Plum & Almond Pudding

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plum 30/08/2017

So as I have already mentioned, I recently returned from a holiday in France and upon leaving the little gite, I was presented with a huge bag of plums from the hosts who had been busy harvesting the variety of wonderful trees in their garden. I have never really been overly fussed about plums but being one not to let anything go to waste, I thought I’d try my hand at baking something with them and this pudding is the result.

Sharp plums are topped with a light sponge flavoured with almonds and scented with zesty lemons for a really satisfying treat.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ripe plums, quartered and stoned
  • pinch cinnamon
  • zest 2 lemons
  • 4 tbsp brandy (optional)
  • 100g soft butter
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp flaked almond
  • Custard/cream/icecream, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Toss the plums, cinnamon, lemon zest and brandy together in a bowl, then leave to macerate while you make the batter.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time then tip in the flour, almond extract and ground almonds. Mix until completely combined.
  3. Tip the fruit into a buttered shallow baking dish, spoon over the cake batter, then sprinkle over the flaked almonds. Bake for 35-40 mins until browned and cooked through. Test if the pudding is ready by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean, the pudding is ready. If there is some batter on the skewer then give it a few minutes more. Remove from the oven and serve warm with custard.
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Frangipane Mince Pies

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image 08/12/2015

It’s Christmas time! That means mince pies and not just any mince pies…frangipane topped mince pies! I know.

I visited my best mate at the weekend and, entering into the Christmas spirit, we decided to bake a batch of these. Turns out we didn’t have a cupcake tin and no shops in Norwich sell them either so after roaming the streets and scouring all the shops for said tins we conceded and piled all the ingredients into a large cake tin and made a tart which we consumed in two nights! It was lovely and gooey from the oven and once cooled, was even better the next day. The flavours of the almond and spice really coe through when cool and the ground almonds and luxery fruit filling keep everything moist in the crisp pastry shell.

I returned home to my family the next day raving about how tasty the tart was and my mum had me baking another batch for her within minutes.

I have included the instructions for making both individual tarts and a large tart so make your decision and get baking!

Makes 18 or 1 large tart.

Ingredients:

PASTRY:

  • 175g plain flour
  • 75g butter, cut into cubes
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten

FRANGIPANE:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 level tbsp plain flour
  • 1⁄2 tsp almond extract, or to taste

FILLING AND TOPPING:

  • jar of shop bought or homemade mincemeat flavoured with about 2 tbsp brandy (you won’t need it all)
  • a few flaked almonds
Method:
  1. To make the pastry, measure the flour, butter and icing sugar into a mixing bowl, then cut with a metal knife until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Pour in the beaten egg and incorporate until the dough starts to form a ball. Knead lightly, wrap and chill for about 30 minutes if the pastry is not quite firm enough to roll out. Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C.
  2. To make the frangipane, put the butter and sugar into the unwashed processor and blend until soft and creamy. Scrape down the sides, add the eggs and continue to process. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled at this stage. Add the ground almonds, flour and almond extract, and mix briefly.
  3. Roll the pastry out thinly (handling as little as possible) on a lightly floured work surface and cut into 18 circles. Use to line the tins. Spoon a teaspoon of mincemeat into each tartlet and top with the frangipane mixture. There is no need to spread the mixture flat as it will level out in the oven (but do not overfill the tins). Sprinkle a few flaked almonds on top.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, watching carefully. Remove from the tins and allow to cool on a wire rack.

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VARIATION: If you want to make a large tart, you can use the exact quantity above to fill a 20-23cm lcake tin, which will take about 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven.

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If you have any leftover pastry, enrol the help of your friends and family and shape them into figures. Here you will see a beautiful grumpy cat, penguin with a santa hat, a lego block and a broccoli that looks like ‘somthing else’! Roll out the scraps, shape and bake for 12-15 minutes 😉

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Melting Moments

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IMG_20151015_222840[1] 15/10/2015

Yet another basic recipe with store cupboard ingredients that tastes absolutely amazing. Don’t be scared of using lard. It gives a wonderful crisp finish to the bake. I also recommend using almond extract. It works really well with the little buttery bakes which, as their name states, melt away when you bite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz butter or margarine
  • 2 ½ oz lard
  • 3oz caster sugar
  • ½ egg, beaten
  • Few drops of vanilla or almond extract
  • 5oz self raising flour
  • Rolled oats for coating
  • 4-5 glace cherries, quartered

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease 2 baking sheets. Cream together the butter or margarine, lard and sugar then gradually beat in the egg and vanilla or almond extract.
  2. Stir the flour into the beaten mix then roll into 16-20 small balls in your hands.
  3. Spread the rolled oats on a sheet of greaseproof paper and toss the balls in them to coat evenly
  4. Place the balls, spaced slightly apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Place a piece of cherry on top of each and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Lemon Bakewell Tarts

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IMG_20150904_180736[1] 04/09/2015

Makes 12-24

In case you hadn’t already gathered from looking through my blog, I like lemon curd! Here is another recipe for the wonderful stuff incorporated into a sweet, sticky, nutty cake encased in a rich, buttery pastry case that is the perfect bite-size to enjoy with a brew.

Ingredients:

For the sweet pastry:

  • 85g butter, at room temperature
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

For the filling:

  • zest 2 lemons
  • 100g butter, at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 85g ground almonds
  • 25g plain flour
  • 6 Tbsp lemon curd
  • 25g flaked almonds
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180C. To make the pastry, place the butter and lemon zest in a food processor and blitz until soft. Sieve in the icing sugar and blitz again until light and creamy. Mix in the egg yolk with 1 tbsp water, then add in the flour until it’s just combined.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, bring the pastry together into a ball, then wrap in cling film and flatten lightly to form a disc. Chill in the fridge for 30 mins.
  3. Roll out the pastry and cut out 12 rounds with a pastry cutter. Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with the circles. Put in the fridge while making the filling.
  4. To make the filling, beat together the lemon zest, butter and caster sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, including a spoonful of the ground almonds with each addition. When all the egg has been added, mix in the remaining ground almonds and flour.
  5. Spread the lemon curd into the pastry cases. Spoon over the filling and smooth over gently. The tarts will be full to the top, which is fine. Scatter over the flaked almonds, sit tarts on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the tin and serve warm or cool, dusted with icing sugar.

IMG_20150904_180640[1] IMG_20150904_180710[1]

As you can see from the final picture, this mix can also be used to make transportable little Bakewell slices. Just place the ingredients into a greased and lined 20cm x 20cm baking tin and bake as instructed.

So good!

Rustic Jam Shortbread Tart

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IMG_20150312_141427[1] 14/03/2015

Cut into buttery little pieces, this cross between a tart and a cookie crumbles and then melts away as you eat it.

  • ¼ cup ground almonds
  • ¾ cup plain flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3oz cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ to ¾ cup jam (I used seeded raspberry jam)
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Butter a 9-inch dark-coloured tart tin.
  2. Add the almonds, flour, sugar and salt to a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mix until small crumbs form then add the egg yolk and almond extract. Mix with a metal spoon until the mixture starts to come together in small clumps.
  3. Turn the pastry into the prepared tin. It may look crumbly but this is fine. With your hands pat it out to evenly cover the bottom of the tin. Give the tart a standing rim by nudging the dough up the sides of the pan by 1/2 inch. Don’t worry if it looks a little ragged.
  4. Bake the crust in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes, or until its edges are golden and the centre is starting to colour. The rim will sink down a little which is fine.
  5. Remove the tin from the oven and turn the heat up to 240ºC. Carefully spread the jam over the tart and return it to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the jam is bubbly.
  6. Cool the tart on a wire rack, slice it into wedges and serve.

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Bakewell Flapjacks

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IMG_20150226_111909[1] 26/02/2015

So it’s a rainy day and by rain, I don’t just mean rain, I mean RAIN. Good, I’m glad you now understand from my beautifully descriptive language. So I’m stuck inside, the housework is done, Better Call Saul is all caught up on and I’m sat around looking for something to do so the obvious solution is… Bake! But what to bake? Cake? Tart? Bars? I know –she thinks to herself (lightbulb moment) – I’ll do it all! This bakewell flapjack recipe combines all the almondy flavour and jammy goodness of a bakewell tart with the gooey, buttery crumble of oaty flapjacks.

Ingredients:

  • 150g butter plus extra for greasing
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 200g rolled oats
  • 50g ground almonds
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 3 tbsp raspberry jam
  • Handful of flaked almonds

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C and generously line and grease a 7” square tin with foil and butter. Gently melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Once all melted, remove from the heat and add the oats, ground almonds, almond extract and salt and mix until fully combined. Spoon half of the flapjack into the tin and gently flatten to cover the surface. Place the jam in a small bowl, mix to loosen up and spread all over the flapjack base – leaving a frame around the edge.                    IMG_20150226_112113[1]
  3. Spoon the rest of the flapjack on top and gently spread out so that it covers all of the jam. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and place in the oven.
  4. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the edges start to go golden brown. Leave to cool completely in the tin, then carefully cut into slices (as they will still be quite moist). These will keep in an air tight container for a few days, and are perfect with a hot cuppa. In my opinion, they taste better after a couple of days – if they survive that long.

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Cherry & Marzipan Cake

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IMG_20141204_203958[1] 04/12/2014

A great alternative to a Christmas cake, this cherry and marzipan cake still delivers wonderful Christmas flavours without the hassle of feeding a fruit cake for weeks. The marzipan layer is not coating the cake but runs through the middle and the cherries are cut really chunky to deliver big bursts of fruit in a light frangipane sponge.

I had full intentions of picturing this cake whole but some certain family members (everyone) just couldn’t help themselves as it was cooling and dug right in. I can’t blame them though. It does smell awesome as it bakes and tastes pretty special too.

Ingredients:

  • 8oz margarine
  • 8oz golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 4oz ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 8oz glace cherries, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 9oz marzipan
  • 1-2oz flaked almonds
  • Icing sugar for dusting

Method:

  1. Line and grease a deep 8-inch cake tin with greaseproof paper and margarine. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the margarine until soft. Add the caster sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated then add the flour a third at a time and mix together well.
  4. Fold in the ground almonds, cherries and almond extract then spoon half of the mix into the prepared tin and level out with a spoon.
  5. Roll out the marzipan to a 7 ½ inch round. Dust with icing sugar if it begins to stick and then place this on top of the first cake layer in the tin. Add the remaining cake batter over the marzipan.
  6. Sprinkle with ground almonds and place in the preheated oven for 1 hour 30 minutes. Cover the cake with foil after the first hour to prevent the top over-browning.
  7. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a slight crumb. Remember though that there is a layer of marzipan running through the middle so don’t mistake this as underdone cake batter.
  8. Remove from the oven, leave for 20 minutes in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with icing sugar if you like.

The nuts in the cake keep it moist for a few days as do the cherries and the marzipan layer.