Tag Archives: custard

Gingerbread Parkin with Vanilla Apple Sauce

9 Nov

The Washer Up has been going on about how wonderful Parkin is for ever. It’s a northern thing you see. As in, from the north of England, specifically the north-west. Yorkshire and Lancashire if you want to be precise. And they will want it to be precise. I am sure there will be comments about its origin and claims that it is definitely from Yorkshire or undenialbly from Lancashire.  I’m a soft southerner so I couldn’t give a “monkey’s” as they say down south.

So when I saw this recipe for it on one of my favourite food blogs, Kellie’s Food to Glow, this week I was desperate to give it a try. It’s traditionally served on Bonfire night – November 5th, which also happens to be our friend, Jeannes birthday. There was my excuse, as if I needed one. It was enough just to see the smile on his face. Honestly.

The Vanilla Apple Sauce that Kellie serves it with is genius. It’s like a vegan custard, a thick vanilla-y custardy apple sauce that we served warm with the hot slices of gingerbread parkin. And a sneaky scoop of vanilla ice cream if you must know. Well it was a birthday dessert.

Parkin is traditionally served cold and spread with a little butter according to The Washer Up. Whichever way it is delicious but you have to leave it wrapped up to mature for at least 3 days before you eat it.  So be patient and organised for a change because the stickiness you get is really worth the wait.

I deviated from Kellie’s recipe slightly by using half coconut oil (not very northern at all!) and half dairy-free margarine because I didn’t have enough margarine. I also used half honey because I didn’t have enough golden syrup and used wholemeal spelt flour instead of plain. It’s a wonder that I managed get anywhere near the original really but this is obviously a very forgiving recipe. No complaints from this end!!

Gingerbread Parkin Recipe

Enough for a 10″ loaf tin or an 8″ square baking tin. Adapted from Food to Glow

  • 100 g butter or dairy free margarine (I used 50g coconut oil/50g marg)
  • 100 g black treacle/molasses/miel de cana
  • 200 g golden syrup/agave syrup (I used 100g syrup/100g honey)
  • 75 g palm sugar/dark brown sugar
  • 200 g flour sieved with 2 1/4 tsp baking powder & 1/4 tsp salt (I used wholemeal spelt flour)
  • 100 g medium oatmeal (I blended my normal oats to finer powder)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 10 pieces/cubes crystallised ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 Tbsp oat milk (or other milk)

Preheat the oven to 140C. Oil and completely line your baking/loaf tin with baking paper.

In a large heavy pan, melt the butter (or replacements), treacle, syrup and sugar over a low-ish  heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the melted buttery syrup, stirring together well. Beat together the eggs and milk and pour this in too. Fold all of this through until well incorporated and pour the whole lot into your lined tin.

Bake for 90 minutes until a deep golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Then leave it to cool in the tin on a wire rack.

When cool, wrap it up in its baking parchment, then in two layers of foil and leave it in a cool dry place for at least 3 days but up to a week.

Good luck with that, I managed 2 1/2 days but it really does get better and stickier and more moist the longer you leave it wrapped up so don’t eat it straight away. It won’t be the same!!

Vanilla Apple Sauce Recipe

Vegan, gluten-free.

  • 500 g apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 100 ml water
  • 4 tbsp agave syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp butter/margarine

Put the apples, water, syrup/honey and vanilla in a pan and cook gently for about 15 mins until the apples are soft then stir in the butter. You can use it as it is, if you like it chunky. Mash it up a bit more or blend it to give it a smoother creamier consistency. Taste and add more honey, vanilla or a squeeze of lemon juice to tart it up a bit. Serve it warm, or room temperature, with a slice of the parkin.

Have a Lovely Weekend!!

Individual Strawberry and Amaretto Trifles with Toasted Flaked Almonds and Crushed Amaretti Biscuits

26 Jun

You can make a big one if you like but these are cute, don’t you think? I made a big version (in fact it was huge) for a Jubilee party at our friend, Jeanne’s house. There were about 14 people going so I made the most enormous trifle and an apricot frangipane tart aswell. Well you wouldn’t want to run out of desserts would you? 

Jeanne knows how to throw a party, she has a fine selection of a cushions in a pink Jubilee style and she always makes the best drinks. Champagne with strawberries and a big jug of Pimms filled with fresh fruit, cucumber and mint. How to choose? One of each obviously.

Even after a gorgeous buffet prepared by Jeanne everyone managed to polish off one or (in some cases) two desserts. It’s difficult to get a good picture of a trifle as you can see from my attempt below, it’s like a big sloppy delicious mess really. I was pleased with the glaze on my apricot tart though.

So, solely for your benefit you understand, I had to make some of these pretty little individual trifles that would photograph better.

Just a few tips; the recipe below is just an outline, it obviously depends on the size of you dish, glass or bowl as to how much of everything you need. The fruit can be replaced with whatever is in season or looks nice in the market, as can the booze, just try to match it with the fruit. You may have to do a few taste tests first before you get the right combination!

Oh and don’t go too mad with the amount you put in, apparently it is possible to have too much alcohol in a trifle. Mine was a little on the strong side but there are worse things in life and I didn’t hear anyone complaining.

Individual Strawberry & Amaretto Trifles

  • mini sponge cakes (or trifle sponges)
  • strawberry jam
  • amaretto
  • fresh strawberries
  • icing sugar
  • creme patissiere (or thick custard) see my recipe  That amount was enough for 4 or 5 individual trifles . I added a splosh of amaretto to it instead of the orange blossom water.
  • double cream (for whipping)
  • vanilla extract
  • caster sugar
  • mascarpone
  • flaked almonds (toasted in a dry pan)
  • amaretti biscuits

Spread the jam on each of the sponges and sandwich them together to form a single layer covering the bottom of your dish, glass or bowl. Try one. Jam sponge is lovely, how long has it been?

Poke holes all over the sponges with a wooden skewer and slowly drizzle over the Amaretto letting it soak in. Don’t go too mad. Leave it for about 10 minutes to soak in properly.

Hull and half or quarter some strawberries and arrange them evenly on top of the sponge. Blend about the same amount of strawberries and a tablespoon or two of icing sugar to a smooth coulis/sauce and pour it over the strawberries.

Cover with a layer of cooled creme patissiere (or thick custard). Whip some cream with the same amount of mascarpone, a little vanilla extract and a few tablespoons of caster sugar to soft peaks. Spread this evenly over the custard layer.

Refrigerate until ready to serve and then top with a layer of toasted flaked almonds and crumble over some Amaretti biscuits.

Enjoy!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today

Rufus posing on his favourite sofa. Very handsome he looks too!!

15 on Orange Blossom and Strawberry Custard Slices

22 May

Following on from yesterday’s post about inspiration and where I get my ideas from, this recipe illustrates perfectly the combination of factors that come together to create something nice to eat. Because that is what we are talking about here. Food that you (and I) want to eat. And you want to eat these, I can tell. You’re dribbling.

Strawberries are at the peak of their season here at the moment, so they are cheap and bursting with flavour. Well these ones are anyway, so they need to star in a recipe.

Every morning for the past month or so I have been running with the dog surrounded by the intoxicating scent of orange blossom. I know, I’m lucky. It is such a beautiful smell that hits you as soon as you walk out of the front door. Well I do live in Andalucia. Anyway the past couple of days it has been noticeable in its absence. We are coming to the end of the orange blossom season and I realised that I haven’t used its aromatic orange blossom water in a recipe this year.

On our last day in Cape Town we went for Sunday lunch at the 15 on Orange Hotel. Every Sunday they have a buffet lunch for 265 Rand that includes endless bubbly. Yes, endless bubbly. Are you mad? Have you met my Dad? And me come to that if you’re talking about bubbly. It’s not cheap stuff either, we really enjoyed quite a few glasses of the Graham Beck Brut Rose.

The hotel is elegant, modern, luxury designer chic . An enormous Murano glass chandelier with a staircase inside leading to a private lounge dominates the luxurious bar area. The lighting is actually really impressive throughout the hotel.

Now when you talk about buffets in hotels what springs to my mind is elbowing your way around a table filled with wilting salad, crusty under the lights sandwiches, dried up slices of meat hidden by a slimy gravy and suspect piles of defrosted prawns. Not my thing, at all. This couldn’t be more different. The restaurant is bright, modern and in no way does it smell of boiled meat.

The standard of the food is unbelievable. It’s the best looking buffet I’ve ever seen.  Beautiful feta salads, mozzarella & tomato Caprese with basil pesto, roasted vegetable terrine, beetroot tian, a cheese selection with chutneys. That’s just the veggie starters by the way. For main course I had an excellent Eggplant Parmigiana but it was the desserts that impressed me the most.

The selection was mind-blowing. Chocolate cherry tortes, blueberries & cream violet syrup shots, cape gooseberry madeleines.

A cake stand full of chewy meringues, chocolate or caramel & cinnamon, white chocolate sacher torte, and enormous pink marshmallows. The keep bringing out new things too. It’s amazing.

It is seriously worth coming here just for the desserts and bubbly. You want to try them all because they look so good. They are all quite dainty so you don’t feel like such a pig for eating more than one. I had the cinnamon caramel meringue, the chocolate cherry torte and one of these strawberry custard slices.

So when I got home and strawberries came into season here, I started badgering them for the recipe. And here it is. The only thing did differently was add some orange blossom water to my custard. I cut my puff pastry into fairly small rectangles 3 x 9 cm so they are quite ladylike and afternoon tea-ish. You can make yours bigger if you like.

Strawberry & Orange Blossom Custard Slice

Makes 30 -36 3 x 9cm slices. Adapted from the 15 on Orange recipe

Remember to defrost the puff pastry in the fridge overnight before you need it.

Prep time: 15 mins Cooking Time: 10-15 mins Assembly time: 15 mins

  • 1 block/roll puff pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
  • about 500 gr fresh strawberries
  • 2 or 3 tbsp clear seedless fruit jam/jelly for glazing (I used apricot)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp water

For the Creme Patissiere (custard or pastry cream)

  • 200 ml milk
  • 55 gr sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 25 gr cornflour/cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1+1/2 tsp orange blossom water (or to taste)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp milk to finish

Preheat the oven to 190 C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

On a floured board, roll out the pastry to a large rectangle about 2 mm thick and trim the edges so they are straight. My rectangle was 27 x 36 cm so I cut it into 36 mini rectangles 3 x 9 cm. (9 columns 4 rows). But you can cut them whatever size you like.  Put them on the lined baking sheet, dock them well with a fork (this stops them rising too much) and put them in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Bake  for 10 to 15 minutes until puffed, golden and cooked all the way through. Some will rise a bit wonky or too much but you can ignore those there’s still loads left. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile make the creme patissiere.

Carefully bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla extract and orange blossom water, then turn it off before it boils properly.

Meanwhile whisk the yolks with the sieved cornflour and sugar to a smooth paste. Add a splash of the hot milk to the egg mixture and whisk to loosen. Add this back into the pan on a medium high heat and whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Remove from the heat when it is thick and taste it. If it still tastes of flour or needs loosening up add a splash of milk, return to heat and whisk it in. When it is ready cover the top of the custard directly with cling film to stop a skin forming.

Hull the strawberries by pulling out the green stalks and removing the stalk area with a small knife. Thinly slice them from top to bottom.

To assemble: pipe  or spoon a small amount of creme patissiere along the pastry rectangles from front to back. Then top with three (or more if bigger rectangles) slices of strawberry, start at the back and position the pointy end up.

To glaze: heat the jam/jelly in a small pan with the water until it is a liquid. Brush the glaze over the positioned strawberries.

You will now realise that you have quite a few custard slices. Obviously you will have to eat a few just to see how they taste but beware, they are addictive. My suggestion is to do what I did and donate them to friends (thanks Rhian & Jeanne) because they will love them and so will their husbands.

And you won’t end up the size of a house and blame it all on me. Hopefully.

For more information about 15 on Orange Hotel and their menus visit their website here.

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