T is for Toffee & Apple Crumble Pie

As a fan of both pastry and crumbles, I hate being in a restaurant and having to choose between desserts, so in today’s blog I’ve used a recipe that will turn anyone’s eyes bigger than their stomach.

The recipe for toffee is conveniently on my previous blog entry, and you’ll be pleased to know this recipe only uses a small amount of it, so there’ll be plenty of toffee left to devour in your own time.

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Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pre-rolled sheet of shortcrust pastry;

For the filling:

  • 100g butter;
  • 100g caster sugar;
  • the zest of 1 orange;
  • 4 Bramley apples (peeled, cored and cubed);
  • 4 Braeburn apples (peeled, cored and cubed);
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a large handful of small toffee pieces from my previous recipe

For the crumble:

  • 200g plain flour;
  • 100g caster sugar;
  • 35g ground almonds;
  • 10g flaked almonds;
  • 80g butter;

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Recipe:  

  1. Pre-heat the oven at 150°C. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 0.5cm thick so that the pastry is big enough to fit inside a spring-form baking tin and goes up the sides. Gently push into the base of dish. Tear off a large square of baking parchment, crunch up and then unfold and place over the pastry, then pour in ceramic baking beans. Leave to bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  2. For the filling, add the butter, sugar and orange zest to a medium-sized pan over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the chopped Bramley cooking apples and cinnamon and cook until the apples are very soft. Then add the chopped Braeburn apples and cook for another 2-3 minutes only, then turn off the heat, remove the cinnamon stick and set aside. This will ensure there are different textures in the crumble filling.
  3. For the crumble, add butter, sugar, flour and ground almonds to a bowl. Rub the mixture between the pads of your fingers and thumbs until it is like coarse sand. Then add the flaked almonds and tip into a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Stir the mixture around every 5 minutes so that it cooks evenly.
  4. To assemble the pie-crumble, pour the apple mixture into the pre-cooked pastry and push in a handful of small toffee pieces around the mixture. Then pour the crumble on top.  Add small pieces of toffee on top of the crumble and bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for a couple of minutes then gently ease away the sides of the spring-form tin. Cut up and serve with ice cream or cream.

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O is for Orange and Fig Muffins

I wanted to make something sweet this weekend, and then conveniently stumbled across this recipe for orange and fig muffins. As a huge fan of fig-based food (except fig rolls – who eats those?) I had to give this recipe a go.

Having cooked dinner for a friend last week including figs with greek yogurt and honey for dessert, I learnt that being a fig fan is more of a minority than a majority (given the amount of left overs). So apologies if you aren’t a massive fig fan; however these muffins are deliciously light, fruity and sweet so please try at least once.

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Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 – 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 200g fresh figs, stalks discarded, chopped into 1cm pieces, plus 1 whole fig for decoration
  • 2 tbsp clear honey

Recipe:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. If you have muffin cases, line 8 holes of a deep muffin tin or 12 holes of normal sized muffin tin. If you don’t have any muffin cases, grease the muffin tin holes well with butter and dust lightly with flour.
  2. Place the softened butter in a large bowl with the sugar and beat together until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the beaten eggs and sifted flour a bit at a time (I did it in three turns) and fold in. The idea is that the flour doesn’t go everywhere and you’re not beating all the air our the mixture.
  4. Finally fold in the orange zest and chopped figs and ensure evenly distributed.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases – if not using muffin cases fill to near the top of the brim of the muffin tin hole. Place a final slice of fig on the top of each muffin. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until risen and golden brown on top. You can check the muffins are cooked by piercing with a knife and checking it comes out clean.
  6. Whilst the muffins are cooking, heat the honey and orange juice in a small pan over a gently heat until slightly reduced – it takes about 5 minutes.
  7. Once the muffins are out the oven, drizzle over a little of the orange syrup over each muffin (which will seep through the muffin infusing flavour). Leave for about 20 minutes to cool down before turning out and gorging.

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Macarons

M is for Macaroons

When I was younger, I used to live in Amiens, France – known as one of the best place in France for macaroons (or macarons in French). I’ve never yet made macarons, but have been very eager to try, so M on this blog was the perfect excuse.

The recipe I used was inspired from my favourite patissier, Eric Lanlard. I only made a couple of his varieties, but there are plenty more to be made (pistachio, chocolate, lavender etc.)

Macaron ingredients

 

Macarons - whisked egg whites

 

Macarons - whisking in the ground almonds

Preparation time: 30minutes

Cooking time: 15minutes

Ingredients:

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 3 egg whites (or 95g grams if using liquid egg white)
  • Food colourings (I used red and yellow)
  • Food flavourings (I used rose essence for the pink macarons and lemon essence for the yellow macarons)
  • Lemon curd
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 75ml double cream

Recipe:

  1. With an electric whisk, beat the egg whites into soft peaks then gradually add the caster sugar until there are stiffer peaks and the the whites have a sheen to them.
  2. Sift in the icing sugar and ground almonds into the beaten egg whites and fold together with a metal spoon.
  3. Divide the mixture between two bowls. In one add a teaspoon of lemon essence and several drops of yellow food colouring and fold together. In the other bowl add a couple of drops of red food colouring and a teaspoon of rose essence. Add a couple more drops of food colouring if you need to, but each drop goes a long way. Have a little taste and add a couple more drops of lemon/rose essence if required. The mixture should have a hint of flavour and not be too strong.
  4. Line 2 trays with baking parchment. The take a piping bag and fill with one of the mixtures, folding the top of the piping bag back over your hand to avoid getting the macaron mixture all over you.
  5. Snip of the end of the piping bag, and gently squeeze out the mixture into 3cm discs on the baking parchment. Repeat for the other colour mixture. You should have enough mixture to make 56-60 macaron discs in total.
  6. Leave to dry for 5 minutes whilst you pre-heat the oven to 150°C. Then put all the macarons in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
  7. Take out the over and carefully slide each sheet of baking parchment onto wire racks and leave to cool.

Macarons - piping

 

Macarons - pre-baking

 

Macarons fresh from the oven

Whilst the macarons are cooling, you can make the white chocolate ganache for the filling of the pink ones. Place a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Tip in squares of the white chocolate and pour over the double cream. Leave for a couple of minutes and then take off the heat. Mix together with several drops of red food colouring until the chocolate has melted. Place in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.

For the yellow macarons, sandwich a teaspoon of lemon curd between two of the meringues discs. For the red macarons, sandwich a teaspoon of the red coloured white chocolate ganache between the meringues discs.

Try not to eat them all at once!

Macarons

Limes and mint

K is for Key Lime Pie

Over the past couple of weeks, I managed to do my L blog before the K one, so I’ve been holding off publishing it to ensure they go in order.

K this week was always going to be a fruit-based dessert, perhaps a kiwi or kumquat…something, but then it hit me, Key Lime Pie! As a fan of all pies, and with help from my all time favourite chef Eric Lanlard, the blog this week is Key Lime Pie.

Key Lime Pie Cheesecake - ingredients Key Lime Pie Cheesecake - ready to bake

Preparation time: 30-40 minutes

Cooking time: 35-40minutes

Whisked egg whites

Limes ready to be mixed into pie mix

Ingredients:

  • 350g digestive biscuits (crushed into small rubble)
  • 125g unsalted butter – melted
  • 175g caster sugar (125g for syrup & 50g for the filling)
  • 125ml water
  • 4 large eggs (separated into yolks and whites)
  • 6 limes (2 finely sliced; 4 zested and juiced)
  • 1 tin (397g) of full-fat condensed milk
  • handful of fresh mint
  • 300ml whipping cream (whipped to peaks)

Recipe:

  1. This recipe starts backwards, as we start making the decoration first. Mix 125g of caster sugar and 125ml of water over a medium heat until it reaches a boil. Add 2 finely sliced limes and poach for 10minutes with a few of the mint leaves. Then take off the heat and leave the lime slices to stoop in the syrup overnight.
  2. To make the pie base, mix the melted butter and crushed digestive biscuits together and press into a buttered loose-bottom pie tin (ideally fluted). Leave to chill in the fridge for an hour.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Bake the biscuit base blind for 10-15mins until it takes on colour. This is done by lining with baking parchment (crumpled) and carefully half-filling with ceramic baking beans.
  4. To make the pie filling, beat the egg yolks together and then stir in the condensed milk (making sure to not waste any from the tin – it’s precious stuff), lime zest and lime juice.
  5. In a separate, clean, dry bowl, using an electric whisk beat the egg whites together, slowly adding the remaining 50g of caster sugar until firm peaks are formed.
  6. Fold together the egg whites and lime mixture together then pour into the biscuit-lined cake case. Bake for 25minutes until the pie mixture is set. It should be lightly golden on top. It will rise a little and then sink back once out of the oven.
  7. Once completely cool, loosen and gently remove from the spring-form tin. Decorate with the whipped cream, fresh mint and the syrup-infused sliced lime.

Key Lime Pie Cheesecake

Key Lime Pie Cheesecake - badly decorated

B is for Brownies

This week I’ve got two courses beginning with B lined up. It may not be traditional, but I’m starting with dessert this week. Here’s my basic recipe for the ever-popular chocolate Brownie. The recipe makes about 12-14 depending on the size of your baking tin and your portion size. Brownies are really easy to make, so a great one to try if you’re new to baking or if you want to make a quick tasty treat.

Brownies - ready to eat

Brownies – ready to eat

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 150g butter (unsalted) – cut into small cubes
  • 200g dark chocolate (I’d recommend 70% cocoa solids) broken into small pieces
  • 250g sugar
  • 100ml milk (both full- or semi-skimmed are fine)
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g plain flour

Recipe:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Grease a baking tin with butter.
  2. Create a bain marie by putting a bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water (turn the heat down once it’s boiling). Into this tip the butter and chocolate and leave to melt – this will take a few minutes.
  3. In the mean time beat the eggs in a separate bowl and weigh out the sugar, milk and flour.
  4. Once the chocolate and butter have melted,  beat in the sugar and milk. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes and then mix in the beaten eggs (if you mix the in whilst the mixture is too hot, it may curdle).
  5. Finally sieve in the flour and fold into the mixture.
  6. Pour into your greased baking tin and put in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes. You can test when the brownies are done by sticking in a knife. With a normal cake, it’s ready when the knife comes out clean, but with brownies you want a little bit of chocolate goo to stick to the end of the knife.
  7. When done, leave to cool for 10 minutes before attempting to cutting, serving and eating.
Brownies - melting chocolate and butter

Brownies – melting chocolate and butter

Brownies - melted chocolate and butter

Brownies – melted chocolate and butter

Brownies - fresh from the oven

Brownies – fresh from the oven