Caramel and Nut Tart

This was my contribution to a family get together. It's very moreish! The recipe is one given to me by my lovely French neighbour.

Pack of shortcrust pastry
2 eggs
100g caster sugar
60g butter
100g walnuts, chopped finely
100g walnut halves

20g butter, 100ml crème fraîche, 150g caster sugar

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                 22cm tart tin

For the tart:
Cut the butter into pieces and melt for 1 min in a microwave. Leave to cool.
Beat the eggs and caster sugar using an electric mixer or hand mixer till white and fluffy.
 Add the chopped walnuts and melted butter and gently mix together.
Roll out pastry to fit a tart tin which is at least 2.5cm high.
Grease the tin then line with the pastry.
Add the nut mixture gently.
Bake for about 30 mins till golden.

Put the sugar in a pan and melt till brown. Heat the cream till boiling and pour over the sugar, mixing with a wooden spoon. Add the butter cut into pieces.

Put the walnut halves evenly over the tart, then pour over the caramel.
Leave to cool before eating!

Nice crunchy pastry, nuts in a soft filling and then the bigger nuts in a lovely caramel coating.


Red-nose Biscuits

On Wednesday mornings I help with a Toddlers group. We're having a little Christmas party next week so have been trying out some biscuits. My grandson was here testing the results!
This recipe came originally from Woman's Weekly, I think. It's in a pull-out about baking with children at Christmas. How many stars you make depends on the size of your star cutter!

For the biscuits you need:
370g plain flour, 200g soft butter, 120g caster sugar, 3 egg yolks and a pinch of salt
A star biscuit cutter

For the decoration:
red Smarties, 150g icing sugar, 1 egg white, 6 squares of chocolate to melt , red and white sugar sprinkles

In a bowl or mixer beat the butter, sugar and egg yolks till it's creamy. Add the salt and flour and mix together. Bring together into a ball, cover in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 30 mins.

Preheat oven 160C/gas3                                  Cover a baking tray with parchment paper

Roll the dough out to about 5 mm thick, then cut out stars. Put on baking tray and bake for about 15 mins. Cool on a wire rack.

While they're baking, make the icing. Mix the icing sugar and egg white together. Once the stars are cool, spread some icing over, leaving a circle empty in the middle. I put a small cut out cardboard circle in the middle and spread the icing round it [and on it!]. Sprinkle some white sugar sprinkles over the icing while it's still wet.
Melt the chocolate and put into a small piping bag. Pipe 2 chocolate eyes. Put a dab of white icing and stick on the red Smartie for a nose. Dab another bit of white icing at the top of the star and sprinkle on some red sugar sprinkles for a bobble.

They are a bit fiddly to decorate, but my grandson loved them and he took the rest [just a few after he'd eaten his fill!] for his brothers. A nice crunch to the biscuit and a mixture of textures in the topping. Will be making some for the Toddlers.


Rock Cakes

Since coming out of hospital, I seem to have been lucky enough to have had friends visiting. Now I'm feeling better, they haven't been eating 'shop bought' cake! I made a chocolate cake on Tuesday, but gave the leftovers to my friend to take home. Another friend came today and I decided to make her favourites - rock cakes. Don't think I've made these since schooldays.

They were a great hit, and I'd forgotten how nice they are. I suppose the recipe is similar to Welsh cakes, which I often make.

This recipe makes 12 and is from my Mum's notebook - I've changed the ounces into grams!

225g sr flour + 2 tspns baking powder, 100g soft margarine or butter, 50g granulated sugar, 1 egg, 150g mixed fruit and about 1 tbspn milk, brown sugar to sprinkle over.

Preheat oven 200C/gas6              Grease 2 baking trays.

Mis the flour and baking powder together then rub in the fat till it's like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar and the fruit. Beat the egg and milk together then add to the bowl and  mix. If it's a bit dry, add a little more milk. Put 12 rough mounds of the mixture, 6 on each tray. I used my hands, but you could use 2 spoons. Sprinkle some light brown or Demerara sugar over each cake.
Bake for 15 mins till edges are golden, then cool on a wire rack.
As with most cakes made using the rubbing-in method, these are best eaten on the day they're made.

Not very exciting to look at, but they tasted good! Lovely crunchy outside and a good sugary topping, then a soft inside. A good, plain old-fashioned cake to have with a cuppa.


Lemon Curd Eclairs

I decided I wanted to make something a bit different when some friends came for tea. My Mum was an excellent baker, and one of the things I really loved were her chocolate eclairs. I thought I'd have a try at choux pastry as it's years since I've made any. [Many moons ago I went to cookery classes with a friend, and we made choux buns.]
Recently I was given a large jar of home-made lemon curd, so decided to try and use this as the filling instead of cream. I'd make some fondant icing for the tops.

Do I do a GBBO and say - 'Make some choux pastry' or give the recipe? Decided to do the latter.
This amount makes about 10 buns.

150ml water, 50g butter, 65g plain flour, 2 eggs lightly beaten

Put the water and butter in a pan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Take off the heat and add the flour. Put back on the heat and beat with a wooden spoon for 2-3 mins till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.
Cool slightly. Gradually beat in the eggs till they're all incorporated.

For the lemon curd eclairs:  you need a large jar lemon curd and some fondant icing and water.

Preheat oven 220C/gas7                      Grease 2 baking trays 

Put a large plain tube into an icing bag and fill with the choux pastry.
Pipe 7.5 cm lengths onto the baking sheets.
Bake for 15 mins, change the position of the sheets and turn the oven down to 190C/gas 5 and bake for another 20 mins.
Put onto a wire rack to cool.

Make a slit in the side of each pastry shell. Fill an  icing bag with a large plain tube and add lemon curd. Pipe some into each pastry shell.

Make up some fondant icing and spread some over each eclair.

Lovely textures - the pastry, the curd and the icing. Think I overdid the lemon curd a bit and would put less in next time. They make a nice change from the usual chocolate ones. Would certainly make them again.


Blueberry Muffin Cake

One of my favourite fruits is a blueberry, and I love blueberry muffins. I thought I'd try to use one of my usual recipes, but instead of individual muffins, make a muffin cake. I've added a topping to give it more crunch.

There used to be a prolific blueberry bush in the garden, but sadly this year it decided it had had enough!

Preheat oven 190C/gas5                                    Grease a 900g loaf tin.

In a bowl mix together 280g plain flour, 1/2 tpsn salt, 1/2 tspn bicarb and 1 tspn cinnamon.

In another bowl beat together 2 eggs, 100g caster sugar and 85g light brown sugar,then mix in 125ml sunflower oil, 125ml sour cream and 1 tspn vanilla extract.

Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet one, but don't overmix

Stir in 290g blueberries dusted in 1 tbspn flour to stop them sinking in the cake.

Topping: 100g caster sugar, 50g plain flour, 50g butter cubed and 1/2 tspn cinnamon. Mix together to crumbs, then sprinkle over the top of the cake.

Pour into the loaf tin and bake for about 40-45 mins till golden.

The trick with the flour worked, as the blueberries were well distributed through the cake.
A nice moist texture, with the juicy fruit and the crunch from the topping. A success, and a change from the usual muffins.


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. 


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
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.