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.
Preparation time: 30-40 minutes
Cooking time: 35-40minutes
350g digestive biscuits (crushed into small rubble)
125g unsalted butter – melted
175g caster sugar (125g for syrup & 50g for the filling)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My fig and almond tart takes enough effort to blitz together a few key ingredients and slice up a handful of figs to produce a special dessert.
350g all-butter puff pastry
1 tbsp double cream
1 egg yolk
125g ground almonds
75g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, softened
1 unwaxed lemon, zested
6-8 ripe figs, washed and dried
Heat the oven to 200C.
Roll the pastry on a lightly floured work surface into a rectangle approximately 34cm x 18cm.
Beat the double cream and egg yolk together and use to brush the edges of the pastry. Fold the edges of the pastry over to make a 1cm wide border. Brush with more of the glaze and chill the pastry on a baking sheet for at least 30 minutes. The idea here is to produce a frame of pastry to hold in all the fig juices and almond and lemon mixture.
In a food processor, add the ground almonds, caster sugar, softened butter, egg, lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Whizz together until smooth – you will probably need to use a spatula to push in all the bits stuck on the side. Don’t worry if the mixture is thick, it’s meant to be.
Spread the almond filling over the bottom of the pastry and chill for 10 minutes while you prepare the figs.
Cut each fig into quarters through the stalk. Arrange the figs cut-side up over the almond mixture. Slide the baking tray into oven and cook the tart for about 35-45 minutes until golden.
The first thing to note is that you may (and I definitely do) need a bit of practice before you can make this look good. The reasons being this recipe involves poached eggs and a butter-based sauce that is more prone to curdling than a child is to eating sweets when unattended.
Having said that, the ultimate body of knowledge herself, Delia, has given guidance on navigating both these challenges and I testify that if you follow the recipes below properly they do work. Tip, do not use a whisk – don’t even think about getting it out for this recipe; modern hand blenders work a lot faster than your wrist can.
Start by making the Hollandaise Sauce:
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 egg yolks (separate from the whites and save them for a meringue later)
salt and pepper
In a small saucepan heat the vinegar and lemon juice together until bubbling. Whilst this is heating up, pour the egg yolks into a hand blender and blitz for a minute with a pinch of salt and a couple of turns of freshly ground pepper.
Turn the blender back on and then slowly pour the acids into the egg yolk.
In the same saucepan that you used to warm the vinegar/lemon juice, melt the butter. Do this over a gentle heat until it starts to bubble – don’t let it burn.
Turn the heat off, an turn the blender back on, then veryslowlypour the melted butter into the egg mixture, blitz for another minute and set aside.
In my haste to get this blog written, I just tipped the vinegar and butter into the blender and you’ll see my Hollandaise has curdled somewhat, so disregard the recipe at your own peril.
For the poached eggs, the trick is to use water that is as still as possible. I also use a deep frying pan instead of a saucepan as there’s less distance for the eggs to fall (and hence fall apart). Fill a saucepan 3/4 full of hot water and bring to a boil until little bubbles start appearing at the bottom of the pan, then turn the heat down.
As you want the water to be as still as possible, crack the eggs on the work surface and then bring as close to the water as possible before gently tipping in (in one go). I wouldn’t suggest poaching more than 4 eggs in one go until you’re a pro as the white will naturally sprawl out in the pan anyway. Boil for 1 minute exactly using a timer. Turn the heat off completely and leave the eggs to poach in the water for another 10minutes. By this point all the white will be completely cooked but the yolk will still be perfectly soft. You will need a gently touch to get them out the pan – again no vigorous movements.
Serve the poached eggs on toasted muffins and pour the Hollandaise generously on top. This goes very nicely with bacon/pancetta if you have any in.
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
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
150g butter (unsalted) – cut into small cubes
200g dark chocolate (I’d recommend 70% cocoa solids) broken into small pieces
100ml milk (both full- or semi-skimmed are fine)
100g plain flour
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Grease a baking tin with butter.
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.
In the mean time beat the eggs in a separate bowl and weigh out the sugar, milk and flour.
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).
Finally sieve in the flour and fold into the mixture.
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.
When done, leave to cool for 10 minutes before attempting to cutting, serving and eating.