Portuguese egg custard tarts

Portuguese egg custard tarts
I have a huge list of things I would quite like to bake that has been in the making for a few years (see my Pinterest board!). I’ll probably never get round to making even half of them. However, sometimes I spot a recipe that grabs me enough to make me want to get baking straight away – and these Portuguese egg custard tarts are one such recipe.

Portuguese egg custard tarts
I saw this recipe in BBC Good Food magazine and immediately started thinking about when I could make them. It’s odd, because while I love a custard tart, I’ve never really thought that much about making them – especially as I’m still a bit nervous with pastry.

Portuguese egg custard tarts
However, the recipe seemed fairly straightforward and Portuguese egg custard tarts have such a good reputation that I just knew I had to make these. The pastry is a quick version of proper puff pastry and is more flaky than anything else, as it doesn’t have as many layers as standard puff pastry.

Pastry for Portuguese egg custard tarts
It involves making a basic pastry and then layering it with grated butter, folding, turning and layering again, before chilling in the fridge. It wasn’t too fiddly; the most difficult part for me was rolling out the pastry sheet to the right size each time.

Then it was a matter of rolling up the pastry sheet, cutting it into 12 and rolling out each bit into circles to line a muffin tin.

Pastry for Portuguese egg custard tarts

Pastry for Portuguese egg custard tarts

Pastry for Portuguese egg custard tarts
The custard was also easy enough to make. I’ve never made it before, but I know it can quickly go wrong, so I kept a close eye on it all the way through and followed the recipe to the letter. And it worked!

Making custard for Portuguese egg custard tarts

Custard for Portuguese egg custard tarts

Custard!

I think my muffin tin must be on the small side, because I only used up about two-thirds of the custard when filling the pastry cases. It keeps in the fridge for a few days, though, so I had some of the rest with a quick microwaved syrup sponge a few days later.

The custard puffs up in the oven, and you need to make sure it doesn’t rise and sink while the tarts are still baking. They should puff up before you take them out, and then sink while they’re cooling.

Portuguese egg custard tarts
And that’s it! The tarts were so delicious. I’ve never had the ‘proper’ Portuguese variety before, but if the ones I made are anything like the real thing, they must be bloody good.

Why not give these a go for Easter?

Portuguese egg custard tarts

Portuguese egg custard tarts
Portuguese egg custard tarts recipe

Can be found on the BBC Good Food website here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/portuguese-egg-custard-tarts

Dorset apple cake

Dorset apple cake
I’ve had some Bramley apples lying around for a while – I’d bought some to make mincemeat with, but Asda delivered way more than I needed due to their weird substitution rules. I recently acquired a fancy tarte tatin dish thanks to the folks at my old place of work, but I reluctantly decided that I couldn’t very well make a 30 cm tarte tatin just for myself and still keep to a post-Christmas sensible eating regime. Instead, I made this Dorset apple cake.

It’s a delightfully simple recipe (by Edd Kimber of GBBO fame) and contains raisins and cinnamon as well as the apple, making for some lovely flavours. You can serve the cake warm from the oven with custard or ice cream, or have it cold at teatime – it’s equally delicious either way.

Dorset apple cake
The only trouble I had with the cake was (as always) the baking time. Perhaps I didn’t cut the apple into small enough chunks, but my Dorset apple cake took well over an hour to properly cook through, as opposed to 30-40 minutes! Still, it meant that the house smelled rather deliciously of cooking apples for quite a while, which was very pleasant.

The cake was a little fragile while still warm, so if you make this do be careful when releasing it from the tin and slicing it up. It does become slightly sturdier when it’s completely cool, though.

Dorset apple cake
I made the cake yesterday and have so far had it warm with custard and cold on its own. I have one (big) slice left after distributing the rest to my mum, which I’m going to try warm with ice cream in the interests of trying all possible combinations so I can decide which is best. The things I do for this blog! :o)

The recipe

Can be found on the BBC Good Food website here. I used raisins instead of sultanas.

Sticky ginger cake with ginger fudge icing

Sticky ginger cake with ginger fudge icing
News: I left my job on Friday. I decided to say goodbye to my much-loved colleagues at Axonn by bringing in a bake a day in my last week. Because, you know, I like to keep busy. My week of baking culminated in this magnificent sticky ginger cake with ginger fudge icing, which is probably my all-time favourite ginger cake.

I don’t have any other pictures for you other than the above as blogging was the last thing on my mind last week, but hopefully you can get an idea of the lusciousness of this cake from that single photo. The cake is a beautifully moist sponge studded with pieces of stem ginger (I also threw in some crystallised ginger as I didn’t have quite enough stem ginger) topped with a decadent icing flavoured with syrup from the stem ginger jar. The cake is also soaked in the syrup for extra gingery-ness!

I actually didn’t get to have a piece as I wanted to save as much as possible for everyone at work, but I was very reliably informed that the cake was ace. Which definitely matches up with my memories of the two other times I’ve made this cake!

The recipe is from BBC Good Food 101 Cakes & Bakes – someone kindly posted it on Mumsnet if you fancy having a go. You can use dark muscovado or dark brown sugar instead of molasses sugar, if you can’t find it in the shops. I also make half the icing as you do end up with A LOT.

As for the other bakes from last week, here’s the line-up:

Mince pies (Monday)

Mince pies (Monday)

Porter cake (Thursday)

Porter cake (Thursday)

I’m going from working in an office of 30-odd people to precisely 3 (including myself) when I start my new job tomorrow, so we’ll see whether I can keep up my baking efforts with so few guinea pigs to test my bakes on! I think I’ve managed to fulfill my new year’s resolution of baking more this year, so I’m probably entitled to slow down a little come 2015… but we’ll see whether that actually happens!

¡ Churros with chocolate sauce !

Churros
Doughnuts have always scared me. Not the eating of them, but most certainly the making and especially the frying of them. However, I came across this recipe for churros with a chocolate sauce when I was looking for a dessert to go with a Spanish meal, and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it seemed to be.

I’ve had churros a few times, mainly from stalls at food markets and festivals, and absolutely love the combination of cinnamon-coated dough and a rich chocolate dip. I was unsure of how my effort would turn out in comparison, but I needn’t have worried – they were absolutely lovely.

The dough was a doddle to knock up. At first I thought it was a bit too thick for piping, but then I realised that it was actually perfect. Trying to pipe with an overly runny mix is never a good idea! I made the sauce while the dough rested, and that too was a matter of just melting everything in a pan.

Churros dough

Churros dough

After it had rested for a bit, I got my boyfriend to help me with the piping of the dough into the hot oil. I do think this is a two-person job – one person to pipe, the other to snip off the strip of dough – but I expect there are people who a bit better than me at multi-tasking in this way!

The first two churros came out very very fat, because we had to experiment with nozzles to find the perfect one. The rest were a bit more like it.

Next, we coated the cooked churros in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. I should point out that while we halved the recipe, it still made way more cinnamon sugar and chocolate sauce than we needed for the number of churros we had, so I would suggest you adjust the quantities accordingly if you decide to make this recipe.

Then came the best bit – eating the churros! The churros on their own weren’t that sweet (the dough itself didn’t have any sugar in it) but, combined with the chocolate sauce, they were absolutely divine. These are definitely doughnuts to have warm. The sauce should also be warm for optimum results.

I would most certainly make these again, and I might even attempt some traditional doughnuts in the near future!

The recipe

Can be found on the BBC Good Food website here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2459641/churros-with-chocolate-dipping-sauce

Raisin spice cake

Raisin spice cake
I’m hell-bent on going about my life as if it was proper autumn, rather than this strange sort-of-autumn-but-actually-still-a-bit-summer we’ve been having. This includes baking, and this raisin spice cake really is a rather lovely autumnal bake perfect for a chilly evening with a nice cup of tea.

I’ve made this cake once before, but I didn’t have a ring tin at the time, so I just made it in a standard round tin. I think it looks much nicer as a ring cake, even if it is a bit more of a faff to get out of the tin!

The recipe is very straightforward – make the topping and place it at the bottom of the tin (I used a bundt tin), then put the cake mix on top and bake.

Raisin spice cake topping

Raisin spice cake topping, pre-baking

The topping is a rather lovely combination of chopped hazelnuts, spices and demerara sugar, and there’s a good amount of it, so you’ll definitely appreciate it when the cake is out of the oven and ready to eat.

The cake itself has yet more spices and raisins plumped up with a bit of orange juice, which makes for a lovely flavour that propels the bake above your average fruit cake.

Raisin spice cake
Oddly for me and my temperamental oven, the cake was perfectly cooked in the time stated in the recipe, which was nice as I had to miss 10 seconds of the Great British Bake Off quarter-final to take it out of the oven!

As mentioned, it didn’t come out of the tin without bits of it coming away with the tin, which was disappointing. I did, however, make sure those bits didn’t go to waste *ahem*.

The cake seemed massive when it was baked, but my boyfriend and I managed to polish it off alarmingly quickly. It really is a wonderful cake and just the thing for autumn, if it ever gets here!

Raisin spice cake
The recipe

This is in BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes, but it isn’t on the website. It seems to be accessible via Google Books, though.

Anzac biscuits

Anzac biscuits

I realised after watching this week’s excellent episode of Great British Bake Off that it’s been a long time since I last made biscuits. I thought I might try a fancy biscuit involving pistachios, but after nearly fainting at the price of a bag of pistachios in my local supermarket, I decided to make do with what I already had in and bake these delightful Anzac biscuits.

Anzac biscuits

Anzac biscuits are so-called because they were made by the wives and girlfriends of Australian and New Zealand troops going off to fight abroad during World War I. Any food sent to the army at that time had to be sturdy enough to withstand the journey while also being able to keep for a long time without spoiling. Add to that the fact that key baking ingredients like eggs were in short supply and you can imagine the conundrum facing the soldiers’ other halves!

Anzac biscuits

Luckily, they came up with this easy recipe for Anzac biscuits, which consists of oats, dessicated coconut, flour, butter, sugar, golden syrup and bicarbonate of soda mixed with a little boiling water. It looks like the recipe I used is pretty much exactly the same as the one that was used during the war, which surprised me as it really is a lovely biscuit and I tend to imagine soldiers’ food as being pretty grim (I’m reading Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks at the moment and the soldiers in the war don’t exactly get well fed).

Anzac biscuits

The method involved mixing together the dry ingredients, stirring the syrup into melted butter, then stirring the bicarbonate of soda and water mixture into the butter and adding the whole lot to the dry mix. Easy! I found that the biscuits were definitely done after 9 minutes on the top shelf of my gas oven. Like most biscuits, they seem quite soft to begin with, but harden once cooled on a wire rack.

Anzac biscuits

The biscuits are extremely delicious thanks to the heavenly combination of oats, coconut and golden syrup. I can imagine that these would have sustained the Anzac troops rather well! In peacetime, the biscuits are lovely as a mid-morning or afternoon treat with a good, strong cup of tea.

The recipe

Can be found on the BBC Good Website here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3803/anzac-biscuits

Re-bake: Devonshire honey cake

Devonshire honey cake

Honey is a wonderful ingredient – you can spread on toast or crumpets, or mix it with some Greek yogurt, or stir it into lemon and ginger tea for the perfect pick-me-up when you’re ill… the list goes on. I’d never really come across it in cakes until a few years ago, when I saw this recipe for Devonshire honey cake in my trusty little BBC Good Food book. I’ve baked this and other honey cakes since, and nothing else comes close to this recipe in terms of the sheer loveliness of the honey flavour.

The first time I made this cake, it initially seemed to be a bit of a disaster – it took far longer to bake than the recipe said, and when I cut into it the middle wasn’t completely cooked. It was still well and truly edible and delicious for all the honey in it, but I didn’t even think about attempting it again until my boyfriend suggested it while looking at me pleadingly.

So, I tried it again last week, determined to make the recipe work. I followed it to the letter and thought I’d cracked it when the mix looked perfect (and tasted amazing too – baker’s prerogative!).

Devonshire honey cake mix

Devonshire honey cake mix

However, alarm bells rang once again when I checked on the cake at the end of the cooking time and it was still very wobbly. I left it in for another good half hour or so and it seemed fine. I brushed the honey glaze on top as required (although you can barely see it in the pics) and left it in a tin until my boyfriend was next round to sample it.

Devonshire honey cake

Once I finally got round to slicing it up, I found the cake seemed very dense in texture. Luckily, it didn’t taste at all dry, presumably because of all the honey in it. In fact, it tasted delicious, but I’m still rather perplexed by the texture as, the last time I made it, it had a much softer and larger crumb!

Devonshire honey cake

I can only assume this is down to the type of honey I’m using – I may invest in something beyond Asda’s own squeezy honey if I try to bake this cake again. I’m sure I’ll nail it one day!

The recipe

Can be found on the BBC Good Food website here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1840/devonshire-honey-cake