I might have mentioned this before but my family doesn’t eat Christmas dinner (we have it on Christmas Eve instead) but we do enjoy a Christmas day brunch before the present opening begins. And this is the perfect recipe to kick off the big day. […]
Something about the onset of the cold grey weather makes me want to eat cheese. ALL THE TIME! Toasty, golden, melted cheese is my favourite and these scones, warm from the oven, fit the bill perfectly. They have a lovely combination of flavours. The rich […]
I don’t actually think I can get enough of rhubarb. I bloomin’ love the stuff! The ancient plant in my garden is much happier this year than last year which means I have a small but steady supply of it too.
This is a lovely summery dessert and if you scale down the portions a little it would be perfect for afternoon tea (i.e. make 6 instead of 4). The shortcakes are so light and fluffy and the custard is cool, rich and creamy. The flavours are great together too, tart rhubarb and sweet vanilla and pistachios are a delicious combination.
200g plain flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar (plus a bit extra for finishing)
pinch of salt
70g pistachios, coarsely ground
poppyseeds for sprinkling
4 egg yolks
2 tbsp cornflour
280ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla paste
250g (approx) rhubarb
3 tsp sugar
1 tbsp gin (optional)
Pre-heat your oven to 220°c and lightly grease a baking tray.
Slice the rhubarb into 1″ pieces and toss them in the 3 teaspoons of sugar and the gin (if using) and place them in an oven-proof dish. Pop the rhubarb in the oven and bake it until it’s tender, which should take about 15 minutes. Leave to cool once cooked.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt before lightly rubbing in the butter with your fingertips. Mix through the ground pistachios.
Beat together the buttermilk and egg and then use this to bring the dry ingredients together to form a soft dough. You may not need all of the liquid so just add it a bit at a time. Be as gentle as you can with the dough, or your shortcakes will be tough once they’re baked.
Pat the dough out onto a lightly floured surface so that it’s about 1″ thick. Use a pastry cutter to stamp out your shortcakes, being careful not to twist it. Re-roll the off cuts of dough as necessary.
Place the shortcakes onto the prepared baking tray and brush the tops with any of the remaining egg/buttermilk mixture (or just buttermilk if you used all of the egg mix in the dough) and then sprinkle them with sugar and poppyseeds. Bake them for 12-15 minutes and then leave them to cool on a wire rack. They should be lightly golden once they are baked.
Whilst the shortcakes bake you can make the custard filling. Pour the milk into a smallish pan and gently heat until it just starts to simmer. Meanwhile whisk together all of the other ingredients in a mixing bowl until they are quite thick and fluffy. Whilst still whisking (you may need to steady the bowl) pour the warm milk into the eggs through a sieve in a steady stream. Keep the egg mixture moving or they will curdle, leaving you with sugary scrambled eggs.
Rinse out the saucepan and then return the custard mixture to it. Gently heat the custard over a low light, stirring continuously, until it becomes very thick and creamy and then remove it from the heat. Cover the surface with clingfilm to prevent a skin from forming and leave to cool before slicing the shortcakes in half and filling with the creamy custard and tart rhubarb.
I’ve never been much of one for rich dark fruit cake. I love dried fruit but I always find fruit cakes to be a bit too sweet and full-on. Something like this is much more my cup of tea, more cake than fruit and a lighter cake at that. It’s no-where near as rich as a dark fruit cake but there’s still plenty of flavour.
The sweet marsala wine is delicious in this if you don’t want to invest in a bottle then golden rum is a good alternative or if you don’t want the booze at all then a little orange juice will do the job.
Dusting the cherries in a little flour before adding them to the mix will help to stop them from sinking to the bottom of cake as it bakes.
3 tbsp marsala (see note above)
50g pine nuts
100g butter, softened
175g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
25g ground almonds
75g glace cherries, halved
3 tbsp milk
Demerara sugar to finish
Combine the sultanas and the marsala in a small pan and gently heat for a few minutes before setting a side for 30 minutes, this will help the fruit to plump up. Grease and line a spring-form cake tin and pre-heat your oven to 180°c.
Sift together the flour and baking powder. Put the butter, sugar, almonds and flour into a mixing bowl and beat it until it is well combined. Drain the fruit (setting the soaking liquid to one side) and mix this into the mixture along with 40g of the pine nuts.
Whisk together the soaking liquid, eggs and milk and then beat this into the dry mixture to form a soft cake batter. Fold through the cherries and then pour the batter into the prepared tin. Level off the top and sprinkle it with a little demerara sugar and the last of the pine nuts to give the finished cake a nice crunchy top.
Bake the cake for about 30 minutes and then carefully open the oven door and cover the top with foil. Bake the cake for a further 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack.