Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Rhubarb Ripple Semi-Freddo - BBC Good Food Magazine recipe

The glory of an English spring is definitely its rhubarb!  First, those delicious pink early spears, and then the larger garden rhubarb.... whatever way you have it, it's always delicious (old-school crumble being the only exception).    I've been delving into the latest BBC Good Food Magazine, and they had the most fabulous recipe for a Rhubarb ripple semi-freddo.  The difference between this and standard ice cream is that it does not need an ice cream maker.   Being a ginger freak, I added more ginger than the recipe stated, but my beloved husband declared it the best pudding he'd eaten in ages!  (please note that he tests pretty much everything, and has become highly critical).

Rhubarb Ripple Semi-Freddo

Rhubarb Ripple Semi-Freddo

7oz/200g rhubarb, chopped
4oz/110g caster sugar
3 tbsp ginger cordial (I used the syrup from a jar of preserved ginger)
4 eggs, separated
4oz/110g icing sugar
½ pint/300ml double cream
2oz/50g ready made meringues (I used my own, cooked extra long)
(I also added 2oz/50g stem ginger pieces)
1oz/25g crystallised ginger to serve

Line a 2lb/900g loaf tin with baking parchment (I found a double layer worked best).   Put the rhubarb into a medium saucepan with the sugar, cordial and 2tbsp water.  Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved and then simmer for 10-15 minutes until the rhubarb is soft, but still keeps its shape.    Leave to cool.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then put aside.  Whisk the yolks with the sugar until thick.  Whisk the cream until thick but not too stiff.  Fold the yolk mix into the cream until combined and then add the egg whites and half of the meringues, broken into small pieces (at this stage I added the crystallised ginger).  Spoon 1/3 of the mixture into the loaf tin and freeze it for 30 minutes until set (putting the rest of the mix into the fridge).   Once it has set, remove from freezer and add nearly half of the cooked rhubarb.   Add another third of the cream mixture, and return it to the freezer for another half an hour.  Add nearly all the remaining rhubarb, keeping some for decoration.  Top with the last of the cream.    Cover with cling film and put back into the freezer for 2 hours.  (it can keep for up to a week, but is quite solid, so give it 20 minutes to rest before serving).

To serve, remove the parchment and tip it out onto a plate, decorating with rhubarb, ginger pieces and meringues.    

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Bread Pudding - Wet Nelly

When you find a pudding with such an extraordinary name, don't you just have to make it to see what it's like?   "Wet Nelly" is what old-fashioned bread pudding is known as in Liverpool, and is also the name of James Bond's submarine in The Spy Who Loved Me!  Always up for a challenge, I downloaded a National Trust recipe, which seemed to me to be the easiest, and had a go.....   I'll be the first to say that the result looked unexciting, but it was delicious hot, with lashings of custard.   Then it cooled down, and I cut it into large chunky pieces, and left it out to get cold.  It was extraordinary - bits kept disappearing....  the culprit was one of my sons, who found it extremely moreish and made excuses to keep passing the plate.  The ultimate accolade was via a sweet-toothed friend, who downed four pieces without apparent effort, and would probably have had a couple more, if I had been pressing!

Note that the bread has to be soaked for at least four hours/overnight - you want to achieve a high level of stodge!

Wet Nelly - Bread Pudding 

Wet Nelly

1 loaf of white bread (uncut)
4oz/110g butter
5oz/140g brown sugar
¾ pint milk  
1lb/500g mixed fruit
1 tbsp mixed spice
3 medium eggs

First, cut the crust off the bread and cut the bread into large cubes.  Put it all into a bowl and pour over the milk.  Cover and leave to soak at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.   

Put the oven to 180 deg C, and line an oblong roasting tin with parchment (the original recipe said only to grease it, but that didn’t quite work).    Beat together the butter and sugar, add the eggs and beat again.   Then add all the other ingredients, mix together well and pour into a greased deep sided roasting tin.
Bake for approx 1 - 1 ¼ hours until soft but springy to the touch. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Chocolate Honeycomb Crunch

What is nicer than honeycomb and chocolate?  Answer:  chocolate honeycomb, of course!   I originally suggested this as a Christmas present, stored in an airtight artisan jar.  I then tried it myself, and it didn't make the jar.  So I've changed my mind completely, and decided that it has a ridiculously short shelf-life, and ideally needs to be eaten pretty instantly....  Go on, you know you want to! The photo just doesn't do it justice, it really has to be tasted to be believed.  

Chocolate Honeycomb Crunch 

Chocolate Honeycomb Crunch

85g caster sugar
2tbsp clear honey or golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Approx 10oz/250g dark chocolate
1 tbsp water
2 floz double cream
2oz/50g white chocolate
gold dust

Grease (well) a non-stick baking tray with a light oil.   Heat the sugar and syrup/honey in a pan, stirring until the sugar has melted.  Bring to the boil and allow it to boil until it is medium caramel coloured – just before you can smell the burn, which means it is more than ready!  

Take it off the heat, throw in the bicarbonate of soda and then mix it up with a metal whisk.  It will foam uncontrollably.  Pour it into the baking tray to cool it down.  After about half an hour, it should be cool and crisp.  Break into large pieces.

Take a second dish, with higher sides, and put in a piece of parchment or waxed paper.  Fill it with the honeycomb crisp pieces.   Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave with the water.  When you are stirring it after it has melted, add the double cream, which will stop it from “seizing” and going stiff.   If it isn’t playing ball, add a little more cream.  

Dollop the chocolate all over the honeycomb crunch, going for the “home made” effect.  Melt the white chocolate and pour it all over the top in artistic stripes.  Add the gold dust.   Chill until the chocolate has set, cut it into pieces.   

Honeycomb needs to be kept in an air tight tin or jar, so maybe that artisan jar isn’t such a bad idea after all! 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Stem Ginger Hot Cross Buns

Anything M&S can do..... I thought I'd try some stem ginger hot cross buns as an alternative to the standard version, plus I used the most beautiful pale golden raisins.  Stem ginger is good at staving off colds, and I made the buns for choir rehearsal, as everybody seems to be fighting some kind of infection (or perhaps we're just hypochondriacs).   At the same time, I tested overnight proving, and have proved that it works!    There's nothing to stop you now from having fresh hot cross buns for breakfast....

Stem Ginger Hot Cross Buns 

Stem Ginger Hot Cross Buns

1lb/450g strong plain flour (bread flour)
1oz/25g fresh yeast or 15ml 1 level tbsp dried yeast
1 level tsp caster sugar
¼ pt/150ml milk
4 tbsps/60ml water
1 level tsp salt
1 level tsp mixed spice
1 level tsp cinnamon
1 level tsp grated nutmeg (freshly grated is best!)
1/2 tsp ginger (optional)
2oz/50g caster sugar
2oz/50g butter, melted
1 beaten egg
6oz/150g pale golden raisins
2 tbsps chopped stem ginger 
1 tbsp cut mixed peel  

1oz or so plain flour, a little water

to glaze:  2tbsp milk and water
               3 tbsp caster sugar                                          Oven 190 deg C

If the raisins and peel are a bit hard, bring to the boil 2oz sugar and 1/4 pint water, add the dried fruit and simmer for a few minutes, then leave it to steep while you get the next part of the ingredients together.  Drain it before using.  

In a large mixing bowl, put 4oz (100g) of the flour, adding the yeast and 1 level tsp sugar.  Warm the milk and water to approx 43 deg C – warmer than blood heat, add to the flour and mix well.  Leave in a warm place until it is foamy – 10-15 mins for fresh yeast, 20 mins for dried.

Mix together the remaining flour (12oz/350g), salt, spices and 2oz sugar.   Into the frothy yeast mix stir the butter and egg, then add all the dried ingredients.    This makes a very soft dough.   Turn onto a floured worktop and knead it until smooth.  Put back into the big bowl, cover with a cloth, and leave to rise until doubled in size – about 1 – 1 ½ hrs.      After that, turn the dough out again, and knead it again (about 2-3 minutes minimum each time).     

At this point, you can put the dough into the fridge overnight, covered in cling film.  When you take it out, knead it gently, then continue, allowing longer than 30 minutes until the rolls have warmed up and risen.   

Cut the dough into 12 pieces, and shape into rolls.  Put them onto a floured baking sheet, cover with oiled clingfilm or a light cloth, then leave for another 30 minutes to prove.   Heat the oven to 190 deg C.   Make the crosses by mixing up the plain flour and enough water to make a paste that you can pipe onto the buns relatively easily...  pipe the buns and put them into the oven.  

In a small pan, mix the milk/water and sugar.  Heat gently together.  

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.    When you take them out, glaze the buns with the milk and water mix.  For best results, do this twice, then leave them to cool…. if you can resist them for that long.