Norfolk Marrow Tart

You may have gathered from the previous couple of posts that I have quite a lot of courgette and marrow to get through! I rather like having a glut of a fruit or vegetable because it tends to lead to the invention or discovery of new and exciting recipes.

I found this recipe in one of my mother’s 1970’s cookery books. I was a little sceptical but thought I would give it a go – it’s delicious, my new favourite thing! The cooked marrow and egg makes a kind of egg custard, and the nutmeg gave it a wonderfully autumnal feel which reminded me a little of American pumpkin pie (although friends who tried it thought it was apple!). I have made it a couple of times now and intend to make it a few more times as I try to get to the bottom of the pile of courgettes and marrows.

Norfolk Marrow Tart

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I find that older recipes tend to assume that you know what you are doing, so I add the following clarifications:

  • You can buy shortcrust pastry but it is pretty easy to make. I tend to use a recipe from another of my mum’s old books, where the proportions are 8oz flour, 4oz fat (half lard half margarine is best) and 2 tablespoons of water. I am very lazy and bung it in a food processor; this time I was even more lazy because Steve made too much pastry the previous day (he is renowned for his pies).
  • It works best if the marrow is mashed while it is in a colander or sieve, so as to get as much liquid out of it as possible. The first time I made it it didn’t look like it would set; I took some beaten egg, added some more sugar and nutmeg and put this as a layer on top of the tart and cooked it for another five to ten minutes which rescued it nicely.
  • The recipe doesn’t say what to do with the sugar; I sprinkled demerara sugar on top of the pie which made it nice and caramelised.
  • I used quite a small, deep dish because I like thick flan filling; this is a matter of taste.
Norfolk Marrow Tart

Simple September

Following a very decadent summer (getting married is a good excuse!) it is time for a ‘Simple September‘.
My husband Steve and I are having a near-complete shopping-ban this month; we are combining two very well stocked kitchens into a much smaller space, plus we have been eating and drinking rather well recently and some simpler fare won’t go amiss.   The exceptions to the shopping ban will be some seasonal vegetables, onions, garlic, eggs, milk… and the occasional treat of nice cheese or meat from the reduced section of the supermarket.
As well as saving money and kitchen space, I’m hoping that Simple September will kick-start my recipe writing again after a five month hiatus (I’ve been a little distracted!).

As a reward for getting the kitchen in our new house tidy, I decided to start Simple September with a (reasonably) healthy treat; coconut and apricot flapjack. All of the flapjack I make is based around the same basic recipe which I have shared with you previously. This time, I decided to have a go at using coconut oil; I substituted it for half of the butter because I wasn’t sure how it was going to behave. I’m glad that I didn’t make the switch to coconut oil in one go because it made the mixture rather more liquid; I recovered the situation by taking it out of the oven part way through cooking and covering it with a layer of drinking chocolate followed by desiccated coconut.

A delicious mistake which I fully intend to make again!!

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Sticky Date and Coffee Cake 

It’s been far too long since I last shared a recipe with you. I could give you reasons and excuses as to why I have been too busy and distracted to write, but as you are probably aware I am not a fan of waffle so I will just get on with it and share my new favourite thing with you.

A friend and I had a sudden urge yesterday to make sticky toffee pud; mostly because we made a big pot of coffee which we then forgot about, and soaking dates in it seemed like as good a way as any not to waste it. A quick Internet search brought us to this recipe, which we then adapted to make this fabulous cake.

Coffee Cake

What we changed…

Most importantly, the dates were soaked in coffee, not in water! We soaked them for rather longer than stated in the recipe (overnight is best), which meant that we didn’t need to use the very expensive and wonderfully gooyey Medjool dates; instead we used cheaper dates (no pun intended!) intended for baking instead.

The second adjustment was that rather than making a number of individual puddings we used two loaf tins. This did mean however that it took longer to cook; approximately 40 minutes. I suggest putting a skewer into the cakes at about 35 minutes; if it comes out clean it is cooked, if not put it back for five or ten minutes and then do the skewer test again.

sticky date and coffee cake

Hannah’s ‘failed cake’ chocolate fridge-cake recipe 

This is a truly wonderful waste-not recipe. I don’t make it very frequently because it uses the crumbs from a failed cake – which doesn’t happen to me very often! However, this week I have been getting used to a different oven and I ended up with a chocolate sponge which was a little too crispy around the edges…

chocolate fridge cake

The recipe was handed down to my friend Hannah by her mother. I had to text Hannah in a panic asking for the recipe when my chocolate cake failed, however I have since found my old copy and I think I will leave it to Hannah’s mum to instruct you.

chocolate fridge cake

All that I need to add is the decoration. This was done after the cake had cooled in the fridge over night, and was simply melted chocolate with raspberries and flaked almonds scattered on top.

chocolate fridge cake

Gin and Dubonnet Sponge Cake

We are continuing to celebrate Kitty’s Storecupboard Gin Week, so in the words of the lovely Vicky…

I’ve always been one for a spot of baking (next to eating it’s my favourite thing!) and I’ve recently been pondering starting a blog so when Katherine asked me to do a guest post for her blog I was straight on it!

This particular post celebrates two national treasures – Her Majesty the Queen, and Gin. This year is queenies 90th birthday and this weekend it just happens to be World Gin Day. Legend has it that our Liz’s favourite tipple is the classic ‘gin and dubonnet’, so I decided it was only right and proper to use this as inspiration for my latest bake.

I’m always one for an easy life so decided to use a classic (and easy!) Victoria sponge as the basis for the cake. I can safely say the hardest part about it was finding somewhere that sells dubonnet! Sadly it’s not the most popular of drinks so can be hard to track down but definitely worth it – it’s got a light fruity flavour which works really nicely in this cake, and it’s not half bad in a gin cocktail either!

Gin cake
Ingredients
6oz butter (actually I am a stork devotee but whichever you prefer)
6oz caster sugar
3 eggs
6oz self-raising flour
3tbsp gin and dubonnet (equal measures, so 1.5tbsp of each)
300ml double cream
approx 3tbsp icing sugar (or to taste)
mixed fresh berries
200g white chocolate
optional glitter!
Method
Grease and line two 8″ round cake tins and preheat your oven to around 170oC fan.
As for a normal sponge, you could easily use the all in one technique but I used the traditional creaming method – cream the butter and sugar together until pale and light, then beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a little flour with the last egg to prevent curdling, then gently fold in the remaining flour. Lastly fold in the alcohol then split the batter between the two tins as evenly as possible (you could weigh the tins if precision is your thing but I just guesstimate). Try and spread the batter with a dip in the middle which will offset any ‘doming’ during cooking. Then just bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes.

Now I know most chefs will say baking is an exact science, blah blah, but I’m a bit more freestyle with my cooking…. use whatever size eggs take your fancy, if the batter curdles when you add the booze just give it an extra mix and chuck it in the tins, and the oven time is flexible – just keep an eye on them, after 20 mins check and then leave a bit longer if needed. You can check with a cake tester (or skewer/cocktail stick/knife) which will come out clean when the cake is ready but I prefer to just give it a prod – if the sponge bounces back rather than leaving a massive dent then you’re good to go!

Once the cake is done, leave to cool in the tins for about 5-10 mins then remove and leave on a cooling rack until completely cold. Whilst still warm brush the cakes with a mixture of gin and dubonnet – I used about 1.5tbsp but you could use more if you fancy. For a more intense flavour and an even more moist sponge you could poke holes all over and spoon alcohol over liberally (a la lemon drizzle cake).

Next gently whip the cream, adding icing sugar to taste – make sure not to over whip! A good tip is to keep some cream back and then if you do slightly over mix the cream you can add a bit more and fold through to slacken it off. Unfortunately this won’t work if you’ve gone so far it’s turned to butter! Spread about a third of the cream on one of the cakes (if it’s domed slightly during baking then trim it down so the top is level) then top with your mixed berries. I soaked the berries beforehand in gin and dubonnet and a teaspoonful of sugar, then drained them well before using but this is optional.

Top with the other cake and then cover the top and sides with the remaining cream. To make the white chocolate ‘collar’ measure around the cake (actually it’s much easier to measure around the tin!) and also measure the height of the cake then cut a strip of greaseproof paper to size and lay on a flat surface. For the sake of your kitchen you may want to lay a further sheet of greaseproof or cling film underneath as it does get messy! Melt your white chocolate (in the microwave or over a saucepan, either way remove from the heat once around 2/3 of chocolate has melted then beat until the remainder has melted, this makes sure you won’t burn it) and then simply spread over your greaseproof template. You want a layer a couple of millimetres thick to make sure it holds.

I sprinkled glitter on the greaseproof before spreading the chocolate to give a nice finish, I’ve also done this in the past with 100’s and 1000’s! You can also pipe the chocolate to make a design or use patterned transfer sheets for different effects. Leave the chocolate until it has set enough that it won’t drip or run when you move it but not so hard that you can’t bend it. (I have zero patience so I often cheat and slip a couple of ice packs under to speed this up but it’s a high risk tactic as it can set too hard very quickly). Then simply pick up your greaseproof and wrap around the cake – you need to do this quickly and press tight against the cake to hold so this is easier with two pairs of hands but not impossible to do single handed. Then straight into the fridge to set!

Once the chocolate collar has set hard simply peel off the greaseproof. Finally I decorated the top of the cake with more fresh berries and then glazed them. I used the juice/booze mix which I had soaked the other berries in, boiled until reduced by at least half, but you could use jam thinned down with a little water for a nice finish. Then last but not least I topped the whole thing off with a liberal sprinkling of gold glitter! After all, it’s hardly a celebration without some sparkles around.

And it’s as simple as that 🙂

You can read more about baking in honour of the Queen’s birthday with the Fleet, Farnham & Farnborough group of the Clandestine Cake Club, which Vicky runs, here.

You can also follow Vicky (although I feel I should call her Victoria – rather more regal!) on Twitter @vixyvonshock.

Coconut and Raspberry Fairy Cakes

I made this up at 7.30 this morning – not bad seeing as my brain very rarely kicks into gear until at least 10.00 am!

I needed to bake for the launch of a very exciting project ‘Cake and Conversation’ – an International Cafe for people in Stroud, who are new to the area or feel isolated due their limited English. I wasn’t at all happy with the the flapjack I had made last night (it was not gooey enough for my liking) and, although I had already made my yummy coffee cake, you really can’t have too much cake!

I can reliably inform you that this little invention went down rather well at the cafe.

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Ingredients

  • 5 oz self raising flour (actually, that’s a fib – I had run out of self raising and used Plain Flour with a teaspoon of baking powder, which was fine)
  • 1 oz desiccated coconut
  • 3 oz butter
  • 1 oz coconut butter
  • 4 oz golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • a good splash of milk (if I had had any I would have used coconut milk)
  • a handful of frozen raspberries

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Method

Pre-heat the oven to 190oC.

Put all of the ingredients, except for the raspberries and milk, into a mixing bowl and combine well using an electric mixer.

When the mixture is beginning to combine nicely, add a tablespoon of milk and whizz some more. If you haven’t achieved a nice smooth batter add another splash or two of milk. Remember to use a spatula to catch all of the dry bits from around the bowl and then whizz some more. The mixture should be the consistency of Extra-thick Double Cream (if you don’t know what that is, go and get some – it is wonderful stuff!).

Line a cake tin with little cake cases. Put approximately a tablespoon of mixture into each cake case – this should do a dozen cakes with a little batter left over.

If the frozen raspberries are large break them in half (they should just break when you squash them because they are nice and brittle when frozen). Put on the top of each cake and then top with the remaining batter.

Bake at the centre of the oven for about 15 minutes. They should rise nicely and begin to look nice and golden brown on top.

 

Chocolate and Almond Bread & Butter Pudding

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Bread and Butter Pudding is a good old-fashioned frugal recipe, which uses up dry bread which would otherwise go to waste. The traditional recipe uses bread and butter, dried fruit, sugar, eggs and milk.

There are many little twists that can be made to this basic recipe; for this one I used Almond Milk instead of cows milk and mixed coco-powder in with the demerara sugar to make nice chocolatey layers.

Ingredients

  • Dry sliced bread (about 1/2 loaf)
  • Butter
  • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coco powder
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 or 3 eggs (I only had 2 which was fine, but 3 would have been better)
  • 1 pint almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon flaked almonds
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180oC.

Mix the sugar and coco powder in a bowl.

Place a layer of buttered bread in the bottom of your dish, as closely fitting as possible. Cover with a layer of the chocolate mixture and a sprinkle of raisins.

Repeat until you have at least three bread layers.

In a jug measure out a pint of milk and beat the eggs into it.

Pour the mixture onto the bread layers; all but the top bread layer should be covered. Add more milk if necessary.

Sprinkle flaked almonds and some nutmeg on the top and bake in the centre of the oven for about half an hour.

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