Apple and Lemon Curd

Preserves | 9th October 2011 | By

I have a commission to make the cakes for a friend’s Open House weekend. This feels quite a responsibility and is taking some planning, but it’s also fun as I’ve been given free rein to bake what I like. The only specific request I’ve had are for some of the apple rock cakes I made back in August. I haven’t fully decided what I’m going to do yet, but with an ongoing apple glut, it seemed timely to prepare some apple and lemon curd to be used as filling or topping or both. The idea for this came when browsing through the excellent Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No 2 by Pam Corbin. I followed the spirit of Pam’s recipe but not its exact method or quantities.

This is what I did:

  • Peeled, cored and roughly chopped 5 windfall Cornish apples (variety unknown) to give just over 350g flesh.
  • Simmered this in a pan with a splash of water until soft then blitzed to a smooth puree with an electric hand blender.
  • Put this into a Pyrex bowl and placed over a pan of simmering water. Added 200g cardamom sugar and stirred until the sugar had dissolved.
  • Grated in the zest from one organic lemon (reasons for using unwaxed lemons can be found here), then squeezed in the juice.
  • Stirred in 80g unsalted butter until it had melted and all was smooth.
  • Beat in 2 duck eggs (large hens eggs would have been fine) and whisked until all smooth.
  • Gave an occasional whisk over the next 15 minutes until the mixture had thickened.
  • Pressed through a sieve. This probably wasn’t necessary as the mixture was perfectly smooth and creamy looking at this point, but I’m a bit particular when it comes to eggs and can’t stand any “bits”.
  • Poured into 3 sterilised jars, covered with waxed discs then screwed on the lids.
  • Left to cool and stored in the fridge.

This set really well and was buttery, smooth and soft. It was lemony for sure, but with noticeable fruity overtones – delicious. This was sweeter than either the lime & ginger curd or apricot curd I made earlier in the year even though I used less than half the amount of sugar stated in the recipe with 2/3 of the apple. It was also creamier and less sharp so will hopefully make a good stand alone filling for a cake.

Susan, whose blog title splendidly encapsulates the essence of her blog, A little bit of heaven on a plate, is running a home made and well preserved challenge. This is my entry.

Ruth from the The Pink Whisk has just started a monthly challenge and this one fits nicely into her October theme – Apples.

Double Chocolate Buns

Small Cakes | 6th October 2011 | By

 When is a bun not a bun? Who knows, it all gets rather confusing. Some might call these American muffins, some cupcakes or maybe even fairy cakes. For me a bun is generally something sweet and yeasty, a cupcake is a sweet cake with some sort of icing, a muffin is a less sweet cake without the icing (unless it’s an English muffin and then it’s a type of yeasted bread roll) and a fairy cake is a more refined and probably smaller version of a cupcake; it seems these are often used interchangeably. Going by my definition, these buns are somewhere between a muffin and a cupcake: they have no icing, but are sweeter and smoother in texture than a muffin.


Black Pepper and Chocolate Biscuits

Biscuits | 3rd October 2011 | By

The Fairy Hobmother from Appliances Online is back on the scene, distributing gifts as she flitts by. This time I was granted a £25 Amazon voucher. There were so many things I could have used the voucher for, but in the end I decided I needed to up my biscuit making skills and so I splashed out on cookie cutters and a stamp. I fell in love with the “home made” stamp when I first saw the result over at Extra Relish.

Now I’ve got the stamp, but what to make with it? Never having used one before, I wasn’t really sure how to use it or what sort of biscuits it would be suitable for. I’ve already made plenty of shortbread and wanted to try something different. Having heard so much about using black pepper with chocolate, which helps to bring out the flavour apparently, that’s where I wanted to start. I found this recipe from Martha Stewart which not only sounded good but used US cup measures – deep breath, time to finally try out the lovely cup measures very kindly gifted to me by Jac of Tinned Tomatoes.

This is what I did:

  • Creamed 3/4 stick (3oz) unsalted butter with 1/2 cup vanilla sugar (granulated) until fluffy.
  • Beat in 1 small egg.
  • Sifted in 1/2 cup wholemeal flour, 1/4 cup white flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/8 tsp Cornish sea salt, 1/8 tsp ground black pepper and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
  • Mixed together to form a rather sticky ball.
  • Put in a covered bowl in the fridge for an hour or so.
  • Rolled ping pong size balls between my hands and spaced them well apart on a baking tray – lined with a silicone mat! Yes that’s right, a silicone mat. Following on from my first and last use of a said item, I was advised that a thinner one was better for biscuits; when I saw a thin one in Truro last week, I rather foolhardily went ahead and bought it. Lots of crossed fingers!
  • Dipped the stamp in flour and pushed the ball down until it filled the stamp area, repeated this process with all 10 balls.
  • Ground some black pepper over the tops.
  • Baked at 190C for 10 mins.
  • Amazingly, removed from the mat onto a wire rack with NO TROUBLE at all!

Trouble came, when as I’d feared, the mixture was too soft and the biscuits spread. This meant these weren’t at all what I’d hoped for and it was hard to make out the “home made” letters. But this was my first attempt and I have a much better idea of what to do next time. There will be a next time as I’d very much like to get this perfected before Christmas. The biscuits held together well, had a good snap and were lovely and crunchy. They tasted good too, with a satisfying depth of flavour, quite rich, but with only a hint of spice and only very faintly peppery.

Thank you Fairy Hobmother; I’m now looking forward to trying out the cookie cutters.

If you leave a comment here and make a wish, who knows, it might just be granted!

We Should Cocoa – the October Challenge

We Should Cocoa | 1st October 2011 | By

What a fantastic party we had to celebrate We Should Cocoa’s first anniversary – I’m still staggering from the cake overload! Thanks to all who brought along such delicious and decedent offerings, they were all fabulous. And thank you to Chele for doing a great round-up.

Now the nights are drawing in and the chilly season will soon be upon us. What better way to fire up our sluggish post party metabolisms than with chilli. It is, after all, the chilli season. I know some of you love chocolate and chilli and I know some of you have never tried the combination, so now is the time to really let your imaginations run wild. Something savoury, something sweet? You decide.

Both the Mayans and Aztecs of central America added chilli to their chocolate drink and a sort of porridge they made from cocoa and ground maize. For them, chocolate was a food of the gods – at least we all agree on that.

Just a quick reminder that you need to e-mail us with a picture and a link to your post by the 25th of the month – a few have forgotten this. Unless we happen to remember seeing your post, it won’t get included in the round-up, which would be rather sad. You may want to have a look here for a reminder of the rules.