Tag Archives: dessert

A Dessert Party

Myself and a delegation of students were invited to our sister college – St. John’s College Cambridge. This is the feast we were fed (excuse the port stain!).

Dessert Party at St. John's College Cambridge

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The Zingy Lemon Curd Cake

Ready to Nom Lemon Curd Cake

350g self raising flour

3 level teaspoons of baking powder (this is my trick, you really want a bouncy fluffy sponge!)

350g butter, at room temperature, unsalted

350g caster sugar

6 eggs

rind of 2 lemons

juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon (depending on how zingy you like it)

Get the sponges on, this is quick and easy. Grab a hand held whisk or a food processor and through all the above into a bowl and mix together. If you want to be fancy, sieve the flour first (but for some reason self raising flour is the poofiest thing and just flies everywhere, so I avoid that where possible). You’ll end up with a lovely consistent cake batter, which you should split equally between two 20cm cake spring form tins, lined with greaseproof paper at the bottom.

Bake for 40 minutes at 175 degrees celcius (335 degrees fahrenheit). They’ll be ready when golden brown, when a skewer comes out clean and when it bounces back on light pressing. Cool for a couple minutes and turn out on to a wire rack. Allow to cool fully.

Sponges Cooling

300g caster sugar

zest of 4 lemons

juice of 4 lemons

8 eggs

200g butter, unsalted

While the cake cooks, make the lemon curd. In one bowl (one that fits nicely over a pot of water) pop the sugar and lemon zest. In another bowl beat the eggs and add the lemon juice. Mix into the first bowl with the sugar and place the unsalted butter in little bits into the bowel. Heat the pot of water, with the bowl on top. Stir at intervals, allowing the sugar to dissolve and the butter to melt. This might take up to 30 minutes, but you’ll get a lovely thick lemon curd at the end of it. I always make more than I need. It’s the best on a slice of toast in the morning!

Wait for the curd to cool a little. Go back to your now cooled cakes.

Curd Delicious

With a wonderfully sharp knife, a steady hand and a good eye – cut each cake horizontally into two, to double the layers of the cake. Place the bottom layer on a cake stand or plate and spoon a big dollop, around a cup of the curd in the middle of the bottom layer. Spread outwards, add the second layer and add curd again. Repeat with the third layer. Finally, add the top layer, ensuring that the gold brown side of the cake is on top.

Dollop that curd

Half way there with the layringFinished layering

With the juice of half a lemon and 50-100g of icing sugar (go for a consistency you like, we like a thin runny icing on the top), make your icing and pour into the middle of the top layer of the cake. Smooth outwards trying to cover everything. With the rind of 1-2 lemons decorate the top. For the occasion I used some lime zest too!

Extra Curd Saved for Breakfast

Slice and serve. Moist, tangy, sweet, nommy. (Is moist even allowed to be used anymore? Totally un-food related.)

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Absolutely Nutty Not-Just-Pecan Pie

Nommy Nutty Mix

This is absolutely delicious. It genuinely very quick to make. Took the filling from Nigella, but did not like the dough she used, so I whipped up a batch a la Delia Smith – the Quick Flaky Pastry (we basically use this as a standard in pastry in our house).

So whip up a batch of that by grating 110g butter (which I pop into the freezer before hand) into 175g of plain flour. Once grated use a metal spoon to stir all the grated butter into the flour, ensuring all little bits are covered. Then add a small amount of cold water and using your hands, but minimising your touching of the dough, bind it together. Adding a little more cold water if needed. Once its a consistent ball of pastry, wrap in cling film and through it in the fridge for at least 30-45mins.

Take the pastry out and roll it to 5mm thick to fill a 25cm flan dish. Press it into the sides and cut off excess pastry, but leaving a little above the rim. Pop the flan dish into the freezer (I had to find space for it, but managed) for 20 minutes, while you make the filling. (Pop it in the fridge if you can’t fit it in a freezer).

To get the filling together; start with a pot or saucepan and let 200g of light brown sugar, 150g unsalted butter and 4 large tablespoons of golden syrup (I only use Lyle’s Golden Syrup, but I believe corn syrup, maple syrup or molasses could do the trick too). Once melted, stir together, although the butter tends to separate, don’t worry about that. Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence, stir again and pull off the heat and leave for ten minutes to cool. Whisk 3 eggs in a bowl and leave ready for after.

Golden syrup, butter, brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius (or 350 fahrenheit). In the mean time grab the flan dish from the freezer and check that its nice and cold. The freezing protects the shape of the pastry once it gets into the hot oven, so it’s important its crisp and cold.

Grab at least 350g of mixed nuts (they have to be unsalted and ideally with no additives in them). If you want feel free to use only pecans, but its handy to use all the half packs of almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans etc. I do love an odd brazil nut in here too or a cashew, so be daring. It is delicious after all. Arrange them nicely in the flan dish.

Nutty Mix Arranged in Frozen Pastry Flan Case

Pop back over to the now slightly cooled filling mix and with your whisk, mix in the beaten eggs, until its a lovely thick caramel-like nom.

Syrupy Mix and Eggs Ready to Go

Pour gently over the nuts into the pastry case. Pop into the now heated oven for at least 40 minutes or until the the filling has set.

Pre Baked Nom

Let it cool a little. Serve with a dash of lightly whipped cream.

Post Baked Nom - The Not-Just-Pecan Pie

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A Mixed Berry Pie

Somehow, you always end up with some kind of fruit just about to turn, nobody wants to eat it and you need to find something to make out of it. I whipped up a simple batch of Delia’s Quick Flaky Pastry and popped it in the fridge to cool.

I grabbed about 4 old apples, 250g of blueberries and 125g of blackberries from the fridge and heated them up in a saucepan with a tablespoon of brown demerara sugar (it really doesn’t need the sugar, but its nice to caramelize it all a little). Although the mixture to cool a little.

I then popped in 300g of raspberries and just gently stirred them in. I prefer not to cook the raspberries as they are so delicate they just turn into seedy mush (I worry less about the black and blue berries). Its nice to stumble across a whole raspberry!

Line a flan dish with the pastry, rolled to about 5mm thick, stab some little holes in the bottom to let some air out and blind bake it for 10 minutes.Fill the pastry case with the fruit filling.

Practicing the Weaving

I had a little pastry spare to make a weave for the top. Brush the weave with milk and sprinkle a little sugar on it too.

Mastering the Weaving

Bang into a preheated oven (180 degrees celcius, 350 fahrenheit) and leave for 30 minutes or so, until the edges of the pastry are golden brown!

Ready to Bake Berry Pie

Serve hot, with some cream or custard.

Ready to Nom Berry Pie

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Watermelon and Mint Sorbet – A Blast of Fresh Zing

It’s summer time and mom decided to buy the biggest watermelon I’ve ever seen. The family made an attempt to eat through it but just couldn’t, so we had a lot of spare watermelon in the fridge – it would have been a shame to let it go to waste. So I decided to learn something new and make sorbet. Its a bit of a funny one to make, because there is just nothing worse than a really icy sorbet that doesn’t roll well in the mouth, so I was a little worried.

I made four times what I have in the recipe, because I was working with a huge amount of watermelon, but I’ve left it at the normal amounts here and feel free to just adapt based on what you have available to you.

375mL water

250g sugar

600g-800g watermelon

4 leaves of mint

100mL lemon juice

Watermelon ready to go!

First job is to de-seed the watermelon, which is a pain, but necessary.

De-seed the WatermelonChunks of Watermelon

Then blend the chunks of watermelon in a food processor.

Blend the Watermelon

Drain watermelon through sieve lined with muslin cloth

Grab a sieve and line the sieve with a muslin cloth. Filter off any missed seeds and pulp left over from the fruit. You end up with a deep red juice. Nom.

Get sugar, lemon juice and water and heat until sugar is dissolved. I added a couple of mint leaves tied in a muslin bag to give some extra flavour. When sugar is dissolved, remove bag of mint and leave to cool.

Syrup of Lemon Juice, Sugar and Water

Mint Leaves wrapped in a muslin cloth bag

Once syrup is cooled, mix in the watermelon juice.

Chilled, Mixed and ready to be frozen!

Place in an ice cream machine and use according to standard guidelines for your machine. We have one of the basic Gaggia ones.

Pop in Ice Cream Machine until smooth and frozen

Store in air tight tupperware container and serve however you see fit!

Voila! Finished watermelon sorbet!

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The German Cherry Strudel Cake – Kirschstreusel Kuchen

This is the gf’s favourite dessert nom. It’s delicious and fruity and it’s a wonderful centre piece for a dinner party! Here we made double, but I have given the ingredients for ONE cake. It should serve anything from 10-16 people depending on how you cut it!

120g caster sugar

200g unsalted butter

1 egg

350g plain flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1-2 bottles of sour cherries (I like sour ones, but get morello or whatever ones you like! I also substituted with blueberries, as I had some I needed to use!)

Firstly get the pastry made by sifting the flour and baking powder in to a bowl. Add softened butter, egg and sugar and mix thoroughly using a hand held mixer. If the pastry is still sticky add a little extra flour until it firms up.

Dough ready

Let the pastry rest in the fridge for 10-20 minutes.  (The picture above is two lots!)
De-stoned cherries

If you can, buy bottled pitted cherries – I bought ones that still had the stone in them and spent some time de-stoning them!

pastry/dough case

Roll out dough and spread over a 23-26cm tin, making sure to build a good solid wall up the side, this will hold the fruit and the juice mixture in place later – on reflection the wall I made here was a little thick.

gelatine cherry juice

Pop the cherry juice, left over from the bottled cherries into a pot and dissolve 1 sachet of gelatine (18-25g of powdered gelatine or one leaf of gealtine). The gelatine isn’t meant to make a jelly, but rather provide structure to the cake and prevent the strudel from collapsing in on the fruit! Heat fruit juice plus gelatine until boiling and then remove from heat, make sure to stir continuously!

Berries and CherriesFruit is evenly spread across the cake case.

Filling the case

Pour the gelatine-cherry juice mixture over the fruit evenly, making sure to fill all the gaps!

Then get the Streusel going by grabbing the remaining dough left over from making the case and pop it back in to another bowl. Add four tablespoons of flour to this, because it needs to be extra crumbly! [Germans at this point would normally add a little sachet of Vanillazucker, from Dr. Oetker or some other similar baking company] I add half a teaspoon of vanilla essence and a dessert spoon of icing sugar.  Crumble this mixture between your fingers until its like fine breadcrumbs, but still sticking in small clumps in places.

Drizzle over the juice covered fruit in the cases. There should be enough to not leave any gaps!

The streusel starts!

The streusel-ing continues

Bake in the preheated oven (175 Degrees celcius) for 50-60 minutes.
Baked to Perfection

Cut a slice and serve.

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Bread and Butter Pudding

This is one of those desserts that can be awful heavy and clunky and creamy – somehow with an Australian recipe (that has long since disappeared to my dismay, and remains only in my head) I have managed to perfect a lovely light B&B pudding – that could even rival Gordan Ramsey’s pain-au-chocolat-B&B-pudding (which btw is awfully delish!).   Anyway, instead of a cake for his birthday my brother only wanted bread and butter pudding, in the middle of May too – weird eh? So here it is: Enjoy!

We made two to feed a party of 12 and there was none left over, so just work with what you have and how many you’re cooking for.

2 Bought Brioche loafs, cut into slices. (I bought them I know, bold but easier)

A handful of raisins, or sultanas (whichever you prefer)

Vanilla essence/paste, or seeds from a pod

teaspoon of cinnamon and a bit of nutmeg if you want to go wild

800ml of milk (650ml milk and 150ml double cream if you’re feeling naughty)

3 eggs and 3 extra egg yolks (keep the egg whites for a meringue)

Pop the milk (and cream if you want to use it) into a pot, with vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and heat, until hot but not boiling.

Meanwhile, slice the brioche and layer it into pyrex or baking dishes, throwing a load of raisins/sultanas among the slices as you go. [If you want to be really really naughty, forget the raisins and throw in some cadbury’s chocolate buttons or something equally nom].

In a separate bowl whisk up the 6 whole eggs  with a whisk. Remove the spiced milk from the heat and add slowly to the eggs, whisking continuously to prevent them from scrambling. Pour the milky mixture into the bread, making sure to soak the brioche well and to have a good few cm or an inch of liquid at the bottom of the dish.

Sprinkle the top of the pudding with a cinnamon, cocoa, sugar mixture.

Place the bread and butter pudding into the oven, you can pop a tray with water in at the bottom of the oven, but it works well without too. When cooked for 10-15 minutes (possibly more depending on how many layers you got in your dish) in a preheated oven at 200 degrees celcius – the top of the pudding will be crispy and crunchy, the middle layer will be cooked, and the milk will have been soaked up by the bread and the raisins.

Serve with icecream if needed, cold the next morning if there’s any left, or as it is.

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