g or 1/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 tsp ground ginger

For the pear compote:
5 pears
 1/4 cup or 50g chopped crystallized ginger

1. Soak the gelatine leaves in water and set aside. Put the cream and milk in a saucepan with the vanilla seeds and the pod and heat until hand-hot then stir in the gelatine leaves (discarding the water) until dissolved. Leave to cool while the vanilla infuses. Once cool, strain  the milk mixture into a jug and fill 4 molds. Chill in the fridge for 5 hours or until set.

2. Peel, core and halve the pears then scatter them with the ginger. Roast them in the oven - as hot as you can get it - in a roasting tin covered in foil until the pears are tender and the tray is covered in their sweet sticky juice. Keeping the stem ginger in, mash them with a potato mash or if you like it smooth remove half the ginger and blend in a food processor.

3. For the ginger brittle put the sugar into a pan until it caramelizes and goes golden brown, now stir in the almonds and ground ginger and pour onto and greased baking tray to cool. Once cool, place in a plastic bag and smash with a rolling pin until they're in smallish crumbs.

4. Plate up by unmoulding the panna cottas and upturning them on a plate. Spoon on the compote and finally sprinkle on the brittle.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Blackberry and Vanilla Cupcakes

If you read last weeks post you'll know I went blackberry picking. I used them almost all up in that sorbet and had the rest with yoghurt and muesli for breakfast. I went out picking again and thought I'd make some blackberry cupcakes - I think I'm having a blackberry craze! I've used my usual cupcake batter recipe but I've filled them with blackberry jam and topped them with blackberries. It seems like a lot of work but you don't have to make the jam, although it is nice homemade, and the cupcake batter is really easy. Make sure you use firm, dry blackberries for the top or they'll leech their juice into the frosting.

Makes 9 cupcakes
For the batter:
3.5 oz or 100g butter, softened and cut up into cubes
3/4 cup or 150g caster sugar
3 tbsp milk
1 1/4 cups or 150g self-raising flour
2 eggs

For the jam:
10.6 oz or 300g blackberries
1 cup or 200g granulated sugar

For the Italian meringue buttercream:
2 egg whites
2 tbsp or 20g caster sugar
1/2 cup or 100g caster sugar
1/8 cup & 2 tsp or 40 ml water
7 oz or 200g butter, softened and cut into cubes
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla pod

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C or 355 F and line a bun tin with 9 paper cases. Place all of the cupcake batter ingredients into a bowl and beat until smooth. Use an ice cream scoop to evenly spread the batter between cupcakes. Bake for 20-25 minutes and leave to cool.

2. Wash the blackberries then place them in a blender. Put the pulp in a fruit juicer/coulis maker or press through a fine sieve to remove any seeds. Measure 250 ml or 1 cup of fruit puree and pour into a saucepan reserving 2 tbsp for the buttercream and add the sugar. Boil until when the jam is dropped onto a spoon that has been placed in the freezer and a finger is pushed through the jam it wrinkles. Leave to cool.

3. Whisk the eggs until stiff then slowly add the caster sugar until thick and glossy. Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan until they reach 238 F or 115 C or the soft ball stage. Slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites in a thin stream whisking constantly until incorporated. Now whisk the egg whites until room temperature and add the reserved blackberry puree and vanilla. Slowly beat in the butter until incorporated.

4. Take the cool cupcakes and make a hole in the center with the end of a piping nozzle. Pipe the jam into the cupcakes. Pipe the buttercream, either in swirls or little stars and top with 3 blackberries.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Blackberry Sorbet

Alas, Summer is nearing it's end. The last shriveled raspberries are hanging on the bush, the days are getting shorter and the days progressively colder. On the bright side the season for apples, pears and blackberries is starting. I was having a walk near where we live and in the hedgerow saw a bush stuffed to the brim with blackberries so I ran back grabbed a bowl and picked as many as I could. In the end I had a lot. So I thought I'd turn 'em into a nice sorbet. If you do by any chance have any Autumn raspberries or loganberries sling them in as well. Just make sure if you collect them from a road side you thoroughly wash them.


2.2 lb or 1 kg of blackberries
1 1/3 cups or 300 ml water
1 1/2 cups or 300g granulated sugar
lemon juice to taste

1. Wash the blackberries thoroughly then whizz them up in a blender. Now either place them in a juicer/ fruit coulis maker or press them through a fine sieve to remove the pips. Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Slowly pour the syrup and the coulis into a different bowl testing for the right consistency when half the mixture is used. (You can test for the write consistency by placing a clean egg into the mixture. If just under a quarter of it is showing it's fine. If more is showing add more syrup if less add more coulis.) Now add the lemon juice to taste and churn in an ice cream maker.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Simple Brioche

Who doesn't like brioche? When it's warm and buttery and crusty and sweet. Mmmm! Unfortunately the brioche you get in the supermarkets far inferior to the stuff you can bake at home. It's not even that hard. You just need a bit of kneading, a bit of waiting and then boom - you've got your loaf. If I could I would make it every day I would. I'm making mine and planning to keep it stale for a Summer pudding but I don't think I'll be able to! When you're making the dough keep in mind it's meant to be a soft dough so if it starts off a bit runny just keep on kneading and it should come together. I use an electric mixer with the dough hook attached to knead but simply because I'm lazy and I can't be bothered to do it by hand. I got the brioche recipe from la Tartine Gourmande.

Makes 1 loaf
1 2/3 cups or 250g all-purpose flour
1tbsp of dried fast acting yeast
1/3 cup or 80 ml warm milk
2 tbsp fine sugar
2 3/4 oz or 80g softened butter, cut into small cubes
2 eggs
a little more milk and sugar for a glaze

1. Mix the flour and yeast together then make a well in the center, slowly pour the milk into the well and mix together. Add the sugar then knead in the softened butter a bit at a time until all incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time until the dough is smooth.

2. Knead for ten minutes then cover with clingfilm and put in a warm place, like an airing cupboard, for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. Now knead the dough again for ten minutes and place in a well buttered 10 inch or 26 cm rectangular loaf tin and leave for another hour somewhere warm. Preheat the oven to 205 C or 400 F. Brush the loaf with the milk and sugar then place in the oven for ten minutes. After ten minutes turn the heat down to 350 F or 175 C and bake for 20 minutes. Test to see if it's cooked by inserting a knife and if it comes out clean it's done. 

Friday, 12 August 2011

Pistachio and fig macaroons

Macaroons or macarons (French) are really fashionable these days. This is meant to be quite a rustic recipe but even so they're not as scary as they're made out to be. I haven't used an Italian meringue in my recipe (hot sugar beaten in to stiff egg whites), just a normal meringue as I've tried both methods and there doesn't seem to be any difference and trust me it's a lot easier. In this recipe I've used pistachio instead of almonds so unless you can find ground pistachios you'll have to grind your own which though is a bit of a faff it's worth it for these little gems. It's not actually a very seasonal recipe so can be mad any time of year and of course you could make almond lemon macaroons just as easily by using ground almonds instead of pistachios and lemon curd instead of fig butter cream.

Makes 40 macaroons

For the macaroon:
3/4 & 1/3 cups or 125g ground pistachios
1 & 1/4 cups or 125g icing sugar
3 egg whites
1/4 of a cup & 2 tbsp or 75g of caster sugar

For the butter cream:
3 tbsp or 45g butter
1 cup or 100g icing sugar
3 chopped dried figs

1. Line and grease 2 baking sheets and preheat the oven to 160°C or 320°F. Whisk the egg whites until stiff then slowly whisk in the caster sugar spoon by spoon. Fold in the icing/confectioners sugar and pistachios then keep on folding until when you drop it from a spoon it falls like a ribbon. Pipe the macaroon into small circles then leave to dry for 20 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes and leave to cool.

2. While they cool make the fig butter cream. Beat together the butter and icing/confectioners sugar then mix in the chopped figs and ripple in the fig syrup. Sandwich the macaroons together with butter cream.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Homemade Peel

I love orange or lemon peel but many others don't. They see it as the waxy, tasteless sticky gunk you get in those plastic pots from the supermarket. If this is you I must convert you to the joys of homemade peel. When homemade it's vibrant and citrusy and, even quite healthy being fat less and all. (That is if you don't smother them in chocolate!) I always make mine at Christmas but it's just as nice at any time of the year. 

It's a really easy recipe just use the ratio 1:1:1, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar for every 1 cup of peel. Just make sure when your peeling the fruit you don't get any where near the pith as it's bitter and makes your mouth go all dry which is not what we want.You can use lemons, oranges and grapefruits are good too because of their thick skin just don't try limes as the zest is to thin to make any thing with.

Makes 1 cup
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of peel
Granulated sugar for coating
1/2 cup or 75g of chocolate (optional)

1. Take off the peel with a knife then cut it up into thin matchsticks. Put the peel into a saucepan with the sugar and water and put on a very low heat, don't even simmer, for a couple of hours when the peel is very soft and tender and can be easily inserted with a knife.

2. Shake off the excess sugar syrup and roll in the granulated sugar until even coated then place on a baking sheet. You can just leave them on the baking tray to dry overnight or if your oven can heat low temperatures then put them in the oven at 50°C or 122°F until dry.

3. If you are using the chocolate melt it then dip the  peel into it and leave to set on the baking tray.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Salted Hazelnut Praline Gelato

Okay, hazelnuts are not in season yet but who doesn't like a good gelato recipe? The intensity of the praline all comes down to how you toast those hazelnuts. A little to much and they burn, not enough and you won't have unleashed they're full nuttiness. Also this recipe is exceedingly rich so a little goes a long, long way with this. You don't have to add the salt but it cuts the richness and goes lovely with the caramel. Even without it though it tastes wonderful. Oh, and you don't need an ice cream maker for this or need to spend hours manually forking it through!

Serves 6-7
2 eggs separated
1/4 cup or 50g of caster sugar
1/2 & 1/3  cups or 200 ml of heavy / double cream
1/3 & 1/4 cup or 100g brown sugar
1 & 1/3 cups or 200g of chopped hazelnuts
1/2 tsp of maldon or other sea salt (optional)

1. Roast the hazelnuts in a dry a pan until you can hear them sizzling and smell nutty and rich. Pour them out of the pan into a bowl while you make the caramel. Put the brown sugar in the same pan and heat until it's liquid and bubbling. Throw in the hazelnuts and stir them in the caramel until they're evenly coated then place on some foil to cool.

2. Once cool, place the hazelnuts in a plastic zip-lock bag an cover in a tea towel and hit with a rolling pin until broken up into smallish pieces. Put the praline into a food processor and pulse-cop until it turns into a paste. Sprinkle in the salt (if using) and pulse-chop again to incorporate.

3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff then slowly add the sugar, whisking in well after each addition. Whip the cream until at soft peaks then fold into the egg whites along with the egg yolks. Ripple in the praline and freeze overnight.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Raspberry Marshmallows

Well, I've made my cordial now what to do with it? I could put it in a jelly, a drink - of course, or, um, marshmallows! I got this recipe are from Hugh, but there are loads of recipes for it. I just added a bit of cordial at the end for flavor and also colour, it gives a pretty pale pink. It's not hard to do but just make sure you're careful with the hot sugar mixture when beating it into the egg whites.

Makes 15 marshmallows

icing/confectioners sugar
corn flour/starch
vegetable oil
8 leaves of gelatine
2 egg whites
2 & 1/2 cups or 500g of granulated sugar

1. Lightly grease the tray with the oil then dust it with the corn starch and confectioners sugar.

2. Put the sugar and 1 cup or 250 ml of water in a pan and heat to the hard ball stage or 122ºC. As the sugar heats up but the gelatine leaves in a bowl of water to soften and whisk the egg whites until stiff.

3. Once the sugar has reached 122ºC slowly pour it in a steady stream in to the egg whites whisking all the time with an electric mixer on low. Once the sugar has been incorporated beat in the gelatine leaves (discard the soaking water) and whisk until thick and can be barely poured. At this point beat in the cordial.

4. Spread it out on the tray and leave it to set somewhere cool but not the fridge. Once set cut it into squares and dust it with more corn starch and confectioners sugar.

They're good cut up into little chunks and skewered on cocktail sticks along with a couple of sharp blackberries that cut the sweetness nicely.

Rapberry Cordial

Ah! Summers here. The suns in the sky, the days are longer and raspberries are in season. This cordial is easy to make and will keep for months so you can have a little taste of Summer even when it seems far away. You need a lot of raspberries for this so unless you're growing your own go to a pick-your-own farm as it's much cheaper than buying them in the shops, (and if I don't mind quite fun too)! Just top it up club soda and maybe a splash of orange juice for a delicious Summery drink.

Makes 2 & 1/2 bottles
4.4 lb or 2 kg of raspberries
7 & 1/2 cups or 1.5 kg of sugar

1. Put the raspberries and 4 cups or 1l of water in a saucepan until the raspberries disintergrate and the water turns bright red.

2. Place all of the sugar in and boil for a minute then pour into sterilized bottles. It will keep unopened in a cool dark place for months but once opened keep it in the fridge.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Almond and Plum Upside Down Cake

There seems to be a theme developing here. Another plum recipe... Yes, I have a glut of them and a glut of recipe to share! This easy to make but does take a long time to bake. It's nice and moist from the plums and is not to sweet.

Serves 6-7
3/4 cup or 175g of softened butter
3/4 cup & 2 tbsp or 175g of cane sugar
Enough plums to cover the bottom of your tin and 50g more for the cake about 8.8 oz or 250g
3 large eggs
1/2 cup & 2 tbsp or 75g of self-raising flour
2/3 cup or 100g of ground almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C or 375°C and grease and line an 8 inch or 20 cm springform tin. Halve enough plums to put face down to line the bottom of the tin and measure of those left 50g or 1.8 oz. Set aside.

2. Beat together the butter and sugar until soft and creamy then slowly add in the beaten eggs. (If it splits don't worry as the cake will be perfectly fine). Fold in the almonds and flour and the 50g or 1.8 oz of chopped plums. Bake for 90 minutes or until the cake is completely cooked in the center, you can test for this by inserting a toothpick and if it comes out clean it's done other wise return it to the oven.

3. Once its baked leave it to cool for 30 minutes. Take a plate and place it on the bottom of the tin and another on top. Quickly flip it over to reveal the beautiful moist cake beneath.

Roast Plum Sorbet

This is a really good recipe, (although it's more of an idea really), for using up plums if you have a glut of them. It's rather fragrant and nicely tart and has a wonderful pastel pink colour.

Serves 4-5
1/2 cup or 100g cane sugar
4.4 lb or 2kg red and yellow plums

1. Fit the plums in a roasting tin so they sit snugly and sprinkle them with the sugar.

2. Put them under the grill until they're bubbling and slightly charred on top.

3. Now mash them lightly with a potato masher and pour off the juice into a pan. Place the pulp in a juicer/coulis maker or force through a sieve to remove the pips and skin.

4. Reduce the juice by half and mix with the puree. At this point add any extra sugar if you think it needs it and churn in an ice cream.