Thursday, June 26, 2008

Icing on the Cake

When originally published the old-type dried apricots were used in this next recipe as the no-soak ones were not as yet on sale. If using the no-soak, double the weight but still soak them in a little boiled water for an hour, then measure the water to make up to the required amount. This pie filling is very good spread over pancakes, reheated in a little orange juice in a frying pan, then if you wish, add a wee bit of hot rum or brandy to flambé.
Apricot Pie Filling:
3 oz (75g) dried apricots
half pint (300ml) hot water
1 dessp golden syrup OR…
…2 tsp runny honey
1 rounded tsp arrowroot
Stir the syrup (or honey) into the water and add the apricots. Leave to soak overnight (if using the really dried ones). Next day remove the apricots and make up the juice to 5 fl.oz (150ml) with water. Blend the arrowroot with a little of the juice and heat slowly, stirring all the time, until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in the apricots and leave to cool. Cover, keep chilled and it will keep for a week.
Tip: chop the apricots or blitz in a food processor before adding to the arrowroot sauce to make a ‘spreading fruit paste’.

This next recipe uses the larger dried fruits that can be bought in packets as dried fruit salad, but are also sold separately. Often I buy packs of the soft dried fruits such as no-soak apricots, pears, prunes, dates, figs, apple slices etc and chop a few up at a time to add when making a batch of muesli. Alternatively, make up the recipe to eat as a dessert (particularly good when served with cold rice pudding), and save some to put on top of a dish of made porridge or a small dish of muesli. A good dollop of yogurt on top and what more could you ask for?
Stewed Dried Fruits: serves 4
500g pack mixed dried fruit salad
15 fl.oz (450ml) apple or orange juice
2 tblsp runny honey
2 tblsp brandy (opt)
zest and juice of one orange and one lemon
Put all the ingredients into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for one minute. Remove from heat and cool completely. Tip mixture into a bowl, cover with cling-film and keep in the fridge for 24 hours to allow flavours to develop. Serve in individual dishes topped with a spoon of creme fraiche or Greek yogurt.
variation: make this Moroccan-style by adding 6 whole cloves, half a tsp each freshly grated nutmeg and root ginger, and a stick of cinnamon to the ingredients in the pan. Remove the whole spices after the 24 hour chilling time.

The following cake is more a tea-time favourite than a pudding, AND USES NO EGGS (that's a bonus for a start). Nearly all cakes - (when popped into the microwave for a few seconds to heat up) taste like puddings when warmed, pours his cream over the top and enjoy. This cake comes with an optional icing.
Citrus Marmalade Cake: serves 8 - 12 (F)
4 oz (100g) butter
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
zest 1 orange
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp mixed spice
2 oz (50g) sultanas or raisins
2 oz (50g) mixed peel
good pinch of salt
2 tblsp orange marmalade
5 fl.oz (150ml) milk
1 tblsp demerara sugar
Put the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter until like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, salt and the citrus zests, the spice, dried fruit and peel, and mix together.
In a separate bowl mix the marmalade with the juice of the lemon, then add this into the cake mixture along with the milk, stirring everything together until well mixed. It should be soft enough to fall slowly from the spoon, if necessary add a little more milk.
Grease a 2lb (900g) loaf tin, line with greaseproof paper and grease this also. Spoon the cake mixture into the tin, levelling the top. Sprinkle with the demerara sugar and bake for 40 mins at 180C, 350F, gas 4 then reduce heat to 160C, 325F, gas 3 and cook for a further 20 mins, covering top with foil if it is getting too brown. When the centre is firm, remove from oven and leave for 15 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack. This will keep well in an airtight tin for a good week. Un-iced it can also be frozen.
icing for the cake:
5 oz (150g) icing sugar
1 tblsp orange or lemon juice
Mix the ingredients together to make a smooth paste. Spoon this over the surface of the cake and leave to set. The icing may drizzle down the sides but that is how it should look.

Dark chocolate they say is good for us (even though a bit naughty) and as milk and eggs are two ingredients in the desserts, (but not in the same recipe), we can appease our consciences by allowing that the puds are nutritional in their own way, and saves us money as we can then serve a vegetarian first course.
Chocolate Filled French Toast: serves 4
3 eggs
7 fl oz (155ml) milk
1 tblsp caster sugar
pinch salt
approx 1 oz (25g) butter
8 slices white bread
4 oz (100g) dark chocolate, finely chopped or grated
icing sugar
Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar and salt until well blended. Pour into a shallow dish. Make chocolate sandwiches by sprinkling the chocolate over four slices of bread, then covering with the remaining bread. Press together firmly. Either leave whole or cut into triangles or fingers. Melt half the butter in a frying pan, dip both sides of the sarnies into the egg and fry these in the butter - 3 minutes each side, turning once. Add more butter as necessary. When all the sarnies are golden and 'toasted', serve with a sprinkling of icing sugar on top.
tip: spread the bread with 'Nutella' instead of using grated chocolate. Can also be made with jam sandwiches, banana sandwiches. For a savoury version omit the sugar and have a cheese filling.

Just have to include this, the final chocolate recipe for today, as it not only contains chocolate, but also black treacle. Very much an adult version so keep it away from the kiddiwinkies. Although very rich, and ignoring the sugar content, the other ingredients are not unhealthy. Certainly worth making for a special occasion.
Chocolate Ginger Traybake: makes 16 fingers
6 oz (175g) butter
5 oz (125g) dark muscovado sugar
2 tblsp caster sugar
7 oz (200g) each: black treacle and golden syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
rounded tsp bicarb. of soda
2 tblsp warm water
2 eggs, beaten
9 fl.oz (250ml) milk
10 oz (275g) plain flour
2 oz (50g) cocoa powder
6 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tblsp finely chopped preserved ginger (opt)
1 oz (25g) butter
1 tblsp cocoa powder
2 - 3 fl oz (60ml) ginger beer or ginger ale
9 oz (250g) icing sugar
Using the ingredients for the traybake, put the butter, sugars, treacle, syrup and spices into a roomy pan and heat until melted, then remove from heat. Dissolve the bicarb in the warm water and stir this into the sugar solution along with the eggs and milk. Using a wooden spoon beat together, then mix in the flour and cocoa and continue beating until well mixed together, then fold in the chocolate (and preserved ginger if using). Pour into a greased and lined roasting tin 8" x 12" x 2" deep (20cm x 30cm x 5 cm) and bake at 160C, 325F, gas 3 for about 45 minutes or until risen and firm to the touch. It will seem a little moist lower down but that is fine. Still leaving it in the tin, place onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, make the icing, heat together the butter, ginger beer/ale and cocoa. Once the butter has melted, stir it all together then sift in the icing sugar until well blended, smooth and thick. Add more icing sugar if necessary. Pour this over the traybake and leave to set. Remove cake from the tin, peeling off the paper, and cut the cake into 16 pieces, or more or less as you wish. Eat and enjoy.