Thursday, 28 July 2011

Forever Nigella: The day I saw the Domestic Goddess and Chocolate Guinness Cake

I saw Nigella once. 

I was walking down the King's Road in Chelsea (you may well ask what on earth I was doing in the Sloaney heartland, well, I used to work in a nearby hospital).

And there she was. 

The Domestic Goddess herself. 

Just sauntering past me.

Now this is Kate Middleton's stomping ground, and locals must be used to seeing Very Important People Who Feature Regularly in Hello Magazine strolling in their midst. No one battered a very-expensively-mascarad eyelid as Nigella swept by.

I meanwhile, awestruck, flattened myself against the nearest shop window, in incredible wonder that Nigella was within touching distance! Heck, I could have reached out and poked the Domestic Goddess! 

(The irony wasn't lost on me that I'd suctioned myself onto a Boot's shop window, at the time advertising some miracle anti ageing cream. So there I was plastered onto an advert for wrinkles while the woman with THE MOST FLAWLESS SKIN IN THE WORLD EVER passed by)

Did I ask for her autograph? Did I compliment Nigella on her Devil's Food Cake? Did I ask for the secrets of her skincare regime? 

I did none of the above.

I starred, open mouthed, gave an involuntary bow and hyperventilated.

Afterwards, once I'd recovered, I congratulated myself on having a new Number 1 Celebrity Spot. Nigella stormed to the Number 1 position. The previous occupant had been Pat Sharp, off of Fun House, spotted on a late night Birmingham New Street to Aberystwyth train eleven years ago*.

Anyways, all this is a lengthy preamble to introducing my first contribution to Forever Nigella: Chocolate Guinness Cake. 

Forever Nigella is a really lovely blogging challenge involving all things Nigella, and created by Sarah at Maison Cupcake. This month the theme is iced or chilled desserts  and is hosted by Arthi at Soul Curry.

You may rightly question how this particular bake qualifies as 'an iced or chilled dessert'. Well, I figured that Chocolate Guinness Cake ought to really be enjoyed with a cold glass of the Irish stout that gives the cake its name, which is ideally served iced cold. This, I agree, is a very tenous link, but I have my fingers crossed that it counts. 

The original recipe for Chocolate Guinness Cake is from How to be A Domestic Goddess and can be found here, on Nigella's website.

Baker's notes....
  • When removed from the oven, it does have a certain 'aroma'; as A delicately put it: 'It smells kinda earthy and musty, like soil, doesn't it?'. Upon which I refused to give him a slice until he had apologised, and meant it.
  • If I'm honest I was a little dubious as I decanted the Guinness into the cake, but, it lent itself to a beautifully dense, rich and chocolately cake. 
  • And the sweet, more-ish cream cheese frosting perfectly resembles the creamy Guinness head.

* It remains my lifetime ambition to appear on this show with Pat and the twins. 

Fresh from the Oven, Welsh rarebit and the perfect hangover cure

This is why Welsh Rarebit rocks:

1. To parody the Marks and Spencers advert:

'This is not just cheese on toast. This is fancy pants, duluxe, special cheese on toast'.

Say this infront of your friends, as you present the rarebit and enjoy the bemused looks upon their faces.

2. It hails from, as Tom Jones so memorably sang 'the Green, Green Grass of Home'. Anything remotely connected with said Green Grass rocks. Yes, I am an out and proud Welshie.

3. It is the perfect hangover cure. Tried and tested last weekend, when I was feeling rather 'fragile', so much so that at one stage I turned to A and exclaimed:

'Oh A, please switch that light off, it is too bright and hurting my eyes'

To which A, with infinite patience, explained:

'That 'light' to which you refer my darling, is actually the sun. I'm afraid it isn't possible to switch the sun off'.

Welsh rarebit


Piadina bread (see notes below)
200g mature Welsh Chedder, grated
1 tbsp flour
1 knob of Welsh butter
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
120ml milk

1. Put the milk and butter in a saucepan and heat gently. Pop the bread into the toaster
2. When the milk has heated through and the butter has melted, add the flour and whisk slowly until the mixture thickens. You may need to add a little more flour if the mixture isn't thickening, or a little extra milk if the mixture resembles too much of a thick paste
3. Add the cheese and carry on stirring until the cheese has melted
4. Add the mustard, worcestershire sauce and a sprinkling of pepper. Once mixed through, take the pan off the heat
5. Spread the rarebit over the toasted bread and pop under a medium grill for a few minutes to melt until the rarebit turns golden in colour (observing carefully so you don't burn your masterpiece)

Baker's notes...

  • You can replace half the milk with the same quantity of an ale or cider 
  • Yes, you can wear sunglasses when cooking to prevent eyesore from the sun/light
  • The Piadina bread I used forms this month's Fresh from the Oven bread blogging challenge, hosted by Alex of Dear Love Blog. Alex, inspired by a trip to Milan, created this Italian flatbread recipe, for which a whole manner of different fillings can be used. The recipe:


500g Plain flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp Finely ground sea salt
100ml Olive oil or 100g Lard
200ml Warm water

1. Pop the flour, bicarb, salt and olive oil/lard into a large bowl
2. Using your fingers to stir, slowly add the water, as the dough begins to come together
3. Tip out the contents of the bowl onto a work surface and knead for up to ten minutes until the dough becomes elastic, shiny and soft
4. Divide into equal sized balls and cover loosely with some oiled cling film. Allow to rest for 30 minutes
5. Heat a non stick cast iron skillet over a high heat for 5 minutes
6.  Meanwhile, on a well floured surface flatten each ball & roll out into a disc 2-3 mm thick and prick all over with a fork
7.  Place a disc of dough, one at a time, flat in the centre of the pan & press down gently
8.  Cook for 2 mins or until the dough is crisp, then flip & repeat on the other side

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Cake Disaster Management: Strawberry Tiramisu Cake

They say genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.

Baking Strawberry Tiramisu Cake is 13% inspiration, 32% perspiration, 10% cursing inanimate objects and 45% disaster management.

I had grand intentions of making a strawberry Victoria Sponge birthday cake. 

Then adversity struck. One extremely dodgy oven later, and I had two very, very flat sponges. I had a choice. I could:

a) Use the flat sponges as frisbees for a spot of organised fun

b) Pop out to M & S and palm off one of their cakes as my own creations 

c) Launch a programme of 'Cake Disaster Management'* 

Option c) takes some quick thinking, the availability of plenty of cream and an air of 'no, no, it was supposed to be like this all along. Honest'.  

And so my flat-as-pancakes sponges were reincarnated as Strawberry Tiramisu Cake. 


I appreciate it may, from the photos, look only like strawberries, and an entire herd of cows worth of cream. But I promise there is cake and Other Tasty Things under there somewhere. 

Strawberry Tiramisu Cake


Flattened Victoria Sponge Cake 
A punnet of strawberries
4 tbsps of strawberry preserve 
4-5 tbsps strawberry liqour (optional)
225g mascarpone 
120ml double cream
4 tbsps strawberry coulis 

1. Cut up the sponge cake to fit the entire bottom of the dish
2. Gently pour the liqour over the sponges and if you've the time, set aside for 30 minutes for the alcohol to soak nicely through the sponge
3. Meanwhile, wash, hull and chop the strawberries in half. Whip the cream in a separate bowl and fold in the mascarpone until thoroughly combined
4. Returning to the sponges, gently spread the preserve over the sponge, add almost all of the strawberries on top (saving some aside for decoration)
5. Gently pour over the cream mixture and decorate with the remaining strawberries
6. Set aside in the fridge for up to 12 hours
7. When ready to serve, portion the tiramisu and add a light covering of coulis on to the plates for an added strawberry hit

Baker's notes...
  • If you are far more successful at making victoria sponge cakes than I am, and you don't have flattened sponges lying around willy-nilly, shop bought sponge fingers work just as well, as would crushed amaretti biscuits
  • Cointreau would work a treat in place of the strawberry liqour 
  • This post has been entered into Fabulicious Food's Simple and In Season blog event
  • Please make me feel better: tell me your baking disasters...

Thursday, 21 July 2011

French Baking Month: le Grande Finale: Magnifique Tarte Tatin


Or should I say Au Revoir?

For this recipe is la finale recipe from (the slightly interrupted) French Baking Month.

And for la grande finale there was only ever one recipe in contention.

A more French dessert can not possibly exist. Its the foodie equivalent of Nicolas Sarkozy, the Eiffel Tower, Asterix, Le Bonne Maman and Amelie stuck in a lift all together. 

It is if course, le Tarte Tatin 

Can I tell you a story about it?

(I'll take the silence as a resounding yes).

Legend has it that le Tarte Tain was created by two spinsters, who, having sadly never experienced the romance, affection or love of a man, poured all their passion into creating this sensuous and gratifying dish.

And who said romance was dead?

In any case, I too lust after this tarte.

As for the recipe, well, there is only one chef capable of a recipe that has such expectation and responsibility heaped upon it. 

If HRH Saint Delia is the Priestess of British cooking, this man is the Sovereign King of French cuisine.

Not only does he hold two michelin stars at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, he is a best selling cook book author and (my favourite bit) his greatest inspiration is the formidable Maman Blanc. 

It is, of course, Raymond Blanc.

Maman Blanc and the Honourable Raymond made their version just like this.

I've made it word for word, ingredient for ingredient. Who am I to tinker with perfection?

Tarte Tatin
(Raymond Blanc) 


200g puff pastry (rolled to a thickness of 3mm/⅛in, cut very slightly larger than the diameter of the tarte tin, pricked with a fork and frozen)
8 large dessert apples
50g unsalted butter, diced
1 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsps water

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4
2. Cut the apples in half horizontally, remove the cores and slice off the rounded tops and bottoms of the apples  
3. Put the water in the bottom of a saucepan and sprinkle over the sugar. Let it sit for two minutes to allow the water to absorb the sugar
4. On a medium heat, cook the syrup until it turns to a pale blonde caramel (do not let it become too dark or the flavour will overpower the apples), then stir in the diced butter. Pour into the tarte dish to firm 
5. Arrange the apples, middles uppermost, around the edge of the tin and then fill in the centre with the remaining apples. It is important to pack them as tightly as possible – press them down with your hands as you go
6. Place the tin on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes
7. Remove from the oven and place the disc of pastry on the top. Tuck the edges of the pastry into the dish and prick a few holes with a sharp knife to let the steam out as the dish cooks.
8. Return to the oven for a further 40-45 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown
9. Allow to cool at room temperature for one hour before turning out of the tin and serving warm. 

Baker's notes...
  • I kinda ran out of apples. As you may have deduced, apples are a key element of this dish. Hence why my Tarte looks a little flat
  • While over in France I bought myself a genuine-Made-in-France tarte tatin dish, to add even more French-ness to the recipe. And also because I like shopping for kitchen items
  • Serve with some cream, creme fraiche or ice cream 
  • Bon appetit!

Hope you've enjoyed French Baking Month on Kate's Cakes and Bakes, Au Revoir! 

Monday, 18 July 2011

Dorset Cereals Little Blog of the Month!


I have some exciting news.

Nope, I haven't discovered a calorie free cake.

And no, I wasn't one half of the lucky Scottish couple who won £160m on the EuroMillions that I'm about to share with you all.

I'm not the new face of Sainsbury's either, now that Jamie is off to spread the Oliver gospel.

(I've now set this news up to be very disappointing haven't I?)

The exciting news is...

Kate's Cakes and Bakes has won the 
Dorset Cereals Little Blog of the Month Award!!

I'm well excited!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

It means an awful, awful lot. 

(I'll spare you my tear stained, gaping satin pink dressed acceptance speech, honed over years of practicing with a hairbrush in the bathroom mirror and inspired, of course, by Oscar winner Gwyneth). 

These were the lovely prizes: a whole bunch of yummy Dorset Cereals, an eggcup and the infamous Dorset egg cosy. Brilliant.

I'm off to celebrate with a boiled egg and some Dor-licious* muesli!

The award. This is better than, and therefore replacing, my degree certificate.  

 Muesli galore!

* Most definitely not an Oscar worthy joke 

We Should Cocoa: White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Apricot compote

Panna cotta is really a grown-up person's jelly. A sophisticated, smooth and sumptuous jelly, I grant you.

Except , regretfully, you never get to see panna cottas in novelty jelly moulds. Unless I've led a very sheltered life and simply never seen a panna cotta in the shape of a racing car or pig.

Cue nostalgic reminiscing of quivering blancmange and wobbling jellies devoured at many a childhood birthday party. For me, the rabbit jelly was definately a highlight amongst the salmon paste sandwiches, cheese 'n pineapples on a stick and Wagon Wheels. Heck, our red rabbit jelly even came on its own green jellied grass. I know. Nothing short of brilliant.

However, as tempted as I was to set this panna cotta in a spaceship mould, I resisted.

I've never made panna cotta before. After all, the M&S version rocks. Beset with apprehension, I felt it was high time I lost my panna-cotta-virginity and

 ... mine rocks too!

I was so happy with the result I did a little dance around the room while singing 'my panna cotta rocks! my panna cotta rocks!'.


I know, I do need to get out more.

I think I was just very, very surprised it was a success. Anyways, this panna cotta forms my entry for this month's We Should Cocoa, the most-brilliant chocolate-based blogging challenge, this month hosted by Chele from the Chocolate Teapot. The challenge? To create a chocolate based recipe with apricots.

White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Apricot compote

(to make two panna cottas)

250ml double cream
75ml whole fat milk
75g white chocolate
1 dessertspoon of caster sugar
3 gelatine leaves

Four apricots, stones removed and chopped
1 dessertspoon of caster sugar

1. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for five minutes (or follow the instructions on the packet) and chop the chocolate into small pieces
2. Pop the cream and milk into a saucepan and heat gently until just about to simmer
3. Add the sugar and chocolate, lower the heat and stir until all the ingredients are melted together
4. Drain any excess water from the geletine leaves, add to the creamy mixture and stir until dissolved
5. Allow to completely cool
6. When cooled, strain and pour carefully into your ramekins or moulds
7. Refridgerate for at least six hours, longer if possible
8. To make the compote, put the apricots, sugar and 50ml water into a small saucepan and heat gently, until the apricots are soft
9. Remove from the heat, place with the set panna cotta and enjoy!

Baker's notes...

  • I made these panna cottas in silicone cupcake moulds, a cracking idea as this meant they could easily be loosened and removed from the mould to be placed on the plate
  • Otherwise mini pudding basins, moulds, or ramekins would work: to remove the panna cotta, dip the basin into hot (boiled) water for three seconds, place the plate over the top of the basin and invert, gently shaking the basin to remove the panna cotta. This may involve a few re-dippings in the water. Careful not to scorch your fingers though
  • I set my panna cottas for just short of 24 hours in the fridge. One great thing about this dessert is that it can be made in advance: perfect dinner party dessert, no?
  • A raspberry, strawberry or mixed berry coulis or compote would taste deee-lish
  • Right, I'm off to make more: guess who is having panna cottas every night for pudding at the moment?

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Random Recipes: Grilled Honey Peaches

In the vast depths of an industrial baking kitchen, we hereby open The Crown  Food Court Case of:

Katescakesandbakes v Random Recipes

Katescakesandbakes is called to the stand to take the oath:

"I swear by Delia Smith that I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

The presiding Judge requests katescakesandbakes to please proceed with the evidence.

'Yes, your Honour.

When Dom from Belleau Kitchen requested we choose this month's Random Recipe from our favourite cookbook, I thought long and hard your Honour. I had sleepless nights, your Honour. Eventually, your Honour I selected Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food.

I adore this book your Honour. The recipes don't require hours of intense labour or acres of washing up. It provides inspiration after long days at work, on days when I don't feel like cooking and on days when I need to eat, fast.

However, your Honour, I feel I ought to disqualify myself from this month's challenge for cheating and choosing such a simple recipe: Grilled peaches.

Although in my defence, your Honour:

Firstly, the random recipe generator (my thumb, Your Honour) should take full responsibility for the recipe chosen.

Secondly, Your Honour, it really is a bloomin tasty recipe.... Would you like to try some?'

There is an interlude in proceedings while Honourable Judge Nigella samples the Peaches.

Several hours later, once Honourable Judge Nigella has returned from sampling second helpings at midnight, katescakesandbakes continues.

'And if I may finish with calling to the stand my first witness your Honour, Elizabeth David, who succintly once said:

''The sweet course presents no problem in the summer..there is nothing more delicious than fruit'

I'm finished your Honour'

Proceedings conclude.

The jury's out. Guilty or Not Guilty?

Grilled Peaches
(from Nigel Slater, Real Fast Food)

2 tbsps honey
juice of half a lemon
2 ripe peaches
2 tsps butter

1. Mix the honey and lemon juice in a small bowl
2. Preheat the grill to a medium heat
3. Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones
4. Dot a little of the butter on top of each peach
5. Brush the halved peaches with the honey and lemon and place under the grill for 5-8 minutes

Baker's notes...

  • The peaches are ready when they are golden in colour and the honey turns all bubbly
  • These are delicious with dollop of creme fraiche or yogurt
  • It may just be the best ever way to eat peaches

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Dreams and Cakes

When not singing about dancing queens, money or a chap named Fernando, Abba once sang about having a dream.

Vanessa Kimbell, author of the brilliant 'Prepped' blogged about having a dream.

Vanessa may have sung about it too, we'll just have to ask her.

The great thing is, Vanessa achieved her dream: to write a recipe book in twelve months. This book, Prepped, has received rave reviews and is a lovely, lovely cookbook. Vanessa also has her own radio show and writes for her local newspaper. In all this, Vanessa has become a real, true-life inspiration to me and lots of other food bloggers out there.

A recent post on Vanessa's blog asked us for our dreams.

My dreams?

1. To be able to eat these all day, everyday, without my dentist getting mad at me:

Double chocolate and homeycomb cookies (recipe coming up soon)

2. Blogging wise? To entertain, provide a bit of baking-sunshine and a lot of cake

3. I'd also love for this little blog to grow big. And when the blog does grow up there are lots of exciting things I hope it will lead to.

4. There is of course all the personal dream stuff. Buy me a large glass of gin and I may just tell you them

5. I also get a weird reoccuring dream at night about dinosaurs and foxes. But I don't think that's what Vanessa wants to know about.

French Baking Month: Cherry Crumble Cake

There is really only one French drink that katescakesandbakes feels is suitable to accompany this month of French baking.

It is, of course, Champagne.

The drink of (possibly, my history is a bit vague) Kings. And also perfect to celebrate today's Bastille Day: Viva le France!

Who can resist the popping of the champagne cork and a sparkly, fizzy glass that, if it could speak, would surely yell: 'Drink me! I mean you must be celebrating! Which surely must be a good thing! Whoop whoop!'

And yes, it is true, after a few glasses, there is a greater chance your champagne will indeed speak to you.

I've no doubt Madame Bollinger had the drinking of Champagne down to a fine art, as this illustrious quote demonstrates:

'I asked Madame Lily Bollinger, head of the Champagne house, who is London to declare her 1955 vintage, how she enjoyed her own product. Madame Bollinger replied thus:

''I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it- unless I'm thirsty'''

Daily Mail, 17th October 1961.

This quote was framed in the downstairs loo (almost always home of great framed quotes in any household) of the lovely farmhouse we stayed at in France. 

To celebrate Bastille Day here's a delicious recipe for Cherry crumble cake which we enjoyed on holiday

Cherry Crumble Cake
(Good Food Magazine, June 2003)

140g self-raising flour
Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
50g caster sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp milk
85g melted butter
350g ripe cherries

For the crumble topping:
Quarter a tsp ground cinnamon
25g caster sugar
25g butter, diced

1. Preheat the oven to fan 160C/180c/Gas Mark 4
2. Sift the flour, spice and sugar into a bowl
3. Make a well in the centre and add the egg, milk and butter, combining with a whisk or spoon
4. Beat to a thick, smooth mixture and spread into a greased and lines 20cm tin
5. Scatter the stoned cherries over the top of the mixture
6. To make the topping, tip the ingredients into a bowl and rub the butter in to make a crumbly like mixture, which will come together in small pieces
7. Scatter over the top of the cherries
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean
9. Leave on a wire rack to cool completely before tucking in

Baker's notes...
  • This is a great cake to show off this season's cherries
  • Icing sugar can be used to dust if you like
  • Please don't think I drink Champagne in Madame Bollinger style quantities. I drink orange squash in Madame Bollinger style quantities
  • Happy Bastille Day!

Monday, 11 July 2011

French Baking Month: Lemon Tart

Eating al fresco. Is it just me or does food taste just so much better eaten outdoors?

Wholesome, jolly, Enid Blyton 'Famous Five' style picnics spring to mind. Even though this is the only time  'lashings of boiled eggs' have ever sounded truly appealing . They know what they doing though. A case in point: the hearty two dozen macaroons devoured by the gang in 'Five on Finniston Farm', an amount Dick correctly (if slightly greedily) proclaims to be 'just about right'*.

Informal, relaxed, impromptu BBQs. That irresistible aroma of sizzling (burnt) sausages, grilling (burnt) kebabs and browning (burnt) burgers. Especially when that aroma is coming from next door's garden. You end up regretting borrowing their leaf blower for most of last winter as you settle down to your (indoor) microwavable ready meal convincing yourself that this time last year you'd have definitely got an invite.

Sand filled, foil wrapped, sarnies scoffed on the beach before the important business of sand  castle  fortress building resumes. The consolation ice cream (a Twister, always) after the heartless waves wash away a whole afternoon's work. I don't think I ever learnt the correct distance between building the castles fortresses near enough to the sea to ensure my extensive moat network was sufficiently watered and far enough away to prevent the entire complex being drowned by the end of the day.

Of course there are significant challenges to eating outside in Britain. Grass stains, wasps, logistics, comfort, toilets and not forgetting the rather temperamental British summer weather. But, never let such impediments put you off: you're outside, in the fresh air, with (I hope) a good bunch of people, in the summer time with a  selection of delicious food that is supposed to taste better outside, therefore everyone is going to HAVE FUN

Today's French Baking Month recipe is a Lemon Tart. And yes, we ate it outside. And yes, it tasted better. Honest.

Lemon Tart
(by Raymond Blanc. The French King of Chefs)


For the pastry:
120g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
75g icing sugar
3 egg yolks
250g plain flour
2 tbsps water

For the lemon filling:
5 medium eggs
150g caster sugar
85ml lemon juice
2 tbsps lemon zest, grated
150ml double cream

1. Dice the butter and in a bowl mix together the butter and icing sugar until you achieve a cream
2. Beat in two of the egg yolks, add the flour and rub the mixture together until you get a lovely crumbly texture
3. Gradually add the water until the pastry comes together to form a ball
4. Then knead the pastry to blend it on a lightly floured work surface- but don't over knead. Raymondo suggests a maximum of 30 seconds kneading
5. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes
6. To make the filling: using a whisk, mix together the eggs, sugar, juice and zest of the lemon
7. Whisk in the cream and place in the fridge
8. Remove the pastry from the fridge and evenly roll it out on a floured work surface to approximately 3mm thick 
9. Using your rolling pin to help the transfer, roll the pastry into a 24cm loose bottomed tart tin and gently tuck it in to the tin, being careful not to poke any holes or stretch the pastry
10. Use the rolling pin to cut off an excess pastry by rolling the pin across the top of the tin
11. Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork and refrigerate for thirty minutes
12. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3
13. Line the pastry case with aluminium foil and fill with dried beans, and bake for ten minutes
14. Remove the foil and beans, then return the tart to the oven and bake for a further twenty minutes
15. Brush the pastry with the remaining egg yolk and return to the oven for one minute to create a seal and to prevent soggy pastry
16. Turn down the oven to 140C/275F/Gas Mark 1
17. Remove the lemon filling from the fridge and warm it gently in a small saucepan. Avoid scrambling the filling!
18. Pour the warmed filling into the pastry case and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven when barely set
19. Leave to cool for one hour before tucking in

Baker's notes...
  • Although time consuming with quite a few stages, this is a well impressive dessert, that will sure to be a big hit. Especially after charred sausages and burgers
  • It will look extra lovely if served with a few strawberries or raspberries, a dollop of creme fraiche, all washed down with a glass of champagne
  • Eat outdoors. Tastes better.

* The one where the five solve a mystery amongst the ancient ruins of a medieval castle, aided by twins Harriet and Henry, who speak in unison and hindered by a family of wealthy, arrogant Americans. I know, I'm off the Library to pick it up too. I'll let you know what happens if you like.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

French Baking Month: Little Cherry Pies

In the Lot region of France, where we holidayed and where, inspired by all the glorious fresh produce available, I went into baking over-drive, there was a beautiful village nearby called Montcuq. The advice we were given was to pronounce the 'q', unless you wished to be saying, erm, 'my arse'. 

Asking for directions to Montcuq without pronouncing the 'q' would, I've no doubt, get you some very, very bemused looks. 

A great story about Montcuq emerged. In 2007, Hasbro, makers of 'Monopoly' amongst other board games opened a vote to decide which towns and cities would feature in a new edition of a French version of the game. Web users, realising foreign visitors may not correctly pronouce Montcuq, soon began a campaign to feature the village on the new version as a joke. 

Montcuq duly won. 

However, Hasbro overrulled the voting and Dunkerque was featured instead, causing great outrage and protest. As a result Hasbro agreed to issue a special addition of Montcuq Monopoly, which can now be bought in the town. Locals choose the street names and a local artist designed the board. 

A great story.

Today's recipe is a simple, but sweet cherry pie. This was made with some leftover pastry from another recipe. Which was handy. But here's how to make enough for 4-6, depending on the size of the ramekins you'll be using.

Cherry Pie

125g/4 oz plain flour
pinch of salt
55g/2 oz butter, cubed
30-45 tbsp cold water

6 tbsps cherry jam
Punnet of cherries, stoned

1. Put the flour and salt in a large bowl, add the cubed butter and rub the butter into the flour until you create a breadcrumb type texture.
2. Add tiny amounts of the cold water to bind the dough together
3. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes before using
4. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas Mark 4 and butter the inside of the ramekins
5. Line your ramekins with the pastry, fill with a tbsp of cherry jam and 4-6 stoned cherries
6. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the jam and cherries bubbling away

Baker's notes...
  • To serve, a dollop of creme fraiche or a pouring of cream would work a treat
  • This will also hopefully be featured on A Slice of Cherry Pie's fruity blog round-up!