After producing a grand total of three apples last year the tree in my garden is positively groaning with fruit this year. I’m going to be making a lot of pies and crumbles! To start with though I thought that I would take advantage of […]
Happy summer solstice everyone! It’s the longest day of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, which means more hours of daylight (and hopefully sunshine) and as far as I’m concerned that’s cause for celebration. One year (a really, really long time ago) I actually spent the summer solstice at Stonehenge, which really was quite a party!
I think this cake is a perfect celebration of summer with all those juicy seasonal berries, it actually reminds me a little bit of a Swedish Midsummer Cake. It’s essentially a gussied-up Victoria sponge but with white chocolate frosting that makes it just a little bit more special. Whether you’re celebrating the solstice or not, how could you resist a slice of this!?
the weight of the eggs (inc shells) in butter, sugar and self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tbsp milk
zest of 1 lemon
150g mixed berries (whatever is in season)
1/2 tbsp cornflour
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp cornflour
100g white chocolate
100g butter, room temperature
extra berries to decorate
Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and grease two sandwich tins. Place a disc of baking parchment in the base of each just to be extra certain that nothing is going to stick.
Weigh your eggs, in their shells so that you know how much flour, butter and sugar you’ll need.
Sift together the flour and baking powder a couple of times and set it aside. This will get plenty of air into it.
Beat together the lemon zest, butter and sugar until it is pale, thick and fluffy, this should take a minute or two using a hand or stand mixer.
Lightly beat each egg and mix them into the butter and sugar one at a time. Follow each one with a spoonful of the flour and beat it well. Sift the remaining flour into the batter in two batches and carefully fold it in.
Finally stir in the milk to loosen the mixture to a nice soft dropping consistency. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared tins and level off the tops. Bake them in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes. Once the time is up open the oven door and test that the sponges are cooked with a skewer. Give them another minute or two if it doesn’t come out clean. They should feel light and springy once they are cooked.
Put the cooked sponges on a wire rack and let them cool in the tins for five minutes then turn them out on the rack and carefully remove the greaseproof paper. Allow them to completely cool before you fill them.
Whilst the cakes bake and cool you can make the filling and frosting so that they have time to cool too.
Combine the berries with the sugar, cornflour and lemon juice in a small pan. Heat the fruit
until it starts to break down a little and the juices thicken to create a jammy compote. Leave to cool and thicken.
Next it’s onto the frosting. Whisk together the sugar, flour and cornflour in a small saucepan. Stir in the milk, making sure that it’s all well blended and then set the pan over a low heat. Gently heat the mixture, stirring continuously, until it starts to bubble and forms a very thick custard. Set this aside to cool completely. Melt the chocolate and let this cool too.
Put the cold custard mixture into a bowl and beat it with an electric mixer until it is slightly aerated. Beat in the melted chocolate and then follow this with the butter, adding a little at a time until it is all incorporated and you have a nice thick, fluffy frosting.
To assemble the cake place one of the sponges on a serving plate and spread it with the berry compote. Top this with half of the frosting and then sandwich on the second sponge. Use the remaining frosting to decorate the top, spreading it smoothly and just lightly grazing the sides of the cake. Finish it off by piling some pretty, fresh berries into the centre of the cake and adding a quick dusting of icing sugar.
After so many years away I’d forgotten how erratic the weather during British springtime can be. It actually snowed on my birthday last week. Snow in April. In the (almost) South West of England. Crazy. Admittedly it was quite sleety and only lasted for about 20 minutes but I think you get my point. We’ve had a few days of glorious warmth and sunshine too mind you. It just can’t seem to make up its mind.
So I don’t know if I should be making hearty warming food or lighter spring flavours. I’m in quite a pickle! Hence this pie, which is a mix of orchard fruits and summer berries and is equally delicious served hot or cold. The buttery, flaky, lemon infused pastry is really delicious and the fruit combine really well for both flavour and texture.
The amount of apples and pears that you’ll need really depends on how deep your pie dish is, mine is very deep so you may not need quite as much filling as I did. There should be plenty of pastry here to make a full top and bottom crust if you don’t like the idea of fiddling around with a lattice top.
300g plain flour
175g fridge-cold butter
pinch of salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
zest of 1 lemon
4-5 dessert apples
2 tbsp cornflour
4 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 beaten egg and white sugar to finish off
Cut the cold butter into small pieces and gently rub it into the flour with the tips of your fingers, until it resembles bread crumbs. Mix through the ginger, lemon zest, salt and sugar with a fork. Use just enough cold water to bring the mixture together to form a soft ball of dough. I usually find 4-5 tbsp is enough. Flatten the ball of dough a little and wrap it in cling film. Pop it in the fridge to chill and relax for at least 30 minutes but you can leave it over night if you need to.
Pre-heat your oven to 220°c and lightly grease a 20cm pie tin.
Take the pastry from the fridge and cut off about a third of it. Roll the larger piece out so that it’s a few millimetres thick and large enough to line the pie tin. Do this either on a lightly floured surface or on a piece of parchment paper. I prefer to do it this way as it makes it easier to transfer it to the tin later.
Carefully place the rolled pastry into the pie tin and gently push it into the corners. Leave a little over hang at the edge.
Peel, core and slice the apples and pears quite thinly. Whisk together the sugar, salt and cornflour in a large bowl and then toss the fruit, including the berries, into this. Tip the fruit into the lined tin and spread it out.
Roll out the remaining dough, again so that it is a few millimetres thick and a little larger than the size of the pie. If you want to do some fancy cut outs on the top of the pie then now is the time to do it. Brush the edge of the pie with a little of the beaten egg and carefully place on the lid. Gently push it down around the edges to seal the pie. Trim and crimp the edge however you like. Add any extra pastry embellishments you like (made from any leftover scraps of pastry), using the beaten egg as a glue. Brush the whole pie with beaten egg and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake the pie for 45 minutes, until the fruit is tender and the pastry is golden brown. If your pastry starts to brown too much during baking then just cover the top of the pie with a piece of kitchen foil.
Leave the pie to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving so that the juices can thicken.
My oh my! What a pud this is! You can keep your fancy tubs of ice cream, I’ll have this please. Home made ice cream always tastes so much more wonderful than anything you buy, no matter how much money you spend on it and this is no exception.
The custard ice cream is so rich and creamy and full of vanilla and the blackberries are rich and jammy. There’s also a little bit of crunch from the crisp nuggets of meringue hiding inside. If you feel like spoiling someone (or just yourself) make them this.
Obviously you can use bought meringues in this if you’re short on time but because I never waste anything if I can help it, I use the spare egg white to make mine. You just need 50g of sugar per white, here are some recipes to help.
300ml double cream
150ml whole milk
1 egg yolk
1 ½ tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tbsp sugar
3-4 meringue nests or meringue made from the extra egg white
Kick things off by making the base for the ice cream. Put 150ml of the cream in a saucepan along with the milk and gently warm them. Don’t let them get too hot.
Place the egg and egg yolk in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle in the sugar, cornflour and vanilla paste. Whisk this until it is very thick, pale and fluffy.
Whilst still whisking this add the warm milk/cream in a slow, steady stream. Make sure that you keep it all moving to prevent it from curdling. Rinse out the pan and then put the custard mixture back into it and set it over a low heat. Stir the custard continuously until has become quite smooth and thick and then leave it to cool.
Make the blackberry swirl by mixing together the fruit and the sugar in a small pan. Put it over a low heat to warm so that the fruit releases its juices. Crush the berries with a fork and let it bubble for a few minutes so that it thickens slightly. Push the fruit through a sieve over a small bowl to leave you with a thin puree. Let this cool.
By now the custard should have cooled down too. Softly whip the remaining cream in a large bowl and then combine this with the custard. Put this into an ice cream maker and churn it until it has the texture of soft serve ice cream. If you don’t have an ice cream maker then put it in the freezer and beat it every so often to break up the ice crystals. Don’t let it freeze too firmly though.
To assemble the terrine line a loaf tin (or something similar) with cling film and pour in half of the ice cream. Spread this around and then drizzle over half of the blackberry puree. Marble the two together. Break up the meringue and spread this over the ice cream and top it with the rest of the ice cream. Marble through the last of the blackberry puree too. Cover the top of the terrine with several layers of cling film and then put it in the freezer for several hours to firm up.
To serve the terrine simply peel the clingfilm from the top and then invert the tin onto a plate. The tin should easily slide off and then you can peel away the remaining clingfilm before decorating with a few extra blackberries and some mint leaves.