summer on a plate: jam roly-poly

jam roly-polyNext to bavarois, this is one of my favourite desserts! Once you start eating it, you just can’t stop (or at least I can’t). This recipe comes from a very old black and white recipe book with no photos, only drawings, that is no longer printed. My mom has had it for as long as I can remember and both me and my sister are always trying to get our hands on it. It’s by two women, Liesbet and Bie, and every one of their recipes never ever fails. The sachertorte is just another example. Anyway, in their book (and in Belgium) this is called a “rol suisse” or Swiss roll (don’t ask me why, even Wikipedia doesn’t have the answer) and it’s really easy to make:

Preheat the oven to t180 C. Separate 3 eggs (you need 4 eggs in total) and beat the egg whites until really stiff (add a pinch of salt to speed up the process). No need to wash your mixer, you can go straight ahead and start mixing the 3 egg yolks and the left over whole egg together in a separate bowl with 120 g sugar until you get a foamy mousse (about 5 min). Sift in 75 g self-raising flour and stir it in, followed by the beaten egg white.

Cover a baking sheet with tin foil (fold up the sides of the foil a bit to create an edge) and pour in the mixture. Bake for 10 min until lightly golden and it springs back when you touch it. In the mean time, take another piece of tin foil and sprinkle it with a bit of sugar. Take the bake from the oven and turn it upside down onto the prepared foil. Gently peal of the layer of foil from the bottom. Spread your favourite jam all over (I used raspberry jam), leaving a gap along one of the long edges. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar and start rolling it up from the opposite long edge. Put it on a serving plate with the seam at the bottom and dot with a few raspberries (you can also use glace cherries or candied fruit).

Enjoy while listening to Raspberry field by Etude House.

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Summer in a glass: raspberry & lemon mess

raspberry and lemon messIt was really hot, too hot to cook, let alone bake! Too hot for ice cream even (yes, that really is possible), so what to serve for dessert? I decided on a raspberry and lemon mess. To be fair, the recipe I found in my recent copy of GoodFood stated blackberries, but my fridge content decided otherwise. I still had meringues left, so this became a quick and easy refreshing dessert!

For 6 large portions, tip 600 ml whipping cream into a large bowl, add 3 tbsp icing sugar and whip until soft peaks that hold their shape (whipping cream takes longer than whipping egg whites – make sure the cream is coming straight from the fridge, you can only whip it when cold). You can do this beforehand and chill the whipped cream until ready to serve.

To serve, dollop 6 tbsp lemon curd over the whipped cream (tip: put the lemon curd in the fridge beforehand, so your dessert stays cool), crumble over some meringues (so easy to make, or just use the shop bought version), scatter over 200 g raspberries (or use blackberries, strawberries or mixed berries instead). Fold together with a large spatula or spoon, just a few times to marble everything through. As the name suggest, it can look messy! Divide between 6 glassed and decorate with some leftover berries. Enjoy while listening to Hot Hot Hot by Buster Poindexter.

foolproof show stopper: chocolate raspberry brownies

chocolate raspberry browniesLast week, a last minute birthday lunch meant I needed a quick dessert for a chocolate loving birthday girl. As always, I found one in my trusted GoodFood magazine: these chocolate raspberry brownies are so easy to make and judging by the mmmmh’s that kept coming they were a big hit!

Get started by heating the oven to 160 C. Line a 20×30 cm baking tray with baking parchment. If you don’t have a baking tray, just use an oven tray or roasting tin, anything that can go in the oven will work, just make sure to line it with baking parchment. Put 200 g dark chocolate (broken into chunks), 100 g milk chocolate (also broken into chunks), 250 g salted butter (if you don’t have this, just use unsalted butter and add a good pinch of salt) and 400 g soft light brown sugar in a pan and gently melt, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon (you really need that much sugar, it’s surprising but true, I tried with less but ended up adding all of it anyway). Remove from the heat.

Stir 4 eggs, one by one, into the melted chocolate mixture. Sieve over 140 g plain flour and 50 g cacao powder and stir in. Stir in half of 200 g raspberries and scrape into the tray. Scatter over the remaining raspberries and bake for 35 min. Cool before slicing into squares. Enjoy while listening to You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate!

My all time favourite: bavarois

BavaroisMy mom stopped asking what I want to eat on my birthday as the answer has been the same for ages: bavarois! I totally love this and after a dinner party with this dessert, my boyfriend regularly catches me with my head in the fridge the day after, secretly getting some extra bites. If I’m not careful, I’ll eat the whole lot! I checked for the English name, but apart from “bavarian cream” I didn’t find anything else, so I’m sticking to Bavarois on this one. It’s basically cream, eggs, sugar and milk so only the good stuff! You need to make it a day ahead, but you can easily make it more than 1 day  ahead, it will happily sit in your fridge for over a week, that is if nobody secretly eats it in the mean time!

Here’s how to do it: soak 16 g of gelatin leaves in cold water for later use. Mix 250 g caster sugar with 6 egg yolks until they are pale and creamy (you don’t need the egg whites for this recipe, but you don’t need to throw them away: make some meringues on the spot, or just freeze them for later. You can simply defrost them afterwards and use as needed, for example to make macaroons). You can do this in a big cooking pot as it will need to go on the hob later. In the mean time, bring 1/2 liter milk to the boil. Gently add the boiling milk in small amounts to the egg mix while mixing constantly. Now put this mix on the hob until it thickens. You don’t want it to boil, so keep an eye on it. As soon as it starts to increase in volume, you know it’s almost boiling and you can take it of the hob. Now add the gelatin leaves one by one (squeeze all the water out of them first) and stir them into the mix.

Cool the mix by putting the pot in a sink filled with cold water (au bain marie). Leave it to cool for at least half an hour. Stir it every now and then to avoid it stiffening too much. If it’s getting too stiff already, just take it out of the water and get on with the next step. If on the contrary it’s still very runny after more then half an hour, don’t panic: it will turn out just as great!

Next up is the cream: beat 1/2 liter double cream until it’s stiff. You don’t want it to be too stiff, that will make it difficult to add it to the egg mix, stop when you can see the traces of your mixer and it already thickened considerably. Add 1 tbsp icing sugar to the cream and mix again. Now add the cream to the egg mix, stirring until it’s all incorporated. Poor the mix into a mould that you lightly greased with some oil (this makes it easier to get it out again), preferably not a metal mould (don’t ask me why, my mom’s recipe just mentions this, I’m sure it’s granny wisdom that thus cannot be ignored).

Put it in the fridge overnight (or longer) until it’s firm. A good way to test it, is to poor whatever bit of mix you have left in a small bowl so you have a “testing bowl”, every good cook needs to try everything before serving! When you’re ready to serve, turn it out onto a plate and hope for the best! The easiest way to loosen it is by hitting the side of your mould on the kitchen counter (you might want to put a towel in between not to alarm your guests with the noise) and work your way round so it comes loose from the sides. As soon as you get some air in it, it will loosen all the way round. Then turn it upside down on the serving plate, hit a few more times and peak a bit to see if it did the trick!

Serve with raspberry coulis (shop bought will do just fine, you’ll find it in the fridge or in the freezer) and some fresh raspberries for that extra wow factor. Obviously, strawberries or other berries will work just s well. Enjoy!

Bake it your way: summer fruit cake

Blueberry cakeHere’s the situation: you were going to bake a nice elaborate tart for a birthday party, but it turned out you missed some vital ingredient and it was sold out in the local supermarket. By the time a solution was found, there was no more time to bake it, so here came plan B: this delicious summer fruit drizzle cake! I found the recipe in the latest GoodFood magazine, and it was an instant hit. What’s great about this recipe, is that you can put whatever fruit in it you want! So it’s a great way to get rid of those apples lying around. I went for the blueberry version, but here are some other fruit suggestions: apricots, blackberries, nectarines, peaches, plums, raspberries, a mix of berries, redcurrants or blackcurrants, apples, pears, strawberries… the list goes on and on! Make sure to dice the larger fruits and you’re good to go.

Preheat the oven to 160 C. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment. Put 175 g very soft butter, 175 g caster sugar, 250 g self-raising flour, 2 eggs and 2 tsp vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 5 min until pale and creamy. The mixture will be very thick.

Spread one-third of the cake mix into the tin, then scatter over 50 g of the fruit (you’ll need 175 g fruit in total). Carefully spread another third of the cake mix on top and scatter with another 50 g fruit. Finally, add the rest of the cake mix and level the top with the back of a spoon. Bake for 1 hour, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

In the mean time, put the remaining 75 g of fruit in a bowl with 140 g sugar and 2 tbsp citrus juice (I used lime, but you can use lemon or orange juice as well). Stir with a fork, mashing the fruit a little as you go. When the cake comes out of the oven, poke it all over with a skewer and spoon the fruit and sugar mix on top. Leave in the tin until the cake is cool and the topping is set and crisp. If you prefer, you can also freeze the cake (without the topping).

This is definitely going to become a much used recipe to get rid of any ripe fruit! I can’t tell you how long it will remain fresh… it got eaten to quickly!

Stunning and tasty: raspberry tart with almond pastry

Raspberry tart
Raspberry tart

This tart tastes every bit as amazing as it looks, so if you have an afternoon to spare and you where still searching for something to do, this could be it. It’s not hard to make, it just takes time, a lot of time! Also, you can’t make it much in advance, if you leave it overnight the pastry will go all soggy. Still good, just a bit less of a wow factor… This is again one of my trusted GoodFood recipes so that already tells you that it will be delicious!

First, make the pastry by tipping 200 g plain flour, 175 g ground almonds, 175 g caster sugar and 200 g cold diced butter in a food processor. Pulse until you get the texture of breadcrumbs. Now add 1 egg yolk and pulse until it all comes together to form a soft pastry. The pastry will be too soft to roll out, so press it evenly into a 25 cm tart tin (lined with greaseproof paper). until the pastry comes up above the edges of the tin. Rest in the freezer for at least 20 min.

Preheat the oven to 170 C. Line the tart case with baking parchment (or tin foil) and baking beans and bake for 20 min until the edges are starting to brown. Remove the beans and paper, then continue to bake for 10-15 min until biscuity. Leave to cool, trim the edges with a knife (or don’t and go for a more rustic look), then carefully remove from the tart tin.

To make the filling, whisk 200 ml crème fraîche until firm (it needs to be cold, otherwise you’ll have difficulty whisking it, so don’t take it out of the fridge until you are ready to use it). Then add 85 g caster sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla essence and the juice and zest of 1/2 lemon. Whisk again to get a thick cream. Spread over the bottom of the tart case, then meticulously place about 700 g raspberries on top in concentric circles.

Meanwhile, heat up 5 tbsp raspberry jam in the microwave or a pan with 2 tbsp water until bubbling. Push the glaze through a sieve into a bowl, then paint it over the raspberries with a pastry brush. Serve straight away or store in a cool place for a few hours max until ready to slice. Enjoy!

Summer time: oj and raspberry ice lollies

Orange juice and raspberry ice lolly
Orange juice and raspberry ice lolly

When it’s really hot, no cake or cookie will do, that’s just way to dry and sticky. You need something cool and fresh and an ice lolly does just the trick! On one our recent trips to London, I was browsing the cookbook section at Waterstone’s (as usual) when I heard a little girl say to her sister: “This looks really yummie!”. I immediately took a look and she was talking about Ice lollies and other fruity frozen treats, a neat little book that indeed looked very very yummie. I couldn’t resist and with the sun coming out, it was time to put my new little book to the test!

To make 6 ice lollies, you need 300 ml freshly squeezed orange juice for the oj part (and no shortcuts here, juice from a bottle or carton just won’t do). For the raspberry part, puree 350 g fresh or frozen raspberries in a bowl with a fork or in a blender. Strain through a sieve and stir in 2 tbsp runny honey

Half-fill each mould with orange juice and put in the freezer for 30 min before adding the raspberry mixture and freezing for another 4-6 hours. When ready to serve, dip the moulds in hot water for a few seconds to loosen the ice lollies. If you can’t wait that long, you can invest in a zoku: this is a block that you keep in the freezer, and when you want ice lollies, you take it out, fill it, and wait 10-15 min and your lollies are ready! You can make up to 6 in one go (two batches of 3) so it’s great if it’s only for a few people and if you never manage to plan ahead when you will want ice lollies (much like me). If you love ice lollies so much that you always have a couple in stand-by, then this is not the tool for you, just buy the regular moulds instead. Or keep small containers, like yoghurt pots, and buy some sticks. They will do just as well as ice lolly moulds! Start licking!