Raspberry Kuchen

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RaspberryKuchenGoOne-1 21/04/2017

A kuchen is a cake-like dessert, very similar to a cheesecake, that has a soft dough crust and a topping of custard or cheese that contains berries or other fruits. I love this recipe for many reasons. There are no stray egg whites or yolks left to deal with when the cake is finished. What’s not used in the crust is used in the custard and that appeals to my “green” instincts. The cake, which can be made without a mixer, is very easy to do and has the added advantage of being low in fat and only moderately sweet. Best of all, it can be made with fresh or frozen berries of any type. Frozen berries will produce a creamier cake because of the liquid they exude as the cake bakes.

Ingredients:
Base:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen berries

Filling:

  • 1-1/2 cups plain low-fat or non-fat yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 slightly beaten egg yolks
  • 1 slightly beaten whole egg
  • 1+1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly grease bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form tin. If using frozen raspberries, thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes then drain.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl stir together 1 cup flour, the first 1/2 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Add melted butter, 2 egg whites and first teaspoon of vanilla. Stir by hand until mixed.
  3. Spread onto the bottom of the cake tin; sprinkle with berries. Set aside.
  4. For the filling, place yoghurt in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flour. Add remaining sugar, yolks, whole egg, zest and remaining vanilla. Mix until smooth then pour over berries.
  5. Bake for about 55 minutes or until the centre appears set when shaken gently. Cool for 15 minutes then remove sides of pan. Cover and chill until serving time, up to 24 hours. If you are feeling brave, you can remove the pan bottom. I wasn’t feeling brave. Transfer to a serving plate.

Syrup Sponge

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Screenshot_2017-04-16-21-49-35-1[1] 18/04/2017

Fancy a hearty, warming pudding but don’t have much time? Look no further! You can whip up this mix and cook it in the microwave giving you a light fluffy sponge soaked in syrupy goodness in minutes. No need to thank me, just get some custard and enjoy!

You can try this recipe with lots of different toppings. Try different flavours of jam or marmalade. You can even try flavouring the sponge. Add lemon or orange zest, sultanas, chocoloate chips or even mashed banana.

Ingredients:

  • 4oz margarine
  • 4oz caster sugar
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 3 tablespoons jam or golden syrup

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Method:

  1. Cream margarine and caster sugar together. Beat in the eggs and fold in the sieved flour and baking powder. Add the hot water.
  2. Grease a 1 ½ pint heatproof bowl with margarine and place the jam or syrup in the bottom. Heat on full power for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the sponge mixture. Cover loosely with cling film and heat on full power for 5-6 minutes. Timing will depend on the topping used. Remove from the microwave and leave to stand for a few minutes before turning out.
  4. Serve with loads of custard or ice cream – obligatory!

Egg Custard Tart

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IMG_20150806_124412[1] 07/08/2015

A good egg custard tart is so simple but so many times, done wrong. The tart should have a buttery, rich and crisp pastry with a smooth, velvetty custard filling that has just set and is lightly spiced with nutmeg.

Follow my tips below for a wonderful treat!

Ingredients:

For the sweet shortcrust pastry:

  • 175g plain flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp caster sugar
  • 110g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp ice water

For the filling:

  • 400ml single cream
  • 200ml milk
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, plus 2 yolks
  • 75g caster sugar

Method:

  1. To make the pastry, sift the flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the diced butter and run in with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Using a round bladed knife, mix in the egg yolk and water to make a firm dough. If the mixture seems a bit dry and crumbly, stir in a little more water a teaspoon at a time.
  2. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 20-30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured work surface to a circle about 28cm across then use it to line a 23cm loose-based deep flan tin. Prick the base with a fork then chill for 15 minutes. Do not make the holes go all the way through the pastry. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 190C. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper, weigh down with baking beans, rice, flour etc and bake ‘blind’ for 15 minutes until lightly golden and just firm. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 to 7 minutes until the base is thoroughly cooked, firm and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and leave to cool while making the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 150C and put a baking tray in the oven to heat up.

IMG_20150806_124037[1]3. Put the cream and milk into a saucepan, add a small grating of nutmeg and slowly bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

4. In a heatproof bowl, thoroughly beat the eggs and yolks with the sugar with a whisk until lighter in colour and very smooth. Stand the bowl on a damp cloth so it does not wobble then gradually pour the hot cream into the bowl in a steady stream, stirring constantly.

5. Set the flan tin on the hot baking tray and strain the mixture through a sieve into the pastry case. Grate nutmeg over the surface – you can be quite generous – then carefully transfer the tray to the oven and bake the tart for about 30 minutes until lightly coloured and just firm – it will continue to cook for a while after it is removed from the oven (if overcooked, the mixture will curdle). Leave to cool then carefully unmould. Serve at room temperature the same day for best results. Can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days loosely wrapped in foil.

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Apple & Blackberry Crumble

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IMG_20150712_210250[1] 15/07/2015

I recently visited my family in Nottingham. Nottingham is home of the Bramley apple so it seemed a great idea to finish off a big Sunday lunch with a local produce, great English pud’ for everyone to dig into!

Tart, sharp softened fruit is topped with crunchy, buttery, sweet crumble mix. Hot out of the oven with a scoop of melting ice cream… Yum!

You could use whatever fruit you have and like for a crumble filling; peaches, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, plums etc. Just cut and cook them down like you do the apples.

The crumble recipe provided is for a classic and basic topping too but again, experiment to your heart’s content. Oats are great, spices and mixed nuts add variation too.

Fruit Filling

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large Bramley apples
  • 500g Blackberries
  • 2 Tbsp demerara sugar
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice

Method:

  1. Peel and core the apples then slice and add to a pan with a splash of water. Place over a medium heat and gently cook the apple until it begins to soften and break down.
  2. Add the blackberries and continue cooking until they release their wonderful juices and turn the mixture a wonderful deep purple colour.
  3. Add the sugar and taste for sweetness. Apples and berries can vary in tartness so adjust accordingly. Add the mixed spice and remove from the heat.
  4. Spoon the mix into an ovenproof dish.

Basic Crumble Topping

Ingredients:

  • 8oz plain flour (or whole wheat)
  • 5oz soft brown sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice (optional)
  • 3oz butter at room temperature
  • 1 level teaspoon baking powder

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C
  2. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle in the baking powder, salt and mixed spice then add the butter and rub it into the flour lightly using your fingertips. Then when it looks all crumbly, add the sugar and combine well.
  3. Now sprinkle the crumble mix all over your fruit in the pie dish. Place the crumble on a medium-high shelf in the oven and bake it for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Variations:

  1. Instead of flour use 4oz whole wheat flour and 4oz porridge oats
  2. For a nutty topping, try 6oz whole wheat flour, 3oz chopped nuts and cut the sugar to 3oz.

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Serve with ice cream, custard or double cream. So good.

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

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IMG_20150412_042151[1] 15/04/2015

During the blackouts of the Second World War, Ebinger Baking Company in the New York City borough of Brooklyn developed its Blackout cake. This cake was extremely popular in Ebinger bakery and many other bakeries across New York. Unfortunately the bakery closed due to bankruptcy but lucky for you, this fantastic recipe for smooth, velvetty chocolate fudgy, custard cake lives on!

This rich, dark sponge is filled and coated with a thick chocolate custard, then finished with crumbled cake. It is best eaten chilled from the fridge so the custard stays set. In my opinion, this cake improves with keeping. A real must try for chocolate lovers and custard lovers alike.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 140g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 140g buttermilk
  • 100ml coffee, made with 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g light muscovado sugar
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 50g cocoa powder

For the custard filling and covering:

  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 500ml full-fat milk
  • 140g chocolate, 85% cocoa solids, broken into cubes
  • 50g cornflour
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

1. Make the custard first as it needs to chill. Put all the ingredients, except the vanilla, in a large pan and bring gently to the boil, whisking all the time, until the chocolate has melted and you have a silky, thick custard. It will take 5-7 minutes from cold. Stir in the vanilla and a generous pinch of salt then scrape the custard into a wide, shallow bowl. Cover the surface with cling film, cool then chill for at least 3 hrs or until cold and set.

2. Heat oven to 180C. Grease then line the bases of 2 x 20cm sandwich tins. Melt the butter in a pan, then remove from the heat and beat in the oil, buttermilk, coffee and eggs. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together plus ¼ tsp salt and squish any resistant lumps of sugar with your fingers. Tip in the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.

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3. Divide the batter between the prepared tins and bake for 25 minutes or until risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely, parchment-side down.

4. Remove the parchment linings from the cakes. If the cakes are domed, trim them flat. Now cut each cake across the middle using a large serrated knife. Put your least successful layer and any trimmings into a processor and pulse it to crumbs. Tip into a large bowl.

5. Sit one layer on a cake plate and spread it with a quarter of the custard. Sandwich the next layer on top, add another quarter of the custard then top with the final layer of cake. Spoon the remaining custard on top of the cake, then spread it around the top and down the sides until smooth. Chill for 15 minutes to firm up the custard again.

6. Hold the cake over the bowl containing the crumbs, then sprinkle and gently press a layer of crumbs all over the cake. Brush any excess from the plate. You’ll have some crumbs left. Chill for 2 hrs, or longer, before serving, and eat it cold. Can be made up to 2 days ahead. The cake gets fudgier and more enticing the longer you leave it. The coffee in the recipe cannot be tasted but really brings out the intense cocoa flavours in the custard and the sponge and the addition of a small pinch of salt in the custard really intensifies the chocolate even further.

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Lemon Bars

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IMG_20150318_145315[1] 18/03/2015

Zesty lemon bars with a fresh and creamy topping and crisp, buttery base. These are so simple to whip up and taste insane. Serve with cream and summer fruits as a dessert or eat on their own with a cuppa. The beautiful zingy lemon cuts through the sweetness of the sugar and the egg and milk create a luxuriously creamy texture against the short, crumbly base.

Makes 16 squares

Ingredients:

Base:

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ⅓ cups plain flour, sifted

Top:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
  • Icing sugar, for dusting 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 9×9 inch tin. Beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Sift in the flour and stir until combined. It will look like crumbs. Press the mix into the base of the tin and bake for 10-15 minutes or until just starting to brown around the edges. Let cool.
  2. Put eggs, sugar, flour, milk, lemon juice and rind into a bowl and whisk well. Pour over the base. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until just set. When cold, cut into squares and dust with icing sugar. Serve with fresh summer berries such as strawberries or raspberries.

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Apple, Walnut & Custard Cake

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IMG_20140831_170246[1] 31/08/2014

Very moist with a pudding-like texture, the cake has nuggets of thick vanilla custard and poached apple hidden throughout. This can be eaten cold as a nice afternoon cake or served warm as I did as an easy Sunday pudding. 

Add a pinch of mixed spice to the apples for an extra bit of autumnal spice if you like. 

Ingredients:        

For the custard:

  • 175ml milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Cornflour
  • 1 egg

For the apple and walnut filling:

  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 3-4 cooking apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 75ml brandy
  • 75ml water
  • 75g chopped walnuts

For the cake:

  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 75g margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder

 Method:

  1. Whisk all the custard ingredients together in a saucepan until smooth, then bring to the boil, continuing to whisk all the time until thick. Spoon the custard into a bowl and chill until very firm.
  2. Place all the apple and walnut filling ingredients in a saucepan and cook over a high heat until the liquid evaporates then leave to cool.
  3. To make the cake, beat the sugar and margarine until light and smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until evenly mixed through. Stir in the flour and baking powder.
  4. Line the base of a deep 20cm cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
  5. Chop the custard roughly then fold through the cake mix. Scrape the mix into the tin then place spoonfuls of the apples and walnuts on top and swirl slightly through with a teaspoon.
  6. Bake at 180C for 50-60 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.

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This would also be nice drizzled with maple syrup and crème fraíche or unadulterated double cream. The cake keeps beautifully in the fridge to have with a cuppa the next day too.

This recipe is adapted from Dan Lepard’s ‘Short & Sweet‘ and reminded me of a bread and butter pudding crossed with an apple crumble. Just when I thought I was getting sick of apples,this really went down well.