Monday, 30 April 2012

Gypsy Tart

I sat on my mum's lap. In an empty primary school dinner hall. Tables and benches still stood in there formal rows. Lunch had been served, consumed and cleared away for the pupils, but the smell lingered. The mania of school lunch time had been wiped from the tables but the air was still thick with the crackles of energy left behind. Just like when you come out of a loud pub and the world seems so silent but in some way electric. She had a green shallow bowl on the wobbly table in front of her, more akin to a plate with slightly raised edges. It held a slice of gypsy tart.
I can safely say, that is one of earliest memories. My mum used to work at a primary school, one which I ultimately went to and she used to pick me up after nursery and have lunch. Gypsy Tart was a staple Kentish school dinner pudding.
Makes 1 x 7inch tart and 6 x 3-and-a-half inch tarts


250gr plain flour
125gr cold butter
50gr icing sugar
Zest of half a lemon
1 egg

1 x 410gr tin of evaporated milk
350gr dark brown sugar
Small pinch of freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
1, Start with the pastry by sifting the flour and icing sugar together into a bowl. Rub in the butter and lemon zest until you have a fine breadcrumb consistency.
2, Add in the egg and mix it using a fork. Knead it gently to bring it together into a smooth ball. Wrap this in cling film and pop in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes
3, Roll out your chilled pastry to around 5mm and line your tins. I made a 7 inch tart and 6 smaller ones. Chill these in the fridge for 20mins and preheat your oven to 175o/c.
4, Line them with grease proof paper, fill with baking beans and bake for 10 minutes and then remove the beans and grease proof paper and bake until golden brown - around 5-10 minutes.
5, Whisk the filling ingredients together until creamy, thick and bubbly, this takes around 5 minutes with stand mixer on a medium high speed.
6, When your pastry lines tart tins are ready, fill them with the filling and bake - 10 minutes for the smaller ones and 15minutes for the larger tart.
7, Serve with slices of apple.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Hot Cross Bun Pudding

Four hot cross buns. That's the only evidence left that Easter happened in the cottage. I contemplated freezing them. Or making bread and butter pudding. Then I realised a childhood favourite - the humble bread pudding. Dense, fruity, spicy. Hot cross buns would lend themselves to it perfectly.

This recipe might need a bit of further tweaking as its done from a hazy memory of my next door neighbour making it. Without scales...

Four hot cross buns - mine weighed in at about 300gr altogether
Small handful of sultanas
350ml semi skimmed milk
Zest of one large orange
Two large pinches of cinnamon, mixed spice and ginger
1 egg
80gr golden caster sugar
75gr very soft butter (Next time, I would use less - probably around 40gr)

1, Rip your hot cross buns into chunks and place in a large bowl. Add in the sultanas, milk, zest and spices. Leave it for 5 minutes to soak and then get your hands in there to give it a good squish. My favourite part. Obviously
2, Set this to one side, preheat your oven to 160o/c and line a 7inch square cake tin with baking paper.
3, Finally add in the egg, sugar and butter and best until smooth. Pour this into your prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto an wire rack and leave to cool.
4, Sprinkle with Demerara sugar before serving - optional.

I'm entering this into Tea Time Treats - this month hosted by Kate who has set an Easter theme. You can see Karen's mammoth two part scone round up here and here.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Dandelion & Lemon Jam

"A weed is but an unloved flower" Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Whilst they might occasionally blight the lawn, we have a little patch at the end of our vegetable plot that we let grow wild. It's a great little patch that springs to life with tulips, bluebells, white bells, daffodils and plenty of dandelions, all adding their unique splash of colour and texture. It's also nice to see it being visited by bees and ladybirds.

I wanted to use up some of the dandelions in cooking. The bitter green leaves can be used for a number of things including pesto but when I stumbled on this recipe for jam, I had to give it a go.

I used the juice and zest of two lemons instead of one to make its bit more clean tasting.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

We Should Cocoa: Chocolate Cheesecake Eggs

This months We Should Cocoa is hosted by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog With a cheesy challenge. Last month's green round up can be seen here.

My last adventure involving cheese and chocolate didn't end well. So I decided to take danger out of the equation. No sharp knives, open flames or high temperatures. I love how these eggs look so unassuming yet when you crack (sorry...) into one, you're fork deep in cheesecake. Delicious!

Makes 4 half eggs (approximately 6cm long, 3cm wide and 2cm high)

100gr melted dark chocolate
60gr Philadelphia with Cadburys (or two mini pots)
3 tbsp of double cream, whisked until stiff
Tiniest pinch of sea salt known to man kind
2 biscuits, crushed to a fine crumb (I used chocolate covered malted milk)

1, Paint your Easter egg mould using a pastry brush with the melted chocolate making sure you cover any gaps and pop in the freezer for 2-5 minutes
2, Paint another coat when the first has set solid and return to the freezer.
3, Fold the chocolate Philadelphia into the double cream and salt until will combined and smooth.
4, Take your chocolate mould out of the freezer and divide the creamy cheesecake filling into each one making sure you have a little gap between the filling and the top of the mould.
5, Sprinkle about a teaspoon of the biscuit crumbs onto the top of the cheesecake, but don't go right up to the edge of the mould and press down lightly.
6, Spoon a thick layer of melted chocolate over the top to seal the cheesecake and biscuit in and return to the freezer for 10 minutes.
7, Store in the fridge, unmould them and leave them for a couple of minutes before serving.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Afternoon Tea: Crowne Plaza Hotel, London

It's no surprise that I love cake. And tea. So an afternoon of cake and tea for my hen party was just right.

We went to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in London. It's conveniently opposite Blackfriars train and tube station, or a short walk through Inner Temple of you wish to soak up some history. I work in Inner Temple, it's beautiful.

Afternoon tea is served in the lobby and is quiet and calm - even or a Saturday afternoon tea. The staff are courteous, polite and discreet.

We had loose leaf earl grey tea, and further hot water to refresh the pots. There was a wide selection of teas, sandwiches and cakes which included my all time favourite of salt beef and gherkin as well as the most delicious lemon tart. The scones were served with a generous dollop of clotted cream, fresh strawberries and mini jams.

I would highly recommend here for afternoon tea - it's amazing value for money!

St. Pauls Afternoon Tea £14.99 per person or £20 per person with a glass of champagne (normally served at £12 a glass). You can book online here.