I cheat and use store-bought shortcrust pastry with my quiches. If you have the time to wait for the dough to rest, and don’t mind clearing up the mess (which I always seem to make tons of whenever making pastry) go right ahead.
Quiche Lorraine reminds me of growing up in the suburbs in Sydney and having a slice of quiche with a salad on the side. You can’t really not like it – salty bacon and sweet sauteed onions enveloped in a warm eggy pillow – with pastry. It’s pretty easy, too – just make sure you blind bake your base properly, or it will end up soggy instead of crispy and short, giving you good contrasting textures with each bite.
- 1 -2 sheets ready made shortcrust pastry
- 1 large onion, diced
- 6 rashers (or more if you want) bacon, diced
- 200ml heavy cream
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup grated gruyere or cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 200C/390F
- Line the base and sides of a loose-bottomed tart tin with the pastry
- Prick the base, line with baking paper and add pie weights/rice/beans before blind baking in the oven for 15 minutes
- Remove the baking paper and pie weights and put back in the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes until cooked through and lightly browned
- While the base is baking, make your filling
- Sautee the bacon on medium-high heat until brown and crispy and remove from frying pan to cool
- Reduce the heat to low and cook onions until soft and translucent
- Mix cream, eggs, cheese together in a jug.
- Season with salt and pepper – remember not to oversalt as the bacon and cheese will provide additional seasoning
- Once the base is ready, sprinkle your bacon and onion on the base, and pour in the eggy/cheese mix over
- Reduce the oven temperature to 160C/320F and bake quiche for 30 minutes or the middle is just wobbly (it will continue to cook a little more once out of the oven)
- Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes before removing quiche from the tin
- Enjoy hot or cold as leftovers the next day 😉
After making successful pastry for my mince pies a few weeks ago, I said that I would conquer my fear of pastry. And with the inspiration of Mamma’s Gotta Bake’s mini apple pies and the ever dependable Martha Stewart’s recipe for easy pie crust, I made my first apple pie ! I’ve a long way to go from a presentation perspective, but the taste and texture came out just how I wanted it to (I’m so thrilled).
A few rules that I followed while making my pastry:
- Keep everything as cold as possible – butter should be chilled (I popped mine in the freezer). The reason for this is to keep the butter from melting into the flour, giving you a more crisp and flaky end result. For this reason you should minimise contact with your hands as much as possible, use your fingertips or the heel of your palm, which are the coolest parts of your hand, or better, use a pastry cutter or a food processor.
- Add just enough water to the pastry to bind it together – too much and the water will evaporate while cooking and steam, making the pastry soggy.
- Don’t overwork the pastry – quickly work the ingredients to just bring it together. Overworking the pastry will release more gluten in the flour, making your pastry less delicate.
- Make sure you rest the pastry for at least an hour – I rested it for two for good measure – this helps the gluten to relax, giving you a more tender texture.
- I love the idea from Martha Stewart to double the quantity of dough, and freeze half for use later.
My first apple pie makes 4 individual 10cm pies
For the pastry:
- 2 1/2 cups plain flour
- 230g chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4-6 tbls iced water
For the filling:
- 6 tart apples (granny smith or fuji), peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 cm pieces
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated if you have it)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- good pinch of salt
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbls granulated sugar
- Make the pastry first to give enough time for it to rest while you make the filling
- Add the cubes of butter to the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse on low until combined – it should resemble course breadcrumbs
- Add 2 tbls of the chilled water to the mix and pulse once or twice – just enough to bind the ingredients together for you to be able to tip the mix onto a board for kneading
- Continue to add 1 tbls at a time until the dough comes together
- Divide into two, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour
- For the filling, add a few teaspoons of lemon juice to the cut apples to stop them going brown
- Add the sugars, nutmeg, cinnamon and cornstarch and mix to coat the apple pieces
- Cook in a large saucepan for a few minutes until the apples soften – I like my apples to still have a bit of bite when cooked – if you want them softer, cook them for longer
- Add more lemon juice to the mix to taste – the sourness will mellow as the mix cooks
- Remove from heat and cool – about 30 minutes
- When ready, preheat your oven to 220C/425F
- Roll out your pastry to 3mm and I used the foil pie trays to cut out two circles per pie – one circle the size of the edge of the tray, one 1/2cm larger
- Use the larger circle to line the tray – you can use a muffin tray if you don’t have the foil trays
- Spoon the cooled apple mixture into the trays
- Top with the smaller circle and seal the edges (I used my thumb and you can also use a fork)
- Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle the granulates sugar on top
- Bake on a baking sheet to catch any apple filling that may bubble out for 18-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown
- Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes
- Serve while warm with a big dollop of cream or ice-cream
Scraping the bottom of the jar to get out the last of my marmalade, I decided this weekend to make my own. (I think subliminally I have also been reading a lot of jam recipes, presumably to preserve the last of the summer fruits in the Northern hemisphere). I used Delia Smith’s recipe for traditional Seville orange marmalade with a few brave changes – using 50% brown and 50% white sugar and also a whole lot less sugar than her recipe calls for, which was still a terrifying large amount.
I’d seen/read/heard that the worse thing that can happen to jam is that it doesn’t set, so I also added some extra peel from some oranges I ate, and while I think the sugar part worked out just fine, the extra peel added so much pectin to my mix that the consistency was too firm. The brown sugar makes a dark marmalade with a strong molasses flavour – perhaps that’s why I could get away with using less – but I think maybe 50/50 was too strong and next time I’ll try 25% brown 75% white.
The good thing is that making your own jam is straightforward and fun enough to want to try it again, and guess what friends and family will be getting as gifts soon?
- 900g oranges – Seville would be perfect for their intensely sharp flavour but I made it with naval and that turned out fine
- 1 lemon
- 500g soft brown sugar
- 500g white sugar
You will also need:
- A large, heavy-based saucepan
- 6 x 350g jam jars
- Add the juice of the oranges and lemon to 2.25l water
- Scrape out the insides of the cut fruit and add the pips, the pith and everything else into the centre of the cheesecloth. Leave nothing behind – the pith and pips contain all the precious pectin that will help the jam to set
- Cut the remaining peel into thin strips and add to the juice and water. Don’t worry about the excess pith on the rind, it will boil off
- Tie up the cheesecloth tightly and pop that into the pot
- Bring to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 hours
- In the meantime chill some saucers in the fridge
- Once the peel is soft, remove the cheesecloth bag and allow to cool. Make sure the peel is soft enough so you can rub it to nothing between your fingers and before you add the sugar. Adding sugar arrests the softening of the peel and you don’t want tough rind in your marmalade
- Add the sugar to the pan and stir gently over low heat to ensure all the crystals have dissolved
- Once the bag is cool enough to squeeze, turn the heat to high and squeeze the contents in the cheesecloth bag. You can do this with two saucers if it’s still too hot. This part is messy, sticky and intensely satisfying as you watch the almost jelly-like goo that contains the pectin ooze out
- Stir into the mixture
- Once the mixture comes to a rapid, rolling boil, start timing. 15 minutes to start. After 15 minutes spoon a little of the marmalade on to one of the cold saucers from the fridge, and let it cool back in the fridge. Once it has cooled, you can see if your marmalade has ‘set’ by pushing the mixture with your little finger: if it has a really crinkly skin, it is set. If not, continue to boil the marmalade and give it the same test at about 10-minute intervals until it does set.
- After that remove the pan from the heat (if there’s a lot of scum, most of it can be dispersed by stirring in half a teaspoon of butter, and the rest can be spooned off)
- Leave the marmalade to settle for 20 minutes. This will allow any floating rind to settle
- In the meantime, the jars should be sterilised – washed, dried and heated in a moderate oven for 5 minutes
- Pour the marmalade, with the aid of a funnel or a ladle, into the jars, cover with waxed discs and seal while still hot
- Label when cold and store in a dry, cool, dark place
A simple recipe from Bill Granger that will fill your home with the wonderful aroma of molten chocolate. You should always have all the ingredients already in your pantry. Which actually means you could (or should) always make brownies. Crispy on the top and soft and almost gooey in the centre, this basic recipe is also very adaptable (check out Rufus’ food and spirit guide to make them alcoholic).
Ingredients makes 16 squares
- 2 1/2 cups Caster sugar – I actually use half a cup less because I like them less sweet (and to make them healthier??)
- 2/3 cup Cocoa powder (no sugar just pure cocoa powder)
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 200g butter, melted
- Generous pinch of salt if you’re using unsalted butter, small pinch if using salted butter. I am a firm believer that everything sweet tastes better with salt.
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 200g dark chocolate buttons
- Preheat oven to 160C (315F)
- Stir the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl
- Add the eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract and mix until combined
- Mix in the chocolate buttons
- Pour into a lined 22cm square tin and bake for 80 – 90 minutes. Stick a skewer or a raw stick of pasta in to the middle and if it comes out clean, it’s ready.
- While the block is still warm, cut into 16 pieces
- Dust with cocoa powder and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream
I have had a bit of an obsession with shortbread since I made Christmas cookies, and I have found a recipe that makes a cookie lighter than air and that literally dissolves on your tongue.
Ingredients (makes about 25 cookies)
- 125g butter at room temperature – get the best you can buy because you can really taste it
- 35g icing sugar
- 50g cornflour
- 90g plain flour
- Good pinch of salt if using unsalted butter
- Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy
- Add the flours and mix on low speed till you get a soft dough
- Pipe shapes on to a cookie tray lines with parchment paper
- Put into the fridge for 30 minutes to help them keep their shape while they bake
- Heat oven to 180C while cookies are in the fridge and bake straight from the fridge for 20 minutes until golden brown
Triple Chocolate Tea Cake
I have been wanting to bake something for a while now. I’ve missed the smell of the flat as the cake cooks, and for something sweet to have with my afternoon cup of tea or coffee.
But what to make ? I have recently taken to making cupcakes and cookies just because it means that you can have small portions and also not make so much that D and I are forced to eat it all *wink*.
D’s immediate response when I asked him what he felt like ? CHOCOLATE.
So I decided on making the most chocolatey thing I could think of – a simple chocolate cake with chocolate buttons and chocolate butter icing.
I went searching for a recipe for a moist, light cake – nothing too heavy – and I found one that ticked the boxes, with the additional benefit of being able to be made in the same pan that you baked it in. I found this on the trusty joyofbaking site and then used a separate recipe for chocolate butter icing.
For the cake
- 1 1/2 cups (195g) plain flour
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated white sugar
- 1/4 cup (25g) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed), sifted
- 1/2 cup (50g) dark chocolate drops/buttons
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (250ml) warm water
- 1 tbs lemon juice or vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the icing:
- 6 tbs butter
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 2-3 tbs milk
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and place rack in centre of the oven
- In an ungreased 20cm (8 inch) square cake pan, stir together the flour, sugar, sifted cocoa powder, chocolate drops, baking powder, baking soda and salt
- Add the melted butter, water, lemon juice/vinegar and vanilla extract
- With a fork, mis all the ingredients together until well blended
- Bake in preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick (or raw stick of spaghetti) inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean
- Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool
- Once the cake is cool, ice with chocolate icing. You can even cut the cake in half horizontally and add an extra layer of icing in the middle for that extra chocolate hit
- For the icing, beat the butter and salt together until light and creamy
- Slowly beat in the icing sugar
- Add 1 tbs milk at a time and beat well to get a softer consistency
In the middle of my detox, I found myself craving for something sweet (chocolate, to be honest), but processed food is one of the big no nos for me this week, so I was thrilled to find this genius way of getting my sweet hit sans sugar (I replaced the sugar in the original recipe with honey) with the added bonus of quinoea. The original recipe is from Martha Stewart.com. If you’re interested, the basics of my detox are here.
Ingredients (makes about 10)
- 1/2 cup quinoea
- 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/4 cup shelled raw sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup shelled raw pistachios, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F)
- Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa; return to a boil. Stir quinoea; cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until most liquid is absorbed and quinoa is slightly undercooked, about 10 minutes
- Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake, fluffing with a fork occasionally, until pale golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in a large bowl
- Spread oats on baking sheet; bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add oats to quinoea
- Spread seeds and nuts on baking sheet; bake until lightly toasted, about 7 minutes. Add to quinoa mixture; let cool
- Reduce oven temperature to 150C (300F)
- Toss nuts, apricots and salt with quinoa mixture
- Beat honey, oil, and vanilla into eggs; stir into quinoa mixture
- Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spoon 1/4 cup firmly packed batter onto sheet for each cluster – space 3 inches apart and bake until crisp, about 25 minutes
- Let cool on a wire rack. Store, loosely covered with foil, up to 2 days
Honestly. Do not even bother with any other recipe. It’s apparently all about the resting of the dough for at least 24 hours that makes this cookie magical. Add the use of Valrhona chocolate discs, French butter and a sprinkle of Maldon salt on the top of the cookie and how on earth can you go wrong ?
This recipe (adapted from the NY Times – my recipe below uses less sugar and butter) makes a mountain of dough and I like smaller cookies, but just make it once and freeze individual scoops in freezer bags for warm cookies with a big mug of tea any time you want.
Time: 45 minutes plus at least 24 hours for resting dough
Ingredients (makes about 30 3-inch cookies – see freezing tip above)
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 2/3 cups bread flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 250g unsalted butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
- 500g bittersweet chocolate – broken, chopped if not in discs. Buy the best you can and at least 60 percent cocoa content
- Sea salt flakes
- Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
- Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes
- Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
- Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds
- Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them
- Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
- Take out dough about 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake and preheat oven to 180C (350F)
- Scoop mounds of dough (the size of golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie
- Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft – about 18 minutes
- Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes
- Enjoy warm !
A night in by myself made me fancy quiche florentine – it reminds me of quiche I used to serve in a cafe back in Sydney – how good the bacon smelled, and how the perfectly just-set eggy goodness wobbled when I served it.
- Pastry for one 9 inch crust pie
- 10 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled (or you can use thinly sliced ham)
- 1 c. shredded cheese (I use half cheddar, half gruyere)
- 1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry
- 3 eggs
- 1 c. light cream
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- Blind bake pastry shell for 20 minutes at 180C and let dry for 5 minutes in the oven. Reduce heat to 150C
- Sprinkle bacon, spinach and cheese in the pastry-lined tray
- Beat eggs slightly with the cream. Pour cream mixture into pie pan
- Bake 30-35 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean
- Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
I bought some bananas last week that I didn’t get around to eating, and so decided to keep them till they were really ripe (ie black) and make banana bread.
I’ve made banana breads before using various recipes and the last one I made had so much butter in it that when I toasted a slice, to my horror, you could hear it sizzling. Needless to say that loaf went into the bin, and so this time I went in search of a healthier version that was still moist without so much butter, and also tasty. I found one on joy of baking and it uses oil instead of butter and yoghurt to keep the bread moist. I also cut down the sugar because the super ripe bananas give added natural sweetness.
You can add walnuts for added good fats as well as a nice nutty flavour that works well with bananas, and a slice with a cup of tea would be a great healthy way to start the day.
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas – the blacker the better)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup low fat yoghurt
- 1/4 olive oil
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (you can substitute 1/2 cup wholemeal flour or add wheat germ for added fibre and nutrients)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Line a 20cm x 10cm loaf pan with baking paper
- In a large bowl, mix the mashed bananas with the baking soda and yoghurt. Allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the batter
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, egg and vanilla
- In another large bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt
- Combine the banana mixture with the oil mixture and then add to the flour mixture.
- Stir until all ingredients are just combined. This is important so you don’t release the gluten in the flour which will make your bread heavy. You want to keep it light so that it will rise.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 mins until the top is golden brown and a toothpick (or uncooked spaghetti stick) comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.