Saturday, 30 May 2015

Rhubarb Lattice Tart

Garden rhubarb is now in full flood....  less attractive than the pretty pink early rhubarb, but just as versatile!  I love this lattice tart as it keeps the rhubarb in place, without totally drowning it in pastry.  The recipe was from the Telegraph, courtesy of Oliver Peyton.   He's right, it is delicious!  You do have to cook it quite well, though, as it can be a bit liquid, so there is a bit of a tendency to a soggy bottom...  Nobody wants a soggy bottom, so the best way to avoid it is to bake it on a pre-heated sheet.   Don't spoil this by using packet custard - make the real thing, it's nearly as quick!

Rhubarb Lattice Tart
  Oliver Peyton’s Rhubarb Lattice Tart

12oz/350g shortcrust pastry (made with 8oz/220g flour/4oz/110g butter)
1lb/500g rhubarb, trimmed
7oz/200g caster sugar
2tbsp cornflour (I prefer to use 3tbsp)
Pinch of salt
Egg wash:  1 egg, few drops of milk
caster sugar for dusting

Grease a 9”/23cm plain edge tart tin (I prefer one with a removable base).   Roll out half of the pastry so that it is large enough to fit in the tin with an overhanging edge.   Shape the second half into a rectangle the length of the tart tin, wrap it in parchment and put it on a baking tray in the fridge, together with the lined tin.

Preheat the oven to 200 deg C and put a baking tray to heat.  Cut the rhubarb into 1”/2.5cm pieces.   Toss them in a bowl with the cornflour and caster sugar until they are well coated.    Fill the chilled tart case. 

Cut the rectangle of pastry into strips about ½”/1cm wide – they need to be quite thin or you will not have enough!  Keep three strips to make a neat edge.  Make a lattice pattern – put all the horizontal ones on first, fixing at one end, then peel back alternate strips (1,3,5,7).  Put the first cross-wise piece on, fold the strips over and then peel back strips 2,4,6 and 8.  Repeat until you reach the end…   

Trim the edges and harvest any remaining pastry.  Make up the egg wash – beat the egg, add a little milk - and then paint the lattice.  Paint all round the edge, then add the remaining strips of pastry and paint those. 

Place the tart on the pre-heated baking tray, with a piece of foil underneath the dish to catch any seeping liquid.   Bake for 45-55 minutes, so that it is brown on the top.  Oliver suggests leaving it to cool before transferring to a serving plate.  We didn’t have time – it smelled so good it was eaten almost immediately!    Dust with caster sugar and serve with lashings of custard AND ice cream.  

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Gin and Tonic Cake

Gin and Tonic Cake appeared on Facebook recently, to much delight of those seeking to combine alcohol and sugar in one delicious confection.  Coincidentally, I was given a bottle of very special Masons Yorkshire Gin, so it was an obvious candidate for this cake.  Thanks to Jess, who gave me the gin, and whose delightful baby daughter Caroline enjoyed my cakes…  This was tested on the Army and not found wanting!  The cake features in my book, Kate's Puddings, Second Helpings (available from my website).  The original recipe also used tonic, but if you don't have any lying around, don't worry, it didn't add to the taste!

Gin and Tonic Cake 

Gin and Tonic Cake

3 large fresh eggs
6oz/150g sieved self-raising flour
6oz/150g caster sugar
6oz/150g butter or spread at room temperature
¾ tsp baking powder
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of half a lemon
20ml gin

Gin and Lemon Topping:
100g icing sugar
Juice of half a lemon
Slug of gin

Preheat oven to 180 deg C, and line a 2lb loaf tin with parchment.

In a food processor or Kenwood, blend the cake ingredients together and then beat until pale and fluffy.   Shove into the oven and cook for 15-25 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven) until risen and golden brown.  To test, the cake should have come away from the edges slightly, and if you put a (heated) knife or skewer into the middle, it will come out clean.

Mix together half the sugar, gin and lemon juice to a thin, runny icing.  As soon as the cake has come out of the oven, stab it with a cocktail stick to make some deep holes and pour half to three quarters of the mixture all over it, slowly.   The mix in the remaining icing sugar, and pour the thicker icing over the top of that.   Leave in the tin until cool. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Gooseberry and Custard Tart

We all love a good tart!  I grow beautiful crimson gooseberries, and you can see the slightly sour juice just bursting out of them – somehow it is symbolic of a hot summer, and the gooseberry season is just about to start, so I can't wait to be making it again.   One of my sons doesn’t eat custard, but ate this without realising (sorry John!).  Serve hot with ice cream.  It was also surprisingly good cold.

Gooseberry and Custard Tart
Gooseberry and Custard Tart

Sweet shortcrust:
8oz/225g plain flour, sifted
4oz/110g butter, diced
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 large egg yolk and 2-3 tablespoons cold water

14oz/400g gooseberries, topped and tailed
1oz/25g caster sugar
½ pint/280ml double cream
3 large egg yolks
few drops vanilla extract

Make the pastry by hand or in the processor.  Don’t add all the water until you are sure you need it.  Rest the dough in the fridge for 20 minutes.   Line a 9” loose base flan tin with the pastry and prick the base with a fork before putting it back into the fridge for 20 minutes.    Heat the oven to 200 deg and put in a baking tray to heat.   Bake the tart blind on the tray (fill the case with foil/baking parchment and beans and bake for 15 minutes). 

Remove the tart case from the oven, take out the foil/parchment, then turn the oven down to 170ÂșC.  Keeping the case on the baking tray, tip in the gooseberries. Beat up the sugar, cream, yolks and vanilla in a jug and pour around the gooseberries.  Bake for approx. 45 minutes until the filling has set.    Eat hot or cold.  

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Salted Caramel Brownies

One of my favourite annual challenges is doing cake for 65 people, which is either a fabulous opportunity to try new things, or a panic-inducing welter of sugar and chocolate!   Choosing the former, I thought I'd try adapting my favourite Brownie recipe with some salted caramel.   Granted, the cake-eaters had been suffering death by PowerPoint all day, but these Brownies really went down fast!    The recipe is  fabulously easy, especially as you can buy the caramel in tins, and the result is a squishy, life-affirming chocolately accompaniment to even the worst cup of Army tea in the world....  Photos don't do chocolate justice - maybe we need a return to scratch and smell??

Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownies

Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownies

4oz/110g plain chocolate
5oz/140g butter
4 ½ oz/125g plain flour (or rice flour)
½ oz/15g cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
5oz/140g soft muscovado sugar
1 pinch salt plus extra sea salt
2 eggs
1 tin (375g) Carnation Caramel (or similar)

Preheat oven to 180 deg C, and line a baking tin (9” square, or oblong tin depending if you want the brownies thinner or thicker!) with non-stick baking parchment. 

Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave, stir the chocolate into the butter so it all mixes together (it is better to under-heat the chocolate and stir out the lumps using the residual heat in the butter).  

Sieve the flour, salt, cocoa and baking powder together.    In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs, adding the sugar.  Mix until just combined (this gives the best brownie texture).   Fold the melted chocolate into the beaten egg mix, then add the flour. 

Spread half the mixture into the tin.  Mix the caramel with a good pinch of salt flakes so that the texture breaks up a bit and it is easier to spread over the chocolate mixture.  Pour over the rest of the chocolate.  Take a knife and swirl it all around – not so much that you lose the stripes, but just so it isn’t perfectly regular.  Resist the temptation to lick the knife.  Sprinkle on another pinch of salt flakes.  Cook for up to 25 minutes, but it should still be soggy – the mixture will rise in the tin, but it is better that it is undercooked rather than solid.    Cut into squares when cool, if you can wait that long!