Tarts and pastries

Two Autumn Tarts, and an explaination for my long absence!

Autumn seems to have arrived early this year – the hedgerows are burgeoning with black berries and orchard trees are heavy with soft fruits and early apples begging to be picked.  There is a limit to how much of this gorgeous produce one can consume while its fresh, so it is a busy time of year for cooks in the kitchen as we turn the excess into chutney, jams and jellies. I also like to make fruit pies that can be prepared for freezing and cooking later. It makes for very easy entertaining throughout the late autumn and winter months.

Here are two of my favourite recipe: 1: Fig Tart with Brown Sugar Frangipani and Spelt Pastry. 2: Apple, Pear and Blackberry Open Pie with a Dark Muscovado and Allspice Streusel Topping.  

Apologies that I don’t have pictures, and I am very aware that this is the first post for quite a while.  This last year I have been busy researching and writing a cookery book for  Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland, and I clearly failed the multi- tasking test as it  has taken all of my time and energy. It has been great fun, and the book should be available next month – I will tell you more about it and keep you posted re availability in the coming weeks.

At Home in cumbria a recipe book

Cookery Book featuring 27 North Lakeland Artisan Food Producers with over 100 delicious Cumbrian inspired recipes

In the mean time its lovely to be back, and cooking the seasonal produce from my garden and our local hedgerows. So please enjoy these two delicious recipes,  pairings of Autumn fruits, dark sugar and spice.  Both  freeze exceptionally well and can be cooked from frozen.

Fig Tart with Brown Sugar Frangipani and Spelt Pastry

Ingredients

Serves 6

Spelt pastry

125g spelt flour

pinch salt

70g butter

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons water

Brown sugar frangipani

100g butter, softened

100g light Muscovado sugar

1 medium egg and 1 egg yolk

100g ground almonds

1/2 tablespoon spelt flour

Pinch salt

4 large ripe figs

1x20cm lose based tart tin

Method

Make the pastry: sift the spelt flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour, coating the cubes well. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix the egg yolk with the water and mix briskly into the flour until the dough begins to bind. Finish binding with a clean hand and then tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead briefly until the pastry forms a smooth disk, wrap in cling film and rest it in the fridge while you prepare the frangipani.

Frangipani: Put the softened butter into a small mixing bowl along with the muscovado sugar.  Cream or beat with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat the egg and egg yolk together and add, a couple of spoonful’s at a time to the butter, beating well between each addition. The butter should be very light and airy.  Tip in the ground almonds, flour and salt, and fold into the butter. Set aside.

Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is just larger than the tart tin. Carefully line the tin, trimming the edges.  Spoon in the brown sugar frangipani, evenly spreading to fill the base.

Cut the figs into quarters and arrange on the top of the tart before pushing each piece well into the frangipani. Chill for a minimum of 20 minutes before baking (you can freeze the tart at this stage an cook from frozen adding ten minutes to the cooking time).

To cook the tart, preheat the oven to 190c/Gas 5. Place the tart onto a flat baking tray and cook for 30 -35 minutes until the frangipani is slightly risen, golden and springy to the touch in the centre. If the edges darken to quickly, cover loosely with strips of foil.

When the tart is cooked remove from the oven and cool for an hour before removing from the tin and serving.

To serve: The tart is best served warm or at room temperature.  Serve with fresh figs and crème fraiche.

 

Apple, Pear and Blackberry Open Pie with a Muscovado and Allspice Streusel Topping

Ingredients

Serves 6-8

Pastry

175g plain flour

40g lard or vegetable shortening

50g butter, at room temperature

A good pinch of salt

2 tablespoons water

Breadcrumb base

2 slices whole meal bread or 30g bread crumbs

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon demerara sugar

Fruit filling

600g prepared weight:

200g each of:

cooking apples, peeled cored and chopped

pears, peeled cored and chopped

fresh or frozen blackberries

3 tablespoons demerara sugar

Streusel topping

50g plain flour

40g butter

20g dark Muscovado sugar

1 teaspoon ground allspice

A good pinch flaked sea salt

Method

To make the pastry sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Dice the lard and butter and add to the flour, coating well. Add the salt. Rub the fat into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the water and mix until the dough begins to combine. Finish combining with a clean hand and then tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to form a smooth disk. Cover the dough in cling film and rest it in the fridge while you prepare the filling and the streusel.

Make the breadcrumbs: Prepare breadcrumbs from the slices of whole-meal bread or use ready prepared fresh breadcrumbs. Heat the butter in small frying pan over a gentle heat.  Tip in the bread crumbs and cook gently, stirring until they are golden and crisp. Turn out onto a plate lined with kitchen paper and mix in the demerara sugar.

Prepare the fruit: To prepare the fruit, peel core the apples and pear/s and cut into even sized chunks, putting them into a mixing bowl. Stir in the blackberries and the sugar.

Streusel topping: To make the streusel topping, put all the ingredients a bowl and rub the butter into the flour until it resembles wet sand – take care not to over mix.

Roll the pastry: On a lightly floured surface roll the pastry to form a good 35cm circle, wrap the pastry loosely around the pin and carefully transfer it to the baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

Make the pie: Leaving a 10cm margin at the edge of the pastry scatter the breadcrumbs over the base and then pile the prepared fruit filling on top of this. Wet the pastry margins with water and turn up the edges around the fruit like a bowl. Scatter the streusel over the exposed fruit. Chill the tart or freeze at this stage and cook form frozen when required.

To cook: Preheat the oven to 200c/gas 6. Cook the chilled or frozen pie for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is cooked and the streusel is golden.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little before sliding the tart onto a serving plate.

Serve with chilled pouring cream or ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cream tea with a difference.

cooking apples, greengages, plums and blackberries

Early September and an abundance of wild blackberries in the hedgerows and garden fruits dropping from the plum, greengage and apple trees.

 

In an idle moment last week thumbing through my Instagram feed  BBC Good Food’s post, a gorgeous picture of Viennese whirls, caught my attention. These soft buttery biscuits just happen to be my favourite. Not because I particularly love biscuits, in fact I am quite happy to pass them by, but because I have memories of making a very similar mix from a recipe in Katie Stewarts classic cook 1960’s cookbook, ‘Cooking Better All The Time’. I still have my mum’s copy – the one that as a little girl I would spend happy, mouth-watering hours gazing at the beautiful pictures, and often making some of the more simple recipes. The Viennese shortcakes page still bears the sticky marks of little fingers. The recipe was easy for young arms because the high butter content makes for a soft dough that is easy to stir. The suggested piping of the mix could be avoided by simply dolloping it into the cupcake papers in spoonful’s. But the best bit as far as I was concerned ,was scooping out a teaspoon full of the creamy sweet dough so that each cake had an indentation deep enough to hold a teaspoonful of strawberry jam. It wasn’t the jam that was the best bit – it was because as far as I was, and still am concerned, raw cake mix is the best of the best of cooks perks! Continue reading

Artichoke Pithivier

Artichoke, olive and preserved lemon ragout

Artichoke halves cooked gently in a tasty wine and cream reduction with olives and preserved lemons.

Traditionally a Pithivier is a French celebration cake for Twelfth Night.  An elaborately decorated  buttery  puff pastry encases a rich almond frangipani. Served warm with glacé fruits and sweet wine it is my idea of heaven. I have a number of recipes including one for a chocolate almond crème filling which I will share  with you in time for Christmas.

More recently the idea of encasing savoury and vegetable fillings has been  adopted  by restaurant chefs and it is quite commonplace to find such dishes as oxtail or game Pithivier on a menu. Some chefs add delicious insult to injury by encasing creamy gratin dauphinoise in rich butter puff paste!   Continue reading