spring

Carrot, Apple and Walnut Loaf with Maple Icing

Looking at the photographs of this cake, you could be fooled into thinking it’s mid Autumn and the trees are turning. They’re not, but given the weather here in the UK (it’s pretty miserable; grey skies and that fluffy rain which get’s you far more wet than you’d think) it might as well be. With this in mind I thought I’d bake something spiced, nutty, simple and comforting to combat the bad weather blues: enter this moist carrot and apple loaf cake laced with cinnamon, ginger and walnuts topped with maple cream cheese frosting…

Ingredients:

  • 225ml vegetable oil
  • 225g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 125g grated carrot
  • 125g grated apple
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ginger
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 100g chopped walnuts
  • zest 1 lemon

For the icing;

  • 5tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 heaped tbsp icing sugar
  • 250g cream cheese (full fat)
  • 100ml double cream

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a large loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Place the oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and, using electric beaters, beat together until voluminous and well combined. Now add the grated carrot and apple and briefly beat again to evenly distribute.
  3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt over the wet ingredients and beat in until just combined. Lastly, fold in the walnuts and lemon zest. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Cool in the tin.
  4. While the cake is cooling, make the maple cream cheese icing. Simply whisk together all the ingredients until thick and spreadable.
  5. Once the cake is completely cool, top with the cream cheese icing and some walnuts, edible flowers or apple crisps, if you’re feeling fancy.

Enjoy!

Rhubarb and Lime Sorbet (No Churn)

Spring has well and truly sprung here in Bucks, and the sunny weather has inspired me to make something zesty, refreshing and seasonal. This brilliant pink sorbet really hits the spot after a three course dinner or makes for a great component in a larger dessert. I’d advise preparing it a day or two ahead as it does require blitzing a couple of times (but no ice cream maker needed- result!).

Ingredients:

  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 500ml water
  • 400g rhubarb, sliced into 4 inch lengths
  • zest and juice 3 limes
  • 1 egg white (optional)

Method:

  1. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Add the rhubarb pieces and poach for 15-20 minutes until very soft.
  2. Remove the rhubarb from the saucepan and place in a food processor along with the lime juice.
  3. Increase the heat on the rhubarb sugar syrup and boil until it reaches ‘thread’ stage. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds; you can check it’s ready in two ways. Firstly, you could use a sugar thermometer and make sure it reads between 223 degrees and 235 degrees. Secondly, if you don’t have a thermometer just add cold water to a bowl and drop some of the syrup in- if it forms a thin thread in the water, it’s ready (I use this method).
  4. Once you’ve reached thread stage take the syrup off the heat and cool a little, then add half to the rhubarb and lime ( too much will make the sorbet too sweet!). Blitz to a smooth puree and pass through a sieve, then add the lime zest. Pour into an ice cream tub and freeze for 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally to help break up ice crystals.
  5. After the sorbet has frozen, break it up and return to the blender. Add the egg white (if you can’t eat these or are making this for vulnerable people, just skip this) to lighten the texture and blitz again until smooth.
  6. Freeze again and use as required.

Olive Oil Plated Dessert

Last week I developed this recipe for a competition I & P Olive Oil Company are running at Leiths; the challenge was to create an Olive oil focused dessert so I just had to enter (anything sweet and I’m there). I came up with this pistachio, cardamom and olive oil tart served with yoghurt cream, powdered raspberries, baked figs and a honey and olive oil dressing… here’s to hoping they like it! Wish me luck!

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For the tart case you will need: 250g plain flour, 140g cold unsalted butter (cubed), pinch salt, 1tbsp caster sugar, 4 egg yolks mixed with 4tbsp cold water

And for the filling: 4 eggs, 180g caster sugar, 200ml olive oil, 8-10 cardamom pods, 100g ground almonds, 100g de-shelled pistachios, pinch salt, handful extra chopped pistachios 

PASTRY

Place your flour, salt, sugar and cold cubed butter in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles fine crumbs.
Tip into a bowl and add 2tbsp + 2tsp of the chilled egg/ water mixture. Vigorously mix with a cutlery knife to form large lumps of pastry. If it still looks dry, add some more liquid 1tsp at a time until you can bring it together completely (it is important to work quickly and efficiently so you do not overwork the pastry).
Once you have bought the pastry together, form a flat, round disc and wrap in clingfilm. Chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, very lightly grease a 20cm tart case with butter.
Once chilled, roll out your pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm thickness. Line your tart tin, pushing (but not stretching) the pastry into the corners. Once lined, chill again until firm.
Preheat the oven to 200c (fan). Line the tart case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the sides are set. Once set, remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until sandy and cooked through. Leave to cool.

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FILLING

Preheat the oven to 160c (fan).
Place the pistachios in a food processor and blitz until fine. Crush the cardamom pods and remove their seeds, then grind in a pestle and mortar until you have a course powder.
Whisk the eggs and sugar using electric beaters until pale and thick. Add the olive oil and whisk again until combined.
Tip in your ground almonds, blitzed pistachios, half the cardamom and the pinch salt. Whisk again to incorporate all the ingredients then taste- add more cardamom if it is too mild (I recommend doing this as too much cardamom can be overpowering).
Spoon the filling into the cooled tart case until almost full. Sprinkle on the spare chopped pistachios. Bake for 25-30 minutes until set and golden.
Leave to cool.

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For the yoghurt and vanilla cream you will need: 100ml double cream, 200g natural yoghurt, 1 vanilla pod

And for the baked figs: 6 figs, 2tbsp olive oil, 2tbsp honey, pinch cinnamon

The drizzle: 4tbsp honey, 4tbsp olive oil

Extras: 50g pistachios, 3tbsp freeze dried raspberries, edible flowers

ACCOMPANIMENTS

For the baked figs, preheat the oven to 180c. Quarter the figs and place on a baking tray. Drizzle over the olive oil and honey and sprinkle on the cinnamon. Bake for 10 minutes.

For the yoghurt and vanilla cream, very lightly whip the double cream with the seeds of the vanilla pod (until only slightly thickened). Add the yoghurt and stir until smooth. It should have a fairly loose consistency and should not be thick.
For the honey and olive oil drizzle, simply combine the honey and oil in a small bowl, then set aside.

For the last accompaniments, just roughly chop the pistachios (these add a pop of colour) and grind the freeze dried raspberries in a pestle and mortar until fine (these add a lovely sweetness).

TO SERVE

Cut the tart into your desired shape and spread some of the cream onto the plate. Place the tart and figs on top, sprinkle on some raspberry dust and chopped pistachios then drizzle with the olive/honey oil. Garnish with edible flowers, such as violas.

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I hope you like this recipe as much as my family do- I’ve shared 2 presentation ideas too (I couldn’t decide which one I preferred!).

Enjoy!

Simple and Zesty Fruit Loaf

As spring is on the horizon (though it didn’t seem like it when I walked back from university in a hailstorm this morning) I thought I’d create a fresh summery recipe you can try out over Easter or perhaps for Mothers Day. This simple loaf cake contains plums, blueberries and lime and is delicious served with a dollop of yoghurt.

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For the sponge mix you will need:

220g caster sugar, 220g butter (softened), 300g self raising flour, 1tsp vanilla essence, 3 eggs, 1tsp baking powder, 3tbsp milk and 125g chopped plums and blueberries.

Grease and line a medium sized loaf tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 180c (fan).

With an electric whisk (or wooden spoon) mix together the sugar, butter, flour, vanilla, eggs, milk and baking powder until smooth.

Put a third of the cake mix into the loaf tin and spread until even. Sprinkle half of the fruit over this then add another third of the cake mix.

Now add the remaining fruit and top with the last of the spongey mixture.

Place in the oven and cook for 50 minutes- 1 hour.

For the topping you will need:

100g granulated sugar, 75g chopped plums blueberries, juice and zest 2 limes and 2tbsp icing sugar mixed with a little water.

Towards the end of the sponge’s cooking time, make your topping.

Place the sugar, fruit and lime juice in a saucepan and heat for 2 minutes, crushing the fruit as you go. Remove from the heat.

Once your cake is cooked, poke little holes all over its surface when still hot and pour the fruity drizzle all over.

Leave the cake in the tin until the glaze has hardened then remove it and serve with lime zest, white icing and flaked almonds.

Enjoy!

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