I have been lazing around at home for the last week and a half over the Christmas holidays and eating myself silly. However the Christmas Pudding only lasts so long and soon you find your self cakeless with a sugar craving to cure! I decided this week to try and use all the Christmas treats left over in the fridge some nice desserts. First up was a lonely looking jar of orange curd which I made before Christmas (check out my spiced orange curd recipe here). I usually put raspberry preserve in frangipane tarts, but thought curd would work as well and it did! The frangipane recipe is Jamie Oliver’s and definitely the best!
These are actually really nice and really quick and easy. I also had leftover pastry which I used for the base of this, but even frozen pastry would be fine. Frangipane is essentially a cake mix made with ground almonds, it’s delicious. I added the cinnamon and nutmeg to add a Christmas flavour, but you can leave these out. I filled cake tins with pastry, added a spoon of curd and a spoon of frangipane and that was it! I made about 20 for a family party. Just don’t overfill the cases or they will overflow.
Pastry (enough to fill 12-15 bun holes in a bun tin depending on size)
1 jar Orange Curd (or enough for 1 tsp per tartlet)
90g soft light brown sugar
100g ground almond
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1. Roll out pastry, use the top of a glass to cut out circles of pastry to fill the pre-greased and lined bun tins.
2. Cream together almond, butter, sugar, egg, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and orange zest to create your frangipane mix.
3.Put a teaspoon of orange curd on top of the pastry.
4. Put a teaspoon of frangipane on top of the curd.
5. Pop into an oven preheated at 180C for 17-20 minutes, they are done when golden on top. Be careful not to over cook.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE Cake Cafe. I go there at least twice a week when I’m in Dublin, the food is amazingly tasty (they use really great Irish produce), the place is cool, the people are nice, it’s just a great place for lunch. I am quite obsessed with their hotpots and brown bread. Michelle Darmody who owns and runs Cake Cafe launched a bake book recently and the first recipe on my hit list was the lemon slices that they are famous for.
I have to tell the truth, I made this twice before blogging as I had a bit of a mishap the first time around! It was basically all going fine but I was in a rush to go to a dinner party (I was providing cake) and sliced them without letting them cool and set… big mistake. They oozed everywhere and while they still tasted delicious, they looked like monstrosities I turned up with sludgy slices while my friend turned up with the most delicately decorated chocolate reindeer cupcakes (the reindeer had antlers and everything). It was embarrassing to say the least. Needless to say I was reluctant to blog the pictures, and decided to bake them again for Cake Club. Which is why half the photos are in different dishes!
This time around I let them cool and they were perfect. They were a real winner with my house mates, colleagues, family.. the whole lot! It’s a really great zingy dessert that is curdy on top and shortbready on the bottom. Perfect! Definitely give these a go!
250g plain flour
250g cold cubed butter
100g icing sugar
1 lemon zest
1 pinch of salt.
Mix all ingredients together until they form breadcrumbs. Pat down mixture in to tray. Bake for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 180C.
1 pinch salt
2 lemon zests
300g castor sugar
100ml lemon juice (2 lemons)
1 tsp baking powder
50g plain flour.
Beat eggs, salt, sugar and zest for a few minutes until thick and curdy. Then mix in lemon juice and flour and baking powder. Pour on top of the cooked base and putback in the oven for 20 minutes. If it’s still wobbling after 20mins cook it a little longer.
Make sure to let it cool completely before slicing up. Otherwise the curdy topping will ooze everywhere. Enjoy these ones!
This is a yummy thing to have in the cupboard over Christmas! Orange Curd, yum yum! Okay, I had never made curd before, or even eaten it for that matter but I decided to give it a go anyway. I thought it would be handy over Christmas on top of scones, with a mince pie instead of cream, at the base of frangipane tarts, between a layer of cake.. the opportunities seemed endless!
I decided to make orange curd instead of the traditional lemon curd as I wanted to add some Christmas spices, and I thought that they would go better with orange. I added in one lemon though for some extra zing. It did taste really delicious when it was done, the flavours were great.
This is very very easy to made. I read on-line that blending all ingredients before adding them to the pot prevent curdling, and it was true. This takes no time at all to make, and makes nice little gifts for those who appreciate a nice pot of curd! Perhaps you could splash out on some nice ribbon.. I could only find some twine left over from my mum’s Plum Pudding and so it looks a little shabby rustic!
Ingredients (for 5 jars):
450ml freshly squeezed orange juice (About 4 large oranges and I added a lemon in too)
Zest of four oranges
7 large eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground clove
1. Cream butter and sugar. Mix in eggs. Mix in juice. Mix in spices. (You can add in more spices to your taste if you like).
2. Heat over a low heat in a heavy bottomed pot for about 5 minutes until smooth, stirring continuously.
3. Now raise the heat to medium (never boil) and let thicken which will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir it the whole time. When the curd coats the back of your spoon it’s done. This is where I freaked out as I didn’t realise that it thickens further as it cools, so don’t worry too much at this point. Don’t expect it to be the finished consistency while still hot in the pot.
4. Take off the heat and pour in to sterilised jars. Let cool, then cover the top of the jar in a little cling film (apparently this helps avoid a skin forming) and put on the lids when cool.
5. Keep in fridge and it should keep around 2 to 3 weeks.
Last Friday I decided to be very good and make a home-made pizza from scratch! The dough and everything! It always seemed so difficult, but in fact it’s really easy. While you do have to leave the dough for an hour or so to rise, you can make a big batch and it will hold in the fridge for a few days. Alternatively you could freeze individual portions of the dough and defrost them when you need. Don’t let the long instructions put you off, it’s actually easy.
I decided to make mine whole wheat as I was being healthy (well.. kind of, a made this after a few mojitos), but if the thought of whole wheat pizza dough feels sacrilegious to you, just use plain white flour in the exact same way.
I decided to keep my topping simple, but it was really tasty. I made a light tomato sauce, added some Gubbeen Smokehouse Chorizo, Toonsbridge dairy mozzarella and basil. By now most people are aware of my obsession of all things from Gubbeen, especially their chorizo and smoked cheese, but not many people are aware of Toonsbridge Dairy. It’s an amazing dairy set up by the people who run The Real Olive Stall in The English Market, Cork. They basically imported a herd of buffalo and are making Irish mozzarella and ricotta and it’s the nicest mozzarella I have ever had! I think all our rain must make the grass really juicy and the milk really milky!
Of course you can just put whatever toppings you want on your pizza, but I recommend trying the pizza sauce.
Ingredients (makes two big pizzas):
For the dough base:
400g Whole-wheat flour
40g Plain Flour (for kneading)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp salt
10g active dry yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
350ml warm water
Handful chopped fresh basil
For the sauce:
Large handful cherry tomatoes
pinch black pepper
1/2 tsp honey
handful chopped fresh basil
1 ball Toonsbridge mozerlla
Chopped chorizo (allow about an index finger sized piece per person)
Fresh basil leaves
1. In a large bowl, mix the honey with warm water until melted and sprinkle yeast over the top. Let stand for about 15 minutes, until it’s foamy on top.
2. Stir the olive oil and salt into the water and then gradually add all your whole wheat flour until it starts to resemble a dough. At this point add in your fresh basil. Use the white flour to cover the surface you are using to form your pizza dough. Knead your dough on this until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth. You can add more white dough if you need too. At this point you may begin to wonder why you bothered, but I promise it comes together very well.. just be patient!
3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. I went for cocktails, came back 3 hours later and it was still perfect!
4. When the dough is doubled, place it back out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for two pizza bases. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled.
5. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further, you don’t want it too thick or it will be bready, make the bases thin. Place on a well oiled pizza pan. I advise letting it cook for about 5 minutes and then take it out and put on the toppings before putting back in to cook.
6. For the sauce, just blitz all the ingredients in a blender and pour on to the pizza base.
7. Lightly fry chorizo before putting it on the pizza, and chop up the mozzarella and sprinkle over the top. I poured the oil from the chorizo on top of the sauce for added flavour.
8. Put back in oven and let cook for about 15 minutes depending on thickness etc. Serve with the fresh basil on top.
There’s nothing easier to make than this tomato relish: add ingredients to pot, let stew for an hour, cool down, and now it’s ready! Ballymaloe Country Relish is my favourite and is such good quality, so I usually don’t bother making relish myself, but I thought it would be nice to make a batch and stock up with a few jars for Christmas. They make nice little gifts for people too if you wrap a ribbon around your jar. I haven’t done that myself, but it’s a nice idea for the more organised people out there!
This recipe is adapted from a Rachel Allen recipe (and as a Ballymaloe cook, her recipe is probably closet to their famous Country Relish), so give it a go and enjoy.
Ingredients (makes four jars):
800g vine tomatoes chopped
200g cherry tomatoes chopped
250g cooking apples chopped (I used a mixture of cooking apples and cox’s apples)
250g chopped brown onion
225ml white wine vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
1. Throw all ingredients in to a big pot. Let sugar dissolve and then bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Then bring down to a simmer and leave to simmer for an hour, stirring the whole time to avoid the end of the pot burning (using a heavy bottomed pot will help prevent this).
2. When done, let to cool. Taste and season if required with extra spices or salt/pepper.
3. When cooled put into sterilised clean glass jars. (You can sterilise them by placing them in the oven at 180C for 5 mins). Secure lids tightly. These are best enjoyed if left to mature for a week or two first, but I had some of mine that day and it was really nice too.
This weekend I decided to channel my inner Darina Allen (I wish) and start making all my sauces and preserves for Christmas. I know what you’re probably thinking (“get a hobby”), but anyway, that’s what I did! I decided to make the mincemeat now for the mincepies I’ll make over Christmas, and made four jars of really delicious mincemeat. I absolutely love mincepies, so I was quite happy to make this and give the usual Christmas recipe a bit of a twist.
This is really easy, it takes time (the time it takes to sit overnight and the cooking time) but apart from that the effort is minimal, just chuck some ingredients in a bowl and mix.
I decided to cut back on the raisins, sultanas etc in my mincemeat recipe and put in a nice big portion of dried cranberries and chopped dried prunes, which gave a delicious sweet taste and is different from the traditional stuff. It also gave a lovely bit of colour. I also threw in a nice big portion of chopped walnuts and almonds, mainly because I love them and tend to put them in most of my recipes but also because they give this recipe a nice little bite.
I hope you enjoy, this is seriously delicious if I do say so myself! I ate a good few spoons of it when it finally came out of the oven!
300g mixed fruit and peel (mix of sultanas, raisins, currents and candied peel. I bought a bag of this mix from Shamrock rather than buying them all individually)
100g dried cranberries
150g chopped prunes
300g chopped apples (I used Cox’s)
60g finely chopped walnuts
60g finely chopped almonds
180g soft dark brown soft sugar
zest and juice of one large orange
zest and juice of one lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp all spice/ mixed spice
1/2 nutmeg grated
125g butter (do not use margarine, it will ruin the flavour)
4 tbsp brandy (I used Hennessy’s)
1. Mix all ingredients together in a pot except for the brandy. Let it sit in the fridge overnight, this lets the flavours mingle.
2. Place in a an oven at 120C for 3 hours.
3. Take out of oven when done and when it has cooled add the brandy.
4. Put into clean, sterilised jars.
5. Enjoy in mincepies, little buns, pastries, mince slices etc!
This recipe is so great! I tried lamingtons for the first time a few weeks ago in Australia, they’re a traditional Australian dessert. I had them on a Morning Tea break while trekking the Daintree Rainforest (our tour guide was amazing to bring these for us!), and I have been obsessed ever since. While the traditional lamingtons are vanilla sponge on the inside, I have only tasted the double-chocolate type and they were so good, I decided to try recreate those! Having never made these before, I looked for the best recipe online and decided that a recipe by Dan Lepard on the Guardian website was the way to go.
Lamingtons are big squares of sponge. Emphasis on the word big. And they are perfectly square. They are rolled in a layer of chocolate icing and dipped in dessicated coconut. While the one I had in Australia was massive, it was so light and moist you wouldn’t feel sickly full afterwards. These ones however are extremely rich. So I would suggest making them smaller (like half the size at least) than I did by using a wider baking tray, you still need them to be square in shape. Even the men struggled to finish his, and it’s a waste to throw out. My Dad suggested making mini ones as petit fours which would be nice too.
While these aren’t a Christmas recipe, they look so snowy with the lovely coconut, that I think Christmas time is the perfect time to try these. You will have extra chocolate sauce left over, which would be perfect as sauce on top of ice-cream a few days later.
300g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
50g dark chocolate (O’Conaill’s & Aine’s are my favourite Irish chocolatiers)
50ml sunflower oil
4 medium eggs
100ml low-fat natural yoghurt (I used Glenisk)
3 tsp vanilla extract
175g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
For the coating (makes 750ml)
50ml cold milk
175ml boiling water
200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
450g icing sugar
1-2 250g bags coconut
Line the base of a deep, 20cm square cake tin (I suggest a wider tin for smaller pieces… these were way to big!) with nonstick paper and heat the oven to 170C. Put the sugar and cocoa in a bowl and beat in the milk. Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan, and add to the sugar mix along with the oil. Beat in the eggs until smooth, stir in the yoghurt and vanilla, and mix in the flour and baking powder. Pour into the tin, cover with a slightly domed sheet of foil and bake for an hour; lift off the foil for the last 15 minutes. Remove, cool in the tin and, while warm, cover with clingfilm to keep it moist.
For the coating, mix the cocoa and milk until smooth, whisk in the boiling water, then stir in the chocolate until melted. Whisk in the icing sugar until dissolved and pour into a deep, wide jug. Cut the cake into nine, dunk each piece in the coating and fish out with two forks. Roll in coconut and leave to set.