Tag: tin

Dundee cake

“…by the way,” said next eldest sister as we wrapped up our telephone consultation about Kitty’s earache, “my friend Sarah says that she reads your blog. So it’ll now be spreading like wildfire through St Thomas’s prep school in Fulham.”

And I like to encourage these things so I thought I would do a special post to say:
HELLOOOO FULHAAAAAAAM!
(now you all stick your hands in the air and scream)
I must say I don’t really understand West London. That’s not to say I don’t like it, I just don’t understand it. Whenever I go there I always seem to end up at the wrong end of a very long road lined with identical houses, stopping shaggy-haired Sloanes to ask for directions. 
I am assured by people who know these things that people who live in West London live there partly because they have houses in the countryside in a westerly direction and living so close to the M40 makes making a break for it on a Friday less hellish. 
It is probably prejudiced of me to assume that everyone living in West London is a shaggy-haired Sloane who disappears to Gloucestershire from Friday-Sunday every week, but this blog is nothing if not a collection of sloppily-applied prejudices. If you disagree with me, feel free to express yourself in the comments section. 
But I really do think that my new reader(s) might appreciate this recipe for Dundee cake, which is the technical term for the fruitcake that my mother has been making once a week for the last 20 years. It is very light and crumbly and popular with most children. It also keeps very well, so handy to make on a Thursday and take to the countryside for the weekend. You know. Just if you happen to be going. 
Pre-heat your oven to 150C. 
For this you need an 18-20cm tin. This is important. I used a tin that was far too large and the cake came out quite flat and therefore slightly overcooked (although still delicious). So do, please, source a correctly-sized tin – or double the quantities for a larger tin. If you grease and line your tin, you will make your life considerably easier for yourself along the line. 
170g butter
200g self-raising flour
140g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 cup glace cherries
500g mixed dried fruit – this can be anything you like, raisins, currants, mixed peel, chopped apricots and dates. Go wild. 
1 Cream the butter and the sugar together.

2 Separately whisk the eggs and then add to the butter and sugar in short bursts. I have never managed not to curdle this and neither, my mother tells me unapologetically, has she. So if it curdles don’t worry.

3 Fold in the flour with a metal spoon.

4 Tip in the mixed dried fruit and glace cherries, stir to combine. As with any cake, only stir until the ingredient is reasonably evenly distributed and then stop so as to ensure a light and crumbly texture

5 Put this into your appropriately-sized tin.

6 Now put this in your 150C oven for 2 hours. If you, y’know, happened to have an Aga, you can cook it in the simmering oven for 2.5hrs. I know that seems like a long time but that’s the way with some kinds of cake.

7 This is very nice on its own, or it is extra-terrific with a lemon icing, made with sieved icing sugar (the sieving is very important) and the juice of one lemon.

Eat with a cup of tea while making a list of all the shite you need to pack up for the weekend, idly wondering if two houses is really worth all the bloody hassle.

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Hairy Bikers’ chocolate yule log

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The Hairy Bikers’ make great comforting Christmas recipes and this chocolate yule log is no exception. Serve as an alternative Christmas pudding or as a Christmas Eve treat – no-one will be able to resist!

That’s goodtoknow

Decorating the yule log with desiccated coconut gives it an extra Christmassy look

Ingredients

  • Soft butter for greasing
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder

Icing and filling

  • 200g plain, dark chocolate, broken into squares
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 200g butter, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp Camp chicory and coffee essence

Decoration

  • Fresh holly leaves or leaves made from ready-to-roll coloured icing
  • Icing sugar or desiccated coconut

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Line a 23 x 33cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment, grease with a little butter and set aside.
  2. Put the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl and whisk with an electric beater until thick and creamy. Sift the cocoa powder over the egg mixture and whisk in thoroughly. Wash and dry the beaters and whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold a third of the egg whites into the cocoa mixture, then gently fold in the rest until evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the tin and spread gently with a spatula. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until well risen and beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin.
  3. Remove the cake from the oven, loosen the edges with a round-bladed knife and leave to stand for a few minutes. Place a piece of baking parchment on the work surface, turn the cake onto the parchment and leave it to cool completely – 30–40 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the icing. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, but do not allow it to set. Put the icing sugar in a food processor, add the butter and blitz until smooth. Add the coffee essence and 2 tablespoons of melted chocolate, then blend until smooth. Make sure the chocolate is cool, or it will melt the butter. 
  5. Take just over half the icing mixture out of the processor and put it in a bowl to use for the filling. With the motor running, slowly add the remaining chocolate to the icing mixture in the processor and blend until smooth. This will be used for icing the cake.
  6. When the cake is cool, trim off the crusty edges. Using a palette knife or spatula, spread the filling over the cake, taking it right to the edges. Starting at one of the long sides, gently roll up the sponge, keeping the first roll fairly tight so it forms a good spiral shape. Spread the icing evenly over the cake and drag a fork through it to resemble the ridges on the bark of a tree.
  7. Chill for at least 30 minutes to allow the icing to set. Decorate with sifted icing sugar.

This recipe is taken from

The Hairy Bikers’ 12 Days of Christmas,

which is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20.00.

By The Hairy Bikers

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Nutritional information

Guideline Daily Amount for 2,000 calories per day are: 70g fat, 20g saturated fat, 90g sugar, 6g salt.

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Apple Tart Maman Blanc

The other day I wrote a piece for The Daily Mail and as the paper arrived and I saw that I was on the front page (ack!) with some dastardly headline I felt ill and squeezed my eyes shut and clutched at my pyjamas and waited for the whole internet to fall in on my head all day long.

It didn’t, thank god. Thank you. I mean, I’m sure there were 4,000 comments underneath the piece, all vile, but I don’t read those – (you simply cannot and stay sane) – but I did get one, single, slightly unhappy tweet. “I used to love your blog,” it said, “but now you just troll yourself. How much do the Mail pay you to write this stuff?”

And I realised then, that I should probably explain what happens. I lose track of how many readers I have, I forget that I’m not just writing to Becky B and my husband.

(Becky B’s just had a baby by the way. No pain relief. None. There was briefly a story going round that she had her stitches with no pain killer either, but that turned out to be apocryphal, like that one about how she once put a mugger in hospital just by giving him a nasty look.)

But for other readers, seeing me in the Mail like that must be strange, like if your boyfriend suddenly turned out to be a contract killer, or a pimp.

So this is how is happens: one morning, some devastatingly charming girl emails from Femail, (they’re all charming at the Mail, that’s their deadly weapon), wanting to run a piece that you have already written and to give you, in return, enough money so that you don’t have to work for the next two weeks if you don’t want to, and pay the nanny AND buy a bottle of neon pink nail varnish from Models Own.

And you stop and you think “Oh but my photo will be in there, and some really horrifying headline and there will be pictures of my children…”and then you think “yes but this is my job.” And then you think “money…”. And then you think how pleased your mother always is when you’re in the paper, no matter what you’ve said. And then your husband comes into the room and reads the email over your shoulder and goes “You’re going to ask for more money, aren’t you? Great job. Don’t forget to invoice!”

Then you file your piece and wait. Presently the “edit” comes back to you, which is where they run your normal words through their computer and it comes out in perfect MailSpeak. And you go “fine – can you change this and this?” and they go “sure”.

And then you deal once or twice more with women who, as the deadline gets closer and closer, sound more and more tense, as they sit at their desks, talking to you and eating their lunch at 8.30pm, tapping in tiny tweaks here and there – none of which matter because the headline is going to be MY KIDS ARE SO FACKIN BORING YAH???? so the subtle word changes you are insisting on are like dusting the rotary blades of a helicopter that’s just crashed into the side of a mountain.

Then the paper comes out the next day and you feel crushed and sick until your husband goes “GREAT job!” and your mother, who quite often looks at you blankly like “which one are you, again?” actually rings up and says “They’re talking about your piece on the radio!!!!!!” And then you remember: “money!”. And, eventually, you square it all away and forget about it. Until the next time.

It helps that I am basically a sloppy hack at heart and don’t really mind – not really, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. If my children find these pieces later in life and want to have a go at me about it I will simply start charging them rent.

Another girl in my life who doesn’t judge me for this kind of caper is a French girl called Amelie, once described to me as the “rudest girl in London” but I don’t understand why, because she is simply charming, she is just a bit brisk and French. I think she is terrific.

We went to see her and her husband this weekend for lunch and Amelie calmly went out to the shops to buy some ingredients for Raymond Blanc’s much-celebrated Apple tart Maman Blanc and made it while guests were arriving. She had never made it before! And, she declared “I ‘aven’t cooked anysing for years.” I cannot imagine how relaxed you have to be to do something like this.

Anyway it was just fantastic. I didn’t help in the actual preparation, I just provided moral support and read out the recipe as she was cooking, which she declared was very helpful but I think she may just have been being nice.

This is how it goes: the precise recipe, including instructions for the shortcrust pastry, can be found on p246 of Kitchen Secrets, or online.

Amelie, like all good French girls, just buys her pastry pre-made. I think she used puff (she herself couldn’t remember if she had bought puff or shortcrust – such insouciance!!!) but you really ought to buy shortcrust.

So here we go:

Apple tart ‘Maman Blanc’

1 packet shortcrust pastry
3 dessert apples (like a Braeburn or whatever, just not a super-sour cooking apple)
15g unsalted butter
15g caster sugar
11/2 tsp lemon juice
7g Calvados (if you like)
icing sugar, to dust
1 medium egg
100 ml whipping cream
50g caster sugar

1 Roll out your pastry to fit your tart case and have it slightly higher than the rim of the tin because pastry shrinks on cooking. Prick the base with a fork and put in the fridge for 20 min.

2 Preheat the oven and a baking sheet (or any old tin big enough to take the tart tin) to 220C

3 Peel and core the apples and cut each into 10. Lay them closely together and overlapping in a circle in the base of the tart case.

4 In a small pan, melt the butter and sugar, then take off the heat and mix in the lemon juice and Calvados if using. Brush this over the apples slices and dust with icing sugar.

5 Slide the tart tin onto your now hot sheet and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 200C and bake for another 20 minutes until the tart case is brown and the apples look a bit caramelised.

6 For the custard filling, whisk 1 egg together with 50g caster sugar and 100ml whipping cream and pour into the tart 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

Et Voila! As Amelie almost never says.

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