Sunday, 28 August 2016

Blue Cheese & Fig Tart

I wanted to make a savoury tart last week but it was rather too warm to be making pastry.  So I did it today, Blue Cheese and Fig Tart, from a recipe I saw on BBC Good Food.  I originally wanted to do one with goat's cheese but couldn't find something that I really thought was what I wanted.  So when I saw this recipe I thought it was ideal.

Now I don't like cooked cheese, and I particularly don't like blue cheese, so I was really making this for family rather than for myself to eat.

The pastry is a very short one, with chopped walnuts included to give an extra flavour. I did deviate from the recipe, only using 200g plain flour and no wholemeal flour, though I added more flour when rolling out to get the correct consistency in the dough.  This left me with a really short and melt in the mouth pastry that I was very pleased with indeed.

Tthe filling has shallots, creme fraiche, double cream and blue cheese(I used Stilton).  

Although the recipe takes a while to make it is actually quite simple if you are patient.  As I made the pastry and baked it blind I placed a baking tray on the shelf below the tart tin.  This caught the excess pastry as it dropped off and I was able to eat that separately, before baking the tart.  I must say the pastry was delicious and very crumbly, melting in the mouth.

The aroma emanating from the oven during baking was wonderful and made my wonder why I don't like cooked cheese.  It was duly delivered to my sister for her to enjoy and the report that just arrived on my phone said "Yum Yum tart.  
You can taste the cheese strongly and it works so well with the sweetness of the figs".

So it seems that the recipe has worked very well indeed.

In the video below I forgot, for the pastry element, to turn my microphone on, so I have included text directions to cover that part.  I will try to do better next time.

Blue Cheese & Fig Tart

Blue Cheese & Fig Tart - Video

  • 200g plain flour, plus a little extra for rolling pastry
  • 175g cold butter 150g diced into chunks
  • 100g walnut  roughly chopped in a food processor
  • 3 eggs, plus 2 yolks
  • 400g shallots
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme-leaves, plus extra to decorate
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 200ml double cream
  • 140g blue cheese 
  • 3-4 figs, halved, cut sides brushed with a little oil
  1. Tip the flour into a food processor with ½ tsp salt and the diced butter. 
  2. Pulse until you can’t feel any lumps, then tip in the walnuts and pulse to combine. 
  3. Mix the egg yolks with 3 tbsp cold water, then dribble this into the machine while you pulse again until the pastry comes together, you may not need all the liquid.
  4. Tip the pastry out onto a floured surface, lightly bring it together into a ball, adding a little more flour if the mixture seems too wet.
  5. Roll out and line a deep 20-23cm tart tin with overhang. The pastry may crack, but just patch it back together, then cover and chill for 1 hr.
  6. To make the filling, melt the remaining butter in a large pan, then add the shallots and soften for 10-15 mins, until golden and squishy. 
  7. Stir in the thyme for 1 min, then remove from the heat. 
  8. Beat the eggs in a jug with the crème fraîche and cream. 
  9. Crumble in the cheese and season with pepper and a small amount of salt.
  10. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6/400F. 
  11. Remove the pastry from the fridge and line with baking parchment.
  12. Pour in baking beans and blind bake the pastry for 20 mins, remove the baking beans and paper, then bake for a further 15-20 mins until golden and sandy.
  13. Reduce the oven temp to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. 
  14. Add the cooled onions to the cream mixture and pour into the case. Sit the fig halves on top, cut side up, sprinkle with some more thyme and bake on the middle shelf for 1 hr-1hr 10 mins until the tart is browning and has a slight wobble – the cheese middle will firm up on sitting. Cool for about 15-20 mins, then remove from tin and serve with a green salad.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Dried-Blueberry Muffins

Today I had intended to make a blue cheese and fig tart, but the temperature has reached about 30C which is far too hot to successfully make a shortcrust pastry, so I have opted for something entirely different, muffins using dried blueberries.

Muffins are a very good standby recipe, so easy to make and so rewarding to eat.  I love dried blueberries, even in the summer when fresh ones are so plentiful.  For this recipe I soaked the blueberries in some cold black tea for a while, but that really isn't necessary it was just to make them slightly plumper.

So, as with all muffin recipes, it is just a case of mixing the wet ingredients and then adding the dry ones and mixing until just combined.   Then pop in the fruit and mix again before filling the muffin cases and baking.

The muffins turned out very well indeed, very flavoursome and moist.  Ideal for a snack or for breakfast.

So try this recipe and enjoy some lovely muffins.  I will be back with the blue cheese and fig tart in a few days, when the weather has cooled down somewhat.
Dried Blueberry Muffins

Dried Blueberry Muffins - Video

  • 256g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 120g dried blueberries
  • 113g softened butter
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract(or bean paste)
  • 180 ml milk
  • 170g sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/375F
  2. Line a muffin tin with paper cases(or grease the tin)
  3. Mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk the egg until broken down and add the butter, milk and vanilla extract and whisk until combined.
  5. Add the dry mixture from the other bowl and mix until just comined.
  6. Toss the blueberries in a little extra flour, this will stop them sinking.
  7. Add the blueberries and fold in until just combined..
  8. Divide the batter into 12 muffin cases, filled to about 3/4 full.
  9. Bake in then oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until a skewer poked in the centre comes out clean.
  10. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Dried Blueberry & Oat Cookies

Well I am back from a lovely holiday in Canada, and ready to get on with more baking.  Today's recipe is for some cookies with dried blueberries.  I love oats as well, so they seemed an ideal addition to the blueberries to make the cookies.  As well as that I decided that I needed a little more flavour, something a little bit spicy, but not too much, so I added some ground ginger and some nutmeg.

These cookies are easy to make, and I based them on a recipe on Eatthelove, but I omitted crystalized ginger since I think that would have been too strong a flavour for what I wanted.

The cookies are so easy to make and take very little time to bake.  So you are ready to eat them in less that an hour, including time for cooling. 

I am very pleased with the results, a lovely cookie with a bit of crunch and chewy too, with the slight hit of spice but the lovely chewy, sweet flavour of the blueberries.

You could, of course, use any dried fruit with this recipe and they would work just as well I am sure.
Dried Blueberry and Oat Cookies

Dried Blueberry & Oat Cookies - Video

  • 115g softened butter
  • 110g soft brown sugar( I used a mixture of dark and light, either will be fine)
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 ground nutmeg( I grated my own)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)
  • 170g rolled oats
  • 105g plain flour
  • 120g dried blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160 Fan/350F 325F Fan
  2. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  3. In a stand mixer beat the butter, sugars, ginger and nutmeg until soft and fluffly.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.
  5. Add the egg and beat to combine.
  6. Mix the flour and oats together and add to the wet mixture and beat to combine.
  7. Add the dried blueberries and mix until just combined.
  8. Roll the mixture into 24 balls, of a slightly heaped tablespoon in size, and place on the baking tray.
  9. Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes, until the edges are beginning to colour slightly.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes.  
  11. Transfer to a wire rack to cook completely.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Madeleines - With Grace and Claire

For my final bake in Canada I was with Grace and Claire again, this time making some Madeleines. These lovely french delicacies are simply wonderful.  The light textured sponge, with a hint of lemon is just perfect.  

We made two sizes, mini ones, that are really just one bite and the more usual full-sized ones that are still small but a good two bites.  

Grace and Claire paid attention as we did the mixing of the ingredients and then did a great job of filling the mini madeleine tin before I did the same for the larger ones.

Having baked them the girls did the taste test and enjoyed them immensely.

It was such fun to be able to bake with them, and with Liam my great-nephew who appears in two other videos from my trip.

I hope that we can do some when I go back to see them next year, 

I will be back with another recipe, and a video, for some Dried Blueberry and Oatmeal cookies in the very near future.

Madeleines - With Grace and Claire
Madeleines - With Grace & Claire - Video
  • 67g caster sugar
  • 64g plain(all purpose) flour
  • 57g melted unsalted butter
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/340F Fan
  2. In a bowl beat together the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar until the mixture is thick and pale( I used a hand mixer)
  3. Add the flour, in three additions, mixing each time until fully combined.
  4. Add the zest of the lemon and the melted butter and mix until combined.
  5. Spoon the mixture into greased madeleine tins( I used both mini tins and full-sized silicone madeleine molds).
  6. Bake in the oven, 5-7 minutes for min madeleines and 14-17 minutes for full-sized madeleines.
  7. Remove from the oven and tip out onto a baking tray and allow to cool before eating.

Abbey Crunch - With Liam

Continuing my Canadian holiday I did another bake with Liam, my great-nephew.  This time it was Abbey Crunch biscuits/cookies.  Liam's Mum had tasted these when I made them last year, and she enjoyed them very much so I thought we would make some more for her as Liam's second bake.

The recipe is already on the blog but I will repeat it here, for convenience.  They are a wonderfully crunchy biscuit with a delicious flavour associated with golden syrup.  So easy to make and really are just about the best biscuit you can imagine.  I recommend that anyone who likes crunchy biscuits should make these and try them, you most certainly wont be disappointed.

Liam, as before, did a great job in this video, it was a pleasure to show him how to make them.

Abbey Crunch - With Liam

Abbey Crunch - With Liam - Video
  • 140g Butter
  • 140g Caster Sugar
  • 140g Self raising flour
  • 112g Rolled oats
  • 15 ml Milk
  • 10 ml Golden Syrup
  • 1tsp Baking Soda
  1. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Mix in the milkand syrup.
  3. Mix the flour, baking soda and oats together and then stir into the butter mixture
  4. Roll into about 24 small balls and put on greased baking tray
  5. Cook for 25 mins on 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2 until golden brown in colour.
  6. They may dome slightly during baking, so half way through you can just tap them down a little with a spatula to flatten the top (or you can do the same once you have taken them out of the oven).
  7. Allow to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack until fully cooled and hardened.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Chocolate Friands - with Liam

Another bake that I did whilst in Canada was with my great-nephew Liam, who was baking for the first time.  We decided to make some Chocolate Friands, a very tasty almond based cake.  Friands are most widely known in Australia and New Zealand, where they use special friand tins.  We couldn't get one in Canada, so we made do with a muffin tin, which worked just as well.

The recipe worked very well and Liam showed himself to be a very confident baker, and presented himself very well too, talking so fluently to the camera.
Chocolate Friands, with Liam

Chocolate Friands, with Liam, Video
  • 185g melted and cooled butter
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 20g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 6 medium(USA large) egg whites
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F.
  2. Grease a twelve hole friand or muffin pan.
  3. Sift the icing sugar, cocoa powder and the flour into a large bowl.
  4. Add the ground almonds and stir in to combine.
  5. Whisk the egg whites until they are light and frothy but have not reached soft peaks.
  6. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg whites. 
  7. Mix until combined into a batter.
  8. Pour the melted butter over the top, then mix it in until it it fully combined.
  9. Divide the mixture into the muffin cups, filling them to about two thirds full.
  10. Bake in the oven for 20 to 22 minutes until the friands are springy when the tops are pressed.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then gently remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Crinkles & Grantham Gingerbreads - Grace & Claire

I am back from a wonderful trip to Canada to visit family.  Whilst there I did some baking with my great nieces Grace and Claire.  I took my camera with me so was able to film the process.  We had a lot of fun making Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and Grantham Gingerbreads.  Both recipes are already on the blog, but I will repeat them here so you can see how to do them.

The girls did a great job in helping me, as you can see if you watch the video below.

Although I had a great time in Canada it is good to be home so that I can try out some more recipes that are new to me.  I will be posting them as I do them, but before that I will have two more Canada videos to post, one with Liam, my great nephew, and another with Grace and Claire.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies & Grantham Gingerbreads

        Chocolate Crinkle Cookies & Grantham Gingerbreads - Video

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies:
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 57g softened butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • 65g icing sugar( for rolling the dough balls)
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)
  1. In a stand mixer cream the butter and caster sugar and the add the eggs and vanilla extract.  
  2. Beat until fully combined.
  3. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder together and add to the butter mixture.
  4. Mix until just combined into a sticky dough.
  5. Refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours to allow it to firm up.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C/350F.
  7. Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper.
  8. Place the icing sugar into a bowl.
  9. Roll the dough into balls, using one level tablespoon of the mixture, and roll in the icing sugar until fully coated. Try to work quickly as the dough will warm up and become more sticky.
  10. Place each ball on the baking tray, leaving a gap of at least one inch between each ball.
  11. Bake in the oven of 10-12 minutes, the dough will spread slightly but will still be domed.
  12. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before serving.
Grantham Gingerbreads:
  • 112g softened butter
  • 340g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg, beaten(in the USA this would be large)
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger(I think a little more would be better, up to 2 tsp)
  1. Preheat the oven to 150C/135c Fan/300F
  2. In a bowl cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. (a stand mixer or food processor is fine for all of this recipe)
  3. Gradually add the beaten egg until fully combined.
  4. In a bowl mix the self raising flour and ground ginger together.
  5. Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture and beat until fully combined.  (it will pull together into clumps, you can stop at that stage).
  6. Divide the mixture into small round balls, weighing about 25g each and place on baking trays, leaving room for them to spread somewhat during baking.(you should get 30 balls)
  7. Bake in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes until they have spread, and domed, with some cracks on the top, and are a light golden colour.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  9. They will be firm of the outside and hollow and slightly honeycombed on the inside.
  10. Store in an airtight container.