Wednesday, August 18, 2010

'Let Them Eat Cake...!'

Let us move onto more interesting things - like delectable eats. Often these can be expensive, but have managed to discover a recipe made during the last century (doesn't that sound a long time ago, but could be no more than 12 years ) which worked then and see no reason why it shouldn't now. As it uses what I call 'oddments' from the larder, plus a few extras, then little cause for concern re the cost. See what you think...

Although made with canned pineapple, other fruit could be used, and because the recipe as given serves 1o many, this should be a true party piece. For family eating, make half the amount. There appears to be a lot of ingredients, and quite a lengthy method, but once reading through you will realise it really is very simple to prepare and assemble. Also no actual 'baking' needed.
Chocolate Crunch Gateau: serves 10
1 can pineapple rings
10 oz (275g) plain chocolate
2 oz (50g) unsalted butter
1 tblsp hot water
half packet of sponge fingers
4 oz (100g) candied peel
4 oz (100g) glace cherries, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
12 oz (350g) granulated sugar
half pint (300ml) double cream
2 oz (50g) icing sugar, sifted
2 oz (50g) curd cheese
2 tblsp natural yogurt
(glace cherries and toasted flaked almonds to decorate)
Oil the sides of two 8" (20cm) sandwich tins and line the base with greaseproof paper.
Put the chocolate into a bowl and place over a pan of simmering water until melted, then add the butter and hot water. Break up the sponge fingers into small pieces and add these to the chocolate, together with the candied peel and chopped glace cherries. Spoon this mixture over the base of each tin then chill in the fridge until set.
Drain the canned pineapple, and put the juice into a pan - making it up to half a pint (300ml) with water. then bring to the boil and add the lemon juice and sugar. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved then raise the heat and boil for 5 minutes before adding the pineapple rings. Boil for 3 minutes longer or until the pineapple looks translucent and the sugar syrup has thickened.
Remove the pineapple to a sheet of greaseproof paper and allow to cool. Leave the syrup in the pan.
To assemble the gateau, turn out the chocolate discs from their tins, and peel off the paper. Put the first disc smooth side down, onto a serving plate. Whisk the cream until thick but still soft, then stir in the icing sugar. Whisk in the curd cheese and yogurt until smooth and even thicker. Spread two-thirds of this onto the chocolate disc, then top with the second disc.
Spread the remaining cream on the second disc, and arrange the pineapple (overlapping if necessary) on top. As an added extra add a few glaces cherries and sprinkle over toasted flaked almonds.
When ready to serve, spoon the reserved syrup on top of the gateau.

This next recipe for Christmas Pud uses no sugar and no flour - so this could prove cost-cutting, even though it is fairly high on the dried fruits. However it will make one large (2lb/1kg) pudding plus one half that size, or could make 3 x 1lb (500g) puds, so depending upon how many you will be feeding - make only as much (or little) as you need.
Unlike the richer puds of this type, this one has a shorter shelf-life, but even so will keep well for 2 - 3 months after making, so it is coming up to the time when we could be planning to make this pud. Instead of buying the dried fruits separately, see no reason why 'mixed dried fruits - with candied peel - could not be used instead. Replace a couple ounces of this mixed assortment with the same weight of candied peel and it should end up much the same.

Not so Heavy Christmas Pudding:
3 oz (75g) glace cherries, roughly chopped
6 oz (175g) candied peel
12 oz (350g) raisins
6 oz (175g) sultanas
6 oz (175g) currants
3 oz (75g) flaked almonds
8 oz (225g) fresh white breadcrumbs
8 oz (225g) shredded suet
1 tsp ground cinnamon
quarter tsp freshly grated nutmeg
6 eggs
3 tblsp brandy, rum or whisky
half pint (300ml) Guinness or similar stout
Put the cherries, peel and dried fruits into a big bowl with the nuts, breadcrumbs, suet and spices. Mix together thoroughly.
Whisk the eggs until frothy and thickened and then stir these into the dry ingredients, followed by the chosen spirit and enough stout to make a mixture that just drops from the spoon.
Divide this into very well buttered pudding basins ( one large 2 pint, plus a smaller 1 pint OR 3 x 1 pint) and smooth the surface. Cover each with a double layer of well buttered foil (if the basins are nearly full make a pleat in the middle to allow for expansion) and tie tightly with string (it helps to make a string handle for ease of lifting from the pan).
Put the basins - preferably on a rack or inverted saucer in large saucepans, and pour in boiling water to come 3/4 of the way up the sides of the basins. Cover and steam for 6 hours for the 2lb size, or 4 - 5 hours for the 1lb size. After two hours check to see if the water needs topping up.
When cooked, remove from pan and leave to get cold, then store in a cool dark place for up to 3 months. On Christmas Day replace the foil with fresh clean layers and steam for another hour or so before serving with brandy sauce, brandy butter (or rum butter) or whipped cream.