Baked Custard Apple Cake

DSC_0551This simple apple cake, topped with a baked soured cream custard, is a household favourite and has won approval on very many occasions, least of all by myself because it is so very quickly made. It’s also the perfect way of using limp apples towards the end of their shelf life.

Butter a 24 cm wide deep two-part baking tray, one of those where the sides and bottom come apart one way or another. Set aside.

Whip 75 g soft butter with 100 g sugar and seed from half a Vanilla pod, or an equivalent amount of vanilla extract. Gradually add 2 whole medium sized free range room temperature eggs, 100 g regular white wheat flour, 50 g corn starch and a good teaspoon of baking powder. Mix this well until the mix is smooth and silky.

Spread into one even layer in the baking tray.

Peel some semi-sharp apples, cut into quarters, remove the core. We love Russets, but a sweeter apple may need a sprinkling with lime juice. Braeburn are normally perfect for the job.

You need enough apples to cover the surface of the baking tray. Press the apple pieces slightly into the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes at 180 C.

Mix 300 ml soured cream, two heaped tablespoons of sugar (40..50 g) and two eggs (medium sized, free range, room temperature), adding an additional egg yolk for extra luxury. Pour this over the cake and continue to bake for another 30 minutes or until the surface has just the right colour: deep golden with light brown patches.

Remove from the tray after cooling down a little, then let cool down completely. Finish with a good icing sugar dusting and enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Brombeer Rahmkuchen

This is perfect all year round, but it is particularly attractive now, before the first soft fruit ripens and the larder wants emptying of last year’s jam.

Brombeer Rahmkuchen, as we call it, or Blackberry Baked Custard Cake, as you might want to call it.

This works with more or less any kind of jam so long as it isn’t too runny, provided that you rename the cake appropriately.

Make a sweet yeast dough cake base from 200 g of flour for a simple 28 cm round backing tray.

Line the baking tray with baking parchment. Roll out the dough, transfer onto the parchment and into the tray.

Whip up a medium-sized jar of Blackberry jam and spread evenly across the top, then let the dough with topping recover for half an hour.

Heat the oven to 180 C.

Whip up half a pint of double cream with 2 or 3 free range egg yolks and a tablespoon of vanilla-infused sugar, then gently pour on top. Dust lightly with ground cinnamon, then bake until it looks right, approximately half an hour if memory serves me right.

Take it out a few minutes before it becomes as dark as the one in the picture.

Let cool down on a rack for at least 20 minutes before cutting.

Custard

DSC_0239So rewarding, and so simple to make. No need for mysterious powder or ominously yellow stuff from a tetra pack; just make your own. It’s quick and easy to make, delicious, and free from artificial stabilisers, preservatives, colouring, other E-numbers and whatnots. You don’t even have to faff about with the Bain-Marie if you are careful.

Follow these steps:

Have 5 fresh medium sized free-range eggs ready at room temperature.

Mix half a pint of double cream with half a pint of whole milk and gently heat the mix in a saucepan. Use one with a heavy bottom so that it retains some heat when taken off the fire.

Meanwhile, separate the five eggs. Keep the whites for something useful; we only need the yolks for custard. Whisk the yolks with four to five generous tablespoons of sugar (80 to 100 g) until foamy. Add the seeds from one vanilla pod, or an equivalent amount of vanilla essence.

When the milk-cream-mix reaches boiling point, remove it from the heat, then whisk in the egg mix. Whisk vigorously for one minute more than you think necessary. The residual heat is enough to cook the egg but you must avoid scrambled egg, especially near the bottom and the edges of the pan.

Pour into a suitable jug or container and let cool down to room temperature, then chill in the fridge until it is time to serve it, perhaps with a fruit crumble.

Crumble

wp-15436549063524062076298856576597.jpgWell that’s a very simple recipe, but it has a place here because I keep forgetting the correct proportions. For the record:

To make four portions of fruit-crumble-and-custard, mix

50 g butter, soft but not runny,
50 g ground almonds,
50 g white wheat flour and
50 g caster sugar.

Its 1 : 1 : 1 : 1, how hard can it be to remember?

I make this hours before the meal. Bring the four ingredients together with an electric mixer, add a handful chopped toasted hazelnuts at the end, and put in the fridge until it is time to bake the fruit crumble for approximately 18 minutes at 180 C.

Linda’s Biscotti

20151128174447Friend Linda declined the honour, but she gets it anyway as she introduced me to these very lovely Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti. They are easy to make, lovely looking, perfect with the coffee after a meal, or just at any time.

It’s an American recipe and comes in cup measures, but I added a translation. This is my version of it:

2 cups white wheat flour (250 g)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soft unsalted butter (110 g)
3/4 cup sugar (100 g)
2 large free range eggs
1/2 vanilla pod
1 cup shelled pistachios (two handful)
1 cup dried cranberries, alternatively dried cherries or blueberries (two handful)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Roast the pistachios lightly in a non-sticking frying pan. Wrap the hot pistachios in a tea towel and rub the chaff off, then set aside to cool down a little.

Beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the seeds from the vanilla pod. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt.

Toss the berries with the cinnamon. Add the pistachios and fruit to the dough mix, stir in well.

Cover a flat tray with baking parchment. Form two logs from the dough, about 1 inch high and 1 .. 2 inch wide. Leave 3 inches between the logs.

Bake at 160 C (325 F) until golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool down at least for 30 minutes, then slice and bake the slices for approximately 7 minutes on each side until they begin to colour.

Standard Shortcrust

DSC_0447Another base recipe for which I keep forgetting the proportions, so here’s my standard shortcrust base for the record:

200 g white wheat flour,
100 g butter (soft but not runny).

Whisk together vigorously with an electric mixer, adding one egg and a teaspoon of cold water over time.

This makes a sticky dough.

Many suggest to clingfilm it, then chill and roll when cold.

I prefer to get it done there and then. I roll it immediately between two sheets of baking parchment or greaseproof paper, then cut to size. Now I let it rest in a cool place until I need it, for example when making Apple Tarte Tatin for dessert.

I suppose you might be tempted to sweeten the dough for a sweet cake, such as a thin apple cake glazed with Calvados and apricot jam. I don’t have a very sweet tooth and usually find that the sweet topping is sweet enough so I don’t need to add sugar to the base but it’s up to you!

Greek Yogurt Ice Cream

DSC_0898.JPGA tangy Greek yogurt ice cream served with poached pears and nuts.

For the ice cream, I make a custard from 250 ml double cream, 60 g sugar, four free-range egg yolks and half a vanilla pod. Whisk in a paste made from a heaped tablespoon of corn starch, this helps keeping the ice cream in shape later.

Whisk in 500 ml of Greek Yogurt in the last few seconds, remove from the heat. Let cool down, then chill. Churn it just after the main course; chilled well, this only takes about 30 minutes in the ice cream machine.

Poach one or two pealed and cored pears with 1 tablespoon of sugar and one start anise each in 250 ml water or rice wine vinegar. Take the fruit out after approximately 30 minutes, increase the heat and reduce the liquor to a thick honey consistency.

Poaching in rice wine vinegar will probably need sweetening with honey or apply jelly but makes a nice sharp contrast to the sweet ice cream.

The version in these photos uses a Balsamic Caramel. Good old Salted Caramel or simple Balsamic Glaze would also be nice, and so would be natural dark honey.

Add some toasted and chopped pistacho or macadamia nuts for added crunch and good looks.

Elderflower Cordial

P20160528135323.JPG250 g fresh and ripe Elderflower
1 l Water
1 kg Sugar
1 unwaxed lemon
1 tbls citric acid or juice

Mix sugar and water, bring it to the boil. Let it cool down a little, then add the finely sliced lemons, additional lemon juice or citric acid to taste. Now add the unwashed flowers, stir, then cover and let rest in a cool place for 2..3 days.

Now filter the liquid through a muslin cloth and discard the solids.

Bring the syrup to the boil, then bottle into sterilised bottles.

 

Black Forest Gateaux

DSC_0773.JPGFollowing is for a 240 mm round baking tray. You need a springform tray (one where the rim can be removed) or one of those where the bottom comes out.

100 g dark chocolate (go for quality and high cocoa content)
150 g soft unsalted butter
150 g sugar
4 free range medium size eggs

50 g ground almonds
50 g corn starch
50 g normal white wheat baking flour
50 g fine dried bread crumbs

1 tablespoon of baking powder (unless you use self-rising flour)
1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar (or equivalent amount of vanilla extract, aroma or genuine vanilla)

Process:

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water or *very* carefully in the microwave oven at very low power setting. This works quicker but it is easy to burn the chocolate in the micro.

Mix butter, sugar and vanilla, whisk until slightly foamy.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites, whisk the egg whites stiff.

Mix almonds, flour, corn starch, bread crumbs. Add a tablespoon of dark cocoa for an extra boost if you want.

Check that the chocolate has cooled down but is still runny or very soft. Must be under 80 C so that the eggs won’t cook in it.

Mix the egg yolks into the chocolate.

Add the almonds, etc, to the eggs and chocolate. Mix.

Gently add the egg whites to the mix. Traditional cooking wisdom calls this to “fold in the whites” using a thin metal spoon, careful not to knock out too much air. I prefer using a whisk, just don’t use it for whisking. Instead gently rotate it to fold the egg whites into the batter mix. I find it is easier to evenly distribute the whites using the whisk; the traditional spoon method is likely to break more of your stiff whites.

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Use Top and bottom heat or convected air.

Butter the form really well, especially around the corners.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Rest for 3 hours. Remove it from the tin when the time is right. Too soon and it will break, too late and it will be soggy. You need to judge and find the sweet spot, but if you have a good baking tray where the sides come off or the bottom can be pushed up, the highest risk is in that you burn your hand, wrist or arm on the hot tin. Every time…

Slice once or twice, douse with booze.

Make the filling, assemble and decorate.

Yeast Dough Cake Base

cropped-DSC_0223.jpgThis is the base recipe for a sweet yeast dough used with many traditional German or French cakes:

500g white wheat flour

40g fresh yeast (or a tablespoon of dried yeast if you must)

1 cup of luke warm milk

100g caster sugar

1 whole free range medium egg

80g warm butter (add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter).

Put everything into a kneding bowl and kned, or let your kitchen machine do the kneding for you. Balance flour / milk as necessary. It’s perfect when the dough is nice and soft but just comes away from the bown easily (it is just not sticky any more).

Give the yeast 15 minutes to come alive in a warm place. Your kitchen worktop is normally just fine.

Then proceed as instructed by the recipe.

For a typical 28cm round baking tray, I use this 1/2 of the above base recipe.