Rhubarb and Almond Cream Pasty Pie

Tarts & Pastries | 22nd April 2014 | By

With Easter fast approaching and any number of Easter bakes and posts to write, time was running out for this month’s Random Recipes. Now it just so happens that RR has joined forces with the new round of AlphaBakes and it has been decided to start at the very beginning this time, with the letter A. Using my usual Eat Your Books method of selection I came out with the book Pasties by Lindsey Bareham. I must confess at this point that I felt a bit jittery. I may well come from the Land of Pasties, but my pasty making skills lean towards the imperfect end of the spectrum. I was hoping the book would fail to provide me with a suitable recipe, but in this I was foiled. A recipe for plum pasties with almond cream leapt up from the index and my heart skipped a beat.

OK, no need to panic. In my usual style, I would adapt the recipe. My mother had made a recent delivery of some rhubarb from her garden (for some reason our plot seems incapable of growing any), so I would substitute that for the plums. I would add some grated white chocolate to the pastry, some orange zest to the almond cream and most importantly of all I was going to make one large pie, not six individual pasties – I really just didn’t have the time to faff around. My concession to the pasty would be to crimp the edges of the pie in true pasty style – hence the name pasty pie.

This is how I made:

Rhubarb and Almond Cream Pasty Pie

  • Cut 150g cold unsalted butter into 250g flour (half wholemeal, half white) with a knife then rubbed it between my fingers until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
  • Grated in 20g white chocolate.
  • Mixed in 2 tbsp Greek yogurt and 1 tbsp water with a knife, then brought the mixture together with my hands to form a ball. Covered with a plastic bag and placed in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Creamed 100g unsalted butter with 100g cardamom (caster) sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 1 tsp powdered orange rind (or zest of an orange).
  • Beat in a duck egg (or large hen’s egg).
  • Stirred in 100g ground almonds.
  • Washed, trimmed and chopped 350g of rhubarb into smallish pieces.
  • Divided the pastry into two portions, one slightly larger than the other.
  • Rolled the larger portion out into a round to cover a deep 20 cm pie dish.
  • Covered the pastry bottom with the rhubarb, then covered the rhubarb with the almond cream.
  • Rolled out the smaller piece of pastry to cover the top of the pie.
  • Crimped the edges together, brushed on a little beaten egg mixed with milk and sprinkled about a dessertspoon of cardamom (caster) sugar over the top.
  • Baked at 200C for 15 minutes, then turned the oven down to 180C for a further 20 minutes until the top was nicely browned.

So how did it all work out? It was pure heaven and although you couldn’t expect an angel to bring this down from on high during Lent, it sent CT and I into raptures. It was a truly indulgent dessert. I’ve not made pastry with white chocolate and yogurt before, but I will most certainly be doing it again. The rhubarb cut through the rich creamy filling and it all hung together very nicely.

It just so happened that I’d recently had delivery of a bag of Rodda’s goodies which I’d won in their #crownyourpuds competition for my Chocolate Pots. So to crown my rhubarb and almond cream pasty pie, sat a dollop of Cornish clotted cream. Show me a pudding that isn’t improved by clotted cream and I’ll eat it, quipped CT – a man after my own heart.

So this Rhubarb and Almond Cream Pasty Pie is my entry to the joint Random Recipes and Alphabakes challenge with A for Almond. Dom of Belleau Kitchen, Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline of Caroline Makes have put their heads together this month and come up with this fun and clever challenge.

As everything is made from scratch, I’m sending this off to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays.

Upside-down White Chocolate Banoffee Shortcake

Cake, Pudding | 25th March 2014 | By

We have come this month to the final letter in the alphabet for Alpha Bakes and it is U. Upsidedown cakes were the obvious choice, but I wanted to do something a bit different. With all the on-going and distressing news about Ukraine recently, my first though was to make a Ukrainian chocolate cake. However, although there is a fantastic bake called Kiev Cake, it was a little complicated and I didn’t think I’d be able to fit it in. So I procrastinated. I then tried finding a chocolate bake from Uruguay. I found some amazing biscuits called Alfajores. These have been bookmarked for another time, but again they were a little more involved than I was looking for. So I procrastinated some more. I tried Uganda but came up with nothing. The result of all this procrastination is a very last minute bake on the final day and it is, after all that, an upside-down cake!


Zebra Biscuits

Biscuits | 11th February 2014 | By

As nearly all of the letters in the alphabet have been used up, we’ve now arrived at the letter Z for AlphaBakes. Initially I was a little puzzled as to what to make as zuccini isn’t in season in this part of the world and I didn’t fancy making zabaglione. Then I remembered the recipe I’d bookmarked ages ago for two-chocolate zebras, but couldn’t actually remember which book it was in. I hastened to my bookshelves and had a quick rifle through. Ah, there it was in Linda Collister’s The Great British Bake Off with a piece of paper marking the page. Now was obviously the time to make them.

This is how I made:

Zebra Biscuits

  • Creamed 125g unsalted butter with 100g vanilla (caster) sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Beat in 1 large egg.
  • Sifted in 250g flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white) with ½ tsp baking powder and a pinch of pink Himalayan rock salt.
  • Stirred this all together until all incorporated. Formed the dough into a ball, then divided into two equal pieces.
  • Melted 45g white chocolate (vanillary G&B) gently in a bowl over hot water, then added it to one half of the dough, mashing it together until fully incorporated.
  • Melted 45g of 85% dark chocolate (vanillary G&B) gently in the same bowl over hot water then added to the other half of the dough, again mashing together until all incorporated.
  • Left in my cold kitchen to harden up for about 20 minutes.
  • Rolled both pieces of dough out to form rectangles of 20 x 15 cm.
  • Placed one on top of the other, then cut lengthways into three equal pieces.
  • Placed these one on top of each to form a long rectangle of six layers. Pressed down gently.
  • Cut slices (approx 5mm) and laid them on a lined baking tray. I only got 33 rather than the requisite 40 – obviously didn’t make mine quite thin enough.
  • Left in the cool to harden up for a bit then baked at 180°C for 10 mins until the white stripes were just golden (or slightly more so in some cases!)
  • Transferred onto a wire rack to cool.

Fiddly biscuits are not really my thing, but I was glad I made these as they looked quite impressive and weren’t nearly as fiddly as I thought they were going to be. They were also quite delicious with the sweet white chocolate contrasting nicely with the less sweet and more intense dark layers. The biscuits were nice and crisp with a buttery taste and it was hard to stop at only one – so I didn’t.

Z is for Zebra Biscuits for this month’s AlphaBakes with Caroline Makes and Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker.

I’ve had this recipe bookmarked ever since I first got the book The Great British Bake Off: Have to Bake by Linda Collister so I’m submitting this to Jac’s Bookmarked Recipes over at Tinned Tomatoes.

I’m also entering these into The Biscuit Barrel with Laura of I’d Much Rather Bake Than … who has chosen chocolate as this month’s theme.

Orange, Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Cake for a Significant Birthday

Cake, Layer cakes | 11th November 2013 | By

Orange Popply Seed Cake

Time to visit the land of the Hampshire Hogs. It was my mother in law’s 80th Birthday and a cake was called for. She has quite a sweet tooth and is not a fan of dark chocolate so when I saw a recipe for orange poppy seed cupcakes in the Australian book High Tea; recipes with a sense of occasion, I decided to adapt this into cake form with the addition of white chocolate, both in the cake batter and the buttercream.

When it came to decorating, I wanted something simple with the numbers 8 and 0 standing out boldly. CT cut some templates for me out of greaseproof paper with the idea of laying them over the cake and scattering bling over the rest. A good idea, but sadly, this didn’t have quite the desired effect and the figures were a little hard to decipher. One wag likened it to a face with a moustache – it wasn’t meant to be an advertisement for Pr**gles, you know, but I was hoping that just like the tubular snacks, once this was started, we’d be unable to stop.

This is how I made:

Orange, Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Cake

  • Measured 150ml sour milk into a jug and added 40g poppy seeds. Stirred and left for a while.
  • Melted 40g vanillary white chocolate in a bowl over hot water, then left to cool a little.
  • Creamed 150g unsalted butter with 170g caster sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the grated zest of an organic orange.
  • Beat in the white chocolate.
  • Beat in 2 duck eggs, one by one.
  • Sifted in 190g self-raising flour and stirred this in as gently as possible.
  • Gently stirred in the milk and poppy seeds until just incorporated.
  • Divided the batter between two 20 cm silicone moulds and baked at 180°C for 25 minutes when the cakes were well risen and a cake tester came out clean.
  • Melted 60g white chocolate in a bowl over hot water, then left to cool a little.
  • Creamed 250g unsalted butter together with 300g icing sugar and the grated zest of an organic orange.
  • Beat in 1 tbsp orange liqueur.
  • Beat in the white chocolate.
  • Sandwiched the cakes together with a good thick layer, then spread the rest over the top and sides.
We enjoyed our trip to Hampshire and the cake withstood the journey undamaged, despite some very rough weather. The recipient was delighted with her birthday treat, enjoying its sweetness, flavour and the interesting texture derived from the poppy seeds. We must have enjoyed it too, as there wasn’t a crumb left by the time we made our departure. Oh and by the way, she spotted the 80 immediately – phew!

O is for Orange in this month’s AlphaBakes, so a virtual slice of this orange, poppy seed and white chocolate cake is being sent over to Caroline Makes and The More Than Occasional Baker c/o CT’s mum.

Chocolate Chai Masala Fairy Cakes – The Great Chocolate Bake

5 Star, Cupcakes, Tea | 6th October 2013 | By

Despite many attempts to oust it in popularity, it seems the cupcake is here to stay. To celebrate its Fine Cooks’ chocolate range, Dr Oetker have issued a new cupcake challenge – The Great Chocolate Bake. Apart from the fun to be had in creating your own cupcake design, there is quite an incentive to win. The prize is a trip to the home of the cupcake itself, New York. You have until the 17th of October to make some sort of chocolate cupcake and enter it on the Dr Oetker Facebook page by submitting a photograph of your masterpiece.


Spinach, Goat’s Cheese and Chocolate Filo Triangles

Spinach Goats Cheese Filo Pastries

Some of you may remember my six course chocolate themed dinner party from a couple of months ago. These spinach, goat’s cheese and chocolate filo triangles are one of the courses I served. I learnt how to make filo triangles on a Middle Eastern mezze course at the Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath a couple of years ago and I’m very glad I did as it’s proved to be invaluable on several occasions.

This is a an adaptable recipe, which I made up as I was devising the evening’s menu. Quantities can be adjusted to suit different tastes and the number of people partaking. When I say spinach, I don’t actually mean spinach; I used what I had to hand which in this case was orach.

This is how I made:

Orach, Goat’s Cheese and Chocolate Filo Triangles

  • Sweated 4 finely chopped shallots and 1 clove finely chopped fresh garlic in a little olive oil.
  • Added a large handful of freshly washed & still wet orach (spinach like leaf) to the pan and covered with a lid. Simmered until wilted (about 5 minutes) and removed from the heat. I didn’t need to drain this, but it may need it if the mixture is too wet.
  • Grated in a little nutmeg and some black pepper.
  • Mixed in 50g soft ripe goats cheese.
  • Mixed in a few leaves of chopped freshly picked mint.
  • Melted 25g unsalted butter.
  • Roughly chopped 20g 85% dark chocolate into chunks.
  • Cut 3 filo pastry sheets lengthways into 4 long strips & brushed each with melted butter.
  • Placed a large teaspoonful of the spinach mixture onto the bottom of the strips.
  • Added a couple of the chocolate chunks & wrapped in the pastry to form 12 triangles.
  • Brushed with melted butter.
  • Baked at 180C for 10 minutes.
These were polished of with alacrity and I’m sure I saw a few fingers being licked. Everyone agreed that the chocolate worked really well with the other ingredients – a gentle but enriching presence. 
As the main ingredient here was goats cheese, I am entering this into Alpha Bakes where the letter is G for goat’s cheese this month. This is hosted alternately by The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes.

Chocolate Falafel

These falafel were the inspiration that kick-started me into planning a six course chocolate themed Middle Eastern menu for a dinner party last week. I saw a recipe for falafel salad in the summer edition of the Co-operative’s Share magazine and it immediately appealed to me. I decided to separate the falafel from the salad and add raw chocolate and almond spread. The falafel recipe I have from the Vegetarian Cookery School used tahini, so I couldn’t see why a nut butter wouldn’t work instead of a seed one. I mixed and matched between the two recipes and came up with a version I am really happy with.


Marzipan Macaroons or Kransekake

I do love a good macaroon, so when I was hunting around for a K for this month’s Alpha Bakes, I was delighted to find these kransekake (otherwise known as marzipan macaroons) in Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen. Until I found this recipe, I had no idea that almond macaroons were a Scandinavian speciality. I’ve always thought of them as very British, that is until the sophisticated Parisian macaron came along and swept all before it. Luckily, rustic macaroons are much more my style, I say that as I’d never have the patience to create the elegant structures beloved by the French. If you’d like tips on how to make the perfect macaron, hop over to Jill’s blog, Mad About Macarons.

Anyway, I digress. These macaroons contain marzipan as well as almonds and can be finished off in any number of ways. I chose to use a chocolate drizzle; the only thing that can improve macaroons or marzipan in my book, is chocolate. The bitterness of dark chocolate helps to counteract the sweetness of the macaroon resulting in a nicely balanced biscuit.

This is how I made:


  • Melted 50g unsalted butter in a pan and left to cool.
  • Roughly chopped 200g marzipan.
  • Whizzed 100g whole almonds in a food processor with the marzipan and 100g golden icing sugar until the almonds were more or less ground, but with some larger chunks still intact,
  • Broke 3 duck egg whites into a bowl and whisked briefly with a pinch of salt and a scant teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  • Whisked in the melted butter.
  • Stirred in the almond mixture. At this point I realised my mixture was too wet – I had used duck eggs rather than the medium hens eggs stated. So I added 50g ground almonds.
  • Placed in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours.
  • Placed large teaspoonfuls on two lined baking trays – I made 20 but as the recipe stated 40-50, I suspect the macaroons were meant to be a lot smaller than I made them.
  • Baked at 200C for 7 minutes until just golden.
  • Much to my annoyance, the biscuits had all merged into each other, although it was my own fault for not leaving the suggested space in between each one – something I never seem to learn. So I took out a cutter and used this to shape the macaroons into presentable rounds, then left on a rack to cool.
  • I reckon from the amount of offcuts I had, I could have easily made another five or six biscuits.
  • Melted 30g dark chocolate and drizzled it over the macaroons.

Apart from my spacing disaster and ending up with two very large biscuits which I then had to rescue, I was very pleased with these macaroons. The end result looked perfectly respectable. I shall definitely make them again and take more care next time with both size and spacing. They were chewy, flavoursome and the larger pieces of nut gave added texture.

Don’t forget it’s World Baking Day this coming Sunday 19th May, so have a look at the website and #BakeBrave

It is Coeliac Awareness Week starting today (13th-19th May) and these biscuits are perfect for anyone unable to eat wheat or gluten as long as the marzipan and chocolate are properly gluten free. Some products may contain traces of gluten if they come from factories where gluten is used, so it is always worth checking the packaging. For more information on gluten free baking, pay a visit to Katie’s blog Apple and Spice.

I am sending these marzipan macaroons off to Caroline Makes who has chosen K for this month’s AlphaBakes and K is for Kranskake. This monthly challenge is hosted alternately by Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker.
I am also including these in that monthly groaning table of goodies which is Teatime Treats. Karen of Lavender and Lovage has chosen the biscuit tin and cookie jar as this month’s theme and my macaroons filled up my biscuit tin very nicely. The challenge is alternately hosted by Kate of What Kate Baked.
Classic French, the monthly challenge from Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes is macarons this month. Guest hosted by Victoria of A Kick at the Pantry Door, I think I might be winging it with these Scandinavian macaroons, but a girl has got to try.

Apple, Orange Pudding with a Ginger Chocolate Crunchy Oat Topping

Pudding | 22nd April 2013 | By

Well there’s a mouthful and I should probably have come up with something a bit snappier, but it pretty much describes this pudding. I’d just made Karen’s Orange Liqueur (shockingly back in October 2011), so I had a load of oranges minus their skin that needed using up fast. I also noticed at about the same time that some of the apples I’d been given a while ago looked like they were in need of using too. So an apple and orange pudding of some kind it had to be. Time being limited, a nice easy oaty one seemed to be in order.

This is what I did to make:

Apple, Orange Pudding with a Ginger Chocolate Crunchy Oat Topping

  • Peeled, cored and sliced 5 large Cornish cooking apples.
  • Layered them in a buttered ovenproof dish with 50g demerara sugar scattered amongst the apples.
  • Poured over the juice of two oranges and a little water.
  • Melted 75g butter in a large pan with 1 heaped tbsp golden syrup.
  • Stirred in 8oz rolled oats, 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 40g chopped crystallised ginger.
  • Stirred in 50g chopped 60% dark chocolate.
  • Spooned this over the top of the apples.
  • Baked for 30 minutes at 180C.
Thanks to Alpha Bakes for getting me to dig out this rather delicious pudding I’d completely forgotten about. I wanted to enter this month’s AlphaBakes and was hoping to make some A is for Almond macaroons, but time is running out and I’m currently on my way back from my cousin’s three day wedding in Wales. So I had a quick check through my drafts and found this A is for Apple, Orange Pudding with a Ginger and Chocolate Crunchy Oat Topping. AlphaBakes is hosted this month by Ros of The more than occasional baker and on alternate month’s by Caroline Makes.

As I had both apples and oranges in need of using up, I am entering this into the No Waste Food Challenge, which this month is fruit. Established by Kate of Turquoise Lemons, this month is hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen.

And for much the same reason as above, I am also entering this pudding into Credit Crunch Munch with Camilla of Fab Food 4 All and Helen of Fuss Free Flavours.

Raw Chocolate Truffles – We Should Cocoa #29

Dates are something I have a long association with, not just at Christmas. I grew up on date and banana sandwiches and I scoffed a fair few fresh ones during my various stays in Egypt. Fresh dates are something else all together, but as these are very hard to come by in the UK, Medjool dates are the next best thing and are in fact known as the “Fruit of Kings”. If you haven’t tried these before, they are big, plump, soft, fleshy and very sweet with a rich honeyed caramel flavour and make an excellent sweet treat all on their own. I was sent a beautiful gold box of twenty Medjool dates to try before Christmas. Apart from eating some of them just as they were, I had plans to stuff them with homemade marzipan and dip them in chocolate. Sadly, time ran out as time does and these plans didn’t materialise. Post Christmas, I’m keen to have something healthier, but I still want to make use of them as an ingredient.