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

Mini Apple Pies

I’m in the process of moving into a new flat. I’ll be living completely by myself for the first time ever, and I’m very excited! The flat is lovely- or it will be soon- but at the moment it’s in the process of being completely gutted and refurbished, which means that I am essentially homeless.

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I’ve been staying at my (very accommodating and wonderful (in case he’s reading this!)) boyfriend’s flat for the last few weeks, but I think I’m starting to outstay my welcome.

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I’ve had to admit homeless defeat and go back to my parents’ house for the weekend. Not that I’m complaining, going home is pretty luxurious. The food is wonderful, and it’s nice to have home comforts for a few days.

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Also, its apple season. We have more apples trees than I care to count, which means we are absolutely inundated with apples every autumn. Allow me to stress: this is not a bad thing! It’s a great thing. Apple crumble is basically a daily occurrence.

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These Mini Apple Pies are a twist on an absolute autumn classic. Individual apples cased in a buttery rough puff pastry, with a hole in the middle to fill with custard, cream or ice cream.

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Mini Apple Pies

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For the rough puff pastry:

250g plain flour

250g butter

about 150ml cold water

For the apples:

4 apples (serves 4)

4 tablespoons caster sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon

For the sugar syrup:

100g caster sugar

200ml water

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Begin with the pastry. Roughly rub the butter into the flour, but loosely- you want to see bits of butter, so it shouldn’t be as fine as shortcrust pastry. Make a well in the centre, and pour about half of the water in, then mix until you have a firm dough. Add more water if you need it, then wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, then roll out into a rectangle. You should be able to see streaks of butter. Fold the bottom third up over the middle third, then fold the top third down over that one.

Turn the dough a quarter to the right or left, then roll out and fold as before. Rewrap in clingflim and put it back into the fridge for another 20 mins.

Peel the apples, then cut out the core. Place on a baking tray, then sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 180 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the apples have started to soften, but be careful that they don’t go too mushy.

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While the apples are in the oven, give the pastry one more roll and fold.

Take the apples out of the oven and allow to cool completely before pastry-ing them.

Make the sugar syrup by gently simmering the water and sugar together, until the sugar has dissolved and it has started to get thick. You don’t want it to get too thick, like a caramel, so keep an eye on it. It will probably take about 5 to 7 minutes.

When the apples are cold, roll out the pastry. Cut thin strips, about the thickness of tagliatelle pasta. Brush each apple with sugar syrup, then, starting at the base of an apple, wrap the pastry around it. Use a dab more sugar syrup to stick the pastry down, then repeat until each apple is completely covered. Make sure the pastry is stuck well, or it will slide down the apple in the oven!

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Bake the apples at 200 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.

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Serve warm, and filled with custard, ice cream, yoghurt and brown sugar or cream. Perfect!

xxR

Too Late Apple and Raspberry Pie

It’s getting a little late for pie. Pie is an autumn thing, and it is basically Christmas. Truth be told, I made this pie a good month ago, when it was high pie time. And I’ve been far too busy with uni and essays and applications and I forgot. I’m very sorry, because its very delicious and I wish you could have tasted it when the time was right.

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But hey, traditions are there to be slightly changed, so why not eat an apple and raspberry pie in mid-december?

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I don’t know. I definitely would.

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Apple and Raspberry Pie

Pastry

500g plain flour

100g icing sugar

250g butter- cold and cubed!

2 eggs

splash of milk

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Begin by sifting together the flour and icing sugar. Then add the cubes of butter. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour, until it resembles very fine bread crumbs.

Add the eggs and the splash of milk, and bring the mixture together until it forms a ball of dough. Try not to overwork it, or it will be elasticy and chewy, not flaky as you want it!

Wrap it in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for half an hour.

Once it has rested, take the dough out of the fridge. Divide the ball into two halves (one for the top and one for the bottom!) Lightly flour your work surface and roll out one half until it is about ¼ of an inch thick.

Place this in a pie dish- it will be the base of your pie. Lay a piece of greaseproof paper over the top of it, fill it with rice or dry beans or something like that, and bake at 180 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until it is slightly golden brown.

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Filling

3 large bramley cooking apples

1 punnet of raspberries

100g of caster sugar

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

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While the base is in the oven, peel and thinly slice your apples. Put them in a large bowl and stir in the raspberries, sugar and cinnamon.

Once the based has finished baking, take it out of the oven. Pour in the fruit. Roll out the top to ¼ inch thick. Cut some holes in the top to let the steam out, as well as to add decoration! Place it on top of the fruit, and trim off any excess.

Glaze the top with egg or milk, and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Put it back in the oven for another 15- 20 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

Enjoy straight from the oven!

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xxR

New House Blues Apple, Pear and Blackberry Crumble

Yesterday I got the keys to my new London house. (Yay!)

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It was a very typical student house- small, lifeless, and pretty dirty. I arrived first, opening the door to a cold, off white coloured hallway with a rather dingy brown carpet. Everything is grey, everything is cold, and everything has a permanent layer of dust on it. The front door has about an inch gap on underneath, and the cold September air whistles through, giving the place a permanent chill. I am dreading January.

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My mother looked on in horror: ‘you’re living HERE? Well, maybe its not too late to back out…’

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But it is too late to back out, much to my mother’s dismay. It looks like I’m going to have to suck up the dust and dinge and grease (really really not literally! Or maybe with a Hoover…)

I, however, am optimistic. I know how great it will be once all the girls have moved in and filled the place with colour and laughter. And lots of blankets. And onesies. Oh and tea. It is going to be as wonderful as last year at uni was. It seems that the worse the house itself is, the better the people within it make it feel. I am thoroughly looking forward to every moment I spend there.

Just not yet.

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I think I’ll wait till they have all moved in and made it feel sliiiiightly more lived in (and clean) before I start calling it ‘home.’ So I have retreated back to my parents house in the countryside, to sit by the fire and shovel crumble into my mouth and eat amazing Mother meals and start to try to embrace the cold.

So- on to the crumble.

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Crumble is the best thing on a cold Autumn evening. In fact, crumble is the best thing just about all the time. It is SO easy to make and just as easy to eat. It may not be the most photogenic thing in the world, that is true, but it is exactly what you need after a hard day of moving in.

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Apple, Pear and Blackberry Crumble

This crumble was made with fruit and berries picked in my garden (ahh, home) but shop bought ones will be just as good (maybe better actually- far less risk of tunneling bugs!)

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For the filling:

About 8 small cooking apples

About 4 small pears

About a punnet worth of blackberries (these measurements are approximate as it depends a lot on the size of your fruit and the size of your dish, but as long as you have enough to fill the dish at least three pieces of fruit deep.)

About 50g caster sugar (again, this depends on how much fruit you are using! If your apples are particularly tart, use more. If you prefer your crumble on the less sweet side, mix in less.

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Peel and cut up the apples and pears into fairly thin slices- they don’t have to be too thin, but you don’t want massive wedges. Put in a bowl and sprinkle the sugar. All the fruit should have a good coating, so add more if you think you need it!

Pour the fruity mixture into a dish- a roasting sort of dish would work well- and try not to eat all the fruit while you make the crumble!

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For the crumble:

200g butter, cubed

300g plain flour

100g brown sugar

75g caster sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Rub the flour into the butter until it resembles bread crumbs. I do this by hand (mainly because I love how it feels), but you can do it with a food processor if you’d prefer (and if you dislike having floury butter stuck under your fingernails, which isn’t a great sensation!) Don’t make it too fine, because its nice to have some lumps in your crumble!

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Mix in the sugar and cinnamon and pour the crumble over the fruit.

Bake at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the crumble topping is browned and the fruit is bubbling at the sides.

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Enjoy straight from the oven!

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xxR

A delicious Plum Tart (and a rather less delicious rant about house rentals)

I am in the middle of trying to rent a house. It is in London, and me and four friends are amidst negotiations with the landlord. It just is not going well. I mean, who knew that there was so much involved in renting a house? Also we are running out of time- uni starts again in a month (eek) and we are still technically homeless.

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We have made slight progress- I mean, there is a house we want. Sort of. It is not ideal but it is a house, with a roof (although, admittedly, it probably leaks.) It has five (albeit small) bedrooms and a kitchen, which, with a little imagination, could be very homely.

There is just so much to think about! We are battling with the landlord about everything from admin fees to the fine print of the lease, licenses to deposits. It’s just impossible to know if we are doing the right thing- and not being completely ripped off!

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I just know how people can handle these things without the help of some very loving and patient parents!

Luckily, not all things in life are as complex or stressful as renting a house.

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Like this tart.

With only four ingredients, it really is the simplest thing in the world.

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Plum Tart (I picked these plums from my garden, but if you don’t have a complete over abundance of fruit trees in your garden and more plums than you know what to do with, bought ones will be just as good!)

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for the pastry:

300g plain flour

150g butter

75g sugar

4 tablespoons cold water

for the filling:

about 20 plums- halved and with the stones removed

5 tablespoons of caster sugar

Using your hands, or a food processor if you prefer, rub the butter into the flour until it forms a sort of bread crumby or sandy texture. Add the sugar and keep working. Add a small amount of the water and mix it in, first with a wooden spoon and then with your hands, until it forms together into a ball. Add the water slowly- you can always add more if it is too dry, but working with a really wet dough is horrible!

Once it has formed into a ball, wrap it in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.

While the dough is resting, prepare the plums. Cut them in half, and sprinkle the sugar over them. Mix it in well, so they all have an equal coating of sugar.

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Once the dough is rested, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, and place it in a pie dish. Pour in the plums.

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Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until the plums have softened and the pastry is a golden brown colour. (I find its best not to bake this tart blind, as the pastry cooks well enough in the time it takes for the plums to adequately soften, and the base is never too soggy and runny- but if you think it is best, then by all means, do it!)

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And if you, like me, still have more plums left over- they are also great in jam!

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xxR

Redcurrant and Raspberry Tart

Berry overload. In my garden we have more berry bushes than we can possibly know what to do with. And fruit trees. We are up to our eyeballs in plums and apples, which are falling off the trees faster than we can pick them up. So summer is tart season. Plum tart, apple tart, pear, raspberry and blackberry tart, strawberry, cherry, redcurrant…
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Which is perfect.
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Because tarts are the best. (Especially in a heatwave.)
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They are also absurdly easy to make, and can be filled with just about any fruit, so there really is no excuse not to get pickin’ (off the supermarket shelves, perhaps, if this is more your style!)
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Redcurrant and Raspberry Tart

For the pastry:
4 ounces plain flour
2 ounces butter
1 ounce caster sugar
a splash of cold water

Begin as if you are making a crumble. (Keeping it vague!) – Rub the butter and flour together until they resemble fine bread crumbs. You can use a food processor if you want (this is by far quicker, just wazz them together for about 30 seconds and you’ll be there!) But I much prefer to use my hands (its more fun, and it feels so nice!) It’s okay for it to be a bit lumpy- and you have to work fairly quickly because with pastry the whole game is keeping it as cool as possible. (I’m starting to wonder why I’m recommending pastry as the ultimate heat wave treat…)
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Once you have a fine bread crumby or sandy texture, stir in the sugar.
Then start incorporating the water. You’ll want to go slowly at first- because too much will turn your pastry into a gooey sticky disgusting mess (trust me, it happens.) So start off with about a tablespoon full of very cold water. Sprinkle it all over and start bringing it together into a sort of dough. You can do this with a wooden spoon or your fingers. Add more water if necessary. Once it has all come together into a ball wrap it in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for about half an hour.
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Once the pastry is rested, it is ready to roll out- place it on a lightly floured surface and roll out to about a 1/4 inch thickness.
Transfer it to a pie tin and prepare your berries.
I used redcurrants and raspberries, but really any berry is delicious in a tart. Mix with 2-3 tablespoons of caster sugar (the currants were VERY tart, so I had to go quite heavy on the sugar, but this is completely a question of personal preference.)
Brush the base of the tart with egg yolk and sprinkle with cornflour or semolina. This will stop it going soggy with the juice (and saves you baking it blind!)
Pour the berries into the pastry and roughly fold the pastry around the edges- it can be very rough- we are going for rustic here!
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Bake at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden.
Serve with a dollop of yoghurt and teaspoon of brown sugar, or enjoy all on its own!
xxR