Mince pies have been filling up the supermarket shelves for the last few months and jars of ready-made mincemeat have sneakily taken their place amongst the baking ingredients ready to jump out and berate you for being completely unprepared for Christmas months in advance. If you’re one of those wonderfully organised souls you’ll have made your own batch of mincemeat several weeks ago. I, on the other hand, found myself baking with the tail-end of last year’s jars until my lovely mum kindly handed me a jar she’d made the other weekend. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category
More cake today. This time with fruit which totally makes it healthy. And with big gooey pockets of custard which makes it more healthy. Custard’s good for you right? Lots of calcium, good for strong bones. Ahem. The idea for this cake has been kicking around for a while now going through various transformations in my head before it ever even hit the mixing bowl. The first seed of inspiration came from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet, an encyclopaedia of all things good, which has a recipe for apple and walnut cake dotted with custard. I pinched the custard element and reduced the sugar since his recipes always turn out too sweet for my tastes. The cake is a basic sponge made with both caster and soft brown sugar for a caramel depth and spiced with nutmeg, the traditional and perfect flavour pairing for creamy custard and a good match with plums. (more…)
Somerset, the county next door (or up North as we say down here in South Devon) is well known for producing excellent cider which is so good it has spawned its own genre of music, Scrumpy and Western, wherein bands sing odes to their favourite drink. Although there are not as many as there once were, apple orchards are a common sight and in a fair few of those you’ll spot pigs merrily roaming under the trees munching up the long grass. Those happy orchard pigs make for super-tasty pork as they fatten up on sweet apples. So it’s no wonder that Somerset is home to many a good recipe combining pork and apples. (more…)
Summer pudding has long been a favourite of mine and it was a staple in the dessert rotation when I was growing up. My parents were keen gardeners and Mum still grows lots of her own fruit and vegetables despite not having much time to devote to the garden. On a Sunday afternoon I would often be dispatched up the garden to pick raspberries, strawberries, tayberries and blackcurrants for one of Mum’s spectacular puddings. I always find it a sad farewell to summer when the berries come to an end. This year, inspired by a Valentine Warner recipe, I decided to extend the Summer pudding into Autumn and make the most of the wild blackberries and the remaining little bit of last year’s sloe gin. I toyed around with calling these Autumn puddings but I like it when the name of the recipes tells you a little about what’s inside, especially when there’s gin involved. (more…)
It’s another Avignon-inspired recipe for you today! Going back to Les Halles market – the one to give you foodie dreams for years to come – I mentioned the boulanger who sold apple pie by the slice. His pie/tart was not the usually fancy affair with neatly sliced apples delicately arranged in concentric circles but a handheld, picnic-friendly pud. A sweet apple compote was sandwiched between two layers of flakey, buttery puff pastry while the top was covered in a crackly layer of golden sugar. Thin squares of pie were sliced up and wrapped in a napkin for eating on the spot. The perfect end to a simple lunch of cheese, bread and tomatoes eaten on a sunny park bench overlooking the Rhone river. (more…)
Making fresh fruit drinks is one of the joys of summer; on a warm day nothing tastes quite as good as a cold glass of lemonade or, in this case, pink grapefruit-ade spiked with ginger syrup. Not only is it pretty and bang-on-trend coral pink but it has a delicate, refreshing flavour which is a lovely pick-me-up after a day spent outside in the sun. It’s also a fab alcohol-free drink to offer your designated-driver guests; it makes a refreshing (haha) change from Coke and J2O.
Tres leches cake is, so I hear, quite ubiquitous in Latin America and very popular in the US. It is also, apparently, quite the fashion in Albania. I’d love it to become more popular here in blighty since it’s pretty darn good cake. It is, essentially, a light-as-air sponge cake soaked in ‘three milks’: sticky, sweet condensed milk, evaporated milk and rich, fresh cream; and, if you like, a kick of rum. The sponge, being made of eggs whipped up to frothy peaks, is full of tiny bubbles which act as little pockets to hold the milks which means the cake is incredibly moist but not soggy. As you can probably imagine, for something soaked in condensed milk, this cake is quite sweet so it is just perfect topped with softly whipped cream and fresh summer berries which are tart enough to balance out the favours.
Tres leches cake makes a wonderful summer cake for a tea party or dinner; it’s so pretty decorated with a riot of red, pink and purple berries, simple and elegant at the same time. Once it’s been doused in milk, the cake goes in the fridge to chill so it’s cool and remarkably refreshing when served: not what your guest are expecting but a pleasant surprise. And that’s what I really love about tres leches – it’s not your everyday cake, it’s a bit of a surprise. Tell someone you’re serving them sponge cake soaked in milk and they’ll probably think you’re nuts (unless they’ve already been inducted into the tres leches club) but one bite in they’ll wonder how they’d gone so long without this cake in their lives.
Tres leches cake with berries
Adapted very slightly from Simon Rimmer on Saturday Kitchen
For the cake:
- 4 eggs, separated
- 150g sugar
- 200g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 100ml milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the milk sauce:
- 397ml condensed milk
- 350ml evaporated milk
- 200ml double cream
- 3 tbsp rum
For the topping:
- 150ml double cream
- fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, red currants, cherries)
First make the cake. Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease a 23cm square pan (but not one with a loose base! I used a pyrex dish).
In a spotlessly clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks, add 50g sugar and beat until stiff.
In another large bowl beat the yolks and remaining sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift over the flour and baking powder and fold in. Stir in the milk and vanilla.
Fold one-third of the egg whites into the yolk batter to loosen then gently fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 30–40 minutes. The cake is ready when it’s golden and a skewer comes out clean.
While the cake is baking stir together the milk sauce ingredients.
As soon as the cake comes out the oven prick it all over with a fork and gradually pour over the majority of the sauce, about ¾. Allow to cool in the baking dish then chill.
Two hours before serving pour over the remaining sauce.
Just before serving turn the cake out and whip the 150ml cream to firm peaks. Spread the cream over the top of the cake and decorate with fresh berries.