16 June 2008


George from Culinary travels of a kitchen goddess has tagged me.
Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share six random and / or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag six random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here we go:
1. Four generations of my family, my Gran, Mum, myself and my daughter all have the same shaped birth mark in exactly the same place. (Cue spooky twilight zone music)

2. I love Marigold Swiss bouillon and drink it like others drink tea, it's delicious, try it and be converted.

3. I was teachers pet in home eccies, I was SO proud when my teacher stole my strawberry tart with almond cracknell recipe for her garden party.

4. I am a serial recipe hunter, I am constantly scouring Google for new and exciting ideas.

5. I played the piano as a child. (Wish I'd kept it up.)

6. I am a very bad gardener, everything I plant wilts :)

I will tag:







Thank you to George for the tag.

Eccles cakes

Dried fruit has seemed to take over my cakes recently as you'd see from my latest posts, for someone not keen on fruited cakes I seem to be eating a lot of them. I came across this recipe for Eccles cakes in Delia Smith's Book of cakes, if I'm honest the only reason I baked them was, bear with me, because I don't like Eccles cakes, so therefore I wouldn't eat any of them (the bikini holiday is nearing closer and closer), so my logic was, bake something you don't like and then I wont eat them, genius :)

Oh how wrong I was, these little cakes, easy and enjoyable to bake, are totally delicious and moreish, I ate one, the one cut in half in the picture (the steamy and blurry picture :)....and loved it, them ate two more. I had to physically be removed from the tin.

This is Delia's Mum's recipe for her delicious Eccles cakes.

Quick flaky pastry:

225g plain flour

175g margarine

a good pinch of salt

For the filling:

75g butter

150g soft brown sugar

150g currants

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

the grated rind of 1 large orange

50g finely chopped mixed peel

To finish off:

To make the pastry, weigh the margarine (hard from the refrigerator) then wrap it in a piece of foil and place it in freezer for half an hour.

Meanwhile sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then when you take the margarine out of the freezer, hold it with the foil, dip it into the flour, then grate it on a coarse grater placed in a bowl over the flour. Carry on dipping the margarine into the flour to make it easier to grate. When you have finished you will have a lump of grated margarine sitting in the middle of the flour.

Then take a palette knife and start to cut the fat into the flour (don't use your hands) until the mixture is crumbly.

Now add enough water so that it forms a dough that leaves the bowl clean (you can use your hands for the dough), then place it in a polythene bag and chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.

Meanwhile prepare the filling by first melting the butter in a small saucepan. Then take it off the heat and stir in all the filling ingrediants, stir thoroughly and leave to cool.

Next turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to 3mm thick, then , using a plain 8cm cutter, cut the pastry into rounds.

Put a teaspoon of the filling on to each round, then brush the edge of half the circle of pastry with water, bring the other side up and seal it. Bring the corners up to the centre and pinch to seal well.

Turn the sealed pastry parcel over, so that the seam is underneath, then gently roll the whole thing to flatten it to about 1/2 cm thick and pat into a round shape.

Place them all on a greased baking sheet and gash each cake diagonally across three times.

Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Bake them in the oven (gas mark 7/220c) for 15 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

These little parcels of deliciousness, are kind of the wrong shape, when I flattened them I should have rounded them off I didnt, not that that affects the taste in any way.

The pastry is light and flaky, I will use this pastry method again, but overall as much as I love these cakes I am a little dispaointed...I didnt want to like them. I don't need bikini stress.

13 June 2008

Golden syrup fruit cake

Although I am not a huge fruit cake fan I do love the aroma a fruit cake baking in the oven gives off, luckily the others in my house do love fruit cakes so I spent quite a lot of time baking them.

I find fruit cakes can be tricky they often can be too dry, sometimes a bit too Christmas cake-y and lets face it they have 'old people' stamped all over them, lol.

I found this recipe on The Guardian website you'll find the article (and the science bit) here.

The golden syrup adds a lovely flavour and colour to the cake and I am converted to the idea the Guardian suggest of using strong bread flour in the cake in place of plain flour, it really did help 'hold the fruit up' IE the fruit didn't sink to the bottom of the cake as it often can do.

The blurb above the recipe in the link gives you all the science bit about the syrup and bread flour, very interesting.

I used raisins, and a dried berry mixes consisting of blueberries, cranberries, cherries and strawberries (I didn't add the strawberries as they were my cooks treat)
this recipe is a keeper and I shall be baking this one again.
Golden syrup fruit cake
50g light soft brown sugar
125g unsalted butter
100g golden syrup, plus an extra tbsp for the top
2 large eggs
450 - 500g chopped dried fruit
200g strong white flour
1 level tsp baking powder
2 level tsp mixed spice
75g ground almonds
50ml milk50ml whisky, plus an extra tbsp for the top.
Beat the butter, brown sugar and syrup until light and fluffy.
Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, then stir in the fruit.
Sift the flour, baking powder and spice together, then stir with the almond, milk and whisky into the fruit mixture.
Line a 2lb loaf tin, spoon the mixture into the tin, smooth the top, cover the to with a sheet of foil and scrunch it secure at the sides., then bake at 180c for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool for 5 minutes. In a cup, stir together the remaining syrup and whisky. Prick the surface of the cake, spoon over the syrup and leave to cool.

Madaleine squares

First, can I just say , these rather tacky looking cakes are the old English Madeleines not the sophisticated French biscuity Madeleines. After my previous Melting moments post I spent a bit of time flicking through the ever faithful Be-Ro book.

These fatless sponge cakes are normally baked in dariole moulds and usually end up looking like bright red coconut haystacks decorated with a glace cherry (the Be-Ro book LOVES glace cherries, lol) I decided to make them in the form of the more commercialised square version...mainly as I don't have dariole moulds, I must get some.
As I said, this is a fat less sponge cake, baked in a brownie tin, coated in jam and tossed in shredded coconut. They look tacky and old fashioned but they are a real treat.
Light as a feather too.
2 medium eggs
75g caster sugar
75g self raising flour
raspberry jam
shredded coconut
Heat oven to 180c/ gas mark 4.
Grease and line a 8 inch square baking tin

Break eggs into a bowl, whisk lightly, add sugar and whisk well until thick creamy and almost white in colour.

Lightly fold in the flour, place mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 30 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, gently heat the jam, about half a jar full (?), cut the cake into 12 squares, dip each square into the jam so it is completely covered and quickly toss into the shredded coconut.
Enjoy with a mug of tea.

08 June 2008

Summer berry tart

The great British summer doesn't have much going for it, it can be wonderful, but more often than not it is a complete washout. However, nothing says British summer more than strawberries, in season right now they are tasting delicious.
This Summer berry tart is the perfect way to use them.
I used a recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'The family cookbook', this tart is a sweet pastry tart base filled with creme patissiere and covered in summer berries, I am using strawberries and raspberries.

Summer berry tart
Sweet pastry:
200g plain flour
50g icing sugar
125g butter
pinch of salt
2 free range egg yolks

Sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with the salt, until it resembles very fine breadcrumbs.
Add the egg yolks, stirring with a knife, using your hands, bring the dough into a ball.
Knead very lightly until it is smooth.
Flatten slightly, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
Place a baking sheet in the oven and heat to 190c.
Roll out pastry and line a 23 cm flan tin with the pastry, trim any overhang and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Prick the tart base with a fork, line with baking parchment and fill with baking beads, bake for 15 minutes.
Remove baking beads and bake for a further 3-4 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool completely.

Creme patissiere:
50g unsalted butter
25g plain flour
50g caster sugar
2 free range eggs
150ml milk
2 capfulls of vanilla extract

Melt the butter over a low heat, tip in the flour and sugar, break in the eggs and beat until smooth.
Pour in the milk, stir continuously until thickened, turn off the heat and whisk until smooth.
Put back on the heat and cook for 2 minutes, stirring all the time.
Stir in the vanilla extract and leave to cool.

250g each of strawberries (halved) and raspberries
3 tablespoons of strawberry jam

Spoon the filling into the tart base and chill for 30 minutes.
Arrange fruit on top of the creme patissiere.
Gently heat the jam in a pan and brush over the fruit.

This tart is perfect for a summers day, light and fragrant and very adaptable depending on what fruit is in season.

02 June 2008

Melting moments

I had some sad family news this week and spent quite a bit of time looking back at my childhood, I got thinking of my paternal Grandmother, I spent a lot of time with her when I was younger and she was always cooking, always good old fashioned food, the stuff that warmed you on the coldest winter days. Her house always smelled of fruit cake, and when I bake fruit cake I am always reminded of her house.

These biscuits, Melting Moments are what we would bake together, I loved them as a child, in fact I still love them just as much now even though the are rolled in dessicated coconut and adorned with a gaudy red glace cherry.

I suddenly thought of these biscuits today and knew they would be a perfect way for my son and I to spend half an hour together in the kitchen.

This recipe comes from the essential 'Be-ro' cook book, my Granny wouldnt have been without it.

I must say though that my Granny's original Be-ro book, which I inherited from her, saw better days long ago, I bought a updated version last year and found the Melting moments recipe had changed, the addition of half a egg was wrong and completely disappointing, these biscuits should be crisp and buttery not cookie like which was how the egg made them, after much searching, god bless the Internet, I have found, supposedly, the original Melting moments biscuits.

Here is the recipe, cook them, you'll love them:

5 ounces soft butter

3 ounces caster sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence or 1 tsp of vanilla extract

5 ounces of self raising flour

desiccated coconut

glace cherries

Heat the oven to 180c/ gas mark 4. Grease two baking trays.

Cream the butter with the sugar until very light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla essence or extract.

Stir in the flour and mix well.

Roll walnut sized pieces of the mixture into balls and toss in dessicated coconut.

Cut each glace cherry into quarters, a quarter for each melting moment.

Place on baking trays, flatten slightly and place a small piece of cherry on each biscuit.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown but NOT dark brown.

This egg less original version of the recipe was perfect, these shortbread-y biscuits are crisp and melting, they instantly took me back to my Granny's kitchen.

They are perfect for children to bake too, my son loved tossing them in the coconut and would have polished off the tray of biscuits if I'd let him.

Rather amusingly, when trawling the net for the original recipe I found that these biscuits have a cult following. Try them!