Boxing Day Cranberry Frangipane Tart

Yet more cranberries!

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This is a festive recipe for carrying on the Christmas celebrations- it’s good to drag it out for as long as possible, and this tart is guaranteed to keep you feeling festive! It’s perfect for snuggling up on Boxing Day by the fire, reading a new book.

It’s the winter version of the raspberry frangipane tart that is one of my all-time summer favourites.

I hope everyone had wonderful Christmasses and that the festivities continue long into the weekend!

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Cranberry Frangipane Tart

For the cranberry jam:

190g fresh cranberries

about 75g caster sugar

grated zest and juice of one small orange

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Simmer all the ingredients until thickened, stirring occasionally. You might need to add more sugar if it’s too sour- so taste it!

For the pastry:

250g cold butter

150g plain flour

1 tablespoon caster sugar

Begin by rubbing the butter into the flour, until it resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the caster sugar. Slowly add cold water to the mixture, mixing until it comes together to form a ball of dough. Roll out the pastry and place into a greased pie tin, then leave to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Bake the pastry blind at 180 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until it has started to go golden brown, but not too dark.

For the filling:

175g butter

175g caster sugar

125g ground almonds

65g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

Once the pastry is cool, spread an even layer of cranberry jam over the bottom, then spoon the frangipane filling on top.

Decorate with a few dried cranberries before baking for about 25-30 minutes or until the filling has set and is slightly golden brown. Once cool, drizzle with some water icing and serve immediately with a large mug of tea.

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Merry Christmas!

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xxR

Christmas Cranberry Couronne

There’s only a week until Christmas, and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m back home with my family, which gives me the chance to relax, recuperate after a crazy term and, of course, bake! I can’t resist my mum’s huge oven and sprawling kitchen, after living in my tiny flat in London.

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And of course, Christmas is basically the perfect opportunity to eat far too many baked goods without having to feel at all guilty. As you can tell, I’m not holding back at all on the Christmas baking- it was Christmas cookies last week, and countless batches of mince pies in between! But hey, if you can’t indulge at Christmas, then what is the point?

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We are all feeling very festive- the tree is up, the house is decorated, mince pies are in the oven, Christmas songs are blaring.

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This couronne is the perfect teatime treat for days before Christmas. Bursting with cinnamon, ginger and cranberries, it is basically Christmas in bread form. And it’s Christmas colours too! Serve warm, lathered with butter, and a big cup of tea.

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Cranberry Couronne

For the dough:

250g plain flour

5g salt

7g yeast

50g brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

50g butter, softened

150ml milk

1 egg, beaten

Put the flour into  large bowl, then add the salt on one side and the yeast on the other. Tip in the sugar and cinnamon, then add the butter, milk and egg and mix to combine. Keep mixing until all the flour around the side has been incorporated and forms a ball.

Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the dough feels silky and smooth.

Put back into the bowl, cover and leave to rise for an hour to an hour and a half. The dough should be doubled in size.

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While the dough is rising, make your filling.

For the filling:

90g butter, softened

70g brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

3 tablespoons cranberry sauce

Beat together the butter and sugar until smooth. Then add the flour and spices, and mix to form a paste.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to a rectangle.

Spread the butter and sugar mixture over the rolled out dough, then add dollops of cranberry sauce. Then, roll the dough tightly along  a long edge, so you have a long sausage of dough. Cut the sausage in half lengthways to reveal the filling, but leave the ends attached to help you form the shape.

Twist the two lengths together, then form into a circular crown shape. (This is a little confusing, I know! I’ve baked another couronne before, so see this post for illustrated instructions!) Place on the baking tray and leave to rise for about 30 minutes.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, then decorate with water icing and a few dried cranberries on top.

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xxR

The Heartiest Veggie Winter Pie

This is seriously the pie to end all pies. Well, for me, anyway. Being vegetarian, I’ve never experienced the highly acclaimed chicken-and-leek or steak-and-kidney varieties that are so popular with meat eating Brits. To be honest, I’ve never really given much attention to pies.

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But, sometimes, it turns out, pie is just what you need. This was actually the brainchild of a meat lover who craves all things wrapped in flaky, buttery pastry, but who is also determined to eat less of it (the meat, that is.)

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Seriously, with a pie this crammed full of goodness, who needs meat?

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This is full of layer upon layer of the most delicious roasted veggies. It starts with thinly sliced potato and parsnip at the bottom, then sweet potatoes, then spinach and ricotta, then more sweet potatoes, then caramelised onions and finally goats cheese and pine nuts. We baked it in a cake tin, and it was so crammed full that it started to burst its banks a bit. (There was a slight leak happening on one side- which I neglected to photograph for the purpose of this blog post. But it feels dishonest to pretend it didn’t exist at all!)

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Veggie Pie

for the pastry:

250g flour

1 teaspoon salt

250g butter

about 150 ml cold water

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then rub in the butter. Don’t make it too fine- you need to see chunks of butter in the mixture. Pour in two-thirds of the water and mix to bring the dough together into a ball. Add more water if you need to. Rest in the fridge for at least twenty minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle. You should have a marbled effect from the  butter. Fold the bottom third of the dough up over the middle section, then the top third down, so that you have three layers. Give the dough a quarter turn, then roll out again and repeat the fold. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge.

Repeat this rolling and turning at least once more before using it. Keep it in the fridge right up until you need it to keep the butter firm as this makes it easier to work with.

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for the filling:

2 potatoes

2 parsnips

4 sweet potatoes

handful of mushrooms

1 clove of garlic

200g spinach, wilted

1 tub of ricotta

1 onions

splash of balsamic vinegar

pinch of brown sugar

100g pine nuts

about 1/2 a log of goats cheese

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Begin by par boiling the potatoes and parsnips for about 15 minutes. Then, slice them thinly and roast at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until crispy.

Cook the sweet potato in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until soft. Then slice and roast on a separate baking tray.

Slice the mushrooms and garlic thinly, then fry together until the mushrooms have become soft and juicy. In a large bowl, mix together the spinach, ricotta and mushrooms, then set to one side.

Thinly slice the onion, and fry with the balsamic and brown sugar until the onions and soft.

Finally- you are ready to assemble!

Roll out two-thirds of the pastry to about half an inch thick, and place into a well lined cake tin. Make sure the pastry is pushed right down into the corners of the tin.

Make a layer of potatoes and parsnips on the bottom, ensuring that all the pastry is covered. Then, do the same with the slices of sweet potato.

Cover the sweet potato with the spinach mixture. Then make another sweet potato layer. Spoon the onions on top, then cover with knobs of goats cheese and a sprinkling of pine nuts.

Roll out the remaining third of the pastry to form a lid. Lay it on top and crimp the edges.

Bake at 180 degrees for about an hour and a half. You might need to cover the top with tin foil if it is starting to brown too quickly.

This seems like a long process- and it is! But it is very worth it, especially on a cold December day!

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xxR

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Every year, one of the best things about the Christmas season, is baking these cookies. When we were little, my mum would help my sisters and I to roll out the dough, cut out the shapes, then pipe them with red and green icing. Of course, when it came to icing, we were far more interested in quantity than quality, so completely covered our cookies with as much icing as they would hold.

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Now, I am old enough to understand that more isn’t necessarily better, but making and icing these cookies is still just what I need to get me into the Christmas spirit.

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They are ridiculously simple to make, but it is quite a long process, from mixing to rolling to cutting to baking to icing to finally eating, so give yourself a whole day, put on some Christmas music, have some mulled wine and really get into it!

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Christmas Sugar Cookies

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

230g butter

100g caster sugar

3 tablespoons icing sugar

255g plain flour

Begin by beating the egg and vanilla together, then set to the side.

Then, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg mixture and beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.

Sift in the flour, then mix until just combined. Refrigerate the dough until it is firm, then you are ready to roll (literally).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Use Christmassy cookie cutters, or a knife and a stencil if you don’t have any cutters, to cut out shapes.

Place the cookies on a greased baking tray and bake at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them because you don’t want them to be overdone! You may need to turn the tray if some are browning faster than others. You will also probably need to bake them in several batches- unless you have a huge oven! Be patient, it takes a while but it’s very easy!

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For the icing:

450g icing sugar

2 egg whites

few drops of lemon juice

food colouring of your choice

Mix the sugar and egg white together until you are left with a glossy, perfectly white icing. Then add the lemon juice and food colouring.

Using piping bags, pipe beautiful designs onto your cookies. Leave them to set, which should only take about half an hour. Then- devour them and feel Christmassy.

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xxR