Thursday 8 January 2009


Regulars to my blog will know that I’m a Rachel Allen fan. In the Autumn of last year a new book by Irish cook Rachel came out titled simply Bake. I’ve been cooking from it since it plopped onto my doormat, and here is a bumper post of baking from Bake to make your tastebuds happy, well if you are sweet toothed that is! Bake was one of the books (along with Nigella Chrsitmas) that I gave as Christmas presents this year, and they both seem to have been well received.

Poppy Seed Cake
This was a cake I made for my birthday last year, and I was so looking forward to it. It was really moist and the icing was lovely, but apparently neither my family or myself are very keen on poppy seeds! The birds thought they had a very tasty treat though.

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies
This was the first recipe I made from bake, lovely bars.

St Stephen’s Day Muffins
A recipe to be made on Boxing Day, which I did, made with some leftover Christmas Pudding. These were surprisingly good, a dash of whisky making them feel quite treat like, they kept well too.

Chocolate Lave Cakes
I made these for a Hogamny (New Years Eve) dinner. The molten bit in the middle was gorgeous, and they turned out fine. I’m going to add a bit more sugar next time as they were not sweet enough for us.
Coconut Roulade with Lemon Curd Cream and Raspberries
Absolutley stunningly good dessert. There are a couple of variations on this recipe – coffee and cherry-rosewater that I’m keen to try as well.

Quiche Lorraine
I’ve made a number of quiche Lorraine’s and had settled on Tamasin Day-Lewis’s one. I’m not really sure why I tried this one, but I did and it now reigns supreme in the quiche Lorraine stakes – the best!

Date Bread and Butter Pudding with Boozy Toffee Sauce
Different and good. A warning though the boozy toffee sauce packs a real punch and isn’t at all suitable for kiddie winks! She also has a white chocolate and apple bread and butter pudding that I’d like to try this Winter.

Oven Pasta Bake
This is a pasta bake where the pasta is actually cooked in the oven. A deeply savoury supper. My friend has also made this and gives it the thumbs up.

Lemon Cupcakes
A sweet little cupcake, these were good, but my favourite remains Nigella’s ones from Forever Summer.

Baked Rice Pudding
This was just exactly the nursery pudding that you’d want it to be, rich (though not really as no cream) and so comforting, actually I’ve wanted to make this again almost constantly since I made it in early December!

Dutch Apple Cake
A really fabulous Apple cake! It’s not a looker per se, but a must make recipe! I used Pink Lady apples, as cooking apples give me an awfully sore tummy. I’m sure any apple would be lovely.

Dutch Apple Cake
From Bake by Rachel Allen 2008
2 eggs
175g caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
75g butter
75ml milk
125g plain flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
Two small or one medium cooking apple
75ml cream, to serve
15g caster sugar, for sprinkling
(1)Preheat the oven to 200ºC, Gas Mark 6. Grease, and line with parchment paper, an 8"x 8" square tin.
(2)Whisk the eggs with the 175g caster sugar until the mixture is thick and mousse-like and the whisk leaves a figure '8'.
(3)Melt the butter with the milk and pour onto the eggs, whisking all the time. Sieve in the flour and baking powder and fold carefully into the batter so that there are no lumps of flour. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
(4)Peel and core the apples and slice into thin slices. Arrange them over the batter. Sprinkle with the remaining 15g of sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180ºC, Gas Mark 4, for a further 20 to 25 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown.
Cool in the tin and serve warm.

Thursday 1 January 2009

Happy New Year 2009

A flower of hope for New Year
Well the day has dawned, with new hopes and fears along with it. We had a New Years Day dinner at lunch time, the only time of year we go to the extravagance of rib of beef with James Martin's truly unbeatable Yorkshire puddings, gravy, Nigella's roast potatoes, stuffing and vegetables. It's a fabulous feast, all the more special because it's a once-a-year occasion. Of course we couldn't have a celebration meal without a pudding now could we?! No so this year, although my main course is the same year in year out, the pudding can change. I chose a pavlova this year, Rachel Allen's pavlova with mango and crystalized ginger which I added some pomegranate seeds to. The recipe is from Rachel's Food For Living, and it's not like any pav recipe I've tried before, basically it's a measure and beat job, all in one. The recipe in the book is a dry in the oven for a few hours thing, but I have a fan oven(which doesn't allow for a slow cool down in the oven), and fortunately Rachel says how to cook it in one! It works and it's really lovely. My changes to the recipe are adding pomegranate seeds, Greek yoghurt and brown sugar to the cream.

All that remains for me is to say Happy New Year friends and readers, I hope it's a good one for you all.
With the ginger scattered over
Pavlova with Mango and Crystalised Ginger
Adapted slightly from Rachel's Food For Living by Rachel Allen
3 egg whites
350g caster sugar
60ml hot water
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cornflour
10fl oz double cream
2 tablespoons light soft brown sugar
10fl oz Greek yoghurt
2 mangoes, peeled and sliced
some pomegranate seeds
few pieces crystalized ginger chopped
(1)Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Preheat oven to 140oC. (This is for a fan oven).
(2)Place all the pavlova ingredients in a mixer bowl and beat with the whisk attachment for 4-5 minutes until really thick and glossy.
(3)Pile the mixture onto the lined baking sheet and make into a disc about 12 inches in diameter by 1 ½ inches thick. Bake for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours.
(4)When the pavlova is completely cold carefully peel off the lining paper and beat the cream with the sugar until in soft peaks, fold in the yoghurt. Fill the pavlova with this mixture then decorate with the fruit, scatter