Fig Jam!

Fig Jam

Jams and chutneys have become one of my most recent ridiculous obsessions. I literally spend every extra minute trying to find unique twists on traditional recipes and have now become fixated on the idea of giving jars of goodies as christmas gifts. Whats better than receiving a cosy jar of goodness prepared with homemade love?

Christmas time usually conjures up images of cosy nights in huddled in a fluffy blanket with the scents of cinnamon and ginger lingering in the air. However, for me, nothing epitomizes this time of year than a piece of sweet Pantone slathered with gooey fig jam.  There really isn’t anything better than that! I discovered Fig Jam last year when my mum bought home a jar of it from that great Italian restaurant, Carluccio’s. I’m not that much of a Fig lover but became absolutely enthralled by this beautiful sweet and sticky Jam.

This Jam combines the practicability of a smooth Jam but with added gems of texture every now and again due to the caramelised Fig skins. Didn’t I tell you this was truly amazing?! This recipe gives the Figs a boost of flavour and a citrus hint of Orange and Lemon. And it’s so easy! Just chuck it all in a pan, boil and voila. You have a Jam to die for. So, if you ever have a glut of left over fruit, get jamming! Especially if your garden is overflowing in Figs.

Ingredients – (This recipe can be adapted for bigger quantities) – Makes 750 ML

  • 800g Figs
  • 400g Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • Zest of half an Orange

Method

Place a plate or spoon in the freezer ready for testing your jam later. Cut off the stemsfrom your Figs and chop into quarters. Place into a large saucepan, making sure there is plenty of room as the Jam will boil rapidly. Mash down the Figs with a potato masher or your hands until they become lumpy and wet. Next add in the sugar, lemon juice and orange zest. Stir together.

Place the pan on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up high and stir every now and again until the jam reaches 105 degrees. (You don’t have to have a thermometer to do this, just check your Jam a few minutes after it starts to boil.) At this point, spoon a little onto your cold plate or spoon and place back into the freezer to cool. After a minute or so, take the tester out of the fridge and push with your finger. If it wrinkles when moved then it is ready. If your jam isn’t set, just carry on boiling and testing until it is. Once ready, pour into your sterilised jars and seal. This Jam will keep for 6 months.

How to sterilise Jars: Place in a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes and dry out in an oven at 120 degrees. Make sure that you do not touch the inside of the jars of the rims as this will transfer bacteria. Pour your jam in when your Jars come out of the oven.

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Blueberry Crumb Muffins

Blueberry Crumb Muffins

Yes, hello strangers, it’s me. Finally crawling from under my bed sheets, to force myself to get off my butt and blog for once. The weekends seem to have become a time for hibernation for me, just pure sleep due to my zombie-like overall state. But I think we can all safely say it has been way too long since my last blog, so here am! At the comfort of my computer typing away about my latest kitchen adventure.

But First, let me talk about my adventures on my Patisserie course. Yes its great, yes its all I hoped it would be and yes, I’m fat now. And so is my family. Although the long shifts at work are helping to keep it off a bit.  I’ve already had one of my exams. It’s rated from Pass to Merit to Distinction. I received a Merit, which is OK but I would have much preferred a Distinction but then continued to get one in my presentation. Yay me! Work is exciting, hard, draining but rewarding all at the same time! I love it and still can’t believe Im working at Claridge’s, weeeeeeee. Here are some interesting and some not so interesting pictures from college and work:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now onto these fab-u-lous muffins. Crumb toppings are one of my all time favourite things. They just make the world seem an all over better and brighter place, don’t you think? Yes. Blueberries in muffins is an obvious combo that we’ve all come across once in our lives, but theres something about these which is just unique and positively divine. For one, they come from Ottolenghi’s cookbook which is filled with the most mouth watering concoctions you’ve ever seen (I’m dying to visit one of his shops) so you know its going to be good when it comes from him. This batter is so light and airy it’s almost like a mousse, just beautiful. Combine the bursting flavour of sweet blueberries with a domed, overflowing top… what more could you want?! These gems don’t need much effort but provide a hell of a lot of reward along with the end result. Happy baking guys! Its good to be back.

Ingredients – Makes 12 – Recipe from Ottolenghi The Cookbook

  • 540g plain flour
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 340g caster sugar
  • 140g unsalted butter, melted
  • 380ml milk
  • grated zest 1 lemon
  • 1 Granny smith apple, unpeeled, cut into 1cm dice
  • 200g blueberries, plus some for topping

Crumble

  • 150g plain flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100g cold cubed unsalted butter

Method

Crumble: Put all of the ingredients for the crumble into a bowl and work between your fingers to create a breadcrumb-like texture. Using your fingers to create a rubbing motion. Set aside in a cool place.

Muffins: Preheat your oven to 170 C and line your muffin tin with paper cases. Whiskyour eggs, sugar and melted butter (cooled slightly) together. Add in your milk and lemon zest whilst whisking. Then proceed to add in the blueberries, folding them in gently with a spatula. Next add your dry ingredients (sifted) and fold together. Do not fold the mix too much, it should only just be combined and be quite rough looking.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop your mix equally into the muffin cases. Top generously with your crumb topping (don’t be shy!) then add a few more blueberries on top. This topping should create the dome to your muffin so be as greedy as you like. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Take the muffins out of the tin whilst warm so that the crumb topping doesn’t harden onto the tin (some of your muffin domes may get left behind otherwise!)

 

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Orange Polenta Cake

Orange Polenta Cake

First off, I have to apologise for my lazy blogging recently. I have failed to blog as much as I usually do due to starting my Apprenticeship! It has been scary, nerve racking, exciting and fun all at the same time. I’m starting to feel part of the team at Claridges now and, even though I feel sick with nerves when I get up at 5 every morning, I’m beginning to feel more relaxed about being in the kitchen. Every member of the team is being really helpful and I’m starting to understand a few more things now. Its really interesting seeing how a pastry kitchen operates and it was definitely a shock to see the sheer amount of work everyone has to do in one day. Looking forward to next week as I continue at Claridges as well as starting my Patisserie course at Westminster College! Eeek, exciting to finally start everything.

Now onto this beauty of a cake. One of my obsessions at the moment is Yotam Ottolenghi. My mum recently bought his cookbook and I have been divulging through it ever since. His recipes are interesting and unique but simple, using great ingredients and really enhancing their flavours. I’ve never used polenta before so was intrigued when I first saw this recipe. My mum wasn’t too keen on the sound of polenta, thinking it would be too grainy, but she was converted after her first slice. I really like this cake as its not too intimidating or fancy, it just makes the best use of its ingredients. My favourite part was the edges where the syrup had begun to caramelise the orange pieces. The sponge to this cake is moist and, contrary to what I thought beforehand, not dense. It has a slight floral element to it due to the orange blossom. I cannot thank Ottolenghi enough for this wonderful recipe and for creating such a picturesque summer dessert.

Ingredients – Recipe from Ottolenghi The Cookbook

  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp orange blossom water
  • 240g ground almonds
  • 120g quick-cook polenta

Caramel topping

  • 90g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 20g unsalted butter, diced
  • 3 oranges (I used more than this, so buy a few extra just in case)

Glaze

  • 4 tbsp orange marmalade
  • 1 tbsp water

Method

Grease a 20cm round cake tin with soft butter and line the base and sides with baking paper. Make sure that you cut the base circle slightly larger than needed so that it extends up the sides of the tin a little to stop the syrup from leaking.

Have a pastry  brush and a cup of water by the side of the oven. Put the sugar and water for the caramel in a large saucepan. Shake gently to allow the water to wet the sugar before placing onto a medium heat. Bring the sugar to the boil and using your pastry brush and water, brush down the sides of the pan to get rid of any crystals that begin to form. Once your sugar is a nice golden colour, add the butter and stir with a wooden spoon until it is smooth. Pour the caramel over the lined base and quickly swirl around so that it coats the surface completely.

Next grate the zest of 2 of for oranges and set aside. Cut off the top and bottom of each orang and, standing it on one of the flat sides, peel off the skin using a sharp knife following the natural shape of the orange. Slice each orange into thin slices, removing any pips as you go, and lay neatly next to each other over the top of your caramel. Make sure you cover the whole surface.

Pre heat your oven to 170C. Cream the butter and sugar together, making sure to not add in too much air. Add each egg one at a time and mix to incorporate. Add the orange zest and blossom water, polenta and almonds. Sift your dry ingredients into the mix as well and stir together until just combined. Pour the batter into your cake tin, being careful not to move your oranges, and level with a knife. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Leave to cool for 5 minutes and turn out the cake.

Once the cake is completely cool, combine the glaze ingredients in a saucepan and heat for a minute. Sieve the glaze if need be and brush on top of your cake to give it a beautiful shine.

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Eight-Strand Plaited Loaf (The Great British Bake Off)

Eight-strand Plaited Loaf

Those of you who are as mad about cooking programmes as I am will recognise this beautiful plaited loaf from ‘The Great British Bake Off’ episode last week. I’m one of those people who watches food shows religiously. But Bake Off is one of those special ones which gets me in the mood to bake and really inspires me. As soon as I saw this technical bake, I had to give it a go. I love making breads and jumped at the thought of trying this plaited style. No I have never attempted a plaited loaf before and yes, I gave myself a hard time by choosing an eight-strand plait to be my first. I’ve now made this twice and both loaves were absolutely delicious. The plait provides plenty of chewy crust (because that is what bread is about!) and a lovely soft texture inside. My top tip with the plait is to make sure the sections of the plait are equal length and width. I had a bit of trouble with my second loaf as one of the lengths was too thin and broke during my second rise! Very frustrating. I really recommend lightly toasting a slice and slathering on some fig jam. I found this irresistible and it has now become my breakfast routine. Ok, so mine doesn’t look as gorgeous as some of the contestants loaves in this episode, but I am determined to get the hang of this and produce a perfect plait.

Ingredients – Recipe from BBC – Paul Hollywood

  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong bread flour
  • 2 x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
  • 10g/¼oz fine salt
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • extra flour for dusting
  • oil for greasing bowl
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten lightly with a pinch of salt
  • pinch salt

Method

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast on top of the flour on one side of the bowl and add the salt on the other side. Make sure they do not touch. Stir the ingredients together until incorporated. Add a good splash of olive oil on top of the flour mix. Measure out 340ml/12fl oz of warm water and add three-quarters to the flour mixture. Mix with your hands and then add the rest of the water and mix again. Gather your dough together and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead by hand for about 10 minutes until the dough feels silky and springs back when touched.

Oil a large bowl and place your dough inside. Cover this with some cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour. Once your dough has doubled in size, turn it out and knock the air out of it. Shape the dough into a ball.

Divide the dough into eight equal sections and roll them out into long sausage shapes, all equal in length (40 cm) and width. Lay the strands out on a lightly floured surface with the strands splayed like an octopus, pressed down together at the top so that they are attached.

Here is the braiding sequence: Number the strands of dough from 1-8 from left to right. Every time you move any strand it will take the new number of its position in the row.

Step 1: place 8 under 7 and over 1

Step 2: place 8 over 5

Step 3: place 2 under 3 and over 8

Step 4: place 1 over 4

Step 5: place 7 under 6 and over 1

Repeats step 2-5, until all the dough is braided.

Once your plait is completely braided, you can either tuck the ends underneath the loaf or chop them off and then tuck them under (I chose the latter for a neater finish.) Place the loaf on a floured tray and leave to prove for another hour, until doubled in size. Pre-heat oven at 200C/375F. Combine an egg with a pinch of salt and glaze the top of the loaf generously and for 20 -25 minutes until golden.

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Breakfast Marble Bundt Cake

Breakfast Marble Bundt Cake

I am a firm believer that cake/dessert can be eaten whenever you feel like it. I have often been known to eat my dessert before my main course. And here’s why… Dessert is my favourite part of a meal, so why wait til last to eat it? By the time it comes to dessert, I’m so full from my main that I can’t enjoy (or finish) my pudding. To be honest, I don’t want sweet things every morning. But as a treat for the weekend or that little pick me up during the week, this is perfect. I know Marbled cakes have been done left right and centre on blogs recently, but this one is different. The whole concept of this recipe is to really have two distinct flavours, instead of what usually happens with marble cakes; the two flavours end up tasting the same. This beautiful recipe comes from a shop called ‘Baked’ from Red Hook, New York. They have a few cookbooks but I chose their first one, ‘Baked: New Frontiers in baking.’ This recipe was one of the first recipes that caught my eye. And after my sister brought me a congratulatory bundt tin one evening, I was already baking it that night.

One thing I love about bundt cakes is that they are huge. It’s not like they’re gone within a day. I also like how its a very casual cake and simple too. This bundt is moist with a crisp outside with a light vanilla sponge and a decadent chocolate layer. What more do you want from a cake?

So if you have it for breakfast, dinner or dessert… (or all of them!) just make sure you have it, and bask in the fluffy texture and moist crumb.

Ingredients

Chocolate swirl

  • 6 oz dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa), coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. cocoa powder

Sour Cream Vanilla Cake

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, soft but still slightly cold, cut into cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Method

Chocolate Swirl: Place a bowl over some simmering water in a saucepan and melt the chocolate. Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, whisk in the cocoa powder until completely incorporated. Take off the heat and leave to one side.

Sour Cream Cake: Spray the inside of your bundt tin with non-stick spray, or alternatively use a knob of butter. Make sure you get into every nook. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until it falls in ribbons. Add in the sugar and mix until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Now scrape down your bowl and beat for 30 seconds. Pour in the sour cream and vanilla and beat until the ingredients are just combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in 3 additions. Beat between every addition, scraping down after each. Make sure you don’t over mix the mixture at this point.

Pre-heat the oven at 350F/ 175C. Pour a third of the vanilla mix into the chocolate mix and combine. Pour half of the remaining vanilla mix into bottom of your tin. Smooth this into place. Next pour all of the chocolate layer on top in an equal layer (you can use an ice cream scoop to do this) Using a knife, swirl the two layers together; making sure to bring the vanilla layer from the bottom up. Pour the rest of the vanilla mix on top and then swirl again. Bake in the over for an hour. Rotate the tin half way through baking.

 

 

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Sweet Lemon Posset Cups

Lemon Posset Cups

Ok so I’m just going to get my AMAZING news out of the way or I won’t be able to concentrate on what I’m blogging. I got the Apprenticeship with Claridges! Aaaaaaaaah, I’m so happy and relieved! It’s all so exciting; I can’t wait to start. I thought that these cute Lemon Possets were pretty appropriate as I helped make their Lemon Possets while I was on my trial with Claridges.

Moving onto these lovely Possets. I really don’t understand anyone who doesn’t like Lemon Posset. It’s so simple yet so darn good; that silky smooth texture and sweet smack of lemon. But how can you make it better? Putting them in Lemons, that’s how! Setting your posset in an actual Lemon is so much more appealing than plain ramekins. It also adds a slight sour note toward the edges of your posset from where the mix has been resting on the Lemon rind. Yes, it is a bit of extra effort but it’s completely worth it when you see your guests faces. I think these would be even better with a smooth layer of tangy Lemon Curd in the centre to off set the sweetness of the posset.

Ingredients – Makes 6 * (Recipe from Easy Living)

  • 600 ml (20fl oz) double or thick cream
  • 50 ml (5fl oz) single cream
  • 185g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 6 Lemons

* You will have mix left but I just used this as a tester to make it a round number

Method

Cut the tops off of your Lemons and a little off of the bottom so that they can stand up on their own. Next, take a sharp knife and score the inside from side to side in a cross. Using a melon baller scoop out the inside. Reserve all of this in a bowl and strain to leave the juice. Make sure you go very near the skin of the lemon so that you get all of the membrane for a clean finish. Be careful not to tear the skin here. Leave to one side.

Get a large saucepan and bring the double cream, single cream and sugar to the boil over a low heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. You must have a large saucepan or your cream will be at risk of over boiling. Boil gently for 3 minutes.

Take off the heat and whisk in 40ml of lemon juice. Taste and decide if it needs more lemon juice. Add more if you think so, but not too much as you don’t want it to be too liquid or it won’t set. Allow to cool slightly and pour into your lemon cups. Chill for 12 hours or until set.

 

NOTE: If you went through the bottom of some of your lemon cups by accident, wrap cling film around the bottom half of them and set them onto a tray before pouring the posset in. This will prevent any liquid seeping out until they are set enough for the cling film to be removed.

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Lemon Glazed Blueberry Madeleines

Lemon Glazed Blueberry Madeleine’s

It was my sisters birthday last week! Me and my other sister gave her a Madeleine tin, so this post is pretty bang on time. Happy birthday Charlotte (She’s the one on the far right), this post is for you! So you better bloody make this recipe!

This week has been a very greedy and indulgent one. I can’t seem to resist any kind of food recently and want to try and make everything! However, it does mean that I get to share some great recipes with you. The first one of those is these gorgeous Madeleine’s. Theres something about Madeleine’s that are so elegant and …well… French! They’re the perfect snack size cake with their light as air sponge. I wanted to pack some flavour into these traditionally demure cakes, so decided to add in some blueberries to David Lebovitz’s amazing Lemon-Glazed Madeleine recipe. I really couldn’t stop eating these mini cakes and they were gone within a day. They’re just so small you feel no guilt! The best part of these Madeleine’s is definitely the Blueberries. First you get the sweet Lemon and then pop goes the blueberry. It really conjures up feelings of warm summer afternoons in the garden sipping refreshing Pimm’s with your tea cakes.

Ingredients -Makes 12 Madeleine’s

  • 2 Eggs, room temp.
  • 65g sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 87g all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 60g unsalted butter, melted and cooled (plus more for moulds)
  • Blueberries (about 24)

Glaze

  • Icing/Confectioners sugar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Lemon Zest

Method

Melt some butter and, using a pastry brush, coat the inside of your Madeleine tin. Next, dust with some flour and tap off any excess and put in the fridge. In a kitchen aid (or with an electric whisk) whip the eggs, sugar and sake until thick and pale. Sift in the flour and baking powder into the mix and fold in. Combine the lemon zest into the butter and pour into the batter. Combine using a spatula. Cover the batter with cling film and leave in the fridge for 1 hour. (Can be left for up to 12 hours)

Pre-heat the oven to 218 C/425F. Spoon the batter equally into you Madeleine tin, about 3/4 of the way up the mould. Don’t spread the mix as this could change the end shape. Whip any excess batter off the tin. Push 2 blueberries into each mould. Bake for 8-10 minutes until springy. Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack, shell side up.  For the glaze, it is very much personal preference. Combine some icing sugar, lemon juice and zest together and taste. If you want it thinner, add more lemon juice. Want it thicker? Add more sugar. Want more lemon flavour? Add more juice or zest. I like mine to be thin enough to spread but not so it will just fall off my Madeleine’s. Roll each Madeleine in the glaze until fully covered. Let most excess drip off before drying on a rack.

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Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream (and some news)

Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream

Every now and again I get that familiar urge to mess around with a recipe and put a bit of myself in there. I’m pretty sure a lot of you know the same niggling feeling I’m talking about! Inspired by the somewhat summery weather we’ve been getting, I decided to play around with a Lemon Cupcake and pack in a whole lot of flavour with some fresh raspberries; because everyone knows that’s a bloody great combination. And then some buttery sweet Lime Buttercream swirled on top? I literally couldn’t think of anything better. I’m really not much of a lover of Cupcakes but these, I would happily make some room for in my kitchen. The one thing I do love about Cupcakes is that they can pack so much flavour into a few bites; and I can assure you that these are no exception. The fresh Raspberries create a tangy but fruity taste that works really well against the sweetened Lemon Cupcake and zingy Buttercream. This is one of those recipes that I will revisit over and over again, refining it until it is the best Lemon Cupcake imaginable!

On another note, I have some exciting news that I have been keeping from you all. I’ve been accepted onto a Patisserie Scholarship course at Westminster college! It’s 2 years long and all extremely exciting. A large part of my course is having a work placement in a kitchen, so I am in the process of trialing for various companies. So lets just hope I get an apprenticeship in time for September! On an even more riveting note, I had a 2 day trial at Claridges this week! And yes, my nerves were dancing around all over the place but after a while I got comfortable and really enjoyed myself. It was interesting seeing how everything worked in a large pastry kitchen. Everyone was really accepting of me working with them for the day and it was nice to be part of the team. It really made me realise that this is exactly what I want to pursue as a career. So keep your fingers crossed for me! And if any of you are thinking of taking your hobby one step further, just go for it!

Ingredients – Recipe adapted from Mary Berry’s Lemon Cupcakes (Makes 12)

  • 125g unsalted butter, soft
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest if 1 large lemon or 2 small
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Raspberries

Lime Buttercream – Recipe adapted from How to: Cupcakes

  • 113g soft butter
  • 2-3 cups icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lime zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Method

Cupcakes: Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases. Place all of your ingredients into a bowl and beat with an electric whisk or with the paddle attachment on a kitchen aid, until fully combined and smooth. Using a piping bag, pipe the mix into your paper cases evenly. Preheat your oven at 180C/ gas mark 4. Place 2 raspberries in each case, pushing into the batter. Next, using a knife, smooth some batter over the top of the raspberries so you can’t see them anymore. Bake in the oven for 20-25  minutes. Take out of the muffin tin and leave to cool completely before icing.

Lime Buttercream: Place all of your buttercream ingredients into a bowl (except the juice and sugar) and combine using an electric whisk. Next add the icing sugar and combine with a spoon first (this will help prevent the icing sugar from flying up everywhere later) Once the mix is slightly incorporated, using an electric whisk to combine the ingredients completely. Transfer into a piping bag once smooth and stiff enough to hold its shape (you can add more icing sugar or juice depending on if you want your buttercream thicker or thinner) Pipe onto your cupcakes and garnish with raspberries and fresh zest.

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Blueberry and Cherry Clafoutis

Blueberry and Cherry Clafoutis

It feels like an age since I last blogged, I’ve neglected you! So I have decided to bring you a beautiful summer dessert to make it up to you. I absolutely love this dessert and I’m pretty sure you all will too; it’s sure to end your day on a fruity high. As with everything I seem to be making recently, I had never made this before; but who doesn’t love a tart absolutely stuffed with fruit? Definitely not me! For those of you that are curious, a Clafoutis is a traditional French dish which consists of a light batter poured over stoned fruit. Michel Roux makes this traditional dessert even more delicious and elegant by adding in a tart case, giving the dish a range of different texture. Michel Roux suggests serving this pudding warm although I prefer it straight from the fridge… maybe I’m just impatient! The combination of sweet Blueberries and tart Cherries pack this tart full of flavour; and with the buttery pastry and sweet vanilla flan, it really couldn’t get any better.

Ingredients – Recipe slightly adapted from Michel Roux – Pastry

Pastry (Pâte Brisée)

  • 125g plain flour
  • 75g butter, cubed and slightly softened
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 egg (whisked)
  • 1/2 tbsp cold milk

Filling

  • 1 egg
  • 40g plain flour
  • 40g butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 250g cherries
  • 125g blueberries

Method

Pastry: Put your flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add your cubed butter, salt, sugar and half of your egg mix (you will not need the rest). Next, work these ingredients together to create a paste. Add in the milk and combine again with your fingers until the dough holds together. Using the palm of your hand, place the dough onto a floured surface and knead 4-5 times until it is smooth. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate until ready to use.

When you are ready to bake, roll out your pastry to about 3mm thick. Fold this over your rolling-pin and place into a loose bottomed tart tin, pressing down the edges to make sure it is secure. Trim off the edges, prick the base with a fork and chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 170C now. Place a piece of baking parchment over the top and fill with baking beans. Next, place in the oven for 15 minutes and then remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Filling: Turn your oven up to 200C. Break the egg into a bowl and add the flour. Using a whisk, combine the ingredients until fully incorporated. Add the melted butter and caster sugar. Scrape out the vanilla seeds from the vanilla pod and add to the mix, whisking. Lay your fruit on the bottom of your tart case and pour over your flan batter. Bake for 25 minutes until the surface is lightly golden and a tester comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack, turn out and leave to cool.

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Fresh Strawberry Soufflé with Vanilla Shortbread

Fresh Strawberry Soufflé with Vanilla Shortbread

As soon as I finished scoffing my mouth with this fluffy cloud of goodness, I knew I had to share it with you guys straight away. I had never made Soufflé before this due to its scary reputation. However, for me, this recipe was easy and produced great results. To be honest, my main worry was if I was going to get a picture of it in all its puffed up glory before it deflated on me! I like an impressive dessert as much as the next person and having a Soufflé recipe under your belt is something that could really come in handy at the end of a dinner party. I’m pretty sure everyone would be impressed if you escorted a couple of these babies out of the kitchen. The Soufflés would work great on their own with a sharp raspberry sauce, but I always love a biscuit or mini cake on the side so I added the Shortbread. Another great thing about Soufflés? (Apart from their airy texture and their many different flavours) You can freeze them. Feeling a little down? Go grab that Soufflé you made and bing, your happy as larry in 14 minutes.

Ingredients

Shortbread – recipe halved from Nigella Lawson – Makes 16 (Can be halved if you don’t want any left over)

  • 50g icing sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g cornflour
  • 100g very soft unsalted butter
  • Seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod

Soufflé – slightly adapted from Baking Bites – Makes 6

  • 12 oz trimmed, fresh strawberries
  • 2 tsp lemon or lime juice (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • pinch salt
  • 1 Vanilla pod (or if you don’t want to use another one, then just use the other 1/2 pod from the shortbread recipe)

Method

Shortbread: Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3. Put all of your ingredients into a food processor and whiz until it forms into a ball. Or you can Put your icing sugar, corn flour and flour into a bowl. Add the butter and vanilla and using your fingers, create breadcrumbs. Once you have done this, form the ingredients into a ball. Transfer this to a tray and pat down with the back of a spoon to spread evenly into one layer. Pop in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes. They should be pale but no longer doughy. When your shortbread is out of the oven, Immediately cut it into pieces and prick the top with a fork. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Soufflé: Preheat your oven to 400F/200C. Butter six ramekins and then tip sugar around the ramekins to attach to the butter. In a food processor add the strawberries, cornstarch and half the sugar and whiz until smooth and combined. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the rest of the sugar a tbsp at a time with a pinch of salt and continue to whisk until the mix becomes stiff.  Whisk in a third of your strawberry mix into the egg whites, this will make the rest of the mix easier to fold in. Gradually fold in the rest of the strawberry mix until it becomes an even mixture. Fill the ramekins to the top with the Soufflé mix and, using a palette knife, smooth over the top. Take care to whip away any excess mix on the rim of your ramekins. Bake for 12-17 minutes until the top of your Soufflés are lightly golden. Serve immediately.

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