Rapid Sponge Base

My mother calls it Blitzbiskuit, and it really is a very simple and quick affair. It makes a perfectly quick and simple sponge base for a fresh summer fruit cake and, with added cocoa, also serves well for a Black Forest Gateaux.

For a 24 cm tray, add 4 tablespoons of cold water to four organic free-range egg whites, then beat almost stiff. Add 150 g caster sugar and dissolve with more beating.

Now put the power whisk aside and switch to a hand whisk. Use this to gradually fold in, one after another:

3 egg yolks,
1 teaspoon of baking powder,
180 g white wheat flour.

Add 3 tablespoons of dark cocoa for a dark base.

Bake 25 minutes in an oven preheated at 180° C. Ain’t that a quickie?

Muffins

Muffins, lovely and quickly made, versatile, delicious fluffy muffins.

It couldn’t be easier but since I keep on forgetting the ratio, here it is again:

100 g plain white wheat flour
80 g soft butter
80 g caster sugar
80 g whole milk
1 free range egg
1 teaspoon of baking powder

This is the base recipe, which makes about 6 medium-sized muffins. You might want to double or triple it depending on the occasion.

Whisk butter and sugar, then add milk and egg, then flour and baking powder. Spoon into a muffin tray, paper or silicone muffin forms, filling just over half the height. Optionally add fruit into the mix, such as apple bits or blueberries or gently press into the dough after distributing into the forms (cherries, raspberries, blackberries, and so on).

Bake at 180 C for about 15 minutes.

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.