Friday, November 15, 2013

Eve’s Pudding – tempting ...

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If Adam was around today, I think Eve would be hard-pushed to find an apple to tempt him.
I grew up next to an orchard. I have no idea what varieties I - and my equally delinquent siblings - scrumped*, but there were a lot of tempting fruits. They ranged from tiny sour crab apples - perfect for jelly - through sweet pink-fleshed varieties, to enormous freckly cookers that needed just a touch of sugar and a little spice to bring out their best.

The storeroom at the back of the house smelled cidery in the autumn, with boxes of carefully wrapped (more honestly acquired) apples. This is not a smell the supermarket offerings can recreate.
I am racking my brains to think of varieties beyond Braeburn, Gala, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Fuji, Cox’s Pippin and the (pretty good) cooker, Bramley.  They all blow my least favourite, Golden Delicious, out of the orchard in terms of flavour and texture, but still... would Adam risk being chucked out of the Garden of Eden for one of these? I’m inclined to think not.
I was delighted to receive a bag of homegrown apples from a friend recently. They were an old variety – Reinetta. I’m not sure of the exact strain, but the variety is believed to have originated in France in the 16th century so it’s got a decent pedigree, and if it has survived all those years, it must have some commendable characteristics.
It does. Intensely sweet and sharp, with a dense, creamy flesh, and not too juicy, these heritage apples were perfect for this fat-free dessert.

Eve’s Pudding is best served straight from the oven as the sponge topping sinks a little as it cools.

For 8 individual, tempting portions, you will need...

Stewed Apple Filling
500g (prepared weight) of cooking apples (Granny Smith or Bramley will do if you haven’t got a friend with a heritage apple tree)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
50g caster sugar
2 tablespoons water

Sponge Topping
2 large eggs
50g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
60g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

To serve
2 teaspoons icing sugar mixed with ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
Good vanilla ice cream or home-made custard (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C
First make the filling: peel, core, and slice the apples and sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent them from discolouring. Place them in a medium saucepan with the sugar and water. Cover and cook gently over a medium heat for about 8 minutes or until soft. Divide between 8 small pie dishes or ovenproof bowls. Leave to cool.

Meanwhile make the sponge topping: place the eggs, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and, with an electric whisk, beat until the mixture is thick and creamy and more than doubled in volume. To check if it is thick enough, stop the beaters and lift them from the mixture. Any mixture dropping from the beaters should remain on the surface for a moment or two.

Mix the flour, baking powder and cinnamon together and sift, about a quarter at a time, into the egg mixture, folding in between additions. (Folding in avoids overworking the batter, keeping it light and airy.To fold in, use a large metal spoon and cut through the centre of the batter. Move the spoon across the bottom of the bowl, and back up the side and across the top bringing some of the mixture from bottom to top. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Keep folding the mixture and turning the bowl until the flour is incorporated into the batter.)

Divide the mixture between the bowls of cooled stewed apple. Place the bowls on a shallow baking tray or roasting dish and bake in the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes or until well risen and golden.

Remove from the oven and sift the icing sugar and cinnamon over the top before serving as soon as possible.

This fat-free dessert is even more tempting with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting over the top. Just saying...

*scrump – a juvenile rite of passage which involves raiding orchards, and develops such useful skills as outrunning fearsome guard dogs, emergency tree/wall/fence-climbing and river/ditch leaping – all very Enid Blyton, and wonderful exercise.

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Marmalade and Almond Cake – has a delicious Scottish accent

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What images does Scotland conjure up for you? The mournful wail of bagpipes? The Loch Ness monster? The highland fling? Men in kilts? Brave Heart? Tartan? Scotch whisky? Shortbread? Haggis? Billy Connolly? That delicious but often incomprehensible accent?
For me, it’s marmalade. You see, after watching the Hairy Bikers visit the birthplace of marmalade in Dundee, I got an irresistible craving for thick-cut, whisky-laced, homemade marmalade.
 Do you have any idea how much marmalade a mere 6 oranges can make? It was like the fairy tale of the magic porridge pot! I can see myself having to work my way through toast and marmalade for breakfast for the next ten years... or asking you guys for recipes that use marmalade as an ingredient... Any ideas?
I’ll start the ball rolling with this easy cake.

For 1 x 2lb loaf, you will need...
125g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 eggs, beaten
250g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
¼ teaspoon almond extract
100g thick cut marmalade 

Marmalade Glaze
75g thick cut marmalade
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice 

Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper or a loaf tin liner.
In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest until the mixture is light and fluffy. 

Add the beaten egg, a little at a time, mixing between additions until combined. (If the mixture curdles, the finished cake will just be a little heavier - no big deal.)  

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and bicarbonate of soda and add the salt. Add to the mixture in the bowl, a little at a time, beating until just combined. Finally, add the orange juice, almond extract, and marmalade and mix until just combined. 

Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf tin and bake in the pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes. When the cake is cooked through, it should spring back when pressed lightly with a finger. A cocktail stick or skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean—with no mixture clinging to it. Leave in the tin while you make the glaze. 

To make the glaze, place the marmalade in a small saucepan with the orange juice and heat gently until the marmalade has melted. Fork the stands of peel onto the cake, arranging them down the centre. Drizzle the liquid over the cake, using a pastry brush if necessary to coat every centimetre with delicious orange syrup. Leave to cool in the tin. Perfect with a cuppa!

There! That’s takes care of 175g of the stuff. Just another 175 million grams to go... help!
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