Saturday, 27 September 2014

Coconut and Lemon Bakewell Tart

I found a recipe for something calling itself Coconut and Lemon Bakewell Tart. The recipe I found was on John Whaite's website .  Now this is not what anyone would consider to be a Bakewell Tart, but it does have some similarities, in that it has a pastry base, a type of frangipane filling and a sweet layer between the two.

However in this case the frangipane has almonds and coconut and the sweet layer is lemon curd.

In the recipe below I use a different pastry base to the one on John Whaite's site, since I prefer the sweet crust base.  

The result of my attempt is wonderful.  A very moist tart, with a lemon and coconut flavour.  A crisp pastry that crumbles and melts in the mouth. I was so keen to try it that I didn't wait for the icing to completely firm up.

Coconut and Lemon Bakewell - Slice

Iced Coconut and Lemon Bakewell


For the Pastry - Pate Sucree - from Tomas Keller's book Bouchon

  • 375g Plain Flour
  • 46 g Icing sugar +
  • 94 g Icing sugar
  • 47 g Almond Flour
  • 225g Butter, at room temperature
  • 56g eggs
  • half a vanilla pod, split lengthways

For the Filling:
  • 175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 85g desiccated coconut
  • 90g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Zest of 2 lemons
For the sweet layer:
  • 150g lemon curd
  • 1 egg yolk
For the Icing:
  • 250g Icing Sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp dessicated coconut
  • zest of a lemon
  1. Place the flour into a bowl and sift in the 46g of icing sugar and the almond flour.
  2. Whisk to combine those ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, of a stand mixer if you have one, place the butter.  Using the paddle attachment cream the butter until it is the consistency of mayonnaise.
  4. Sift in the 94 grams of icing sugar, incorporate and mix on medium low for 1 minute
  5. Scrape down the edge and bottom of the bowl
  6. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add to the mixture
  7. Mix for 30 seconds
  8. Add the dry ingredients, from the other bowl, in two additions, mixing for 15-30 seconds each time.
  9. Add the eggs and mix until just combined 15-30 seconds.
  10. Transfer the dough to your work surface and, using the heel of your hand, smear the dough and work it together.
  11. Divide the dough into 2 and form each half into a 4x6 inch rectangle, about .75 inch thick.
  12. Wrap each in a double layer of clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  13. You will need one of these packages of pastry for this recipe.  The other can be refrigerated for two days, or frozen for up to one month.
  14. Roll out the pastry to line the tart tin, pressing the pastry into the grooves. Prick the base with a fork and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  15. Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.
  16. For the frangipane, beat the sugar and butter very well until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well. Gently fold in the coconut, almonds, flour and zest, then set aside.
  17. Beat the lemon curd with the egg yolk and set aside.
  18. Line the pastry case with baking paper or foil and fill with beans or rice. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the beans and paper and bake for another 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, paint the base and sides with the egg white and return to the oven for one more minute – this will create a waterproof coat on the pastry to prevent any soggy bottoms.
  19. Allow the pastry to cool slightly before spreading the curd over the base. Fill a piping bag with the frangipane and pipe it on to the lemon curd in concentric rings, until the lemon curd can no longer be seen. Return to the oven for 30–35 minutes, or until the frangipane is a golden brown and very slightly wobbly. Remove and allow to cool.
  20. Put the icing sugar in a bowl. Slowly add the water, mixing until you have a pourable but thick icing. When the tart has cooled, pour the icing on top, and sprinkle with desiccated coconut and lemon zest.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Custard Kisses

Now doesn't that seem a silly name for a recipe?  I found the recipe on BBC Good Food and, when I read it, thought that they sounded quite interesting.

The bake is a sort of shortbread, very light and crumbly, and the filling is a butter cream type with some custard powder to add some flavour.  I suppose reminiscent of the custard cream biscuits we used to eat as children, when I used to try to eat one side of the biscuit, leaving the custard cream attached to the other side.  Then to eat the custard cream, leaving me with one half of biscuit to savour.  You cant do that with these though, but they are very tasty indeed.   They are also quite simple to make, so give it a try and enjoy.

Custard Kisses

  • 175g softened butter
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
For the custard filling:
  • 100g softened butter
  • 140g icing sugar, sifted, plus a little extra
  • 2 tbsp custard powder
  • few drops yellow food colouring, if you have any
  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Mix the butter, sugars, egg yolks and vanilla with a wooden spoon until creamy, then mix in the flour in 2 batches. Roll out thinly on a floured surface, then use a standard 30cm ruler as a template to cut the dough into small, even squares. Do this by starting with the ruler flush with one side and cutting along the length of it. Repeat across the width of the dough, then do the same from the top down. Transfer to baking sheets and bake for 8-10 mins until golden.
  2. While the biscuits cool, mix the butter, icing sugar, custard powder and food colouring, if you have any. Pipe or spread a little icing onto a biscuit, then sandwich with 1 or 2 more biscuits. Repeat until all the biscuits are used, then dust with a little more icing sugar.
How simple is that?

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

A nice, simple recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies today, which I found on BBC Good Food . The recipe says it makes 30, but I only got 20.  That is clearly because I used rather heaped teaspoons of the mixture.  But they turned out very well indeed.  

I couldn't resist eating one even before they had completely cooled.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 150g salted butter, softened
  • 80g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 80g granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 225g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 200g plain chocolate chips or chunks
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Put the butter and sugars into a bowl and beat until creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg. Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt over the mixture and mix in with a wooden spoon. Add the chocolate chips and stir well.
  3. Using a teaspoon, place small mounds of the mixture well apart on the baking trays. Bake in the oven for 8–10 mins until light brown on the edges and still slightly soft in the centre.
  4. Leave on the tray for a couple of minutes to firm up and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Easy Chocolate Tart

I have previously made a Tarte au Chocolat, which turned out very well.  Today I decided upon a slightly easier Chocolate Tart.  

The reason for the tart was more to use up some pastry I had left over from making yesterday's bake.  I could easily have frozen it and used it another time.  In the end I froze half of the remaining pastry and thought I would practice my 'rolling' technique with the other half.  

In previous tarts I have had a problem getting a nice thin pastry in the tart.  I often think it is thin, but the result has been thicker than I wanted.

So today I rolled it out and cooked it and it does seem nice and thin.

Then there was the issue of what to fill the pastry case with.  So I knocked up a very simple chocolate filling, which when refrigerated for a couple of hours, after putting in the pastry case, firms up very nicely for a tasty treat.

The recipe below is for enough pastry to make at least three 23cm tart cases.  You can adjust the amounts to make less, if you wish, or just freeze the remainder to use another time.
 Chocolate Tart

Chocolate Tart Slice

For the pastry:

  • 500g Plain flour
  • 250g of softened butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 300g caster sugar
  • a pinch of salt
For the filling:
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 100g milk chocolate chips
  • 200 ml double cream, or whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cherry jam

If you have made the full amount of pastry above take just one third of it.
Roll the pastry out to about 1/8th of an inch thick, and into a large enough circle to line a greased flan/tart pan.
Gently lift the pastry and line the pan with it.
Leave any excess attached to the edges
Refrigerate for about 30 minutes
Meanwhile heat the oven to 200C/400F  
Prick the base of the pastry with a fork, to prevent rising.
Blind bake, using baking beans, on parchment paper, for 10-12 mins
Remove from the oven and take out the paper and beans
Cut off any overlapping pastry
Return to the oven for a further 8 to 10 minutes to cook completely.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Once the pastry case is cooled
smear the cherry jam over the base
melt the chocolate chips in a bain marie
while it is cooling a little whip the cream into soft peaks
mix the icing sugar and vanilla essence into the cream and then add that to the melted chocolate, mixing until blended.
Then spoon the mixture into the pastry case, smoothing as well as you can
Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Mandarin Tart

Today I the recipe I have come up with is my own invention.  This is quite a departure for me, to try and make something, from my own ideas, with just the limited experience I have already gained.

For a Mandarin tart I thought I would try a sweet pastry, and a custard filling, flavoured with Mandarin juice and evaporated milk.  Usually for the custards in such tarts double cream is called for.  However I recall eating tinned mandarins with evaporated milk as a child, so I thought that might be a nice combination.

I then thought I would adorn the resulting tart with some tinned mandarins and some jelly made from freshly squeezed mandarin juice.

The resultant tart certainly looks pleasing, at least to my eyes.  The proof of the pudding, though, will be in the eating.

My pastry rolling is not the best, I thought I had it very thin, but once I sliced it, as you can see, I discovered it was still quite thick.  But it was cooked through and very tasty.

Mandarin Tart - Dressed and Jellied
Mandarin Tart

Mandarin Tart - Undressed


For the pastry:

  • 250g Plain flour
  • 125g of softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • a pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 6 tablespoons of freshly squeezed Mandarin juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 Free-range eggs
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 125 ml evaporated milk 

For the topping:

  • 1 can of mandarin segments, drained.
  • 8 tablespoons of freshly squeezed Mandarin juice
  • 4 leaves of gelatin.


  1. Add the softened butter, flour, caster sugar and pinch of salt into a mixer, or processor.  Mix together to form a smooth paste. 
  2. Add the eggs and continue mixing until fully incorporated.
  3. Remove from the mixer and, on a floured work surface, knead the paste a few times to make sure all is pulled together.
  4. Flatten in paste into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap, then place in the fridge for at least an hour.
  5. Heat your oven to 200Cc/400F/Gas Mark 6.
  6. Remove the paste from the fridge and roll out to about 1/8 inch thickness and use to line a 23/24 cm flan tin.
  7. Leave any excess attached to the edges.
  8. Prick the pastry with a fork, to prevent raising while cooking.  
  9. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with baking beans, or similar.
  10. Bake the pastry in the oven for 12-15 minutes
  11. Take it out of the oven and remove the baking beans and parchment paper.
  12. Take a sharp knife and remove any pastry that still overlaps the edge of the tart tin
  13. Return the pastry case to the oven and cook for a further 10-12 minutes, until a golden brown.
  14. Then remove and allow to cool.
  15. Reduce the heat of the oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3
  16. To make the custard break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk together with a wire whisk. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and whisk again until they are all well combined
  17. Pour the mixture into a jug and then place the pastry case, still in its pan, on a baking sheet, in the oven.
  18. Pour the mixture, carefully, into the pastry case.
  19. Cook for 30-35 minutes, until the custard is set, but slightly wobbly in the centre.
  20. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  21. Decorate, to your own design, with the mandarin segments.
  22. Put the gelatin leaves in some cold water and leave for 5 minutes.
  23. Gently warm the mandarin juice
  24. Squeeze the water from the gelatin leaves and then mix them into the mandarin juice.
  25. As it cools the mandarin juice will turn to jelly.  
  26. Using a pastry brush you can paint some jelly onto the mandarin segments, and then use the rest to coat the top of the tart.  You can pour this, just as it starts to set.
  27. Refrigerate, if you wish, to ensure the jelly sets completely.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons are a favourite memory from childhood, though I cannot claim to have feasted upon them with any regularity.  I do recall eating them though, a lovely coconut flavour and quite moist.

I looked at lots of recipes to try to decide just how to do them, and in the end I decided to 'mix and match' so to speak. 

It was trial and error, and I shall be trying again soon, varying some amounts.  But the end result of today's bake are very tasty.  They are not quite as moist as I recall.  But that could either be the mixture, or the fact that I found it impossible to obtain shredded coconut. I had to use dessicated, which is finer and may dry out quicker.  In the event I also found that Marks and Spencer dessicated coconut is not such a fine dessication as that I had bought from Tesco.  So I opted to use Marks and Spencer's for this recipe.

Coconut Macaroons

  • 250 grams shredded coconut (dessicated if pushed)
  • 100 grams caster sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 30 grams ground almonds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Heat the oven to 170c/325 F/ Gas Mark 3
  2. Beat egg whites until they are rather foamy
  3. Continue beating, gradually adding the sugar, until you have achieved stiff peaks.
  4. Mix the coconut, almonds, and salt, then add to the egg whites, folding in gently.
  5. Add the vanilla extract into the mixture at the same time.
  6. When you have folded all the ingredients together 
  7. Divide the mixture into about 6 or 7 rounded clumps, on a baking tray line with parchment paper.
  8. You can use a scoop of some sort to do this, or by hand.
  9. Bake in the oven for 20 mins, or until the macaroons have turned a nice golden colour.
  10. Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Once mine were cooled I dipped the base of each one in some melted milk chocolate and allowed it to cool.  That process is not included in the photo above, or in the recipe, since I just decided to add it at the last minute.

Stuffed Peppers With A Tomato Sauce

Taking a break from baking today, I made some stuffed peppers, with a tomato sauce, and served them with rice.

It is an easy to make dish, if a little time consuming.  The results, however, are well worth waiting for. 

I served the peppers with some boiled rice, adding a little coconut at the end to give an extra flavour.  

Apologies for the quality of the photo, I forgot to take one as I was serving, so had to make do with the extras, later.
Stuffed Peppers, with tomato sauce


For the Stuffing:
  • 400 g Minced Beef
  • 2 Medium Onions, chopped
  • 3 Tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and diced
  • 4 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Red Pepper, diced
  • 1 Small Carrot, diced
  • 1 Handful of Raisins
  • 1 Handful of Frozen Peas
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, minced(or chopped)
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 1 tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce
  • Black Pepper, to taste

For the Sauce and assembly:

  • 500 ml of Tomato Passata (if you need more add some tomato paste and a little water)
  •  6 Large Peppers (any colour or a mixture is fine)
  •   1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  •   1 tbsp Brown Sugar
  •   Salt and Pepper, to season to taste 
1.     Make the stuffing first, as follows.
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and saute the onions and garlic for about one minute.
3. Add the diced tomatoes and cook until onions and tomatoes have softened slightly.
4. Add the minced beef, making sure that you crumble it and mix into the onions and tomatoes
5. Stir in the soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce
6. Add black pepper, to taste
7. When the meat has browned, add the diced red pepper and the diced carrots.
8. Cover and simmer for about 7 minutes, by which time the peppers and carrots will have softened
9. Add the remaining ingredients and, with lid removed, allow to simmer until the liquid has evaporated.
10. Set the mixture to one side while you make the sauce.
11. In a large pan, deep enough to take the peppers, heat the tomato sauce and water
12. Add soy sauce and sugar
13. When simmering taste and add pepper and salt to taste. It should be a sweet sauce, with a sharp tang on the tongue.
14. Wash and dry the peppers
15. Remove the tops and seeds
16. Make sure each pepper can stand up. If necessary carefully level the bottoms, slicing off just enough to allow it to stand.
17. Fill each pepper with the stuffing mixture
18. Carefully place each pepper in the tomato sauce and cook on a simmering heat until the peppers are cooked through, but still holding the shape.
19. Remove each pepper to its serving plate, standing on a bed of steamed rice.
20. Carefully spoon the tomato sauce into the pepper
21. Any remaining sauce can be served separately for pouring, if required.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Devil's Food Cake

For a Devil's Food Cake I turned, once again, to the almost infallible Nigella recipes.  Now this cake is seriously rich, with a nice crumb to the sponge and a bitter sweet flavour to the filling and frosting.  It is the sort of cake that you may not wish to have too large a slice of at a time.  It is easy to  allow your eyes to be bigger than your belly, since it looks so good.  But you rapidly become full, of a most enjoyable cake.  

I found it quite easy to make, but I did refrigerate the chocolate frosting mix for a while to help it firm up.  I found that in a warm kitchen one hour is not long enough.

For those who like a nice, rich chocolate cake I recommend this one  

 Devil's Food Cake

Devil's Food Cake - Slice


for the cake
50 grams best-quality cocoa powder (sifted)
100 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
250 ml boiling water
125 grams soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)
150 grams caster sugar
225 grams plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs

for the frosting
125 ml water
30 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
175 grams unsalted butter (cubed)
300 grams best-quality dark chocolate (finely chopped)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F.
  2. Line the bottoms of two 20cm / 8inch round sandwich tins with baking parchment and butter the sides.
  3. Put the cocoa and 100g / half cup dark muscovado sugar into a bowl with a bit of space to spare, and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix, then set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy; I find this easiest with a freestanding mixer, but by hand wouldn’t kill you.
  5. While this is going on – or as soon as you stop if you’re mixing by hand – stir the flour, baking powder and bicarb together in another bowl, and set aside for a moment.
  6. Dribble the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar – mixing all the while – then drop in 1 egg, quickly followed by a scoopful of flour mixture, then the second egg.
  7. Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake, then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping its bowl well with a spatula.
  8. Divide this fabulously chocolatey batter between the 2 prepared tins and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Take the tins out and leave them on a wire rack for 5–10 minutes, before turning the cakes out to cool.
  10. But as soon as the cakes are in the oven, get started on your frosting: put the water, 30g / 2 tablespoons muscovado sugar and 175g / 1 1/2 sticks butter in a pan over a low heat to melt.
  11. When this mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, swirling the pan so that all the chocolate is hit with heat, then leave for a minute to melt before whisking till smooth and glossy.
  12. Leave for about 1 hour, whisking now and again – when you’re passing the pan – by which time the cakes will be cooled, and ready for the frosting.
  13. Set one of the cooled cakes, with its top side down, on a cake stand or plate, and spread with about a third of the frosting, then top that with the second cake, regular way up, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides, swirling away with your spatula. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Coconut Rock Cakes

After the success of the Sugar and Spice Rock Cakes, last week, I thought I would try some different ones.  The flavour decided upon was coconut and I found a very good recipe on Hedgecombers website .  It is a very straightforward recipe, and the results appear to be very good.

I haven't tasted yet, but the coconut smell emanating from the oven during baking certainly had me salivating.

Coconut Rock Cakes

  • 110g butter 
  • 110g sugar 
  • 200g plain flour 
  • 75g desiccated coconut 
  • ½ teaspoon bicarb of soda (baking soda) 
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • 1 egg 
  • a little brown sugar to top

  1. Preheat oven to 400/gas 6/200/180 fan 
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and egg together in a large mixing bowl. 
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and, using some brute strength, mix it to a stiff consistency. 
  4. On a greased baking sheet, pile largish mounds of the mix. 
  5. You'll need to push each lump together ever so slightly, but you don't want to flatten out those rough edges. 
  6. Lightly sprinkle with the brown sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and the edges are just starting to darken.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake

I started hunting for some recipes with lime infused chocolate, thinking to make some brownies, as I have never made those.  After checking a few different recipes I found this flourless cake, from Nigella's website and then I found a video on youtube, where she makes it,.  I think it was done in canada. 

Anyway the recipe includes 'with Margarita cream'.  I have included that in the details below, even though I didn't make it.

The cake itself baked just as Nigella suggested it would, cracking on the top and quite gooey inside.  It tasted good too.

Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake

by the slice


for the cake
  • - 150 grams dark chocolate (chopped)
  • · 150 grams soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)
  • · 6 large eggs
  • · 250 grams caster sugar
  • · 100 grams ground almonds
  • · 4 teaspoons best-quality cocoa powder (sifted)
  • · zest and juice of 1 lime
  • · icing sugar to dust
for the margarita cream
  • · 60 ml lime juice
  • · 1 tablespoon tequila
  • · 1 tablespoon cointreau (or triple sec)
  • · 75 grams icing sugar
  • · 250 ml double cream

1.      Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F, line the base of a 23cm / 9inch springform cake tin with baking parchment and butter the sides.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter together either in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave (following manufacturer’s instructions), then set aside to cool slightly.

3. Beat the eggs and sugar together until about tripled in volume, pale and moussy. I do this using a freestanding mixer, but a hand-held electric model would be just fine too; obviously, by hand is possible but would demand tenacity and muscle.

4. Mix the ground almonds with the cocoa powder and fold this gently into the egg and sugar mixture, followed by the slightly cooled chocolate and butter. Finally, fold in the zest and juice of your lime.

5. Pour and scrape this mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 40–45 minutes (though start to check at 35); the cake will be just firm on top, but still have a bit of wobble underneath.

6. Remove from the oven and sit the cake in its tin on a wire rack to cool. Once the first heat has left it, drape a clean tea towel over the cake to stop it getting too crusty, though a cracked and cratered surface is to be expected; it’s a crunch I’m avoiding here.

7. When cold, unmould, dust with icing sugar if you wish and serve with the jaunty Margarita Cream that follows.


1. Stir the lime juice, tequila and orange liqueur together in a good-sized bowl, then whisk or fork in the icing sugar and let it dissolve in the sour, strong liquid.

2. Slowly whisk in the double cream and keep whisking until you have a light, floaty, aerated mixture, then serve with the Chocolate Lime Cake above.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Raised Pork Pie - Disaster Averted

For those of a nervous disposition, in culinary terms, you may wish to read no further.  What follows is a tale, not of Derring Do but of a woeful attempt to make a Raised Pork Pie.  Now the term raised, in this instance, is slightly false, since this pie is made in a cake tin.  Raised pies are more usually done entirely by hand, around a 'dolly' or a jam jar.  However this particular recipe is for a rather large pie and a cake tin is more appropriate.  

What, you might think, is so disastrous about that?  But our tale has only just begun.  The first sign that all was not well was when, after mixing all the rather expensive ingredients, your narrator discovered that the cake pan available was larger than that prescribed by the recipe.  Now a pan which is 2 or 3 centimetres larger than recommended is a major difference, in terms of the capacity of the pan.  But I still considered that I would be able to make the pastry fit the pan, and the filling would be ok, just not as high in the pan as would otherwise be the case.

So, proceeding, albeit with that pan-size limitation, I lined the pan with pastry and then filled it with the meat mixture. topped it with the pastry lid and into the oven it went.

So far, so good it seems.  Indeed all did seem to be fine, the pie cooked, and all looked well when it finally came out of the oven.  The next step was to allow it to cool and then, after making the jelly mixture, pour it into the pie.

I should explain, for those who are not familiar with pork-pie that it has a water crust pastry and a liquified jelly is poured into the cooked pie, to fill any gaps between pastry and filling.  

Jelly liquid made, I made a couple of extra holes in the pie and, using a funnel, poured the liquid in.  I then left it to cool down again.  As it was 11.30 pm I went to bed, and set my alarm for 1.30 a.m, so that I could then place the pie in the fridge.  

At the appointed time I went to the pie, and rather idiotically, decided to remove the pie from the cake tin.  Well, as I unsprung the pie tin, a crack appeared.  This was as I had not properly greased the sides of the tin, and I had also allowed some juice from the cooking meat escape, which had trickled down the side of the pastry.  This stuck parts of the pastry to the tin.  But this was not the major problem.  That was actually the jelly, which though cooled had not set(that is why it was to go in the fridge). So as the tin was unsprung, the pastry cracked a little, but enough to allow the jelly to make its' escape, over the counter, down the face of the cupboard below, and into a nice pool on the floor.

Your narrator is nothing, if not resourceful.  With amazingly fast dexterity the cake tin was resprung, avoiding any further escaping jelly.   The pie was place on a plate and refrigerated.  The mess was cleared up and it was back to bed for the narrator.

In the morning the pie, duly cooled was removed from the fridge, and eventually the cake tin.  Though it came out a bit of a mess, as some pastry adhered to the sides of the tin.

So the end result is a pie with not much jelly and some of the pastry missing.  But as least it is intact and entirely edible.  So all is not lost.

This has been my worst effort to date and it is to be hoped it remains so.

The lessons to be learned are, use the right sized tin, grease it properly, dont allow the pastry over the top edge of the tin, refrigerate the pie, to ensure the jelly is set before removing the pie from the tin.  

The recipe I used comes from BBC Good Food. Having cut into it and tasted it I must say that it has a rather strong Thyme flavour, maybe more than I was expecting.  I followed the recipe precisely so I expect that was intended, but it is not what I would call a traditional flavour for pork pie.

As an update, the others who have tried my pie have enjoyed it and said the thyme flavour was not too much, so maybe it was just my palate that thought it rather strong.

Raised Pork Pie - with Jelly having escaped

For the filling
  • 800g pork shoulder, minced or finely chopped
  • 400g pork belly, half minced and half chopped
  • 250g smoked bacon, cubed
  • ½ tsp ground mace
  • 2 large pinches ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped sage
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
For the pastry
  • 575g plain flour
  • 200g lard
  • 220ml water

To finish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 gelatine leaves
  • 300ml chicken stock


  1.       Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients for the filling.
  2.    To make the pastry, put the flour in a large bowl, then put the lard and water into a small pan and heat gently until the lard melts. Bring just to the boil and then stir into the flour using a wooden spoon. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, (it should still feel very warm) knead well until smooth.
  3.       Cut off 1/4 of the dough, wrap in cling film and reserve for the lid. Roll out the remaining dough to a circle and then place in the base of a non-stick 20cm springform cake tin. Working quickly while the dough is warm and pliable, press the dough evenly over the base and up the sides of the tin. Make sure there are no holes. Fill with the meat mixture and pack down well. Roll out the dough for the lid. Place on top of the pie. Pinch all around the edge to seal the pie. Make a hole for steam in the centre, using the handle of a wooden spoon.
  4.       Cook in the oven for 30 mins then reduce the heat to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and cook for 90 minutes. Brush the top with beaten egg and return to the oven for a further 20 mins. Leave until cold.
  5.       Soak the gelatine in cold water for about 5 mins, then remove and squeeze out the excess water. Heat the stock until almost boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine. Leave to cool to room temperature.
  6.     Use a small funnel to pour the stock into the pie through the hole in the top. Pour in a little at a time allowing a few seconds before each addition. Place in the fridge to set overnight.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Caramelised Apple Cake With Streusel Topping

I wanted to try a cake with apple in, and did a few searches to see what I could find.  I found a very tempting recipe for Apple Streusel Cake on but was a bit concerned about how wet it would get whilst baking.  So I opted for a recipe from BBC Good Food, for a caramelised apple cake with Steusel topping.  The flavour should be the same, but caramelising the apple first and actually mixing it into the dough, rather than layering it on top, as with the other recipe, seemed to have the greater chance of success.  So that is what I opted for.  

It seems to have turned out quite well, if one can go by appearance.  The test will be in the tasting which will happen in about 90 minutes, when I have taken it over to my tasters.  In the meantime I will just say that it smells wonderful, but so does almost any cake with cinnamon etc.  

Here is the photo of the resting cake.
Caramelised Apple Cake, with Streusel Topping

A slice of Caramelised Apple Cake with Streusel Topping

· 100g butter, plus 1 tbsp
· 175g light brown muscovado sugar, plus 1 tbsp
· 2 dessert apples, peeled and cut into 1½ cm pieces
· 2 eggs
· 1 tsp vanilla extract
· 200g plain flour
· 1 tsp baking powder
· ½ tsp ground cinnamon
· 100ml milk

For The Streusel Topping
  • 25g flour
  • 85g demerara sugar, plus 1 tbsp
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g cold butter
  • 3 tbsp toasted, chopped hazelnuts
1.    Heat 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp sugar in a large frying pan over medium heat until the sugar starts to melt. Add apples, then cook for about 5 mins, until nicely browned and the sauce is a rich caramel. Leave to cool.

2. While the apples cool, make the topping. In a food processor or using the tips of your fingers, rub together flour, 85g sugar, cinnamon and cold butter until the mixture is crumbly and only pea-size pieces of butter remain. Stir in 2 tbsp of hazelnuts. Set aside in a cool place.

3. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. To make the cake, place the remaining butter and sugar in a bowl or food mixer and beat until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and milk in two goes, alternating between dry and wet ingredients. When the mixture is well combined, stir through the apples.

4. Grease a 20cm cake tin with removable base and line the base with a circle of baking paper. Spoon in the cake mixture, smooth over the top with a spoon, then sprinkle over the streusel topping. Scatter with the remaining 1 tbsp demerara sugar and hazelnuts. Cook in the oven for 50 mins-1 hr or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then turn out onto a baking rack, remove paper and cool.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Sugar and Spice Rock Cakes

Rock Cakes, or Rock Buns, are a tasty little confection that has been around for quite a while, but was heavily promoted during WW2, when many ingredients were rationed, to give an easy to make treat, with not too much of any of the rationed items.

I found a lovely recipe on BBC Good Food, which has a nice fruity filling with a mild spice flavour.  The cakes are very easy to make and taste delicious. 
A Pile of Rock Cakes

Rock Cake
  • · 200g self-raising flour
  • · 1 tsp baking powder
  • · 1½ tsp mixed spice
  • · 100g butter
  • · 85g light muscovado sugar
  • · 100g mixed dried fruits
  • · 1 egg, beaten
  • · 2 tbsp milk
  • · demerara sugar, or roughly crushed sugar cubes, for sprinkling
1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Tip the flour, baking powder and 1 tsp spice into a bowl. Add the butter, cut into small pieces. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture forms fine crumbs (or do this in the food processor).

2. Stir in the muscovado sugar and fruit, then add the egg and milk. Mix to a fairly firm dough. Spoon 10 rough blobs of the mixture onto the baking sheet, leaving room for a little spreading. Mix together the sugar and remaining mixed spice and sprinkle over the cakes. Bake for 20-25 mins until golden brown.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Millionaire's Shortbread

This recipe is strictly for those with a sweet tooth, or two.  Any shortbread is nice but add a thick layer of caramel and then another, of chocolate and you have a rich, sweet variant.  It is the sort of thing that you don't want a large portion of, or you will feel decidely sick quite soon. 

The recipe I used was from BBC Food and was really quite easy to follow.  There are not a whole load of ingredients, and just a few steps too.  It might take a while to make but the result is well worth it.

Just a note about the recipe, it says to stir the condensed milk, butter and golden syrup mixture until it thickens, and turns a nice caramel colour.  Well deciding at what point the mixture is thick enough is  a matter of fine judgement.  I think I could possibly have allowed mine to thicken slightly more, but only very slightly.  

The other consideration is the chocolate to use.  I used a mixture of dark and milk chocolate, as I judged that all dark chocolate might have been too bitter for this particular confection.  I used about 2 to 1 dark to milk chocolate.  Others may wish to vary the ratio, it is all a matter of taste, and understanding who will be eating it.

Millionaire's Shortbread


For the shortbread
  • 225g/8oz plain flour
  • b175g/6oz unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes 
  • 75g/2¾oz caster sugar
For the topping
  • 150g/5oz butter
  • 1 x 397g can condensed milk
  • 100g/3½oz golden syrup 
  • 350g/12oz dark chocolate, or a mixture of dark and milk, chopped into small pieces
Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Line a 23cm/9in square cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Combine the flour and butter cubes in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. (Alternatively, you can rub the butter in by hand.)
  3. Add in the caster sugar and pulse again until combined.
  4. Tip the mixture into the lined cake tin and spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon. Then press the shortbread down firmly with your knuckles so that it is tightly packed in the tin.
  5. Bake the shortbread for 30 minutes or until very light golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  6. Meanwhile, for the topping, heat the butter, condensed milk and golden syrup in a saucepan, stirring occasionally until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  7. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring frequently. The caramel will thicken and turn golden-brown. Set aside to cool slightly, then pour over the cooled shortbread. Allow to cool completely.
  8. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (ensure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water), stirring occasionally.
  9. Pour the melted chocolate over the caramel and set aside until the chocolate has cooled completely.

Roasted Orange Pepper Soup

Taking a break from baking recipes I want to share a rather nice, and very simple to make soup.
Orange Peppers have a nice sweet taste to them.  So that is what I used for this soup, though red, or yellow would probably be just as good.  I think green peppers might be a little astrigent but still probably acceptable.  I should mention that I am referring to what our North American cousins might call bell peppers.

This recipe makes a good 4 -5 bowls full of soup, ideal for lunchtime, with some nice fresh bread.

You can easily add a dollop, or two, of creme fraiche, or cream into the soup when serving, but my own preference is to do nothing except eat it as it is.
Roasted Orange Pepper Soup

  • 900 g  fresh orange (bell) peppers
  • 1.2 litres  vegetable stock
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic,finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • Vegetable oil for roasting the peppers
  • Salt

  1. Cut the peppers into quarters and remove the core and seeds.
  2. Place the pieces skin side up on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan and brush with olive oil.
  3. Roast in the oven at 200°C (395°F) for about 30 minutes. The skins should be blackening in places.
  4. While still hot, place the pieces of pepper in a plastic bag, seal and allow to cool.
  5. Peel the skins from the peppers and chop the remaining flesh. 
  6. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and sauté gently for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic and sauté for a further 2 minutes.
  8. Add the roasted peppers, vegetable stock, sugar and spices. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  9. Taste and add salt as necessary to season.
  10. Take off the heat and, when it has cooled some,  blend the soup using a hand blender or food processor until smooth.


I had never tried Brioche, knowingly at least, so thought I would have a go and making some.  It is an enriched dough, and is supposed to be very light indeed.  It is also very heavy on eggs and butter, and sweetened somewhat by a little sugar.

For my bake I decided upon a Paul Hollywood recipe,  Of course, not having the most well equipped kitchen I immediately foresaw a problem.  The recipe calls for a deep 25 cm round cake tin.  That is something I don't have, so I had to improvise.  I do have a 25cm pastry ring, which is 2 inches deep.  Placing that on a baking tray would probably be good enough, surely?   

I don't know if it is as deep as required, but the pastry ring worked just fine, as you will see from the photos below.

It the first photo you can just see that the dough 'peeped' through the base of the pastry ring.  But it was not a significant leakage and was easily cut away, leaving a nicely risen loaf, as shown in the second photo. The third photo shows just how nice and light the loaf was, when torn open.

Brioche in a pastry ring

Brioche, with pastry ring removed

Brioche  torn open

  •   500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • - 7g salt
  • - 50g caster sugar
  • - 10g instant yeast
  • - 140ml warm full-fat milk
  • - 5 medium eggs
  • - 250g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
1. Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the milk and eggs and mix on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for a further 6 – 8 minutes, until you have a soft, glossy, elastic dough. Add the softened butter and continue to mix for a further 4 – 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl periodically to ensure that the butter is thoroughly incorporated. The dough will be very soft.

2. Tip the dough into a plastic bowl, cover and chill overnight or for at least 7 hours, until it is firmed up and you are able to shape it.

3. Grease a 25cm round deep cake tin.

4. Take your brioche dough from the fridge. Tip it onto a lightly floured surface and fold it on itself a few times to knock out the air. Divide it into 9 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball by placing it into a cage formed by your hand and the table and moving your hand around in a circular motion, rotating the ball rapidly. Put the 8 balls of dough around the outside of the tin and the final one in the middle.

5. Cover with the clean plastic bag and leave to prove for 2 – 3 hours, or until the dough has risen to just above the rim of the tin.

6. Heat your oven to 190°C.

7. When your brioche is proved, bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Bear in mind that the sugar and butter in the dough will make it take on colour before it is actually fully baked. Remove the brioche from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.