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Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Toffee Apple Crème Brûlée

This post celebrates the glory of English apples in autumn, plus our very own historic Bonfire Night, when toffee apples are the order of the day.   Crème Brûlée is a classic French pudding, here given an underlay of cooked apples and a solid caramel top.   I  specifically made a poured caramel topping here, as it really does create the feeling of biting into a toffee apple - that first splintering bite, with the combination of very sweet caramel and apple.  

Toffee Apple Crème Brûlée

Crème Brulée

1lb Bramley apples (or other cooking variety)  
2 tbsp brown soft sugar

4 egg yolks
2oz (50g) caster sugar 
600ml (20 fl oz) double cream
half a vanilla pod
Caramel:   2.5oz (70g) caster sugar and a little water
8 little ramekin dishes
Peel, core and chop the apples, then put into a pan with the sugar and about 1tbsp water so it doesn't burn.  Cook until the apple is soft and it has nearly become mushy, then distribute the puree between the little ramekins. 

Next, boil a kettle of water (I always forget this bit).... and heat the oven to about 140 deg C.   Heat the double cream in a saucepan over a low heat, scraping in the seeds from the vanilla pod, plus the pod itself.    Meanwhile, mix the yolks and sugar together.  When the cream is at blood temperature, pour it (minus pod) over the yolks/sugar and whisk gently until well mixed.  
Pour the crème into eight ramekin dishes, and place the dishes in a roasting tin containing enough boiling water to come at least half way up the sides.   Bake for about an hour until the mixture is set but not coloured (better that than runny though!).    Remove from the water, and allow to cool.   
Over high heat, melt the caster sugar with a little water, stirring until it boils, and then watch it until it turns brown and caramelises.  Carefully (it is HOT), pour evenly over the ramekins.   Refrigerate until cold.  The caramel will start to melt slightly after 24hours, but it will still be delicious.   

Surprisingly, this will also freeze! 

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Cookbooks for Christmas

 It's cookbook time again!  The perfect Christmas present....

I have two books - "Kate's Puddings, the Cookbook of the Blog" and "Kate's Puddings - Second Helpings", containing some of my favourite recipes from the blog.  

Both books are in an easy spiral bound format, with  lots of lovely recipes that won't be on the blog, the rest my favourites .    There are labels identifying gluten and dairy free puddings and cakes.

The books helping to raise money for two fabulous charities - my Volunteer Reserve Unit, the FANY, plus my local church, Petham, near Canterbury.  So far, the books have raised more than £1,000 for both worthy causes.

Both books are available via email on     UK price is £14.50, plus £ 3 postage.  Obviously the postage will be more for further afield, sorry.   The book is also available locally in Canterbury - message me for details.   My earlier book "Kate's Puddings, the Cookbook of the Blog" is also available via email above.  It costs £14.50, postage £3 to UK.   Both books together are £25 plus postage and packing which won't be quite as much. 

Kate's Puddings - Second Helpings 

Update - November 2020

The blog continues.... we're now up to 360,000 hits from practically every country in the world, so we are a global phenomenon!   Thank you to everybody who follows, comments or just finds and makes these amazing recipes.  Most are not mine, I am truly standing on the shoulders of greater women. 

This last few years has seen a bit of a reduction in my blog output as I've become a holiday let host!  I have my own little self-contained Airbnb hideaway and, without wishing to spoil the surprise, enjoy putting puddings in the fridge for my unsuspecting guests!  

At the moment, we are in lockdown, so I cannot welcome guests, but here's hoping things will get better in 2021.  

Sappington Granary

Quick baked apples

 The glory of an English orchard is the Bramley apple tree.  Laden with enormous, bright green fruit, this tree is a sight to behold.   The apples are far too sour to eat, but perfect to cook, going fluffy and tartly gorgeous, and are a perfect pairing with raisins, spices and golden syrup.    

This recipe is so simple, I'm almost embarrassed to post it.  However, one of my sons is new to this blog (Welcome, William!), as he is in proud possession of a kitchen and a girlfriend who would like him to step up to the mixer.  So, in honour of novice pudding makers everywhere, let's do this really, really simple recipe.  

Simple Baked Apples

Quick Baked Apples
1 apple per person
1 handful raisins or mixed dried fruit per person
2-3 tbsp golden syrup per person
Demerara sugar
1 knob butter (or spread)
Cinnamon or mixed spice
Small quantity of water
Preheat the oven to 190 deg.   Peel and core the apples, cutting into large chunks.  Put into a high sided baking dish, sprinkle over the raisins.   Dollop on the golden syrup (be generous), shake on some Demerara sugar and a bit of spice and finish with a knob of butter.  Add a little water, probably ½”/10mm. 
Bake for about 15-20 minutes or so until the apples are soft, starting to go golden brown, but haven’t quite fallen apart (you can see at the top of the photo how quickly they collapse).
Serve hot with Greek yoghurt, whipped cream, or home-made custard.   (William – next challenge, make the custard!)  This keeps well for a few days and is best re-heated in the microwave. 

Mary Berry's Pear Frangipane Tart


I've been spending the late summer months working in local orchards in Kent, the Garden of England, which has been terrific fun, but the main downsides are:  becoming a fruit snob, wishing you could eat everything and making too many puddings!  Some people wouldn't reckon that to be a down side... 

Mary Berry, the ever-trusted, came up with a beautifully simple recipe for a Pear Frangipane Tart.  She got me at the point where she says "make the filling in the unwashed processor".  Now, who wouldn't love somebody like that???  I cheated on her recipe a bit (sorry, Mary), as I used a gluten free pastry blend and didn't add sugar to the mix.   I've also scaled it down 1/3, as hers was enough for 12.  This recipe is great because you don't need to poach the pears, nor do you have to bake the pastry case beforehand.  However, to avoid the famous "soggy bottom" you need a very hot baking sheet to sit the tart case on.  

Mary Berry's Pear Frangipane Tart 

Pear Frangipane Tart
8oz/225g plain flour (or a gluten free blend)
4oz/110g cold butter
(1oz/25g icing sugar – I didn’t use this)
1 egg
4oz/110g butter
4oz/110g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
4oz/110g ground almonds
1oz/25g plain flour (or a blend)
2/3 tsp almond flavouring
3 large (4 small) ripe pears, peeled, cored and quartered (Mary halves hers)
To finish:
Apricot jam, melted and sieved, to glaze (marmalade works too)
1oz/25g toasted flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 190 deg, putting a baking sheet in to heat.  Make the pastry (put all dry ingredients into a processor, add the egg, pulse until it starts to make a large ball).  Pat the dough into a cake and rest it in the fridge for 15 mins (confession – I didn’t bother).   Roll out the pastry on a floured worktop (or lightly floured baking parchment), put it into a 9”/23cm case.  Prick the base with a fork.  You could chill this if you wanted to, while you were making the mixture. 

So, take the famous unwashed processor.   Cream the butter and sugar, then add the beaten eggs.  You will have to scrape the mixture off the sides every now and again.  Add the ground almonds, flour and almond extract.  Process a bit more.  

Spread the frangipane mixture in the tart and then add the pears, pressing gently down.  Leave room in between for the filling to rise up.  Put in the oven on the baking sheet for about 40-50 minutes until it is golden brown and the filling is set.   I’d check if I were you – mine didn’t take as long.  

Warm the jam/glaze until it is really liquid and brush it over the tart while it is hot.   Sprinkle over the almonds.   Eat warm, with crème fraiche, yoghurt or lashings of home made custard.  

Monday, 27 July 2020

White Chocolate Cheesecake

This was a fabulous recipe from Nigella Lawson that I found on line, in the search for a new flavour cheesecake.   It was amazing!  So easy to make, and so utterly delicious - creamy and delicate with smooth white chocolate.  I took Nigella's suggestion and sprinkled pomegranate and pistachio onto it, as it makes it look so pretty.    She used gingernut biscuits, but I prefer the Lotus Biscoff ones.  Alternatively, use gluten free biscuits - ginger, hobnob or digestive.

White Chocolate Cheesecake

White Chocolate Cheesecake

6oz/175g Lotus Biscoff caramelised biscuits, crushed to crumbs (Nigella used ginger biscuits)
2oz/5g butter

7oz/200g cooking white chocolate, roughly chopped
10oz/300g full fat cream cheese, at room temperature, liquid drained
10 floz/300ml double cream
1tsp lemon juice
1tsp vanilla extract

Handful of pistachio nuts
Small quantity of pomegranate seeds

Line an 8” spring clip tin or a loose base cake tin with parchment.   Melt the butter in a bowl, add the biscuit crumbs, mix well and spread them over the base of the tin.  Chill in the fridge until set.     

Gently melt the white chocolate, either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave, stopping frequently to see how it’s getting on.   Stir the chocolate and allow it to cool (as otherwise it goes stiff when you add the cream). 

Beat the cream cheese with a spoon in a large bowl until soft.  Fold in the white chocolate.   Half whip the cream and fold it into the mixture.  Add lemon juice and vanilla.  Pour the mixture into the tin and level it, making sure that it goes right to the edges.   Allow to chill for several hours, preferably overnight.  

Before serving, remove from the tin, by running a knife or thin spatula around the edge so that, when you remove the clip or push up the base, you don’t lose a lot of the cheesecake on the sides of the tin (though that’s a cook’s bonus!).  Decorate with the pistachios and pomegranates.   This is best served not quite chilled. 

Black Cherry Jelly

One of the most traditional jellies, and a favourite of many Stour regulars.... I have simplified the recipe a little, and got rid of the jelly packets from the original, as a) I can never remember to buy it and b) I always end up eating at least one little cube. 

Good jelly, unfortunately, is not made with vegetarian alternatives to gelatine - I have tried!.    Having said that, I much prefer to use leaf/sheet gelatine to powder.   In the UK, good quality leaf gelatine (for example, Dr Oetker's) is pork based, and powder is beef based.   The distinction is important to note, just in case somebody needs to know for religious reasons. 

Black Cherry Jelly

Black Cherry Jelly

1 18oz/530g (approx) tin of cherries/400g/1lb cold poached cherries (stoned!)
1 litre of fruit juice, the same colour as the cherries, chilled
1.5 sachets gelatine (6 leaves - this produces a light set - if you want to be able to turn it upside down, add more leaves)
sugar to taste

Drain the cherry juice into a large jug, then add the the gelatine, heating the juice and gelatine slightly in the microwave to dissolve it.    Add the sugar, and stir until the sugar has dissolved too.    Pour in the remainder of the coloured juice and stir until the gelatine and sugar is evenly distributed. 

When the mixture has cooled down and is about to set, pour a small quantity into a pretty glass bowl, then spoon the cherries over the top.  Wait, then add more jelly mixture.   If you wanted the cherries evenly distributed, you do it a small quantity of cherries/jelly at a time.  

If the jelly mixture isn’t really at setting point, when you add the fruit, it will rise like goldfish at feeding time.   The decision is yours – either go for a two layer jelly, or be patient and wait until each section sets – you can tell what I did just by looking at the photo…


Tuesday, 14 July 2020

White Currant and Cream Vacherin

Just occasionally, there will be a glut of egg whites lurking in the fridge, and there are many ways of pimping a standard meringue!   This is my favourite – a Vacherin - with several thin layers of meringue.    I had home grown white currants and no idea what to use them in, so this was perfect:  a beautiful double decker confection of meringue, cream with Greek yoghurt (a concession to health) and delicate white currants.  The white currants are like a delicate gooseberry, and the combination is absolute heaven!   We had a dear friend to lunch at the end of lockdown, and he and my husband nearly demolished a pudding for 6 in two helpings.  

White Currant and Cream Vacherin
White Currant and Cream Vacherin

White Currant Vacherin

1lb/400g white currants or green gooseberries – keep a few sprigs/berries for decoration
8oz/200g caster sugar

5 egg whites
10oz/280g caster sugar
2tsp cornflour
1tsp vanilla
½ tsp vinegar
3/4 pint/12floz/400ml double cream
3/4 pint/12floz/400ml Greek yoghurt

Pick over the currants/gooseberries and remove leaves and stems where possible.   Put into a pan, add 3 tbsp water and sugar and simmer the fruit until soft.   Purée in a mixer and sieve the purée to take out the seeds.  Allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 130 deg C.   Inscribe 9-10” circles on two pieces of baking parchment to act as a guide (or put a 10” circular tin base underneath each one as you load on the meringue), and place on two baking trays.   Then whisk up the egg whites until stiff, adding the sugar gradually, plus the essence, vinegar and cornflour.  Spread the mixture equally onto the three circles. 

Bake the meringues until they are not soft and squidgy – this can take up to an hour and a half.   If they start to go too brown, cover with a hat of foil.    Cool.

To assemble, whip the cream, add the Greek yoghurt.  Peel the parchment off the meringues, and put the first layer on the serving dish.   Use half of the cream/yoghurt mixture and half of the purée, swirling the purée into the mix, but try to keep it from mixing entirely (top tip – the cream layer slides off if you put the purée on first!).  Then add the next layer and do the same.   Finish with the fruits and leave the pudding in a cool place to soften for up to half an hour before serving.