Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Year Moves On

Today the recipes are for some classics-with-a-difference.

Raspberry Nut Traybake: makes 12 slices
8 oz (200g) plain flour
8 oz (200g) porridge oats
250g pack butter, diced and softened
6 oz (175g) soft brown sugar
zest of one lemon
approx 4 oz (100g) whole almonds (chopped) or pine nuts
9 oz (250g) raspberries
Put the flour, oats and butter into a bowl and rub together with your fingers until like coarse crumbs. Add the sugar and lemon zest and 3/4 of the nuts. Mix in well, still using your fingers (less utensils to wash!) then gather together in your hands to form stickly clumps, not too large. Put just over half of this mixture into a greased 9" (23cm) tin, spreading it out and pressing down lightly - it shouldn't be packed firmly. Put the raspberries on top then sprinkle over the rest of the mixture, finally scattering the remaining nuts on the surface. Press down gently to make a flat surface and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for approx 45 mins. until pale gold. Cool in the tin but cut into 12 bars while it is still warm.
Variation: Use other soft fruits instead of raspberries and alternative nuts. You could also try stirring the raspberries into the mixture instead of layering.

Nutty Cheese Biscuits: makes 15
4 oz (100g) softened butter
3 oz (75g) light brown sugar (muscovado type)
1 egg, beaten
2 oz (50g) porridge oats
2 oz (50g) walnuts, finely chopped
3 oz (75g) plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Beat the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy (about 5 minutes by hand or 2 mins using a food processor). Beat in the egg then stir in the oats, walnuts flour and baking powder. If the mixture is too slack add a little more flour, it needs to be a dropping consistency. Drop dessertspoons of this mixture onto a greased baking sheet allowing room to spread and bake for 15 mins at 180C, 350F, gas 4, until pale gold. Cook on a cake airer. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. For a real treat serve spread with cream cheese and slices of strawberry or kiwi fruit.
Tip: to easily remove the skins from Kiwi fruit cut off a thin slice from each end then push a teaspoon between the skin and the flesh of the fruit and work the spoon round the fruit to lift away the skin. Cut this away and then the flesh is ready to slice.

The "I've run out of flour" Chocolate Cake: serves at least 8
4 oz (100g) butter,
5 oz (140g) dark chocolate, best quality
6 eggs, separated
5 oz (140g) ground almonds
3 oz (85g) caster sugar
cocoa powder
Break the chocolate up into pieces and melt this in a bowl over hot water together with the butter. stir until smooth and allow to cool slightly. Stir in the egg yolks and ground almonds. Beat the egg whites until they have formed soft peaks then beat in the sugar a little at a time until the meringue is stiff. Add two tblsp. of this mixture into the chocolate mixture and fold in to slacken, then fold in the remaining meringue. Spoon this into a greased lined and floured 9" square (preferably springform) tin and bake for 30 - 35 mins at 170C, 325F, gas 3. It should be well risen and just firm to the touch. Remove the cake and the paper. Dust with the cocoa and serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche.
Adult Variation: add a tblsp of orange or coffee flavoured liqueur to the mixture when adding the eggs.

Broken Biscuit Bars (needs no cooking) makes 8 - 10
8 oz (200g) digestive biscuits
4 oz (100g) butter
3 tblsp golden syrup
2 tblsp cocoa powder
2 oz (50g) raisins or sultanas
4 oz (100g) good quality dark chocolate
Put the biscuits into a large polybag lay flat on the table and bash to uneven crumbs with a rolling pin, meat basher, milk bottle or your fist. Melt the butter and syrup in a pan, then stir in the cocoa powder and dried fruit. When this is mixed well stir in the biscuit crumbs. Tip into a 7" (18cm) round sandwich tin and press down to flatten. Melt the chocolate in a bowl standing over hot water, stir well then pour onto the top of the biscuit mixture. Put in the fridge for at least half an hour to set. Serve, cut into wedges. To keep for up to a week wrap in foil.
Tips: Save your broken biscuits to use in a recipe such as this (keeping savoury biscuits separate - these can be crushed and used to coat fish, chicken etc) . Nuts, candied peel or chopped glace cherries could also be added. To flatten the biscuit base easily, either cover with cling film and smooth with a spatula, or omit the film and press down with the cut side of a lemon or orange (both of which will also add a subtle flavour).

Orange Biscuits with a Marzipan filling: makes about 20
3 oz (75g) butter
4 oz (100g) self-raising flour
3 oz (75g) ground almonds
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
zest of one orange
2 oz (5og) marzipan
Rub the butter into the flour, add the sugar and stir in the ground almonds together with the orange zest (alternatively whizz these in a food processor until the mixture begins to hold together). Gather together into a ball and knead gently. Divide the dough in half and roll each out thinly. Roll the marzipan also thinly. Take two scone cutters, one smaller than the other. Using the large cutter, cut out circles (or squares if you prefer) from the biscuit dough mixture, and cut out similar shapes in the marzipan using the smaller cutter. Sandwich together by putting one piece of marzipan between two pieces of biscuit dough and seal the edges. Chill for half an hour. Bake for 18 - 20 mins at 170C, 325F, gas 3 in the low part of the oven. Cool on a cake airer. Dust with icing sugar.