Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pink Grapefruit Tart


I got a few pink grapefruits awhile ago and because they are such tart fruits, I didn't fancy eating them like I would an orange or slice it into salads. Just too zingy for me. I had just received the spring issue of Donna Hay magazine and they had a few pages dedicated to Citrus Tarts- How To Cook. What a coincidence! I made the sweet shortcrust pastry which was easy with a food processor then went on to cook the custard. Recipe was typical with cream, egg yolks and sugar. Added grapefruit juice into the custard, whisk them together and pour the custard though a sieve into the blind-baked tart shell. The whole tart on it's own was pleasant. Not at all citrusey which was perfect for the children. But I followed Donna Hay's recommendation to eat it with freshly-sliced grapefruits and cream. Epic-tart!!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chocolate Fruit Cake

Nearly forgot about this cake! I took the pictures with my phone and not the camera, so it was forgotten until I was updating my Great Bakes blog awhile ago that I remembered. I was baking so many rounds of the Traditional Rich Fruit Cakes in December for Christmas that I honestly was bored with them. Don't get me wrong, my recipe for the traditional Christmas cake is two thumbs up and the cake is moist with plump fruits and full-bodied. There's no cheating when it comes to baking fruit cakes. A month of soaking the fruits in brandy (or rum, or whiskey, even had X.O one year) and 5 hours of low temperature baking (time would depend on size of your cake, mine's 9x9 inches). This chocolate Christmas cake isn't very chocolatey to start with, in case you don't fancy steering far from the traditional flavour of fruit cakes. It just has enough chocolate flavour in it for you to think, "Oh, there's chocolate somewhere in here!". The cake is also very moist and I like that it doesn't taste brandy-ey like most fruit cakes do. With Tia Maria or Kahlua, these coffee liqueurs add depth and wholesomeness to the cake. I had a small slab or two every evening with Mulled Wine. Bliss. By the way, I can't remember which book did this recipe come from. I'm pretty sure it's Nigella Lawson's but I can't recall which one. It could be Feast but I can't find it, so far ....hmmm. Wait! Found it! It is from Feast.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cranberry Bakewell Tart

So, the jam's cooked and I cooled it overnight in 2 sterilised jars. I got started with making the pastry. Since I started using the food processor for my pastries years ago, I've never needed to sought for another alternative nor any reason to not make my own pastry. The tedious part of pastry-making has always been rubbing cold butter into the flour. With a food processor, I first dump all the dry ingredients and pulverise them, then pour in the mixed liquid ingredients to combine them. Take it out and form it into a disc and chill. You can always do this a day in advance and keep it in the fridge until you need to use it. The frangipane filling is also an easy and versatile filling. In this tart, it was a necessary secondary filling. The cranberry jam sits on the pastry case and the frangipane filling on top of it. With the frangipane, much of the cranberry tartness is countered. Least, we don't cringe with every bite. In Feast, Miss Lawson royally mixed some instant royal icing and spread them over the tart when it was completely cooled. That's too much sugar for me. I settled for sprinkling handfuls of flaked almonds on the frangipane filling before putting the tart into the oven. It was a beautiful tart. Tasted divine and highly addictive. The buttery, yet crisp almond pastry was perfect and both filling complemented each other exceptionally.

Cranberry Jam

Like Nigella Lawson has put it aptly, "If it's Christmas, it must be cranberries...". I would have shy away from cooking any jam because by looking at the recipe ingredients, I'd have turned the page when I see the word "pectin". Pectin is a thickening cum gelling agent that can be commercially-found in supermarket aisles (apparently...) but we don't find them here. The mentality here is basically, why bother cooking jam when you can buy a good jar organic preserve for only US$10 or a St Dalfour for only US$2.99 during sale? I agree in that sense but you see, pectin is actually a naturally-occurring substance from fruits if you cook it long enough, continuously stirring at low heat with sugar. This labourous effort of standing next to a hot stove,  getting splattered with hot jam while you're stirring is quite a put-off and it does take a long time. The pectin occurs when all the vitamins have been cooked out of the fruit and then will it start to thicken. So, if you use a pre-prepared pectin, you'll have your jam thicken in a much shorter time and use a lot less sugar.
The reason why I cooked this jam was because cranberries are pectin-intense. The pectin is released (as in jam will start to set) once the berries have burst. So, it didn't take as long. Sure, it's still a hot stove (I use a flame stove) and there were quite a bit of hot splatters when the berries started bursting but it wasn't a tiresome experience. Though I used equal amount of sugar to cook the cranberries with, the tartness of these berries still ruled the main flavour of the jam. And I loved the insanely rich and festively red of this jam!

Snow-Flecked Brownies

Hi!!! I'm back...I think. I've been consumed by new school routines at the start of this year and I don't see how that's going to slow down in the coming months or years for the matter. I've been neglecting my much loved hobby of cake decorating since January, taking orders only to fit around my schedules. It's a tough call but my family commitments are priority. That also means that I've not given up sneaking in time to bake for the children and the MOTH. There's only that many days they (or I,) will tolerate bread and cheese or cereal and milk. I'll be writing about those little trysts I've had with my Kenwood later on...AFTER I finish the 2012 Christmas posts!

Snow-Flecked Brownies- Think I baked these for my visiting nieces and nephew a couple of days before Christmas. The lot came over for a pre-Christmas brunch and I cooked up an Italian spread for starters and mains, and chose an American brownie and British dessert pie for dessert. The base recipe for these brownies is the same as the one from Nigella's HTBADG. Straightforward melt-and-mix formula with an extra cup of white chocolate buttons. The children loved it to the last crumb but as you would know by now, with my aversion to white chocolate, I found that addition to be an overkill. I'm prejudiced...I love them dark and handsome, not in white shiny armour.