Pear and Almond Tart

Some ingredients are just made to go together and pears and almonds are two of the them. 

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with pears.  When they are perfect they’re hard to beat.  The only issue is that they are like granite and inedible, and then turn to mush within about 20 minutes.  They are the ultimate passive aggressive fruit!

Frangipane filling

This recipe is great for using pears that are too hard to eat if you can’t be bothered with the game of chicken involved in waiting for pears to ripen.

This is a pretty rich recipe, but isn’t meant to be eaten every day and looks really impressive if you’re cooking for friends. 

It’s important to blind bake the pastry case first

You can make the pastry case and the frangipane filling in advance, which means you can have more time with your guests. You could even use shop bought pastry if you don’t have time (home made is better though). This is really good on it’s own but a little fresh cream or ice cream also doesn’t hurt if you want to be properly indulgent.

Yummy with ice cream

Ingredients

For the pastry case

200 Grams Plain flour

100 Grams Butter (chilled and cut into small cubes)

1 Tbsp Caster sugar

1 Egg yolk

For the frangipane filling

115 Grams Butter (at room temperature)

115 Grams Caster sugar

115 Grams Ground almonds

1 Tsp Vanilla extract (optional)

2 Eggs

2 Large pears

Method

  1. In a food processor add the flour, sugar, and butter. Whizz until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs (you can run the butter and flour in together by hand if you prefer)
  2. Add the egg yolk and a small amount of cold water and whizz again until the mix starts to come together. Start to press the mix together to form a dough, adding a small amount of cold water if necessary. Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  3. Grease a 9in x 9 in loose bottemed flan tin. When the pastry has chilled, place on a floured surface, and roll out in a circle approximately 1/2 cm thick.
  4. Lay into you prepare flan tin making sure that it’s pressed into the edges. Place a sheet of baking paper on top and baking beans (I use old dried rice) to weigh down the pastry and blind bake in an oven pre heated to 180 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes before taking the case out if the oven, carefully lift the the baking paper by the 4 corners taking care not to spill any of the baking beans/rice onto the pastry case.
  5. Return the pastry case to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes before removing from the oven and allowing to cool
  6. To make the filling, add the butter and sugar to a bowl and mix with an electric whisk until light and creamy. Add the vanilla, almonds and eggs and beat in until combined
  7. Peel, core and quarter the pears, before cutting into slices about 1cm thick
  8. Spread the almond mixture into the pastry case. Arrange quarter of the pear so the narrow part is towards the centre of the tin and wider part is towards the outside work as quickly as you can to prevent the pear discolouring
  9. Once you have arranged the pears, return the flan tin to 180 degree oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the centre is just starting to set (it will continue to cook as it cools). Allow to cool in the tin for another 15 minutes before attempting to cut.

Apple Crumble Muffins

This is another recipe scalped from one of the Great British Bake Off cook books.

I have included the original recipe, but you can change it up.  I’ve tried using different fruit like pears or raspberries and it was delicious.  You can also add some nuts to the topping for some added crunch, or a teaspoon of cinnamon in the base mix for an extra kick of flavour.

These keep for 3-4 days in an airtight tin

Ingredients

For the topping

50 Grams Porridge oats

50 Grams Caster sugar

50 Grams Plain flour

50 Grams Butter (cut into small cubes)

For the base

250 Grams Plain flour

25 Grams Porridge oats

175 Grams Caster sugar

2 Tsp Baking powder

Zest of 1 Lemon (finely grated)

150 Grams Butter

2 Eggs

100 ml Milk

1 Large eating Apple (peeled, cored and cut into 1.5 cm chunks)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees, and line a muffin tin with paper muffin cases
  2. In a bowl, add all the crumble ingredients, rubbing in the butter until all the ingredients are combined. Set to one side
  3. In a separate bowl, add the flour, oats, baking powder and lemon zest and mix to combine (dry mix)
  4. Gently melt the butter (either in a pot or the microwave), and allow to cool slightly. In a small bowl beat the eggs and milk together and then add the melted butter (wet mix)
  5. Add the wet mix to the dry mix and stir gently until just combined
  6. Spoon the base mix equally into the muffin cases. Top the muffins with the cubes of apple, and then add the crumble topping (try make sure there is an equal amount of apple and crumble mix on each muffin
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes and allow to cool on a wire wrack (although these taste fantastic when they’re still warm)

Pecan and White Chocolate Blondies

Pecan and White Chocolate Blondies

I really enjoy coming up with my own recipes. But, sometimes I just want to make something that I know will turn out well and taste delicious.

For these Blondies I’ve used a recipe featured one of the Great British Bake Off cook books. I don’t know who the contestant was who came up with these beauties, but they taste fantastic.

Ingredients

175 Grams White chocolate

150 Grams Pecans

115 Grams Butter

100 Grams Caster Sugar

2 Eggs

1/2 Tsp Vanilla extract

125 Grams Plain flour

1/2 Tsp Baking powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, and line a 9in x 9in brownie tin with grease proof paper
  2. Cut the butter and chocolate into chunks and add to a heat proof bowl. Put the bowl over a pot of warm water and stir until melted
  3. Add the sugar, (it might look curdled but don’t panic). Allow to cool.
  4. While the chocolate mix is cooling, put the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl and beat with a fork until frothy, and stir in to the cooled chocolate mix
  5. Sift the flour and baking powder together and mix into the chocolate mix along with 100 grams on the pecans
  6. Transfer the mix to your baking tin and top with the remaining pecans
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, allow to cool in the tin
  8. These should stay fresh for 3-4 days in an airtight tin

Cheesy Mushroom Galette

Cheesy, mushroomy deliciousness

I think we’ve established I love a galette. What’s better than a galette, a galette with my two other great loves cheese and mushrooms.

This is definately a pure filth recipe, yes it’s rich but it’s not the type of thing you’re going to make every day.

Don’t be tempted to fry too many mushrooms at once, and don’t move them about too much

When cooking for vegetarians I often feel bad that the main course can look a bit lacklustre. This looks good when you bring it to the table and tastes amazing.

Cover the top of your cheese sauce with cling film so it does not form a skin

If you are making this, it’s really important that the filling is totally cold before you assemble the galette (otherwise you’ll end up with pastry that will melt and be impossible to handle).

Add the cold cheese sauce and mushrooms to the centre of the pastry, leaving a 3-4 cm border

The good thing is that if you are making this for a special occasion you can prepare all the elements in advance and assemble the elements just before baking.

Brush the pastry with egg yolk, and sprinkle grated cheese over the mushrooms

Ingredients

For the pastry

200 Grams Plain flour

100 Grams Butter

1 Egg yolk

1/2 Tsp Salt

1/2 Tsp Cayenne pepper (optional)

Additional egg yolk to brush the galette with before baking

For the filling

500 Grams Mushrooms (sliced)

25 Grams Butter

1 Tbsp Olive oil

Salt and pepper

25 Grams Grated cheese

Cheese Sauce

25 Grams Butter

25 Grams Plain flour

250ml Milk

25 Grams Grated cheese (I used Cheddar but you can use other cheeses)

Method

  1. To make the pastry, and the flour, butter, salt, egg yolk and Cayenne to a food processor and whizz until the mix resembles breadcrumbs
  2. Gradually add some small amounts of very cold water until the mix starts to come together
  3. Turn the mix onto a floured surface and form into a ball before wrapping in cling film and chilling for at least 30 minutes
  4. For the cheese filling, melt the butter over an even heat and stir in the flour to create a soft paste
  5. Add the milk and stir continuously until the paste in combined and the sauce starts to thicken.
  6. Cook over a low heat stirring regularly for another 10 minutes until the sauce no longer tastes floury. Stir in the cheese, once it has melted remove from the heat and place a sheet of cling film on the surface to stop a skin forming
  7. In a large frying pan’ heat the oil and butter together, and half the mushrooms (if you add all the mushrooms in one go they steam not fry). One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from a chef is not to stir mushrooms too often, as it makes them release water which makes them soggy. So fry for 5 minutes each side without stirring too much, set to one side and allow to cool
  8. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface in a circle that is about 1cm thick. Transfer to a sheet of baking paper and place on a baking sheet
  9. Spread the thick cheese sauce in the centre of the pastry leaving a 3-4cm border around the edge of the pastry
  10. Place the fried mushrooms on top of the cheese sauce. Brush edges of the pastry with the remaining egg yolk and pleating the edges inward
  11. Brush the outside of the galette with egg yolk and sprinkle grated cheese over the top of the mushrooms
  12. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown

Cinnamon and Apple Blondies

It’s cold, dark, and miserable outside, I’m having a “big” birthday and there is nowhere open to go out and celebrate.

Combine the cake mix thoroughly before adding the apples.

To try and stave off the impending dispair this will bring, for the mean time I’m all about the comfort food.

Toss the apples in a little flour before adding to the mix.
Apple should be folded into the mix with a metal spoon.

I’ve made blondies before and they have a similar texture to brownies but as they don’t use chocolate, they have more of a caramely flavour. This works really well with apple and cinnamon. This time of year these are the flavours I love.

Yummy with ice cream

These are great with a cup of tea or coffee, but they’re also fantastic with custard or ice cream as a dessert. These freeze well, and will last 2-3 days in an air tight tin.

Ingredients

2 Apples (peeled, cored and cut into 1cm cubes)

1/2 Tsp Baking powder

100 Grams Soft brown sugar

100 Grams Caster sugar

1 Tsp Cinnamon

275 Grams Plain flour

1/2 Tsp Salt

1 Egg

100 Grams Butter (melted)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and line a 8 in x 8 in baking tin
  2. Add the eggs and sugar to a bowl and mix with an electric whisk until light and fluffy
  3. Gradually whisk in the melted butter (allow to cool a little before adding)
  4. Hold back 2 tablespoons of flour, but gradually add the rest of the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and fold into the sugar and eggs mix with a metal spoon
  5. Once you have peeled and chopped the apples toss the pieces in the 2 tablespoons of flour
  6. Fold the chunks of apple into the batter until evenly distributed
  7. Transfer the mix to the baking tin, and bake for 50 minutes. Check . Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before cooling on a wire wrack

Soda Bread with Feta and Sun Dried Tomatoes

I think I’ve developed an obsession with soda bread. It’s hard not to, it’s quick and easy, and it’s amazingly versatile.

You can usually rustle up a version with stuff you have in the fridge or cupboard. This version has a Mediterranean slant and is great with cheese or prosciutto.

Delicious served along side soup

I like it with soup, and like any good soda bread its delicious with butter. This takes 5 minutes to prepare and if you’re having friends over they’ll be really impressed that you made your own bread (your place will also smell fantastic).

Ready for the oven

Ingredients

350 Grams Plain flour

1 Tsp Bicarbonate of soda

1 Tsp Oregano

1/2 Tsp Black pepper

100 Grams Feta cheese (chopped)

75 Grams Sun dried tomatoes (chopped)

275 ml Buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, you can add lemon juice to ordinary milk and let it sit for a couple of minutes. It will do same job)

Method

  1. Measure out your flour, oregano, black pepper and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl
  2. Add the Feta cheese and toss in the flour, then add sun dried tomatoes and toss on the flour as well (this will prevent them sticking together in clumps)
  3. Add the buttermilk to the mix and stir well. Form into a ball
  4. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and pre heat your oven to 180 degrees
  5. Transfer your dough onto the baking paper and cut a cross into the ball of dough (about one third of the depth of the ball of dough)
  6. Bake for 40 minutes or until the base sounds hollow when tapped

Black Magic Cake

I made this as it was Halloween. Yes, this Halloween will be a bit more subdued, but hey any excuse for chocolate cake.

This is by all accounts a really old recipe that was originally developed by Hershey Chocolate, to highlight their cocoa powder.

I used supermarket own brand and it worked fine. Please don’t be tempted use powdered drinking chocolate, it will not taste good.

You’ll see there is coffee in this cake, don’t worry about this. I don’t like coffee flavoured desserts either. I promise you won’t taste the coffee, but it does bring out the flavour of the chocolate.

Yes this is very rich, but its not something that you’re going to eat everyday. You won’t be disappointed, this is definitely going in the pure filth file.

Deep, dark, and delicious

Ingredients

For the cake

230 Grams Plain flour

70 Grams Cocoa powder

400 Grams Sugar

2 Tsp Bicarbonate of soda

2 Tsp Baking powder

1 Tsp Salt

2 Eggs

250ml Buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, a 1 Tbsp of lemon juice to ordinary milk and allow to sit for a few minutes)

250ml Strong black coffee (or 1 Tbsp of instant coffee dissolved in 250ml of hot water)

125ml Vegetable oil (Best to use a flavourless oil like sunflower oil)

1Tsp Vanilla extract

For the icing

200 Grams Dark chocolate

175ml Double cream

50 Grams Butter

Method

  1. This is a super easy cake to make. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and grease and line 2 x 8 inch cake tins
  2. For the cake part, combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl
  3. Add the wet ingredients and mix for 90 seconds with an electric whisk
  4. Pour the mix evenly between the two prepared baking tins and bake for 35 minutes
  5. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow cool in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling wrack and allow to cool completely before adding the icing
  6. For the ganache icing, break up the chocolate and add to a heat proof bowl.
  7. Heat the cream in a saucepan until just before boiling and pour on top of the chocolate, and whisk.
  8. Melt the butter and whisk into the cream and chocolate and you will soon have thick and glossy icing. Allow to cool to room temperature
  9. Place one of your cake layers on a plate or cake stand. Spread about one third of the icing on top of the cake and spread evenly with a palate knife
  10. Top with the second cake layer and pour one third of the icing on top, spreading evenly with a palate knife again. Spread the remaining icing around the sides, and add any other decoration you might want

Blueberry and Walnut Soda Bread

Blueberry and Walnut Soda Bread

I love soda bread, it’s super adaptable and works well with sweet or savoury ingredients.

Just out of the oven, and delicious with butter

Like everyone else, I was glued to the Great British Bake Off when the contestants were making various types of soda bread. I hadn’t made soda bread since I made my version with dulse (dried seaweed), and I thought I’d try a sweet version.

Usually I would use dried fruit in a soda bread, but I didn’t have any. I had a look at what I did have, and this was how I came up with blueberry and walnut soda bread.

As before, if you don’t have buttermilk you can add lemon juice to ordinary milk and let it sit for a few minutes to achieve the same result. I also tossed the blueberries in the flour before mixing them in. Apparently this stops them sinking to the bottom.

This loaf will live quite happily in an airtight box for 2-3 days. If you still have any left, can I suggest toasting it, it’s amazing. I also toasted some and topped it with cheese and this was so delicious the I forgot to take photos.

Freshly toasted and slathered in butter, mmmmm

Ingredients

200 Grams Plain flour

200 Grams Wholemeal flour

25 Grams Butter

100 Grams Porridge oats

1 Tsp Bicarbonate of soda

100 Grams Fresh blueberries

50 Grams Walnuts

1 Tsp Salt

75 Grams Sugar

450ml Buttermilk

Method

  1. Rub butter into the porridge oats (you can use a food processor to do this, but really only takes a minute)
  2. Add your dry ingredients to the porridge oats (remember to dust the blueberries in the flour before adding them)
  3. Add the buttermilk to the bowl and mix lightly with a palette knife
  4. Turn your mix onto a floured surface and gently form it into a ball. Try not to handle it too much, it should be a fairly soft dough
  5. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Cut a cross onto your loaf. You should cut down about one third of the depth of the dough
  6. Bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees for 45-50 minutes (or until it sounds hollow when you tap it).

Spiced Plum Cake

Soft sweet plum topping with gentle spices.

Whenever possible I like to eat seasonally, it’s usually cheaper, and usually better for you, and better for the planet. Autumn has some great fruit and vegetables. One of my favourites are plums. Usually inexpensive and really versatile. I love this plum cake, no only because its relatively straight forward to make, but the cinnamon and cardamon add a whole other level of flavour. The addition of sour cream adds a tenderness to the sponge. This will also live quite happily in a cake tin for 3-4 days. I love it with whipped cream, but it’s also perfect comfort food served with custard.

Ingredients

300 Grams Plain flour

1, 1/2 Tsps Baking powder

1 Tsp Ground cinnamon

1/2 Tsp Ground cardamon

1 Tsp Salt

3 Eggs

100 Grams Butter

200 Grams Sugar

60 Grams Sour Cream

4-5 Plums

Ready for the oven

Methods

  1. Mix the flour, salt, spices and baking powder together
  2. In a separate bowl cream the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk (hold back 2 tablespoons of sugar to top the plums with)
  3. Add the eggs and sour cream to the butter and sugar and whisk until light and fluffy
  4. Gradually whisk in the flour mixture until you have thick cake batter
  5. Grease a 9 inch spring firm cake tin, and pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees
  6. Transfer your cake batter to the cake tin and spread evenly.
  7. Cut the plums in half, remove the stone and cut each half into quarters
  8. Starting in the centre of the cake, arrange the slices of plum in a circle (or any type of pattern you like) and sprinkle with remaining sugar
  9. Bake for 35 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean when stuck in the cake

Blueberry Galette

I love a galette, mainly because you don’t need to be a super talented baker. Galettes are open free form pies, so you don’t have to be a whiz with pastry to make something great.

I make different versions of these, both savoury and sweet and usually try to use seasonal fillings. They are really versatile, and if you’re organised you can make a double batch of pastry and freeze it for the next time you bake. You can of course use shop bought pastry if you’re short on time, but home made pastry will taste better. I’ve included some sugar in the pastry but if you want to make a savoury galette just leave it out.

Ingredients

For the pastry

200 Grams Plain flour

100 Grams Butter

2 Egg yolks (1 yolk goes into the pastry, and the second yolk is for brushing the pastry with)

1 Tbsp Caster sugar

Zest of one lemon (optional)

For the filling

400 Grams Blueberries

1 Tbsp Cornflour

1 Tbsp Caster sugar (reduce or increase depending on the sweetness of your fruit)

Method

  1. In a food processor add the ingredients and pulse until resembles breadcrumbs (you can use the rubbing in method if you prefer)
  2. Very gradually add cold water until it starts to come together. Turn onto a floured surface and form into a ball. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
  3. After your pastry has chilled, remove from the fridge and allow it to come back to close to room temperature (it will be too difficult to roll out otherwise)
  4. Pre-heat your oven 180 degrees. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment
  5. On a floured surface, roll out your pastry to make a circle about 1.5cm thick. Transfer your pastry to the parchment (if you’re not especially confident with pastry, just put your ball of dough on the parchment at the start and roll it out (means you don’t have to transfer it)
  6. In a bowl add your fruit, corn flour and sugar and combine
  7. Place the fruit in the middle of the pastry, leaving a border of about 5-6cm around the edge of the pastry
  8. Brush the border with beaten egg yolk, start to pleat the pastry border together to bring the border towards the centre. Brush the pastry crust with the remaining egg yolks
  9. Bake the galette for 40-45 minutes until golden brown, allow to cool a little before dusting liberally with icing sugar. I love this served ice cream, or whipped cream