Friday, 31 August 2012

Lemon's easy but don't tell.

I’ve never made a Lemon Tart before....*gasp*...shock horror. It’s one of those things that if you bake, you surely have a recipe for Lemon tart, and make it all the time like it’s so easy peasy even though it’s the sort of thing that would make uneasy bakers quake in their boots. It’s a classic you see and involves making pastry AND setting a custard. It would be a ‘Technical Challenge’ on the Great British Bake Off, it might have been already, I don’t reaaaaally watch it....I know...*another gasp*.

But guess what...turns out it IS easy. Ok it might not be the MOST faff-free recipe in the world, especially when you also have a Thai curry bubbling away and a bowl of bread dough waiting to be dealt with at the same time. But the fact that I managed it successfully amongst these other commitments, which you should know were also a success, without having a kitchen-based-meltdown are proof of easiness.

It does indeed require attention and a lot of kitchen timer action; with the pastry being in and out of the oven, but nothing is beyond the average cook’s skills and if you make your pastry in a food processor then your laughing.

So go on, impress with a Lemon Tart and let people think that you’re highly proficient in all the French classics and like to make filo pastry to wind down at the end of a long day. I won’t tell. With Love and Cake.

Lemon Tart.
Original recipe pinched from Rick Stein in Delicious Magazine.

A few notes:
  • The original recipe calls for a mixture of lemons and limes, and I indeed added 1 lime to the mix, but feel free to stay classic and lemony.
  • I made the pastry in a food processor, it just seems so much more accessible to me that way, but if the opposite is the case for you as you don't have such heavy machinery, just use your finger tips to rub in the butter and to bring the dough together.
  • The lemons MUST be unwaxed; if you can't get them don't include the zest in the filling.
Serves 8-10
You will need

a 25cm round tart tin, 3cm deep, greased and floured

For the pastry
250g plain flour
25g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter, chilled from the fridge
2 egg yolks and 1 white

For the filling
3 unwaxed lemons
1-2 limes
6 eggs
250g caster sugar
150ml double cream

  • First lets make the pastry. Pulse together the flour and icing sugar in a food processor (or sift into a bowl).
  • Then add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  • Add the egg yolks and 1 tbsp of cold water and pulse until a soft dough forms, adding 1 more spoonful of water if necessary.
  • Remove the dough from the processor and form gently into a disc. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
  • Next, roll the pastry out thinly onto a floured surface. I used the cling film it was wrapped in to cover the pastry as I rolled, to stop the rolling pin sticking which worked well.
  • Line your prepared tin with the pastry, and gently prick the base with a fork. Cut off the excess (freeze it if you want to save it for another day) and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200°c and pop a baking sheet inside.
  • Blind bake the pastry case; line it with a scrunched up piece of baking paper and fill with baking beans, or uncooked rice or dried beans (save them to continue to use for the same purpose, just don't cook them to eat).
  • Place the tart tin on the baking tray in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges have started to colour.
  • Remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 3-4 minutes.
  • Brush the inside of the pastry case with the egg white and pop back in the oven for another 2 minutes.
  • Remove the pastry from the oven and turn the heat down to 120°c.
  • Now we make the filling. Grate the zest from the lemons and set it aside for now.
  • Then squeeze enough juice from the lemons and limes so you have 150-175ml.
  • In a bowl, gently whisk together the eggs and're looking to mix them together, not froth them up.
  • Mix the citrus juice and cream into the eggs and pass the mixture through a sieve to remove pips and big bits of fibre.
  • Stir in the zest.
  • Now you're ready to fill our pastry case. You can either do this out of the oven and just be super careful when lifting the tart or you can put the tart on the baking sheet in the oven, pull it out slightly and pour the filling in so you just have to slide the tart back in the oven.
  • Either way...bake for 45-50 minutes until just set, a tiny bit of wobble is good as it will continue to firm up once it's removed from the oven.
  • Cool before serving and eat as soon as poss.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Cherries In Brandy.

Hello. Today I give you this recipe, knowing full well that you will never, never ever, be a preserver. Yesyes I knoooooooow you will never own a sugar thermometer, or know or care about ‘setting points’, or save jam jars in a box under your bed. But here I am anyway, on the off chance that you happen across some wonderful fruit and need to make it last.

I know it can be tricky to shop and cook for one. What’s happened over my summer you see, is that the wandering Mr Love and Cake has returned from the depths of Scotland after trips away, causing me to excitedly stock up on a fridge-full of goodies, only for him to be called away again at a moment’s notice. Hence my need for brandy and the recipeeeeeee obviouslllllly, and my anticipation of yours too.

Maybe you will walk past a posh London food market (yes folks, sis has been entangled in the capital’s tentacles and may never escape....must change the blog’s tagline), and simply have to have that half kilo of shiny, end of season fruit. But once home, with your mouth and your mouth alone available for their onward journey, they start to decompose before your very eyes. Brandy and sugar to the rescue...FOR THE FRUIT.

It doesn’t have to be cherries and there’s no heat’s really rather a simple process. Aaaaaand when you’ve gobbled up all the drunken fruit , what you’re left with is the most delectable fruit liqueur. See I knew I could make a jar saver out of you. With Love and Cake.

Cherries in Brandy.
Adapted from River Cottage Handbook No 7: Hedgerow.

  • These are rather free form instructions, everything depends on how much fruit you've got really, and how they pack into your jars...just go with it, and feel laid back man.
  • The original recipe is written for small wild strawberries, fat chance of you getting hold of them, so feel free to mix it up a bit in terms of what fruit you have, that is, ultimately, the point of preserving such as this. 
  • To sterilise your jars, all you need to do is pop the in the oven on their side and turn your oven on to 170°c. When the temperature is reached, pop a timer on for 10 minutes, and turn the oven off when the timer pings. Leave them in the warm oven until you need them.
You will need

Sterilised jars

granulated sugar

  • Prick each of your cherries a couple of times with a knife or skewer and the brandy can get inside and make them all delicious.
  • Fill you jar about one third full with fruit then pour oven with sugar so the fruit is covered and gaps are filled.
  • Keep going like this until your jar or jars are filled with fruit.
  • Pour over the brandy, give the jars a bang on a table and wait a few minutes for the air to escape and the brandy to find its way right to the bottom.
  • Top up the jar with more brandy if you need and seal the jars.
  • The cherries should keep for a good while but why should they, when you can top a cake with them, use them, stoned, in a trifle, they're great with meringue and cream or just pop them straight from jar into mouth.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Brown Bread.

Do you remember when I told you about how to make White Bread and how it would make you feel all smug and proud? Well I did, and do you know....people actually listened, AND accccctually followed the recipe and made some and even ate it. Whoooo’d have thought it.

You see I just assume that I write these words and take these photos and pop them up here in my little corner of blog-dom and you sometimes stop by to humour me and some others stumble across to look at the pictures but then leave and get on with the rest of their day, unmoved. This is what generally happens when I talk in real life actually; smiles and nods and ‘very goods’ and then onwards. But turns least 2 whole people listened to what I told them and made the Smug White Bread. You cannot imagine how exciting this feels.

So here I am again, in a wholly selfish capacity you understand, to try and get people to do it again so that I can feel all famous and important and a teeny bit like Queen Nigella. Here we’s time for Brown Bread and my oh my do I feel qualified to tell you this recipe. I made A LOT of brown bread before I managed to create a loaf that wasn’t the texture of a brick (yeah thanks Delia) and that was suitably soft even for sandwiches.

Yes, it has one additional step to the white bread recipe and from start to finish takes longer, but it’s not effortful, in fact you’re involved in a tiny portion of the time it actually takes, and I wouldn’t tell you to do things if I didn’t they were necessary for yummyness. So if you’re staying in this Saturday, give it a WON’T mean you can’t do anything else for the whole day but it does need you to be nearby at certain points and it WILL reward you with more smugness and especially lovely toast for your Sunday breakfast. Promise. With Loaves (genuinely just wrote that instead of ‘love’ by mistake, so thought I’d leave it...HA) and Cake.

Brown Bread.

A few notes:
  • The process involves what is called a sponge first of all. This is just a paste of flour, water and yeast that you then incorporate into the main dough which gets all the action started....just so you don't get confused about cakey words ending up in the bready section.
  • Don't worry if this loaf doesn't riiiiise up as huge and billowing as a white one, it just seems to be that way when you go down the wholemeal's a denser crumb as the experts would say.
  • You'll notice that the water measurements are listed in grams. I just find it a bit more accurate to measure the water out with my digital scale but g = ml when it comes to water to if that's easier for you just measure it in a measuring jug like normal if you want.
  • For a few other bread making tips look at my White Bread recipe, they make a difference I promise.
Makes 1 loaf
You will need

A small-ish loaf tin, greased and lined

For the sponge
1 tsp dried yeast
140g warm water
160g strong brown bread flour

For the rest of the loaf
260g strong brown bread flour
2 tsp salt
170g hand hot water

  • First for the 'sponge'. All you do is stir together the yeast, warm water and flour so you have a paste, cover the bowl with clingfilm or a tea towel and leave it to do its thing for between 4 hours and overnight.
  • After that time the 'sponge' should look nice and bubbly. 
  • Now add then rest of the flour, salt and hot water to the sponge and get you hands in to mix everything together to form a smooth dough.
  • Tip the dough out onto a clean might look like you should dust everything with lots of flour to stop sticking, but resist the temptation, added flour with change the texture of the dough and the dough will naturally lose it's stickyness as you knead it, don't worry.
  • So yes, time for kneading, lots of stretching and refolding the dough so it gets nice and shiny. Make sure you do this for at least 5 minutes...if you can manage 15 though, go for it.
  • Pop the dough back in its bowl and  leave somewhere cosy and draft-free for around 1 hour or until it's doubled in size.
  • Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a clean surface, I find a light dusting flour helpful at this point and knead for a minute or 2 to smooth everything out again.
  • Roll up the dough into a loaf shape and pop it in your tin.
  • Pop the loaf back in its cosy place to rise again for around another hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 190°c and when it's ready, bake the loaf for 20-25 minutes, when the top should be bronzed and crusty looking.
  • Remove the loaf from the tin and pop it back in the oven, straight on the shelf, upside down for 5 minutes so the bottom can crisp up.
  • It's ready when you knock on the bottom of the loaf like you're knocking on a door and it sounds hollow.
  • Leave to cool on a wire wrack...or munch straight away with lots and lots of butter.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Elderflower Baked Peaches.

Here’s another easy peasy one for you; for that transition between holiday laziness and normal life effectiveness. It’s also perfect for this time of year; the time when you can see Autumn on the horizon, and maybe, if you’re a bit like me, you stockpile all that provides the essence of summer.

You force yourself to swim in the sea, even though it’s pouringpouring with rain and Dad, in his official capacity of ‘Swimming Assistant’ (read: towel holder), gets more soaked than those in the water. You hang the towels out in the sun despite the looming grey mountains in the sky. And you buy fruit, so much summer fruit, because you know that soon enough, it will be apples or nothing.

Things like peaches, while oh so summery, will never be available in Scotland fresh from the tree with that soft, sugary smell. You will buy them because they’re beautiful hoping that the hardness will disappear, but it won’t until...bblluegh...squishy furryness.

This recipe is to save those peaches from bbllueghness, until you can move to Tuscany and grow your own.. It’s simple and tasty and will make summer last a bit longer. With Love and Cake.

Elderflower Baked Peaches.

A few notes:
  • You don't have to use elderflower cordial if you don't have any. You could just sprinkle over some brown sugar before baking, or maybe go down the alcohol route... Marsala would be lovely or you could use Amaretto and replace the digestives with Amaretti.
  • This is a recipe that's easy to multiply for a crowd; allow 1 whole peach per person.
  • I find that when you're only crushing a couple of bikkies, a pestle and mortar is the easiest way.
Serves 2
You will need

a small baking dish

2 peaches
1 tbsp elderflower cordial
2 tbsp creme fraiche
2 digestive biscuits, crushed

  • Preheat your oven to 180°c.
  • Halve the peaches, remove the stone, and lay cut side up in your baking dish.
  • Spoon the elderflower cordial over the fruit and bake for 30 minutes.
  • You can carry on with the recipe now and eat the peaches hot or leave them to cool before you add the topping and have them cold...either way, when you're ready to eat...
  • Divide the creme fraiche equally between the peach halves, spooning it on top.
  • Sprinkle over the biscuit crumbs.
  • You're ready to dive in.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Dutch Baby.

Helloooooo. I've come to a revelatory conclusion; the conclusion that you can make eating anything, at any time of day, feel appropriate just with a name change and a little twiddle. You want cake for breakfast? Call it coffee cake. You feel like crisps before dinner? Ok, just put them in a bowl and call them nibbles. You want bread for your dessert do you? Well mix in some sugar and eggs and bake a pudding. See, whatever you want, whenever you want it...I can sort it for you.

This treat is a case in point. Basically, you see, it is what us Brits would call a Yorkshire Pudding; plain old batter, cooked in hot fat until puffy and light.

The thing is though, what clever Americans have done is think of a cutey name for it, sploshed in a bit of vanilla and there you have it....Dutch Baby....ooooor Yorkshire Pudding for breakfast.

Present Dutch Baby with a spot of lovely syrup or fruit compote, doused in icing sugar and people will applaud you. Say you’re having a breakfast Yorkshire Pudding (not as crazycrackers as it sounds, I promise, ask Nigella who has it with cream and golden syrup) and they’ll turn their noses up. So go forth and eat weirldly...make this for breakfast and thank out chums across the pond who have a food solution to every problem. With Love and Cake.

Dutch Baby.

A few notes:
  • If you have a fav yorkshire pudding recipe, you could just as easily use that...though I would still use butter in the pan instead of oil to avoid your breakfast having a 'roast' air about it.
  • As with many of my breakfast recipes, I just use a coffee mug to measure, just because grams feel like overkill in the morning.
  • Serve with the same things you would with pancakes...I made a compote out of blackcurrants; boiling 150g of them for a few minutes with 2 tbsp of sugar, but syrup, jam or also fresh fruit seem appropriate too.
Serves 2-3
You will need

1x20cm frying pan or roasting dish

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup strong white bread flour
a splash of vanilla extract
pinch salt
a good knob of butter

  • Right...let's go. Pop your frying pan or roasting dish into the oven and turn the heat on to as high as it goes.
  • While that's heating up, beat everything except the butter into a nice big bowl so you have a smooth batter.
  • When the oven's up to temperature, turn it down to 220°c.
  • Take out the frying pan, and pop in the butter. As it melts swirl it around the frying pan so it's nice and covered.
  • Pour in the batter and get it straight bake in the oven. DO NOT TOUCH THE HOT HANDLE....YOUR HAND WILL NOT LIKE IT....been there, done that.
  • Cook for 20 minutes until it's puffed up and golden.
  • Sprinkle lots and lots of icing sugar over the top and eat while hot and buttery.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Birsay Cheese Scones.

Oh cheeeeeese of my favs. Warm, next to a hot bowl of soup, you can do worse for a lovely lunch at any time of year. On a recent little trip to Orkney (islands, northynorthnorth, in case you were wondering) we had lunch at Birsay Tea Room that I, of course, had looked up prior. With a poorly boy in tow, tomato soup and a cheese scone sounded perfect, and my oh my did it deliver. 

Honestly best cheese scones EVER. Sometimes I think cheese scones are made especially for the veggies amongst us, which are of course, all hippies who only eat spelt and quinoa and brown things...whateves. In that case they are made big and heavy and full of brown.

These though, were light as a feather, all unhealthy whitewhite flour, and warm and sharp with cheese. Delish.

Helpfully, there was a little Birsay Tearoom recipe booklet for sale, perched on a shelf, and, rather cheekily, I took a peek inside to get their cheese scone secrets. After much puffin watching, hill walking and basking shark spotting, off I trotted home to cheese-scone-it-up Birsay style. And here we are....light as a feather and full of proper cheesey chunks. Butter or not, soup or not...but make, or else. With Love and Cake.

Cheese Scones.

A few notes:
  • As always, scones do not respond well to your involvement. Leave as well alone as you can, mixing just until combined and barely pressing them into shape. Be dainty.
  • Usually I say you can easily knock scones up in a food processor but because you want to keep the cheese in nice lumps I think it's not worth the effort of dragging it out of the cupboard just to rub the butter into the flour...though feel free, and just stir the cheese in afterwards.
Makes 6
You will need

a lined baking sheet

225g self raising flour
pinch salt
60g butter
100g strong cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
6 tbsp milk, plus extra for glazing

  • First job is to get your oven nice and hot; 220°c.
  • Mix the salt into the flour and then run in the butter with your finger tips.
  • Stir the cheese in so it gets evenly distributed.
  • Pour in the milk and start to bring everything together with as light a touch as possible. You might need to add a teeny bit more or less milk depending on your situation so go steady.
  • I find it easiest at this point to lightly diving the dough into 6 just with my hands, saving the rolling and cutting out. Just gently pull off even sized balls and pat lightly onto your baking sheet.
  • Brush each scone with milk and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Mmmmm eat warm with soup and butter. Delish.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Raspberry Butter.

Well hi. I’ve been away. Away to the deepest, darkest depths of the wonderful English countryside and it was magical. Being on holiday is brilliant...even for someone like me who thrives off of multiple ‘To do...’ lists despite not even having a real job. It is the LOVELIEST feeling thinking of all the time stretching out in front of you that’s only requirement is that you fill it with fun.

Being on holiday with your parents (some people’s idea of hell, I know, but I happen to like mine a lot) is even better because all the big scary grown up things that you’re meant to worry about just go away. And you can have hugs wheneveeeeer you want; they’re rationed in my house you see.

So here I am, back in Scotland, but panic not, there’s only a few big scary grown up things to worry about, because I came back with parents in tow. Hurrah. And they are staying in the CUTEST little house in the CUTEST little village just down the road.

The recipe then, is a simple pimple one, for easing back in to real life after one of sea side fun. No oven required, a childish sweetie taste and lots of buttery badness. Now would say more about it...but must dash....more fun to be had. With Love and Cake.

Raspberry and Vanilla Butter.

A few notes:
  • There are plenty of delicious ways that you could use this. I popped some on pancakes as you can see, but toast would be lovely, or French Toast. On warm scones...oh my...
  • I think the best way to keep this if you're not going to eat it all in one go, is to chop it up in to discs, freeze the discs nice and spread out on a baking sheet and then transfer them to a freezer bag and keep frozen until you're ready to pop them on your breakfast.
Makes 1 big log
You will need

clingfilm or foil

250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
75g fresh raspberries
a good splosh of vanilla extract
1 level tbsp icing sugar

  • Pop your butter in a bowl and mash it about with a fork to make it into a smooth, pliable paste and get  it a teeny bit more fluffy...though we're not looking to whip it up as you would for buttercream.
  • Tumble in the fruit, vanilla and sugar and mash it all in so it's evenly distributed but not mashed 100% smooth, you want oozy bits of raspberry next to smooth butter.
  • Blob the butter along a rectangle of clingfilm or foil and roll it up into a sausage.
  • Twist each end of the sausage up tightly so the butter is squished into an even tighter sausage.
  • Leave to set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before unwrapping, cutting into rounds and spreading onto something wonderful.