New Year; New Baking

Bakewell Tart 2

I hope you’ve all had a good Christmas and New Year. It’s been a bit quiet here at The Monday Baker as I haven’t been doing much baking in the last few weeks – I’ve been busy and the only baking I’ve been doing has been a white milk loaf for LSH’s packed lunches. And whilst it’s a good loaf (it’s a Dan Lepard recipe after all) it’s not an exciting “blog worthy” bread.

Finally though I’ve got round to baking something more interesting than a white sliced with my first go at baking a traditional Bakewell Tart. This is a bit of nostalgia for me as childhood weekend teas would often have a slice of a Mr Kipling cake for afters. Mr Kipling is still going but it’s been years since I’ve bought any. Instead any Bakewell fix has come from coffee shops.

This weekend though we had our regular “kitchen cupboard audit” and I discovered that I had loans of flaked almonds that needed using. So what better way than a homemade Bakewell Tart. Oddly none of my baking books had a recipe for one, at least not the old fashioned one I was after. Thankfully the Guardian came up trumps with this version. This is a straightforward version with a buttery flaky shortcrust pastry, jam and frangipane filling. The Guardian version suggests you make a fruit compote but as I had a jar of strawberry jam lurking at the back of the fridge I used this mixed with 1/8 tsp of rose water.

Bakewell Tart 2

I made sure that I chilled the pastry case before blind baking and trimmed it before popping it back into the oven to colour. The only issue that I had was with the cooking times and temperatures – it seemed to take longer to go golden than the recipe said and I ended up turning the oven up to try and get some colour on the almonds. Next time I may toast them before scattering them on top.

It certainly hit the spot though. LSH polished off two slices within minutes of coming home and I think that the rest of it is on borrowed time. Hopefully it won’t take me quite as long to bake its replacement.


Raspberry and Chocolate Tarlets

Raspberry tartlets  - final

I’ve been dabbling in patisserie with varying degrees of success. What should have been a chocolate and caramel tartlet ended up as an incredibly bitter split ganache encasing a solid toffee of the kind that’s always left in the chocolate tin at Christmas. Even LSH couldn’t eat it!

This one worked a lot better – mixing some milk chocolate in with the dark moved it from bitter to rich and the sharp raspberry jelly cuts through it perfectly (I suspect that orange would work equally well). The recipe below makes 4 10 cm tartlets.

First the pastry – Beat together 100g of butter with 50g of icing sugar and a pinch of salt until pale and fluffy.

Add 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp lemon extract whilst still beating and then one lightly beaten egg. Stir in 125g of plain flour and carefully bring together into a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill for a least 2 hours.

Lightly flour a worktop and roll out thinly. Line your tartlet tins and chill for at least 30 min before trimming. Blind bake at 180C for 15min. Remove the baking beans and reduce the temperature to 160C and continue to bake for another 5-10mins until golden.

Raspberry tartlets - chocolate liningMelt 20g of dark chocolate and brush into the pastry cases, ensuring that the bottom and the sides are fully coated. Leave to cool.

For the raspberry jelly. Put 140g of frozen raspberries in a pan with 2 tbsp of caster sugar. Cook of a low heat until all the juices have been released. Seive into a jug.

Raspberry tartlets - jelly

You should have about 100ml of juice. Add gelatine using the instructions on the packet. Pour a small amount into the bottom of each tartlet – just enough to cover the base to a depth of a couple of millimetres. Leave to set.

Raspberry tartlets - inside

For the chocolate ganache finely chop 80g of dark chocolate and 40g of milk chocolate. Scald 100g of double cream and then take off the heat and stir in the chocolate until it’s all melted and glossy. Pour over the top of the raspberry layer and leave to set, preferably at room temperature.

Serve with cream.

Apricot Pie and a final farewell to “Bake Off”

Apricot tart - 1

And so the Great British Bake Off has come to an end for another year. It feels like the end of an era as next year it will move to BBC 1 and what was once the guilty secret of us “floury types” will be firmly mainstream. I just hope it doesn’t end up being the X factor with caster sugar and yeast…

Apricot tart - fillingIn the meantime I’ve got round to having a go at a recipe from this year’s Bake Off book. I’m a big fan of these – my favourite shortbread recipe comes from the Showstoppers edition – and having seen this recipe demonstrated on the Masterclasses last week I was keen to give it a go.

The Apricot Pie is a great store cupboard pie – flour, butter, sugar, marzipan and tinned apricot halves. Make the pastry and line your dish. I chilled it for a bit at this stage to try and reduce shrinkage. You then grate marzipan over the base. Add the apricots, cover with a pastry lid and bake. The only change I made was to add less marzipan. LSH isn’t a fan and the amount suggested nearly filled the tin on its own! Even for me that seemed like a bit too much. I used just over half the amount and that seemed ample. I also ended up adding some extra chopped apricot to fill some of the gaps between the halves.

Apricot tart  -  slice

The finished result was lovely and so easy to make. Even the marzipan phobic LSH was keen on it and it tasted just as good cold the next day.

Beef and Guinness Pie

Beef and Guinness pie 3

Now for a warming Sunday dinner. This is not a pie you can pull together midweek – this is pie that needs time, although not attention, and so slots in nicely between mounds of washing and blasts of vacuuming. This makes enough for 2- 4 people depending on appetites.

First the filling. Fry 60g of smoked bacon lardons in a frying pan in a small amount of sunflower oil til coloured and releasing fat into the pan. Scope out and set aside. Finely slice 2 shallots and then fry them in the bacon fat til soft. Then add to the bacon. Coat 600g of cubed stewing beef in 2tbsp of seasoned flour. Add a bit more oil to the pan and fry the beef in batches until brown. Put all the meat mix into a clean pan.

Take a 500ml bottle of Guinness. Add a splash to the frying pan to deglaze it. Then add this to the meat mix along with the rest of the Guinness, a splash of Worcester sauce, 2 bay leaves and 2 sprigs of thyme. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and cover.
Beef and Guinness pie 1

Leave on a low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (more won’t hurt it) until the beef is tender. Thickly slice 250g of chestnut mushrooms and add them to the pan. Cook for another 30-45 minutes. Remove the filling with a slotted spoon and reduce the remaining liquor by about a third – you want a thick sauce that just covers the meat. Put a teaspoon of cornflour into a mug and add some of the liquor a teaspoon at a time to form a thick paste. Return to the pan and boil stirring vigorously until the liquor thickens. Add 1 – 2 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly (to taste) and season. Return the meat to the pan, stir and leave to cool.

Now for the pastry.
Beef and Guinness pie 2

Cube 75g of butter and 35g of lard. Add to 225g of plain flour and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Blitz until breadcrumb in texture. Then add a tablespoon of water at a time until it starts to come together and then bring together with you hands. Chill for 30mins.

Split into 1/3 and 2/3. Roll out the larger piece and line the bottom of the pie dish. Add the cold filling. Roll out the lid and then put on top of the pie filling. Crimp the edge and trim. Chill the pie for 30 mins.

Turn the oven onto 180C and preheat a baking tray. Decorate the pie and put a couple of slashes into it before washing with beaten egg. Put the pie tin onto the baking tray and bake for 45min til the pastry is golden and the filling piping hot.

Cinnamon Apple Pie

Cinnamon apple pie 2

The Bramley apples are slowly ripening and the autumn gusts are presenting me with windfalls to use. So far I have a couple of jars of cinnamon spiced apple jelly in a cupboard and a bottle of spiced apple brandy slowly maturing (which smells like apple strudel and will hopefully nice just as nice).

But what I haven’t made yet is a pie. A big homely pie like my gran used to make. She was a great cook – visits would mean Sunday dinners with peppery Yorkshire Puddings, crispy roast spuds and gravy that had little chunks of meat floating in it. This would often be followed by apple pie with crispy, flakey pastry sparkling with liberal dustings of sugar. I want to make this pie but the recipe died along with my gran and all I have left are memories of its taste. So this is my attempt at replicating this. The amounts below serve 2 very hungry people with enough for breakfast the next day.

Cinnamon apple pie 4

First the pastry – I like this to be fairly savoury so it’s a shortcrust made with a mix of butter and lard. To 225g of plain flour add a pinch of salt, 75g of cubed butter and 35g of cubed lard. Pulse in a food processor until breadcrumbs and add 1 tbsp of golden caster sugar. Then add cold water 1 tbsp at time until then pastry starts to come together. Bring it together into a ball using your hands before wrapping in cling film and chilling for at least 30 mins.

I’m pretty sure she didn’t use cinnamon but it’s one of my favourite spices and so redolent of autumn that generous amounts are needed. Peel, core and slice 2 large Bramley apples into thick pieces. Tap dry with kitchen paper.

Preheat the oven to 180C and pop a baking tray in to heat up. 100g of golden caster sugar is mixed with 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon. Set aside about 2tbsp of the mix for scattering on the pie later. To the rest add 1 heaped tbsp of plain flour and mix together with the apples.

Divide the pastry into 1/3 and 2/3. Roll out the larger piece to line an enamel pie tin (about 20cm long) and fill with the sugar coated apples. Roll out the lid. Wet the rim and cover the filling with the pastry lid, crimping the edge to fix. Cover with an egg wash and scatter with the reserved sugar.

Cinnamon apple pie 3

Put the pie onto the preheated baking tray and bake for about 40min until golden and crispy.

Serve with vast quantities of custard for a warming autumn treat. Not quite like Gran used to make but pretty good all the same.

A light Saturday lunch – Tomato and Gruyere Tartlet

Tomato tartlet 2

This weekend is one of those quiet pottering weekends. A weekend of cleaning, walking and making some headway on the pile of ironing that is so large it’s probably visible from space (!). But we also need to eat and as I’m on a pastry binge at the moment it’s a tasty tart that I’m after.

This is an Olive magazine recipe and you can find the full sized version on the cover of its September edition. It’s a mixture of gruyere cheese (in both the pastry and filling) with roasted baby plum tomatoes with a light scattering of thyme.

Tomato tartlet 1

As this was lunch for just the 2 of us I halved the recipe and instead made two tartlets, chilling the pastry again after lining the tins to try and avoid shrinkage.

I also added a spoonful of my homemade tomato chilli jam to the gruyere and egg filling rather than Dijon mustard which cut through the rich cheesy base. As they were smaller they didn’t take quite as long to cook and we ate them warm from the oven.

Tomato tartlet end

I love most things with cheese and these were no exception. A nice crispy pastry with a squidgy tasty filling. I think I would add a bit more chilli jam next time as I feel it needs a bit more heat to it. It certainly worked well as smaller individual tartlets judging by LSH’s quickly emptied plate…

A Final Taste of Summer: Rose-scented Strawberry Tarts

Strawberry tart

We came back from holiday to a late burst of summer sun which meant that the return to “normal life” wasn’t as bad as it could have been. However the boots and jumpers are now out of the wardrobe, the final flush of roses are starting to die off and rain is currently hammering against the kitchen window. It’s only a matter of time before we clear out the veg and fruit beds in preparation for winter. So it’s time for a tasty fruit tart to try and recapture those summer memories.

Strawberry tarts - cases I came up with this tart to use some of my rose petal jelly . The pastry base is a Pate Sucree recipe from the Leith’s Baking Bible (if you’re into Baking it’s worth getting a copy as pretty much every baking technique or recipe you could want is in here). I didn’t follow the method precisely and ended up just bringing all the ingredients together on my worktop as you would for pasta. The important thing here is to chill once the mix is brought together and then chill again once you’ve put it into the pastry cases. I didn’t trim until after this second chilling when I then cut it along the rim of the cases before blind baking. As you can see there was no shrinkage (hurrah!).

Strawberry tarts - creme patI left these to cool whilst I did the creme patisseire. Again this was a Leith’s recipe with the addition of a couple of drops of rose water, rather than vanilla extract, once the custard had been made. It’s important to taste at this stage – you can always add a bit more flavour if you think it needs it. Again chill and when you’re ready to use give it a quick beat before carefully folding in the whipped cream and putting into the pastry cases.

Strawberry tart - preglaze

I then arranged half strawberries on top of the creme pat before making the glaze. This was a couple of heaped tablespoons of rose petal jelly which I heated in a pan with a splash of lemon juice. Once it was thin I used it to glaze the tarts using a silicon brush. The tarts were then chilled until ready to serve.

The rose petal jelly and rose water just gives the tarts a hint of that summery rose fragrance which works really well with the strawberries. A definite splash of summer for a rainy day.

Strawberry tarts - final