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When I was compiling the list of recipes for my 'Cakeathon', there were some letters where I found several recipes which I wanted to do. I decided to go through the alphabet once then revisit any remaining recipes.
A couple of days ago I blind-baked a couple of pastry cases, with the intention of making a Chester Pudding. While I had the ground almonds out, I thought I should make a bakewell tart too. I know that the Bakewell Pudding is the genuine traditional item and that the tart is a more modern version. I intend to try the pudding at some point but here is my attempt at a Bakewell Tart.
On to the Chester Pudding. While I was researching recipes, I found the there were two completely different puddings with the same name. One was a suet pudding, the other was a version of a Lemon Meringue Pie. I decided to make the latter. This was the same recipe which featured on the TV programme Terry and Mason's Great Food Trip, where Terry Wogan got driven around the country, eating local recipes.
When I read a few recipes, I realised that the lemon and almond layer was actually just a lemon curd with ground almonds and almond essence added. I decided to take a bit of a short cut and mixed a few tablespoons of lemon curd with almonds and spread that on the pastry base.
Apart from the pastry base being a bit thick and dry, both puddings/tarts came out well. The almond filling for the bakewell tart was really good for a first attempt. The lemon and almond layer in the chester tart could probably have benefited from more almonds or almond essence but that's a minor quibble.
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I first tried a Yorkshire Curd Tart back in 2010 when we went to the Otley Agricultural Show. I quite liked it so it was the natural choice for me to make for the letter Y.
The pastry base was a standard shortcrust, not the sweet enriched pastry often used for dessert tarts or pies. I figured that the traditional version of a recipe like this would have a more plain pastry.
I've never had much luck with pastry so after baking blind for 10 minutes, I removed the baking beans and put the case back in the oven for another 5 minutes to dry out a bit more.
I poured the mixture into the pastry case and baked it as gas mark 4 (180 °C) for about half an hour or so.
Despite my precautions with the pastry case, the base was very soft and the sides were a bit too crispy. After baking, there was a strong buttery smell in the house and I was worried that the filling had separated but it hadn't. The tart tasted good, not too rich or sweet. It would probably go well with a cup of coffee.
I'm not sure which of the many Uptons this recipe came from. There are several in England, including two near where I grew up (Upton-by-Chester and Upton on the Wirral). The only mentions of an Upton Pudding I can find on-line all refer to a pudding shop in Upton upon Severn but nowhere gives a recipe or even a vague description.
The recipe I followed came from Cassells Dictionary of Cookery. Some of the quantities were vague (volume of a teacup? size of a pie dish?) but the cooking instructions were fairly clear.
I bought a packet of 'sago' from the market this morning but when I looked closer, the contents were described as 'tapioca'. There does seem to be a lot of confusion over the two ingredients and they appear to be used interchangeably. It looks like a lot of so-called sago is now made from cassava so is actually tapioca.
My version was made using a measuring cup of sago/tapioca, a mixture of milk and water, a teaspoon of orange zest and three small apples, cored peeled and sliced. I baked it at gas mark 5 for a couple of hours, adding some extra water part way through when it had absorbed everything but the sago was still crunchy.
The flavour and texture were a bit unusual. The orange flavour was fairly prominent but probably needed a bit more sweetness because it didn't quite taste right to me.
When I tried the pudding last night it was still warm. I put the rest in the fridge overnight and tried some more today. The texture hadn't improved and to be honest, I couldn't eat the rest of the bowl. This definitely isn't a recipe to try again. Once was probably too many times.
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I have had to go a bit further afield for the letter Q. When I was trying to find a British recipe, the nearest I could find was something called a Summer Pudding Of The Quantocks. The source of this recipe appears to be a single website which no longer exists so I decided to find something else.
The recipe I followed was based on the one here but with the quantities halved:
- ½ a cup of demerara sugar
- 1/8 cup of maple syrup
- 200ml of double cream
- 1/8 cup of plain flour
I whisked together the first 3 ingredients then sifted the flour and whisked it into the mixture. I made my usual shortcrust pastry recipe, following the one on the BBC website (4oz plain flour, 2oz butter, a pinch of salt and enough water to bring it together).
The base was baked blind then the filling was poured in and returned to the oven, at gas mark 4, and baked until it was bubbling on top and started to look brown.
The tart was very good but could probably do with more maple flavour. If I try it again I might up the maple syrup content and slightly reduce the sugar. Alternatively I might follow a traditional English treacle tart recipe but use maple syrup to replace some of the golden syrup.
I bought some semolina flour a few weeks ago when I saw a bag on offer in the supermarket. I originally bought it because I had read a few recipes which used it in combination with plain flour but the bag remained unopened until recently when I started using it instead of cornmeal to coat loaves or when rolling out pizzas.
Once I had opened it I intended to try a semolina pudding. I can't remember when I last ate this but back in primary school it was occasionally offered as a hot pudding with tinned prunes.
I started looking up recipes then found that a friend of ours had beaten me to it and had already blogged about it.
Since my 'new thing' is microwave porridge (more of that later) I tried making semolina in the microwave. I took 2 cups of milk, whisked in ⅓ cup of semolina, a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a splash of vanilla essence. I cooked it at full power for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. I stirred in a tablespoon of jam to give a marbled effect. Since this makes quite a lot, there's no way I could eat that quantity all at once so I ate some while it was still hot then put the rest in a tub to set.
Getting back to the microwave porridge, since I don't like having to stand in front of the microwave making sure something doesn't boil over, I have started cooking the porridge on medium for 6 minutes. At this setting I can go away and do something else and it will cook on its own, without needing stirring.
Rustic Spanish Bread revisited
I have been baking a lot of bread recently and have been getting through a bag of bread flour in a week, when previously a bag would last for a month or more. My latest loaf was a sourdough version of the Rustic Spanish Bread I made last week. The starter was made using sourdough but the main dough used regular yeast, following their recipe.
I first grew salsify a couple of years ago. The roots were quite small and by the time I had peeled them there wasn't much left to cook. The ones I planted last year did better but I only got around to harvesting them a couple of days ago.
After peeling the roots, I tossed them in olive oil and lemon juice then sprinkled them with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. They were roasted at gas mark 6 for about 20 minutes. The thick ends came out ok but the tapered ends were a bit over-cooked and had blackened.
The flavour was quite mild and there was only enough for a snack but I'll probably have another go at growing them this year.
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My final recipe for the year, and a proper Christmassy recipe, was for marzipan topped mince pies. All of the ingredients were left over from other recipes so we had shortcrust pastry from a dessert which Emma made shortly before Christmas and we had the fruit and marzipan leftover from the stollen.
I took the boozy mixed fruit and added some dried cranberries and ground almonds to make a slightly more substantial mincemeat style filling. We blind-baked the pastry bases for a few minutes before adding a spoon of fruit. This went back in the oven for a few more minutes before a disk of marzipan was placed over each pie. The pies went back in the oven for another minute or so until the marzipan had softened and formed a seal around the edge of the pies.
The only real problem with the pies was that they were a bit small. Our pastry cutter was slightly too small and when the pastry shrank back during the blind-baking, we ended up with small disks instead of pie cases. This meant we needed a marzipan dome over the fruit, more marzipan and less pastry is not a problem for me.
Earlier this year I bought the Hairy Bikers' baking book, and this is another of their recipes. This week's recipe was described as a coffee cake in the European tradition (a cake to go with coffee, not a cake containing coffee).
I scaled their recipe down slightly to fit our baking tin but otherwise followed the book closely. I didn't want the cardamom flavour to be too overpowering so I used slightly less than they did.
It was an easy cake to make and turned out well. There are a few more recipes in the book which I want to try next, half of them cakes, the other half savoury.
Every now and again I catch a programme on the Food Network. A couple of months ago I caught an episode of Baking with Anna Olson where she did upside down cakes. One of the recipes was Lemon Berry Saucing Cake. I decided to wait until the fruit in the garden was ripe before I gave it a go. I have managed to collect wild strawberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, red gooseberries and blackberries.
The dessert was surprisingly easy to make. I started by making a fairly runny batter which consisted of half a cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of plain flour, a pinch of salt, 1 egg yolk and 2/3 of a cup of semi-skimmed milk.
I took the egg white and whisked it until it started to form peaks. The white was actually quite runny, suggesting the egg was quite old, even though they were only bought a few days ago and still had 10 days until the 'Best Before' date.
I managed to find 4 mis-matched ramekin dishes which I buttered and coated with sugar. I put a layer of berries in the bottom of each, using different combinations of the ones I mentioned above.
These were the only 2 matching ramekins. The puddings were baked at gas mark 4 for 35 minutes. The ramekins were in a bain marie to help them cook evenly.
I was surprised at how well the puddings turned out. The one pictured here had mixed fruit in. The one I ate was mainly gooseberry with some blackcurrant and strawberry. The balance of sharp and sweet flavours was about right and the pudding had a good cakey texture with a good layer of sauce on top.
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I haven't had much time to do any really adventurous or new cooking but I did a couple of quick desserts this week. The first was a simple scone recipe. This was made by mixing the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor then stirring in the milk. I used a variety of our shaped cutters, including duck and dinosaur.
The second was a custard tart. These were supposed to separate into a pastry style base and a custarty top during cooking but they ended up more like sweet yorkshire puddings. They tasted good but weren't really what I was expecting. This might have been because I used a yorkshire pudding tin, which was fairly shallow, instead of a deeper pie tin.
This week's recipe was an attempt to do something with the diced butternut squash I had in the freezer.
The filling was based on a recipe from Good Food magazine but I made half the quantities and made 4 individual pies instead of one large one. I also used a regular shortcrust pastry base instead of a sweet pastry.
I have never tasted a 'genuine' pumpkin pie so I don't have anything to compare mine to. The filling had a slightly 'custardy' texture and the flavour was mainly a combination of squash and cinnamon. I'm not sure if I would make them again but I think I'd be interested in tasting a more authentic one.
We made two new recipes today. The first was carrot cake. Emma's aunt recently gave us some apples from the tree in her garden. I ate most of them and we decided to bake something with the rest. Emma had read about using apple sauce as a replacement for vegetable oil in recipes. Last night I chopped the apples and simmered in half an inch of water until they had started to break down. I then liquidized the apples to make a smooth sauce.
We usually follow Delia Smith's recipe so I used that as the basis but replaced the oil with an equal volume of the apple sauce. I also reduced the amount of sugar from 6oz to 4oz. Delia's recipe suggests baking for 35--40 minutes but we found that it needed closer to 50 minutes.
This evening I make tuna and chickpea burgers, based on a recipe from the BBC Good Food magazine. I used leeks instead of onions and parsley instead of coriander but apart from that I followed the recipe fairly closely. The cooked burgers had a fairly soft texture but they tasted good.
Emma made this cheesecake today. The recipe came with some money-off vouchers for Oreos so we decided to make the recipe using the genuine article instead of a cheaper substitute biscuit.
A couple of weeks ago I made a German Friendship Cake which was used a sweet yeast based starter. After making the cake I gave a portion of the starter to my mum so she could have a go at making it, and kept the rest of the starter going by repeating the feeding and stirring process.
I had read somewhere that the starter can be used to make pancakes. Since today is Good Friday, and the end of Lent, I thought it would be a good time to have a go at making them, so that Lent started and ended with pancakes.
I poured a few tablespoons of the starter into a hot oiled frying pan and cooked for a minute or so on each side. The pancakes started to bubble nicely and looked quite promising while they were cooking. The end result wasn't quite as good as I was expecting, they were still a bit doughy in the middle. I added a bit more milk to the mixture and gave it a second attempt.
The plain pancakes were a bit sweet but they went well with a bit of lemon juice. I didn't get the cooking time or temperature sorted properly since each pancake was still a bit soft in the middle. It was an interesting experiment but I will stick to the traditional pancake batter in future.
Last year I bought a pack of seeds from Garden Organic at Ryton. It was described as 'Edible Leaves, Roots and Shoots' and contained a collection of wild plants which are commonly described as weeds but which are edible. I planted the seeds in a tub in the garden and last year I made some crispy seaweed from some of the leaves, and managed to save some Wild Mustard seeds from one of the plants which grew.
I left the plants over the winter but yesterday I decided to dig them up so I could reuse the tub for a more productive crop this year. I found two large roots:
This plant turned out to be Wild Carrot. I washed the root and had a chew on a small piece. It was very tough and fibrous but did have a slight carrot taste.
It took a bit longer to identify this but I managed to work out that it was Common Mallow. This is a relative of the Marsh Mallow, which gave its name to the soft and fluffy sweet. It is possible to boil the roots to extract a gelatinous substance which could possibly be used to make a version of the original marshmallow so today I decided to give it a go.
I peeled and chopped the root then simmered it in a small amount of water. I then whisked the slightly gloopy water with some caster sugar, vanilla essence and pink food colouring. The mixture was a bit runny and kept splashing everywhere so I cheated by whisking in some cornflour and returning it to the pan.
The end result was a soft sweet tasting jelly which did not resemble an actual marshmallow sweet at all.
It is the monthly cake day in work tomorrow. Normally it is held on the last friday of the month but it's been moved to coincide with Comic Relief day and the cakes are going to be sold for charity.
Since I like lemon drizzle cake I decided to have a go at making an Orange Drizzle Cake, based on the recipe in the Daily Mail. I followed the recipe fairly closely and only made a couple of small changes: I used granulated sugar instead of the caster and icing sugar and I reduced the amount of sugar used in the syrup because my oranges weren't very juicy.
I made one full-sized cake for tomorrow and two small 'samplers' in bun cases for us to try tonight. The cake turned out well - definitely a recipe I'd recommend.