Follow :

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Sweet Pastry

Sweet pastry isn't much different to the standard shortcrust pastry, although it utilises an egg to give a glossy and smoother texture and helps it to raise a small amount giving a lighter texture. You can use sweet pastry in a variety of ways, for tarts, tartllets or even for little parcels. Its also possible to make sweet dumplings out of if you so wish.

Makes a 400g mix (enough for one large tart with a bit leftover)

250g flour
125g butter or baking spread
80g sugar
1 egg
few drops vanilla essence

You can also add things to the pastry to complement your dish, such as cinnamon, cocoa powder, nutmeg etc. If adding syrups be sure to adjust the flour accordingly to texture.


Rub the flour and butter and sugar together into a breadcrumb texture then add the egg. Form into a uniform dough but do not overwork. If necessary chill the pastry wrapped in clingfilm for 20 mins before use. Otherwise use straightaway.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Dorset Apple Cake

Image courtesy of

This recipe is similar in many respects to the apple & mincemeat crumble cake made the other day. Although this presents a lighter, and less stodgy form of a cake it is not without flavour, and captures the wonderful elements from Dorsets influence.

Its also incredibly moreish - so be on your guard when wanting seconds and thirds.

You will need:

This mix makes 2 24cm spring form tins worth, so divide by two to get one cake. If you're like me however youll make both, and freeze one.

Grease and line a baking tin
400g of Bramley apples, peeled, cored and diced soaked in lemon juice
450g of unsalted butter
2 lemons zested and juiced
450g of caster sugar
6 eggs
450g of self raising flour
5 teaspoons of baking powder
100g of ground almonds
Demerara sugar to cover the cake

Whisk together the sugar and butter till creamed

Beat in the lemon juice and its zest

Beat in eggs one at a time with a little flour with each egg

Fold in the remaining flour and baking powder

Drain the apple and stir into the mix

Spoon into tin and level out

Sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar

Bake for 1 hour at 160C. Check with a small knife. If the mix comes out clean - its done.

Serve with clotted cream and icing sugar

Mini starred mince pies

Last week I had leftover sweet pastry from making the classic plum tart, and the dutch apple tart, so as a result i decided to put it to good use. These little beggars always go down well, and are not too dissimilar from the apple and cranberry tarts i also made at the same time. They also freeze well, so can be pulled out a couple of hours before your visitors are expected. They're best when warm.

You will need:

Sweet pastry (about 100g worth - ideally use leftover sweet pastry from other projects)
5cm cutter
star cutter of similar order
small muffin tray

Roll out the pastry till 1/8 in thick. Cut rounds with pastry cutter then layer into greased small muffin tray.
Spoon in mincemeat (1tsp). Cut out star shapes with star cutter and put on top of each. Bake in oven at 180C until star has gone golden brown.

Allow to cool a little and serve warm.

Apple & Mincemeat Crumble Cake

This cake reminds me in appearance, and taste (and in construction) of the favoured Dorset Apple Cake from my own recipe library. After much excitement decided to give this one a go and found i throughly enjoyed it. Its incredibly rich, but beware - its also incredibly moreish. I suppose in some ways it could be a refreshing alternative to the fables xmas cake, and would be a worthy dessert with some custard, or cinnamon and honey creme fraiche on boxing day or similar family oriented gathering.

In true "me" fashion we put half of this cake portioned into the freezer for later use, should visitors drop by.


4 firm apples , peeled, cored and cut into thumb-size pieces
3 tbsp golden caster sugar (or demerera)
1 tsp mixed spice

For the cake mix

250g softened salted butter
250.0g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract / vanilla essence
5 large eggs
200g self-raising flour (or plain flour - but be sure to add a heaped tbsp of baking powder if using plain)
100g ground almonds
7 tbsp plain flour
6 tbsp mincemeat

The doing bit:

Add pears to a pan with 2tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp water. Cook on a moderate heat until just tender, stirring occasionally.

Heat oven to 160C, grease and line cake tin (20cm).

In a mixing bowl combine sugar, butter and vanilla extract. Beat together until uniform paste and pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time then flour gradually.

Remove 90g of the batter and put into a small bowl. Add the 7tbsp plain flour and rub together into a crumble mix.

Spoon half of the cake mix into the lined tin, then add half of the apples and mincemeat. Reapeat with the other half, then top with crumble mix.

Bake for 90 mins approx, then cover the tin with foil and return to oven for a further 30 mins. Check with a small knife - if the knife comes out clean its ready to cool.

Cool throughly before portioning. Devour, with avarice.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Mulled Cranberry & Apple Tartlets

These little beauties were designed soley for using up some sweet pastry which was left over from the dutch apple tart. That said i managed to squeeze some 24 of these little beggars out of it. It was also a good means to use the apples that were lurking The recipe is very festive, extremely simple and goes very well with elevenses, after dinner or with afternoon tea. They'll have a shortlived home on the cakestand I think.


Sweet pastry (about 250g)
2 apples (braeburn)
handful of cranberries
glass of mulled wine
80g sugar

For the apple & cranberry mix

Peel and chop the apple into 1/2 cm cubes.

Place the mulled wine, sugar and cranberries in a pan and bring to the boil. reduce to a simmer and allow liquid to reduce until syrup consistency. Stir in the apple and allow to cool.

Roll out the pastry to 1/8 in thick and use a small pastry cutter to cut out your bases. add them t a small greased muffin tin and press. Add a teaspoon of apple / cranberry mix and bake in oven at 180C until done.


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Dutch Apple Tart

Image courtesy of

Upon request for Kelvyn (and for the express benefit of Pip), I hereby present one of my favourite incarnations of apple pie - the Dutch apple tart. It presents a topped presentation approach to the apple pie, which differs from the usual apple pie that we all know and love - but do not be fooled - this recipe is just as (if not more) delicious, and can be presented and devoured in similar ways. Its pretty cheap to produce, and if you can come accross free apples *cough* then its even better. I do however reccomend you try eating this dish with cinnamon & cognac anglais, or butterscotch sauce. Normal custard varieties will suffice as an accompaniment, but these sauces will maximise your pleasure.

Hope this serves you well Kelv & Pip. It's delicious.

Ingredients (makes a medium sized apple tart in a flan dish)

250g sweet shortcrust pastry (or a prebought flan dish)
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 cooking apples, peeled and sliced (or 6-8 eating apples)
shot of brandy
3 tbsp brown sugar
tbsp butter


Preheat oven to 180C

Roll out the sweet pastry and add to a greased flan dish. Blind bake the flan case and allow to cool and dry. Cut each apple in half vertically, then slice up the apples into even slies and layer on top of the flan case, overlapping as they go. You'll build a veritable mountain of apple slices, here - make sure they line the outside as evenly as the middle - the tip here is to work inwards. When all your apples are added, sprinkle with cinnamon , then put in the oven for about 20 mins, until apples begin to soften and colour. At this point leave the tart in the oven, and in a pan add the butter until metled then fold in the sugar until a uniform paste is reached. add the brandy and cook until alcohol has burned off (about 20 seconds). Pull out the tart and glaze with the sauce, then return to the oven for a further 10-15 mins until cooked. Pull out and allow to cool.

Portion and serve. If you need ot reheat each slice just sprinkle a littel sugar and a tsp of butter and return to oven until warm.

Sunday, 4 December 2011


Image courtesy of wikipedia

Amaretti are probably one of my favourite of the festive biscuits, just because I adore amaretto, and all things almond flavoured. They are remarkably easy to make and if made just before the festive period you can give them away as gifts which will be gratefully recieved. With this in mind you may have to make a double or triple batch, as they may soon vanish after the tasting begins...

Theyre ideal as an after dinner coffee token, or with elevenses or afternoon tea. Or whenever you feel the craving...


340g/12oz ground almonds
340g/12oz caster sugar
4 eggs, whites only
30ml/1fl oz amaretto liquor
butter, for greasing


Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
In a large bowl beat the egg whites until firm.I reccomend using a light whisk for this as youll gain more speed and also more activity and air for the whites.

Mix in the almonds and sugar gently one spoonful at a time, with about 30 seconds gentle beating in between.

Add the amaretto in a steady stream, still gently beating.

Place some greaseproof paper on a baking sheet lightly brushed with butter.

You can use a teaspoon to deploy the mixture in small amounts onto the tray, but i reccomend using a small nozled piping bag- youll get a more consistent finish.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool and devour.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Kirschentorte (The original black forest gateaux)

Kirschentorte is I suppose the original "black forest gateaux" its main flavours containing cherries, kirsch and chocolate. oddly enough im a big fan of both chocolate and cherries, so its probably why I love this torte so much.

I remember first making one of these for a fathers day menu a good few years back. The pic above is of that very same day. The kirschentorte itself isnt dificult to make but it does take a bit of time. That said once you get there and you see the finished behemoth cake you'll be more than fairly pleased with yourself.

You will need

(for the cake section)

6 Large Eggs
8 oz. Graulated Sugar
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
8 oz. Self raising flour
1 oz. Cocoa Powder

For the Cherry compote

12 fl oz. Water
12 oz. Granulated Sugar
8 oz. Dark or  Sour Cherries (pitted)
4 fl oz.Kirsch (Cherry Liqueur)

For the cream filling

250ml double or whipping cream
4 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla essence


8 oz grated dark chocolate
Extra cherries (optional)


Preheat oven to 180C

Add eggs sugar and vanilla in mixing bowl and beat quickly until the volume has tripled. I would advise using a mixing machine or electric whisk or you may lose al feeling in your arm. While the eggs are beating, sift in the flour and the cocoa in 3 same sized amounts. It will take about 8-10 mins with an electric whisk.

When mixed seperate the mix into 3 equal sized amounts and cook each section seperately in a sprung cake tin. When you have three of these cooked allow to cool. These can be cooked a day in advance to save yourself some intensive labour.

For the cherry compote

Combine the water and sugar in a pan and bring to the boil gently stirring occasionally. Add the cherries to a heat proof bowl and pour over the syrup. When the mixture has cooled a little add the kirsch. Cover bowl with clingfilm and allow to cool throughly.

For the cream

Whip the cream adding the vanilla essence first and then add the sugar gradually until the sugar has been added and the mixture has formed stiff peaks


Drain the cherries from the syrup (keeping both cherries and syrup). Take each cake section one for the bottom layer and the other two will perform middle and top. Brush the top of each cake section with the syrup and add a third of the cherries for each bit. Sprinkle about 2 oz of the grated chocolate to each layer and spread about a quarter of the whipped cream over the top. Add second layer, repeat, then for the third layer place third cake section on top to level. Ice sides of cake with remaining cream keeping a bit back for piping on top. Pipe top with rosettes and sprinkle remaining chocolate over the cake. Add optional extra cherries to each rosette if you wish.

Portion, and serve. And devour.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Brandy Snaps

Image courtesy of

This recipe for brandy snaps is a simple one. I've seen some complex ones in my time and often wonder why so much effort and complexity is applied to something so simple - they always taste the same. Granted some have a netter depth of flavour, but in the long run i dont think it matters an awful lot to the home cook. Even professionally, little things like brandy snaps are a "job on the side".

Surprisingly theres no brandy. Theres no means to say you cant add a tabslepoon or two to the mix, just be mindful of the wetness of it when using it. If you want the curled professional "tuile" appearance of these brandy snaps, by all means use a stencil for the paste. If you prefer the more rustic approach, by all means folow the directions below.

Be sure to treat yourself to a brandy whilst making these. It is after all a festive treat.

Ingredients (makes a very generous batch)

250g of Soft butter
250g of Golden syrup or Glucose
250g of Flour
250g of Sugar
Pinch of ground ginger

Melt together the butter, golden syrup and sugar
Blend in the flour bit by bit and ginger

Place a tablespoon full on a silicone mat and bake at 190 C for 4 to 5 minutes until golden brown. While still warm allow to cool further curled on a rolling pin for a tuile finish. Otherwise just leave flat. Its up to you. If youw ant to go the whole hog, while almost cool but still malleable, by all means roll and mould around a wooden spoon. For top notch presentation on service pipe cinnamon & honey creme fraiche or chantillly cream into them. Oh, and have a glass of brandy also. It would be rude not to.



image courtesy of

Cantucci are a wonderful type of biscotti that are good for a variety of occasions, such as elevenses, afternoon tea, to have with the occasional coffee, or as a dipping medium for other "dippy" desserts such as chocolate mousse, lemon posset or ice cream.

These are even more indulgent than regular biscotti, and so are even naughtier. They are however very well suited to this time of year and in particular the festive season, sue to their wonderful sweet indulgent flavours. That said they are enjoyed year round.

500g Sugar
4 Eggs
Vanilla essence
500g Plain flour
2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
250g of flaked almonds or Hazelnuts
250g of dried fruit

Whisk eggs and sugar until creamy and form soft peaks

Add all the other ingredients

Form mixture into a large sausage

Place upon a silicone mat, and allow to prove for 20 minutes

Bake for 20 minutes at about 180C

Allow cooling before slicing into biscuits

Rebake for a further 10 to 15 minutes.



Image courtesy of

Biscotti are wonderful little nibbles that provide a wonderful accompaniment to a variety of occasions, from elevenses, the casual beverage or afternoon tea. They also provide a good medium for many other dessert accompaniment such as lemon posset and similar "dippy" style desserts like ice cream, and chocolate mousse.

Theyre perfect this time of year, because they fit the profile along with many other sweet and naughty but nice treats that we all indulge in during the festive period.

You will need:

250g of flour
65g of coco powder
1 Teaspoon of baking powder
100g of chocolate buttons
150g of pistachio nuts

Blend the above into a mix

Then take...

100g of softened butter
225g of soft brown sugar
2 eggs beaten

Cream the butter and sugar

Add eggs slowly

Fold in the first mix to form dough

Rest for 20 minutes

Cook in a lined tin for 30 minutes at 180 degrees or until knife comes out clean

Allow to cool then slice into fingers when cold.

Most importantly enjoy!