Tarte Tatin

Well this is a proper treat and even better supremely easy to make with only 5 ingredients! That combination of tangy apples bathed in caramel sauce with a crispy, flaky pastry base, just fabulous.  Whilst there are many recipes out there for Tarte Tatin, this one is so simple and delicious that I rarely deviate.  It works like a dream and there is never any left over.   By the way if you are a fan of salted caramel puddings just up the pinch of salt in the ingredients to about 1/2 a teaspoon and voila you will have Salted Caramel Tarte Tatin.

A frying pan with an oven proof or removable handle is ideal but if you don’t have one just cook the apples in a regular frying pan and then transfer to a baking tin before topping with pastry and putting in the oven.  I use a 20cm le creuset that I have had for ever and these amounts work a treat and we easily finish it between the four of us.  I have also used a 30cm saute pan (also le creuset) which make a great big tarte but I did need a little help turning the pan over on to the waiting plate.

Tarte Tatin

I tend to use a pack of ready rolled puff pastry for this.  With a bit of careful cutting out (and patching for the second) I can get two circles of pastry out of one roll so either make another tarte tatin, freeze it or make the Onion Tarte Tatin with Blue Cheese (February 2014)…. just saying.

4 large eating apples, Braeburn are ideal, peeled, cored and quartered

60g butter

50g caster sugar

1 pack ready rolled puff pastry (usually around 375g)

Pinch of salt (see introduction)

Preheat the oven to 200.  Unroll the pastry and measure out a circle using the top of the pan.  Melt the butter with the sugar and add the apples along with a pinch of salt.  Cook for around 20-30 minutes until the apples are tender but not collapsing.  As it bubbles a caramel will form.  Turn the apples a couple of times for even cooking.  Remove from the heat, ensure all the pieces are round side down then extremely carefully place the circle of pastry over the apples and tuck the edges between the side of the pan and the apples.  Put in the oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and puffed up.  Take the pan out remembering of course that the handle will be hot and let it sit for a couple of minutes to settle.  Using a plate with a lip so you don’t lose all the sauce, invert this over the pan and quickly turn both so that the tarte ends up on the plate pastry side down, apple side up.  Adjust any apples that have slipped out of place and serve with cream.  I divide this into quarters for the four of us but reckon I could eat half without much trouble….

 

Cinnamon Buns

Sweet, squidgy, fragrant with spice – what’s not to love about a cinnamon bun?  As yet I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t weaken at the knees with the mention of a CB.  My children adore them and regularly make urgent requests for me to bake some.  There is no great secret to making these, bread flour rather than plain gives that fluffy soft dough which is then wrapped around a buttery, sugary cinnamon filling.   The final flourish of icing completes the picture and makes them pretty much perfection in our book.

So, whilst these are super easy to make remember to allow a bit of time.  Like other recipes using yeast it requires a couple of rises.  I give myself about a 4 hour time frame (which includes cooling them if you are going to ice them) but there isn’t more than about 30 minutes of hands on time.  Just letting you know in case you want to get them ready for the end of school….

Cinnamon Buns

I find a stand mixer easiest for this as it is quite a soft dough.

450g strong white bread flour

7g yeast

7g salt

60g soft brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

225ml milk, warmed to just blood temperature

1 egg beaten

75g soft butter, cubed

For the filling –

100g soft butter

80g soft brown sugar

2 heaped teaspoons cinnamon

200g Icing sugar

Put the flour, yeast, salt, 60g sugar and cinnamon into the bowl of your stand mixer.   Once mixing add the warm milk and beaten egg followed by the 75g soft butter, a bit at a time until it comes together then let this mix for 5 minutes.  Leave to rise for an hour in a warm, draught free place.   Roll the dough out on a floured surface until approximately the size of a tea towel then spread with the 100g soft butter.  Mix the 80g soft brown sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon together and then sprinkle this evenly over the butter.  Roll up from one of the long sides and then cut into even pieces about 2cm thick.  Depending on the length of your roll you’ll get about 12-16.  Place these cut side down and well spaced on a large baking sheet and leave to rise again for another hour.  Just before the time is up preheat the oven to 190 and then bake for 25-30 minutes until puffed up and golden.  Leave to cool.   Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with just enough water to get the consistency you are happy with before trickling it over the buns either neatly and artistically or rather more erratically as I have done in the photograph above.

 

Elderflower and Apple Jelly

I feel jelly has been a fairly regular presence throughout my life.  From children’s parties that frankly weren’t a party if there wasn’t jelly along with the Midget Gems and cocktail sausages (although ideally not in the same mouthful…) to the somewhat more sophisticated Prosecco or Pimms jellies around now.    Although the jelly itself hasn’t really changed over the years I now eat it with a spoon rather than applying it directly to my face as I may have done…

Funny how something so simple still draws the oohs and aahs when brought to the table and goes down equally well with children and grown ups.   Quick to make, cheap and easily zhuzzed up with summer fruits this is real a star to have up your sleeve for entertaining as the warm weather arrives particularly as it has to be made ahead to time.

I often try new flavour ideas for jelly – it is after all simply a liquid and the requisite amount of gelatine – and this is our current favourite.  I’ve made this twice over half term and both times have been left with an empty plate.   On the first occasion I served it with rhubarb fool, rhubarb and elderflower being extremely good friends;  the second time with a few strawberries on top which had macerated for half an hour in a spoonful of sugar (as in the pictures here).

When the weather really warms up you can dispense with the gelatine and pour the apple/elderflower mix direct into ice lollies moulds for super refreshing ice pops.

Elderflower and Apple Jelly

I choose to use apple juice and add elderflower cordial as that way I get the balance of flavour I like but you could probably use a combined apple and elderflower juice if you prefer.  There is a recipe for elderflower cordial here, (June 2016).

850 ml apple juice (the one I buy comes in 1 litre bottles so I just drink 150ml)

150ml elderflower cordial

Juice of half a lemon

11 sheets of gelatine (I use Costa and it always works a treat)

Put approximately 300ml of apple juice in a pan and heat gently but don’t let it boil.  Put the rest into a jug and mix with the elderflower cordial.  Meanwhile soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water.  When the apple juice is hot add the squeezed out gelatine, mix well until it has melted then add to the cold apple and elderflower, stir and pour into a 1 litre jelly mould.  Let it cool then put in the fridge until set, overnight is best.  Sit the mould in hot water for a minute or two and then turn out. Serves 6 easily or more with something else alongside.

 

Meringues with Rhubarb and Ginger Cream

I adore rhubarb – its sprightly pinkness brings cheer to the sometimes dreary late winter and early spring table.  When there isn’t much in the way of home grown fruit around, robust rhubarb persists in growing regardless of the cold, its brave stalks standing proud whatever the weather.  Technically of course rhubarb is a vegetable and can be used in savoury applications but this recipe is unashamedly a pud, sweet and lip smacking.

Meringues with their crisp carapace and yielding chewy middles topped with poached rhubarb scented with a hint of orange and finished off with billowing clouds of whipped cream studded with preserved ginger.  Properly good.  I make this pudding a lot when rhubarb is around – it is a dream of a make ahead and as such I couldn’t recommend it more highly for entertaining.  The meringues can be made days if not weeks ahead as long as they are stored in an airtight container.  The rhubarb can be cooked a couple of days in advance and kept in the fridge and the cream whipped with the ginger a couple of hours before you need it.  You could omit the ginger if it is not your thing and add some vanilla to the cream instead.   Finally, baked plums are also delicious when rhubarb is not around and go very well with the ginger.

Meringues with rhubarb and ginger cream

Ideally I prefer to roast rhubarb but in this case your oven is busy with the meringues so I’ve given a stovetop method.  If you have done the meringues ahead of time or have two ovens heat the other to 190 and put the rhubarb in a shallow dish with the sugar, orange zest and juice and bake for 15 minutes (see photograph below).

2 egg whites

100g caster sugar

Drop of oil

400g rhubarb, chopped into short pieces

40g caster sugar

1 orange, zest and juice (remember to zest before you juice!)

300ml double cream

1 globe and 1 tablespoon syrup preserved ginger, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 140 and very lightly brush a parchment lined baking sheet with oil.  Whisk the egg whites until stiff (like shaving foam) then add the sugar spoonful by spoonful until satiny.  Divide into four blobs on the parchment and fashion into rough nests.  Put in the oven, turn down to 120 and leave for 2 hours.  They should be spot on but if they are still a tiny bit soft leave in the turned off oven until its cool and they are dry.  Meanwhile cook the rhubarb very gently in a pan with the sugar, orange zest and juice until the sugar is dissolved and the rhubarb soft but hasn’t fallen apart.  When you are ready to serve whip the cream with the ginger syrup until just holding its shape then fold through the chopped ginger.  Put a meringue of a plate, pile on the rhubarb followed by the cream.  If you are keen on ginger you can trickle a little more ginger syrup over or grate some orange zest over for prettiness.  Serves 4.

 

Strawberry Granita (or sorbet)

Strawberry Granita

For me this granita is summer in a glass.  Unadulterated strawberry flavour, no frills or furbelows, cream* or meringues – just that intense heady fragrance that says Wimbledon, Henley and lunch in the garden.   We have been having a fabulous summer so far, lots of long hot sunny days interspersed with cool swims and trips to the beach.  On occasion we have needed something chilled and delicious to temper the heat and this is just the job.  A matter of minutes to make and then you have the most perfect summer pudding or simple afternoon refresher.

If you have an ice cream machine then a few minutes churning will make this into a smooth tangy sorbet.  I am just as happy with a granita, even easier and the seeds don’t bother me in the icy rubble whereas in a sorbet I employ the sieving step.  Do make this whilst our own fabulous British strawberries are still around.

Strawberry Granita 2

Strawberry Granita

If you leave the granita too long in the freezer without mixing just leave the container out for 15 minutes and then scratch it all up and freeze until you are ready to serve.  I haven’t given you much of a serving suggestion in the pictures but the colour was so vibrant and glorious I wanted to show it off.  Serve this in small glasses either on its own or *you could try it with a big blob of lightly whipped cream on top – see, strawberries and cream.

450g strawberries

150g golden caster sugar

500ml water

Juice of 1 lemon

Whizz all the ingredients in a blender.  If the seeds bother you sieve it then pour into a plastic box with a lid.  Freeze for an hour then remove and stir the slushy mixture around.  Repeat this step several times scratching it all up into gorgeous icy crystals.  Alternatively pour into an ice cream machine and churn for sorbet.  Keep frozen and serve in small glasses.  Serves 6 with seconds.

If, like me, you love a granita then why not try my Iced Tea Granita (July 2013) or Blood Orange Granita (February 2013) as well.

Gooseberry, Strawberry and Elderflower Eton Mess

Gooseberry and strawberry fool 2

My Granny had a kitchen garden, a big old walled space which I thought was heaven.  I adored it and spent hours there as a child wandering between the rows of vegetables, marvelling at the artichokes taller than me, rubbing my fingers on the fennel fronds to release their aniseed scent.  Inspecting the asparagus, picking baskets of peas and snacking on apples and pears when the mood took me.   It has always been a deep held wish to have such a garden and we moved house last year we were lucky enough to find one tucked away.   Overgrown and wild it was but the bones were there nonetheless and I had visions of recreating my Grandmothers remarkable garden.  Ha!  After a mass of reading and learning, a weekend of rotavating and what feels like endless weeding I have planted and planted.  Seeds have been started off on the kitchen windowsill or in the green house or planted direct, seedlings bought where my own efforts have failed and donations of little vegetable plants and dahlias gratefully received.

I am delighted with it all and spend hours trying to keep up with the weeds (impossible) and planting various rows of salad leaves to follow on from the ones we are eating now (I believe that is what you do…).  My battle with the slugs is another story altogether.  It is considerably harder work than I anticipated but supremely rewarding.  The first spear of asparagus, eating the first herby green salad with a variety of leaves all grown by us.  There are three tiny plums on a new plum tree, pea pods, baby beetroots, courgettes and beans on their way.

The first fruit picked so far have been wild strawberries and some gooseberries which immediately went towards the fool in this pudding.   With local strawberries winking at me and last weeks elderflower cordial to hand I decided to combine these flavours, the very essence of summer.  The tang of the gooseberries along with the sweetness of the strawberries and floral hit of elderflower are a winning combination and a bit of scrunched up meringue adds texture.

Gooseberry, Strawberry and Elderflower Eton Mess

Of course you can just make the gooseberry fool to have on its own in which case I would use 4 tablespoons of sugar as you won’t have any added sweetness from the meringue.  Taste the gooseberry puree before you add though and remember the later in the season the sweeter these berries will be.

400g gooseberries, topped and tailed

3 tablespoons golden caster sugar

300ml double cream

2 tablespoons elderflower cordial

1 punnet of strawberries halved or quartered depending on size

Meringue (as per the recipe for World Cup Meringue Cake, November 2013 but don’t bother with 3 layers, 1 will do or indeed individual meringues as you are going to break them up anyway).

Put the gooseberries in a pan with the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water and simmer gently until completely broken down.  Leave to cool and then add 1 tablespoon of elderflower cordial.  Put the cut strawberries into a bowl, add the other tablespoon of elderflower cordial, turn them gently and leave to macerate while you get on.  Whip the cream until it just holds its shape and then fold into the gooseberry puree.  Break up the meringues and then mix them with the gooseberry fool followed by the strawberries.  This would fill six glasses similar to the ones you see here but I just filled four and we had seconds…..

 

 

 

Beetroot and Carrot Cake

Beetroot and Carrot Cake 2

My children have exceptionally finely tuned radars when it comes to trying out new dishes and show particular suspicion if I ever respond “it’s a surprise!” when they are faced with something new.  They will fire questions about ingredients at me but I am used to this now and have a range of ripostes and distracting tactics at the ready.  I’ve perfected acting in a slightly deaf, vague fashion when being cross examined, sometimes I will deflect questions by posing a conundrum so complex, lengthy and bizarre back at them that they will have forgotten their original question or my absolute favourite when faced with a query I would rather not answer, I look intently at the window and ask “is that a badger out there?”.

These discussions and my slippery evasiveness usually come to the fore when a less than popular vegetable has been snuck into something under cover.  I do this in my never-ending efforts to find a way to make each and every vegetable delicious to my treasures.  Rather as it was with this Beetroot and Carrot cake.  Previously a regular kind of Carrot cake had been deemed acceptable so grabbing this particular baton, I decided to expand on the idea and add beetroot to the mix.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I am under no false illusion that by adding any old veg to a cake it miraculously becomes healthy.  There is a sea of treats out there that contain ‘better for you’ ingredients – sweet potatoes, date syrup, wholemeal flour, quinoa or whatever but treats they are.  A cake is a cake is a cake, something to enjoy occasionally but not every day.  The reason I make this one is because I think it is absolutely delicious.  The fact that it contains grated raw carrot and beetroot is a happy coincidence.

My son ate one slice of the first of these cakes but has mysteriously been full whenever offered a slice at a later date.  My husband said he like it but could see why the children didn’t which, in itself, was fairly damning and my daughter simply eyed it as one would a snake.

So to everyone who has tried this cake and loved it (even those who were told the pink bits were raspberries….) I say thank you and to my family I say, never mind, all the more for me.

Beetroot and Carrot Cake 1

Beetroot and Carrot Cake

Grating the vegetables in a processor can make it a bit wet so I tend to do it by hand with a box grater, it only takes a few minutes.

300g carrots and beetroot (untrimmed or peeled weight), grated

250g self raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

150g soft brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

150ml sunflower or vegetable oil, plus a tiny bit extra for greasing the tin

2 eggs, beaten

125g icing sugar, sifted

50g soft butter

200g cream cheese, at room temperature

1 lime, zest and juice.

Preheat the oven to 170 and oil a 20cm tin with a little of the sunflower/vegetable oil and line the base.   Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl, add the salt and sugar followed by the grated carrot and beetroot and mix well.  Combine the oil and beaten egg and add this to the flour and vegetables and mix.  It will be a thick mixture!  Put into the tin, level the top and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before cooling completely on a rack.   Meanwhile for the icing, beat the butter, sugar and lime really well before adding the cream cheese.  It is important that this is at room temperature so it mixes in easily, don’t over beat it as it will quickly become runny.  If it does however, don’t panic, just put it in the fridge until firmed up.  Spread over the cake.

Rosemary Pannacotta with Rhubarb

Rosemary Pannacotta

No secret that I love a pannacotta – all that silky wobbliness makes them irresistible to me. They are also on of the easiest puds to whip up and the fact they need to be made ahead of time only adds to their appeal.  I love knowing that pudding is already made and sitting patiently in the fridge, a tick on the to do list.

So far I’ve given you Vanilla Pannacotta with Blackcurrants (July 2014), a Summer regular for sure and possibly my children’s favourite incarnation.  Some good vanilla along with the slight tang of the yogurt is heaven and amazing with heady blackcurrants.  You can of course use which ever soft fruits are at the best or indeed the rhubarb that follows with this recipe.  The Cinnamon Pannacotta with Maple Syrup Apples (June 2015) makes me think of Autumn, crunchy leaves, mulled cider and bonfires.

Time for a new kid on the block and this is it.  For ages I have been tinkering with the idea of a rosemary scented pudding.  I couldn’t help but feel that the woody, herbaceous note would work well with a creamy base and in fact a rosemary ice cream is definitely on the agenda come the Summer.  More than that though, whilst I use piles of herbs in savoury dishes I thought I might be overlooking them in a sweet context.

Here we are then.  The rosemary adds a delicate flavour, one of those you can’t immediately place, and works a proper treat with the rhubarb.  I love rhubarb, am always looking for different ways to use it and this is my current favourite.  Heady with orange (actually tangerine) zest and juice it brings a wallop of flavour to the gently, soft pannacotta.

Rosemary Pannacotta with Rhubarb

200ml whole milk

100ml single cream

100ml Greek yogurt

60g caster sugar

A sprig of rosemary around the same size as the one in the photograph above

2 gelatine leaves

250g rhubarb, chopped into pieces

25-35g caster sugar

Zest and juice of an orange (or tangerine)

Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften.  Heat the milk, cream, sugar and rosemary until it just reaches boiling point.  Remove from the heat and add the squeezed out gelatine, whisk well and leave to cool and infuse, stirring occasionally.  Whisk in the yogurt and divide between 4 ramekins or small metal moulds.  Put into the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.   Meanwhile cook the rhubarb with the zest, juice and 25g sugar either in a pan or if the oven is on put it in there.  It doesn’t take very long but I wouldn’t put the oven on just for this.  When soft and juicy have a taste, you might need some or all of the extra 10g of sugar, then leave to cool.  To serve, dip each ramekin briefly into hot water before turning out onto a plate and serving with a spoonful of the rhubarb.  Serves 4.

Oaty Mincemeat Squares

Oaty Mincemeat Shortbread 3

I often make something we imaginatively call Jammy Oaty Slice – can you guess what is in it?  Of course you can and I highly recommend it as a delicious tea time offering.  The other day I was looking at a tray of it cooling ready for scoffing and it reminded me of the mincemeat slice that used to adorn the bakers’ shelf at Christmas in Yorkshire.  Heavily dredged with icing sugar, it was completely white from the top and the layers were crisp and even (really!) in the way only a practised hand can accomplish.

So of course I had to have a go at making it myself.  Whilst I love mince pies, my immediate family (i.e. the ones I actually live with) don’t like anything with cooked raisins or dried fruit.   This means that if I make mince pies then I am the only one who will eat them unless we have friends over and when it comes to a Christmas cake…. Well, suffice it to say I ate all of the the last one which graced a tin in our house.  All of it and I made another in January because I had enjoyed it so much…..

These little squares are much safer then.  Rather than a huge cake winking at me from the corner I can safely eat one of these treasures with a cup of tea on a daily basis without having to book into the gym afterwards.   Like two layers of shortbread with mincemeat in between, somehow better than a traditional mince pie if that is not too shocking a statement? The oats add an extra element which is just right and of course go a good way towards balancing out the sugar and butter.  Heading for health food is what I say….

Oaty Mincemeat Shortbread

Oaty Mincemeat Squares

If you want to go for the original Jammy Oaty Slice then just replace the mincemeant with jam, I favour raspberry.  However, please do give them a go this Christmas, they are a million times easier than mince pies if you need to make a batch for a sale and are just delicious.

250g plain flour

125g oats

135g caster sugar

200g cold butter

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

450g mincemeat

Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180.  Line a tin of approximately 23cmx32cm  with baking parchment.  Whizz together the flour, oats, butter, sugar, baking powder and salt briefly in a food processor (you want it combined but not forming a ball of dough as it needs to be quite crumbly for the top layer).  Tip half of the mixture into the baking tin and press it to cover the base in an even layer.  Spread the mincemeat over this and then sprinkle the remainder of the mix evenly over the mincemeat and press it down gently.   Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden on top.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before dusting with icing sugar and cutting into squares.

Oaty Mincemeat Shortbread 2

 

 

Apple and Raspberry Crumble

Apple and raspberry crumble 4

I can’t tell you how much I love a crumble.  Plum crumble, rhubarb crumble, apple and blackberry crumble, all of them have a place on my table.  Childhood weekend lunches often finished with a fabulous, fruity and crunchy crumble whilst apricot crumble at school was a thing to celebrate, the best pudding of all and something that made other school food worth living through.

All that said however, I hadn’t thought of giving you a crumble recipe here.  Not out of meanness you understand, rather I thought everyone had a good, reliable crumble recipe up their sleeve to be whipped out when required. It was only after being asked for this particular recipe six time in a couple of months that I began to wonder and so I present it to you now.  Soft tangy fruit under a blanket of oaty, sweet and buttery crumble, let me tell you the sum here far, far exceeds the total of its humble parts.

This particular incarnation is my absolutely favourite, the bee’s knees and the vicar’s you know whats.  Although a straightforward apple crumble is still something to sing about, the addition of raspberries lifts it, their fruity tang and fragrance make this wholly lip smacking and satisfying which surely is what a pud is all about.  Can I rave little more?  It is and easy and cheap to make, a perfect way to use up any apples looking a little tired and frozen raspberries are perfect here so regardless of the season this can be on your plate in around an hour, start to finish.

Apple and Raspberry Crumble

Ideally use a combination of cookers and eaters, the bramleys are the ones that cook down to a velvety apple puree whilst the eaters retain a little bite.  I say 7 tablespoons of sugar and water as this is usually about right but depending on the tartness of your apples you may need more sugar and add more water if you think it is required.  You can cook the apples and make the crumble ahead of time but don’t put the crumble onto the fruit until you are ready to cook it as it will get soggy, ideally keep it in the fridge.

1 kg apples (see introduction), peeled, cored and roughly chopped

7 tablespoons golden caster sugar

7 tablespoons water

200g plain flour

100g cold butter, cubed

1/4 teaspoon salt

80g golden caster sugar

40g oats

150g frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 190.  Put the apples, the 7 tablespoons of sugar and water in a pan and cook gently until the apples are soft and broken down, about 20-30 minutes.  You may need a little more water once cooked and taste in case you need a little more sugar.  Do keep the apples tart though as the crumble bring sweetness to the party.  Meanwhile either whizz the butter and flour in a processor until it resembles breadcrumbs or do this by hand then add the salt, sugar and oats.  Tip the cooked apples into a suitable oven proof dish, I tend to use an enamel one which is 29x23cm and add the raspberries to this, mixing so they are evenly distributed in the apples, no need to defrost.  Tumble over the crumble and smooth it gently but don’t pack it down.  Cook for around 30 minutes or until bubbling at the edges and just browning on top.  This serves 6 or better still 4 with lots of seconds, I like it with cold cream or custard whilst my children prefer vanilla ice cream.