3/26/2017

Lemon Cupcakes

I'm not a great fan of cupcakes as I find the topping too sweet, and I prefer muffins or our British fairy cakes. I was asked to make some for a special tea, so decided to make lemon ones, to use up 2 lemons which just happened to fall off my tree! The topping is a bit different as I used mascarpone.

 You need a muffin tin with paper muffin or cupcake cases.  Preheat oven 180C/gas4

80g flour
1 tspn baking powder
pinch bicarb.
40g ground almonds
75g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g melted butter
zest of 1 lemon

Icing:
250g mascarpone
juice and zest of 1 lemon
50g icing sugar
yellow colouring

Beat eggs and caster sugar together till white and fluffy.
Add the baking powder and bicarb to the flour and add to the mixture together with the ground almonds, butter and lemon zest. Mix together till a smooth batter.
Put the paper cases in the muffin tin and fill them 3/4 full with the batter.
Bake 15 mins till golden, then take out if tin and cool on a wire rack.

Beat the sieved icing sugar and mascarpone together, then add the zest and juice of the lemon and a few drops of yellow colouring. Mix well then spoon into a piping bag with a largish rose nozzle and decorate the cooled cupcakes. Keep in the fridge till you need them.



I liked the topping mixture, as the lemon counteracted the sweetness. If anything, I think I'd add a bit more icing sugar, but they proved very popular and others didn't seem to find them a bit sharp. I used yellow paste not the colouring in a bottle, as I find paste gives a better colour. The ground almonds gave a nice hint of nut to the cake, and they had a nice crumb, contrasting well with the soft icing.



3/11/2017

Lemon and Apple Tart

 I first had this tart in a little bistro-style restaurant in France. It's very different from the usual apple tart, using grated apples and including lemons in the filling. As I was in a hurry to get it made, I cheated and bought some shortcrust pastry from Waitrose, but of course you can make your own. The recipe was on a bag of sugar I bought ages ago in France!
What I loved about the ready-made pastry in France, was that is came in a round shape ready for the tart tin. Wish ours did!

You need:  a block of shortcrust pastry, 3 large eating apples, 150g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 80g melted butter and 2 lemons, washed well.

Preheat oven 200C/gas6.                          Grease a fluted tart tin.

Zest the 2 lemons and put it in a small bowl then add their juice. Grate the apples into a larger bowl then add the lemon zest and juice to stop the apples turning brown. Mix together.
Add the 2 eggs, the sugar and the melted butter and mix everything together.
Line the tin with the pastry then pour the mixture in.
Bake for about 40 mins till golden.


It's a lovely light tart and it makes a good dessert. The apples and lemons balance well - the apples taking away some of the acidity of the lemons.I like the texture - soft pastry and the contrasting texture of the grated fruit. I will certainly make this again.

ps the French bit that was on here was the recipe from the bag that I had typed and saved in Word ready to translate! Sorry I forgot to delete it.😮

2/28/2017

Bakewell Flapjacks

Flapjacks are one of my family's favourite things to eat and a Bakewell tart is another, so a combination of both is a marriage made in heaven!
I've been having a good sort out of my baking files lately - you know the ones, with cut out bits from newspapers, magazines, recipe cards you've picked up in supermarkets, handwritten recipes on scrappy bits of paper ...... and I came across a recipe for these flapjacks. I've changed it a bit to suit our tastes.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                 Grease a medium baking tin

Put 150g oats, 75g ground almonds, 45g plain flour and 45g caster sugar in a bowl and mix together. Add 150g melted butter, 3 tbspn golden syrup and 3 tbspn milk and mix well.

Put half of the mixture into your tin and press it down; spoon over 2 tbspn raspberry jam and sprinkle over 15g flaked almonds. put the rest of the mixture on top and smooth over. Sprinkle a few more flaked almonds over the top.

Bake for 10-15 mins till goldenish. Cool in the tin then mark into pieces.

I cut it into 10 decent sized flapjacks.



Very moreish! Lovely combination of soft oatie base and jam, then the crunchy nuts, more oatie cake then more crunch. A nice change from the usual flapjack - it's soft, so not for you if you like crunchy ones!



2/20/2017

Walnut, Honey and Banana Loaf Cake

I love making loaf cakes and this is one of my favourites. It's a recipe from my Mum's old notebook, which I haven't looked at for ages. As is often the case, using up some ripe fruit was the reason for making it. It's such an easy one to make - an almost all-in-together type of cake.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                       Grease a 900g laof tin.

For the cake you need; 3 ripe bananas, mashed, 110g butter, 8 tbspn runny honey, 110g brown sugar, 1/2 tspn vanilla essence, 2 eggs, 1/4 tspn bicarb., 1 tspn baking powder, 1/2 tspn cinnamon. pinch salt, 180g plain flour, 45g oats and 150g chopped walnuts.

In a large bowl put the bananas, butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix together till combined thoroughly - you may have a few banana lumps, but that's ok. Add the flour and oats and mix with a wooden spoon, but don't over mix. Add about 3/4 of the walnuts and stir in gently.

Pour the batter into the tin then sprinkle the other walnuts on top.

Bake for 40-45 mins.

Cool in tin for 5 mins then serve warm with some butter and a drizzle of honey.



Have to confess that I forgot to sprinkle the rest of the walnuts over the top! It's a moist cake with a soft honey flavour. There's a a good contrast of textures and flavours with the background honey flavour, the crunchy walnuts and the soft banana pieces. A tasty teatime treat, and a good use for ripe bananas.








2/13/2017

Mocha Cake

When I go shopping I often have a coffee mocha in the local café, so decided to make a cake with those flavours - chocolate and coffee. Nothing too complicated, but hopefully, delicious.

I used dark chocolate and a little cocoa for a chocolate boost and some strong espresso coffee.

 Preheat oven 180C/gas4                                                     Grease and base line a 900g loaf tin.

In a bowl mix together 200g plain flour, 2 tspn baking powder, 1 tbspn cocoa, pinch of salt and 200g caster sugar.

Melt 125g dark chocolate over simmering water or in the microwave then add 125g of chopped up butter and 150ml of espresso coffee and mix together till smooth.

Separate 3 eggs and add the yolks one at a time to the mixture. Add the flour mixture and mix together. Whisk the egg whites till stiff then gently fold these into the batter. Pour into the tin and bake for 45-50 mins.

Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then finish on a wire rack.

For the icing - 50ml strong coffee, 300g sieved icing sugar and 50g soft butter.

Beat the 3 ingredients together to make a paste then smooth over the cooled cake. Chill for about 2 hours before serving to allow the icing to set.



I roughed my icing up a bit with a fork as it didn't look too smooth! The cake had a great mocha flavour - maybe more coffee than chocolate, but delicious. It had a good texture and the cake contrasted well with the smooth coffee icing.

2/07/2017

Lemon Tiramisu

My family came yesterday and they love desserts, especially anything with lemon. I wanted to make something different from my usual lemon meringue or tart, so as I had a large packet of boudoir biscuits in the cupboard, decided to try and make a lemon tiramisu.
I found a recipe online, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted. I used both fresh lemons [from my tree in the greenhouse ] and lemon curd to give a good lemony flavour, as well as the small amount of Limoncello that was left in the bottle!

I used:

250g boudoir biscuits, 250g mascarpone, 2 lemons, 3 eggs, 100g caster sugar, 20cl whipping cream, 3 tbspn lemon curd and 4 tbspn Limoncello.

Cut one lemon in half and squeeze out the juice; mix this with 50g of the sugar and the Limoncello.
Zest the other lemon finely.
Whip the cream till it gets thick. 
Separate the eggs and beat the whites till firm peaks, then beat the yolks with the other 50g of sugar till the mixture is white. Add the mascarpone, lemon curd and lemon zest [keep a little bit to sprinkle over] then beat together to get a soft creamy mixture. 
Gently fold in the cream then the egg whites.
Cover a serving plate with some parchment paper. Dip half the sponge fingers in the Limoncello mixture then put them side by side on the plate. Cover these with half of the mascarpone mixture. Dip the rest of the fingers in the Limoncello, then put them side by side in another layer on top of the first.
Cover this with the rest of the mascarpone and smooth the top with a spatula.
Wrap with clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving.



My daughter took the photo, as you can guess! She works in the food industry so is very precise, hence the lovely square piece and the lemon slice! I must have some lessons from her! Oh, I sprinkled the zest on just before we ate it.
It had a really good lemon flavour, and the textures were good - soft sponge and creamy filling. I was very happy with the result, as were the family. Think it will become one of our family recipes.









1/30/2017

French Walnut Tart

I was shopping in Milton Keynes last week and came across a shop rather like the now sadly defunct Julian Graves. They had a special opening offer on walnuts, so I bought a large bag - nuts are good for you, anti-oxidents, omega 3 etc! I wanted to make something different to use some of them, and came across a recipe for a walnut tart.
It's from a tourist brochure I picked up somewhere in France, and this recipe, I was informed, is a speciality of the Périgord region. It brought back memories of when we lived in France, and my neighbour had a prolific walnut tree and would give my a huge carrier bag full. The only problem was you had to shell them all! At least the ones I bought were shell-free.

Preheat oven 200C/gas6               A tart dish about 23cm or a flan tin with a loose bottom.

For the shortcrust pastry -  125g flour, 75g butter, 25g caster sugar, 1 egg yolk, a pinch of salt and 25ml water
Make the pastry and line the tart dish or tin and put aside.

For the filling  - 500g walnuts, 150ml crème fraîche, 60g caster sugar, 1 egg and 2 tspn vanilla extract, icing sugar

Choose the best walnuts [you need to keep about half]  to decorate the tart, then put the others into a processor or blender and whizz to a powder. Add the crème fraîche, sugar, egg and vanilla and mix well.
Pour the mixture over the pastry and bake for 30 mins.
Take the tart out of the oven, decorate the top with the rest of the walnuts, sieve over some icing sugar and pop back into the oven for a minute or 2 for the sugar to melt.
Leave to cool.



I cooked my tart in a foil tart dish as I wanted to take it to a coffee afternoon. It was delicious - really nutty, and I loved the texture contrasts between the soft pastry, the cream filling and the crunch of the walnuts on top. Something different to try.