Sausage rolls are such a classically British snack. I was always quite surprised that they weren’t more popular in the States given how much they love pork but I guess their sausages aren’t quite the same as a good old British banger. Back in the […]
As a non-meat eater I would be chuffed to bits to be presented with these for my Christmas dinner, or for any dinner for that matter! The pastry is gorgeously crisp and flaky against the creamy filling and tender sweet squash. The flavours are spot […]
I think this post might be my biggest tribute to my Grandmas baking yet. She was a pretty decent cook, although she mostly stuck to the ‘meat and two veg’ type recipes of her era, but my goodness was she a good baker.
This was especially true when it came to pastry. It was always faultless, whether it was sweet or savoury and always perfectly flaky and melt in the mouth.
If she was making pastry then my brother and I would loiter in her kitchen, waiting for the off-cuts to turn into little pasties filled with her homemade jam. The hardest part of making these is waiting for them to cool when they come out of the oven so that you don’t burn your mouth on the bubbling hot jam.
300g plain flour
1/4 nutmeg (grated)
2 tbsp brandy (optional – you can just use water if you prefer)
splash of ice-cold water
150g (ish) cherry jam
75g (ish) mascarpone
egg wash and a little extra sugar to finish
To make the pastry sift the flour and gently rub the cold butter into it until you have a breadcrumb-like mixture. Whisk in the sugar. Slowly add the brandy and enough water to bring this all together to form a ball of dough. You can do all this in a food processor if you prefer. Wrap the dough in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for 20 minutes before pre-heating the oven to 180°c.
Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out the dough so that it’s a couple of millimetres thick. Using a small plate or saucer as a guide, cut out discs from the dough, re-rolling as necessary. Add a small dollop of jam and a little blob of mascarpone to the centre of each disc. Try to resist the urge to be too greedy with the amount of filling, it will undoubtedly bubble out so you don’t really want more than a teaspoon in there. Brush the edge of the dough with beaten egg, fold the pastry over the filling and firmly press down the edges. Crimp the edge or simply press around it with a fork.
Brush each little pasty with egg wash and sprinkle them with a little sugar. Arrange on a greased baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes until they’re beautifully golden. Leave them to cool a little before enjoying.
When you get really good ingredients it’s worth using them in a recipe that really shows off their full potential. That’s how I feel about these beautiful heirloom tomatoes anyway. So often the fruits you find in supermarkets are insipid and disappointing but if you […]
How about these for a sweet treat? Crisp little pastry shells filled to the brim with homemade chocolate and caramelised hazelnut ganache. You know you wouldn’t be able to say ‘no’ to one of these (or two, or three).
The trick with these is to roll the pastry as thin as possible so that you can maximise the amount of filling you can fit into them – it’s all about ratios!
Provided that you have a fairly robust food processor making your own ‘praline’ isn’t really that hard, although you do obviously need to be extremely careful with the hot caramel.
125g plain flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 egg yolk
splash of very cold water
50g skinned hazelnuts
100g milk chocolate
100ml double cream
pinch of sea salt
Kick things off by making the pastry. If you have a food processor then this can be made very quickly and easily. Just add the flour, sugar and butter to the food processor and whizz it up until it looks like ground almonds. With the food processor running at a slow speed add the egg yolk and just enough cold water to bring it all together to form a soft dough.
If you don’t have a food processor then gently rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips and then mix through the sugar. Again use the egg yolk and a touch of water to bring the dough together.
Wrap the dough in cling-film and pop it in the fridge to chill for 20 to 30 minutes. Grease your mini tart tins and pre-heat your oven to 180°c.
Once the dough has rested unwrap it and gently roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is a few millimetres thick, try to get it as thin as possible. Use a cookie cutter to cut out discs the right size for your tart tins and gently press the pastry into the tins. Prick the bases of the tarts with a fork, cover each one with a small piece of greaseproof paper and then pile on some baking beans. Bake the pastry cases for 20 minutes and then uncover them and bake them for a further 10 minutes. Once the tart shells are nicely golden leave them to cool on a wire rack.
Either oil a baking sheet or cover one with a silicone mat and set it aside. Combine the sugar and water for the praline in a heavy frying pan and then put it over a gentle heat. Resist the urge to stir it and let it bubble away until the sugar becomes a lovely deep golden caramel. Carefully stir the hazelnuts through this and then immediately pour onto the prepared baking sheet. Leave to cool and harden.
Once it’s cold and set firm break it into chunks and put it in a food processor. Grind it as finely as you can, ideally so it’s no more coarse than something like ground almonds. Roughly chop the chocolate and put it in a bowl. Heat the cream (in a pan or in the microwave) so that it’s quite hot but not boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for a minute or two before stirring well, so that it’s combined into a smooth ganache. Fold the ground hazelnuts into this.
Use this hazelnut ganache to fill each of the tart cases, right up to the brim. Pop the tarts in the fridge so that the filling can set and become firm. Decorate with a little plain chocolate if you like.
Crab was a particular speciality where we were living in the USA. Hauled out of the Chesapeake and boiled up with Old Bay seasoning or turned into delicious crab cakes.
It’s a delicacy back home in Cornwall too, freshly picked and eaten in sandwiches. I’ve gone super-Cornish with this recipe, which I made for St Piran’s day, and wrapped up the delicious sweet white crab meat into little pasties using a wonderful all butter pastry.
Using strong flour in the pastry dough makes it much stretchier and easier to work with when you’re shaping your pasties.
225g strong white flour
85ml (ish) cold water
120g white crab meat (tinned works fine)
1 small red chili
small bunch of fresh coriander
zest of 1 lemon
To make the pastry sift the flour and gently rub the cold butter into it until you have a breadcrumb-like mixture. Slowly add enough water to bring this all together to form a ball of dough. You can do all this in a food processor if you prefer. It’s a good idea at this point to wrap the dough in cling film and let it rest in the fridge whilst you prep the filling. Pre-heat the oven now to 200°c.
Thinly slice the shallot and finely chop the chili. Combine this with the crab meat, black pepper and the lemon zest. Roughly chop the coriander and stir this through the mixture.
Unwrap the dough and gently roll it out to about 3-4mm. Using a small plate or saucer as a guide cut out 4 discs from the dough, re-rolling as necessary. Divide the filling evenly between the pastry discs, heaping it in the centre. Brush the edge of the dough with beaten egg, fold the pastry over the filling and firmly press down the edges.
Now time to crimp! Not nearly as hard to do as it is to describe I promise. Place your index finger on the edge of the pastry at one end of the pasty. Now take the pastry just in front of it and pull it over your finger. Pull out your finger and repeat the process all around the edge and then simply tuck in the end. If that all sounds a bit too challenging them simply press around the edge with a fork.
Cut a couple of steam holes in the top of each pasty and brush with egg wash. Arrange on a greased baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes until they’re beautifully golden. Enjoy hot or cold!