Strawberry tart

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Perfect summer afternoon treat, Strawberry tart from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet. Sweet short pastry, a creamy ‘custard’ made with milk, egg white, cornflour, bit of sugar and vanilla and then lightened with creme fraiche, all topped with fresh strawberries. Very light and moreish. The pastry came out very short and crisp, not too sweet and I’ve used half fat milk and creme fraiche so am telling self this is actually moderately ‘healthy’. Have only finished it an hour ago and have already had two slices. Impressed.

Ginger and spelt cookies

I’d like to say these Ginger and spelt cookies from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet are healthy – they do contain spelt rather than white flour but there’s enough golden syrup and sugars to make them not quite so innocent a treat. A delicious treat nevertheless.

IMG_0515The dough is made by heating butter, chopped up stem ginger and golden syrup until butter melts, then adding light soft brown and caster sugar, egg yolk, spelt flour, ground ginger and a little bit of soda bicarb. The dough puffs up in the oven then hardens to a good chewy crunch with nutty texture from spelt flour. Beloved likes these very much so it’s a good thing that a batch makes over 30 cookies – main reason I made them was to give some to his dad who we’re seeing today.

As I’ve recently got a few new books, I haven’t really looked at Short and Sweet for a while so it’s lovely to discover all these marvellous cookie and biscuit recipes that I’ve not done yet. I nearly made another batch yesterday, of peanut butter cookies but then thought we better eat these ones first. Megalomaniac.

Christmas pudding

The first of the Christmas puddings this year, look at it aflame:

IMG_0477This was the first Christmas pudding I’ve ever made too, using Dan Lepard’s recipe from Short and Sweet. We had it a week ago at a family get together and everyone apart from the kids loved it. Many moons ago, when I first had English Christmas fare, I didn’t like Christmas pudding or mince pies either and, having been brought up not to leave food on the plate, I’d take the tiniest amount possible and never ask for seconds. Then I learned (thank you Delia!) that homemade mince meat can actually taste pretty good if you put nice things in it and that I can just about tolerate Christmas pudding. This one from Dan is really good though. I made Nigel Slater’s brandy butter to go with it, recipe here and I’d definitely recommend it – ground almonds and soft brown instead of icing sugar give it a really good taste.

The pudding was one of three I’ve made this year, also have a Plum Plum pudding from Dan for Christmas Day and another traditional Christmas one for another family get together but with slightly different ingredients – golden syrup instead of treacle and a different sugar (I think – I stupidly didn’t make notes as I made them!) so will try to see if this makes a difference to taste. Again, I used dried fruit that I like and no glace cherries! And, as we had our Christmas pudding last week, the sun was setting allowing for some great views of London:

IMG_0478These photos were taken with Nikon camera, don’t think iphone camera could have handled all those pud flames.

Two puddings for Christmas

Yay! Done! Well, they’re simmering, not quite done but the weighing, stirring and the washing up is. So, have got a Plum plum pudding from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet, a little one:And also a big Simple Christmas pudding from same book. Unfortunately, they don’t make particularly good photos as once they’re covered, that’s it. So, here’s a photo of the big one ‘going in’:

The plum one has a fresh plum and prunes, raisins, currants, black treacle, dark brown sugar, mixed spice, pinch of cloves, butter instead of suet and a few other things. The traditional Christmas pud has everything but the kitchen sink – ale and grated carrot, breadcrumbs and all sorts of dried fruit. I’ve actually made two of those, one for an early December eating. Stupidly forgot to note down which dried fruits I’ve put into the early one – I think there were blueberries and sour cherries, possibly cranberries as well as raisins, currants, prunes. Also used black treacle and dark brown sugar. The new one has golden syrup and muscovado sugar, mostly the same dried fruits. Wander if they’ll taste any different?  Can’t wait to try.

Weetabix muffins

It’s been a long week and I woke up this morning thinking I deserve a lazy day, haven’t had one in ages. Didn’t really fancy baking anything long and complicated so these Weetabix muffins from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet were perfect, took no time to make and bake – and they were ready just as my stomach started rumbling, demanding food. Really good too, with Weetabix, yoghurt, cinnamon, raisins, orange zest, mix of wholemeal and white flour and golden syrup.

Am also making sourdough today, which I suppose doesn’t make today all that lazy but will be spending rest of the afternoon on the sofa. Have a lot of telly to catch up with and books to read, bliss. Here’s the rest of the muffins: Soft focus on the photos pretty much perfectly sums up my mood too.

Sticky toffee apple buns

I did say there’s been a bakeathon today, this is one of Dan Lepard’s Sticky toffee apple buns:

Unfortunately not a round bun, more of a rectangle but what it lacks in shape it makes up in taste: there’s cinnamon, pecans, yoghurt and milk in the dough and a bit of rum with the apples. Really excellent and worth the effort! I’ve been meaning to make these for weeks now and just didn’t have the time – the dough takes around 2 hours to rise, then once rolled with toffee apple, another hour and a half in the tin. All in all, around 5 hours, including the baking. I also overcooked the apples a bit but don’t think it made a huge amount of difference to the taste. For something quite large, they are also pretty light. Recipe came from Short and Sweet.

Still have sourdough to go in the oven, so really has been a full on baking day. Amazingly, have also managed to do some of my essay so quite happy now.