Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Great British Bake Off - Pecan Pie with Spiced Rum

As any avid baker will agree, Wednesday nights mean only one thing - The Great British Bake Off.  Now as I'm sure you are aware, tonight is the grand final of the 2015 series, and it therefore seems appropriate to have a GBBO themed blogpost to mark the occasion. If you cast your mind back to last series, you may remember finalist Richard Burr - the laidback builder-turned-baker who cooked up a storm with his trademark pencil behind his ear. Richard has gone on to prove that there is life beyond the tent, having published his debut cookbook BIY- Bake It Yourself (see what he did there?) last month. It is a cracking book, with a good mix of fairly simple but delicious recipes, as well as a few trickier showstopper bakes for the more ambitious baker - Hazelnut Chocolate Opera Cake anyone? If you follow us on Instagram, you will have seen a couple of the recipes I have tried out already, however it was this Pecan Pie with Spiced Rum which really caught my eye. Quick, simple and totally moreish - this proved a huge hit with the family, and is the ideal pudding to round off these colder autumnal evenings. It also keeps well, and seems to improve with age, which is always a bonus if it hasn't been demolished in one go!

Read on for my take on Richard's recipe…

To make the pastry you will need…

- 200g plain flour (plus a little more to dust)
- 100g cubed butter
- A pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- A couple of tbsp cold water

To make the filling you will need… 

- 100g golden syrup
- 100g maple syrup
- 100g caster sugar
- 50g soft light brown sugar
- 75g butter
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 tbsp spiced rum
- 100g chopped pecans
- 100g ground almonds
- 100g pecan halves

You will need to…

-  Make the shortcrust pastry - either by combining the ingredients together in a food processor with a little water to bind, or if by-hand, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the salt and sugar, then use a palette knife to stir in enough cold water to bind the mixture. Knead your ball of pastry gently for a minute or so to combine, then wrap in clingfilm and set in the fridge to cool and firm up for half an hour. 

- Preheat the oven to 200C and find yourself a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin.

- Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out on a floured work surface. It should be large and circular enough to fit the tin, and only couple of centimetres in thickness. Roll this up onto the rolling pin and then lay it out into your tin. Press the pastry into the edges of the tin, but leave a little excess overhang as the pastry will shrink in the oven. 

- Line your pastry with a disc of baking parchment and fill with baking beans - blind bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

- Take the tin out and remove the parchment and baking beans. Bake the pastry case for a further 8 or so minutes until golden brown. Take out of the oven and leave to cool. Trim off any excess pastry.

- To make the filling, melt the golden syrup, maple syrup, butter and sugars in a saucepan over a low heat. Allow to cool so as not to cook the eggs.

- Beat together the eggs, vanilla paste and rum, and stir into the cooled sugar mixture along with the chopped pecans and ground almonds. 

- Pour the pecan mixture into the tart case and carefully arrange the pecan halves on the surface in concentric circles - this can be a bit fiddly as the mixture underneath moves around a bit!

- Bake for 35-45 minutes until the pie has risen a little in the middle and is golden brown and set. If the nuts are browning too quickly cover with a little tin foil. 

- Set on a wire rack and remove from tin once completely cool.

- I think this is best served at room temperature with a generous pouring of cream or crème fraîche.

Enjoy! C x

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A Visit To Hemelhuijs Restaurant - Cape Town, SA

Whilst working in South Africa recently, I was lucky enough to experience some of the culinary delights of Cape Town and the surrounding area. There was never a shortage of fantastic places to eat, and I was particularly excited about having some interesting fresh food having lived in the bush in The Waterberg for the last 3 months. After trying a few, the restaurant that proved to be my favourite was called Hemelhuijs. The restaurant itself is very modern in both its menu and decor - there is a face on the wall made out of croutons, bright furnishings, and plenty of light let in through big glass windows looking out onto the street.  
The crouton mosaic! 

Their menu offers a healthy array of fresh salads, meats and vegetables. The menu itself is presented with wonderful big photos, making it very difficult to choose a dish! Anyway after much deliberation I chose their vegetable platter which was perfect having overindulged in both food and wine all week! I received a board with avocado, corn on the cob, butternut squash, rocket, beans and sweet roasted carrots, accompanied by some tasty homemade humus. It was the most delicious and fresh meal that I have ever eaten in a restaurant; colourfully presented and washed down with a delicious glass of Usana Pinot Gris. My friends enjoyed their gnocchi and kidneys too. For dessert we all decided each to try a different pudding from their freshly baked selection of sweet treats. I had slight food envy when I saw the cheesecake and apple tart - perhaps my taste has not fully adapted to the Afrikaans traditional milk tart that I chose! 

Vegetable Platter with Hummus
Traditional Afrikaans Milk Tart
The next day I had planned on climbing Table Mountain, however the weather was miserable so I paid Hemelhuijs another lunchtime visit. This time I had a maple baked parsnip salad with whipped herb cheese, navel orange and mustard dressing to which I added slow roasted duck. The mustard dressing came in its own glass container on the plate, no pre dressed leaves meant the rocket and lettuce leaves still had a nice crunch, complementing the tender duck and soft parsnips. To follow I decided to try a thyme infused hot milk with Dulce de Leche which was amazing, sweet and warm but with an interesting hint of thyme. 
Duck Salad
Thyme infused milk with Dulce de Leche 
Both my trips to Hemelhuijs were simply delicious and at a very good price too, the total for the duck salad came to only 150 rand which is about £10 for a dining experience that you would be paying well over £20 for in the UK. So if you are visiting Cape Town I would highly recommend this as a restaurant to put on your list of places to go. 
Enjoy! Z x

Monday, 23 March 2015

Hotel Chocolat Easter Treats & Toscakaka Cake

With Easter just around the corner, Hotel Chocolat offered to send me some of their seasonal treats to sample, which I obviously gratefully accepted - I'm only human! Hotel Chocolat never disappoint with their innovative seasonal chocolate collections, and this year is no different with their Egglet H Box providing a sophisticated and interesting alternative to your traditional Easter Egg.

Raspberry Supermilk
Salted Caramel
With fifteen little Egglets in ten different flavours ranging from a zingy Raspberry Truffle to a boozy Calvados Caramel, there really is something for everyone. My personal favourites were the Coffee Caramel (the ideal after-dinner treat) and the Speckled Praline - a smooth and moreish nutty centre sealed in caramel chocolate speckled with vanilla seeds - A-mazing. So amazing, in fact, that it has inspired the following Toscakaka recipe… 

Toscakaka is a Swedish cake with a vanilla and orange flavoured sponge and a chewy, almondy, caramely topping that oozes into the sponge when baking and gives the cake a praline-like flavour. It is really simple to make, and would make an ideal Easter centrepiece if you're feeding friends and family next weekend. Scroll down for the full recipe…

You will need…

3 eggs
150g caster sugar
Zest of 1/2 an orange
1tsp vanilla extract or paste
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
75 ml milk with a drop of lemon juice
75 g butter - melted

And for the topping…

150g toasted flaked almonds
125g soft light brown sugar
100g butter
2 tbsp whiskey

You will need to…

- Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 9 inch springform tin.

- In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and orange zest until thick and pale.

- Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and gently fold into the egg mixture.

- Mix together the melted butter and milk, then fold this into the cake mixture too. 

- Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes.

- In the meantime, make the praline-like topping by combining the almonds, sugar and butter in a small saucepan.

- Bring this mixture to a rapid boil and cook for about a minute, then remove from the heat and stir in the whiskey.

- After 20 minutes, carefully take the cake out the oven and gently spoon the almond mixture on top, taking care not to disturb the partially cooked sponge.

- Return the cake to the oven to cook for another 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

- Leave to cool in the tin and serve with a generous sprinkling of icing sugar. 

Enjoy! C x