Sunday, 27 April 2014

Baileys custard tart

It is the CCD’s (Caked Crusader’s Da) birthday and, as I’ve noted before, he is rather partial to a custard tart.  He’s also fond of booze.  So why not combine the two?  You'll see in the picture below that a bit of pastry got knocked off in transit. Mr CC tried to advise me to be more careful and started explaining about G force and roundabouts but it didn’t make a lot of sense to me (I've never been scientific); all I remember from his teachings is that Formula 1 drivers have thick necks.

In case you’re in any doubt let me confirm: Baileys custard tastes awesome!  It smelled lovely cooking and tasted just as good.  It’s not overpowering but adds some ‘oomph’ to the custard in a more gutsy way than vanilla does.  You could vary the amount of Baileys you add: as long as the cream + Baileys = 500ml I think you’d be alright, as Baileys is very creamy.

I noticed that the filling cooked quicker than a standard vanilla custard tart and must therefore assume that the Baileys was responsible for this as it was the only difference to my standard recipe.

Don’t nine egg yolks look glorious?

Seeing as this was a custard tart for a special occasion I went all out and whipped up some more cream (because let’s face it, what this lacked was cream!) with more Baileys (ditto!) for a flavoursome and decorative addition.

Happy birthday CCD!


For the shortcrust pastry:
175g plain flour
120g unsalted butter, cold
3 tablespoons icing sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

To glaze: 1 egg yolk, beaten

For the filling:
9 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
350ml whipping cream
150ml Baileys

Optional to decorate:
300ml whipping cream
50ml Baileys


Start by making the pastry: put the flour, butter and icing sugar into the food processor and blitz until you get fine breadcrumbs.

Add the egg yolks and vanilla and blitz until the pastry just starts to come together.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together into a ball of dough, handling no more than is absolutely necessary.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes so it is firmer to work with when you roll it out.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Have to hand a 20cm round deep ring, or use a foil disposal pie tin (I did and makes leakage less of a worry). Whatever ring or tin you use, try to find a deep one (ideally 3.5cm) as this will give a lovely deep tart and a luscious thick layer of baked custard.

Roll out the pastry between two sheets of clingfilm and use to line the flan ring/pie tin.
Don’t worry if you have some tears, the pastry is good-natured and patches easily.

Let the pastry overhang the edges. Take some of the surplus pastry off and put to one side – you may need this for patching later on.

Chill the pastry for a further 30 minutes once the tin is lined to minimise shrinkage when baked.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.

Line the chilled pastry with a sheet of baking paper and cover with baking beans.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Beat the egg yolk and when the 10 minutes is up, remove the pastry from the oven and remove the paper and beads. Have a look at the pastry and use the spare that you put to one side to patch any little holes or cracks that you can see. When happy, brush all of the egg yolk over the interior of the pastry case and return to the oven for 5 minutes. This seals the pastry so that it won’t go soggy when you add the custard.

Remove the pastry from the oven and leave to cool. When it is cool enough to handle trim the excess pastry away using a serrated knife. Leave the pastry in the ring/tin.

Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/fan oven 130°C/300°F/Gas mark 2.

From now on it’s all easy! Make the custard by whisking together the egg yolks and sugar. Add the cream and Baileys and whisk again.

Pour through a sieve into a heavy saucepan. Don’t skip this stage as there’s lots of eggy bits that will get caught by the sieve and would make the custard lumpy in texture if not removed.

Heat the custard over a low heat stirring all the time. When it gets to 37°C remove it from the heat.

Pouring through a sieve, pour as much of the custard into the pastry case as possible. I got all of mine in but it will depend on how deep your ring/tin is. If you’re not confident that you’ll get the tart into the oven without spilling the custard, put the tray (with the tart case on it) onto the oven shelf and then pour the custard in. I would’ve done this but when I pull my oven shelf out it dips slightly so I could not have got all the custard in.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the custard looks set but still wobbles slightly when the tray is moved. NB. This is less time than I would normally recommend for a custard tart but the Baileys seemed to speed up the cooking process.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Shortly before serving whip up the cream and Baileys and pipe onto the top for some extra decadence.

Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Raspberry bakewell tart

 Two weeks ago I made the best jammy dodger biscuits I have ever tasted (modest, I know) using raspberry caramel.  What to do with the leftover caramel has occupied my brain probably more than it should so I was pleased when I decided on incorporating it into a raspberry bakewell tart.

I used the caramel in place of the jam layer that sits between pastry and frangipane and it behaved well –not making the pastry soggy and adding such sweet jamminess to the tart that I wonder if I could ever go back to jam. (Note to self: yes you will go back to jam because that only requires unscrewing a jar, whereas the raspberry caramel gave you anxious, tense moments peering into a pan of boiling sugar.
  Stop being pretentious.)

I added raspberries to the frangipane to add a hit of freshness and acidity and I think it ended up looking rather splendid (again, note my modesty!)  Perhaps it isn’t the most Easter-looking bake but I really fancied something bakewell themed.

You could serve this at room temperature with cream or warm for dessert with ice cream.  Every time I say about serving dessert warm with ice cream you should picture Mr CC in the background shouting, ‘or custard.  Custard would work.’  He likes custard.  A lot.

For the almond shortcrust pastry:
170g plain flour
60g ground almonds
110g unsalted butter, cold
50g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cold water
For the frangipane:
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar, plus an extra teaspoon for sprinkling
100g ground almonds
2 eggs
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g plain flour
Handful of flaked almonds for scattering on top
For the raspberry:
6-8 tablespoons raspberry jam or raspberry caramel
200g fresh raspberries
To serve: thick cream; I chose clotted.  If you serve the tart warm then custard or ice cream

Make the pastry: Place the flour and ground almonds in a food processor and briefly pulse until they are combined.
Add the butter, diced into small cubes, and blitz until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor you can use the rubbing in method.
Add the sugar and blitz briefly.
Add the 2 egg yolks and water and pulse the processor until the dough just starts to come together.
Tip the dough out onto a sheet of clingfilm and bring together into a soft ball.
Flatten the ball into a disc shape (this will make rolling out easier) and wrap in the clingfilm.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Roll the chilled pastry out between two sheets of clingfilm and use to line a 23cm loose bottomed round flan tin. No need to grease the tin as the pastry is buttery enough not to stick. It is very important that your pastry has no holes in it so patch carefully if need be! Don’t trim the pastry yet – leave the excess hanging over the side.
Line the pastry with a sheet of baking paper and weigh down with some baking beans.
Bake the pastry case for 15 minutes, then remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Leave the pastry case to cool and, when cool, trim off the excess pastry.  I use a serrated bread knife as I find it doesn’t tear at the pastry and I have more control. (NB. For this tart I left the pastry untrimmed as it gave a nice rustic finish).
Now make the frangipane filling: Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat until whippy and combined.
Spoon the raspberry jam or caramel into the bottom of the pastry case - there should be just enough to cover the base; any more than this and the tart will be too sloppy.
Spoon the frangipane onto the raspberry jam/caramel and spread ensuring that it forms a seal with the pastry so no puree will bubble up during cooking.
Arrange the raspberries on top of the frangipane.
Scatter over a handful of flaked almonds, then finally sprinkle over a teaspoon of sugar.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the frangipane comes out clean.
Leave to cool, in the tin, on a wire rack – only remove from the tin just before serving.
Serve either warm with ice cream or custard, or at room temperature with cream.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Medlar and cinnamon upside down cake

This week’s bake turned into a bit of a voyage of discovery that all commenced one lunch time as I passed a Mediterranean greengrocers and saw a box of fruit labelled ‘medlars’.  I suspected they weren’t medlars because the medlars I’d seen were like oversized rosehips.  So I bought some and then went off to do my research (I know that’s the wrong way round – I should have researched first, but that’s just not the way I roll).

I googled medlars and site after site came up with the rosehip-looking type.  Dead end after dead end.  So I put my faith in google; I typed “soft fruit medlars that look a bit like apricots” and bingo!  I asked and the internet delivered.  What I had were loquats aka Japanese medlars aka Japanese/Chinese plums or biwa if you prefer.  It seems to be the fruit of a thousand names!

Mine felt like ripe apricots and the skin peeled off easily without needing to dip the fruit in boiling water.  For this cake I probably could have left the skin on as it’s very thin but I didn’t want to risk it.  The stone comes out easily but I also peeled away the thin white papery layer around it.

They have a beautiful flavour and were really juicy.  Imagine a less gingery mango with elements of orange, peach and apricot and you’d be getting close.  Fruity and sweet at first but finishing with a sharper acidic flavour I really fell for them in a big way and wished I’d come across them sooner.

This upside down cake contains cinnamon and vanilla, two spices that work well with most fruits.  You could serve this cake at room temperature for afternoon tea, or hot with custard or ice cream for dessert.

Here’s to more happy discoveries at the greengrocers!


For the base of the cake:
10-12 medlars, halved, stoned and peeled -  prepared weight 340g
60g unsalted butter
125g soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the sponge:
140g unsalted butter, at room temperature
140g golden caster sugar
2 eggs, plus 1 white
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
75ml milk

To serve: cream, ice cream or custard


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/ gas mark 4.

Use an all-in-one liner for a 20cm round springform tin.  If you don’t have a liner, wrap the outside of the tin in foil as you don’t want anything to leak during baking.

Start by making the base: Place the butter in the cake tin and put into the oven for about 3 minutes or until it has just melted (but isn’t burned or bubbling).

Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon.

Arrange the fruit into the butter mix and put the tin to one side.  I put my medlars cut side down so they sat flush to the tin.

Now make the sponge: beat the butter and sugar until pale and whippy.  Don’t skimp on this stage.

Beat in the eggs one at a time followed by the additional white and vanilla.

Stir in the flour, baking powder and milk and mix until the batter is smooth and well combined.

Spoon over the fruit taking care not to disturb it.

For upside down cakes it’s important that the cake doesn’t ‘dome’ too much whilst baking because, when you turn it out, this will become the bottom.  I manage this by making a dip in the centre and building up the batter around the edge of the cake – during baking this usually settles out to an even layer.

Stand the cake tin on a tray in case the caramel bubbles up and bake for approximately 1 hour but check after 40 minutes to ensure the top isn’t browning too much.  If it is, loosely cover it with foil and continue to bake until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 30mins-1hour in the tin before turning out and leaving to cool completely.  If you’re serving for a dessert turn out after about 10 minutes cooling time.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Jammy dodgers

Every once in a while, because I am a good wife, I ask Mr CC if there’s anything he would like me to make.  Every time (without fail) he will pick something that, when I look at the recipe, I think ‘hmmm, not sure I can really be bothered with that’.  These biscuits are a good example.  They are also a good example of why you should let yourself be pushed out of your comfort zone because they are divine, and I would NEVER have chosen to make them!

I’ve made biscuits sandwiched with jam before but they don’t have that chewy quality that a good jammy dodger has.
  Now I know why.  It’s because you should use raspberry caramel rather than jam.  I say this like it’s my idea – it isn’t.  I learned this whilst searching for recipes and coming across The Pink Whisk a blog written by a former Great British Bake Off finalist.  The most I can take credit for here is being able to read.

I tend to avoid anything that involves making caramel; boiling sugar is not my friend.  We fell out a while back when I decided to test if the top of a crème brulee was crispy but tapping it with my finger.  Once I had separated finger tip from boiling sugar I realised I had a new kitchen foe to join yeast (well documented on this site) and squash (long story).

Passing the raspberries through a sieve is so much easier with a sieving mushroom.  This is a simple piece of kit – I think mine cost under £3 but it is the best thing for getting every scrap of goodness out of something you’re straining.  It leaves behind a dry pulp of seeds.  I’ve had mine for a few years now and I love the way each fruit stains the wood a darker colour – a sign of use! So much equipment is over-engineered or too complex but this is as simple as the day it was invented and does the job perfectly:

The caramel is a faff to make but worth it.  Stupidly, I decided to double the quantity as I was doubling the biscuit amount – this meant it took longer to boil than it would normally and it wasn’t necessary anyway as the recipe quantities (as stated below) makes more than you would need for a double batch of biscuits.  Not that it’s a bad thing – it keeps in the fridge for 3 weeks so I shall use it in other bakes.

The biscuit is a classic buttery vanilla biscuit and it’s got a lovely short but not too crumbly texture.  It’s the perfect carrier for the star of the show – the raspberry caramel.  It’s more jammy than jam and, as you’ll see from the recipe, contains a lot of sugar...but it’s not too sweet.  It is a really exciting discovery for me and I’m already thinking about how good blueberry caramel would be.

These were a big hit and I fear I’ve made a rod for my own back as I know they will be requested again.  It’s not that they’re difficult to make but they take time.  Any biscuit where you have to roll out and cut the dough takes time, but the addition of the caramel means they are not a quick bake.  Good job I made a double batch!

For the raspberry caramel:
120g fresh raspberries
Approx 75ml double cream
300g caster sugar
75ml water
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the biscuits:
220g unsalted butter, at room temperature
110g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
340g plain flour

Start by making the raspberry caramel: Mash the raspberries through a sieve into a bowl or, if the top is wide enough, your measuring jug.
Transfer the raspberry juice to a measuring jug and add cream until you have 140ml of liquid.
Place the sugar and water into a large pan – go larger than you think for safety reasons.  A silver lined pan makes it easier to spot the caramel darken.
Gently heat the sugar and water and, initially just to ensure the sugar and water are mixed, you can stir.  Stop stirring after a couple of minutes.
Have a heatproof pastry brush (mine was silicon) and a bowl of cold water to hand.  As the sugar melts you will see little crystals stick to the pan; wet the brush and just push them back into the syrup.  This will minimise the risk of your caramel crystallising later.
Bring to the boil.  As the mix heats up it will become clearer.  You will also notice the size of the bubbles decreases and the mix takes on a thicker texture.
After a few minutes of boiling the colour will start to change.  Don’t walk off and do something else as it can burn very quickly. 
When you have a rich caramel colour remove the pan from the heat and add the raspberry cream and butter.  It will bubble up so be prepared for it (this is also why you should use a bigger pan than it looks like you’ll need).
Stir vigorously to mix all the elements together.  My sugar started to clump a bit at this point but returning to the heat got rid of virtually all the issues!
Return to the heat and stir all the time whilst bringing it up to the boil.
Boil for two minutes before pouring into a bowl and leaving to set.  I poured it through a sieve into the bowl and was glad I did as there were a couple of lumps of sugar.
Leave to cool.
Place in the fridge to set.
Now make the biscuits: beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the vanilla.
Add the flour and mix together, finishing off by using your hands to make a ball of dough.
Flatten into a fat disc and wrap in clingfilm.
Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Line as many baking sheets as you have in non stick foil or baking paper.  I have three and used them in rotation, baking in batches.
Roll the dough out between two sheets of clingfilm.  You’re aiming for the thickness about no more than a £1 coin.
Cut out the biscuits using the size cutter of your choice.  I used a plain round cutter just over 6cm in diameter and got 16 biscuits from the quantity of dough given in the ingredients above. 
Use a tiny round cutter to remove the centre of half the biscuits – this will provide a window to showcase the raspberry caramel.
There is no need to leave big gaps on the baking sheet as the biscuits hardly spread whilst baking.
Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes until golden brown.  I turned the trays round halfway through cooking to ensure even baking.
Leave to firm up on the baking sheet for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack and leaving to cool completely.
I didn’t make the biscuits up until the day I planned on serving them just to ensure the caramel didn’t make the biscuits soggy.
When you’re ready to make them up, place a generous ½ teaspoon of the raspberry caramel onto a biscuit, and top with a biscuit that has a circle cut out of it.  Squeeze gently to ensure the caramel covers the whole biscuit.
NB. If your caramel is too hard to spread, heat it briefly to soften and it will spread like a dream!  I didn’t do this and gave it a rapid stir to soften it – this worked for me as I wanted to keep the caramel on the stiff side so the top biscuit didn’t slide.
To keep the caramel firm, store in the fridge until 10 minutes before serving.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.