Hazelnut, Pear & Sticky Toffee Tart

So along with the apple picking and autumnal weather, it also seems to be pear season. I’m not the biggest fan of pears, especially cooked pears. I’m also not the biggest fan of nuts. Or dates for that matter.

Want to know the weird thing? I absolutely LOVED this tart.

Like, seriously, seriously, loved it.

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The soft, crumbly pastry was so sweet and tasty. The warm, moist pears were to die for. And the actual filling was just on another level; the flavours and texture were simply incredible. I will most definitely be baking this one again.

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Don’t even get me started on the toffee sauce. I have my own standard recipe that I use, and it’s always been simple and yummy. Yet the double cream in this recipe completely transforms it.

I love love love sticky toffee pudding (recipe can be found here) and it’s definitely a classic. But if you want something slightly different, a pastry pudding full of flavour and texture, this one’s your man. Or woman. Can a tart have a gender?! (gosh this is taking me back to Uni days and writing my dissertation on gender difference)

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So…. Go bake this…. Now…. Seriously…. Can you tell I’m now passionate about pears, nuts and dates?!

Good ol’ Paul Hollywood, thanks for this one!

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Hazelnut, Pear & Sticky Toffee Tart (serves 8)

                      For the pastry:                     

200g plain flour

2 tbsp icing sugar

100g unsalted butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp lemon juice

2 tbsp very cold water

For the filling:

150g stoned dates, roughly chopped

150ml milk

3 ripe pears

50g unsalted butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

50g ground almonds

2 eggs

100g light muscovado sugar

2 tbsp black treacle

75g shelled cobnuts or hazelnuts, roughly chopped

For the toffee sauce:

200g light muscovado sugar

50g unsalted butter

250ml double cream

  1. To make the pastry: mix the flour and icing sugar together in a bowl. Add the diced butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs
  2. Mix the egg with the lemon juice and water. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mix. Using one hand, work the liquid into the flour to bring the pastry together. If it seems too dry, add a splash more water. When the dough begins to stick together, gently knead it into a ball. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes
  3. For the filling: put the chopped dates and milk in a pan. Bring to the boil, and then set aside for 30 minutes to soak
  4. To make the toffee sauce: heat the sugar, butter and cream together in a pan over a low heat until melted and smooth, then bring to a simmer and let bubble for 5 minutes to thicken. Leave to cool
  5. Heat your oven to 180°C and have ready a 25cm loose-based fluted tart tin
  6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use it to line the tart tin. Prick the base with a fork. Peel, quarter and core the pears; slice each quarter in two. Arrange in a circular pattern in the tart case. Drizzle over about 3/4 of the toffee sauce and place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the filling
  7. Mash the date mixture to a coarse purée with a potato masher. Tip it into a bowl with the softened butter, vanilla, flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground almonds, eggs, sugar and treacle. Whisk together with an electric whisk until just combined. Stir in the chopped nuts
  8. Spoon the date and nut mixture over the pears in the pastry case, spreading it out evenly. Bake the tart on the hot baking tray for 40 minutes, until the filling is well risen and browned. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before removing from the tin
  9. Serve the tart warm, with clotted cream or ice cream and the rest of the toffee sauce.
  10. ENJOY!
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Pork, Apple & Cider Pie

It’s been apple picking season for us this past week or so. We’ve got delicious Reverend W Wilks and Worcester Pearmains. They smell so lovely and sweet, fresh off the trees. There’s nothing quite like waking up early, the air is starting to get a little crisp, the field is misty and the apples are ready to cook with.

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Watch out for more apple related posts!

A few dinners ago I decided on a pork, apple and cider pie; autumn is upon us! Shoulder is particularly tasty, and with the apple and cider, this pie is so so so simple yet so flavoursome. It’s sweet homely aromas filled the kitchen, the mash and greens complementing the pie perfectly.

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 The cider pastry recipe is particularly scrummy, and might just have made it into my favourite pastry bakes.

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And what’s better than using your own apples in a yummy pie for dinner hey?!

ENJOY! 🙂

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Pork, Apple & Cider Pie (serves 4)

For the cider pastry:

1 egg, beaten

125ml dry cider

125ml olive oil

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

375g plain flour

1 egg, to glaze

For the filling: 

1 tbsp

1 sweet onion

2 celery sticks, de-stringed and chopped

500g pork shoulder

2 tbsp plain flour

175ml dry cider

1 cooking apple (about 150g) peeled, cored and sliced

2 eating apples (about 250g) peeled, cored and sliced

4 sage leaves

Salt and pepper to season

  1. To make the pastry: beat the egg in a large bowl with the cider, olive oil, baking powder and salt. Slowly mix in the flour until you have a soft dough (you may not need all the flour) Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to cool in the fridge for around 45 minutes
  2. To make the filling: Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for around 5 minutes, until soft. Remove the vegetables from the pan
  3. Add a little more oil and increase the heat to medium-high. Brown the pork well on all sides. Turn the heat down a little and return the vegetables to the pan. Sprinkle the flour over the ingredients and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the cider and stock, stirring so the flour is absorbed. Add the apples and sage. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat, simmering for around 45 minutes, until the pork is tender. Taste the sauce and season to taste
  4. Heat your oven to 200 degrees and position a pie funnel in the middle of your pie dish
  5. Spoon the filling into the dish. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry and lift the pasty sheet over the pie, pressing down the edges to seal (I usually find sticking strips of pastry around the rim helps keep the sheet in place). Crimp the edges and decorate with pastry leaves and berries
  6. Brush the lid with a beaten egg and bake for around 35 minutes, until golden and crisp
  7. Serve with mash and greens 🙂

Quintessentially British Buttermilk Scones

Everyone seems to rave about using buttermilk in scones. I regularly bake scones; plain, fruity, sweet, savory, and so on. They are quintessentially British, and nothing seems better than a cream tea (check out my classic recipe here). When you become a regular scone baker (it’s not that hard – you’ll get addicted) you suddenly transform into a scone freak; I’m talking getting the perfect amount of raising agent, right amount of golden colouring, perfect combination of light yet somehow thick, creamy texture, with a sweet but not overwhelming flavour.
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But very rarely do I use buttermilk to achieve this. Mainly because I like my favourite recipes, so why branch out and use another, when I know I can rely on my trusty, classic, traditional, simple, sturdy, good ol’ scone recipe..? (here it is if you haven’t already found it 😉 )
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I branched out. I did it. I went there. I was pleasantly surprised – these were super moist and super thick. Very different to my classic recipe, and I’m still not sure I prefer using buttermilk, I suppose it depends on preference (using buttermilk gives them a bit of a twang – a good twang – and also a rich density which doesn’t suit everyone).
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Of course I added strawberries at a last attempt to claim summer before it leaves us here in England. Not quite as fresh as in June/July, but still pretty scrummy! Especially with my homemade jam – Plum this time – new obsession along with the doughnut panJAM MAKING! Recipes (for the jams) are still being put together and tweaked, each batch seems to turn out slightly more runny or slightly more solid than the last, I’m slowly (very slowly) learning the art!
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Enjoy ❤
P.S. I can’t believe it’s September tomorrow…. where did the summer go?!
Buttermilk Scones (makes around 15)
450g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
75g unsalted butter, cubed
75g caster sugar
100g sultanas/raspberries/strawberries etc
2 eggs, beaten
1x 200ml buttermilk (or 200ml milk & 1tbsp lemon juice)
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and lightly grease your baking trays
2. Mix the flour and baking powder, then rub (using your fingertips) the butter in, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
3. Stir in the sugar and any fruit you wish to add. Mix the eggs and buttermilk together in a jug and pour into the breadcrumb mixture (saving a little for later)
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, lightly kneading for 1 minute until it gathers together
5. Roll and pat out, cutting as many rounds as possible from the first rolling (I used a 2 inch cutter) Keep rolling out until you have used up all the dough
6. Brush the tops of the scones with the reserved egg and bake for around 10 minutes or until golden
7. Remove and cool on a wire rack – serve with clotted cream and jam, with a cup of Yorkshire tea!

Summer, Life, Honey & Jam

This post has been a long time coming, and I felt that it was necessary to FINALLY post it, as summer seems to finally be leaving us (here in England anyway!). So here are some of my special moments…..
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This summer has been one of my favourites. It’s been the hardest certainly, searching for jobs, working to earn little money with part time work to cover the summer and so on. But it has been a simple summer. I haven’t been able to afford much, but I feel as though I’ve done more than I’ve ever done before.
I’ve spent quality time with family and friends. I’ve walked Wilfy three times a day, breathing in the fresh country air and enjoying the wildlife around me. This summer I started to take in my surroundings, I mean properly stop, look, listen, smell (maybe not taste everything!) but truly take in what is around me. The plants, trees, flowers, animals and patterns of the weather. I haven’t turned ferrel or anything, as much as my boyfriend Gavin wants to camp out in our field and document everything that passes us by, but I’ve enjoyed the peace and simplicity of life in the countryside.
I’m lucky enough to live in a quiet village (on the border of Wales/England), where everything is green and kind of smells like manure all the time! I’ve enjoyed endless bike rides, picking homegrown fruit and veg, extracting honey from our bees and more.
Harvesting the honey was probably one of my favourite moments…. Here are a few pictures documenting the process and adventure (to anyone who keeps bees or knows anything about them, I won’t pretend to explain half of what goes into this – but here’s the dummie link with a basic overview, if anyone is interested!)
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My dad, not looking too pleased getting his photograph taken, and of course Wilfy trying to get in on the action!
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Dad didn’t have much time on his hands this year, hence the dishevelled look of the frame – however the honey never tasted better!
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It’s tricky work taking pictures with sticky fingers!
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We got 12 jars altogether 🙂
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For my lovely nephew George…
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We love the dark colouring and our thoughts are that it could be from the local hawthorn or clover that the bees absolutely love in our field, thus producing a rich colouring.   
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Making jam from our homegrown fruit was also a great moment. I’d never made jam before and don’t think I will ever stop making it now – it’s sooooooooooo easy! We had some lovely blackcurrants to use, creating a delicious dark and rich flavoured jam.
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This slowly turned into Blackcurrant, Strawberry & Raspberry jam, Plum jam and then Greengage jam! Each a little more runny or solid than the last, each with slightly more bits than the last, different shades of pinky purply reds, but ALL tasting simply AMAZING. *I will post the recipes for these in the next two weeks so watch out!*
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We even enjoyed some tasty peas somewhere along the way (around mid July, early August). These were lovely with some white fish and a creamy white sauce.
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So, saying goodbye to summer, I am now enjoying a lovely two week stay in Madeira. However a little part of me is looking forward to the autumn. Getting my woolly tights and boots out, and embarking on a long list of warming food; hearty broths, sweet pies, stews and scrummy treats (as always!).
Enjoy ❤

When Life Gives You Lemons – Grab Tequila & Salt – Or Loads Of Eggs & Make a Tart

I’ve never made a tart before…. *shock*gasp*horror*

I know…. I think I’ve kinda been putting it off, cause I don’t really like them, and I know they can be tricky little creatures, or big creatures for that matter. I’ve always made jam tarts, very tiny, very easy, jam tarts, literally just with a blob of jam in the middle, no work involved really.

However a rare moment happened a few weeks ago. My Grandad and Dad came into the kitchen, placed a magazine in front of me, with a recipe for a lemon tart spread across two pages. My eyes immediately went to the corner where there was an alternative salted caramel chocolate tart…. Now that was my cup of tea!

But, alas, after much dispute, it was decided I was to make this tart, not for me, not with chocolate, and not with great happiness, but for Grandad and Dad.

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It was actually really simple to make, I just needed SO MANY EGGS! Apart from the slight horror of using up almost all of the eggs in my cupboard, I warmed to the idea of a challenge and something new. That’s what bakers do right?!

After lots of prep and waiting for things to cool and carefully swaying a tray full of tart into the oven (boy was that a challenge) I actually kinda maybe potentially made a pretty sweet pie tart thingy.

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I don’t really like lemon (much prefer orange), but it wasn’t too bad at all. The pastry could have been better, but I suppose that comes with experience, as well as the right amount of mixing and whisking with the filling. In fact I’m sure there are nicer and more fancy recipes out there for lemon tarts, but I liked the simplicity of this one (if I remember correctly, I believe it was a French recipe) and thought it was pretty good for innocent tart beginners like myself. Obviously I will be making a chocolate-y one soon enough….

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But I wanted to share, as my Grandad and Dad thoroughly enjoyed it, as did I with the rustic appearance (I like imperfect things!).

Hope you enjoy and have a fabulous weekend ❤

Rustic Lemon Tart (serves around 6-8)

For the sweet pastry:

120g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

75g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting

2 egg yolks

250g plain flour

2 tbsp water

For the lemon filling:

5 eggs

150g caster sugar

85ml lemon juice, around 3 lemons

2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest

150ml double cream

  1. To make the pastry: In a large bowl, cream the butter and icing sugar together, then beat in 2 of the egg yolks. Add the flour and rub the mixture with your fingers, creating a breadcrumb texture. Add the water (if you need it) and form a ball with the mixture. Knead the pastry on a lightly floured surface (try not to overwork the pastry otherwise it will be too hard – I knead for around 1 minute). Wrap in cling film and chill for around 30-60 minutes
  2. Making the lemon cream: In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and cream. Sieve and then add the zest. Place in the fridge to cool
  3. Take out the pastry and roll out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a circle, around 3mm thick. Here comes the tricky part! Roll the pastry over the rolling pin and unroll it over a (I used 24cm) loose-bottom tart tin. Gently tuck into the bottom edges of the tin so it fits nice and tightly. Cut off any excess (I wasn’t too bothered about a neat tart – hence the adjective rustic!). If you have any particularly loose or thin parts, use the excess pastry and press gently into rough areas to create a nice snug fit. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes
  4. Cooking the pastry: Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Now line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans, pushing them against the side. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and lift out both greaseproof paper and beans. Return the pastry to the oven and bake for a further 15-20 minutes
  5. Cooking the lemon cream: Turn the oven down to 150°C/ 275°F/Gas Mark 1. Pour the lemon mixture into your pastry base and carefully place it into the oven (CAREFULLY!). Bake for around 35-40 minutes, until just set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 30 minutes, then dredge icing sugar around the edge of the tart. Remove the tart from the tin and place on a serving plate. Enjoy!

This Bread Thing Is Really Fun…

It was late in the day, Mom had made an Irish Stew the day before so we were all set for dinner, we were just waiting on Dad to arrive back after visiting Grandad.

The weather has started to finally brighten up (thank goodness – although it won’t last for long no doubt) sooooo on a sunny evening, what other thought might cross one’s mind, other than to go bake some bread to dip in the brewing stew?!

I decided on a French Stick today (i.e. classic French bread)…. I don’t know whether everyone calls this type of loaf a French Stick, or if it’s just me?!

It’s crusty exterior and fluffy interior creates a magnificent bread and it’s one of my favourites, however it was actually my first time in making such a loaf. I thought it would be difficult, but it couldn’t have been easier.

It took me about 15 minutes to throw all the ingredients together and knead, 1 hour to prove, 5 minutes to shape, 40 minutes to prove again, and after around 20 minutes in the oven, you are left with a perfect loaf to dip in your stew.

The combination of plain flour and strong bread flour creates a texture more reminiscent of true french bread, and the steam created in the oven from the water you place on the bottom, gives the bread it’s perfect crisp crust.

Ideally it should be eaten on the same day, but if you can’t manage this, just pop it in the oven to warm up a little (it will only really last for around 2 days after baking)

Enjoy 🙂

French Bread (makes two large loaves)

350g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

115g plain flour

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp fast action dried yeast

300ml hand-hot water

  1. Combine the flours, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add the water and mix to a soft dough
  2. Turn out on to an unfloured surface and knead for around 10 minutes, until smooth
  3. Cover and prove in a greased bowl until doubled in size (this took around 1 hour, in a warm place)
  4. Grease and flour two baking trays
  5. Divide the dough into two. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangular shape. Roll up tightly from the long edge, pinching the seams together. Place diagonally on your baking tray (seam side down) and make deep diagonal cuts along the dough.
  6. Prove until doubled in size again (this took around 40 minutes)
  7. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and place a large shallow dish on the bottom of the oven and fill this with boiling water (be very careful when doing this!)
  8. Dust the tops of the dough with a little flour and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes (when you tap the bottom of the bread it should sound hollow)

  

                          

REPOST: Shepherd or Cottage?

Another week, another cottage pie – here’s the old post with refreshed photos 🙂 

This was the first ever ‘proper’ dish I made. I was 15 and it blew my mind. It opened up the world of cooking ‘proper’ food, as oppose to baking all those ‘fluffy’ cake recipes.It was pretty easy and I liked the taste of my own cooking. I was proud of myself!

Problem is I never quite knew whether I was making a shepherds or cottage pie… I like to use mince beef, and add peas… what does this mean?! Here’s what the internet tells me:

“the difference between the two is cottage pie is mince because the cottage is on the farm with the cows and shepherd’s pie is made with lamb because shepherds look after the sheep and lambs” 

I LOVE this description! I’ve clearly been making cottage pie this whole time and not even realised… in my little book with all my top secret recipes in, I’d written shepherds pie… big mistake!

So after years of confusion, here’s my new cottage pie recipe:

Shepherds (oops I mean Cottage) Pie (serves 5)

1 tbsp sunflower oil

500g beef mince

1 onion, chooped ( I usually use 1 leek when I’m cooking for my boyfriend – it gives a much milder taste)

5 carrots, chopped

2 tbsp tomato puree

Splash of Worcestershire sauce

500ml beef stock

2 tsp mixed herbs

100g frozen peas

2 tbsp plain flour

Salt and pepper

900g potatoes, chopped

40g butter

3 tbsp milk

Black pepper

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan then soften the onion/leek and carrots for 5 minutes.
  2. Crumble in the mince and cook until browned. Then drain any excess fat away
  3. Add the stock, stirring gently for 2 minutes
  4. Add the tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce, cooking for a further 5 minutes
  5. Meanwhile take the flour and carefully add water, making a thick paste
  6. Take a spoonful of the mixture and add to the flour paste, stirring quickly
  7. Then add this back into the saucepan and thoroughly stir, making sure the sauce is starting to thicken.
  8. Add the frozen peas, mixed herbs and season to taste
  9. Cover and simmer for 15-20 mins minutes
  10. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  11. To make the mash, boil the potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes until soft. Drain then mash with the butter and milk. Add a pinch of black pepper
  12. Place the mince mixture into an ovenproof dish and top with the mash, ruffling the top with a fork (add grated cheese if desired)
  13. Bake for a further 20 minutes, until the top has browned

  

  
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