Reidbury's Kitchen

Food thoughts, recipes and billowing smoke from a home cook's kitchen in London


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Fresh Gingerbread with Lemon Icing

Fresh Gingerbread with Lemon Icing, ‘How to Be a Domestic Goddess’, Nigella Lawson

Fresh Gingerbread with Lemon Icing, ‘How to Be a Domestic Goddess’, Nigella Lawson

Another recipe from Nigella’s ‘How to be A Domestic Goddess’ and another winner! I am a big fan of traditional gingerbread (ie the cake version, not the biscuit version) and this recipe somehow reminded me of the Northern gingerbread I grew up loving! It’s made me think of digging out a recipe for Parkin that I used to eat on Bonfire Night each year! The addition of the lemon icing really works well here by freshening up the cake, which has quite a deep/earthy flavour on its own. This was a simple recipe to follow, and would be really nice for a bake sale or similar!

KB rating 8.5/10. PR rating 8.5/10

Fresh Gingerbread with Lemon Icing (makes 20 squares)

Ingredients:

For the gingerbread

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 125g dark muscovado sugar
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 200g black treacle
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to mix
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 2 tbsp warm water
  • 300g plain flour
  • Roasting tin, approx 30 x 20 x 5cm, greased and lined with Bake-O-Glide, foil or parchment

For the icing

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 175g icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 tbsp warm water

Method:

Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3.

In a saucepan, melt the butter along with the sugar, golden syrup, treacle, ginger and cinnamon. Off the heat, add the milk, eggs and bicarbonate of soda in its water.

Measure the flour out into a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed (it will be a very liquid batter). Pour it into the tin and bake for ¾ – 1hr until risen and firm. Be careful not to overcook it, as it is nicer a little stickier, and anyway will carry on cooking as it cools.

When it is cool, get on with icing. Whisk the lemon juice into the icing sugar first, then gradually add the water. You want a good, thick icing, so go cautiously and be prepared not to add all the water. Spread over the cooled gingerbread with a palette knife and leave to set before cutting.

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Cherry-Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate-Cherry Cupcakes, 'How to Be a Domestic Goddess', Nigella Lawson

Chocolate-Cherry Cupcakes, ‘How to Be a Domestic Goddess’, Nigella Lawson

Two wonderful things have happened recently (in addition to buying the house!), and I’m a very lucky and happy bunny. I was bought a Kitchen Aid, and I was also bought Nigella’s ‘How to Be a Domestic Goddess’ book. So I’m re-finding my baking mojo. One of the loveliest things I’ve made recently are out of the Nigella’s book (buy it here – it’s ace) – Cherry-Chocolate Cupcakes. Easy to make, easy to eat! They’re a bit like a reverse cupcake, in that the cake itself is quite sweet, but this is perfectly offset by quite a bitter icing.

You’ll notice a sneaky third score below. Guest judge, Chris, who was given the honour of Paul finally sharing my baking with someone other than himself!

KB 9/10. PR 9/10. CF 8.5/10

Chocolate-Cherry Cupcakes (makes 12)

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 125g soft unsalted butter
  • 100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 300g morello cherry jam (get a good quality one, but if it’s a bit of a sweeter, cheaper version, reduce the sugar in the batter mix a little)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 150g self raising flour

12 bun muffin tin and papers

For the icing:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 100ml double cream
  • 12 natural-coloured glace cherries

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4

Put the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan on the heat to melt. When nearly completely melted, stir in the chocolate. Leave for a moment to begin softening, then take the pan off the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate are smooth and melted. Now add the cherry jam, sugar, salt and eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon and when all is pretty well amalgamated stir in the flour.

Scrape and pour into the muffin papers in their tin and bake for 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out.

When the cupcakes are cool, break the chocolate for the icing into little pieces and add them to the cream in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and then whisk, by hand or electronically, till thick and smooth. Ice the cupcakes, smoothing the tops with the back of a spoon, and stand a cherry in the centre of each.


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Rustic Pear and Bramley Apple Tart

Rustic Pear and Bramley Apple Tart

Rustic Pear and Bramley Apple Tart

Picture the scene – a cold, rainy, wintery Sunday in the East End of London. A boyfriend sat cold and miserable in the flat. And me, sat on the sofa in my PJs flicking absentmindedly through a magazine. But then, out of the corner of my eye, I spy a Waitrose recipe card that’s been sat on the coffee table for a while. And as soon as I see that, I KNOW I have to make it! Rustic Pear and Bramley Apple Tart – it became an obsession and what a lovely way to finish the weekend! So, having sent the boyfriend out to do the weekly shop (not sure how I managed that!), I plodded over to the kitchen!

This recipe is one of the most simple pastry dishes I’ve ever made, and it is definitely going to become a staple ‘go to’ Autumn/Winter dessert. The end result is definitely Rustic, as mentioned in the title. But all the better for it! An open topped pie with a light, crumbly, hazelnutty pastry, filled with the classic combo of apples, pears, cinnamon, sugar and sultanas. No faff with making pastry lids, just fold up the sides of the pastry to form a buffer against the fruit falling out. Bosh!

KB rating 8.5/10 PR rating 8.5/10

Rustic Pear and Bramley Apple Tart (serves 8)

Ingredients:

  • 50g hazelnuts
  • 225g plain flour
  • 140g butter, chilled and diced
  • 3 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 pears, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced
  • 2 Bramley apples, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced
  • 50g sultanas (I ended up using more)
  • 60g light brown soft sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or clear honey

Method:

Place the nuts in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Add the flour, butter and caster sugar and whizz until all the butter is blended well. Add the egg and whizz again to form a firm dough – if the mixture seems dry add 1 tbsp of chilled water. Shape into a ball and chill for at least 10 mins (I reckon 30 mins minimum otherwise it’s hard to roll out).

Preheat the oven to 180C (gas mark 4). In a large bowl, toss together the pears, apples, sultanas, brown sugar, cinnamon and cornflour.

Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry to a circle about 35cm diameter. Transfer to a baking tray (I cheated, and rolled out the dough on the baking parchment as it was very crumbly and I was nervous about the transfer)!

Spoon the fruit mixture onto the centre of the pastry, leaving a 4cm border all the way around. You can pile quite high (though I still had a bit of filling that didn’t fit into the pastry disc). Fold up the edges to form sides, and then brush the pastry with milk.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is tender and very juicy. Drizzle with the maple syrup or honey. Slice and serve warm (or at room temperature) with clotted cream or custard.

Get under a blanket, grab a brew and settle back on the sofa!


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Nigella’s Yogurt Pot Cake

Nigella's Yogurt Pot Cake, Nigellissima

Nigella’s Yogurt Pot Cake, Nigellissima

I really enjoyed watching the latest Nigella series on TV – Nigellisma. Not just because I love the way she talks about food and that she always borders on the wholly-inappropriate-for-pre-watershed-telly, but because she ends up inspiring me to cook something that I would never have looked at twice from the book. Step up, Nigella’s Yogurt Pot Cake. The concept of this cake is that you take a regular-sized yogurt pot (150ml) and use it as an easy way to measure all the other ingredients. Unfortunately, trying to find a regular sized pot of yogurt in the East End of London proved too much – most of the yogurt pots were so large they had handles. Like paint pots. Seriously, how much yogurt does one family need? But anyway, Nigella thankfully preempted this potential problem and listed proper measurements too.

For the yogurt pot as a measurement version, check out the video on the BBC website hereAnd buy the book here

As I said, I would have flicked past this recipe had I not seen this being made during the series, and I’m so glad I tried it. Nigella suggests baking this in a 22cm savarin or ring mould, which I don’t have. But she also suggests a regular 22cm springform tin works fine, which is what I used. I’ve not had any experience of baking with yogurt and oil, so I’m not 100% sure if my cake came out ‘right’ or not, although I would say it was lovely. It didn’t rise to great heights, and wasn’t hugely crumbly, but it did taste wonderfully light with the lemon and vanilla working well together. It reminded me of a denser madeira cake. I’d like to think that’s what the cake is meant to turn out like, and not that I should have whipped the egg whites more before adding!

KB rating 7.5/10. PR rating 7/10

Yogurt Pot Cake (Cuts into about 16 slices)

Ingredients

  • 150g plain yogurt
  • 150ml flavourless vegetable oil (plus some for greasing)
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 capfuls (1.5 tsp) vanilla extract
  • Zest of half an unwaxed lemon
  • 175g plain flour
  • 75g cornflour
  • 1 tsp icing sugar (to serve)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4, and grease your ring mould or springform tin using vegetable oil.

Separate the eggs and put the whites into one bowl and the yolks in another. Whisk the whites until they are firm peaks. Set aside.

Scrape the yogurt onto the egg yolks, and use the yogurt pot to measure the other ingredients (or use the measurements provided above). So add 2 pots (just) of sugar and whisk with the egg yolks and yogurt until airy and light.

Fill the yogurt pot up with vegetable oil and, beating the whole time, slowly add to the egg yolk mixture. Then beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Still beating, add in 2 pots of flour, followed by 1 pot of cornflour. Scrape down and fold in with a rubber spatula. Now with a large metal spoon, dollop in the egg whites and fold them in with the spatula.

Fill the mould/tin with the batter and bake in the oven for 30-35 mins. When cooked the sides will be coming away from the sides and a metal skewer or cake tester will come out clean.

Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let the cake sit in the tin for 10 mins before turning it out.

Once cooled, put onto a serving point and sprinkle over icing sugar.


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The ‘Gotta be Quick’ Coffee and Walnut Cake

Coffee & Walnut Layer Cake, Nigella Lawson's 'Kitchen'

Coffee & Walnut Layer Cake, Nigella Lawson’s ‘Kitchen’

We hold regular charity bake sales in our team at work, and trial and error has taught me that this cake goes fast! It’s really does seem to be one of the best sellers. In fact, I baked this last night to be sold today…and within 20 mins of the sale someone bought the whole cake. THE WHOLE CAKE! (It was for someone’s birthday just in case you’re concerned about their general well-being) . And if you needed any more convincing, Paul doesn’t like nuts but somehow loves this cake. It is one of the easiest cakes to make, and whilst the nutty flavour is quite subtle, the espresso really makes this cake sing. The buttercream frosting is really simple too, but really adds to the overall taste! (I’m not really an icing fan, but this converted me to the idea). The first time I made this I couldn’t get espresso powder, but I really would advise searching it out. I found a Percol espresso powder at the supermarket which I now use, but Nescafe also do one that’s quite widely available too.

This cake is from Nigella Lawson’s book, Kitchen, which is actually one of my favourite Nigella books. And whilst I’ve listed the recipe below, it’s also available online on her website here.

Coffee and Walnut Layer Cake (serves 8, but that’s according to Nigella! Her portions are huge, so it can probably serve more!)

Ingredients

For the sponge

  • 50g walnuts (pieces)
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g unsalted, softened butter (plus some for greasing)
  • 200g plain flour
  • 4 tsp espresso coffee
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk

For the buttercream frosting

  • 350g icing sugar
  • 175g unsalted, softened butter
  • 2.5 tsp espresso coffee
  • 1 tbsp water (boiling)
  • 25g walnuts (halves)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

Butter 2 20cm/8” sandwich tins and line the base of each with baking parchment.

Put the walnut pieces and sugar into a food processor and blitz to a fine nutty powder.

Add the butter, flour, espresso powder, baking powder, bicarb and eggs and process to a smooth batter.

Add the milk, pouring it down the funnel with the motor still running, or just pulsing, to loosen the cake mixture: it should be a soft, dropping consistency, so add more milk if you need to. (If you are making this by hand, bash the nuts to a rubbly powder with a rolling pin and mix with the dry ingredients; then cream the butter and sugar together, and beat in some dry ingredients and eggs alternately and, finally, the milk.)

Divide the mixture between the 2 lined tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the sponge has risen and feels springy to the touch.

Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, before turning them out onto the rack and peeling off the baking parchment.

When the sponges are cool, you can make the buttercream.

Pulse the icing sugar in the food processor until it is lump free, then add the butter and process to make a smooth icing.

Dissolve the instant espresso powder in 1 tablespoon boiling water and add it while still hot to the processor, pulsing to blend into the buttercream. (If you are doing this by hand, sieve the icing sugar and beat it into the butter with a wooden spoon. Then beat in the hot coffee liquid).

Place 1 sponge upside down on your cake stand or serving plate.

Spread with about half the icing; then place on it the second sponge, right side up (i.e. so the 2 flat sides of the sponges meet in the middle) and cover the top with the remaining icing in a ramshackle swirly pattern.

This cake is all about old-fashioned, rustic charm, so don’t worry unduly: however the frosting goes on is fine. similarly, don’t fret about some buttercream oozing out around the middle: that’s what makes it look so inviting.

Gently press the walnut halves into the top of the icing all around the edge of the circle about 1cm apart

Eat a piece before it all goes…


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Apple & Frangipane Tarts

Apple Frangipane Tarts

Apple Frangipane Tarts

So last year I went to Leith’s School of Food and Wine to take on a Pastry Workshop. I would highly recommend both the course and Leith’s for anyone interested in furthering their knowledge or learning a new skill. I always knew that pastry is a tough mistress, but within the first 20 minutes it became pretty clear that we were going to have a day of mixed fortunes! The chef who provided an initial demo of the items we were going to make was very honest that pastry is something that takes plenty of practice, cold hands and the right atmospheric conditions to get right! We learned to make three types of pastry:

  • Choux Pastry in the form of Profiteroles
  • Rich Shortcrust in the form of a Salmon & Dill Quiche
  • Pâte Sucrée (sweet shortcrust) in the form of Apple and Frangipane Tarts

Full details on the 2013 course are here but my highlight was the Apple and Frangipane Tarts. Whilst they require some effort to make, they just look so irresistible and have always garnered lots of ‘oohs’ of approval, so here’s the recipe:

APPLE AND FRANGIPANE TARTS

For the Pâte Sucrée (I reckon you can get 6-8 small tarts out of this)

  • 170g plain flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 85g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 85g sugar
  • 2 drops of vanilla essence (I would use extract here)

For the Frangipane

  • 200g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp Calvados or kirsch (optional allegedly, but I wholeheartedly approve)
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 3-4 ripe dessert apples

For the apricot glaze

  • 3 tbsp apricot jam
  • ½ tbsp water
  • Juice of half a small lemon

Make the pastry:

I’m using the method that was taught during the course.  Our instructor did say there’s a food processor version, but honestly, the pleasure in making these tarts for me is the ‘hands on’ approach!

Sift the flour with the salt on to a board.  With your fist make a large circle in the centre (about the size of a dinner plate) so you are left with a ring of flour. Place the sugar and butter in the centre.

Using the fingertips of one hand, mix the butter and sugar together in a ‘pecking’ motion.  Once mixed, add the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla essence and ‘peck’ into a paste.  After that, flick the flour over the paste using a palette knife. Using the ‘sharp’ side of the palette knife ‘chop’ the pastry until all the flour is combined. When combined, frasier the pastry into 6-8 sections (as many sections as you want tarts).  This involves shaving 3 slivers off the ball of dough with a pallet knife at a time, and then pressing all the slivers together to form your finished clump of pastry).

If the pastry seems too soft to roll out, wrap it in clingfilm and chill in the fridge.  Then, roll it out to fit your tart cases and line them.  Good luck with this – the shorter the pastry, the better it’ll taste, but the more frustration it’ll add to your life when you’re trying to line those tins…! Chill in the fridge (regardless of whether you’ve chilled the dough up to this point or not).

Make the Frangipane:

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6 and put in a baking sheet to heat

Cream the butter in a bowl gradually beat in the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and soft.

Gradually add the eggs and egg yolks, beating well after each addition.

Add the Calvados or Kirsch if using (I judge you if you don’t), and then stir in the ground almonds and the flour. Spread the frangipane into the chilled pastry cases.

Peel the apples (unless they’re red or pink, in which case leave them as they are), halve them and scoop out the cores. Cut the apples crosswise into very thin slices and arrange them on the frangipane keeping the slices of each apple together. Press them down gently until they touch the pastry base.

Bake the tarts on the preheated baking sheet near the top of the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the pastry dough is beginning to brown. Turn down the oven temperature to 170C/350F/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 30 -35 minutes or until apples are tender and the frangipane is set.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Remove from the tart cases whilst the tarts are still warm as it’s easier.

Make the apricot glaze: 

Whilst the tarts are cooling, make the apricot glaze. Place all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring gently until syrupy. Strain.

Brush the tarts with the apricot glaze quickly (as the glaze can set pretty quickly and become unspreadable) and serve at room temperature. These tarts are best eaten the day they’re cooked, but they can also be frozen.

Et voila… Bask in the glory of the inevitable praise that will follow!