Posts Tagged With: pastry

A Year in Cake – 2016

As I’m currently tucked up in bed with a rotten cold on New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d do another blog post like I did this time last year looking at my top bakes of 2016.

I won’t bore you with the details but this year has been the worst one for a long time for many reasons and has left me a bit emotionally battered to say the least. I’m hoping with all my strength that 2017 is an improvement and that the changes I’m desperate to make in my life will come about.

Still, baking is a part of my life come rain or shine and I’ve managed quite a few successful bakes this year, including several celebration cakes which I was really pleased with. My creations will never be up there in the showstopper stakes, but I think my presentation skills have improved and I’ve been a bit more daring with decoration.

One new thing I’ve tried this year is meringues. I’d always been a bit nervous to try them as I got the impression they’d be very temperamental and difficult to pull off, but happily I was wrong. My piping skills are still as dire as ever, but they were surprisingly easy to make and tasted absolutely delicious – crispy on the outside with a gooey marshmallow-like interior. And so SO much better than the brittle, chalky shop-bought ones. I was hoping to make a chocolate or cappuccino pavlova for NYE dessert and unfortunately being ill has put paid to that, but I’m keen to make something meringuey again soon! Like an idiot I forgot to include the fruits of my labour in the collage below so here’s a snap of my cute little ghost meringues from Halloween:

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I’ve decided to make on culinary resolution this year, and I’m sure I’ve made it before. I would really like to have a go at making proper bread, i.e. using yeast (not soda bread!) I’m a very impatient cook which is what’s put me off trying this previously but the effort would be worth it in order to create a nice big tear-and-share centrepiece, either a delicious chocolatey monkey bread or a mouth-watering sundried tomato and cheese number. I also fancy having a go at brioche, which is my all-time favourite bread, with its indulgent melt-in-the-mouth buttery sweetness and cloud-like texture. Watch this space!

So anyway, here’s a wee compilation of my personal favourite bakes from 2016:

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  1. Chocolate Orange Bonfire Cake (recipe here)
  2. Spiced Tea & Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Ganache Icing (recipe here)
  3. Banana, Peanut Butter & Caramac Loaf (recipe here)
  4. Honeycomb & Chocolate Flapjacks with Marzipan Bees (recipe here)
  5. Raisin Spice Christmas Cake with Fondant Sealies (base recipe from the 1000 Cakes & Bakes cookbook)
  6. Moomin Lebkuchen (base recipe from the Bake Off Christmas cookbook)
  7. Lady Baltimore Cake (recipe here)
  8. Ducky Custard Cream Cake (base recipe here)
  9. Cheese & Sundried Tomato Quiche (recipe here)

I’ll sign off now by wishing everyone in the Bakeosphere a very happy and healthy 2017! 🙂

Cloud9.1 x

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Cheese & Sundried Tomato Quiche

I used to HATE quiche. I couldn’t fathom why on earth grown-ups thought a slice of stone-cold, flaccid, eggy tart – like a lifeless pizza substitute – was a viable choice for the buffet table at any family gathering or event. Mind you, I used to hate eggs in general and couldn’t stomach so much as an omelette, so I probably wasn’t in a position to judge.

As with many other types of food, I’ve grown to like eggs (apart from hard-boiled, blurgh) as I’ve evolved from a fussy child/teenager into a proper, fully-fledged ‘adult’ (on the outside anyway) with a more accommodating palate. While the pre-packaged, slightly deflated-looking quiches you find in the supermarket still don’t appeal to me, I really fancied having a go at my own version, with homemade pastry and served warm from the oven. How hard could it be? Well, not at all as it happens!

I’m all for buying pre-made pastry, and even just the thought of attempting my own puff or filo makes me want to go for a lie down, but making shortcrust from scratch is ridiculously easy. Obviously, if you’d rather use the bought stuff to save time that’s absolutely fine and will work just as well, but I’d recommend giving it a go yourself if you can.

My mum requested a veggie quiche for the buffet tea we had on her birthday, and the flavours here are gorgeous, but you could add anything you like really. Bacon, mushrooms or chorizo would also work well in place of the sundried tomatoes. I like this quiche best served warm, fresh out the oven, but it’s also delicious cold.

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INGREDIENTS

For the pastry:

  • 225g/8 oz plain flour
  • 115g/4 oz butter or margarine + a little extra for greasing
  • Splash of milk

For the filling:

  • 3 eggs
  • 150g/5 oz cheddar cheese, grated
  • 80g/3 oz sundried tomatoes, thoroughly drained from their oil and snipped into small pieces no bigger than a 5p piece
  • 300ml/10 fl oz milk
  • 1 tbsp plain flour

METHOD

For the pastry:

  1. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and then rub in the butter/margarine using your fingers until crumbs form.
  2. Add a splash of milk and bring together to form a ball of dough. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour and if it’s too dry and crumbly, add a splash more milk.
  3. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C (or 180 fan) and lightly grease a flan dish with butter/margarine.
  5. Roll the pastry out with a rolling pin on a floured surface until it’s about the thickness of a pound coin and place over the prepared flan dish, gently pushing it into the grooves.
  6. Trim off the excess pastry with a knife and squidge back into a ball, then roll it out again and cut out the heart shapes with a cookie cutter (or just keep the excess pastry for another time if you’d rather). Place the hearts on a rectangular baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  7. Pop the pastry case and hearts in the oven and bake for around 15 minutes until the pastry is dry and slightly browned. Turn the temperature down to 160 degrees C (or 140 fan).
  8. Place the flan dish and pastry hearts on a wire rack and allow to cool before making the filling.

For the filling:

  1. Beat the eggs together in a mixing bowl, and then stir in the cheese, milk, flour and sundried tomatoes.
  2. Pour the mixture into the cooled pastry case in the flan dish.
  3. Put the dish back in the oven and bake for a further 25-30 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the quiche comes out clean.
  4. Place the quiche on the wire rack and allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy hot or cold!
Categories: Savoury | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iris Tart

Our lovely and amazingly hardworking intern at work from the Netherlands, Iris, sadly left us a couple of weeks ago. To mark the occasion, I wanted to make her a genuine Dutch ‘vlaai’, which is a traditional tart made with fruit and a yeasted dough and topped with a distinctive lattice pattern.

Unfortunately, I only had a couple of hours to create one so I cheated and used an American recipe for a (supposedly) Dutch almond lattice tart with apricot jam that I found online and used regular shortcrust pastry instead of a dough that involved proving, kneading etc. The ingredients were pretty much all in tablespoons which was a bit frustrating (ever tried precisely measuring out a tablespoon of solid marzipan?!) and I didn’t have quite a few of the required ingredients so I ended up improvising and making up my own version. It took quite a while to cook in the oven, the top becoming ever browner while the middle remained soggy as I panicked that I’d incinerated it, convinced the finished product was going to end up an outright insult to the good people of the Netherlands.

Anyway, as is so often the case with cooking, it turned out fabulously and received lots of compliments from my colleagues. Despite its success, it’s certainly not authentic Dutch cuisine so I decided to christen it with its own unique name, Iris Tart, in her honour. I’ll certainly be making it again and will think of her when I do!

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INGREDIENTS

For the pastry:

  • 340g/12 oz plain flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 170g/6 oz butter
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For the filling:

  • 115g/4 oz butter
  • 130g/4.5 oz marzipan (+ extra if you wish to use for decorations)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 85g/3 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 45g/1.5 oz plain flour
  • 150g/5 oz dried apricots, snipped into small pieces
  • Sprinkling of demerara sugar

METHOD

For the pastry:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan), grease a large heatproof flan dish with butter/margarine and place the apricots in a jug of boiling water to soak.
  2. Place the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and then rub the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until breadcrumb-type bits form. Add the milk and form into a ball of dough. If it’s too sticky add some more flour and if it’s too dry and crumbly add a splash more milk.
  3. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 25 minutes.

For the filling:

  1. About 5-10 minutes before the pastry’s chilling time is up, beat the butter, eggs and sugar together in a bowl.
  2. Grate the marzipan block into the mixture (you may want to chill it for a bit if it’s too squishy to grate) and then fold in the flour and soaked apricot pieces.
  3. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface with a rolling pin until it’s about 0.5cm thick. Carefully transfer onto the prepared flan dish and gently press down into the fluted bits. Trim off the excess pastry with a knife.
  4. Squish the offcuts back together and roll out again. Cut into 9 strips, each around 1 inch wide and long enough to lie across the tart.
  5. Pour the filling into the flan dish and then carefully arrange the pastry strips in a lattice pattern on the top – ‘glue’ them together with a bit of water on your fingertip if needs be.
  6. Sprinkle the tart with some demerara sugar and then place in the oven for around 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the filling is cooked through.
  7. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool and decorate with extra marzipan adornments if you fancy. Enjoy the tart cold as it is or serve warm with a bit of cream or ice cream.

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Categories: Other Treats, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cookbook Challenge 3 – Trine Hahnemann’s Scandinavian Marzipan Tarts

I was given Trine Hahnemann’s beautiful book, Scandinavian Baking, for Christmas last year and have been meaning to have a go at some of the recipes from it for a while. I have a soft spot for all things Scandi (Norway and Iceland are top of my bucket list of places to visit!) and love the sound of a lot of their traditional bakes, both sweet and savoury. I have to admit that I have made an alteration to this recipe and substituted the original lingonberries after ending up with a fabulous haul of blackberries following a productive foraging session in the fields near my house. Scrumping is one of my favourite things to do when autumn arrives so I thought it fitting to use the fruits of my labour and add a British twist 🙂 The berries’ tartness and the sweet, nutty marzipan are a match made in heaven.

I tend to stick with cakes or biscuits when baking so these lovely simple tarts were a perfect way to try something a bit different. I’d never made my own pastry before but it was so easy I’ll definitely be doing it again! This bake would also work wonderfully as one large tart for sharing, or with other kinds of sharp fruit. Trine’s recipe said to use individual fluted tins but a standard muffin tray works fine.

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I topped my tarts with a few flaked almonds as a final flourish.

INGREDIENTS – makes 16 tarts

For the pastry:

  • 170g plain flour
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 115g butter, chilled
  • Half an egg, lightly beaten
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 300g marzipan
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 150g lingonberries (or blackberries)

METHOD

  1. Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles crumbs.
  2. Add the egg and stir until the pastry comes together in a ball.
  3. Wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C and grease 16 mini fluted cake tins or 2 muffin trays with butter.
  5. Roll the chilled dough out on a floured surface until 5-8mm thick then cut out rounds with a 9cm cookie cutter.
  6. Place the rounds in the prepared tins or muffin tray and grate the marzipan.
  7. Mix the grated marzipan, eggs and butter into a smooth paste and use to fill the pastry cases, then add the berries (about 3-4 per tart if you’re using blackberries).
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bottoms of the pastry cases are slightly brown then remove from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Categories: Other Treats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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