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My Golden Pear: February 2013

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Today is the reveal date for my first entry into the Daring Bakers Challenge.  Sarah from All Our Fingers In The Pie has challenged us to make crisp crackers or flatbreads. Now I don't think I have ever contemplated making my own crackers but this is what I love about taking part in these challenges - it forces you to try something new.
The original recipe that I found uses whole wheat flour but I have read so much about Spelt flour over the last few months that I decided to try it out with these crackers. I chose seeded spelt flour made by Sharpham Park with the added benefit that it is grown in Britain. I couldn't believe how quick and easy it was to make these little biscuits until that is, it came time to rolling out the mixture. It is really difficult to get them thin enough to resemble a store bought cracker so I did some more research on the internet and came across a tip from Smitten Kitchen. Although she hadn't tried it, she suggested using a pasta machine to roll the dough out. I hauled mine out from the back of my cupboard, checked that there was no playdough still stuck to it and gave it a whirl. At first I tried to put all the dough through at once but it was just too messy. After a few failed attempts I tried putting through just enough dough to make one cracker at a time and bingo - perfect thickness every time. 
My first batch of these disappeared before I even had time to photograph them so I would say they are going to be a firm favourite in our household.
My only word of caution is watch them like a hawk when baking. They go from nicely crisp to overdone very, very quickly.


Spelt Crackers

For the printable version - click here

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 18 minutes
Total time: 38 minutes
Yield: 24 crackers (depending on size)
  • 155g seeded spelt flour (or wholewheat flour)
  • 5ml sea salt flakes
  • 2.5ml caster sugar
  • 55g salted butter, cubed
  • 50 - 60ml cold water
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Add flour, salt, sugar and butter to a food processor and whizz together until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Add water and whizz again until a soft dough is formed.
  4. Remove from food processor and knead gently using some extra flour if needed to form a smooth dough mixture.
  5. Roll out evenly to about 3mm thickness and cut out the shape required.
  6. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and place in the oven for approximately 15 - 18 minutes.               

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour and Smitten Kitchen
Written by Angela Darroch

Blog checking lines: Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie was our February 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to use our creativity in making our own Crisp Flatbreads and Crackers!

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Sunday, 17 February 2013


This month’s Classic French challenge over on Blue Kitchen Bakes  is chocolate ganache.  I always find this incredibly rich so this time I decided to add a bit of raspberry sauce to the bottom of each tart to counteract the richness.  I thickened my normal raspberry sauce with a touch of cornflour to stop it running out once we cut into the tarts and it worked well.  There is nothing difficult about making the ganache and it is really quick to prepare.  The only time consuming process to these delicious tarts is making your own pastry but if you are short of time then a good quality store bought pastry would speed the process up giving you an elegant and decadent dessert in just over half an hour. 


Prep time: 2 hours, including resting time for pastry shells
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 2hrs, 25 minutes
Yield: 6 individual tarts
  • Sweet shortcrust pastry
  • 150ml double cream
  • 190g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 300g raspberries
  • 2 tblsp icing sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 deg C.
  2. Make up one batch of sweet shortcrust pastry and prepare 6 small individual tart cases.
  3. Bake blind for 15 minutes.  Remove paper and baking beans and return to oven for a further 5 - 10 minutes to dry out.
  4. To prepare raspberry coulis, puree raspberries (leave some back for decoration), icing sugar and lemon juice using a stick blender.
  5. Pour through a sieve to remove all seeds.
  6. If you prefer the raspberry sauce to be slightly thicker you can mix 1 tsp of cornflour with some of the puree. Heat remaining puree in a saucepan and then stir in the cornflour mixture and stir until thickened.
  7. Set to one side.
  8. To make the chocolate ganache, heat the cream in a saucepan until just boiling.
  9. Add the chopped chocolate and stir with a spatula until fully melted and smooth.
  10. Remove from heat and leave for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
  11. To assemble tarts, spoon some raspberry coulis into the bottom of each pastry shell.
  12. Fill the shells with chocolate ganache ensuring a nice smooth finish on top.
  13. Decorate with whole raspberries.
  14. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe by Angela Darroch 


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If you are making a tart which requires a pastry shell to hold the filling then this is the pastry you will need.  Shortcrust pastry is one of the easier pastries to work with because of the low fat content.  It is more common to bake the pastry shell first and then add the filling to ensure a nice crisp bottom but the filling can be added to the raw shell and then baked.  The quantity below is more than enough to make a standard tart using a tin size up to 26cm.  If you have any pastry left over it can be wrapped tightly in cling film and frozen for later use.  There are a couple of tips which help to make the process easier:

Measure all ingredients accurately

Work with cold ingredients and   cold hands

Rest your pastry in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour to help with the rolling out process and to prevent shrinkage when baking.

If baking the empty shell then always bake blind.  Use a piece of baking paper slightly bigger than the size of the tin.  Crumple it up and then flatten it out again.  Place it in the pastry case and add enough ceramic baking beans to cover the bottom of the pastry case.  You want enough weight from the baking beans to prevent the dough from puffing up during cooking.  If you can keep the pastry in contact with the hot tin whilst baking this will ensure even baking and a nice crisp shell.


For the printable version - click here

  • 225g plain flour
  • 115g butter
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 60ml cold water
  • pinch of salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 deg C.
  2. Cut the chilled butter into small blocks.
  3. Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
  4. Add the butter and using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. If the butter starts to melt then chill your mixture or run your hands under cold water before continuing.
  5. Mix in the beaten egg and water and combine with the flour mixture until it forms a stiff dough. Do not overwork the mixture.
  6. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.
  7. Using a floured surface roll the pastry out and place in the tin.
  8. Neaten the edge by running a knife round the top edge to remove excess pastry.
  9. Leave to rest for 30 minutes - this is not essential but will help to prevent the shell from shrinking when baking.       
  10. Bake blind (see notes above) for approximately 20 minutes.
  11. Remove baking beans and paper from pastry shell.
  12. Return pastry to oven for a further 5-10 minutes until dry to the touch.
  13. Your pastry case is now ready for filling or can be frozen at this point to be used at a later date.
If you are making a sweet tart or pie then use the same ingredients as above but add:
    75g icing sugar
to the flour and salt mixture and continue as above.



Friday, 8 February 2013


This week has been chocolate mousse week in my house much to the delight of my two little tasters.  I wanted to try and find a recipe that was easy, quick and above all else delicious.  My first choice was to try a recipe without eggs as I am always hesitant to use raw eggs when cooking for other people.  The worst result I had was a combination of mascarpone and melted chocolate.  It was thick, almost solid, and just too heavy.  Not an air bubble in sight.   I then went to the other extreme and tried the traditional method using butter, eggs and chocolate.  The result was good but it wasn’t quick and it was still a bit too heavy for me.  My last attempt was Raymond Blanc’s version which only uses 4 ingredients – egg whites, chocolate, a small amount of sugar and a drop of lemon juice.  It was super quick and after only 10 minutes in the fridge it was the perfect consistency.  It is light, deliciously tasty and not too heavy on the calories.  Perfect.  You have to make sure that your chocolate is completely melted before stirring into the egg white mixture and if you follow Raymond’s instructions the chocolate should not seize when mixed with the egg whites.  I used half the quantity (4 egg whites) and managed to get 3 of these espresso cups. This is not an overly sweet mousse – using only 20g of caster sugar to 4 eggs but both I and the kids loved it.  Hubby didn’t get a look in but with Valentine’s Day just round the corner I’m sure I can rustle up another batch.


Written by : Angela Darroch

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Sunday, 3 February 2013


No time to make a pudding? – 14 minutes from start to finish is all you need …..

It was while I was reading through the list of requirements for the Credit Crunch Munch Challenge that I remembered this super quick pudding that I used to make many (many) years ago.  It was back when microwaves were still quite fashionable and we used to cook a whole meal in about 12 minutes, unlike nowadays where we tend to use them more for reheating and defrosting food.  I had just started out on my own and only had a microwave and an electric frying pan with which to do all my cooking.  This lemon ‘ping’ pudding was a firm favourite both because it was so quick and it could be used so many different ways.  I don’t think you’d win any prizes for the best sponge pudding if you were to enter a competition but once you add a sauce over the top and serve with custard, cream or ice cream – well who cares about perfection. I’ve even cooked some apples with sugar and lemon juice, put them in the dish with the sponge mixture on top and cooked for 4 minutes to give me a super quick Eves Pudding.  Add some cocoa powder and chocolate and you have a quick chocolate pudding which is great with a bit of chocolate sauce over the top. It is also a really easy pudding for kids to make because they don’t have to use the oven and it’s ready before you’ve even had a chance to tidy up their mess. 

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 4 minutes
Total time: 14 minutes

Yield: 4 - 6

  • 100 g butter
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 100 g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 large eggs
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tblsp lemon curd
Cooking Directions
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and creamy.
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, vinegar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla and mix until well incorporated.
  3. Spoon into a microwave-proof baking dish.
  4. Microwave on High for 3 - 4 minutes until set and a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Leave to rest for 1 minute.
  6. Turn out onto a serving plate.
  7. Meanwhile, heat the lemon curd in the microwave for 30 seconds..
  8. Pour over the top of the sponge pudding and serve with vanilla ice cream.
As this pudding only takes 4 minutes to cook in the microwave I am going to enter it into the Credit Crunch Munch Challenge which is hosted by the lovely Camilla over at Fab food 4 All and Helen over at Fuss Free Flavours.

I have also used up some left over lemon curd (I had to check with Mrs Beeton to find out if this was a preserve) so I can enter the same pudding into the No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Kate over at Turquoise Lemons
As this is also a perfect pudding albeit not a very glamorous one I can enter it into the Tea Time Treats Challenge which is being hosted this month by Kate over at What Kate Baked and Karen over at Lavender and Lovage on alternate months.
Written by : Angela Darroch 

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