Blog challenge recipe #9: traditional English pudding

Every country has its own varieties of sweet treats and tasty desserts but baked (and on occasion, steamed) puddings are a particularly English specialty: roly-poly pudding, Christmas pudding, bread and butter pudding, bread pudding, Bakewell pudding…

The English flag

I was recently browsing The Guardian website for new recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall — I’ve introduced you to him before in my posts A cookbook review and a recipe too, Blog challenge #5: nettle soup and Beetroot and walnut hummus. He is a frequent contributor to their website and I enjoy cooking many of his recipes.

Anyhow, I digress… while I was browsing, I found this: a barley and berry pudding recipe. Since the recipe is a simple and traditionally English baked pudding, I thought it would be perfect for my blog challenge recipe number nine. And on Sunday, I made it for dessert. The verdict: delicious!

A slice of barley and berry pudding

I made a few changes to the recipe, however:

1. I used brown sugar, not granulated.
2. Also, I drastically reduced the amount of sugar from 1 cup (200 grams) to slightly less than half a cup (75 grams) because I really don’t think the pudding needs that amount of sugar. It would have been too sweet for me if I had used 1 cup of sugar.
3. I added 2 tbsp honey to the batter.
4. I cooked the pearl barley for a lot longer than the recipe states: at least 1 hour. The barley was still slightly firm even after I had cooked it for an hour. I recommend you follow the cooking instructions on the pack.

I tried eating it both warm and cold but it definitely needs to be served warm. I recommend serving with yogurt or cream.

By the way, the recipe does use UK measures so if you don’t have a digital scale, you’ll need to use a measurement converter — this one at Gourmet Sleuth is helpful. But don’t worry if your measurements aren’t exact; I often adjust quantities of ingredients and most all of my cooking is successful!

Blog challenge recipe #7: Valencia orange cake

It has been way too long since my last Blog Challenge post. Here is numéro siete. This time, I chose a recipe from Spain.

National flag of Spain

Spanish food is amazing and I love tapas dishes but I don’t have much experience with Spanish desserts. So, this past weekend, I did a little research and discovered that orange cake is a popular Spanish treat. And because orange cake sounds so delicious, I baked one using the recipe below. The cake is delicious, full of flavor, with a very rich taste. Here it is!

A slice of Valencia orange cake

Thank you very much to Erica at Comfy Belly for giving me permission to reproduce the recipe text here. I recommend checking out her site (linked above)! I found it when I was searching for an orange cake recipe and will definitely be returning frequently for culinary inspiration and healthy new recipes.

Valencia Orange Cake
(recipe source here)

Ingredients

2 organic Valencia oranges
4 eggs
1 cup of honey
2 cups of blanched almond flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Method

1. Place two whole organic Valencia oranges in a pot with enough water to cover them. Add a tightly sealed lid. The oranges will float, but they should be mostly covered. Simmer them in the pot for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When you can easily glide a toothpick or fork through them, they are ready. You can add water to them while they are cooking, if necessary.
2. Cool the oranges for a few minutes, slice them into wedges and remove any pits or inedible parts (like the nub where the stem was).
3. Process the oranges until you have a smooth, orange paste without lumps.
4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. (I bake using a convection oven setting, so I place the temperature at 300 degrees F).
5. To get a slightly lighter cake, separate the egg yolks and egg whites, and then whip the egg whites separately until stiff peaks form.
6. In a bowl, beat eggs (or egg yolks if separated) until well blended, and then beat in the honey and dry ingredients (baking soda, salt, and almond flour).
7. Fold in the almond flour and orange paste into the egg and honey mixture and blend well.
8. If you whipped the egg whites separately, here is where you want to fold the egg whites into the rest of the batter.
9. Use a spring form pan or a well buttered baking pan. Butter or oil the
bottom of the spring form pan. No need to butter the sides of the
spring form pan.
10. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Make sure to bake it thoroughly, especially in the center, or it may settle when it cools. Even if it settles, it still tastes wonderful.
11. Enjoy!

Blog challenge recipe #4: Greek koulourakia

Greek flag

For my fourth blog challenge recipe, I chose to make something with an Easter theme. And I found the perfect recipe for delicious Greek koulourakia at Brownie Bites. Although you can buy koulourakia all year round from bakers in Greece they are a traditional Easter specialty too.

The only things I changed in the recipe:
1. I added more orange juice (about half a cup) than the recipe states but then I had to add more flour as the dough was too sticky.
2. I used brown sugar instead of white because I prefer baking with brown sugar and that was the only sugar in the store cupboard anyway!
3. I added approx. 1 tbsp of finely grated orange zest to the mixture.

Happy Easter!

Blog challenge recipe #1: Irish soda bread

If you read the post below this one you will know that I am working on a blog challenge: to cook or bake a recipe from each one of the countries which my blog visitors come from. Here is uimhir a haon (‘number one’ in Irish Gaelic) of my challenge recipes.

 

Soda bread

 

I used this recipe from http://www.food.com as a rough guide but I made some changes which I have given after the recipe (see below)

Irish rye soda bread (recipe below is reproduced from this source and no copyright infringement is intended)

  • 4 cups rye flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 cups milk

Directions:

  1. First, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5 (180C).
  2. Now, mix the first three ingredients, the dry stuff.
  3. Then, mix the next two ingredients into the flour mix, and stir quickly with a wooden spoon. Try not to over work the mixture – just combine it. Add more milk if it’s not working.
  4. Pop this into a lined 2lb loaf tin. Then, just before putting into the oven, throw some ice-cubes onto the bottom shelf of the oven to create a little steam. This helps make the loaf rise before the crust sets.
  5. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 45 – 50 minutes. The loaf should sound hollow when it’s tapped underneath. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then finish cooling on a rack.
My alterations:
1. Instead of using baking powder, I used cream of tartar which is one of the traditional raising agents for soda bread, along with baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). And instead of using 4 tsps of baking soda, which is too much in my opinion, I cut the measure by half, so I used 2 tsps of baking soda and 2 tsps of cream of tartar.
2. I used 6 cups of flour because I wanted to make two small loaves. If you only use 4 cups of flour as the recipe states, I would recommend you to cut the quantity of milk because even when using 6 cups of flour and 2 cups of milk, I had to add some more flour as my mixture was too gloopy.
3. I rubbed a small amount of butter (approx. 50 grams) into the flour after step 2 of the recipe.
4. I glazed the top of each loaf by brushing it with a little milk before baking but this is optional.
5. Finally, my last alteration. Instead of using a loaf tin, I divided the mixture into two pieces and baked it on a baking tray after I shaped it into round loaves. I cut a cross into the top of each loaf. According to tradition, this is to let the devil out! According to food science, it allows the bread to better expand and rise in the oven. Whether you believe the former or the latter, I think it’s always best to cross the soda bread before baking.
If you wish, you can swap the rye flour for whole-wheat flour or for white flour (or a mixture of both). That would result in a lighter bread since the rye loaf turned out fairly dense and substantial. It’s your choice!

Food: butternut squash quiche recipe

There are other butternut squash quiche recipes out there but this one is mine, all mine. And it is delicious! 🙂

Butternut squash quiche

Butternut squash Quiche

Ingredients for the short crust pastry quiche crust:

1½ cups/187 g plain all-purpose flour

½ cup/113 g margarine

Approx. 3 – 4 tablespoons cold water

Ingredients for the quiche:

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 – 3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes

4 eggs

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Oregano

Smoked paprika (optional)

Step 1: Make the shortcrust pastry. Put the flour into a bowl and add the margarine. Use your fingertips to lightly rub the margarine into the flour until the mixture is crumbly. Then slowly add the cold water and mix gently together with a wooden spoon to bring the mixture together to form a dough. If the dough is a bit soggy or you added too much water, add a little more flour.

When you have made the dough, put it in a food bag and pop it in the fridge while you prepare the filling for the quiche.

Step 2: Sauté the onion and garlic lightly in olive oil with a pinch of oregano for about 10 minutes. Then add the butternut squash cubes and continue to cook. Stir frequently to avoid the vegetables sticking to the pan and add more olive oil if necessary. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook until the butternut squash pieces are fairly tender (about 20 minutes).

Step 3: While the squash is cooking, take the pastry out of the fridge, roll it out and carefully put it into a greased quiche pan. Pierce the bottom of the quiche crust a few times with a fork to prevent air bubbles when it cooks. Next, line the quiche tin with baking parchment and place baking beans or pastry weights on top of it. Blind bake the quiche crust at 365ºF/185ºC for approx. 10 – 15 minutes. Then take it out of the oven. Keep checking the squash and when it is cooked, remove it from the stove while you prepare the eggs.

Step 4:  Beat the eggs thoroughly, adding salt and pepper and, optionally, a small pinch of smoked Spanish paprika if you have some. Then pour the eggs into the saucepan and mix well with the butternut squash, adding another small pinch of oregano.

Step 5: Pour the eggs and squash mixture into the quiche pan and smooth it with a spoon so that the filling is evenly dispersed. If you wish, top with a little grated cheese. Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes at 365ºF/185ºC. It should be golden on top and have a firm consistency.

Step 6: Serve and enjoy!

Baking: apple crisp

This recipe is great for this time of year because it’s apple season! 

I used apples from my own orchard for this recipe. They were windfalls, blown down by some strong winds which we had a couple of weeks back, and so it was necessary to cut out the bruised and damaged parts. Therefore I can’t give an exact measurement for the amount of apples you will need to use as the measurement I give in the ingredient list below is based on peeled and chopped apples. 

Apples from the orchard

 

It is my own recipe and the ingredient quantities are approximate. So if you find that the topping is too dry, add more margarine or if your apple mixture isn’t sweet enough, add more sugar. Some people say that baking is a fine art and it is true that in some recipes it is vitally important to use exactly the right quantities but in a rustic, traditional recipe like this it doesn’t matter so much if the ingredient quantities are more approximate than accurate. Just use common sense and you will be rewarded with a deliciously sweet treat!

INGREDIENTS

For the apple sauce:

7 cups/700 g chopped tart apple pieces

2 cups/100 g brown unrefined sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

For the topping:

1.5 cups/170 g all-purpose flour (I used a mixture of brown and white flour)

Two-thirds cup/85 g brown sugar

1/2 cup/50 g rolled oats

1/2 cup margarine

 

Method:

1. Peel the apples and chop them into approx. 2 inch pieces.

2. Cook the apples in a saucepan on a medium heat until they are like an applesauce with a few soft chunks of apple in the mixture.  This should take about 20 – 25 minutes. Mix the sugar and cinnamon into the apples when they are nearly cooked. The apples shouldn’t stick to the pan when cooking as long as you check them and stir them often, and lower the temperature if necessary. If they do stick, add a very small amount of water and stir.

3. Now that you have the apple sauce prepared, pre-heat the oven to 350F/180C. I use a convection oven and have to adjust oven temperatures but if you use a regular oven, pre-heat it to 390F/200C.

4. While the oven is heating up, prepare the topping for the apple crisp. Stir the flour, oats, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl, mixing well. Then add the margarine. Using your fingertips, mix the margarine into the flour mixture until crumbly.

5. Pour the apples into a large baking dish and evenly sprinkle with the topping mixture.

6. Bake in the oven for approx. 25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and crunchy.

7.  Serve warm or cold, whichever you prefer. I like it warm served with crème fraîche or ice cream. But it is very tasty served cold for breakfast too! 

Enjoy!

A yummy serving of apple crisp!

As always, if you have any questions or comments about this recipe or anything on the blog, let me know.

Recipe: damson plum crumble cake

DAMSON PLUM CRUMBLE CAKE RECIPE

I wasn’t sure what to make with damson plums (apart from jam) but I improvised and made up a recipe for damson plum crumble cake this weekend.

This was the first time I made up my own recipe for a cake so I was slightly apprehensive about how it would turn out but it resulted in an absolutely delicious, moist, sweet cake.

INGREDIENTS:

500 grams damson plums (if you can’t source damsons, use a different type of plum, preferably purple-skinned plums)

100 grams butter

100 grams sugar (brown unrefined)

3 eggs

200 grams flour (I used white spelt flour but standard all-purpose flour would be fine)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

2-3 tbsp milk

CRUMBLE TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

30 grams sugar

30 grams butter

56 grams flour

METHOD:

1: Wash the plums thoroughly and cut them in half, carefully removing all the stones.

Chopped damsons

2: Cream the butter and sugar together until they are thoroughly mixed and are light and fluffy. It helps if you remove the butter from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you intend to use it as otherwise you’ll find that mixing it with the sugar is an arduous chore (good for the arm muscles though!)

Starting to mix the butter and sugar

3: Beat the eggs and gradually add them to the butter and sugar mix a little at a time, stirring thoroughly until they are mixed well.

4: In a separate bowl, stir the flour, cinnamon and baking powder together. Make a well in the center of the flour and gradually fold in the cake batter you have ready.

5: Add a splash of milk and stir (just a small amount; I didn’t bother measuring but it’s probably approx. 2-3 tablespoons)

6: Add approx. half of the plums into the cake batter and mix thoroughly. Pour into the prepared cake tin and level the top of the cake with a spoon.

7: Press the remaining damsons into the top of the cake.

8: Make the crumble topping by mixing together the flour and sugar. Add the butter and use your fingers to rub it into the flour.

9: Sprinkle the crumble topping over the cake and bake in a pre-heated oven for approx. 60 minutes. I baked it at 160 C/320 F but your oven may differ as convection oven temperatures have to be slightly reduced. There are varying schools of thought in terms of how much temperatures should be reduced but I have always been told to reduce the temperature by about 20 degrees. so if you are baking this in a standard oven, you should bake it at 180 C/340 F as you will need to raise the temperature by 20 degrees. As every oven varies, make sure you check the cake from time to time while it is cooking and reduce or increase the cooking time if necessary. You can tell when the cake is cooked by inserting a knife into the middle. If it comes out relatively clean, the cake is ready.

10: Enjoy your cake! It is delicious served with fresh strawberries, raspberries and crème fraîche. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment on this post.

My damson plum crumble cake!