Sunday, 27 September 2015

Bakewell Tart with Blackberry and Apple Jam

For as long as I remember, the end of summer has been heralded by the yearly blackberrying trip with my family, setting off armed with various plastic containers and returning with a carload of blackberries and purple-stained hands.

Of course in recent years, I haven't been living with my family, so I haven't always gone blackberry picking with them. Last year I went with my housemates and we picked about 3kg of berries - a very successful trip. This year's trip was not so successful.

I left it rather late in the year and by the time I went out fruit-picking with my boyfriend, there were few blackberries to be had. We stripped those bushes we did find pretty bare, and still came back with less than 1kg. 

I was hoping to make jam with some of our haul, but realised I would have to use all the blackberries if I was going to make a full jar. Everyone knows that the only point of picking blackberries is to make blackberry and apple crumble, so I wasn't going to sacrifice my crumble for jam.

Instead, I decided to make just half a jar and use it straight away in a recipe. The recipe I chose was a bakewell tart. 

The traditional bakewell tart is a long way from the one of my childhood, which was made by Mr Kipling, came in a foil case and consisted of a bitesized shortcrust tart covered in a thick layer of white icing, topped with a glacĂ© cherry and a layer of raspberry jam in the middle.

Fondly as I remember Mr Kipling's offerings, I decided to make a traditional bakewell tart - still a shortcrust tart with a layer of jam in the middle, but with a frangipane filling and topping of flaked almonds. I also used blackberry and apple jam instead of raspberry - because that was what I had and I read that in the past, people used whatever jam was in season.

This was the result:

If you want to make a bakewell tart, this is the recipe I used:

You will need:

For the pastry:
140g plain flour
85g cold butter, plus extra to grease
pinch of salt
cold water 
23cm tart or flan tin

For the filling:
half a jar of jam (for blackberry and apple jam see my recipe here)
110g butter
110g caster sugar
110g ground almonds
2 eggs
25g plain flour
half a tsp baking powder
handful of flaked almonds

1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and grate the butter into the bowl, keeping some of the wrapper around the butter to protect it from the heat from your hand, then mix again.

2. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Mix the cold water into the crumble mixture little by little until it comes together into a ball when kneaded together. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 190C towards the end of this hour.

4. Make the filling in the meantime, beating together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and flour at the same time and beat to combine - the flour will stop the mixture from curdling. Beat in the ground almonds and baking powder.

5. Roll out the pastry on a well-floured surface until the surface area is big enough to fill the tin, using an offcut of pastry to press the pastry into the corners.

6. Line the tin with baking paper and fill with baking beans, dried pulses or rice to weigh it down. Then bake for 15 minutes, removing the paper and whatever you used to weigh it down 2 minutes before the end of the baking time. 

7. Spread the jam across the base of the pastry case, then spoon the frangipane on top and smooth it out with the back of a spoon. Bake for 25 minutes until well risen and golden, adding the flaked almonds on top after 20 minutes.   

8. Serve!

There you go - a bakewell tart filled with sweet jam and a soft, spongy frangipane.

Happy baking!


Thursday, 17 September 2015

Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

Last weekend I met my boyfriend's family for the first time. They invited me round to dinner on Jewish New Year.

As if that wasn't scary enough, I was also set the task of baking the honey cake. This was, of course, my cue to completely freak out.

I am a very irrational person. So when I pulled out all my cookbooks and found no honey cake recipes and found absolutely no consistency between recipes online, I decided the best solution was to make up my own recipe.

Surprisingly, it actually went quite well.

It's traditional at Rosh Hashanah to dip apple slices into honey, so I wanted to include apple in the cake. To do this I followed part a recipe I made a while ago (see here for the honey apple and almond kugelhopf), cooking apples in rum, honey and butter. I then drizzled the liquid over the cake to keep it moist as I'd read dryness is a common problem with honey cake.

The bees are made of marzipan. I had to make them because I saw a beehive cake on the internet and went crazy for a while and thought I should make a beehive cake. Then I came to my senses and compromised by making marzipan bees.

This recipe will serve 12.

You will need:

For the cake: 
100g butter
2 tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp clear honey
2 eggs, beaten
175g self raising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp water
50g flaked almond
greased and lined spring form cake tin

For the honeyed apples:
50g butter
good glug of brandy
half tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
240g honey
1 tsp lemon juice
2 green apples, peeled, cored and diced 

For the marzipan bees:
150g golden marzipan
40g dark chocolate
a piping bag
24 almond flakes, as whole and even in shape as possible

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Add all the ingredients for the honeyed apples save for the apples and almonds to a large frying pan and bring to the boil. Add the apples and reduce the heat to produce a gentle simmer. Cook for 8-10 minutes, turning the apples often until they have softened and the liquid thickened a little.

2. Drain the liquid off the apples and set aside. Beat together the sugar and butter for the cake.

3. Beat in the honey. Beat in the eggs, adding two tbsp of sifted flour with each egg to stop the mixture from curdling.

4. Fold in the honeyed apples. Fold in the flour and baking powder.

5. Spoon the cake batter into the tin and bake for 10 minutes before sprinkling over the flaked almonds and covering the cake with foil to stop it from browning too much. Bake for another 20-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

6. While the cake is in the oven, roll the marzipan into 12 equal sized ovoid shapes.

7. Break the dark chocolate up in a bowl and heat it in the microwave for 30 second bursts, stirring in between, until melted. Spoon it into the piping bag and cut off the tip to leave a very small opening. Pipe chocolate across the marzipan balls in two stripes and then, without squeezing, just touch the tip of the piping bag gently against the marzipan to do the eyes and stings of the bees.

8. While the chocolate is still wet, carefully place two almond flakes on the back of each bee.

9. Remove the cake from the oven and pierce several times with a cocktail stick. Place on a wire rack to cool with something underneath to catch the drips.

10. Brush all over with the liquid from the honeyed apples. Depending on how long the liquid has been cooling, the butter may solidify on top. If this happens, just give it 30 seconds in the microwave and stir well. Brush the liquid onto the cake a couple more times after 10 minute intervals. If you like, reserve the rest of the liquid to use as a sauce. Put the bees on and around the cake and serve.

I'd glad to say the boyfriend's family liked the cake, especially his grandfather, who ate quite a few of the bees.

L'shanah tovah!


Sunday, 6 September 2015

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

At the weekend, I went on an outing to the races with two friends. We got all dressed up, packed our picnic baskets with prosecco, carefully selected our horses based on the time-honoured method of picking ones with funny names and, in my case, proceeded to lose every single race of the day.

You may have noticed I mentioned picnic baskets in my opening paragraph. The picnic is of course an integral part of any race day. Last time I went to the races, on my 21st birthday, I spent weeks planning provisions for the outing and eventually produced sandwiches in several flavours, fluffy buttercream cupcakes in three colours, strawberries and a croquembouche (although that stayed at home).

This time I didn't go overboard. I baked a camembert and chutney-filled brioche (for the recipe for that see my post from January 2013) and some peanut-butter and chocolate chip cookies. 

If you know me or regularly read my blog you probably know that I love peanut butter. I fell in love with it while training for a 10km run and a couple of months ago purchased a 1kg bucket of the stuff.

So when I saw the recipe in my Hummingbird Bakery recipe book, it struck me as the perfect thing to make for a picnic. Easy to make and transport, tasty and full of two of my favourite ingredients - chocolate and peanut butter.

There they are, nestled between the prosecco and the still-warm brioche loaf and on top of the paper plates, wrapped in cellophane and decorated with curling ribbon. 

This recipe makes 24 large cookies. You will need to either bake these in 4 batches or have a very large oven and 4 large lined baking sheets. Before I give you this recipe, a note of caution: the cookie dough looks more or less the same all the way through. Sorry about that.

You will need:
240g crunchy peanut butter (I consider smooth heresy)
225g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
200g soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
half a tsp vanilla extract
340g plain flour
2 and a half tsp bicarbonate of soda
half a tsp of salt
75g roughly chopped dark chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Beat together the butters and sugars until light and fluffy.

2. Beat the eggs and vanilla extract into the mixture.

3. Mix in the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.

4. Drop tablespoons of cookie dough on the baking sheet, spacing them as far apart as you can and flatten them with the back of a spoon slightly. Bake for about 10 minutes until light brown before cooling on a wire rack.

There, wasn't that easy? Don't get cocky though - be very careful at the baking stage as a minute can be the difference between pale, undercooked cookies and singed edges!

Happy baking!