Saturday, 22 October 2016

Layered Apple Filo Tart

This filo tart is a delicious alternative to apple pie or crumble, although equally suited to lashings of custard of course! I concede there are a few phases involved in its preparation, but I promise you all are simple and straightforward. If you are allergic to nuts (or just don't like almonds) you can confidently press on without them, although I find this relatively meagre addition takes the finished article to the next level!

Prep time: 30 Mins
Baking time: 30-35 Mins
100g Golden Syrup
100g Golden Caster Sugar (Plus extra for sprinkling)
200ml Water
6 Dessert Apples (Peeled and cored)
The Zest and Juice of 1 Unwaxed Lemon
50g Unsalted Butter (Melted)
100g Sultanas
50g Toasted Flaked Almonds
10-12 Sheets Filo Pastry

Off we go! Place a saucepan on a medium heat and add the Syrup, Sugar and Water. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then turn up the heat and leave to bubble away until syrupy. I find a good indicator of this is when the bubbles start to hold their shape. Once the syrup has formed leave to one side to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and fish out a medium sized deep baking tray. Slice the apples finely and toss in the lemon juice and zest. Brush the base of the tin with melted butter and lay over a couple of sheets of filo, overlapping them slightly and letting them creep up the edges of the tin. Brush again with melted butter, evenly distribute a third of the apples, a third of the sultanas and a third of the almonds, then drizzle over a third of the syrup. Cover with another couple of sheets of filo, brush with melted butter and repeat the above. Repeat once more to use up the filling, then finally cover with some artistically screwed up sheets of filo, bringing any filo hanging over the edges back over the top of the tart. Brush all over with the last of the melted butter and sprinkle over a little golden caster sugar for a lovely crunch. 

Bake the tart in the middle of your oven for around 30-35 minutes, until golden brown on top and you're all done. Now, where's that custard?

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Dairy and Gluten Free Peanut Butter Fat Peanut Cookies

Here's a challenge for you. Buy an ingredient you've NEVER used before, then try and use it in as many interesting ways as you can. That's what I've been doing with oat flour recently, tinkering and toying with a recipe ideas and playing around with combinations. Sometimes (ok, a little more than sometimes ;-)) such gastronomic adventuring can end in disaster, but it's all worth it when recipes as this are born.

These fat cookies are soft and chewy and even a little cake. They are rich with peanut butter and perfect as a little naughty treat. You don't have to yourself, but I think the addition of a single chocolate drop or button sets the whole thing off deliciously!

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 12-15 Mins (Depending on size)
100g Peanut Butter
100g Golden Caster Sugar
2tbsp Almond Milk (Or another nut milk)
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Egg Yolk (From a Large Egg)
75g Gluten Free Oat Flour
9 Chocolate Drops or Buttons

I've only done around nine here, which will last me a good, oh I don't know, 24 hours! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a large flat baking tray with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the peanut butter and sugar, then mix in the milk, vanilla extract and egg yolk. Add the oat flour and mix to a soft dough. You might find is easier to get your hands in to bring the mixture together.

Take a small blob of dough and shape into a fat, round disc. Place on the baking paper then repeat for the rest of the dough, evenly spacing them apart. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 12-15 minutes until the cookies are golden brown and just starting to darken at the edges. When you are happy the cookies are baked remove from the oven and leave on the tray. Place a single chocolate drop or button in the middle of each cookie and leave to melt on top.

After around 30 minutes remove the cookies from the tray and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Then all that's left is to enjoy!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Macerated Lemon Upside Down Loaf Cake

Someone once said 'good things take time'. Well this cake certainly illustrates the point, using lemons macerated in sugar for 72 hours! Saying that, it's definitely worth the wait as it's a full on tangy and syrupy hit of lemony deliciousness. Don't let the title give you the willies though, as it's actually sooooooooooooooooo easy to make and quite a basic recipe deep down. Basic but bombastic!

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus around 72 hours macerating time)
Baking time: 45-50 Mins
For the Lemons
2 Good sized Lemons
Around 6-8tbsp Caster Sugar
35g Butter

For the Sponge
175g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
175g Caster Sugar
2 Large Eggs
175g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder

Lemons first of course! Slice the lemons thinly then place a layer in the base of an airtight container  or jar. Cover liberally with caster sugar, then cover with another layer of lemon slices and sugar. Repeat for the rest of the lemon, then seal up tightly and leave for around 72 hours, giving the container a vigorous shake now and again to get everything going. You might be able to get away with 48 hours if time is tight but personally I'd rather be patient!

After 72 hours you'll find the lemons have released a lot of juice and have kind of candied in their own syrup. Pour off 100g of the lemony syrup into a small saucepan and add the butter. On a medium heat stir until the bitter dissolves then let come to a boil. Once boiling remove from the heat and set to one side whilst you ready the sponge.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 2lb loaf tin and line the base with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift in the flour and baking powder then mix to a smooth, consistent batter.

Lay out your lemon slices in the base of the tin and pour over the syrup. Spoon in the sponge mixture and carefully even to the edge. You'll want to try and cover the syrupy lemons completely if you can. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 45-50 minutes, until a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the sponge. When you are happy the loaf is baked remove from the oven and leave in the tin for around 30 minutes.

Run a flat bladed knife around the edge of the sponge and carefully turn out onto a wire rack, peeling off the paper from (what is now) the top. You should find the surface is all sticky and syrupy! Leave to cool completely and you're done. Maybe try custard with this one it's quite the combination! 

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Lemon Mascarpone Cake

When is a cheesecake not a cheesecake?

This cake may be made with cheese but it's much more of a traditionally spongey and toasty tasting delectation than its creamy cousin. Using cheese instead of butter gives the sponge a lovely texture and just a slight sweet cheese note in the background, which works beautifully with fresh lemons. The lemons I use are a good size but not the really beefy ones you can now find in some supermarkets. If you have one of those you may get away with just using one, but if not two are just about spot on!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 50 Mins
250g Mascarpone Cheese
225g Caster Sugar
3 Large Eggs and 2 Yolks
The Zest of 2 Unwaxed Lemons and Juice of 1
100g Ground Almonds
125g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder

For the glaze
150g Icing Sugar
The Juice of 1 Lemon

Righty ho! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 23cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the cheese and the sugar, then add the eggs and yolks. Mix until smooth and creamy. Add the lemon zest and juice, mix through, then add the almonds and do the same. Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix with vigour until you are left with a smooth consistent batter. Pour into your prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for around 50 minutes, until a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven, leave in the tin for around 30 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, very carefully peeling off the baking paper as you go.

While the cake is still warm you can prepare the glaze. I do this when warm as it soaks in a little to the surface. Mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice until you are left with a runny, semi-translucent glaze. Spread generally over the top of the cake, until it starts to cascade over the edge, then leave the cake until completely cool. Slice and serve. Num num num!