Clementine cake

Perfect for an afternoon tea as it’s gorgeous on its own, or it can be served as a dessert with a good quality vanilla ice cream or custard.

Notes

  • Use any small sweet, easy peeler citrus such as clementines, satsumas or mandarins
  • Takes about 1 hour in total – about 10-15 minutes preparation and 40-45 minutes baking
  • You can measure out the olive oil via a liquid scale (mls) or weigh it into a bowl (grams) – the result is the same
  • If you’re finding it tricky to zest the clementines (the smoother skin of smaller citrus can be difficult) replace with the zest of one large orange

Equipment

  • Two large bowls
  • Springform cake tin, 20 – 23cm in diameter, greased and lined with parchment
  • Scales, spatula, balloon whisk/mixer/electric hand whisk, measuring spoons and jugs

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 205g caster sugar
  • 205ml mild olive oil, such as Filippo Berio Classico
  • 205g Tipo 00 flour or plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • A pinch of fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder or extract
  • 40g ground almonds
  • Grated zest of four clementines
  • 2 tablespoons of clementine juice

Also… for the topping

  • Icing sugar
  • Extra clementines, peeled for decoration
  • Juice of two extra clementines

Method

  1. Prepare your baking tin by greasing and lining with baking parchment
  2. Set the oven to 180 ºC fan / 200 ºC conventional
  3. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites, putting the whites in one (very clean) bowl and the yolks in another
  4. Whisk up the egg whites until they are stiff peaks, whisk in one tablespoon of the caster sugar and the vanilla extract into the whites
  5. Add the remaining caster sugar to the yolks and whisk until it turns pale and increases in volume
  6. Add the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder to the sugar/yolk mixture and slowly whisk in until it is all combined and then mix in the olive oil plus the zest and juice
  7. Fold in the whites to this mixture, a third at a time until it is combined. Try to be gentle while mixing in – a figure of eight motion is useful or use a balloon whisk to ‘cut’ the whites in gently
  8. Pour the mix gently into the prepared tin
  9. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the sponge springs back when depressed lightly with your finger and/or a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake
  10. Leave to cool in the tin
  11. Decorate with icing sugar mixed with the extra clementine juice and poured over
  12. Once the icing is set (or nearly set) decorate with the peeled mandarins

Fresh cherry scones

Fresh cherry scones, recipe by inksugarspice #cherry #scones #baking #recipe

I don’t often make scones, mainly because, rather obtusely, I like them so much. I am in danger of consuming far too many, just by myself. For such a simple foodstuff, scones are a glorious and delicious treat.

Here I’ve combined the season’s fresh, dark and luscious cherries with my ‘standard’ scone recipe. Not only are they tasty, they have a pleasing marbled effect from the cherry juice.

Notes

I’ve chosen to make these in a traditional round, but you could make individual, circular scones. Reduce the cooking time by 5 minutes to make individual scones.


I have a few other unique scone recipes I’ve developed that you may also like to try:

Chocolate plaited scone

Ricotta scones

Crowned cream tea


Equipment

  • Large bowl
  • Baking tray, lined with baking parchment (or alternative)
  • Wire cooling rack
  • Scales, large knife, spoon

Ingredients

  • 300g plain flour
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1 and a half teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 50g milk (any)
  • 8-10 fresh, ripe cherries – stones removed and chopped or torn roughly
  • A little extra flour
Fresh cherry scones, recipe by inksugarspice #cherry #scones #baking #recipe

Method

  • Warm the oven to 170C fan / 190C conventional
  • Rub the flour and butter together until it forms crumbs (some little bits of unincorporated butter are fine)
  • Mix all the other ingredients together – except for the cherries
  • Once the rest of the ingredients are mixed in, add the cherries and gently mix it all into a ball, ensuring the cherries are distributed throughout but do not overwork. (The reason for leaving the cherries to the very last is so the juice creates a marbled look, rather than just turning the dough pink)
  • On a lightly floured piece of baking parchment, pat down the ball of dough into a disc, about 16-18cm across and about 4cm high.
  • Lift up the scone dough with the parchment and place on the baking tray
  • Cut the disc into six pieces and transfer to the oven. (Leave the scones pushed together to help keep their shape for now)
    Fresh cherry scones, recipe by inksugarspice #cherry #scones #baking #recipe
  • Bake for 25 minutes, then take the tray out and re-cut the scones (they will have slightly fused together again)
  • Separate the scones by pushing them away from each other so they cook throughout
  • Place back in the oven for 5-8 additional minutes
  • Once baked, leave to cool, although they’re pretty lovely whilst still a little warm

I like these simply sliced and covered in farmhouse butter, but they are nice with jam and cream for a cream tea.

Fresh cherry scones, recipe by inksugarspice #cherry #scones #baking #recipe

As ever, leave me any comments you’d like to make, ask any questions about this bake (or any other recipe) or just say hi, especially if you try baking these scones.

Apple madeleines with white chocolate

Always at this time of year I neglect my website. Not on purpose you understand; it just seems to happen year on year. I’m no late starter when it comes to anything else, its just… January. So, despite it almost being February this is my first 2021 post. Happy New Year!

I’ve written before that I eschew resolutions at this time of year. The spring equinox has me thinking about changes, new starts and determination rather than a grey and bleary 1st Jan. January (and February come to think of it) does not work for me for new starts, but it is good timing for gathering yourself together, looking after you and yours and starting to think about spring and those new shoots, literal or metaphorical.

So, while I’m in R&R mode, these little madeleines fit nicely. They are a twist on a traditional patisserie recipe, but incorporate winter fruit and indulgent chocolate. I’ve coloured my white chocolate to match the Pink Lady apples I used, but you don’t have to colour the chocolate at all, and if you don’t like white chocolate, then feel free to dip them in your favourite milk or dark instead.

Notes

I’ve included the little step that gets the chocolate finish looking like its sculpted! Once you get the hang of turning them out without breaking the chocolate (this depends on the trickiness of the mould you own) you’ll be making them perfect all the time.

Equipment

  • Small saucepan
  • Madeleine moulds (any mould will do but silicone ones are easier for this recipe)
  • Spoon, flexible spatula, scales, knife and cutting board, pastry brush
  • Medium bowl
  • Small heatproof bowl
  • Cooling rack

Ingredients

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1 sweet eating apple – I used a Pink Lady apple
  • 2 medium – large eggs
  • 150g plain flour
  • 145g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 300g of white chocolate
  • Food colouring
  • Plus – extra butter, about 30 g, for the moulds

Method

  • Melt the extra butter and paint the madeleine moulds with it using the pastry brush. Place the moulds in the freezer
  • Melt the 125g of butter in the saucepan over a medium heat and then immediately take off the heat
  • Whisk the eggs and sugar until they turn light and fluffy and have increased in volume
  • Folding gently with a spatula, now add the flour, salt, lemon juice and melted butter until combined. be careful not to over mix
  • Chop the apple (removing the core but keeping the skin) into small dice and immediately add to the mix
  • Chill the mix in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. This is an important step for madeleines
  • Warm the oven to 180C fan / 200C conventional oven
  • Spoon the mixture into the moulds, filling each to about two-thirds full
  • Bake the madeleines for about 12-14 minutes. They should be really springy to the touch
  • Leave to cool completely and remove from the moulds
  • Clean the moulds and dry thoroughly
  • Now melt the chocolate, adding a few drops of food colouring if you wish
  • Spoon a teaspoon of melted chocolate into one of the madeleine cavities in the mould and press back in one of the madeleines, so it squeezes the chocolate around it. Repeat with all the madeleines
  • Try not to jog the madeleines now and leave them to cool – you can speed up the process by putting them in the fridge
  • When the chocolate is fully cold, they should slip out fairly well from the mould
  • Enjoy!

Blueberry muffins

I’ve been neglecting my blog – I think I do this every year about this time and I suspect others do too. Journalists call this the silly season: there’s so little news (and so few journalists about to report it) during the summer that there is a trend towards fluffy, odd little pieces of news. I imagine this year, though there is plenty of people taking leave, that there is enough ‘non-fluffy’ news to report on. We’ve managed a wet week in Cornwall ourselves, and for the rest of our two weeks’ leave I have just not been able to face sitting at the makeshift, uncomfortable ‘desk’ until i’d had some clear time away from it, so the blog has been a casualty.

I know you’re thinking why on earth do a blueberry muffin recipe; there’s plenty about? I’ve seen a few appear over the past couple of months and they’ve struck me as basically recipes for large fairy cakes (cup cakes). Not muffins: cake. Muffins need some element of sour dairy in their ingredients. Here I’ve developed one which uses milk + lemon juice, rather than buttercream (which is more traditional, but not always easy to get a hold of).

By adding a sour element, it helps the baking powder chemical reaction to work and gives both a tang and a really springy texture to the muffin.

Notes

  • You can substitute any in-season fruit. I tested this recipe twice with blueberries and once with picked hedgerow blackberries. I can imagine it’d be perfectly adaptable to raspberries, chopped up plums/nectarines/peaches/apples, slightly stewed rhubarb, gooseberries and more.
  • Do put the baking powder in last. Any chemical leavener starts its reaction immediately but due to the amount of lemon juice and fruit in this recipe, the chemical reaction will be quick and vigorous and needs to happen in the oven, not while you’re still mixing! For further information please see my Chemical leaveners / raising agents post.
  • Makes 8 large muffins or 10 smaller ones (using fairy cake cases).
  • If you don’t have pearl sugar, you can substitute a large granulated sugar instead.
  • Takes about 45 minutes – 20 minutes prep, 25 minutes bake time

Equipment

  • One large bowl
  • One small bowl
  • Bun tin with 12 bun cavities (or two x 6-cavity trays)
  • Muffin cases (or large fairy/cup cake cases)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Flexible spatula
  • Large spoon and a fork
  • For measuring: scales, teaspoon, tablespoon and small liquid measuring jug

Ingredients

  • 1 small yellow or slightly browning banana (or half a large banana)
  • 30 ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 medium eggs (approx 125g weight including shells)
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 55g demerara sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 135g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 100g blueberries

plus:

  • 1 tablespoon of pearl sugar (sometimes also called nibbed sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons of flaked almonds

Method

  1. Turn on your oven to warm: 170 C for a fan oven or 190 C for a conventional oven
  2. Place your muffin cases in the bun tin(s) – this makes 8 large or 10 regular size muffins
  3. In the small bowl, mash the banana with the back of a fork with the lemon juice and the milk. Leave to one side
  4. In the large bowl cream the sugars and the butter together
  5. Break in the eggs and add the flour (do NOT add the baking powder yet). Mix until thoroughly combined
  6. Mix in the banana mixture and then add the baking powder and give a thorough, quick stir
  7. Add in about three quarters (approx 75g) of the blueberries into the mixture and stir gently in (no need to weigh, this can be a best guess!)
  8. Portion out the mixture between the cases. You should fill each case to just under level with the case edge – that is, they should be pretty full
  9. Portion out the remaining blueberries equally on top of each of the filled muffin cases and just slightly push each blueberry down a little into the batter. Don’t fully submerge them. This is so that the blueberries are nicely distributed through each muffin as you bite into them
  10. Now sprinkle over the flaked almonds and the pearl sugar
  11. Place straight into the middle of the oven
  12. Bake for 25 minutes and leave to cool before eating
Blueberry muffin recipe - inksugarspice website

Store cupboard pineapple upside down cake

Pineapple upside down cake - ink sugar spice

Of course, this cake only is a store cupboard staple if you actually have the ingredients stashed in your kitchen somewhere…

That said, I bet many people will have a rogue tin of pineapple and are more likely to have some olive oil to hand than butter, which is much more widely used in cake baking.

During these crazy times of lockdown baking, many people are finding it difficult to get hold of eggs and flour, which are non-negotiable for this recipe, so bookmark and come back to this recipe once the stocks replenish in the supermarket (and they will soon of course). However, the tin of pineapple could actually be a tin of peaches or orange segments or grapefruit… quite easily. The use of olive oil not only makes a lovely cake, it’s better for your heart and it’s been easier to get hold of olive oil more so than butter.

Normally a pineapple upside down cake is a “marvel” of 1970s bake presentation, with glace cherries in between whole rings of pineapple. Let’s be honest your mum or grandmother would probably have used tinned pineapple anyway.

It’s also a recipe that uses all that’s in the tin – don’t throw away the sugary-juice as that’s reduced down as a glaze.

Equipment

  • 20cm x 20cm square cake tin
  • Large bowl
  • Sieve or colander
  • Small saucepan
  • Hand held electric whisk, stand mixer or balloon whisk
  • Knife, chopping board, scales, large spoon
  • Baking paper and a little oil/butter/margarine to line the tin

Ingredients

  • Tin of pineapple pieces/chunks/rings, c 540g
  • 4 medium eggs (or 3 large eggs)
  • 195g soft brown or caster sugar
  • 275g plain flour
  • 195g olive oil – I used Filippo Berio Mild & Light for this
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Method

  • Prepare your cake tin by lining it with the baking paper (it’s easier to ‘stick’ if you grease the tin first with a little oil/buter/margerine)
  • Turn your oven on to 180C fan oven / 200C conventional oven
  • Drain the can of pineapple over your saucepan to catch the syrup
  • Place roughly 75% of the pineapple in the bottom of the cake tin, arranging it as you wish
  • Dice the remaining pineapple into small pieces
  • Whisk the oil and sugar together first in the bowl until it lightens a little in colour
  • Add the flour, baking powder and eggs and mix thoroughly
  • Finally add in the reserved chopped pineapple and stir this in gently, rather than vigorous whisking
  • Pour into the cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 45-50 minutes
  • Test the middle of the cake with a skewer: if it comes out clean it is baked, if there is a little wet cake mix still on it continue to bake for another 4-5 mins and test again
  • Leave the cake to cool in the tin
  • Now reduce the pineapple syrup by heating it over a medium-high flame. It should bubble a little but not be fully boiling on the heat (or it will brown). Reduce down until it is the consistency of a runny honey
  • Invert your cake out onto a plate or serving dish
  • Drizzle the warm syrup over the cake
  • You can eat while still fairly warm, or leave to cool fully. This is also lovely as a dessert with custard, cream or ice cream
  • Will last up to three days if kept in a lidded container
Pineapple upside down cake - ink sugar spice

Pikelets with balsamic strawberries

img_0397-1

This feeds four or a very greedy two for breakfast or for a Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) treat.

At home growing up we always referred to these as pikelets. You may know them as drop scones or American-style pancakes too. They fluff up in the pan due to the addition of a leavening agent: not something you’d add to a traditional British pancake or a crepe.

Notes

  • Takes 10 minutes to prepare, about 20 minutes to cook
  • Makes about 20 small pancakes that are roughly 10-12cm in size (not that I actually measure them!)
  • If you have buttermilk in your fridge, replace it for half of the milk for even richer pancakes
  • To add even more fruit, throw in a handful of sultanas or some chopped bananas or apple slices into the batter before frying
  • Don’t be gentle when flipping over the pancakes, or wait too long to turn them. They need to ‘splat’ down on the frying pan when they are turned on to their second side, so that the whole of that side is in contact with the heated surface. If you don’t do this or leave the first side cooking too long, the edges start to dry and you’ll get a mound in the middle rather than an even, flat side
  • Unlike other flat pancakes and crepes, this batter is best used straight away rahter than having been rested first

Equipment

  • Bowls – one large, one small
  • Fine sieve
  • Small ladle (volume capacity will be around 60 – 75ml, roughly equivalent to five tablespoons)
  • Frying pan/skillet
  • Flat spatula or fish slice for turning

Ingredients

  • Eggs – 3
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Plain or Italian Tipo 00 flour – 250 g
  • Milk – about 200 ml (you may need a little more depending on your chosen flour)
  • Oil spray

To serve:

  • Strawberries – a small punnet/about 200 g
  • Caster sugar – two tablespoons
  • Balsamic vinegar (I’ve used Filippo Berio Gran Cru Balsamic Vinegar here)

Method

  1. Crack the eggs into the large bowl
  2. Sieve the flour in (to ensure there are no clumps of flour) and then add in the salt and the milk
  3. Whisk to combine: you’ll need some elbow grease to ensure there are no lumps of flour
  4. You are aiming for the consistency of custard (not too thin, not too thick: it needs to be ladled into circles but keep its shape in the pan)
  5. Now add in the baking powder and give a final whisk (as leaveners start working straight away, it’s best to add them in as the very final ingredient or their strength will peter out before frying)
  6. Put the frying pan on over a medium heat and spray a little oil into the pan
  7. Test the heat is ready by dropping a tiny amount of the batter into the pan – it should brown on the underside in about 30 seconds Strawberries and herbs - Ink Sugar Spice
  8. Take a ladleful of the batter and drop into the pan, smoothing out the batter with the underside of the ladle until it makes a circle, something like about 10 – 12cm across
  9. If you have a large enough pan, you can cook two or three at the same time
  10. Each pikelet will start to bubble after about 20 seconds. After the batter starts to change colour a little and the edge of the pikelet can be lifted with a spatula without it sticking to the frying pan, it’s ready to flip over. The top of the pikelet at this stage will still be raw, so will spread a little when flipped – this gives it its typical finish
  11. After another 20 – 30 seconds, check the pikelet by lifting an edge and checking
  12. Flip the pikelet on to a plate, and cover with a clean tea towel while you cook the others
  13. You will most likely need to spray a little more oil in the frying pan before each batch of batter
  14. Warm some plates for serving
  15. When the pikelets are all cooked, roughly chop the strawberries
  16. Place the chopped strawberries in a small bowl and sprinkle them with the caster sugar
  17. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the strawberries (depending on the strength of taste you prefer – start with a small drizzle and taste test)
  18. Allow the strawberries to macerate in the balsamic vinegar for two to three minutes, while you portion out the pikelets on to the warmed plates

To serve

  1. Pile a few of the pikelets up on each plate and spoon over some of the macerated strawberries, not forgetting a little of the delicious juice that’s gathered in the bottom of the bowl
  2. Extra delicious served with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream, mascarpone or clotted cream

Pikelets and balsamic strawberries recipe on Ink Sugar Spice

Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Strawberry yogurt cake with olive oil

Strawberry yorgurt cake with olive oil - Ink Sugar Spice recipe

Perfect for an afternoon tea or appropriate for Valentines, this cake is light, moist and full of strawberry flavour.

Notes

  • Takes about 1 hour in total – about 10-15 minutes preparation and 40-45 minutes baking
  • You can measure out the olive oil via a liquid scale (mls) or weigh it into a bowl (grams) – the result is the same

Equipment

  • Two large bowls
  • Springform cake tin, 20 – 23cm in diameter, greased and lined with parchment
  • Scales, spatula, balloon whisk/mixer/electric hand whisk, measuring spoons and jugs

Ingredients

  • Large eggs, separated – 4
  • Caster sugar – 210g
  • Olive oil (mild) – 210ml/g
  • Tipo 00 flour or plain flour – 210g
  • baking powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Fine salt – a pinch
  • vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Ground almonds – 40g
  • Strawberry yogurt (a thick kind such as Greek yogurt) – 80g
  • Strawberries – 80g (about)

Method

  1. Prepare your baking tin by greasing and lining with baking parchment
  2. Set the oven to 180 ºC fan / 200 ºC conventional
  3. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites, putting the whites in one (very clean) bowl and the yolks in another
  4. Whisk up the egg whites until they are stiff peaks, whisk in one tablespoon of the caster sugar and the vanilla extract into the whites
  5. Add the remaining caster sugar to the yolks and whisk until it turns pale and increases in volume
  6. Add the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder to the sugar/yolk mixture and slowly whisk in until it is all combined
  7. Chop up the strawberries and measure out the yogurt
  8. Fold in the whites to this mixture, a third at a time until it is combined. Try to be gentle while mixing in – a figure of eight motion is useful or use a balloon whisk to ‘cut’ the whites in gently
  9. Fold in the olive oil
  10. Pour the mix gently into the prepared tin
  11. Using a teaspoon, dot the yogurt all over the cake – try to keep the blobs of yogurt fairly small
  12. Place the strawberries over the yogurt
  13. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the sponge springs back when depressed lightly with your finger and/or a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake (though be careful to notice that you’ve not spiked the yogurt and think the cake is still underdone
  14. Gorgeous on its own, or serve it as a very special dessert, say for a Valentine’s or birthday celebration, with a good quality vanilla ice cream. Alternatively, serve with crushed strawberries that have been mixed into a tub of crème frâiche (plus a dessertspoon of icing sugar)
strawberry yogurt cake with olive oil - all sliced

Honey, orange and hazelnut biscuits 🐝

IMG_0398 copy

I have been a bit behind this month with my website and social media, though this sort of break is good for your sanity. For the most part this hiatus is due to my working on some sets of illustrated gift tags and leather bee key fobs (those in the pic above), and that I have opened an Etsy shop (click on Shop in the menu above) to start to sell some of these items.

Listing on Etsy may not seem much, as it’s pretty much there to make selling easy and to hand hold sellers, but it’s a big deal for me. I’ve put off selling my illustrations and crafts for too long because I have a little problem with numbers, muddling them up sometimes and that has lead me to be terrified of anything financial. I can’t say for sure that it’s dyscalculia (the ‘number version’ of dyslexia) as I’ve been able to work round it I’ve not needed to seek a label for it. Some days I’m fine, others I get confused: for instance, I could give you my phone number 100% correctly on one day, but the next day you might get the numbers in all the wrong order from me. My worse thing is choosing between similar numbers, such as in lists, questions or when comparing prices.

I have read into dyscalulia a little, after eventually discovering that it is a ‘thing’ and recognising myself a little in it. It appears that it can be very bad, causing fundamental problems such as not even being able to work out which is the higher denomination between two numbers. Imagine not being able to tell if you’re handing over a few pounds or hundreds or even if you’re getting out of the right floor from an elevator? Of course, there are all shades of difficulty in between mild and such extremes. As little as I experience it, I get teased and giggled at, so it must be acutely embarrassing for those who have a worse experience. People don’t get teased for being dyslexic anymore, they get help and understanding, but I’ve never heard of anyone getting help with number difficulties.

What I’m driving at with all of this rambling about numbers is not just because I’ve finally ignored my terror of having to do a tax return is that this little recipe is in my maths comfort zone and includes some geometry.

You may remember my (still) very popular spiral marble cake ‘cake and maths‘ post some time ago in which I gave diagrams and instructions to create a very graphic cake?spiralcake4

I continue to need the use of geometry – it’s one of the few areas of maths learnt at school I regularly use. Despite my issues with numbers I did understand the concepts and formulas of maths. I managed a C in ‘O’ Level Maths because I was bright enough to understand it all yet I made some howling errors through writing things down incorrectly. I rely on geometric principles to create many of the images in my day job as a graphic designer and I use geometry to develop stencils and plans for my crafts and baking.

This little craft make is dead simple! And, if you really want ease, you can just make these biscuits with any cookie cutter shape if you’re not fussed with keeping to the honeycomb hexagons.

Notes

  • Makes 12+ biscuits depending on the size of your hexagon stencil
  • You don’t have to make hexagons, but they’re a lovely nod to the honeycomb shape as you’re using honey rather than processed sugar granules for these biscuits
  • Instead of dip-icing,  you can pipe and flood the icing if you prefer – this will produce a smoother finish but of course takes a lot longer
  • Monin syrup is usually found in the tea and coffee aisle in a supermarket or deli, as it’s traditionally a coffee flavouring, although I only use it for baking and for flavouring cocktails 🍸
  • To crank the icing up a notch, you could paint black stripes across the biscuits to mimic a bee’s colouration
  • You could use chopped hazelnuts, but I like the large chunks of hazelnuts that are kept if you roughly crush whole nuts for this

IMG_0402.JPG

Equipment for the hexagon stencil

  • Card
  • Pencil and compass
  • Craft knife
  • Ruler

How to form the hexagon stencil

hexagon

  • This is a great bit of simple and elegant geometry! You can construct a hexagon in any circle without measuring or changing the dimension of your compass point. And it works with any radius circle
  • Draw a circle with your compass, I’d suggest using a 3 cm radius (6cm total diameter) for these cookies – Figure 1
  • Without altering the compass, place the point on the circumference of the circle, absolutely anywhere (the compass point placement is represented by the green dot). Now, make an arc, intersecting the circumference at the two points the pencil crosses – Figure 2
  • Move the compass point to one of these intersecting points (again marked here by a green dot) and make another arc – Figure 3
  • Continue round until you have a six intersecting points (two will have ‘doubled up’) – Figures 4 and 5
  • Join up the six points using a ruler and pencil to create a hexagon – Figure 6
  • Cut out with a craft knife and the ruler

Equipment for the biscuits

  • Large bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • Sharp knife
  • Palette knife and/or cranked handle knife
  • Large baking tray, lined with parchment/greaseproof paper or 2 x smaller trays
  • Airing rack
  • Scales and measuring spoons
  • Citrus reamer
  • Small bowl (something low and with a wide circumference is ideal, as dipping biscuits into a small bowl is tricky)
  • Electric whisk, small balloon whisk or magic whisk

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter – 120g
  • Honey – 3 tablespoons
  • Plain flour or 00 flour – 230g
  • Monin noisette syrup or vanilla extract – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Hazelnuts – 35g

Ingredients for the icing 

  • Orange juice – juice of one large orange
  • Icing sugar – 200g
  • Egg white powder – just under 1/2 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon of fresh egg white
  • A few drops of yellow food colouring
  • A few drops of warm water if needed

Method

  1. Crush the hazelnuts into rough pieces (a good way to do this is to roll the rolling pin back and forth over them)
  2. Put the oven on to 180 C fan / 200 C
  3. Prepare a large baking tray with baking parchment
  4. Rub the butter into the flour in the bowl until you have small particles and no lumps of butter
  5. Mix the rest of the ingredients in (honey, syrup/extract and nuts)
  6. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 8mm thick (about 3/8″) (you may need to lightly dust the rolling pin with a little flour too)
  7. Using your hexagon shape as a template cut out as many hexagons as you can and place them about 1 cm apart on the baking tray
  8. Re-roll the leftover dough to create as many hexagons as possible until all the dough is usedIMG_0389
  9. Bake for 12 minutes
  10. Leave to cool a little, then transfer to a wire rack using the palette knife until completely cooled IMG_0391
  11. When the biscuits are ready, mix up the icing ingredients. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl then add the lemon juice, egg white powder (or egg white), food colouring and water (if needed). Beat until it is smooth and totally lump-free. It needs to be a fairly thick but still fluid consistency, something like custard because you are dipping and the icing needs to cover the (probably) bumpy surface as the biscuits have nuts in them
  12. Dip each biscuit into the icing, and allow the icing to drip a little. Smooth off the side drips with a knife and place on a wire rack. Pop any bubbles in the icing with a toothpickIMG_0392
  13. Repeat with all the biscuits, after which you can go round the edges again to score off any drips
  14. Leave until the icing is solid, which will be at least 5-6 hours

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“Mothers ruin” chutney

chutney2_2018Tapping fingernails on the table and looking wistfully through the window: I wondered what can I do with all those stubbornly-still-green tomatoes left on the vine in the greenhouse (or in the greengrocer’s) at this time of year?

They’re plump, juicy with a shiny skin but are just totally colour-change refuseniks. No matter how sunny your windowsill they just won’t budge their coloration now. You could fry them off or add to casseroles, but they’re a little too tart to eat like a fully scarlet tomato so I’ve turned my glut of green goodies into a gin-soaked unctuous and fruity chutney. Hence the mothers ruin title, and the gin does make it a rather delish yet not-so-ordinary relish.

So, here’s praise to autumn and the excuse for bottling and preserving all of nature’s generosity and a hearty Cheers! to green tomatoes. And that toast is not something you hear everyday when applying a dollop of chutney to a cracker!

Notes

  • You need to prep the fruits the day before and leave to soak overnight
  • Makes four full sized jam jars (typically these are between 330mml – 390ml)
  • I’ve stopped wanting to make huge volumes of chutneys, pickles, jellies and jams as I don’t sell them on. I think three to four jars of something is enough for us. This is one to open now, a couple to keep me going and one to give away. But then I don’t have an allotment so I’ve not got kilos and kilos of produce to use up, just a greenhouse and a few planters’ worth. This recipe does multiply up easily, so if you have that enormous allotment glut of tomatoes (and an outlet for the many jars you’ll produce) then do double, triple (or more) the quantities
  • You can use red tomatoes for this recipe, no problem at all
  • You can use any gin – but a fruity one is most suitable. I’ve used Brockman’s which has a considerable taste of blackberry to it

Sterilising glass jars

Put pre-washed clean glass jars in the oven at about 130˚C for 20 minutes or put them through a dishwasher cycle on your hottest setting

Be careful handling the hot jars out when done

NB:  don’t put any rubber seal in the oven; it’ll just melt. Wash these in hand-hot water and leave to dry on a kitchen towel or clean tea towel

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Equipment

  • Large, heavy bottomed saucepan or pickling pan
  • Large wooden spoon
  • Knife, cutting board
  • Small bowl
  • Cling film or plastic bag
  • Four clean, sterilised jam jars (see notes above)
  • Shallow, large container or dish

Ingredients

  • Green tomatoes – 600 – 630g
  • Fine salt – 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon
  • Red onion, large – 1
  • Celery – 1 stick
  • Sultanas or golden raisins – 100g
  • Dates, chopped – 70g
  • Sharp eating apples, 2 (such as Granny Smith or use 1 x cooking apple)
  • Brown sugar – 150g
  • Ground ginger – 1 teaspoon
  • Allspice – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Chilli flakes – 1 teaspoon
  • Black onion seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Cider vinegar – 225ml
  • Gin – about 60ml

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Method

  1. Douse the sultanas and dates with the gin in a small bowl the day before making the chutney. Cover with cling film and leave to soak up the gin overnight
  2. Wash and chop the tomatoes, place them in a shallow container and scatter over the tablespoon of salt and mix in lightly. Leave to one side for at least an hour
  3. After an hour or so, rinse the tomatoes of the salt and pat dry in a clean tea towel
  4. Chop all the ingredients into little cubes/pieces (or use a food processor if you have one but chop the ingredients in batches or you’ll process them too finely).
  5. Do not throw away any gin that was not soaked up by the fruit – you can pour this straight into the large saucepan for the next stage while you chop the ingredients
  6. Put everything in the large saucepan, give it a good stir and bring to a boil
  7. Boil for a couple of minutes and strain off any scum
  8. Turn down to a simmer and let it simmer away for 90 minutes, stirring and checking on it regularly (though you don’t need to stand guard for the whole 90 minutes, please don’t leave it for more than a few minutes at a time as it will catch on the bottom of the pan)
  9. It should reduce to a moist but not soggy chutney. If the ingredient pieces are too big for your liking, you can use a stick blender to chop them further, but do use this by pulsing it rather than having it on constantly or you’ll have a pulpy preserve, rather than one with nice chunks of fruit and veggies in
  10. While still hot, carefully decant into the pre-sterilised jars
  11. Leave until fully cold

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