Wednesday, 18 December 2013
Given my refreshing sense of laissez-faire when it comes to life (This is my kind way of saying 'can't be arsed') I seem to have three half used jars of jam randomly arranged on my worktop and half a loaf of stale bread, because I didn't wrap it up properly, and I could have made toast and jam, but this is so predictable. Instead I decided to make it far more unhealthy by encasing the aforementioned bread and jam in a creamy vanilla custard, therefore creating, if you will, jam butty pudding. If you are not from these parts,'butty' means 'sandwich' and 'pudding' means 'something glorious' ... probably.
I could have taken the crusts off I suppose, but personally I kinda like the way they crisp up and create that wonderful textural contrast between crunch and softness. And you could use any old jam you like. This just happened to be strawberry but, you know, I could be persuaded to use any jam. I think I would like to use the quince jelly I have, which means I'll have to buy even more of it when I next go to France. Shame.
I made this so it would be a set custard, so I was working on 100ml of liquid to one egg and I did this because I wanted to pour a little cream over when I served this. I was thinking crunchy, soft, warm then cold. If you wanted to, you could increase the liquid to egg ratio for a more liquid custard. I only added about 30g of sugar because I wanted the jam to be the sweetness, but that is all about personal taste. You could also cook this, bain marie style but I'll be honest, due to my liking of laissez faire, I just bunged it in the oven with some foil on top for about 30 - 40 minutes or so, then checked if the custard was starting to solidify, which it was. Then I removed the foil and let the top brown for about 15 minutes or so.
By the way, if by some peculiar notion you happen to have leftovers, this is really quite nice the next day. Let's just say that I have eaten breakfasts that are far, far worse...
Jam Butty Pudding
Six to eight slices of stale, white bread
Half a jar of jam (I used strawberry)
150ml double cream
a vanilla pod (you could use extract)
30g sugar (or to taste)
Preheat the oven to 180c
Make jam sandwiches (take the crusts off if you want)
Cut the sandwiches into triangles that will fit snuggly into an ovenproof dish. Arrange them so that they sit in the dish reasonably tightly.
Meanwhile to make the custard, mix the liquids, the eggs and the sugar together. Slit the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the mixture. Then put the vanilla pod in. (or just use a tsp of extract).
Pour some of the custard mixture over the sandwiches and allow the bread to absorb it. Then pour the rest of the custard over.
Place the dish on a tray and cover with dish with foil. Place in the oven for about 30 - 40 minutes. Check the pudding round about 30 minutes to see if the custard is beginning to set. Take the foil off for the last 20 minutes or so to brown the top, but keep an eye on it as it could burn quickly.
Once you're happy with the colour, take the dish out of the oven. The pudding should appear quite puffed but will sink once it comes out of the oven.
Serve warm, with a splosh (or more) of cream.
Saturday, 7 December 2013
Blogging. I used to do it so often once upon a time, but now, well, I think it is going to be a 'high days and holidays' type activity, and talking of holidays, Finn's class were in charge of the cake stall for the Christmas fair, and because the Christmas holidays can't come soon, I thought I would get into the mood for it all with some festive baking.
I realised that I hadn't made anything from the amazing Rachel Allen just yet (and this blog is already two and a half years old...) so as a fan of her gorgeous cakes I thought I would use her recipe for chocolate cupcakes and then adorn them with a green swirl and a few strategically placed dragees to make them look vaguely Christmas tree like, if you really, really squint...
I decided to finish them off with some sugarpaste stars, which I ambitiously decided to cut out by hand before remembering that my mum had given me my shapes that I used to use to cut out playdoh when I was a kid. In there, I found a cute little star cutter. Problem solved.
A few musings about frosting. I don't really follow a recipe to be honest. I mix unsalted butter, some vanilla extract, icing sugar and a bit of milk to slacken it off if need's be, but I have given some approximate weights in the recipe below.
Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting from 'Cake Diaries' by Rachel Allen
Makes 12 cupcakes
100 g (31⁄2 oz) butter, softened
150 g (5oz) caster sugar
125 ml (41⁄2 fl oz) milk
175 g (6oz) plain flour
25 g (1oz) cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
For the frosting:
200g butter, at room temperature
500g icing sugar (to be added gradually and to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 - 2 tbsp. milk
holly green food colouring
a little sugarpaste
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4), and line the muffin tray with the paper cases.
Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl for a few seconds or just until mixed, then gradually add them to the butter mixture, beating all the time.
Pour in the milk and beat until mixed. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and mix gently to combine.
Divide the mixture between the muffin cases, filling each case two thirds full. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until well risen and lightly springy to the touch.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tray and place on a wire rack to finish cooling down.
Meanwhile, make the frosting. beat the butter in a mixer until it is very soft. Slowly add the icing sugar a bit at a time with a few drops of vanilla extract until you are happy with the sweetness and the consistency. You could add a little milk to slacken the mixture off or to reduce the sweetness a tiny bit.
You will need to beat the mixture for a while so that the icing sugar dissolves and the icing is smooth and becoming fluffy but spreadable (or pipeable... possibly a new word there...)
To decorate the cakes use a large star nozzle on a piping bag, and pipe a swirl on top of each cake. Then place some dragees and sprinkle some edible glitter on top of the swirls. In a final flourish, cut out stars out of sugarpaste and place them on top.