More bribes for my brother: mac and cheese

I know it sounds like whenever I cook for my brother it is a bribe, this is really not true. No it isn’t. This time it was only part-bribe to let us play videogames when we visited his apartment, and part-thank you for letting us stay in said apartment.

A thank you that I hope lasted at least 4 days, as it was in danger of being finished within one sitting. Please don’t eat 500g of pasta in one sitting, it somehow seems a little scary. Imagine a pasta-monster, and by that I mean a human-sized macaroni with arms and legs. Scary, right? Don’t do it. Even though the mac and cheese is tasty enough to.

Anyway this was a pretty easy recipe which I later passed on to my bro (I was expecting it to be much harder!)

Pasta monster's lair

Easy Mac & Cheese

Adapted from the Kitchn

  • Note the basic ratio of milk to cheese is around 1:1.5 to 1:2, with a couple of tablespoons of flour (any type – corn or normal). 

A 500g bag of pasta – small shapes are better because they hold the sauce
1.5 cups milk
2 – 3 cups cheese – cubed is fine, or grated, it just needs to melt.
2 tablesp flour – corn or all purpose
0.5 – 1 teasp black pepper, to taste
Salt to taste
A dash of chilli flakes
Mix-ins:  see below. I used leeks and lamb sausage.

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Warm 1 cup milk over medium heat in a pot.
    Mix flour into the remaining ½ cup of milk
    When steam starts to rise from the hot milk in the pot, pour in the rest of the flour-milk mixture.
    Whisk / stir until it thickens to the consistency of cream / custard.
  3. Drop the heat to low.
    Stir in the cheese, pepper, salt, and chilli flakes. Mix until all the cheese is melted.
    Taste and season as needed.
  4. Turn off the heat and dump all the pasta + additional mix-ins into the pot.
    Stir well until the sauce coats the pasta.
    (Eating can start here J )
  5. Optional: Put into an oven proof dish and top with more cheese – parmesan works nicely.
    Put it in a toaster oven / oven at around 200 deg C for 20 minutes or so until the cheese topping crusts and browns.

Mix-ins:

In terms of mix-ins, I added the following:

  • Leeks
    • Wash leeks. Slice and fry in a little oil until soft and a little charred at the edges.
  • Lamb sausages
    • Fry lamb sausages and slice. Set aside.

You can really add anything you like though.

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A prettier pie than previously anticipated

Or is it a galette? I don’t know what the rules are for naming pies. It is in a pastry. Therefore, it is a pie. Feel free to elucidate if you know the pie-rules. Don’t report me to the pielice (get it, pie-lice/po-lice?) Let’s leave it on that terribly embarrassing note and proceed to the recipe, shall we?

This is a pretty flexible recipe. The only requirement is that the filling is dry and solid enough that it is able to stand by itself in the centre of the puff pastry and not leak out. And the smoked cheese really adds something. By adding something, I mean in the sense of fancy food bloggers “oh my goodness, it really adds a special something!!!” as opposed to the view that, of course, if you add cheese then you are adding ‘something’, i.e. cheese, to the pie.

I think this is one of the tastiest pies I’ve made so far, and it tasted awesome over the next 4 days as cold lunch. If you want to crisp up the pastry again, reheat it in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes.

Soon to be pie See ugly folding - but it didn't fall apart! Isn't it pretty

Seafood Leek Smoked Cheese Galette 

1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg
2 handfuls of grated smoked cheese – I only had enough for 1 handful, so I used a second handful of cheddar
1 handfuls mixed seafood
2 small fillets of fish
3 large leeks
1 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablesp sugar
1-2 teasp black pepper
A pinch of salt
A dash of chilli flakes

1 egg + a splash of milk for the eggwash

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C

  1. Slice the leeks and fry over medium heat with a little oil until soft. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar, and continue to heat until the leeks caramelise slightly on the edges.
  2. Mix the egg, cheese, leek, salt, pepper, and chilli flakes – reserve a couple of tablespoons of cheese for later. Add the mixed seafood.
  3. Place the puff pastry on a sheet of baking paper, and scoop the pie filling into the centre of the sheet of pastry. Leave around 2 inch clearance on each side of the filling.
  4. Cut the fillets into strips, and place on top of the filling, skin up (if the fillets have skin).
  5. Fold up the edges of the puff pastry into a pie shape, starting with one corner and working around until all sides are folded up. Take a look at the picture above for an idea of how to fold it up.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the assembled pie. Rub a little eggwash (egg mixed with milk) on the exposed puff pastry.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, until the pie is a nice golden colour.

Ode to pie

Everyone likes pie. Do you like pie? I like pie.

Far too cutesy pie beads

Pie is not really a thing that one can say no to. And today, in the silence of the still morning, amongst the clackings of my keyboard, I suddenly decided: I want pie.

Why? Does pie need a why? One can never deny the pie.

* end of self indulgent poorly written rhyming *

Pre-caramelised leek Post-caramelised leek

Also, I work from home at present and so I can do these odd things like make pie in the middle of the day. Of course, that means I am back here at the computer working at midnight. Very clever. The sacrifices we make for pie, sigh. (Pie? Sigh? Geddit? snigger snigger)

Hello pie!

Caramelised Leek and Feta Pie with Zaatar Crust

I had leeks in the fridge so cobbled something together. I didn’t like the pie crust I used, and will update the recipe when I find one that I do like.

3 leeks
2 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1 tablesp sugar
Approx 1/2 cup feta, cut into small cubes
3 eggs
150ml milk
Black pepper

1 portion of your favourite savoury pie dough + 1 tablespoon zaatar

  1. When you make your pie dough, add the zaatar to the flour and then continue to prepare the pie crust as per normal. 
  2. Slice the leeks so they are approx 3cm long each. Stand them all up in a frying pan. Pour over a little oil and fry them standing up that way for 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
  3. Slosh the vinegar into the pan, and wait for a couple of minutes so it drys a little. Then sprinkle in the salt.
  4. If you want, gently flip all the little leek cylinders upside down, so both sides char. The easiest way to do this is with a pair of chopsticks, in my opinion
  5. When cooked (and the pie crust is ready to be filled), arrange in the pie crust and place cubes of feta between the bits of leek.
  6. Whisk the eggs and milk together. Pour over the leeks into the pie crust.
  7. Bake for around 15-20 minutes until browned. Use the same temperature as required by your pie crust.

Dreams of Plum Ice Cream

Apologies up front – I don’t have a picture of the final ice cream.

Sorry. I took it to a friend’s house, and was late and too busy eating, and even managed to get a nice warmed spoon out to scoop it on to a plate in that nice egg-like shape. And then I forgot to take the picture. I also forgot to scoop it nicely but that’s another story.

So all you have is this measly process photo.

Plum + Cream

What to do, right? Make it yourself. Pretend it looks as good as that indulgent picture of cream and plum puree looks. Dream about if for a couple of days (yes I did that)

I have tried many times to make ice cream, and even took an ice cream course at Tom’s Palette in Singapore. My one and only cooking class, yays.

I have never been able to reproduce the results at home. Even though ice cream is one of my favourite things. I probably like a good ice cream better than cake (gasp). It is a gift that keeps giving, patiently waiting for you in the freezer until you need it most. Cake is fickle, it goes dry and weird after a few days. But, alas. No ice cream-making luck so far.

Until this day!

A whole new world of ice cream has opened up. Beware friends, fatness beckons.

Also – I don’t have an ice cream maker, only a food processor with a strong engine (hello, Rambo ;)). Hooray for multi-purpose appliances! If you saw the size of my kitchen, you’d understand.

Plum Ice Cream

Basic recipe adapted from A Canadian Foodie‘s rhubarb ice cream, various proportions edited. 

Plum puree

Will give you excess puree – eat it with yoghurt for breakfast 🙂

6~8 plums
4 tablesp sugar – or to taste

  1. Whizz the plums in a food processor to break them down.
  2. Add the sugar, and cook at around medium-high heat in a pan for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Add more sugar to taste. 
  3. When the consistency and sweetness is as you like, return to the food processor and blitz until the puree isn’t lumpy anymore. Cool and set aside. 

Ice cream

6 large egg yolks
1 cup of milk – I used skinny, that’s all I had that day
115g sugar
1/4 teasp salt
1.5 cups plum puree
1.25 cups heavy cream

  1. Heat the milk, sugar, and salt in a pot, until it warms up to around 50 degrees (a bit too hot to touch, but not very hot). Stir regularly. 
  2. Add the egg yolks, one by one. Turn up the heat a bit to medium, and keep stirring for about 15 minutes. You want to get the custard to set a bit – if you dip in a wooden spoon, it will coat the back of it. And if you swipe your finger across the coated spoon, the streak where you swiped your finger will stay clear of custard (I’ll take pictures next time, promise)
  3. Mix the plum into the cream.
  4. Strain the custard into the plum-cream, and whisk until it cools down. Or stick it in the fridge. Mix it again by hand when it’s cool.
  5. Put it in the freezer in a metal container for around 45 minutes. After that, remove and blitz in the food processor on a high speed, until creamy-looking.
  6. Freeze again, 6 hours up until over night. Then cut it into pieces and process again until creamy.
  7. Freeze again for a couple of hours before eating.

 

 

Warm Stomach Hugs and Dessert for Breakfast

Don't you feel healthier just looking at this

A rather healthy recipe for this blog. Let’s discuss how this came to be.

  1. Christmas + trip to Thailand + Chinese New Year in quick succession = constant, consistant overeating since mid December. Yeah right, I’m not the type to diet. But I am the type to eat lots and lots of heavy tasty healthy things to prevent myself from eating cookies / cake.
  2. I have been working from home for the last month and working at home means that I take a trip to the fridge every hour. At least. Last week I restless-ate a whole box of cereal in 3 days. Granted, it was Special K (with berries!) so supposedly “healthy” but seriously, have you ever looked at the sugar content in that stuff? Also, polishing off 2 boxes of cereal per week is a rather expensive habit. That’s by calculation, FYI. I didn’t actually eat 2 boxes of cereal.

This necessitated the creation of a heavy and hearty (yet still tasty) breakfast to keep me super duper full, that doesn’t cost loads. I also need to be able to munch on it throughout the day without getting bored and switching to cereal / gingerbread / chocolate chip cookies.

On a side note, how is anyone able to keep such a large stash of biscuits in the house uneaten for so long??? Bigfoot will soon learn of my biscuit-munching ways, to his peril.

I never knew the difference a good peeler made

Enter baked oatmeal.

My house smelled amazing for the one hour this was in the toaster oven. Yes, I just moved house, and haven’t figured out how to work the proper oven yet. No cakes from me for a bit.

*hugs*

It's what's on the inside that counts

No beauty queen, I’ll admit. I should have covered it with foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

But, it tastes like an apple pie and feels like a big warm hug to the stomach.

Dessert for breakfast and warm stomach hugs, what more do you need to ease yourself into the cruel early light of each morning?

Update: I’ve already eaten 1/8 of this over the course of the evening… suffice to say it is super filling, I’m truly stuffed.

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Raisins

Inspired by the recipes of Brown Eyed Baker, Eat-Yourself-Skinny, and Chocolate Covered Katie. I didn’t follow any of their recipes, mine is a much-streamlined version of theirs. But they gave me the right idea. 

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups milk
2.5 tablesp brown sugar
1 egg
3 red apples, diced – can be substituted for pretty much any fruit, except super watery ones
1/2 cup raisins – or nuts, or other types of dried fruit, or chocolate chips….endless possibilities
1/2 teasp baking soda

  1. Mix everything up in a big bowl.
  2. I baked mine in the toaster oven: 200 degrees C for around an hour (mine took an hour + 5 minutes). Cover with foil for the last 10 minutes or so once the desired charred-ness is achieved.

Reheat for a couple of minutes in the toaster oven at 200 degrees C to crisp up before eating.

A note on toaster ovens: apparently, toaster ovens lose heat faster than normal ovens so when making this in a regular oven, try 190 degrees C for 45 minutes to start with. Will test and update when I get the oven working!

Gong Xi Fatt Cake

Among other things, Chinese New Year means that people come over and there needs to be food around. Lots of food. 

*takes a bow*

At some point, you or whoever else is ordering the the food will forget exactly how much food they ordered – this happens, it’s normal, and you shouldn’t panic. You definitely ordered enough food.

Despite this, you will still end up making an extra dessert. Extra dessert is always welcome. Especially when it’s the first year you have to give out angpau, and you need a little consolation in the form of cream cheese.

Cream cheese heals all wounds

Yes, that’s two pictures of the orange flower. I’m just a little bit proud of myself 🙂 (context: I’m the least artistic person on the planet)

I have omitted the process pictures, in which I dropped the baking tin on the cake. My baking tin is metal = heavy. This resulted in a really really big dent in the middle of the cake. Like I said, there is nothing that cream cheese icing can’t solve.

Vanilla Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Icing and Orange “Flower”

Vanilla Cake

Adapted from Hummingbird Cupcakes’ vanilla cupcake recipe, and quadrupled. 

I like this particular vanilla cake recipe a lot, because it’s one bowl with very few steps, and results in a really light and springy cake (and I don’t even like vanilla cake much, it’s boring!)

480g all purpose flour – I have used gluten free with this recipe before
400g caster sugar
160g butter, softened
480ml milk
4 eggs
3 teasp vanilla essence
6 teasp baking powder
1 teasp of salt

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C
Yield: a two layer square monster, 9″

  1. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter until the mixture looks sandy. Or, you can use the rub-in method.
  2. Pour in half the milk, and beat until just combined.
  3. Drop in the milk, egg, and vanilla essence. Mix until just smooth, try not to overmix or it’ll be chewy.
  4. Split into two square tins. Fill only 1/2 to 1/3 full, this cake rises a lot!
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until light golden brown, and sponge bounces back when touched. I’d start checking at 35 minutes for done-ness.

Cream Cheese Orange Icing

Adapted from BraveTart’s SMB though it isn’t really SMB anymore given that I used whole eggs. The yolk / white wastage makes me sad, so I only do SMB or Faux French if I have leftover egg parts.

I know it’s a pain, but weigh everything really well okay? Even the egg. I ended up creating an excel sheet to calculate weights based on the weight of the egg parts…super nerd with bad mental maths. Let me know if you want it.

300g whole eggs – this was 3 eggs for me
300g castor sugar
490g butter, softened + cubed
490g cream cheese, softened + cubed
1/2 teasp salt
Zest of 4 oranges – the ones used below for decor

  1. Beat eggs into sugar and salt, until the egg whips up.
  2. Heat over a water bath until it steams, approx 150 degrees C. I just look for steam, I don’t have a thermometer. Whisk continuously!
  3. Once it steams quite regularly, remove and beat until the mixture doubles in volume. Another test for this is to put some between your fingers, and see whether you can feel sugar crystals.
  4. Keep beating until it gets cool, otherwise stick it in the fridge for some time until it gets back to room temperature.
  5.  Once it hits room temperature, dump in the butter and whisk until smooth.
  6. Now you can add your flavourings – namely cream cheese and orange zest. Beat all of them in until smooth, but don’t over mix or the cream cheese will go runny.

Note: my icing didn’t hold well up in the heat after a while, so I might try adding some white chocolate next time to attempt to stabilise it a bit. Suggestions welcome.

Build the beast

About 4 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented. Be careful not to break the sacs!

  1. Peel and set aside mandarin oranges, after breaking into segments. Leave them on a sheet of kitchen paper, so that all the juices get soaked up and the segments don’t drip all over your icing.
  2. Slather icing between, and on top of all sides of the two stacked cakes. Cool in the fridge in between coats if like me, your icing is a bit drippy.
  3. Arrange the oranges in a pretty flower pattern, and place this (piece by piece, unfortunately) on top of the cake.

Tiny Tasty People

Apart from ginger flavoured baked products, my other favourite thing about Christmas is that it is socially acceptable to eat tiny baked people.

I feel that eating such people head first is the kindest way, because it ensures a clean and quick end to their misery, and is also the weakest point of the biscuit.

Squishy sogginess It was too squishy to make into a single ball

Given how I feel about this, you’d think I would be the first to blog about the spiciest gingerbread (people) biscuits, but the fact is that I haven’t yet found a homemade gingerbread biscuit that I liked. I enjoy eating gingerbread biscuits that other people have made, but if I’m going to make them myself, I want something really dark and spicy. And crisp, not cakey or chewy. So, in lieu of gingerbread people, I get my eating-tiny-people fix from other other baked goods.

But. As with all baked goods requiring the use of cutters, mince pies are a pain in the behind.

Yes that's a koala. My bookmark. Yes, that's the hobbit. I'm going to watch the movie this weekend (in 3d!)

First you mix up the crust dough, then you chill it. Then you take it out and roll it a bit. It refuses to cooperate and sticks to the table because you used too little flour on the surface and it’s warm outside. You put it back in the fridge. Repeat this about 6 to 8 times, and you will feel how I feel about making biscuit cutter snacks.

I think it’s something about Christmas, I magically forget every year what complete bullocks these types of foods are to make and how they take 3 hours or more and how I get so sweaty and angry that I very seriously consider feeding the remainder of the raw dough to my dog (try not to do that, it might not be good for dogs depending on what you’ve made).

These are the standard (larger) pies

I suspect it’s because I usually freeze my mince pies after baking them earlier in December, so by the time I get to eat them on Christmas day, I have forgotten how much the process of making them irritated me.

Pretending to be an angry cannibal, ginger spice, and Christmas. Some things in life just go together.

And these are the mini pies. Meet the Fat Man and Spooky Lady

Christmas Mince Pies

Crust adapted from the Patchwork Apple Pie recipe (doubled).

2 jars of mince pie filling – I used Robertsons, vegetarian and alcohol free
1 small red apple – the addition of apples is my way of bulking up the mince pie filling
1 small green apple

500g flour – I used gluten free
100g sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
Pinch of salt
250g butter – cold and cubed
2 large eggs

Extra flour for rolling
Egg wash – an egg beaten with a little milk
Copious amounts of patience
A cup of tea – to prolong aforementioned patience

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C, for half an hour
Yield: 36 mince pies – I had 24 large and 12 slightly smaller pies, as well as a little family of shortcrust people

  1. Sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the lemon zest.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the butter cubes and flour mixture until the texture of the mixture looks like sand.
  3. Turn out into a bowl. Directly crack in the 2 eggs, and use your hands to get everything to stick together. You have to keep going for a quite a bit, I realise last time I probably stopped a bit early which is why my dough never came together.
  4. Cover dough and put it in the fridge to firm up.
  5. Peel and core your apples. Cut them into 8ths, then slice those 8ths into thin strips. Mix into the mince pie filling in a big bowl.
  6. Flour a surface and roll out your dough. You need quite a lot of flour because it’s a bit sticky, watch out!
  7. Use a round biscuit cutter / your mother’s fancy dinner party wine glass to cut out rounds. Put each into a hole in a greased cupcake tray and press in.
  8. Spoon in a little mince pie filling / apple mixture.
  9. Use a fun cutter to cut out the pie cover, and carefully place it on top of the filling. It doesn’t need to touch the sides of the pie, or be crimped or anything complicated. I used stars, hearts, trees, fat men, and spooky ladies. I have squirrel and snail cutters somewhere too but I couldn’t find them.
  10. Dab with egg wash, and stick it in the oven for half an hour.
  11. Cool in the cupcake tray.

Notes: freezes well in an airtight box layered with baking paper.

Happy unsuspecting pastry family

A Little Pudd, Luv?

I like Christmas pudding. But my mum is wheat intolerant, and I generally don’t like the taste of anything with brandy / alcohol in it. So suffice to say the dramatic flaming of the pudding is not my favourite part, I prefer the part in which I steal a slice of hot pudding prior to the flaming, then drown it in clotted cream and stuff my face until I feel sick. Then I repeat this 2 hours later (with the second slice I preemptively pinched). And then again, after dinner.

Lumpy plumpy

I haven’t had Christmas pudding for a good many years, because it’s rather difficult to find a pudding that is both brandy-less and wheat free. Even if it was an either-or situation, it would be a pushing it a little.

I was also under the mistaken impression that Christmas pudding was an extremely involved process. I was happy to be proven wrong on that score.

The only part I was (very) apprehensive of was the steaming. Then the pudding looked scary, so I gave up and zapped the thing in the microwave for 5 minutes to finish it.

At this point I got scared and started microwavin'

In line with *cough my own new* tradition, I added a pudding star. What is a pudding star? Well, I made it up. Out of necessity. I grew up listening to stories about how the little boy found a 6-pence in his slice of pudding, and how that was supposed to be lucky. I was not amused to find out that it isn’t a good idea to put coins in puddings anymore, because of all the weird alloys in them that might leach chemicals into the pudd. Hence, the pudding star – a beautiful shining star made of tinfoil. Origami, no less. Perhaps one year I shall make a little tinfoil crane.

The Pudding Star!!

I hope I don’t choke anyone with it.

Anyway, now Mr Pudd has been wrapped up and stuffed in the freezer until Christmas day. Upon which, I shall microwave him briefly, and serve him hot. With cream.

Mr Pudd

Rich Christmas Pudding 

Adapted from Be-Ro  Flour, 37th Edition

100g self raising flour – I used gluten free
100g raisins
100g sultanas
100g currents
50g mixed peel
100g brown sugar
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 teasp nutmeg powder
1 teasp mixed spice powder
75g grated frozen butter – originally suet..which sounded a little too hard to get hold of

2 eggs
2 tablesp milk

Pudding star, or some other similarly cute inert metallic object

  1. Mix everything on the ingredients list from the flour down to the butter in a bowl.
  2. Drop in the milk and eggs, and mix well until everything is combined into a gloopy mess.
  3. Grease a bowl, and put a little square of baking paper in the bottom to prevent stickage.
  4. Pour everything into the bowl. Hide the pudding star in the batter somewhere.
  5. Cover with a square of baking paper, then seal with tinfoil.
  6. Steam for 2 and a half hours. You probably need more like 3 hours, and the original recipe says 10 hours. I got fed up after 2 and a half, so I removed the tinfoil and zapped the baking-paper-covered-pudding bowl in the microwave for 5 minutes or so.
  7. Let it cool a bit, then flip it upside down to get the pudding out. Wrap in cling film and freeze, or eat if you are the clever type that makes such a time consuming monstrosity on Christmas day itself.

Reheating instructions: you can either put it back in the bowl, cover again with baking paper + tinfoil and steam for half an hour to an hour, OR, you can stick it in the microwave for 2 minutes.

A note on raisins and other dried fruity bits – I couldn’t get all of these separately (and also it would have cost a bomb!). So I used a bag of mixed raisins and peel. The proportions were roughly similar to those in the recipe.  Perhaps not the most traditional, but it turned out alright.

Cake Addiction Centre: Patient “Gingerbread”

Welcome to the Cake Addiction Centre (CAC). My name is Lea and my weakness is gingerbread.

As you roam these halls you will see many victims of Cake Addiction. CAC takes care of them all – chocolate fudge, orange, berry, banana choc chip, double chocolate, peanut butter, red velvet, coconut cream, apple, custard, dark chocolate, coffee, pineapple upside down, even carrot cake addicts.

Chocolate cake takes a good many of our people. Good people. Our biggest threats are dark chocolate ganache, and cream cheese icing.

Gingerbread? No, gingerbread isn’t one of our most common addictions here at CAC. I may well be the only gingerbread inmate here at the moment. They usually allow us to conduct the guided tours because we are the most peaceful addicts. Some of them like to fight, especially those addicted to peanut butter or pineapple upside down cake.

What am I doing here, you might ask?

I ate a quarter of a sheet cake in one afternoon. Another sixth after dinner. And another quarter at breakfast the next day. After less than 24 hours, this is what was left of the cake. Suffice to say this cake did not see a second sunrise.

Oops..

I don’t have a picture of the whole cake. I could not control myself. I feel so ashamed.

Gingerbread

Adapted from the Be-Ro Flour Cookbook, 37th edition. Spicy spicy gingerbread and gingerbread people are some of my favourite things about Christmas (apart from mince pies, and crab. Yes, crab). You know how I feel about chilli. Don’t say you haven’t been warned about the possible level of spiciness. I might try adding fresh ginger, if so I’ll update the recipe.

300g flour
6 teasp ginger powder
3 teasp mixed spice powder
1 teasp cinnamon
1 1/2 teasp bicarb of soda
75g brown sugar
150g margarine – softened
225g black treacle
75g golden syrup
190ml milk
3 eggs
75g raisins / sultanas / currents

Oven temperature: 150 degrees C, for 1 1/4 hours. This is 1.5x the original recipe because I like my gingerbread thick and moist, so you might even need a little longer in the oven.

  1. Sift flour, ginger, spice, cinnamon, bicarb of soda, and sugar together. Throw the raisins in here too.
  2. Whisk together the margarine, treacle, and golden syrup.
  3. Add the milk and whisk again.
  4. Beat the eggs into the liquids.
  5. Mix the liquids into the flour.
  6. Pour it into a square cake tin, and bake for around 1 1/4 hours.

Possible pairings: orange honey cream cheese icing (if you insist on icing – I’ll post this recipe in a bit). Totally not necessary, I’m a purist and would be very unlikely to ice my gingerbread.

To try next time:

  • Add a couple of tablespoons of fresh grated ginger
  • Perhaps a teaspoon of black pepper?

Patchwork Apple Pie

Egg wash covers a multitude of sins, and when you’re down to your last egg and making your mum’s birthday pie, forgo tomorrow’s breakfast and just use it on the pie.

Naked apples

Especially if said pie was set to be named disaster-pie rather than patchwork-pie, because for some reason, you didn’t figure out how to roll out the pastry properly. And it wouldn’t go hard, even in the freezer. Tasted good raw though.

You can't see how I wrestled with the crust - I won!

Despite my fiddling, the pie filling turned out really very well – just a little tart. I like it best that way, though other sweet teeth (sweet tooths? No, I think sweet teeth is better) were slightly less than impressed. Too bad, if you want more it sweeter, make your own pie *blows raspberries*

Patchwork pie!

We ate it with cream, and custard (those were the options, not both at the same time).

See what I mean about covering up imperfections?

Patchwork Apple Pie 

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s apple pie, I changed the filling a bit. On a side note, I don’t usually make a lot of Jamie Oliver’s recipes as I’ve always found them rather complicated, but this one is great – he provides step by step instructions, with pictures. I’d totally recommend heading over to his website for that (I recorded it here to capture my minor changes to the filling).

Pastry

250g flour – gluten free works fine here
50g sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
125g cold butter, cubed
1 large egg
A little milk, if needed

  1. Pulse flour, sugar, zest, and butter together in a food processor. Keep going until it looks like sand.
  2. Add the egg, and a little milk if the dough doesn’t come together when you mix further. You may or may not need the milk, depending on the size of the egg.
  3. Put the dough in the fridge for a bit while you make the filling.

Filling

3 green apples – I used granny smith, they were quite small
4 red apples – I used pink lady/braeburn (I think?), again quite small
3 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablesp black treacle – molasses would work too
1/2 teasp ground ginger
1/2 teasp cinnamon
Zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
A handful of raisins – I used close to half a cup

  1. Peel, core, and slice the apples. I cut mine into 1/8th segments.
  2. Put the apples and all other ingredients in a pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the apples just start to soften.
  3. Set aside to cool while you sort out the pastry.

Assembly

1 egg, beaten
Butter for greasing
Flour for rolling

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C

  1. Flour a work surface. Take half the dough out the fridge, and roll it out. Carefully lift the dough into the bottom of a (buttered) pie plate. If you’re useless like me, and use slightly soft butter, you may need to dump it directly into the pie plate and press it out until the dough covers the bottom and sides of the plate.
  2. In go the apples – don’t just drop them in though, you will get holes in your crust. Be gentle!
  3. Take the other half of the dough out the fridge, and roll it out on the floured surface. Try to get it large enough to cover the pie. Lift it on top of the pie. Try not to break it. I didn’t manage this…so I made little coin shaped flat bits with my fingers and tried to get them all to stick together over the apples, like a jigsaw puzzle. As you can see, it works relatively decently. “Rustic”, I believe it is called.
  4. Brush on the beaten egg. If you managed to place your pastry on top of the pie in a single piece, cut a couple of holes in the centre of it so the steam can escape. I did not need to do this.
  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is brown and firm.