Books and Bobs on Like Mam Used to Bake

It’s back to school time here in Ireland, and as I mentioned on Twitter the other day this time of year always gives me that New Year vibe. The notebook and pen have come out and I am making lists, lists and more lists. At this rate I will need a list of the lists. The summer months with their longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures have a tendency to send me into an ultra relaxed mañana state of mind. As the temperatures have dipped and leaves flutter free from trees it would seem that mañana has finally arrived, and I am ready to begin ticking tasks from lists once again.

I have accumulated some new cookbooks over the last few months, and if you are anything like me I know that the autumn chill will have you curling up with a stack of cookbooks seeking comforting kitchen inspiration. And if like me you intend to expand your collection you might be interested in what has been added to the growing pile in my living room. I’d like to say bookcase but I would be fibbing. Both bookcases in the kitchen are full to bursting and sway precariously when I remove or return an item from/to them. Which is why I’ve added built-in floor to ceiling shelving to one of my lists. DIY abilities in this house are low though, so I’m not hopeful.

Oh and this post should really just be titled books. I have no Bobs to offer. They were all busy.

Wholesome: Feed Your Family Well For Less, Caitríona Redmond {Mercier Press}

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Image via Mercier Press

The first book from Ireland’s domestic frugalista Caitríona Redmond was published in the spring of this year and is based on her very popular blog Wholesome Ireland. Like many others, in recent years Caitríona Redmond has faced the demands of feeding a growing family on a limited budget, and so began blogging recipes and tips on how to get the most from ingredients and meals. Charting her experience and offering advice to others on how best to enjoy a healthy, balanced diet on a limited budget her blog grew a loyal readership. In her own words Wholesome:Feed Your Family Well For Less “should be treated as a manual for managing a kitchen on a budget.”

Chapters include ‘Bountiful Breakfasts’, ‘Lovely Lunches’, ‘Fifteen-Minute Suppers’, ‘Take One Chicken, Make Many Meals’, ‘ESP: Eggs, Spuds & Pulses’, ‘Hearty Meals’, ‘Simple Sides & Nibbles’ and ‘Sweet Treats’. In addition to recipes Caitríona offers advice on meal planning, writing a shopping list and carrying out a kitchen stock take, things that I know I am guilty of overlooking which in turn adds to the cost of grocery shopping. If you are cooking to a strict budget or simply looking to reduce food waste you will find some helpful tips and advice in Wholesome: Feed Your Family Well For Less. With the start of the new college term fast approaching a copy of this book could also prove invaluable for those living on a student budget.

I received a copy of Wholesome: Feed Your Family Well For Less from Mercier Press.

The Extra Virgin Kitchen, Susan Jane White {Gill & MacMillan}

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Image via Gill & MacMillan

The Extra Virgin Kitchen published earlier this year was added to my ‘to buy’ list along with many others. Some books linger there for a very long time. However having attended an event hosted by Linwood’s, which included a demo by Susan Jane White, I pretty much ran straight to the shops to buy a copy. Having suffered ill-health a number of years ago Susan Jane White now follows a wheat, sugar and dairy free diet, and she is the perfect advertisement for her own recipes. She positively glows. And without sounding slightly stalkerish I will admit to having a teeny tiny girl crush. Not only was she blessed with model looks (she was an actual model) she writes with great humour that had both me and Mr. LMUTB chuckling as we read through The Extra Virgin Kitchen.

While not intent on eradicating wheat, sugar and dairy from my diet, I’m far too weak for the willpower required, I was seeking to introduce a little ooomph to my energy levels and general well-being. I will admit to often shying away from ‘healthy’ cookbooks because they sometimes feel a bit like a science lesson, and so I lose interest, and quite frankly don’t understand half of the gibberish. The Extra Virgin Kitchen however is written in a light bulb manner, by which I mean the explanations of the effect of certain foods on the body had me saying “oh yeah, that makes sense” over and over again. Chapters include ‘Ideas for Breakfast’, ‘Snacks and Other Nutritional Hits’, ‘Soups’, ‘Salads, ‘Suppers’ and ‘Extra Virgin Treats’. For those looking to super fuel their lives, or maybe mammies and daddies hoping to sneak some extra nutrition into picky eaters The Extra Virgin Kitchen is worthy of some bookshelf space.

Bread On The Table: Baking Traditions for Today, Valerie O’Connor {The O’Brien Press}

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When a book, and even better a cookbook, plops unexpectedly through my letterbox it makes me a little bit giddy. Opening the envelope to be faced with the beautiful image above also made me more than a little bit hungry. I mean, just look at that perfect crust! There is little in this life that beats a loaf of bread still warm from the oven, generously slathered with proper butter and sprinkled with a smidgen of sea salt. Bread On The Table will equip you with just the skills needed to produce real bread in your very own kitchen, from a basic white loaf to sea lettuce ‘baguettini’. Did you ever hear the like?

Chapters include ‘White Yeast Breads’, ‘Soda Breads’, ‘Brown Bread’, ‘Sourdough’, ‘Walk on the Wild Side’, ‘Gluten Free Goodies’, ‘Sweet Things’ and ‘Butter’. Bread on the Table is beautifully illustrated throughout with a photograph to accompany each recipe. This also has the effect of making me hungry each time I flick through it. Instructions are clear and concise, and there is even a ‘bread lingo’ page at the back. Once you have mastered the basics Valerie O’Connor provides plenty of inspiration for more adventurous experiments. If you have already mastered bread baking I think you would also enjoy Bread On The Table as I found many flavour combinations within that would never have occurred to me to try in bread baking.

I received a copy of Bread On The Table: Baking Traditions for Today from The O’Brien Press.

No-Bake Baking: Easy Oven-Free Cakes & Treats, Sharon Hearne-Smith, Photography by Donal Skehan {Quercus}

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When I heard last year that Sharon Hearne-Smith was releasing her own cookbook excitement levels reached ‘only dogs can hear me scream’ levels. Having worked with people like Jamie Oliver, Lorraine Pascale, Ina Garten and Neven Maguire Sharon is Ireland’s food styling queen. As you may have noticed I have a penchant for all things pretty and floral and so I absolutely adore Sharon’s style. Imagine a whole book packed full of all of the pretties! No-Bake Baking: Easy Oven-Free Cakes & Treats is the visual confection I imagined it to be, and more.

Chapters include: ‘Biscuits’, ‘Cakes’, ‘Slices and Bars’, ‘Cheesecakes’, ‘Pies and Tarts’, ‘Sweet Treats’, ‘Iced Dreams’ and ‘Desserts’. As the title suggests there is no baking involved, although some recipes do call for the use of a microwave or the hob, and most will require setting in the fridge or freezer. If you are a baking novice No-Bake Baking would be a great step to building confidence in the kitchen. Likewise if you bake with the assistance of little hands the elimination of the oven may prove a welcome relief. For those times of the year when oven space is at a premium (I know, I’ve been mentioning the ‘C’ word a lot lately), or when time is tight and you need to make ahead, a book bursting with no-bake recipes will earn its keep. And rather beautifully too.

Robert Roberts Deliciously Strong Tea

 

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With all of that reading to do you’ll be needing something to sip. I don’t know about you but in the past couple of weeks I have found myself boiling the kettle more frequently than I have done for a few months. Robert Roberts Deliciously Strong Tea is a unique blend of 50% Assam tea and 50% Kenyan Tea, making it perfect for those who favour a more flavoursome cuppa, and is believed to be the only tea blended in Ireland to contain as much as 50% Assam tea. I favour my tea strong, and usually allow it to steep for five minutes. I actually set the oven timer thanks to a tip from Kristin over at Edible Ireland. I found three minutes just right when brewing a mug of Robert Roberts Deliciously Strong Tea, and on the mornings I was rushing out the door with my travel mug one minute still produced a nice palatable tea. Looks like I found a Bob after all. Available from Dunnes Stores nationwide, RRP €3.85 for 80 bags.

I received a box of Robert Roberts Deliciously Strong Tea from Robert Roberts. 

Awards Season on Like Mam Used to Bake

 

No, I’m not talking about the Oscars and the Golden Globes, it would appear to be blog award season here in Ireland. Over the last week I have been both pleasantly surprised and absolutely delighted to find out that Like Mam Used to Bake has been shortlisted in both the Image.ie Blog Awards AND The Blog Awards Ireland 2014.

Food blogging is quite the time drain, not to mention a wallet drain, but it is something that I love LOVE love doing. I love the planning, baking, styling, photographing and well the photo editing and actual typing not so much. I love that when I publish a post people read it, comment and very often bake. I love the interactions on social media. I love that I have made some wonderful friends as a result of my ramblings and cake eating. I love the opportunities that blogging has opened up for me. I just love it, k?

But, it is for the most part a solitary process. Some days as I scribble down ideas, or hit ‘publish’ on a post I wonder am I doing it right? Will people read my drivel? Is that picture good enough? What if the world hates it? Blogging can be stressful y’know. So to see my blog’s name listed alongside those of blogs and bloggers that I hugely admire, well that’s all the answer that I need.

So thank you. Thank you if you nominated Like Mam Used to Bake. Thank you if you were a judge and deemed it worthy to make the cut for the short lists. Thank you if you read along. Thank you if you comment. You are the ones who make all of the hours, and all of the calories, worth it.

So all that’s left is for me to sit back and cross my fingers. If you like you can click the picture below to vote for Like Mam Used to Bake in the Image.ie Blog Awards. If you are a judge for The Blog Awards Ireland, well you’re looking only lovely, did you have your hair done? Wah?! A girl can try.

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Genoa Cake on Like Mam Used to Bake

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I was on my way to Daddy LMUTB’s a while back, and having not had time to bake I picked him up a few food bits in M&S. One of them, a small fruit cake, caught my eye because it was studded with cherries and I know he favours fruit cake with cherries over others. When I handed it to him he was pleasantly surprised to see it. Apparently mam had regularly bought Genoa cakes for him, but it had been a long time since he had had one. Seeing his delight (he’s usually a grumpy fecker) I made a mental note to bake one for him myself.

Me being me though, I forgot. But then I remembered and bought the glacé cherries. Which ended up in the press. And so I forgot again. Last week I resolved to finally bake it. Having not been familiar with the cake before this I had to do a little research. The internet didn’t yield a great amount and so I hopefully turned to my treasured copy of Maura Laverty’s Full and Plenty. This is the only cookbook that my mam owned, the bulk of her recipes scribbled on scraps of paper are still kept by me in the sandwich bag that she filed them in.

If you are not lucky enough to own an original copy of Full and Plenty I highly recommend keeping an eye out for one online, or in second hand book shops. Not only is it packed full of recipes for pretty much everything you might ever take a figary to cook in your kitchen, it is also peppered throughout with the most wonderfully humorous anecdotes. If you can’t find an original Mercier Press publish an abridged version. Isn’t it funny that Like Mam Used to Bake was then published by the same publisher? Anyhoo, I digress. Full and Plenty did indeed have a recipe for a Genoa cake, I took the liberty of adapting it slightly though, and padding out the method a little. I do love old cookbooks, but they tend to be pretty sparse on the instructions.

And in case you are wondering, a Genoa cake takes its name from the Italian city, as it is based on a Pandolce which was originally baked there in the 16th century. At Christmas time. Wah?! Don’t shoot the messenger, I know it’s still only August. BUT, just in case you’re that way inclined it would make for a nice light alternative to the traditional Christmas cake. If you’re planning that far ahead. Like me. Sure it’s only a matter of weeks away. Enjoy!

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Genoa Cake

225g unsalted butter, softened and cubed

Zest of 1 orange

225g caster sugar

4 large eggs

250g plain flour

75g ground almonds

1tsp baking powder

1/4tsp salt

250g mixed dried fruit (currants, raisins, sultanas)

150g glacé cherries, quartered

50g flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Line a 2lb loaf tin with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and zest using a hand-held electric whisk/standalone mixer. Once they are combined add the sugar and cream the mixture for a further 2-3 minutes or until pale and fluffy.

Mixing after each addition add the eggs one at a time. If the batter looks like it may split you can add a little of the flour to prevent this, or to bring it back together.

Sift in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt and fold this through the butter mixture.

Fold through the mixed fruit, cherries and flaked almonds until they are evenly distributed. If you coat the mixed fruit and cherries in some flour first this will prevent them from sinking to the bottom as the cake bakes.

Pop the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 75-90 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If you think the top and edges might brown too much cover the cake with a layer of tin foil for the last half hour of baking, a little hole snipped in the centre of the foil will allow steam to escape. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack, while still in the tin, to cool for at least half an hour before removing from the tin to cool completely.

In other news, www.likemamusedtobake.com has been short-listed for the Image.ie Blog Awards, if you would like to vote and haven’t done so yet simply click on the picture below. Thank you!

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Win Knorr Flavour Pot Hampers on Like Mam Used to Bake

Knorr Flavour Pots

I’m lucky in that I mostly have the luxury of time in the kitchen to potter about making dinner, or to mix up a cake or two. But like everyone, life and all of its baggage has a habit of getting in the way sometimes, meaning at times I have approximately four minutes and fifty seven seconds to rustle up a meal fit for my harshest critic. Mr. LMUTB has grown accustomed to my kitchen experiments and so his standards are high. For this reason I like to have some emergency items in the press/fridge that require minimum effort but will add flavour to meals.

Knorr recently sent me a hamper of their new Flavour Pots to try. Knorr Flavour Pots have been created by Knorr Chef, Cameron Healy and a team of dedicated professional chefs, who together develop Knorr’s culinary creations, with good food, convenience and innovation at the top of the agenda. Experimenting with a breadth of combinations for the Flavour Pots, they have succeeded in achieving the perfect blend of the finest herbs and spices in each tiny pot.

Working selected combinations into a paste, the specialist team carefully captures all the fresh flavour, natural aroma and colour of each herb and spice by adding a drop of oil to the mix. This carefully crafted method has led to a bespoke range that will keep longer and make your meals an instant taste sensation.

I have been putting them to good use in the kitchen, they are the perfect way to quickly add flavour to chicken and meat. Pork steaks with 3 Peppercorn proved a hit here. I have been adding Mixed Herbs to the roasting tin when cooking roast potatoes as my fresh herbs in the garden have been cut to oblivion, and using Mixed Chillies to make arrabiata for a quick pasta dinner.

The Knorr Flavour Pots range includes:

Mixed Herbs – with its unique combination of thyme, oregano, rosemary and basil, this versatile pot is a store cupboard essential and will ensure your herby flavours are perfectly balanced. Use to complement your cottage pie and perfect your pasta.

3 Peppercorn – this mix of 3 peppercorns will add a depth of flavour to your dish. Whether used for a straightforward steak sauce, or a luxury pork stroganoff, this little pot will instantly add a touch of indulgence to your meal.

 

Curry – this complex combination of 13 traditional spices including cumin, cardamom and cloves will definitely add a special ‘something’ to your curry. Use when you want to impress, for a Korma that never tasted so good.

Garlic – packing a punch, this pot will deliver perfect results every time and enhance an array of dishes from spaghetti carbonara to stuffed chicken; simply stir in and savour the taste.

Mixed Chillies – this pot is crammed with a vibrant chilli taste that will liven up your meals and leave your taste buds tingling with a hint of heat. You can enjoy this with anything from beef stir fry to chilli prawns.

New Knorr Flavour Pots are now available in Tesco, Supervalu, Dunnes Stores and most other convenience stores nationwide. RRP for a pack of 4 is €2.29. Knorr are offering 5 Hampers for Like Mam Used to Bake readers. To be in with a chance to win simply leave a comment telling me what dish you would make using Knorr Flavour Pots. Five winners chosen at random will win a Knorr Flavour Pot hamper. Competition open to those with a UK or ROI address. Competition closes at midnight on Wednesday August 27th 2014.

THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED. COMMENTS FOR THIS POST REMAIN OPEN BUT WILL NOT COUNT AS COMPETITION ENTRIES. THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO ENTERED. WINNERS WERE DRAWN USING RANDOM.ORG AND ARE AS FOLLOWS:

Nikki

Susan Nagle

Jill

Maire O’Hagan

Tracy

Winners will be notified by email.

Caramelised Onion, Mushroom & Thyme Quiche on Like Mam Used to Bake

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While planning a recent birthday lunch for my sister I went through a list of options the length of my arm as to what to serve. Nothing really jumped out at me though. Then one evening as I was staring out of the window while stirring a pot of something or other for dinner it came to me. A nice Quiche. When my mam and her sisters gathered around the table, nine times out of ten, a Quiche was at the centre of the feast. Decision made all that was left to do was to choose the filling. With my current herb obsession, thyme, in mind I settled on pairing that with some caramelised onions and mushrooms.

As I was a bit disorganised on the day my niece stepped in with her expert whisking skills to help me to prepare the filling. It’s that easy. I snipped some thyme from the garden for it, but as my plant is looking a little on the bald side from over consumption lately I opted for dried this time. It works a treat, the flavour pay off is probably a little stronger, so feel free to use whichever takes your fancy. And as I have mentioned before, I’m not picky, if you don’t have the time or the inclination to make your own pastry simply buy some.

Plates were cleared in no time, and even Mr. LMUTB who claims to not like Quiche polished off a nice big slice. Served with a salad this makes for a great lunch or tea. As it can be eaten cold it is also perfect picnic food if you plan to take advantage of the last few weeks of fine weather before the leaves begin to turn and we reach once again for coats and scarves. Enjoy!

Caramelised Onion, Mushroom & Thyme Quiche 17 on Like Mam Used to Bake 14-08-2014 16-02-36 3465x5202 14-08-2014 16-02-36 3465x5202

Caramelised Onion, Mushroom & Thyme Quiche

{serves 6-8}

For the pastry:

175g plain flour

1/4tsp salt

75g unsalted butter, straight from the fridge or freezer

Cold water

For the filling:

Unsalted butter

1 med/large red onion, thinly sliced

2tbsp brown sugar

250g mushrooms, thinly sliced

Sea salt

Black pepper

3 large eggs

100ml cream

100ml milk

1tbsp dried thyme

Cheese of your choice, grated, optional

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl and then grate in the butter. Cut the butter through the flour using a butter knife until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Using the knife mix through some cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until a soft dough forms. Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead gently, just until it holds together. Wrap in cling film and pop into the freezer for 15 minutes, or the fridge if you don’t plan to use it immediately.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and have a 23cm/9in pie dish to hand. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to approximately 5mm thick and line your pie dish with it, trimming any excess if necessary. Chill in the fridge for a further 15 minutes.

Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork, and line it with parchment paper followed by a layer of baking beans. Blind bake in the preheated oven  for 20-25 minutes.

Start on the filling when you pop the pastry lined pie dish into the fridge. Set a frying pan over a medium heat and once the base is hot add a knob of butter and allow that to melt. Sprinkle the sliced onions into the pan, breaking apart the layers of the slices as you do. Stirring occasionally cook the onions until they are soft and just starting to brown around the edges, this will take at least 15 minutes or maybe a little longer, but don’t rush it as you risk burning them. Add the sugar to the pan and stir to coat the onions evenly. Cook for a couple of minutes more before stirring through the mushrooms. Season well with sea salt and a good grind of black pepper. When the mushrooms are soft and golden brown check the seasoning, adjust if necessary, and then remove the pan from the heat and set aside until needed.

In a large measuring jug whisk the eggs until frothy before adding the cream, milk and thyme and whisking to combine.

Carefully, they’ll be very hot, remove the baking beans and parchment paper from the pastry. Spoon the onions and mushrooms over the base of the pastry in a nice even layer before pouring over the egg mixture. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top if using, I added some Parmesan to mine, and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until a nice golden brown on top. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

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Crosscare Community Cafés on Like Mam Used to Bake

Crosscare Café

I was contacted recently by Clare {An American in Ireland} who asked if I would be interested in volunteering a few hours of my time in the kitchen of a Crosscare Community Café. I will admit that at the time I didn’t know a lot about Crosscare, or their food provision initiatives. Actually, I didn’t know a thing. But she didn’t have to ask twice, I had hours to spare and I was interested to find out more about the work that Crosscare are doing. Last week I met with Clare and Lily {A Mexican Cook} in the Crosscare Community Café on Holles Row in Dublin’s City Centre, while Sharon and Bill {Gunternation} joined forces with Caryna {Caryna’s Cakes} in the Crosscare Community Café on Portland Row.

Crosscare Lasagne

Image:  An American in Ireland

Our brief for the morning was to create a dish that could be served as lunch to the café patrons. We could use any of the ingredients in the fridges and pantry of the cafés kitchen. Easy peasy, right? Well, almost. The cafés rely largely on donations of food and so the chefs must work with the ingredients provided, as opposed to shopping to suit menu plans they have dreamed up. As the morning had been arranged by Kelloggs, who donate their own products to Crosscare, we were also challenged to incorporate cereals into our dish. Thinking caps (and fabillis hair nets) on we decided to cook up a lasagne as a main course, and as there were large tins of rhubarb in the pantry a rhubarb crumble for dessert, made extra crumbly with the addition of some Crunchy Nut Cornflakes crushed through the topping.

Crosscare Crumble

Image: An American in Ireland

Crosscare have recently given their food centres a facelift to transform them into today’s community cafés. They are a bright and airy space where people can sit and enjoy a three course lunch for just €3. For those affected by food poverty this is an invaluable service, not only addressing the issue of nourishment, but also of community. A place to sit and eat, with company, to see a friendly face, and yes, to eat a nutritious meal. As the Crosscare Community Cafés are open to the public you will encounter a broad spectrum of customers, from young professionals, to elderly locals, and in the case of the Holles Row café in patients from the nearby maternity hospital (who just can’t face yet another hospital meal) and their families.

What struck me most on my visit was the enthusiasm of those working both in the kitchen and front of house. They were working so hard to prepare meals for the café, in addition to the local Meals on Wheels, and they did it all with a smile. They were happy to stop to help us to locate an item, or to show us how to use the kitchen equipment, even though we were slowing down their already busy day. And when customers arrived they were greeted with a smile and a pleasantry.

Aside from a small core staff Crosscare rely heavily on volunteers, not just in the kitchen but across all of their functions. If you would like to find out more about their work or feel you would like to volunteer your time and skills check out their website here.

Chocolate Tart on Like Mam Used to Bake

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I’m discovering sticky hand prints in the oddest of places around the house. Finding decapitated jelly babies in corners hard to reach by even the smallest of hands. And the sole of my shoe still lingers a second too long on that patch of the floor that I have mopped but clearly need to mop again. The culprit? A rather too cute two and a bit year old who it would seem thoroughly enjoyed his mam’s birthday lunch here, and who as my sister so beautifully put it “is leaving memories for you”. And while I have swept and hoovered and mopped and tidied I can’t quite bring myself to wipe the sticky hand print from the fireplace just yet. It’s only visible from a certain angle, so it can lay there a while longer, a small reminder of the mark he and his cousins leave on our hearts. Memories made and etched.

Lunch for the adults seemed as equally chaotic as the exploits of the children. I was a little less organised than I would have hoped, but fear not, my niece offered her assistance in the kitchen and how could I refuse. She carefully snipped some sweet pea from the garden and gently arranged them on the chocolate tart that would serve as her mam’s birthday cake. She whisked together eggs and milk and cream for the Quiche baking in the oven. She clipped herbs from the garden to toss through the salad, and she helped to shield her mam’s eyes so as not to reveal the surprise of her birthday cake.

I decided to quickly snap a picture of the tart for a blog post and was delighted when my sister offered to hold it for me. I usually shoot blog pictures when I am alone in the kitchen, and so it was lovely to include people in the picture instead of the usual ‘props’. My styling assistant requested a starring role in the picture and the results are just beautiful. And yes, that is wax on the tart. The candles were lit five times so that all of the small people got a chance to blow them out. Does that happen in everyone’s house or just here?

This tart is extremely rich and decadent, perfect for a special celebration or a dinner party dessert. If you don’t like a bitter edge to your chocolate feel free to swap out some of the dark chocolate for milk chocolate. I made a sweet shortcrust pastry, but you know me I don’t judge, so feel free to buy ready-made shortcrust pastry for a tart that you can whip up in minutes. As it needs a couple of hours to set in the fridge it is also a perfect make ahead dessert, make it the night before and leave it in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Tart

{serves 6-8}

For the pastry:

225g Plain flour

2tbsp Caster sugar

110g Unsalted Butter, straight from the fridge

Water

For the filling:

200ml Cream

50g Dark brown sugar

1tsp Vanilla extract

200g Plain chocolate, broken up

50g Unsalted butter, cubed

Mix the flour and sugar together in a large bowl. Grate in the cold butter, and then using a butter knife cut the butter through the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

Slowly add some water to the mix to help bind it together. I start by adding 4 tablespoons and then add 1 tablespoon at a time until I am happy with the dough. You want a dough that just holds together without being wet and sticky. Gently pat the dough together with your hands to form a round, wrap in cling film and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 and have a 20cm/8″ tart tin standing by. Dust a work surface with some flour. Remove the pastry dough from the freezer, dust the top with some flour, and roll it out on the dusted work surface. A little Mary Berry trick works a treat if you are using a loose bottomed tart tin. Place the base of the tin on the work surface, dust with some flour and roll the pastry directly on this. It makes it easier to judge the size and also to transfer to the tin. Once the pastry is the right size to fit the tin gently transfer it and press it down into the base and sides, and then trim any excess from the top. Pop it into the fridge for 15 minutes.

Prick the base of the pastry with a fork, place a layer of parchment paper on top followed by baking beans. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, carefully remove the baking beans and return the pastry to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes or until it is a nice golden brown. Remove from the oven.

While the pastry is baking prepare the filling. Bring the cream, sugar and vanilla extra to scalding point {when the first tiny bubbles appear before the mixture starts to boil}  in a saucepan set over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and butter, stirring until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry case and set aside to cool. When it is cool place it into the fridge for at least 2 hours until it has set.

 

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