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Archive for June, 2009

Hhmm…this month’s DB challenge was one interesting challenge – not just in its name but also in the combination of the dessert itself! With a base of shortcrust pastry, filled with jam and topped with a nice, spongy layer – tell me isn’t this an unusual dessert?! :)

June 2009 daring baker’s challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of A Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history back to the 1800′s in England. Some say it is a tart while some say it is a pudding…well, I’ll let you decide if it’s a tart or a pudding…my verdict is that it’s a tart but who cares! It’s the taste that matters! :)

For the jam filling, I’ve chosen to make my mum’s famous pineapple jam. As a kid, mum used to make this jam every Chinese New Year for her famous pineapple tarts. I still remember many a time where I complained about being forced to help her with this stupid task. Now, overseas and alone, one misses simple joys such as this.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Ingredients:

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract (optional)
4 tbsp cold water

Method:

  • Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
  • Lightly beat the egg yolks with the vanilla extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
  • Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Frangipane

Ingredients:

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract
125g (4.5oz) almond meal
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Method:

  • Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy.
  • Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle but don’t worry it’ll be fine.
  • After all three are in, pour in the vanilla extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again.
  • With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Pineapple Jam

Ingredients:

2 pineapples
4 cloves
Raw sugar, to taste (approximately 2-3cups, I didn’t measure)

Method:

  • Clean and peel pineapple. Cut into chunks.
  • Place pineapple into a blender and add some water. Blend it but don’t overdo it as you want the pineapple pulp.
  • Run it through a sift but not till juice is fully drained. Leave a little juice with the pulp.
  • Heat a non-stick pan or pot on medium heat. Add a little bit of oil followed by pineapple pulp.
  • Add sugar and stir it well. You’ll most likely have to adjust sweetness later so don’t add too much sugar at early stage.
  • Allow it to slowly cook over low-medium heat. Give it a stir every 10-15 minutes just to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  • Jam will slowly thicken and turn a nice golden brown colour. Add sugar to taste. If you want it drier then cook a bit longer. If not, remove from heat and allow to cool when it is sticky and semi-dry.
  • Refrigerate when cool. Store in an airtight container.

Assembling the tart:

  • Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out.
  • Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll.
  • When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  • Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base.
  • Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.
  • The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.
  • When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

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Wow! Can you believe it?! Winter is here! Half the year has just passed us by without us realising it! Man! Talk about time flying! I’ve now officially been in Sydney for 6 months. Winter here is so different from Hobart! Iy’s probably averaging about 15C here and people are wrapped up in scarves and thick winter coats! On top of that, we actually get clear, blue skies with sunshine in winter!Sydney siders sure get a watm winter in comparison to the rain and snow in Hobart!  People who know me will know that my favourite season of the year is in fact spring, but people who don’t know me that well think it’s winter! This is because I abolutely LOVE the cold! Trust me, when I say I love it, I really literally love the cold! I love the thought of laying in bed with a hottie, snuggled between my doona, hot cup of tea in my hands, a good book or movie – man the luxuries of winter! And above it all, SNOW – my favourite part of winter! Every year in Hobart, whenever the mountain snows, I switch into a 5 year old kid all over again! I get all excited, and people around me are dragged up the mountains with me cos I NEVER get bored of the snow! :)

People often say that winter months don’t favour the females especially since we eat and can’t stop eating! Well, in my case, I just wanna cook. I don’t particular enjoy or savour my own cooking, but I love cooking up a storm! It’s really sad that now I don’t have the luxury of time to cook whenever I want to. Who knows what I mean when I say that you aer just too drained – emotionally, mentally and physically – when you get home from work that the most decent meal you can whip up is something instant? Well, that’s my life in short now.

Well, I finally reached the brink of my cooking/baking deprivation so on my day off last week, I whipped up a storm in the kitchen! This here was one of my creations of the day – sticky date pudding! Alan and I often visit Badde Manor in Glebe – whether it’s for lunch, dinner, tea or dessert. (Yeah, we are quite boring people! :) ) They’ve got this simply divine sticky date pudding there, of which I can never resist! Well, when I saw this recipe in the Donna Hay winter pullout from the Sunday Telegraph, I knew that I HAD to make it! Boy! It was so simple it was unbelievable! Yum! Sweet, warm, gooey and melt in your mouth – simply irresistible! :)

Sticky Date Pudding

adapted from Donna Hay – June/July 09 Winter Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups chopped pitted dates
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g butter, chopped
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup self raising flour

Toffee Sauce:

  • 150g butter, chopped
  • 1 cup single cream
  • 1  1/2 cups brown sugar

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a square cake tin and line with baking paper.
  • Place dates, water and bocarbonate of soda in a bowl and stand for 5 minutes.
  • Place date mixture, butter and sugar in a blender and process till well combined.
  • Add eggs  and flour and process till just combined.
  • Pour into tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or till cooked.
  • Cool in the tin for 10-15minutes then cut into square.

Sauce:

  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and melt over medium heat. Stir till butter is melted. Bring to the boil and cook till thicken slightly.
  • Serve pudding with sauce and ice cream or double cream.

    Notes:

    • Recipe processes ingredients for pudding in a food processor. I don’t have one so into the blender it went!
    • Pudding can be cut into squares and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Heat it up briefly before serving.

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