Sunday, 11 September 2016

Apple and Almond Cakes

Apple and almond cakes

My fruit trees are groaning with the weight of the apples and pears this year. Not only are there lots of them, they all seem bigger and better than ever before. And it's not as though I've lavished them with any special attention. The trees have been largely ignored as per usual. Whatever it is, I'm not complaining, I'm just thinking of all the delicious things I can make with them...

This recipe is based on my trusted apple cake recipe but with added almonds and a sticky glaze which gives them extra flavour. It also adds a beautiful shine to an otherwise quite plain-looking cake. Not that I mind plain-looking cakes; indeed, they are usually my favourite kind because it means that they are delicious enough on their own without having to add flavour and moisture with icings and fillings. Much like these...

I'm sending these to Treat Petite hosted alternately by Stuart from Cakeyboi  and Kat (this month's host) from the Baking Explorer.

RECIPE - makes 11

100g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
2 large eggs
125g self-raising flour
2 apples, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
50g flaked almonds

1 heaped tablespoon apricot jam

12-bun muffin tin lined with 11 cupcake or muffin papers

 Pre-heat the oven to 200°C

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Sieve the flour and cinnamon and fold in, then add the apples and stir well to combine. 

Spoon the mixture in to the cases, filling each case as equally as possible. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top, trying to distribute them as evenly as possible.

Put in the oven and bake for about 20-25 mins or until the cakes are cooked and golden brown on top. They take slightly longer to cook than normal fairy cakes because of the addition of moist apple. 

Remove from the oven. Take the cakes out of the tin as soon as possible and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Warm the apricot jam with a splash of water. When the cakes are cool, brush the jam over so that it forms a lovely shiny glaze. 

Apple and almond cakes

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Monmouth Pudding

Monmouth Pudding

This year's St. David's day recipe is Monmouth Pudding. It's an old-fashioned kind of dessert, popular in Victorian times and similar to the English Queen of Puddings. This Welsh incarnation doesn't however have a meringue topping although a lot of the recipes you see for it do include the extra layer. 

Looking at the list of ingredients you might be fooled into thinking it's stodgy and heavy but it's really not. It's light, fruity and just sweet enough. You can serve it either with cream or, my preference, a fresh raspberry sauce to really enhance the fruit flavour. Monmouth pudding is at its best about 10 minutes after it's come out of the oven, still warm but not scaldingly hot. 

Traditionally, this pudding was one of those thrifty type of recipes that used up stale bread, milk and fruit from the garden to make something so much more than the sum of its parts. My version is not quite so austere; I've used cream and brioche crumbs to give an updated, more luxurious taste. I hope my Welsh ancestors would approve.

Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus.

RECIPE - serves 4-6

225 ml milk
200 ml double cream
25g caster sugar
grated zest of one lemon
175g brioche crumbs
2 eggs
200g jam (strawberry, raspberry or any other kind)

You can make this as one large pudding or 6 individual ones, as in the photo.

For the large one, you need a 23x20cm ovenproof dish, buttered. For the individual ones, 6 buttered ramekins. 

Pre-heat oven to 150°C.

Pour the milk and cream into a pan, add the sugar and lemon zest and heat gently until just boiling. Remove from the heat, pour over the brioche crumbs and leave the mixture to cool for 15 mins. 

When cooled, separate the eggs, stirring the yolks into the crumb mixture.

Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks then gently fold them into the crumb mixture with a metal spoon.

Heat the jam until it's runny, then drizzle half over the bottom of the prepared dish.

Spoon half the crumb mixture on top. 

Repeat the jam and crumb layers, making sure that the final layer of brioche mixture is level.

Bake in the oven for about 30-40 mins until the top is golden. The pudding should be set but still with a slight wobble.

Leave for about 10 minutes before serving. 

Pwdin Mynwy