Hedgerow fruits curd

hedgerow curd

Another fruit curd recipe – sorry: I really love these types of preserves as they’re so versatile. Use them as fruit tart fillings, on bread, swirled into swhipped cream, add them as the flavouring to homemade ice creams, use them as a hidden filling in cupcakes. Curds are very useful, quicker to make than you’d realised and will last in the fridge.

Notes

You don’t need a thermometer to make a curd, as you can just keep going until it thickens (curds are a very ancient dessert and they definitely didn’t have sugar thermometers hundreds of years ago). However, if you have one, the curd will thicken at around 82-85C.

Equipment
  • A glass bowl and saucepan or double boiler/bain marie
  • Balloon whisk
  • Various bowls
  • Knives, spoons, wooden spoons
  • A fairly open sieve (ie not a fine one)
  • A blender or hand blender
  • A sugar thermometer (easier but not strictly necessary)
  • Glass jars with lids – you’ll need about 3 typical-sized jam jars (around 300 – 325ml each)*

*to sterilize the jars, either pop them in a hot oven for 10 mins or stick them through a hot wash on your dishwasher. Lids can’t go in the oven, so hand wash these then give them a quick rinse with some water from a just-boiled kettle.

Ingredients
  • Mix of hedgerow fruits in season – I had blackberries, raspberries, blackcurrants – 200g
  • Unsalted butter – 100g
  • Sugar – 50g
  • Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon
  • Eggs, medium – 3 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks
Method
  1. Pop all the fruit in a saucepan with the sugar and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan to a few millimetres
  2. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer until the fruit is soft
  3. Pass the fruit through a sieve to catch the pips
  4. In a clean saucepan whisk the eggs, lemon juice briefly and then add the butter
  5. Gently heat until the butter is melted
  6. Add the fruit and increase the heat
  7. Using a balloon whisk keep whisking until it all thickens nicely (if you have a thermometer you can check the temp is no more than about 55C at the time the eggs are added)
  8. Pour into your pre-sterilised jars
  9. Keep in the fridge

Pomegranate, plum and strawberry curd

I love fruit curds – very retro and very under appreciated. Not only are they great in sandwiches, on toast and for scones and pancakes and similar things, but I often use them as either cake or tart fillings. I sometimes mix them with a little whipped cream or will use them in place of jam in a layer cake or in place of creme pat in a fruit tart.

You can pretty much make a curd with any citrus or berry fruit. This one is glorious and because the fruits used are so sweet I’ve not had to add so much sugar, making it a lighter curd (lemon or orange curds need a lot of sugar). The finished result tastes like an artisan strawberry ice cream – it’s totally delicious.

Notes

You don’t need a thermometer to make a curd, as you can just keep going until it thickens (curds are a very ancient dessert and they definitely didn’t have sugar thermometers hundreds of years ago). However, if you have one, the curd will thicken at around 82-85C.

Equipment

  • A glass bowl and saucepan or double boiler/bain marie
  • Balloon whisk
  • Various bowls
  • Knives, spoons, wooden spoons
  • A fairly open sieve (ie not a fine one)
  • A blender or hand blender
  • A sugar thermometer (easier but not strictly necessary)
  • Glass jars with lids – you’ll need about 3 typical-sized jam jars (around 300 – 325ml each)*

*to sterilize the jars, either pop them in a hot oven for 10 mins or stick them through a hot wash on your dishwasher. Lids can’t go in the oven, so hand wash these then give them a quick rinse with some water from a just-boiled kettle.

Ingredients

  • Victoria plums (or your favourite – damson would be good when in season) – about 6
  • Pomegranate – 1 largish
  • Strawberries (very ripe or those just about to ‘go over’ would be perfect) – about 150g
  • Unsalted butter – 100g
  • Sugar – 50g
  • Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon
  • Eggs, medium – 4

Method

  1. De-stone the plums, take the leaves off the strawberries and take the seeds out of the pomegranate
  2. Pop all the fruit in a blender and whizz until fine (or use a hand blender)
  3. Strain through a large-holed sieve as you want to keep the plum skin, the strawberry seeds don’t matter if included and even a few pomegranate seeds are also ok
  4. Keep the fruit puree to one side
  5. Get your saucepan and glass bowl or bain marie going. Bringing a few centimetres of water to the boil in the saucepan and pop on the bowl
  6. In the meantime, lightly whisk the eggs in a small bowl and leave to hand
  7. Put the fruit puree, the butter, sugar and lemon juice in the top bowl and let it melt together
  8. Once the butter starts melting, use the balloon whisk to smooth it all out and add the eggs. Don’t let the mix get too hot before you add the eggs – if you’re worried take the bowl off the boiler for a minute and add the eggs while it is not being heated (if you have a thermometer you can check the temp is no more than about 55C at the time the eggs are added). Put the bowl back on the boiler if you did take it off
  9. If the eggs start to look like they’re going into scrambled eggs, take the bowl off the heat and give it a good whisk before returning to the boiler
  10. Turn the heat up and keep whisking until the curd is smooth and thickened
  11. Pour into your pre-sterilised jars
  12. Keep in the fridge

Pomegrantates - on the recipe for pomegranate, strawberry and plum curd Ink Sugar Spice

Bakewell tart with blackberries

backewellslices

I make Bakewell tart fairly often as it’s a bit of a family favourite. This weekend we drove through Bakewell en route to the spa town of Buxton. Bakewell is about a 40 min drive away even though we do live in the same county. All the towns in that area are just gorgeous; beautiful stone buildings, verdant hills and deep valleys with rushing rivers and towns full of cute shops. Definitely is a beautiful part of the world and I’m lucky to live not too far away.

Anyway, after that trip of course I had to make a Bakewell the day after. Driving past all the bakeries in the town made us hungry for one. This one uses some of the early blackberries that have just started appearing in my garden. I was just going to make a compote with them to use as the jam layer, but decided to try popping them in whole with some pre-made jam.

What’s in a name and who started it?

Wars get started on less than this: the Bakewell tart vs the Bakewell pudding. I think it’s pretty impossible to go back and find the true original of the Bakewell pudding, but it does seem that ‘pudding’ came first but then both names got  used interchangeably. Only in Bakewell is this still contentious. When you get to Bakewell there is the Bakewell Tart Shop and an Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop. Both tarts and puddings must sell well or they’d not still both be there. The tart is what you’d expect, looking a bit similar to my family recipe, but the pudding has a puff pastry and a filling much like an almond custard rather than a frangipane. They taste and feel (to eat) quite different.

Both these shops cite the origins as being a lucky mistake by an inexperienced pastry cook at a local inn, in about 1860. That must be a pile of old rubbish mind, as the earliest written recipe is in a book published in 1845 (Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families – see here for a free ebook version). This implies that the Bakewell pudding/tart is much older than 1845, as it must have been well established as a recipe to have been included in a book.

I’m afraid I don’t like the pudding version, but then I don’t like baked custards either. So it definitely has to be a tart, but we’re not talking the revolting mass market confectioner version. A choice of your favourite jam and fruit, a moist frangipane filling and a scatter of toasted almonds in a pastry case is all that’s really needed. From then on, it can be tweaked and changed to your taste – it’s not uncommon to have a cherry Bakewell with icing, topped by a half glacé cherry (although make it yourself and it won’t be anything like the saccharin pre-packed cakes) or make one with toasted dessicated coconut.

Notes

Not really much to comment on about this recipe as Bakewell tart is pretty straightforward! When I bake this, I look for a light spongy top to the filling with a golden hue. This though melts into the jam layer, so while the top is more like a sponge cake towards the base the filling gets slightly gooey and very yummy. If you want to use pearl sugar, I found mine online at BakeryBits.

Equipment

25cm flan tin or dish

Ingredients for the pastry

Plain flour – 250g
Butter – 130g
Egg yolk – one
Caster sugar – 50g
Milk – a little drizzle

Ingredients for the frangipane filling

Raspberry or strawberry jam – half a jar
Blackberries (or other berries) – large handful
Butter, softened – 140g
Caster sugar – 140g
Ground almonds – 140g
Plain flour – 30g
Eggs – 2
Baking powder – 3/4 tspn
Vanilla paste or seeds – 1/2 tspn
Orange zest – of a whole orange

For decoration –

Flaked almonds – large handful
Pearl sugar – about 1 tbspn

Method

For the pastry case

  1. Rub the butter and flour together either using your fingertips or put into a mixer with a paddle attachment until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla to bowl and thoroughly incorporate.
  3. Start to bring the dough together, if it is not wet enough add a tiny bit of milk (adding more little by little if needed) until the dough makes a loose ball.
  4. Rest in the fridge for 5+ minutes.
  5. Put the oven on to 160C fan/180C conventional.
  6. Butter and flour the flan dish.
  7. Roll out on a mat or floured surface to about 3mm thick. Line your flan dish with the pastry and gently press it into the edges and the flutes. I prefer not to chop off the pastry round the edge of the flan dish at this point, to ensure it doesn’t shrink.
  8. Prick the base with a fork, line it with the parchment and line with the beans.
  9. Put in the oven for 15 minutes (I turned the flan after 6 minutes as my oven cooks a little unevenly), then take out, remove the beans and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes until the base is a light golden brown.
  10. With a sharp knife, while the pastry is still warm and flexible, trim off the edges to the top of the dish.
  11. Leave to cool.

For the frangipane filling

  1. While the pastry is cooling, make the frangipane by creaming the butter and sugar together until it turns pale.
  2. Then mix everything else in.
  3. Once the pastry case is at least fairly cool, cover the base with the jam and dot round the blackberries all over.

  1. Put the frangipane into a piping bag with a large plain nozzle and pipe the filling around the blackberries. You could just spoon it in but you may end up moving the blackberries or creating a lot of air pockets.
  2. Level out the frangipane using the back of a spoon or a cranked spatula. Try to eliminate any air pockets round the blackberries and ‘press’ the frangipane onto the case at the edges. To to ensure there are no holes through to the jam layer or you will get it bubbling up during cooking and you’ll get dark yammy patches everywhere.

Baking and topping

  1. Put the tart in the oven for 25 mins. At the 20 minute mark, take out the tart briefly and cover with the flaked almonds and pearl sugar and pop back in for the last 5 min.
  2. Wait until it’s cold to serve. Lovely on its own or with some cream or ice cream.
Bakewell tart with blackberries

Apricot, apple and almond Chelsea Buns

d6a9d-cb_finished2

I was just thinking I hadn’t made an enriched dough recipe for a while…

Background/history of the recipe

Chelsea Buns are a specific version of a traditional, rolled enriched and sweetened bread. Unusually for a bread, their origins are actually known, as they were invented at the Chelsea Bun House in London, probably in the early 1700s, as contemporary literature and reports from as early as 1711 cite the bakery.

The Chelsea Bun House would have been located just off the Pimlico Road (and technically in Pimlico not confusingly in Chelsea – perhaps it relocated premises at one point). There is a Bunhouse Place, but it appears it’s unlikely that this was the location and was named after, with Grosvenor Row or Jew’s Row more likely candidates listed in the food/London history books (Wikipedia says Jew’s Row but you know never to fully believe wikipedia, right?) If you want to find where Bunhouse Place is, this is it on Streetmaps.

Anyway, the original Chelsea Bun House is no more as it closed down in 1939. At the height of it’s popularity (and it was very popular) even Royalty succumbed to its treats as it’s reported both King George II and King George III actually visited. Although the Chelsea Bun bore it’s name, the bakery actually was most famous for it’s hot cross buns

Chelsea Buns are usually made with extra butter, dried fruit (currants, sultanas or raisins) and coated in a honey glaze. The sweet dough is pressed into a rectangle, covered with butter, sugar and fruit and rolled, like a roulade. This is then cut into slices and arranged, with a cut side showing, grouped together in a tin so they rise and cook touching together.

Though currants are the real traditional ingredients, Chelsea buns are often altered but the main thing is to keep their coiled shape and glaze.

My new flavourings for Chelsea Buns – apricot, almond and apple

I’ve chosen to try a new recipe, and it worked out even better than I’d hoped. The combination of apple, apricot jam and crunchy almonds was lovely. I think I definitely prefer them with a bit of a crunch (other nice alternatives are chopped pistachios; chocolate drops and orange; dried fruit, cinnamon and nutmeg – a Christmassy taste and red berries).

Notes

Chelsea buns are big and hearty! If you want something more delicate you can roll the dough up from either long edge into the middle of the rectangle of dough at stage 13. So you would have two mini rolls, and then cut down the middle between the two rolls to separate them before cutting into about 10 slices each and arranging them in a tin. Proving and cooking time shouldn’t be affected.

Equipment

  • a tin to place the buns in. I used a 23 cm round springform tin, but a square or oblong one would be just fine
  • large bowl
  • pastry brush

Ingredients – for the enriched dough

  • strong white flour – 450 g
  • easy-blend yeast – 15 g
  • caster sugar – 50 g
  • milk – 125 ml (doesn’t have to be warmed but it’s better if it’s not fridge-cold)
  • water – 75 ml (tepid rather than warm)
  • medium egg (beaten) – 1
  • unsalted melted butter – 25 g

Ingredients for the filling

  • butter, softened – 20 g
  • small dessert apple – 1
  • flaked almonds (toasted or non-toasted – either will do) – 90 g
  • apricot jam – about half a standard jar (I like it with the lumpy bits of fruit but if you don’t you could warm it, sieve it and let it re-cool or buy a smooth jam)

Ingredients for the glaze/topping

  • apricot jam – 3 tbsps
  • water – 1 tbsp
  • a few extra flaked almonds

Method

Preparing the dough

  1. Add all the dry ingredients into your bowl (that’s the flour, sugar, yeast and salt) and mix them up a bit.
  2. Make a well in the middle and tip in the milk and water, beaten egg and melted butter and start to mix. This is a little wetter than bread and is messy (half the fun) so you may want to use a wooden spoon first to bring it together before you start to knead).
  3. Tip it out onto a clean surface. Try to resist adding a dusting of flour to the surface if you can (or if it’s not too ingrained a habit). Yes, some of it will stick to the surface but as you continue kneading it will lift off and combine, and then you haven’t changed the chemical constitution of the dough too much by increasing the ratio of flour. Alternatively, I expect you can use a machine with a bread hook, but I’ve not tried that myself with sweet dough, I always do it by hand.
  4. If the dough is a little hard work add a touch more milk – as mentioned, it should be just slightly wetter than bread (more like how wet a sourdough or brioche would be).
  5. The kneading will take about 8 – 10 mins depending on how vigorous you are! Just like other breads, the dough will be smooth and a bit bouncy when it’s ready. This is one of those things that you just get used to seeing after you’ve baked for a while.
  6. Clean out your original bowl and lightly grease it (or use another) and pop in the dough. I usually chuck a large linen teatowel over my rising bread, and sprinkle over a little bit of water onto the towel, but cling film will do nearly as well (this shouldn’t need dampening as it creates an airtight seal and the bread is already moist).
  7. Leave it to double in size somewhere warm but not hot – this will typically take an hour or so but it depends on the warmth. Like other sweet doughs you could make this one evening and leave in the fridge or somewhere cool to rise overnight.

Shaping, filling and rolling the buns

  1. Grease the cake/bread tin.
  2. Gently roll the dough out of the bowl on to a floured surface and start to press it down gently (no heavy pummeling!) into a rectangle. You’re aiming for something about 30cm by 20 cm.
Chelsea buns - prepraing the filling ingredients
The rectangle of dough with the ingredients spread and scattered on
  1. Now you’re ready to add the filling ingredients. Spread the butter all over the rectangle of dough – you may not need all 20g – but leave a 1 cm gap down one long edge (this is to help the dough stick into a roulade shape later). Now spread over the half jar of apricot jam.
  2. Peel, core and dice the apple finely now (if you do this earlier it will discolour – one way to stop that would be to cover it in lemon juice but that will make the apple too acidic for this recipe).
  3. Scatter over the diced apple and the almonds.
  4. Now you need to roll up the dough like a roulade/Swiss roll, starting from the long edge which you haven’t left with a 1 cm gap. Brush a little bit of water or milk onto that edge you left so it sticks to the outside of the dough once you’ve roll it all up. It should look just like a doughy Swiss roll.
  5. Cut the roll into about eight slices.
Chelsea buns - cutting the filled dough into coils
The roll of sweet dough with the ingredients inside, sliced into coils
  1. Pop the slices end-on into the tin, so that you can see the Swiss roll shape and all the lovely fillings from the top. You may need to push the back into more of a round shape, as slicing them may have flattened them a little. Space the slices between 1 – 2 cm apart so that when they rise they bump into each other.
Chelsea buns arranged in tin prior to baking
  1. Cover with a that clean, damp tea towel or cling film from earlier and leave it to rise and prove a second time. You want them to puff up to about double what they were but this shouldn’t take as long as the first rise – about 30 mins.
  2. Pop on your oven to 180C fan/200C conventional.

Baking and glazing

  1. When risen, take off the covering and pop the tin in the middle of the oven and set the timer for 10 mins. After 10 mins don’t take them out – turn the oven down to 160C fan/140C conventional and cook for between 10 – 15 mins more. You want a nice golden top (not light but not too dark). You may need to turn the tin after the first 10 mins if your oven is not cooking very evenly (as you want the buns to all have the same depth of colour).
  2. Fetch the buns out when ready and leave to cool in the tin a bit.
  3. Now make the glaze by melting the jam and water together until just bubbling. Brush (or pour) it all over the tops of the buns (while they are still in the tin) and then scatter the extra few flaked almonds over the top.
  4. You can either enjoy them slightly warm or leave until fully cool.
Chelsea buns