Monday, 15 February 2016

Hot Rhubarb Custard Sponge

Known in some circles as a self-saucing pudding, this delicious hot, creamy, spongy, gorgeous rhubarb pudding shows rhubarb at it's absolute best!   There's a lovely hot spongy layer, a saucy, curdy layer, and then a base note of lovely pink Yorkshire rhubarb, all sweet and delicious, but with a kick of rhubarbness.   This recipe was originally published in the Guardian.

I've made the lemon version of this ( for years, but thought I'd try a rhubarb version for a change.  We were not disappointed!  Despite being hot, the pud was hoovered up by my hungry husband and son, and the baking dish scraped until it nearly lost its glaze...

Hot Rhubarb Custard Sponge
Hot Rhubarb Custard Sponge

1 ½ lb/750g rhubarb, washed
3oz/75g soft brown sugar
3oz/75g softened butter
6oz/150g caster sugar
grated rind of 2 oranges
3 eggs, separated
3oz/75g self-raising flour
Up to 7floz/200ml milk

Butter a 2.5 pint/2 litre ovenproof dish and preheat the oven to 180 deg C.    

Chop the rhubarb and simmer it with the orange juice and brown sugar until it is soft, but hasn’t turned to mush.   Pour the whole lot into a sieve and collect the beautiful tart juice while the rhubarb cools.   Put the yolks, orange rind, sugar, butter and flour into a food processor and blend thoroughly.   Mix 7floz/200ml of the rhubarb juice and 5 fl oz/150ml of the milk (or whatever juice you’ve got and more milk to bring the total to 12 fl oz/ 350ml), then add the mix slowly through the funnel.  

Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until firm and fold into the mixture (I usually do it the other way round as it is difficult to fold into a processor bowl!).   When it is reasonably well mixed, ie, not too many egg white islands, pour into the greased dish. 

Cook for about 35-45 minutes until it is risen and browned (and the top is set and spongy to the touch).  Check after 20 minutes - if it is browning too quickly, put a piece of foil over the top.  

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Chocolate and Orange Shortbread

This winter brings me out in a chocolate and orange mood - there's nothing nicer than the smell of oranges and warm chocolate, although, eating the biscuits is pretty heavenly too!   I tested my first batch on a visiting friend, who ate one just as it had come out of the oven.  Mistake....  The chocolate is molten.  A glass of water later, we tested another one.  Yes, it was good too, and so was the third.. and the fourth!

Shortbread must be the easiest kind of biscuits to make, and this variation is no exception.  As I hadn't really thought much about chopping the chocolate particularly evenly, I did have some trouble rolling the biscuits out, as the chunks meant you couldn't get them very thin. That said, the heftier biscuits were deliciously good, with a real kick of orange as well as chocolate pieces.  

I used two trays this time, and kept the second tray in the fridge for another batch.  They lasted overnight beautifully, so I had fresh biscuits two days running.

Chocolate and Orange Shortbread
Chocolate and Orange Shortbread

5oz/150g plain flour
3 level tbsps rice flour – if no rice flour, substitute plain flour
2oz/50g caster sugar
4oz/100g butter at just above room temperature
2oz/50g dark chocolate/choc chips
Rind of 1 large or 2 small oranges
½ tsp orange essence (for that extra bit of zing!)

Preheat oven to 170deg C/325 deg F.   Put baking parchment on a large baking tray.   Mix together the flours and the sugar, plus the orange zest.  If you are using chocolate, chop it so that it forms reasonably small and even pieces, and add it or the choc chips.   Lastly, add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients.   It will form a dryish dough, which you knead a little before rolling (this stretches the gluten and makes the biscuit stick together better).  

Roll out the dough between two pieces of baking parchment.  In practice, the dough will be as thick as the chocolate pieces you’ve used.   Cut out the biscuits and transfer using a fish slice to the baking sheet.   Chill for about 10 minutes.  Bake until golden – the butter in the mixture will brown while your back is turned, so check it frequently after 15 minutes or so.      When they are done, dredge them with caster sugar.  

Makes approx. 12-14 depending on thickness.