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Archive for the ‘Pudding’ Category

I love this time of year. The weather is cold and dry (though the dry part could end quite soon here in the West!), perfect for evening runs and weekend strolls around town. I really don’t mind the unpredictability of the Galway weather once we get a spell of cool, calm weather like this every so often. Of course, I’ll conveniently forget all this next time it rains for 30 days on the trot and dream of flying south in the winter like the birds. As the weather gets colder, I just crave warm, comforting dinners, filling soups, and rich cakes and puddings. Not quite the ‘light eating’ you get used to in the milder summer months. Though I guess a little of what you fancy can’t be bad?

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Ooh, now this is a lovely recipe. Does anyone remember the sticky Jamaica ginger cake from McVities? Is it still available?  Remember the top of the gingerbread loaf, so sticky and delicious? Perhaps my childhood nostaglia is taking over, and McVities’ offering isn’t so great, but in my mind it’s like a holy grail of gingerbread, and so difficult to replicate. Sometimes homemade gingerbread can be a bit dry and disappointing, and not very ginger-y at all. In this recipe, the Guinness really accentuates the ginger flavour and, along with the sour cream, makes the most moist crumb. The top is sticky, as gingerbread should be, and the flavours and stickiness only improve the next day. Be sure to use the freshest ground ginger you have, not the remains of some sad old jar only brought out from the back of the cupboard for Christmas baking. Lidl (and perhaps Aldi?) both sell ground ginger, so a great fresh flavour won’t break the bank. If you don’t have any ground cloves, you can grind some yourself using a pestle and mortar.

Recipe taken from Nigella’s most recent book, Kitchen. I love this book.

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A few months ago I picked up a copy of Gregg Wallace’s ‘Gregg’s Favourite Puddings’, with a front cover sporting Gregg with the excited grin he reserves especially for the puddings conjured up by Masterchef contestants. While he always comments knowledgeably about the flavour combinations in the starters and mains, you can just tell that Gregg is itching for the grand finale: the generous portion of pudding, slowly dragged off the spoon, and the exclamation that every contestant (and viewer) wants….. ‘Now that is a pudding!’. And you just know that it is so damn good. Knowing all this, I had high expectations from this offering from Gregg. This book is full of tarts, puddings, gateaux, and dreamy desserts, and I expect it will be well used over the years. Last week a friend presented me with 2lbs of hand-picked wild blackcurrants from the wilds of Kerry. A treasure indeed.  The first half was used to make a backcurrant liqueur (more about that soon) and the second pound made their way into this pudding. Super easy to make (especially if the hard work of topping and tailing the blackcurrants is already done for you, leave an hour aside for this task if not), with ingredients you’re sure to have ready to hand.

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It’s a cake. It’s a crumble. It’s got rhubarb in it. A cake that’s a cake and also a crumble. With rhubarb. What’s not to like?  We had our first slice served warm with custard (it seems summer happened in April and it’s back to rain and wind = custard weather), but it was just as delicious eaten cold with a cup of tea.

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Towards the end of summer last year, we went on holiday. We checked and double-checked the apartment, turning off unnecessary electricals, turned on the automatic feeder for the tropical fish, and headed off for 10 days. We came back to discover that my checking and double-checking in the kitchen had been so thorough that I had switched off the fridge and freezer.

Horrors.

Words cannot describe how I felt when I realised that all the Ben & Jerry’s I had been stockpiling had been reduced to a sad, gloopy puddle. The frozen worms for feeding the fish had also defrosted. Gross.

I had moved on from the tragedy a little when I discovered that the precious, end-of-season rhubarb I had lovingly cut up, bagged and placed in the freezer for a burst of sunshine in the winter months was also a casualty of my enthusiastic switch-flicking. Sob. You see, I really really love rhubarb. I remember a friend once remarked how apples are “poor man’s rhubarb”.  Ha!  It’s true, though.While I do love apples in all their cakey, bakey forms, rhubarb really takes things up a notch.  So I was very excited to see some in the supermarket last weekend. I thought about making another fabulous Rhubarb Cornmeal Cake, but decided I’d try something new with this precious new season rhubarb. This is quite a tart flan (heh), meaning if you like your desserts sugary, then this might not be to your taste. The lemon filling is just sweet enough to balance the tang of the rhubarb, but only just.  If you do make it and find it too tangy, a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream will go a long way to sorting that out.

Question: why is all the rhubarb I’ve ever seen here the green-y coloured rhubarb, and not the lovely pink-y coloured rhubarb that photographs so wonderfully? Am I just looking in the wrong places? It tastes the same, but green rhubarb just doesn’t look as appetizing. See above photo. The flan is actually tasty, I swear.

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It began last week. I started thinking about apple turnovers. You know, the puff pastry, icing sugar-dredged, appley confection to be found in any self-respecting bakery in Ireland. You bite in, the pastry flakes everywhere. Someone makes you laugh mid-bite, you exhale rapidly out your nose sending icing sugar and flaky pastry flying onto your lap, into your tea, everywhere. Ah, the humble apple turnover.

I needed one. Now.

I wasn’t near an establishment that sells them (the University needs a bakery), so instead I had some cake. The cake was good (it was tart actually, bakewell. yum indeed), but it wasn’t an apple turnover.

I was craving them by now. So I bought some apples. And I took the frozen sheets of puff pastry out of the freezer – the sheets that I had been saving for some special savoury inspiration. Feck savoury, I wanted sweet, sweet apple!

I made the first batch using raw, cubed apple and a few frozen raspberries. They dripped everywhere in the oven and could have done with a bit more sugar. For the second batch, I stewed the apple and let it cool before using. The result was better, sweeter (I added more sugar to the cooked apple) and just as drippy in the oven.

Moral of today’s baking lesson: if you’re trying this at home, cook the apple first, add more sugar than you’d think, and use less filling than you’d think (or they will explode mid-baking. not a dramatic explosion, but still, you’ll need to clean up).

They tasted great even if they weren’t so photogenic. 😉 Alternatively, save yourself the hassle (and the washing up), take the easy route and just walk into town to buy some.

But then, this blog has never been about taking the easy route. 🙂

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The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. There are many recipes for pasta frolla and different ideas about how to make it. Simona gave us two versions. They have been inspired by those in the book La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene by Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911). The book was first published in 1891, and is available in English translation as Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

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