Monthly Archives: April 2011
There’s no denying my favourite thing to bake is a cake that involves frangipane. Be it a Bakewell Tart or Rhubarb Tart I love the almond sponge. A few weeks ago mum gave me a jar of apricots that had been steeping in a thick whisky syrup and decided that combining them with a frangipane tart would be a great cake for the Easter weekend. While not necessarily a traditional Easter cake it certainly ties to spring with the colours.
While it’s lovely to use fresh fruit the wonders of preservation mean we can eat fruit all year round. I know some people are a bit stuffy about using tinned/jarred fruits but I have no such qualms as they still count as one of your 5 a day; ok maybe not when served in a cake! Preservation is an age-old method that allowed our ancestors to eat a balanced diet. If it was good enough for them it’s good enough for me. You don’t have to preserve your own fruit (though this is a great thing to do if you have a local PYO or a glut of fruit) as there is a great choice out there. If you’re not looking for uniform fruit pieces many of the supermarket’s basic ranges are fantastic for fruit salads and fillings. Another gem is to look in places like Home Bargains or B&M Bargins. You often get imports or more obscure end of lines for very good price. These apricots came from one of these stores. The pastry used in this tart is rich and can be rolled out quite thin which gives a fantastic crust to the pie. Certainly don’t skip the step of brushing the hot pastry with egg white as this seals the pastry and can stop filling leaking out.
Apricot & Almond Tart
125g plain flour
Pinch of salt
75g unsalted butter, cold and diced
25g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp cold water
1 egg white
100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
25g plain flour
100g ground almonds
1 tsp almond extract
30g flaked almonds
20 apricot halves
1)In a large bowl mix together flour, salt and sugar then rub in butter until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg yolk and water until you have a smooth dough. Flatten into a disk, cover in clingfilm and refrigerate for 45 min.
2)On a floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 3mm thick then line a 20cm tart tin with the pastry. Lightly prick the base with a fork and chill for 30 min.
3) Preheat the oven to 180oc (160oc fan). Line the pastry case with baking parchment and baking beans then bake for 20min until pastry is a light golden colour. Remove the beans and parchment, brush the inside of the pastry shell with egg white and bake for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 min
4) While the pastry is cooling beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and almond extract. Stir in the flour and ground almonds until well combined.
5) Pour frangipane mix into pastry case. Level out with a pallet knife. Press apricot halves in to the frangipane mixture then sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake for 35-40 until risen and golden.
6) Allow to cool in tin before eating.
Julia Parsons from A Slice of Cherry Pie has hosted an Easter Cake Bake since 2007. My previous entries have included Mini Egg Tiffin and Simnel Cupcakes. I was pleased when she announced she was hosting it again as I already had a cake in mind. Easter in the culinary world usually means chocolate and a lot of it. As we had visitors this weekend I thought it would be a great opportunity to make my first ever sandwich cake (yes you read that right, my first!) and bake something from my newest cookbook purchase – Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood.
Sometimes I’m a bit slow to jump on the cookery bandwagon, I haven’t attempted cake pops, whoopie pies or macarons yet. When Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache was released in 2009 I admit I didn’t pay too much attention to it even if I’d been baking vegetables in cakes for a while. Until someone on twitter was talking about this book recently I didn’t really appreciate what it was about. This isn’t just about baking with vegetables it’s about gluten free baking and baking cakes without butter. Shocking at first the thought of baking without butter, but this can be replaced in the cake by vegetables. As Harry points out only use butter in cakes where it is going to be tasted. With the ever-increasing price of butter this is good advice. In the case of the Light Chocolate Cake the butter is replaced with Butternut Squash. While the majority of the recipes featured in the book use rice flour this can often be substituted with plain flour if you wanted to. I haven’t had a problem sourcing rice flour. Sainsbury’s sells Doves Farm rice flour, but you won’t find it by the conventional flour it’s but the free from foods. Holland & Barrett also sell brown rice flour.
You would never guess this moist, fluffy cake was gluten free and tasted far from virtuous. In keeping with the slightly haphazard way I bake the two layers of the cake were slightly different sizes, I was too stubborn to go and buy two identical tins but being blinded by the chocolate no one noticed. I could have trimmed the layers to make them equal, but was running out of time.
I could put the recipe below, but if you followed it probably wouldn’t work as the recipes from this fantastic cookbook are not simply recipes they are a revolution in baking. To get the most out of the recipe you need to read the introduction in the beginning of the book that explains the ingredients and methods that are different to traditional baking. To give you an idea about the recipes in Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache Harry has put a few of the recipes on her website. I wholeheartedly recommend buying the book and look forward to baking from it again soon.
It’s not often I run competitions on my blog, however when Dorset Cereal approached me about running a competition I knew I couldn’t say no as I know many of you love Dorset Cereal as much as we do.
Dorset Cereal have recently launched a new cereal, Good Honest Crunch, that comes in two flavours – Strawberries & Raspberries and Toffee & Pecan. Dorset Cereal were kind enough to send us a case of this cereal and we are thoroughly enjoying both flavours for breakfast. I like these because they are not as sweet compared to similar products on the market and one of the few cereals that keep being going until lunch time.
To be in the chance of winning a case of the Crunch, two of bowls and two mugs from our the new Dorset Cereal crockery range leave a comment below finishing this sentence – “Life’s too short…..” To help you get inspiration have a look what other people have said on the Dorset Cereal website.
Competition is open to UK entrants only and closes 11pm on Saturday 30th April. A winner will be drawn at random.
ETA: Congratulations to Lynne. The Dorset Cereal goodies are one their way to you now.
Given the Midlands has great food heritage, wonderful places to buy food can be few and far between. In amongst the rough there is some diamonds. Brown and Green is one of these. Their aim is to provide local, artisan & ethical produce. They have a shop in Trentham Gardens, that I had heard great things about, and a couple of weeks ago they opened a sister store at Derby Garden Centre near Little Eaton. I popped in on the opening day and was really pleased with what I found and have since returned with Hubs to stock up on picnic essentials for a trip to Kedleston Hall.
It’s great to see so many local brands being stocked from the delicious Needwood Ice Cream (I think the best ice cream you can get), Quirky Cookies, Septimus Syder to the Aged Leicestershire Red, plus from the other side of the Midlands Coopers Gourmet Sausage Rolls (Hubs adores their sausage rolls with black pudding called Piggy Black) and Westons Stowford Press which brings back memories of last year’s holiday. On our trips there I’ve also spotted venison salami, some amazing looking savory eggs plus lots of other fabulous products.
If your ever in the area I seriously suggest you visit. The garden centre where it’s based is good too. What I love about Brown & Green is that it’s down to earth, fabulous quality, reasonably priced and friendly. Not all food stores are like this and it’s a shame. Good food is for everyone, not just for people who can afford it. If I was to run a food shop I would run it exactly like Brown & Green. Thank you very much to Brown & Green’s Susie for the photographs.
Brown & Green,
Derby Garden Centre,