Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Quick Apple Strudel

Apple strudel is one of those useful puddings that finishes things up.... in this case, half a packet of filo pastry, some elderly apples and part of my breadcrumb hoard that threatens to overwhelm the freezer!    This recipe is defined as "quick" because life is TOO SHORT to make proper filo pastry.   Have you seen the poor contestants on the Bake Off?  The stuff's got a life of its own.   The downside is that bought pastry doesn't seem to have the same elasticity, so my attempt to mould the beautiful roll into a beautiful horseshoe didn't quite come off - my horse has very strange shaped feet...   But, as I always say, failure tastes as good as success, it's just not as pretty.   If your raisins are a bit shrunken, you could simmer them quickly in the microwave with a bit of sugar syrup, it has a magic effect (shame it doesn't work on humans!).

Quick Apple Strudel

Quick Apple Strudel

1 pack filo pastry (you only need half)
2oz/50g breadcrumbs (fresh, not crispy)
1 ½ lbs (700g) cooking apples
3oz/75g sultanas
3oz/75g raisins
2 heaped tablespoons brown sugar  
2 tsp mixed spice
2oz/50g melted butter
Handful of flaked almonds
1oz icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 190 deg C, then peel, core and cut the apples into chunks.   Grease a large baking sheet (preferably one with no edges!)  In a large bowl, put the apples, dried fruit, sugar and spice and mixed well. 

Lay out one piece of pastry on a large piece of material or greaseproof paper and paint it with melted butter.  Add a second layer and brush it with the butter, then a third (plus fourth if you like more pastry).   Brush the final layer with the butter, then cover it with breadcrumbs.   Put the apple/spice mix on next, leaving a space at the edges.   From the long side, fold the first edge, then (very carefully) roll up the strudel, gently clamping it together as you go.   You are then supposed to push the roll into a horseshoe shape – good luck with that! – before putting it onto the sheet.  Paint on the butter, and cover it with almonds. 

Bake for about 35 minutes or so until it is pale golden brown.  If you want to eat this hot, remove from the oven and dredge with icing sugar.  If cold, allow it to cool and then make up a runny icing, and zigzag it over the strudel.   It’s delicious either way.  

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Rich Chocolate Puds with Seville Orange Curd Sauce

Having friends to lunch is a wonderful excuse to get cooking!   I've just bought some silicone moulds on-line, and thought I'd try some rich chocolate puddings, each in its own crisp chocolate shell.   Top tip - grease the moulds well, as it is not easy to ease out the shell without damaging it - there's always one that's a little less beautiful, but still tastes amazing....   Teamed with a bitter Seville Orange curd, and topped with gold leaf and chocolate doodles, this was a pudding to behold!   You can use standard lemon or orange curd, but the Seville orange curd has a bit of a bite to it.

Rich Chocolate Puds with Seville Orange Curd and Chocolate doodles

Chocolate Shells and Chocolate Doodles

1 mould with 5 or 6 hemispheres
Cake release spray or a light oil to grease
8oz/220g dark chocolate
Some edible gold leaf (not a requirement!)
Baking parchment

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over water as described below.  Grease each mould well, then, using the tip of a knife, add a little piece of edible gold leaf (it sticks to everything!) to the base of the mould.  Paint the mould with the chocolate and try to get a good even layer (it is worth putting in a second layer if you feel nervous about getting it out in one piece!).  Chill to set.    Pour the remaining chocolate into a piping bag and pipe scribbles of chocolate onto the baking parchment.  Leave to set.   If you have any chocolate left over, use it up in the pudding recipe below. 

Rich Chocolate Puds

3 large eggs, separated
8oz/220g good black chocolate with high cocoa content
2 tbsp rum or Cointreau 
5fl oz/142ml double cream, softly whipped

Break up the chocolate and melt it in a microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Add a dessertspoon of water (or cream) to the chocolate to stop it from going stiff.  Make sure that the mixture doesn’t get too hot.    It is important that all the chocolate is melted, otherwise you get little lumps in the mousse, but you can stop before it gets too hot, and the residual warmth will melt the last remaining lumps.    Add the alcohol and stir it in slowly until smooth.

Add the egg yolks one by one, stirring in, then the whipped cream.  Whisk the egg whites until they are standing in stiff peaks.  Using a metal spoon, first fold about 1/3 of the whites in to break up the texture, and then add the remaining two thirds. 

Pour the creamy mousse into the chocolate shells and leave to set.    To serve, turn the moulds over and ease them out…. gently….. surround with slightly warm curd (just to make it flow a little), and top with the chocolate doodles.   

Seville Orange Curd

Grated rind and juice of 2 Seville oranges
2 eggs, beaten
4oz/110g butter
4oz/110g sugar  

The best way to make this is in a double saucepan (one with a separate chamber below for the boiling water), but a heatproof bowl (Pyrex) on a pan of simmering water works just as well, if a little more slowly. 

Put all the ingredients in the bowl/saucepan, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.   Carry on heating it, stirring from time to time, until the mixture has thickened – it coats the back of the spoon, and then becomes more difficult to stir.  Strain through a sieve (important – it gets rid of any lumpy bits of egg) into small (clean) jars.   Cover the jars as per jam – with waxed discs and cellophane tops.  Alternatively, as you will be using this up quickly, cut circles of parchment to fit the jars, and then put the lids back on firmly.  

Monday, 9 February 2015

Coeur à La Crème with Berry Coulis

For Valentine’s Day, try this lovely French pudding.  Coeur à la Crème is traditionally made in little heart-shaped dishes.   It is the simplest pudding to make – just four ingredients, and is best served with fresh fruit and coulis to offset its gentle creaminess.    When you make it, it has to be allowed to strain overnight, so it is a test of lasting love, not just a quick flash in the pan!  

This is one of the recipes in my latest book:  “Kate’s Puddings – Second Helpings” out now at £11.50.  It is continuing to raise money for two charities – Petham Church and my Volunteer Army Reserve Unit.  On sale at COSI (58/60 Wincheap), Lower Hardres Farm Shop and via my website www.katespuddings.co.uk

Coeur à la Crème
Coeur à la Crème

1 300g tub Crème Fraiche
1 300g pack of full fat cream cheese
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 egg whites

Fresh strawberries/raspberries and coulis

You will also need 3 muslin squares and 2 heart shaped moulds (there was some left over, but whoever heard of lovers having romantic meals for three?)

Blend the first three ingredients together.  Whisk the egg whites until stiff and then fold them into the rest of the ingredients (mix a tablespoonful in first to make it easier).   Put a square of muslin into a medium sized sieve and set it over a bowl.  Spoon the mixture into the muslin, cover with a plate and leave in a cool place overnight.  The residual whey will drip through the muslin. 

Take the two heart-shaped moulds and drape the other pieces of muslin into each before spooning in the mixture.   Chill until you are ready to eat it, then tip each heart out onto a plate covered with coulis and remove the muslin (which can be washed and re-used).  Top with fresh fruit.   Eat.  Love….


To make a coulis, take 100g of berries and simmer with a little water and sugar to taste until soft.   Purée in a blender and then sieve out any pips and skin.  This will keep in a bottle in the fridge for some time.