Plum cobbler

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Plum cobbler has been the only Lois recipe so far that didn’t work the first time. I used the cobbler recipe from Good Food, which resulted in a cobbler that wasn’t sweet enough and very heavy and scone-like. The second attempt used a recipe from Lois’ book Dinner at Home and produced a lighter and more biscuit-like cobbler topping. The plums bubbled up and formed a jammy-syrup around the cobbles of biscuit dough and looked quite frankly adorable. Most importantly, it tasted sensational; the plums slightly tart and topping had a shortcake quality to it. Sunday night pudding at its finest.

Lois’ original instructions are to roll out the dough, cut into shapes, and layer over the fruit. I don’t doubt that this would look lovely, however to my mind cobbler is in the same pudding genus as crumble, i.e. one that you can throw together at a moment’s pudding whim with a minimum of implements (and therefore dishes) involved. So I simplified things. Plus, with the effort saved on rolling the dough you’ll have time to run up to the dairy for ice cream.

Plum cobbler (adapted from Lois’ recipe in Dinner at Home)

Fruit:

8-10 red fleshed plums, cut in half and stones removed

2-3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon flour

Place fruit into a high-sided baking dish and sprinkle with flour and sugar. Put in 180°C oven and bake for 15 minutes while you make the cobbler topping.

Cobbler:

1 cup plain flour

1/2 cup sugar

100g butter

1 egg

Put all ingredients into a food processor and process until crumbly. Tip mixture into a bowl and knead with your fingers – you should be able to create clumps (cobbles, if you will) of dough that will stick together. Take these clumps and flatten them out slightly in your hands and arrange over the fruit in a fairly messy way with the cobbles overlapping and some bits of fruit sticking out. Neatness is not the point here. Put the cobbler back into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the cobbler topping is brown and the plums have bubbled jammy juice around the edges of the dish. Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Fresh cherry cake

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It’s a miracle that there were any cherries for this cake at all. The cherries that  I bought to use in this cake were particularly good: large, glossy and so tasty to eat just as they were. Lois’ fresh cherry cake seemed like a worthy cause for the remainder of the cherries (or simply as a way to stop me from scoffing the entire punnet).

Similar to a torte in that it is made with largely just eggs, sugar, and ground almonds, I imagine that this cake could be made gluten-free by using some fresh gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Lois’ fresh cherry cake has a sense of elegance to it and could be served as a dessert cake with whipped cream or mascarpone, or as a cake to have with coffee.

Fresh cherry cake (Good Food, p. 35)

6 free-range eggs

120g caster sugar

150g ground almonds

50g dark chocolate, grated

50g fresh white breadcrumbs

1-2 cups of fresh pitted cherries

icing sugar to dust on top

Preheat oven to 160°C and grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Separate the eggs. Using an electric beater, mix together the yolks and caster sugar until it turns thick, pale and has expanded in volume quite a bit. Fold in the almonds, chocolate, and breadcrumbs.

Clean the beaters thoroughly and then use them to whip the egg whites in a large clean bowl until stiff. Fold the egg whites through the mixture. Pour half of the mixture into the cake tin and arrange half of the cherries over the top; cover with the remaining mixture and arrange the rest of the cherries on top.

Bake for 55 minutes until the top has turned a lovely golden colour. Allow to cool before removing from the tin. Dust with icing sugar before you serve it.

Raspberry drenched chocolate cake

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This cake is being added to my regular cake repertoire. A raspberry-infused chocolate cake with a fudgy consistency but not so dense and rich that you can’t have a sneaky second slice.

When I mentioned this recipe to Lois, she wondered whether it might be more popular now than it was when she first published it, as the taste for dense, rich chocolate cakes has grown. As chocolate cakes go, this isn’t the most intense, mousse-like one you’ll find, but I think that it is one of the nicest.

This recipe is has a few stages and a number of bowls involved, but it’s not tricky. And totally worth it.

Raspberry drenched chocolate cake (Good Food, p.35)

Cake:

100g dark chocolate (I used Whittaker’s Dark Ghana 72%)

100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

3 free-range eggs

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/4 cup flour

raspberries for decorating

Raspberry purée:

1/2 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon orange or raspberry liqueur (I had some kirsch kicking about, so I used that)

To make the cake and puree:

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Butter and line a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Set up a double boiler: find a small to medium-sized pot and a glass bowl that will sit inside the pot with the edges of the bowl supported by the edge of the pot. Put just enough water into the pot so that the water doesn’t touch the bowl. Bring the water to a gentle simmer and then carefully place the bowl on top. Break the chocolate into chunks and place into the bowl. Stir until melted, then add the butter cubes and stir until shiny and smooth.

Prepare the purée by putting all three ingredients into a blender and blitzing until smooth. Scrap out of blender and push through a sieve into another bowl.

Now, back to the cake. Separate the eggs and place the yolks into a medium-sized mixing bowl and the whites into a large-sized bowl. Add 1/4 cup of caster sugar to the yolks and beat until thick and pale with a set of electric beaters. Pour in the chocolate and butter mixture and the raspberry purée. Sift the flour into this mixture next and stir until combined.

Clean the beaters thoroughly and whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of caster sugar and beat until glossy. Fold the egg whites, a spoonful at a time, through the chocolate mixture – you want to keep the mixture light and airy but fully incorporate the egg whites with no lumps. Pour batter into the cake tin and bake for 30 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin.

Chocolate glaze:

100g dark chocolate

45g butter

2 tablespoons more of the same liqueur you used in the raspberry purée

Set up your double boiler again and melt the chocolate. Add the cubes of butter and mix until smooth. Add the liqueur and remove the bowl from the double boiler. Once the cake has cooled, carefully pour the glaze over the cake and decorate the top with fresh raspberries.

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Apricot Bretonne

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Apricot bretonne is undoubtedly the recipe to start this blog. Mum’s copy of Good Food falls open at this page; the spine slightly cracked and the page splotched with buttery fingers and annotated with mum’s handwritten note: ‘excellent’. And it really is. This is one of the very best summer desserts in my opinion. A tender, crumbly shortcake topped with tangy, melted apricots sprinkled with cinnamon. You can’t improve upon this; it’s already perfection.

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Apricot Bretonne (Lois Daish, Good Food, p.33)

120g flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

120g butter, cut into smallish cubes

60g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

8 apricots

sugar & cinnamon

First off, make the cake dough, which needs to rest in the fridge for half an hour before you use it. Put the flour, baking powder and butter into the bowl of a food processor and process until the butter is finely chopped and dispersed through the flour. Add the sugar and process again. Now add the egg yolk and process until the mixture starts to clump together. Cut a piece of cling film and lay it flat on the bench, then tip the cake dough onto this. Form the dough into a wrapped-up ball by bringing the corners of the cling film together. Put the dough in the fridge to rest.

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 20cm round loose-bottomed tin with baking paper. Prepare the apricots by cutting in half and removing the stones. Once the dough has rested, push it into the base of the tin – it doesn’t need to be smooth, but ensure it’s an even-ish thickness. Place the apricots on top, cut-side down, and sprinkle over cinnamon and caster sugar. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until golden brown. Eat the bretonne while it’s still warm with vanilla ice cream.

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