10/22/2017

Caramel and Pear Cake

325g caster sugar
4 pears, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced
175g self-raising flour
1 tspn baking powder
125g butter, melted
2 eggs
50ml milk
1 tspn vanilla extract

You need a 20cm  springform round cake tin

Preheat  oven to 180C/gas4, . 

Put 150g sugar in a pan and add 3 tablespoons of water. Dissolve the sugar over a gentle heat, then turn up the heat and boil until the sugar turns a rich amber colour. Swirl the pan  but don't stir. Pour the caramel into the base of the prepared tin which you've lined with baking paper which comes up the sides a little. Let it cool, then arrange the pear slices in a circle pattern on top.

Sift the flour and baking powder together. Add the rest of the sugar, and stir till mixed.. Add the melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla, then mix at high speed for 1 minute to make a smooth batter. Pour over the pears and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour. 
Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn onto a wire rack and serve still warm.


It's a delicious dessert. The cake has a nice soft texture, then you have the juicy pears with the moreish toffee topping. 

10/09/2017

Raspberry Buns

The mention of Rock Cakes in my book of British cooking, reminded me of the Raspberry Buns my Mum used to make. I loved these, and would hurry home from school when she'd mentioned she was making them. It was my Granny's recipe, and luckily Mum had written into her notebook.

There are several recipe that were family favourites that Mum didn't include in her book, and I've tried to replicate them but with little success - 'double custard' being one. She made a great apple flan in a flan tin, with a sponge base filled with stewed apple, then piped a layer of this 'custard' round the edge and puts dabs on top. The 'custard' looked a bit curdled, but was delicious. I know she made some Birds custard, but what she added to it, I don't know! I've tried various ways of making it, but they're all wrong. Sorry, I digress.

The buns are made in the same way as Rock Cakes - the rubbing in method.

You need
225g sr flour with 1 tspn baking powder
75g butter
75g caster sugar
1 beaten egg
milk
raspberry jam
milk and caster sugar for the topping

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Sieve flour and baking powder into a bowl and rub in the butter.stir in the sugar, then add the egg and enough milk to make a soft, but not wet, dough.
Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll it into balls.
On a floured surface, flatten the balls and put 1/2 tspn of raspberry jam in the centre.brush the edges of the dough with jam then pull the dough up over the jam. Turn the buns over so the join in underneath.
Brush the tops with milk then bake for 15-20 mins till golden.
Cool on a wire rack - don't eat straight from the oven as the jam will be very HOT!



A taste of childhood. Nice soft texture inside , with a crunchy top and the jam oozing out. An easy to make treat.



9/25/2017

Walnut and Date Cake

Another case of using up something at its ' Use By' date; this time some chopped dates. Wanted to make an easy cake, so made my Mum's Date cake with walnuts.
It's a cake that keeps very well.

Oven 180C/gas4                            Grease and base line a 20cm square cake tin.

In a bowl put 210ml boiling water, 175g chopped dates and 3/4 level tspn bicarbonate of soda. Leave it for 5 mins.
Cream together 175g soft brown sugar and 50g soft margarine, then beat in 1 beaten egg and the water and dates.
Sieve 225g plain flour with 3/4 tspn baking powder and pinch salt, then fold into the date mixture. Add 40g of chopped walnuts and mix together.
Spoon into the tin and bake for about 45-50 mins.
Cool on a wire rack then remove the paper.


This is just part of the cake, as I gave the rest to my lovely Polish neighbour! I sprinkled some sugar on the top  - not really sure why!
It has a lovely flavour, almost caramel taste from the dates and a nice crunch from the walnuts. It has a nice moist texture, and is excellent with a cup of tea or coffee. A nice old fashioned tea treat.

9/16/2017

Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscuits

When 2 of my grandsons, aged 13 and 16 came to visit, to keep them off their x-boxes, I baked with them! We made these chocolate biscuits, and they were a great hit. Sadly there weren't any left to take home to their brother, so next time we'll have to make double the amount!

Preheat oven 190C/gas5                Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

you need: 125g butter, 125g caster sugar, 50g dark brown sugar, 1 beaten egg, 1/2 tspn vanilla extract, 100g plain flour, 25g cocoa powder, 75g oats, 1/2tspn baking powder, 1/2 tspn bicarb, 125g chopped hazelnuts and 25g demerara sugar

Beat the butter and caster and dark brown sugars together till nice and smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again.
Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb. and add to the batter. Stir in the nuts.
Take tspns of the mixture and roll into about 30 balls. Put the demerara sugar on a plate and roll the balls in it. Put the biscuits about 5cm apart on the baking trays. Press them down gently then bake for about 10 mins. Cool on the trays for 5 mins, then turn onto a wire rack to cool.



You could use other nuts instead of hazelnuts. They're nice and nutty and crunchy. Very moreish.

9/11/2017

White Chocolate Crunchies

My daughter's favourite chocolate is white, so having recently made my son's favourite dessert, and as she was coming to stay for a week - a very rare occurrence - I decided to make her something using her favourite ingredient.

I tried one of these crunchies at a coffee morning, and asked for the recipe.

The only cooking involved is melting the chocolate, butter and crème fraîche.

You need an 18cm square tin which you line with baking parchment.

Break up 300g white chocolate and put in a bowl. Add 150g butter and 1 tbspn crème fraîche and melt together gently over a simmering pan of water.

Crumble 100g Amaretti biscuits and chop up 100g candied fruit [I got mine in Waitrose].

When the mixture is melted, take the bowl and add the biscuits, fruit 25g dessicated coconut and 50g toasted flaked almonds. Mix it all together carefully. Spoon into the tin and leave to set in the fridge for 4 hours.

Cut into 20 squares when set, using a knife dipped in hot water.


It's very fruity and nutty. As expected with white chocolate, it's quite sweet. I like the combination of textures - the candied fruit, the biscuits and the smooth chocolate. Not something to have regularly, but a nice occasional treat.

9/01/2017

Norfolk Tart

I don't make many sweet tarts these days, but my son loves treacle tart and especially this version, which is a Norfolk Tart. As he was coming for the weekend, I decided to indulge him with his favourite pudd!

Preheat oven 200C/gas6

Roll out 225g shortcrust pastry [bought or home made] and line a 7" or 17.5 cm round tin.
Fill with baking beans and bake for 15 mins. Take out the beans and reduce the oven to 180C/gas4.
Warm 100g syrup in a pan till runny, then take off the heat and stir in 25g unsalted butter and the grated zest of a lemon.
Beat 1 egg and 3 tbspn double cream together gently then stir into the syrup mixture.
Pour this into the pastry case and bake for 30 mins.
Serve this warm with some cream or ice cream.


This is very rich and moreish. It has a lovely creamy filling with a good lemony hint.





8/20/2017

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

My love of cinnamon is well known, so when I got given some apples, I decided to try a recipe given to me ages ago by an American friend. It's nothing special to look at, but tastes great - that's of course, if you like cinnamon! It's not overwhelming, as there's none in the cake only in the topping.

The recipe uses butter milk and oil. The amount of cinnamon sugar topping suggested for the cake was far too much, even for me, so I reduced it drastically, and there was still plenty.

225g light brown sugar, 75ml oil, 1 large egg, 225ml buttermilk, 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 350g plain flour, 180g chopped apples [weight after peeled - I used 3 eating apples]

Topping: 2 tbspn granulated sugar and 11/2 tspn cinnamon

Preheat oven 160C/gas3                  Grease and base line a 20cm round cake tin.

Put the brown sugar, oil, egg, buttermilk, bicarb, vanilla extract and flour in a big bowl and mis together well. Stir in the apples then spoon the batter in the tin.
Mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the top of the batter.
Bake for about 1 hour 10 mins. The recipe said 45 -55 mins, but although the topping was nice and crunchy, the cake wasn't cooked in the middle. Leave in the tin for 5 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack.




Sorry about the photos. My camera has died, so am trying to use my husband's 'posh' one!

It's a typical American cake in that it's very sweet. I served some as a dessert with crème fraîche, which counteracted some of the sweetness. Some friends had a slice with a cuppa and they didn't find it too sweet.
 You can see that there's plenty of sugar topping, but the recipe said 150g sugar and 3 tspn cinnamon!
It's a light crumb and a soft texture, and the crunchy topping makes a good contrast.