Tarty Seville Orange Tart

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My Brother’s birthday is at the end of January and mine is at the beginning. As a rule two things happen in between: if we are going to have snow, that’s when it will arrive and it duly has and my parents (yes that’s right both of them) make their annual supply of marmalade.

Currently I am not involved in this operation although at some point fairly soon I am going to have to acquire the Knowledge in that traditional hand me down sense. My better half has managed to end up on the distribution list and so will be looking to me to pick up the mantle eventually as he gets through his stock, more or less single-handed, long before the annual boiling comes round again. I have to say I haven’t even attempted to make the stuff at all, despite being a dab hand at jam, but the presence of Seville oranges in farm shops and occasionally in supermarkets does leave me feeling a little left out.

I need a distraction; Nigella makes the most delicious Seville Orange ice-cream, see :Nigella.com/No Churn bitter Orange Ice-cream, for some reason I cannot link this today, I think it’s absolutely wonderful being a bit of a tarty fan.

I have come up with a tart however as lemon tart is a favourite of mine and this I suspect would be a first cousin after all…

The recipe is basically Mary Berry’s but as the generic tart seem to be essentially the same list of ingredients whose-ever you make and as I have altered the prime ingredient I shall claim this as my own to some degree.

You will need:

For the sweet short crust pastry: 110g cold Butter, diced, 200g Plain Flour, 2 tbsp Icing Sugar, 1 Egg Yolk, cold Water

Just whizz the flour and the butter in a food processor until you have fine breadcrumb consistency, stir in the icing sugar and add the egg yolk and drizzle in enough cold water to form a ball of dough by whizzing again. You can always rub in by hand and then mix in the egg yolk and water by hand with a knife instead. Once you have a ball of dough, lightly roll out and line a greased 8 or 9″ loose bottomed tart tin and trim. Pop the pastry case in the fridge for 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes in the freezer, meanwhile….

For the filling you will need: 2 large Eggs, 90g Caster Sugar, 150g Ground Almonds, 85ml of whipping or double Cream, 2 Seville Oranges, zest and juice.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and beat together well.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C, once the pastry is chilled, remove from the freezer, add greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake blind for 10 minutes followed by 5 minutes without the paper and beans. Pour in the filling and bake again for 30-35 minutes. If you only have an 8″ tart tin there will be left overs, individual tarts (like jam tarts) can be made with a muffin tin.

Optionally you can make a glazed topping, you will need: 1 Seville Orange, 150g Caster Sugar, 135ml water.

In a frying pan, add the water and the sugar and gently heat to dissolve the sugar and then allow to boil for 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile slice the oranges thinly, discarding the pips, and then add them to the syrup and boil gently for another 5 minutes. If you have time transfer the whole lot to a bowl and allow the slices to soak for an hour or two.

Once the tart has cooled a little, arrange the orange slices and pour on the syrup, you may need to heat up the syrup to allow it to pour. Otherwise if you don’t fancy the glazed topping just sprinkle with icing sugar. Yummy.

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Sour Cherry and Velvety Chocolate Loaf Cake

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Light as a feather and velvety smooth with a delicious tang in the aftertaste, this is wonderful.

I have made it my New Year’s resolution to think up more cake recipes. I have found in the past that I have shied away from actually developing my cake ideas as the precise nature of baking demands skills in construction I felt I was lacking in.

Are there rules with these things?

Once you get past a basic sponge (a foolproof method is supplied here), it does seem from recipe books that there are no hard and fast rules for success. Unpicking the secrets however seems easier with American style recipes so I have started with an offering borrowing some ideas and ingredients from across the pond.

I had an urge to buy buttermilk and a packet of sour cherries this week, now that the supermarket shelves are clear of the festive staples, without any real plans. Consequently the kids ended up with blueberry buttermilk pancakes this morning, and once the buttermilk pot was open this cake idea followed swiftly on behind. It has gone down very well. It tastes great, warm or cold and all the cherries have not sunk to the bottom!

You will need: one large loaf tin the base of which should measure around 19/20cm x 8/9cm and around 6cm deep.

Ingredients: 190g Unsalted Butter, softened, 190g Caster Sugar, 3 large Eggs, 150g Plain Flour, 50g Cocoa Powder, 1 tsp Baking Powder, pinch of Salt, 125ml Buttermilk, 75g (1 packet) Sour Cherries (dried), 1 tbsp Kahlua (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C/Fan 150°C, grease and line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Just screw it up into a ball and smooth it out again and then line the tin with it, nothing too precise.
  • Pop the sour cherries in a bowl and steep in the Kahlua, if using, otherwise cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using something like a kitchen aid or hand-held mixer.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, slowly, and beating well between each addition.
  • In a separate bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and then sift gradually into the egg mixture folding carefully as you go. The mixture might seem a little dry but never fear as you are about to fold in the buttermilk followed by the sour cherries and their residual liquor if using.
  • Dollop carefully into the loaf tin and push gently into the corners then bake in the oven for about an hour. Check after 50 minutes or so and you can turn the oven up 10°C if you wish at that point. Anyway a cake tester should come out clean.
  • Leave to cool in the tin initially on a cooling rack and remove from the tin and greaseproof paper once just slightly warm.

You can eat this warm or cold, with or without cream, yoghurt, custard etc. The moist interior means it works just fine on its own. However a little piece of luxurious eating at this abstemious time.

The American influence would be the buttermilk and dried fruit in a sponge recipe, a combination I adore, but hasn’t really caught on here …… yet.

Festive Couscous Salad to Ease You into Your New Year’s Resolutions….

IMG_0568Well here we are on the eve of New Year’s Eve and any minute now those New Year’s Resolutions to eat less, drink less, shop less etc etc will kick in. I am always a fan of easy does it in this regard as going cold turkey usually ends in failure even before the hangover has actually cleared.

We had this a few days ago as a bit of a palate clearer after the Christmas meatathon, enjoyable as always, but as we don’t eat a lot of meat in the normal course of a week, a little bit of something fishy, spicy and herby was fancied.

I am quite into the hot and cold salad together approach and this is just one of several I like to make. The warm prawn component rarely changes but the cold salad underneath is designed out of whatever is lurking in the cupboards and fridge. This one has a distinct Yotam Ottolenghi feel to it. Hardly surprising really…..

You will need (for 2) for the couscous salad:  120g Giant Couscous (or the regular stuff) cooked according to the packet instructions, so boiled in water for 10 minutes for the giant and steeped in boiling water for 5 – 10 minutes for the regular stuff, then we are into a pinch of this and that territory, so some Pumpkin Seeds, some Poppy Seeds and some Pine Nuts, all toasted, some Cucumber, cubed, some Cherry Tomatoes, halved, some Olives, some Sultanas or Dried Blueberries, 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a squeeze of Lemon Juice from ½ a Lemon, 2 tbsp each of chopped fresh Mint and Flat Leaf Parsley, a pinch of Salt and some Black Pepper

Combine everything once the couscous and seeds are cool. Stir around and drizzle the oil and lemon juice over. Add the seasoning to taste. Of course other things like avocados, red pepper, dried apricots could be added too. Leave to sit and infuse whilst you cook the prawns.

For the warm Prawn Salad (serves 2): a 250g packet of Frozen Raw King Prawns, defrosted, 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped, a pinch of Dried Chilli Flakes, juice of ½ a Lemon, a splash of White Wine (optional), 2 tbsp of Fresh Coriander, chopped, a tbsp of Olive Oil, Salt and Black Pepper.

Into a medium-sized frying pan over a moderate heat add the oil, garlic and chilli, stir round for a minute or two and then add the prawns, wine, lemon juice and season a little, stir fry for 5 minutes or so until the prawns have thoroughly turned pink and the liquid has reduced a little, add half the fresh coriander, stir round and then, having plated out the couscous salad, divide the prawns and their juices between the two plates. Garnish with the remainder of the coriander.

This is fantastic after all the rich food that is knocking around at this time. One feels extremely virtuous.

A very happy and peaceful New Year to all, thanks to all who follow, comment and read and see you in 2013 I hope! x

Pineapple and Clementine Warm Fruit Salad

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This dessert sums up Christmas Eve to me.

When I was a child we often assembled, after the trip to Church on Christmas Day, round at some good friends for drinks. This drinks party dragged on for hours and as a result my parents weren’t particularly in the right frame of mind, by the time we returned home, to start fiddling about with Christmas lunch. Consequently, we would have our turkey and trimmings on Christmas Eve for dinner and then have cold meat, delicious leftovers and salad etc. on Christmas Day followed by traditional Christmas pudding which was truly appreciated as we weren’t too stuffed. Dessert on Christmas Eve, after the turkey, would therefore be this warm fruit salad…..

This is delicious and a fantastic antidote to all the rich food. It tastes great with Christmas pudding if you have room, on its own, with mince pies, leftovers cold for breakfast….. the options go on and on.

You will need: 1 Pineapple, 6/8 Clementines, 3 tbsp light brown sugar, 25g unsalted butter, 1 tsp ground Ginger mixed with the sugar OR 1 tsp grated fresh Ginger OR 2 or 3 pieces of stem Ginger in syrup, finely sliced, a splash of White Rum (optional).

IMG_0572The trickiest part to this is digging out the pineapple chunks. So, with a large sharp knife cut down through the top leaves and the body of the pineapple so that you have two boaty halves. With the knife at a slant, cut a v shape section lengthways out of the middle to remove the woody core. Then cut a grid pattern lengthways and widthways almost through to the skin but not quite and with a spoon dig out the chunks you have created. You should then have a pile of chunks and 2 holders, essentially the skin and leaves of the pineapple. Reserve the holders to load the completed salad back into.

Peel the clementines and try to remove as much pith as possible. Find a large frying pan and over a low to moderate heat, melt the butter until foaming, add the pineapple, clementines, sugar and ginger and gently stir around until it is warmed through (5 minutes or so). Add the rum if using, you can flambé the fruit if you wish and then, having popped the pineapple holders in a suitable serving dish, load in all the fruit and juices.

Christmas in a pineapple cup… I hope you have a good one. x

Sorry about the picture, once we actually make this, I will update!

Easy Peasy Decoration for a Christmas Cake

Easy Peasy Decoration for a Christmas Cake

So easy it’s unbelievable. All you need are a couple of different sizes of star cutter and a bit of glitter. Cut out stars, let them dry out, stack, holding them together using a little egg white. Sprinkle glitter over the top and finish off the cake either with ribbon or thinly rolled out sugarpaste stars.

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Mini Mincemeat Tarts

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Just before we get into mincemeat tarts, here is the result of the Decorate your own Christmas cake Workshop held last Friday. I had an intermediate group, so that’s students with some prior modelling/decorating experience. A Christmas wreath with sparkle -y roses and a festive robin.

Here are some of the gorgeous cakes produced by the students and the demonstration in progress…. As you can see there is always a unique element to each cake even if we are essentially producing the same thing.

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This design is fairly easy to achieve, sugarpaste can be bought from specialist cake shops in a variety of colours or purchased online and with the addition of a little Tylo powder, a food thickener, modelling paste can be produced. This is much easier to use when cutting out foliage such as holly and ivy as the paste is stiffer. Foliage plunge cutters are widely available.

Robins are very easy to produce: again using modelling paste form an egg shape and fashion a head and a tail. Add a red breast from a disc of red paste, eyes and  a beak and wings. Claws from black or brown complete the design. A robin would also look very good on a chocolate log.

IMG_0518So on with the mincemeat tarts. I am including a recipe for this as they are a Christmas staple, unfortunately widely overlooked as a culinary delight and easily relegated to shop bought status. However with a little bit of forethought, care and attention can provide a delicious dessert all on their own with a little cream or ice-cream and easy peasy to produce at a stressful time.

Firstly acquire some really good mincemeat (making your own is a bridge too far). Farm shops are very good for this or the best quality you can afford in the supermarket. The second trick is to have a go at making your own pastry. I know I know, the perceived wisdom is that making your own pastry is a waste of time but trust me, if you have food processor it takes seconds, and you get a MUCH better result. It also behaves itself a lot better too (much less shrinkage).

So the sweet shortcrust recipe: the one I use is Rachel Allen’s, but as these things are really a bit of a standard thing I’ll include the details here.

You will need for 6 tartlets: 110g cold butter, diced, 200g plain flour, 1 tbsp icing sugar, 1 egg yolk plus 1 egg beaten for glazing.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C. Grease your mini tart tins (loose bottomed for preference) with butter, pop the diced butter, sugar and flour in the food processor and whizz until you have coarse bread crumbs, add at least half the egg yolk and whizz again until it has more or less come together, then remove from the bowl to your work top and add a little more yolk if necessary and with a light touch bring together to form a smooth ball. Wrap in cling film and fridge for 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll the pastry between two pieces of cling film to a thickness of 3mm or so and using a large pastry cutter (size will depend on tart tin size) cut out at least 4 discs and press into the tart tins. Repeat the rolling out process with the remainder of the pastry to produce the last two discs giving you six in total. Freeze the pastry lined tins for 15 minutes. Then bake blind for 10-15 minutes, remove from the oven, brush with a little left over beaten egg yolk or beaten egg if necessary and return to the oven for 2 minutes max. From any remaining pastry cut out stars, brush with beaten egg and bake, on a greased baking sheet, for 5-10 minutes with the pastry cases until lightly browned.

These can then be held in this state for as long as you like, or frozen…..

When you are more or less ready to eat them, dollop 4 or 5 heaped tsps of mincemeat in each tart tin, top with a star and bake at the same temperature as before for 10 minutes or so. We are trying to get the suet in the mincemeat melted but not overcook the mincemeat so that it becomes browned and chewy. If they are frozen defrost them before you start.

Once out of the oven remove from the tins and sprinkle copious amounts of icing sugar over. Delicious.

I’m going to give my favourite Christmas dessert recipe in a few days, a warm fruit salad, perfect after a rich meal….see you then

Perfectly Iced Christmas Cakes

It’s getting busy here at Cutest Cakes HQ, funnily enough, not with Christmas Cakes primarily. However today has been individual iced Christmas cakes all the way.

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Some of these are my own designs, well most of them are, actually, but the sleeping polar bear is adapted from a Mich Turner design. Mich runs The Little Venice Cake Company and is a food hero of mine. It was watching her on some TV programme that got me into icing individual cakes in the first place.

Now icing cakes is one of those secrets, a bit like what it’s really like to give birth, that is rarely revealed. The question I am asked the most in this business is how I get the icing on the cake so smooth in the first place. I even run annual courses in this as it seems friends and clients will pay good money to be taught this technique.

As far as royally iced cakes go, find a recipe, Delia or Mary are good here, but add about 1 teaspoon of glycerine (sold by Silverspoon, amongst others, in supermarkets). The glycerine softens the dried royal icing, so that when it is cut into, it doesn’t shatter everywhere. One can achieve a smooth finish with royal icing but unless your name is Eddie Spence (royally iced wedding cakes for Royalty are his speciality) or you were taught this skill in domestic science about 50 years ago, I wouldn’t design a cake with this in mind.

Sugarpaste on the other hand is a total delight to work with and achieving a smooth finish requires 2 or 3 simple steps and some practice. Sugarpaste was in fact developed in Australia as royal icing doesn’t always set in potentially such a hot climate. It wasn’t introduced into the UK until the 1970’s in the modern era although a quick search about would suggest that making sugarpaste was something that might have been going on as far back as the Eighteenth Century.

So the rules:-

1) Always level the top of the cake (i.e. cut off the dome-y top) and then invert the cake so that the bottom becomes the top. Professional cake makers will get out spirit levels and the like to ensure the new top is flat, but this is probably unnecessary unless you are planning to charge for the cake or stack more that one layer.

2) Use plenty of sugarpaste and do not roll out too thinly. The rolled out icing should be 5-6 mm minimum thickness and you will need to allow 1 kg for a 6 ” cake and 1.5 kg for an 8″ cake. Knead the sugar paste so that it is warm and pliable before attempting to roll it out. Left overs will keep for months if not years.

3) Keep the paste moving. As you roll out use plenty of icing sugar, turn the paste very regularly and ensure that the paste does not become stuck to the work surface at any stage. Before attempting to cover the cake check the icing is still loose.

4) To help achieve a professional finish, coat with an undercoat of marzipan, a thinner undercoat layer of sugarpaste or a smooth coating of buttercream. Cakes should be brushed with cooled, boiled sieved apricot jam before under coating with marzipan or sugarpaste.

5) Brush the undercoat with brandy or cooled boiled water before applying the top coat. (For buttercream and sugarpaste coatings you won’t need apricot jam or the brandy, just ensure the buttercream is smoothly applied just before you roll out the sugarpaste. Work fairly quickly or the buttercream dries out and the sugarpaste will not stick)

6) Apply the top coat to the cake by picking it up with hands and forearms to make the transfer NOT draping it over a rolling-pin. Carefully smooth the paste starting with the top of the cake and working down the sides, if folds and pleat start to form, pull the paste out and smooth flat against the cake, if it is thick enough the paste will literally mould to the cake with a little coaxing and pressing. Then:

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These are the secret to success, they cost less than a fiver and just allow you to smooth out any finger marks and other dings and divets, once you have the paste hugging the cake, to achieve that perfect finish.

Angled pallet knives also help with moving the cake about without leaving marks in the icing.

If you can, leave the cake for 24 hours before you decorate it.

Simple huh, it does take a bit of practice, but once you have got the hang of it, you’ll find yourself in a relatively exclusive club.

Tagine Inspired Shepherd’s Pie and Word about a Christmas Workshop

Just before we get into the nuts and bolts of a Moroccan style Shepherd’s Pie, I am going to make a little announcement:

For those who are resident in Wiltshire (realistically,) although anyone is welcome I am running my second ‘Decorate your own Christmas Cake Workshop‘ on the 14th December 2012. We won’t be tackling anything quite like this ‘Night before Christmas’ Cake just yet, but you will have something to wow your family.

It will begin at 9.45am and run through until around 3pm. Bring your own cake, un-iced, and your lunch. It will cost £25 plus the cost of the decorating ingredients, contact me via the messaging service in Facebook (see the side bar and click through).

Last year we managed this↓ (not sure why the background is so dark, perhaps it was about to snow!)

Anyway, on with the latest recipe. This is something concocted some years ago for Bonfire Night, the sweet heat seemed appropriate for such an event. I have always been a fan of Tagine, but find the soupy, stew-y nature of it a little unsatisfying in the depths of winter, so I came up with the following (serves 4):

You will need for the meat sauce:

800g Lamb Mince, 1 large Onion, 2 cloves of Garlic, crushed, Olive Oil, 2cm piece of fresh Ginger, grated, a pinch of Chilli Flakes, 2 tsp Paprika, 2 tsp Cumin, ½ Cinnamon stick or ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon, ½ Red Pepper, ½ Yellow Pepper (or a whole Pepper of one colour instead), 100g Ready to eat Apricots, roughly chopped, 1 tbsp Runny Honey, 2 tbsp Fresh Coriander or Flat Leaf Parsley Chopped, 2 tsp Tomato Puree, a slug of Red Wine (optional), Salt, Pepper.

For the Mashed Potato topping:

800g to 1kg of potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed with butter, a tiny slug of milk, salt and pepper in the usual way.

Quite an ingredients list for this! But it is well worth it. Peel the potatoes and set them on the hob to boil and then simmer in salted water as usual. Keep and eye on them as you start the meat sauce, once tender, drain, add the butter, milk and seasoning and mash. You want quite a dry mixture, not too sloppy here as the meat sauce is quite saucy!

Meanwhile, fry off the lamb in a frying pan to remove the excess fat and heat the oil in a medium saucepan and fry the onion until transparent and soft, then add the garlic and stir round for a minute or two along with the ginger and chilli flakes. Transfer the lamb with a draining spoon to the onion mixture and then add all the other sauce ingredients apart from the fresh coriander or parsley. Add around 300ml boiling water until you have a sauce type consistency. Allow the whole lot to come to the boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes whilst the potatoes are cooking. Stir the meat sauce from time to time and add a little more water as necessary so that the mixture does not dry out and towards the end of the cooking time add the fresh herbs, you want to maintain some liquid at all times.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C, decant the meat sauce into an ovenproof dish and top with the potato, spread the topping around with the back of a fork to completely cover the sauce. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the topping has crispy tinges and you can hear or see the sauce bubbling underneath…..

This one in the picture was made with part regular, part sweet potato as the topping which is very good too.

What to do with the rest of the bag of Dill once you have made Nigella’s Sicilian Pasta: Cannellini Bean and Dill Stew

Sorry the title isn’t snappier but I felt like I needed an explanation in using dill at this time of year. As I have said before, to me dill conjures up Greek islands, lemons, salads with couscous and the like, not casseroles and crumbles and everything that goes with late Autumn.

The previous post revealed my delight with Nigellissima, the latest scrumptious series from Nigella Lawson. Here at Cutest Cakes HQ we have been having a bit of an Italian week ourselves what with one meal and another and the Sicilian Pasta featured, pieced together from the recipe bites on the iPlayer. It’s intensely fishy, with smoked mackerel the principle component and dill also featuring heavily. What shall I do with the rest of the packet? I think I have the answer and here it is:

So apart from the asparagus, which does give away the fact that I took this picture in the Summer, this is quite a hearty dish and can benefit from the addition of some premium sausages, either on the side or chop up into. It is also super speedy, taking no longer than the time to cook sausages should you be having some.

You will need (for 4):

1 can of Cannellini Beans in water, drained, 1 jar of Passata (or a tin and a half of chopped Tomatoes), 1 Onion, chopped, a little chopped Celery Leaves (optional), as much Dill as you can stand or what you have left over, chopped, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper, grilled Sausages if you wish.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and cook the onion over a medium heat until soft and transparent, add the celery leaves if using, stir round for another minute, and then add the passata or tins of tomatoes if using them instead…..

I was given a very good tip regarding the difference between using tins of tomatoes or passata, which is passata will cook very quickly really only requiring a warm through and doesn’t require a period of cooking down and the excess liquid evaporating away, tins of tomatoes do require this lengthier simmer and benefit from a ½ teaspoon of sugar due to the bitterness of the seeds.

…….so depending on the state of your tomatoes proceed as discussed and add the drained beans and dill and allowing the whole lot to cook down for 5-10 minutes minimum. Season and if you are using passata you may need to add a little water from the kettle to prevent from drying out.

You can add the chopped sausages (if using) at the point of serving and serve with crusty bread, pasta, asparagus…. whatever takes your fancy.

Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean Feast has replaced Nigella for now. It is a visual wonder and I shall post a recipe inspired by his foray into Morocco next week.

Autumnal Crumble and other Berrilicious Delights

So our gorgeous new puppy, Kenya, has been the catalyst for a serious increase in countryside walks and spin-off benefits include a freezer-full of blackberries. There is also a lot more mud to deal with, particularly as it has been so wet, but  I suppose there has to be some sort of cost to foraging….

I shall start with a plum and blackberry crumble, which was inspired by Nigella Lawson’s new series Nigellissima, to which I have been glued, naturally, but Amaretti biscuits are only just available in some supermarkets, so I have come up with a store cupboard alternative.

Autumnal Crumble (serves 6)

You will need for the fruit base: 2 punnets of Plums, (these are currently on offer in Sainsburys, the firm round variety), a punnet of Blackberries or 150g or so, 3 tbsp Marsala Wine, 2 tbsp of soft brown sugar.

You will need for the crumble: 150g Plain or Self Raising Flour, 75g Butter, fridge cold, 75g Rolled Oats, 75g Brown Sugar, 75g Chopped Hazelnuts or Chopped Almonds, pretoasted or not is fine.

So I expect this hardly needs directions but here we go:

  • Wash the plums, halve, remove the stone and halve again, pop in a saucepan with the Marsala, sugar and 3 tbsp of water.
  • Cook over a gentle heat until the plums are tender and the sugar dissolved, about 5 – 10 minutes. You want to retain some bite to the fruit.
  • Pop these in an ovenproof dish minus the liquid and add the blackberries and mix in.
  • To make the crumble topping, rub the butter into the flour either by hand or using a mixer until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs and then stir in all the other ingredients.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C
  • Just before you wish to cook your crumble sprinkle the topping over the fruit and then bake for around 30 minutes until any juice is bubbling and the topping is browned.
  • The cooking liquor from the plums can be reduced over a moderate heat to create a delicious syrup.

Another favourite round here, Orange Berry Salad (serves 4)

You will need: 4 or 5 Oranges, thin-skinned for preference, 4 tbsp of Maple Syrup, 2 tbsp of Orange juice, a large handful or more of Blackberries and a sprinkling of Toasted Flaked Almonds, (you can buy toasted flaked almonds or toast your own, but they toast quickly so don’t leave them to their own devices for a second).

  • Peel the oranges with a sharp knife so that you remove the pith too, and slice to give wheel-like slices.
  • Arrange on a shallow serving dish of appropriate size.
  • In a small saucepan heat together the syrup and orange juice, and pour over the oranges.
  • Scatter over some blackberries and chill.
  • Just before serving sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds

Goes well with cake or tarts like frangipan, something slightly dry on its own.

If you do not have maple syrup, you can make a sugar syrup with 50g of sugar and 50ml of water, heat gently in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves and allow to boil gently for 2 minutes. To flavour, add a little honey or brandy! Cool a little and pour over the oranges.

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