Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Saffron Cream, Crab and Leek Tarts

I love the smell and taste of saffron, making me Cornish, I reckon. So I use it often if I can, especially in savoury tarts and breads. This tart is great for lunches or as cold picnic food. You could even dress it up a bit for a dinner starter.

I have used little mini quiche tins but you could use large muffin tins too. The quality below makes about 6 mini quiche. I made four large mini quiches 5” diameter [more if you use a muffin tin]

Start off by making the pastry [or buy, ready made in Sainsbury’s!!!’]

Take some strands of saffron, wrap in a piece of parchment and place in a very cool oven for ten minutes, to dry. Lightly crush. [use as much saffron depending on how saffrony you want it!]

8 oz plain flour 
large pinch salt
4 oz cubed cold butter
4 tablespoons very cold water

Place the dry ingredients in a processor, pulsing until resembling breadcrumbs. Add the water until it forms a ball. Or alternatively rub in the butter. Wrap in cling film and chill.

Preheat your fan oven to 190C, roll out the pastry and line your greased tins. I sprinkle a little smoked paprika over the base, but this is not essential. I love the flavour of paprika. Chill again for ten mins. Line with small pieces of parchment and a few baking beans and bake for about 20 mins. Set aside until you are ready to fill them.


1 yellow and 1 orange pepper, halved, grilled until almost charred, cooled then skinned, cut into strips.
2 medium/1 large leek, sliced
a shallot
a little butter and olive oil

½ pint of single cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2oz white crab meat [optional]
a little fish stock, I used ½ a cube, crumbled and mixed into the egg
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh parmesan

Take a medium fry pan, add the oil and butter and fry the finely chopped shallots and leeks until soft and just starting to colour - about 8-10 mins, then arrange these on the bottom of the tart cases.  Add the sliced grilled peppers, season with ground pepper.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the saffron, single cream, cheese, crab meat and beaten eggs and stock. Mix well, season to taste, finally add the finely chopped parsley [saving a little to sprinkle over the top, if you wish] then pour this over the veggies in the tins.

Turn the oven down to 160C. Bake for about 20 - 25 mins until firm. Just delicious. They look so colourful too. A little savoury taste of what we Cornish love!

Saturday, 23 April 2016


I love the mix of cherries and chocolate!! Who doesn’t? But I love the tartness of cranberries as well, so a generous mix of both is a good balance in this indulgently delicious, easy, rich cake. It keeps well too in an airtight tin. Never in this house!! You can add a topping for a special occasion, but it is so moist and tasty it does not need it. Maybe drizzle over a little extra melted chocolate, if you must???? Your choice.

Oil a 2lb loaf tin and place some baking parchment across and over the long side to help you lift it out. Pre heat your fan oven to 150C

In a medium bowl, place:

7 oz butter, softened
7 oz caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Cream the above until light and fluffy, then add:

3 large eggs, one at a time, along with a little of the flour to stop it curdling. [see * on cherries]

5 oz plain flour 
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1 dessertspoonful good quality cocoa
3 oz ground almonds

Fold in the dry ingredients and mix well. Now add:

3 oz dried cherries [not glacé, cut in half or thirds, then *toss lightly in some of the flour]]
3 oz dried cranberries [toss in a little flour]
3-4 oz dark chocolate chips [I use Sainsbury’s Belgian Dark Chocolate chips - very good]
1 teaspoon almond extract

Mix well and tip into your prepared tin. Bake for about 1¼  hour, but check it is not too brown and turn down for the last 20 mins. Leave in the tin for 10 mins then cool on a rack. Enjoy! I found this recipe in a magazine and clipped it out some time ago, although I did alter it to my own tastes, as I do, and it never fails to hit your taste buds!

Monday, 11 April 2016

PEAR AND CORIANDER CAKE with a hazelnut topping

This is an unusual cake, so delicious and very different, the coriander flavour is very subtle. It can be used warm as a dessert, served with custard or clotted cream, or cold as an ordinary cake. But there is nothing ordinary about this.
It was given to me some years ago by a Bridge friend, Ann. I will admit it takes a little time to carry out the prep and took me over half an hour to make. But it is well worth it.

You also need a pestle and mortar to crush the coriander seeds. Although I suppose a strong poly bag and a rolling pin will do the trick. If the stages are prepped in advance it is very easy to put together.

Pre heat your fan oven to 150C and line the base and sides of an 8” spring form tin.

2 large or 3 smaller pears, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons brandy
zest of a lemon

Place the above in a small basin and set aside, for at least 15 mins.

Make the topping:

In a small bowl, place:
1 oz softened butter
2 oz plain flour

Rub in the above, then add:

2 oz demerera sugar [turbinado]
1 level tablespoon roughly chopped coriander seeds
2 oz toasted chopped hazelnuts

[I toast my own in a small dry fry pan - great smell as they toast, but watch them like a hawk]

Mix the topping together then pop into a fridge until needed.

Now you can make the cake!

4 oz softened butter
7 oz caster sugar
2 large eggs
8 oz plain flour 
3 level teaspoons baking powder
1 level teaspoon ground coriander [I crushed mine from the seeds]

Cream the fat and sugar, add the eggs, fold in the flour, bp and spice. Finally stir in the pears and brandy.

Tip into your prepared tin and level off. Sprinkle over the topping and bake for about 1¼ hours.

Just delicious. I used Conference pears.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Sweet Potato Cake

Another scrummy veggie cake. So moist and utterly delicious. I finished this cake with a simple orange flavoured butter cream filling but a cream cheese one would be just as good, or even fresh whipped double cream.
Take 3 medium sweet potatoes, rub a little oil over them, pierce the skins then wrap in foil and bake for about an hour until soft. 180C.
Remove the foil, allowing them to cool, then scoop out the flesh and mash to a pulp. I finished off with a tad under 12 oz.
Now we can start the cake proper.
Grease and line the base of two 9” sponge tins, loose bottoms are best. Pre heat your fan oven to 160C
In a bowl, place the sweet potato and mix with:
3 fl oz buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste [or extract, or from a pod]
In another bowl combine the dry ingredients:
8 oz plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
6 oz softened butter
10 oz caster sugar
3 oz soft dark brown sugar
the zest of an orange
Cream the fat and sugars, then add:
2 large eggs
Then mix in the sweet potato pulp and finally the dry ingredients. Mix well. If feeling too stiff add another dash of buttermilk.
Divide the mixture between your two tins and bake for about 35-40 mins. I am a saddo and weigh the tins so they have equal amounts.
Allow to cool in the tins for a minute then transfer to racks. When cool make your filling of choice. You can also add a few finely chopped pecans. Dust the top with a little icing sugar. 
Or to be really decadent make double and decorate the top as well.
I adapted this recipe from the excellent United Cakes of America cookbook, that I bought in San Fransisco some years ago in the wonderful Williams Sonoma cookshop. Fab recipes with unusual ingredients. But I have changed and altered it somewhat, for our tastes.