On Sunday it was the Calke Abbey Apple Day. We attended last year and knew we had to return for the apple sale. Many varieties of apples from the orchard were for sale at around £2 for 1kg bag. We raced the WI contingent for the quinces so we can make our annual batch of quince jelly. We got there only 15 min after it opened and they were already running low on quinces.
Along with the quinces we bought a bag of Ribston Pippin as they are both a eating and culinary apple and were popular in the Victorian times due to its aromatic nature. It’s thought to be the parent of the more commonly known Cox Orange Pippin. The perfect choice for an autumnal apple pie. Read the rest of this entry
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.
Chorley Cakes have been on my Must Bake list for while. Recipes for these lesser known cakes are quite elusive, even my trusty collection of vintage cookbooks couldn’t provide me with a full recipe, however as a teenager growing up on the Merseyside/Lancashire border it wasn’t unknown for me to make these in Home Ec so these are my version from what I can remember.
They are very much known as being a cake where each household had their own version but still remaining as a frugal bake with less ingredients than it’s slightly fancier cousin the Eccles Cake. The Eccles Cake is sweeter than the Chorley Cake and is made with puff/flaky pastry plus another regional variation is the East Lancashire’s Sad Cake essentially being a giant Chorley Cake that is cut into slices like pizza. The best way to eat Chorley Cakes is very slightly warm with a thin layer of butter and a small piece of crumbly Lancashire cheese.
I may us the Chorley Cake method for making mince pies this year, similar to when I’ve made Eccles Mince Pies in the past. It’s also likely I will make these with my pupils in the near future as it is good practice at making shortcrust pastry. The addition of baking powder to the pastry helps make the pastry lighter. As with any pastry remember to use chilled ingredients to stop the fat melting and separating from the flour.
Makes 12 cakes
For the pastry
225g plain flour
110g cold butter, cubed
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
for the filling
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
small amount of grated nutmeg
50g currants, sultanas or rasins
1 egg, beaten
1) In a bowl sieve in flour, salt and baking powder. Rub in the butter until you have a breadcrumb consistency then add the chilled water 1 TBSP at a time until you have a nice dough. Press dough into a disk, cover in clingfilm and chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
2) Melt the butter then stir in the sugar, nutmeg and currants.
3) Roll the dough out until 5mm thick. Cut out a disk approximately 8cm in diameter.
4) Place 1 tbsp of the mixture in the middle of the disk and fold in the edges so the mixture is covered. Flip over so the seal is facing the surface then roll until the currants are beginning to show through the pastry. Place on a lined baking tray.
5) Once all of the pastry has been used, brush all the cakes with beaten egg then bake for 10-15 at 200°c until golden.