Chicken and Yogurt Curry Pie

If you got tired of all the desserts I publish, this post is for you. Rather than a sugar-filled concoction, here is a wonderfully vibrant and flavoursome pie made entirely out of puff pastry. On that note, I strongly suggest you make your own puff pastry. Once you got the hang of it, whipping up a batch only takes a couple of minutes. The lengthy process as far as this pastry is concerned is the chilling and the resting, but if you have a very busy schedule or a life full of important events to attend to, puff pastry is not a needy lover and only requires a couple of turns every hour or so. Worst case scenario, you could always do it over two or even three days. After all, the more it rests, the better the end result will be.

This recipe comes from a truly inspiring book I recently bought on a very rainy December afternoon when I was in need of comfort (some people turn to cake, I usually make it). The book is called Pie and is by Dean Brettschneider. What I love about it is the fresh take on some classics, like tarte tatin or a simple pie, and the fact it provides plenty of suggestions on how to turn a standard and plain puff or shortcrust pastry into something completely new by adding a few extra ingredients. When you are making this, the longer the chicken thighs get to marinate, the more intense their flavour would be. Therefore, make sure to start your pie the day before by simply marinating the meat overnight.

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Ingredients

  • 350g puff pastry
  • 2 tbsp freshly minced ginger
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 300g thick Greek yogurt
  • 4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 800g boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1 large bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 medium egg (for the glaze)
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil

Method

  1. Divide the puff pastry in two portions: set aside two-thirds for the base and use the rest for the top. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger portion to the thickness of a pound coin and use it to line it a 23cm fluted tart dish (about 3cm deep).
  2. Roll out the remaining pastry for the top of the pie to a circle slightly larger than the pie top. Set aside on a baking sheet, cover both with clingfilm and set aside in the fridge.
  3. To make the filling, puree together the ginger and the garlic with the yogurt to make a smooth paste (I did it by hand because I use already chopped ginger and I just finely chopped the garlic). Stir in the ground spices and salt, then place the chicken thighs in a large glass bowl and pour in the marinade. Stir to combine, then cover with clingfilm and leave to marinate for at least 2 hours.
  4. When your meat has marinated long enough, heat some olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion and the chilli (leave the seeds in for extra heat!) until soft. Add the tomato puree and cardamom seeds, then cook for another minute.
  5. Add the chicken and its marinade, then turn up the heat and cook until the watery curry becomes creamy (about 15 minutes).
  6. Reduce the heat to low and add the cream. Continue cooking for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the coriander, lemon juice and seasoning to taste, then cook until the curry has dried up and is creamy but not too liquid. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.
  7. Pre-heat your oven to 200C.
  8. When ready, spoon the filling onto the puff pastry base, then brush the rim of the pastry case with beaten egg and drape the remaining pastry over the tart dish. Press the pastry together to seal, then trim the edges.
  9. Brush the top with egg wash, then use a sharp knife to make 4 or 5 slits in the top to allow the steam to escape during baking.
  10. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until nicely golden on top and the sides of the pie have raised from the tart dish. Remove from the oven, leave to cool slightly, then unmould and serve while warm.

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Banana Bread

The BBC Good Food magazine has had a ‘healthy makeover’ section for a while now. I have always overlooked it and ignored because, let’s be frank, life without full fat cream cheese, butter and double cream really has no meaning. However, having ended up with some really ripe bananas (the black skin type ones, to be precise), I decided to give this recipe a go. After all, you can’t always turn down things in life.

I was lucky enough to find some authentic Greek yogurt in my local supermarket. The brand is FAGE and it’s the hardest and creamiest I have seen so far. It also tastes really good and it’s marketed (with a caption in Italian, weirdly enough) to be the real thing. Good enough for me. I also took a turn for the worse (or the fat, if you prefer) by substituting the walnuts in the original recipe with some chocolate chips. The mixture here is dense enough to hold them in place, so they won’t sink to the bottom but spread evenly throughout the cake. The pictures below I’m afraid don’t do the cake enough justice, but it really is delicious and the chocolate chips add just that extra flavour.

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Ingredients

  • 2 very ripe bananas, preferably with black skins
  • 1/2 lemon, zest only
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175g plain flour
  • 50g plain wholemeal flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 25g butter, diced
  • 85g light brown sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100g full-fat natural yogurt
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed (or flavourless vegetable) olive oil

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf tin (about 1kg) with baking parchment.
  2. Peel the bananas, break them in pieces and mash them with a fork in a small bowl. Stir in the lemon zest and the vanilla.
  3. In another bowl, mix both the flours with the raising agents and ground almonds. Add the sugar, then tumble in the butter and rub it in with the tip of your fingers.
  4. In a jug, mix the yogurt with the eggs and the rapeseed oil, then add it to the rest of the mixture. Don’t worry if it looks too dry as the mixture is a bit on the stiff side, but keep on mixing (but don’t overmix!). Last addition, fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the mixture in the loaf tin and level it out. Bake for 45 minutes, but check with a skewer whether the cake is done.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool for 15 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely.

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Fondant Fancies

If you are British, love the UK and its culture or have spent some time here, you will be familiar with fondant fancies. These pale, pastel-coloured little cakes are quite popular as an afternoon tea-time treat and go really well with a cup of tea. They were also one of the technical challenges on the GBBO, just to give you an idea. The difficult bit is balancing the different stages. First you have to make the cake, then put the marzipan on top, cut it into squares, cover them with butter cream and finally smother them in fondant icing. One really good thing about them is that you don’t have to stick to the recipe you’ll find below (which is Mary Berry’s), but you could just as easily custom them by changing the flavours and the colours – I did it.

Allow plenty of chilling time once the small squares have been covered in butter cream and make sure your fondant icing is liquid enough but still hold its shape, or smothering the fancies will be your worst nightmare. Also, you can buy fondant icing in supermarket, but it comes in solid blocks. You’ll need some electric beaters or a very sturdy wooden spoon (and some good muscles!) to mix some water in and turn it into a smooth liquid. As I said, there are a few steps in the process, but don’t let that frighten you as the result is outstanding. I have made these cakes twice already and they have been a roaring success both times.

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Ingredients (for the sponge)

  • 225g self raising flour OR 220g plain flour + 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda + 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 225g soft unsalted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 lemon, grated zest only

Ingredients (for the assembly and decoration)

  • 250g soft unsalted butter
  • 200g sifted icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp sieved apricot jam
  • 200g marzipan
  • 1 kg fondant icing
  • 50g dark chocolate, melted
  • food colouring (optional)
  • flavouring (optional)
  • water

Method

  • Start by lining a 20cm square cake tin with some baking parchment and buttering the sides. Pre-heat your oven to 160C.
  • Make the cake batter by creaming the butter and sugar together, then adding the eggs and last the flour and lemon zest. You’ll get a soft and spongy mixture which needs to be transferred to the cake tin. Level the top as you would normally do, then use your spatula/preferred implement to push some of the batter from the centre of the cake towards the edges and the corners. This will avoid the cake rising too much in the middle and you having to trim off most of the sponge to obtain equal cubes.
  • Bake in the oven for 40 minutes and check for doneness with a toothpick or a metal skewer.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the cake tin for approximately 20 minutes, then turn out to a wire rack, flip it upside down (put a cloth between the cake and the wire rack) and leave it to cool completely.
  • Now, at this point, I suggest you wrap the cooled cake in clingfilm and put it in the fridge overnight. This will ensure that the cake stays moist, the flavour develops and it’s easier to cut the following day. If you want to do it all in one day, then give it a good hour in the fridge or, if you want, half an hour in the freezer.
  • While the cake is chilling, you can make the butter cream. Put the softened butter in a big bowl and use an electric whisk to make it all nice and fluffy. Start adding the sieved icing sugar a little at a time, making sure the sugar is fully incorporated in the butter before adding any more. Keep your beaters still, then turn your bowl with your other hand to beat the mixture evenly. I have a KitchenAid, but I still prefer to do this with a good old electric whisk. Mix in all of the sugar, then put to one side. If you want, you can add a couple of drops of flavouring.
  • When the cake has thoroughly chilled/cooled down, it’s time to add the marzipan topping. Dust a working surface heavily with icing sugar, then roll out the marzipan to a slightly bigger square than your cake base. Use that as a template. Once you have rolled out the marzipan enough, position your cake tin on the marzipan and use a sharp knife to cut alongside the edges. This will ensure a snug fit on top of your cake.
  • Now take your cake and keep the base on the top as this will always be a more even surface. Brush the apricot jam on top, then use your cake tin base to transfer the marzipan on the cake and press lightly to make it adhere to the jam. Leave to stand for about 15 to 20 minutes, then arm yourself with a ruler!
  • Now, we want cakes which are 4x4cm, so perfect cubes. If you have used a 20cm tin, you should be able to get 5 per each side for a total of 25. My tin is slightly bigger, so I always have to trim the edges (which is good as I obtain a smoother finish). Use your ruler to make marks every 4cm, then take a dry very sharp knife and use it to cut alongside the marks and obtain first big slices of cake, then small cubes. Your finished product should look like this:

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  • Once you have cut them all, it’s time to start applying the butter cream. Arm yourself with some patience now as this can be very stressing! Save about 70g butter cream and put that in a piping bag – this will be used for the small dot on top. Take a snife/palette/spatula and use it to apply an even coating of butter cream on the sides of the cake. Don’t put it on top (where the marzipan is) or on the bottom but cover the sides only. Don’t panic if it looks messy or is really rough as you can smooth it out later.
  • Once you have done the sides of the cakes, snip the end off your piping bag and squeeze a small blob of butter cream on top of each one. The end result, once again, should look like this:

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  • Now, you can either attempt to smooth the butter cream while it’s soft or you can refrigerate the cakes and do it later. I tend to go for the second option or I’ll probably end crying in a corner, covered in butter cream and screaming for help. Little exaggeration there, but I find chilling the cakes now (1 hour in the fridge will be enough), then dipping a spatula knife in some warm water, drying it with a towel and using that to smooth the surface works a lot better.
  • Once you have smoothed them all out, it’s time to ice them. Cut your fondant icing in fairly small cubes, then put them in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and start adding water a couple of tablespoon at a time. Once you have reached the consistency you like, add a couple of drops of food colouring (or paste) and mix that well in to obtain a pale coloured icing. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Now, arm yourself of a fork, a wire rack and a large surface. Place some baking parchment on the work surface so as to catch the dripping icing (and chocolate later). Use the fork to stab each cake from the bottom, but make sure you go in at an angle. This way will be much easier to drop them on the wire rack. Dip each cake in the icing, swirl it around and use your finger to ease any excess icing off the little cakes, then put each cake base facing down on to the wire rack. Leave there to solidify for a good 3 hours or overnight, if possible. Don’t put them in the fridge or they will lose their shine.
  • Once the cakes have all hardened, drizzle the chocolate on top and leave that to harden too. I like to serve them in white muffin paper cases, I think it adds a bit of wow factor. Enjoy!

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Marmalade Butterflies

What’s more delicate than puff pastry? All those layers carefully folded one on top of the other and baked in the space of a second to create complicated and frail structures of pastry… The same as butterflies – beautiful, gorgeously coloured winged insects whose lifespan rarely reaches a full week and whose delicacy and frailty has inspired so many writers. So what better combination than to create butterflies made of puff pastry?

The idea behind this recipe comes from the same book I quoted in my last post, Bollería by Xavier Barriga. He makes them plain and suggests to dunk them in chocolate when cooled. Why, may I ask, not fill them with something sweet? These are, with all due respect, palmiers sliced in half and, as such, desperately need to be filled. I opted for homemade marmalade that my grandma gave me last time I was home. The orange jam was the last one of the small pots of homemade sweetness I had, so now I am back to square one… Anyway, to offset the slight tartness of marmalade I opted for some white chocolate on top, complemented by some orange and lemon zest, just to add a tad of colour and to give you a quick reminder of what’s inside. You can fill them with whatever you want, mine is just a suggestion.

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Ingredients

  • 500g plain flour
  • 10g salt
  • 275g icy cold water
  • 375g unsalted butter, chilled
  • golden caster sugar, to sprinkle
  • 100g marmalade
  • 25g white chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 orange, zest of
  • 1 lemon, zest of

Method

  1. Make your puff pastry by combining the flour, salt and water together until you get a soft dough, then wrap it in clingfilm and chill it for at least 1 hour.
  2. Beat the butter into submission as indicated in the previous recipe, then shape it into a square roughly 15cm per side. Keep it chilled. Ideally, you want your butter and your dough to be at the same temperature.
  3. Once your dough has been thoroughly chilled, take it out from the fridge and put it on a floured surface. Now you have two ways of doing this. Personally, I cut a cross on top and stretch the wedges outwards to create ear-like shapes. I then use a rolling pin to stretch these but leave the dough a bit higher – that is, non rolled out – where the bases of the ‘ears’ meet. I then put the cold butter slab on top of this small bulge and fold the dough ears on top. Then, I flip the dough the other way round and start rolling. Alternatively, you can roll your dough into a rectangle and do it as indicated in the previous post. The end result is the same, so it’s really up to you.
  4. Roll and fold your pastry for a total of 4 times, allowing plenty of chilling times after each 2.
  5. Once your pastry has been properly chilled, dust your working surface with plenty of golden caster sugar, then roll it out to a rectangle roughly 30 by 60cm. Trim the edges with a sharp knife, then spread the marmalade in an even layer on top of the pastry rectangle, leaving approximately 1 cm from all of the edges.
  6. Start rolling your palmier. Roll each side equally towards the centre, then when you get to the point where the two rolls meet, fold one on top of the other. Warp it in clingfilm and chill your ‘roll’ for one hour.
  7. Closer to the end of the chilling time, pre-heat your oven to 220C and line three baking trays with parchment.
  8. Take your pithivier out of the fridge, then use a very sharp knife to cut even 1cm slices. Cut each slice into halves but ensuring the cut doesn’t go all the way through and leaves a ‘joint’ on the closed side of the slice. To be clearer, keep the two ridges facing you while you cut the slice.
  9. Arrange the butterflies-to-be on the trays leaving plenty of space in between them as they will increase in volume. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180C and bake for a further 13 minutes, until a golden colour and thoroughly baked.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, then use a piping bag to drizzle with the melted white chocolate and arrange the orange and lemon zest on top.

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Crostata all’Olio d’Oliva

If you want to be pedant, this is nothing more than a simple jam tart. You can fill it with the preserve of your choice too (I used my grandma’s apricot jam, which is sweet, treacly and very moreish if compared to those diluted and bright orange replicas you find in shops). What’s peculiar about it is the use of olive oil instead of butter in the shortcrust pastry. This has two immediate consequences. First of all, you don’t need to rub butter in the pastry or chill it before rolling it out. Then, you get very nice and subtle fruity notes provided for by the olive oil, but still retain all that crumbliness and crisp so typical of butter-based shortcrust tarts. Here I used some very good and dense Sicilian olive oil I brought directly from Italy, but a good olive oil would be just as good.

The rationale behind it is that in the old times, in Tuscan homes, butter was relatively unknown and considered too costly and stodgy to be used in food. On the other hand, olive oil was the staple of the local diet and used abundantly in both sweet and savoury dishes. This recipe is from the La Vialla estate, a farm and wine paradise located in the middle of the Tuscan countryside. The recipe also featured in the September issue of the delicious. magazine. I have slightly adapted it while making it.

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Ingredients

  • 80ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 350g plain flour
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp Marsala wine
  • 350g of your favourite jam
  • icing sugar (optional)

Method

  1. Grease and flour a 23cm fluted tart tin, then set aside. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, golden caster sugar and baking powder. Measure out the olive oil in a jug, then add the eggs and the Marsala. Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl, then add the lemon zest. Mix using a wooden spoon until just combined, then use your hands to bring the pastry together.
  3. Take a third of the pastry and reserve it for the top. Gather the rest of it in a ball and put it on a heavily floured work surface (the pastry will stick because of the oil). Roll it out to a circle the thickness of a pound coin, then line the greased and floured tin. Ensure the pastry fits snugly in the tin, then prick the base with a fork.
  4. Spread the jam in an even layer on the pastry shell.
  5. Now take the reserved pastry and roll that out to the thickness of a pound coin. Using a very sharp knife, cut long strips of pastry, then lace them on top of the jam. Make sure to trim to edges once all done.
  6. Bake the tart in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes. Keep an eye on it and cover it with foil it starts browning too soon.
  7. Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly in the tin, then remove from the tin and serve. Dust with icing sugar if you wish.

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Lemon & Honey Biscuits

These are a new favourite of mine and a slight variation on the Orange & Honeycomb biscuits I posted in the past. It dawned on me that by changing a couple of ingredients, the result could be completely different. This time, I decided to ditch the honeycomb bar altogether and opt, instead, for the zing of lemon and the comforting sweetness and creaminess of white chocolate. The result is a very tangy and moreish biscuit which slightly resembles amaretti.

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Ingredients (for the biscuits)

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 115g unsalted butter, diced
  • 115g honey
  • 3 tbsp white chocolate shavings

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 115g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp white chocolate shavings

Method

  1. Line three baking sheets with baking parchment and set aside.
  2. Put the white chocolate bar in the freezer to firm up before creating the chocolate shavings.
  3. In a big bowl, mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and lemon zest. Add the diced unsalted butter and rub it in until you get a breadcrumb-like consistency.
  4. Now add the honey and mix that in. (To make things easier, I put my bowl on the scales and weighed the honey as I was adding it, then mixed it in with a rubber spatula. You need however to give it a final mix with your hands.)
  5. Using a teaspoon, measure out equal amounts of the dough, then roll it up between your hands and put it on the lined baking sheet, pressing gently with your hands to flatten it down. Create alternate rows as the biscuits will expand as they cook. Use all of your mixture, then refrigerate the biscuits for at least half an hour before baking.
  6. In the meantime, take the white chocolate out of the freezer and use a potato peeler to create the necessary amount of chocolate shavings. Put them in a bowl, then refrigerate them until needed.
  7. When the biscuits only need a couple of minutes more in the fridge, pre-heat your oven to 190C.
  8. Bake the biscuits for about 10 minutes, by which time they will have turned a nice golden brown. Make sure to rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking.
  9. After 10 minutes, remove from the oven one sheet at a time and sprinkle the white chocolate shavings on half of the biscuits in each batch using a teaspoon. Return to the oven for another 3 minutes, then remove and leave to cool on wire racks. Repeat with all of the baking sheets you have.
  10. While the biscuits are cooling, make your filling. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer (or in a bowl), mix the butter with the icing sugar, then add the juice and increase the speed to high to make the filling nice and fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag.
  11. When the biscuits have cooled down, take the halves without the white chocolate shavings on top and pipe a dollop of the icing on them, then sandwich them with one of the iced halves. Repeat with the rest of the biscuits.

Note

  • You can put the sandwiched biscuits in the fridge to firm up the filling before eating, but make sure you serve them at room temperature.

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Fennel-scented Seabass

Now this is a very easy dish. All you need to do is bake some seabass with the addition of a handful of ingredients to get yourself a tasty and colourful meal. The recipe is a free adaptation of one found in one of the many cooking magazines I buy, so please feel free to experiment with the ingredients you like the most and add them on to the fish.

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Ingredients

  • 2 seabasses, whole, descaled and gutted (you can ask your fishmonger to do this)
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely sliced – leaves put aside
  • 50g black olives, pitted
  • 2 red chillies, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch of basil, finely sliced
  • 1 whole lemon, sliced (I used limes here)

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 160C. Line a baking tray and put the fish on top of it, with their heads facing opposite directions. Season both sides of each fish with plenty of salt and pepper.
  2. Fill the cavities of the fish with the fennel leaves, some basil and one or two lemon slices.
  3. Arrange the rest of the ingredients around, under and above the fish, then drizzle with some olive oil.
  4. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the fish is cooked but not dry.
  5. Remove from the oven, fillet and serve.

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Lemon and Lime Tart

A very easy and tasty dessert for those of you who are proficient in the art of shortcrust pastry and would like to tweak the recipe and try something new. This recipe comes from the MasterChef Cookery Course book.

The texture of the filling is slightly different from a standard lime tart (or tarte aux citrons, if you want to be over pompous and show off that you can speak French), mostly because the eggs are whisked up until the very last minute, thus creating a very light and frothy filling. Needless to say, you can opt for a more traditional pastry case and omit the cocoa or swap the lemons & lime zest and juice for 1 1/2 oranges’ or 2 satsumas’, the possibilities are endless. Also, where possible, I swap standard caster sugar with golden caster sugar, mostly because the latter is less refined and therefore healthier for you – not to mention it adds a caramel-like flavour to your bakes!

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Ingredients (for the pastry case)

  • 125g plain flour
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 75g unsalted butter, chilled and diced

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 3 large eggs
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 200ml double cream
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime

Method

  1. First, make the pastry. Sift the flour, salt, icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl. Add the butter and gently rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture becomes slightly darker and resembles breadcrumbs. Add 1-2 tbsp of iced water, a little at a time, then gather the pastry with your fingers and try and bring it together. Tip onto a slightly floured working surface and use the heel of your hands to bring the pastry together and slightly knead it. Shape it into a round ball, flatten it slightly and wrap it in clingfilm, then chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  2. Once hardened and chilled, take the pastry out of the oven and roll it out on a slightly floured work surface. Use it to line a 20cm loose-bottomed flan tin, then return to the fridge and chill until stone cold and hard again.
  3. In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and put a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.
  4. Take the pastry case out of the fridge, prick the base with a fork, then layer it with a crumpled sheet of baking parchment and fill it with baking beans.
  5. Blind-bake for 15 minutes, then remove the case from the oven, carefully lift the baking parchment off the pastry and bake for another 10 minutes to crisp up.
  6. While the pastry case is baking, make the filling. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer or using a hand-held one, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and creamy. Stir in the cream, lime and lemon juice and zest, then transfer to a jug (so that it will be easier to pour it into the pastry case).
  7. Once the case has cooked thoroughly, reduce the temperature for the oven to 160 degrees and pour the filling into the case, then return it to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before unmoulding from the tin.

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Flourless Citrus Cake

This cake is the easiest piece of baking I have ever done. All it requires is a bit of cooking and then the food processor and the oven will do all the hard work. Nigella bakes hers with clementines, I have tried with oranges and it’s a raving success, less so with limes as it was extremely bitter, although I later found out the fruit I used had more pith than pulp, so that might be why. The recipe below is for the orange version, but feel free to substitute more or less the same weight with lemons, limes, clementines and so forth. I reckon two big oranges will probably equal about 5 to 6 limes and the same amount of clementines, while with lemons it all depends on how big they are.

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Ingredients

  • 2 large oranges
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 6 eggs
  • 225g caster sugar (but golden caster sugar works just as fine)
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Method

  1. Remove the stalk from the oranges, then put them in a pan filled with water and boil them for 2 hours, topping the water as you go as it will evaporate. Don’t peel them, don’t quarter them, just put them whole in.
  2. Once they are completely cooked, let them cool completely. I usually do this the previous day so the oranges have time to cool overnight, but if you are doing the whole process in a day, then I’d reckon a couple of hours should do.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius and line and grease a 20cm springform tin.
  4. Slice the oranges in half using a very sharp knife and remove the seeds if there are any, then put them in a food processor and blitz them until they are mushy and coarse.
  5. Slowly add the rest of the ingredients and keep on whizzing until the cake batter is smooth and combined.
  6. Pour in the tin and bake for about 1 hour, covering the cake with foil after 40 minutes if the surface is browning too much. Remember to use a skewer to check if the cake is cooked all the way through.
  7. Take out of the oven and put on a cooling rack, but cover with a towel to keep the cake moist.
  8. Serve on its own or with some whipped cream/ice cream.

Marbled Lemon Squares

I will be honest, I made the lemon curd of the previous post because I wanted to make these. Think of them as a lemony and cheesecakey (is that even a word?) kind of brownies. The assembling bit is more or less the same of a cheesecake, and the flavour is as well. Very moreish, these will disappear in a flash! Recipe, again, from The Great British Bake Off: The Showstoppers book.

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Ingredients

  • 200g ginger biscuits
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 500g full-fat cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • about 225g lemon curd (use homemade if you can)

Method

  1. Line and grease a square or rectangular brownie tin (approximately 25 x 25cm).
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  3. To make the base, put the biscuits and the butter in a food processor and blitz until you get a sandy consistency. Alternatively, put the biscuits in a bag, seal it and bash them with a rolling pin (very therapeutic), then mix in the butter.
  4. Bake the base for 10 minutes, then take out of the oven and leave to cool for 15. You can leave the oven on or turn it off while you get started with the cheesecake filling.
  5. To make the cheesecake mixture, put the cream cheese, vanilla, sugar and eggs into a large bowl and beat them until creamy and combined. You can do this by hand, no need to waste electricity 🙂
  6. Once the base has cooled down, pour the cheesecake mixture over it and spread it evenly.
  7. Dollop the lemon curd on the surface – quite randomly – and then use a cocktail stick (a skewer, a knife or even a teaspoon will do) to swirl it around and obtain a marbled effect. Don’t overdo it, though, as you want to keep some of the big lumps of lemon curd.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes, until just set. Remember to turn on the oven again if you switched it off before.
  9. Leave to cool in the tin. To extract it, run a round bladed knife all around the edges, then cut into squares.

Tips

  • The recipe says to cook it for 25 minutes, but I’ve opted for slightly more on here simply because when I checked mine after that time it was still wobbly and, I feared, uncooked. Feel free to take it out of the oven slightly before.
  • Keep this dessert in the fridge as it will melt/go weird if left outside. Needless to say, the earlier you eat it, the better.