baking, celebration, christmas, desserts, food blogging, food photography, pastry

Christmas Tart

Christmas Tart
A moist tart full of festive fruit and topped with a light sponge. Encased in a crisp buttery pastry.

A moist tart that is an ideal Christmas treat. With lashings of moist fruit, soft sponge and a crisp sweet pastry, it won’t last long. It makes a wonderful alternative to a rich Christmas pudding and will accompany a freshly brewed pot of tea…to a tee. Simply decorated, with a glazed top and glittery fondant stars it creates a stylish looking pastry.

Ingredients: (Makes 10″ tart)

250g plain flour. Extra for rolling dough.
156g chilled butter – cut into cubes.
62g caster sugar.
84g egg – approx’ 1 1/2 eggs.
1/2 tsp salt.

Fruit filling:
50g raisins.
100g sultanas.
50g veg’ suet.
25g mixed peel.
50g soft dark brown sugar.
50ml brandy.
1 tsp mixed spice.
Juice of 1/2 orange and all the zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon and all the zest.

Jam for tart base:
3 dessert spoons of ginger jam/preserve for base of the tart.

60g self raising flour – sieved.
50g ground almonds.
1 tsp mixed spice.
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon.
2 beaten eggs – at room temp.
1tsp vanilla extract.
100g caster sugar.
100g soft butter.

Apricot Glaze:
3 dessert spoons of apricot jam.
2 tabls of water.

50g of fondant easy roll icing. Rolled to 3mm thickness and cut into star
shapes with cutter.
Edible glitter spray – lightly spray each star.


Fruit filling:
Mix all the ingredients together. Leave to macerate for 24 hours in a cool place.

Beat the egg and sugar together until well mixed – set aside.
Add the salt to the flour.
Rub the butter into the flour to create a crumb texture.
Once all the butter has been rubbed into the flour add the egg and sugar mix.
Combine all ingredients into a dough, wrap in cling film and chill for several hours.
Note: This dough is quite sticky, so use a little extra flour to bring it all together. Refrigerate for several hours before rolling.
Once chilled, roll out and line a 10″, loose bottomed, flan tin. Pop your lined flan tin in the refrigerator to chill. Set aside.

Combine the flour, ground almonds and spices. Set aside.
Cream the butter and the sugar.
Gradually mix the beaten egg into the creamed butter and sugar . (Note: Eggs at room temp’ will lessen the risk of splitting when mixed with the butter. If your mix starts to split before all the egg has been added – mix in a couple of tabls’ of the flour mix.)
Add all the flour mix to the butter mix. Combine, thoroughly, with a balloon whisk. Set aside.

Preparing the tart for baking:
Set oven to gas 5 or 190°C / 375°F
With your fruit macerated, flan tin lined with pastry and the sponge mix made, it’s time to prepare the tart for baking. Place your lined flan tin on a baking tray.
Firstly, spread a layer of ginger jam over the base of your flan. (see image)
Next, drain any liquid from the macerated fruit mix. Put a layer of the drained fruit mix on top of the jam layer. (see image)
Finally add the sponge layer over the fruit. (see image)
Bake on the lower middle shelf for 35-45 mins’. The tart is cooked when the middle of the sponge is firm to touch. After 35 mins’, give the centre of the sponge a light press with your finger. If the sponge is firm and springs back up after lifting your finger – it’s baked. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Time to prepare the apricot glaze.

Apricot glaze:
In a pan, slowly heat up the apricot jam and water to a, simmering, runny consistency.
Sieve the glaze to remove any apricot bits.
Now spoon the hot apricot glaze over the top of your hot tart.
Leave the tart to cool in the flan tin.

Turn out your cooled tart and decorate with glittery fondant stars.
Serve generous slices with whipped cream.

food blogging, food photography, steak pie, steak pudding,

Baked Steak and Madeira Pudding with a Cauliflower and Mustard Purée.

steak pudding
Baked Steak and Madeira Pudding.

Steak pudding is a British classic. It can be baked, as in this recipe, or steamed.
Fit for any high class ‘gastropub’ this meaty main, with a rich gravy, will not disappoint.
Served with a cauliflower and mustard purée, roasted fennel, sweet shallots, Girolle mushrooms and a side of chunky fries.

Ingredients: (makes four puddings)

Beef Filling:
400g diced stewing beef.
50g seasoned flour.
500ml beef stock.
100ml madeira wine.
2-3 tbls olive oil.
1/2 onion – chopped.
3 button mushrooms – halved and sliced.
15cm stick of celery diced.
1 bay leaf.
1 tsp fresh thyme.
1 tsp fresh parsley.
Seasoning – salt and black pepper.

4 small pickled gherkins – diced. Set aside for later.

Suet Pastry:
350g self raising flour.
75g butter.
100g veg’ suet.
1 level tsp salt.
150ml cold water.
Extra flour for rolling out dough.
Extra butter for greasing moulds.

Roasted Shallots:
12 shallots – peeled.
Drizzle of olive oil.
1 dessert spoon of sugar.
Tip: Trim the root end, don’t remove it, as the shallots will fall apart when roasting. You want them to keep there shape.

Cauliflower and Mustard Purée:
1/2 cauliflower – cut in to florets.
Drizzle of olive oil.
2 tsps of English or French mustard.
Juice of 1/2 lemon.

Roast Fennel:
1 fennel bulb – sliced.
Drizzle of olive oil.
2 tsps dried Marjoram.

Girolle Mushrooms:
20 Girolle mushrooms. Brush off any dirt and remove any stork ends that are blemished. Don’t wash them.
Knob of butter.
Squeeze of lemon.

Chunky Fries:
3-4 potatoes cut in to chunky fries.
Vegetable oil for deep frying.

Fresh Fennel Herb and Thyme to garnish. Or just use fresh parsley.


Steak Filling:
Set oven to Gas 4 or 180°C/350°F.
Coat your diced Steak in the seasoned flour – set aside.
In a sauté pan, soften and lightly brown the onion, button mushroom and celery in 1 tabls of oil. Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside.
Using the same pan add another tabls of olive oil and brown your seasoned steak.
Note: If the pan becomes dry add another tablespoon of olive oil.
When the steak has browned add the Madeira wine and flame to burn off the alcohol.
Tip: At arms length, tilt pan toward flame so that the Madeira catches light – be careful, as the flame will initially be vigorous before the alcohol burns off.
Now add the stock, herbs and seasoning. Stir and bring the contents of the pan to a simmer, pop on a lid and place in the oven for 2 hours to cook – or until the meat is tender.
When the meat is cooked, now in a rich gravy, remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Suet Pastry:
In a bowl mix the flour, suet and salt.
Now rub in the chilled butter until dispersed into the flour mix.
Add the water and combine in to a dough.
Now line the individual pudding/dariole moulds. I used 8cm x 5cm moulds.
Firstly, grease your moulds with butter.
Divide pastry in to four portions.
On a floured surface, roll out each portion of the dough to a 20cm circle. (see image)_V2A7660
Line each, greased, mould with a pastry circle. Press the pastry in to the bottom and around the sides of each mould. Remove any air pockets in the base. (see image)
Trim off excess pastry and set aside to make pastry lids. (see image)
Now roll out trimmed pastry portions to 15cm circles. Cut out pastry lids using a mould as a template. (see images)
Chill your lined moulds and pastry lids for 1 hour.

Filling the puddings:
Remove the pieces of cooled steak from the gravy. Break any large pieces of steak in to smaller pieces.
Place pieces of steak into the base of your lined moulds – fill only 1/3. Top with a few chopped gherkins. (see image)
Now add a dessert spoon of the gravy that the meat was cooked in.
Top with more meat and gherkins then finish with a dessert spoon of gravy. Keep the remaining gravy for serving later.
Wet the edges of the pastry around the top of the moulds and top with pastry lids – press the edges to create a seal. With a knife, make two incisions in each of the the lids. (see image)
Bake your puddings for 35-40 minutes at Gas 6 or 200°C/400°F.
Tip: The puddings can be prepared a couple of days in advance and baked on the day.

With the puddings made, the rest, being the veg’ and garnish, is very easy indeed.

Cauliflower and Mustard Purée:
Set oven to gas 5 or 190°C/375°F.
Place your florets of cauliflower in a baking tray.
Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Cover with tin foil and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until cauliflower is cooked.
Once cauliflower is cooked, blend in a food processor along with the mustard and lemon juice. Set aside.

Roasted Shallots:
Set oven to gas 5 or 190°C/375°F.
Place your peeled shallots in a roasting tray.
Drizzle with oil.
Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Roast for 30-40 minutes until onions are soft and golden brown. Turn several times during roasting so that the shallots turn a golden brown all over.
Once cooked – set aside.

Roasted Fennel:
Set oven to gas 5 or 190°C/375°F.
Place slices of Fennel in a roasting tray. (see image)
Drizzle with oil, season and sprinkle with marjoram.
Roast for 35-45 minutes.
Once cooked – set aside.

Girolle Mushrooms: (Cook these just before serving)
Lightly fry the girolles in butter.
Season with salt and pepper.
Finish with a squeeze of lemon.

Fresh Fennel Herb and Fresh Thyme for garnish.

Tip: The cauliflower, fennel and shallots can be cooked at the same time as the steak, at Gas 4 or 180°C/350°F. They will take longer to cook, as the oven temperature is lower, but it can save on the overall cooking time.
The vegetables can also be prepared and cooked in advance and warmed up at the same time the steak puddings are baking.

To Serve:
Put your fries on to cook in a deep fryer.
Heat up the gravy left from cooking the steak.
Tip: The gravy can be blended and sieved for a smooth texture – I prefer to leave it.
Spoon some of the hot gravy on to your serving plates.
Arrange your cooked steak puddings, cauliflower puree, veg’ and garnish.
Serve with a side of chunky fries and glass of red wine. Enjoy.

cooking, desserts, food blogging, food photography, ice cream, recipes, restaurant food, sponge pudding, sweets,

Ginger and Apricot Steamed Sponge with Irish Liqueur Ice Cream

Ginger and Apricot Steamed Sponge Pudding
Ginger and Apricot Steamed Sponge with Irish Liqueur Ice Cream.

Who doesn’t love a warm steamy pudding?  Not sure about you, but there are no hands up in our house. I do like a thick English custard with my steamed pudding, but ice cream seems more befitting for the time of year.

Ingredients: (Makes 6 – 8cm x 5cm puddings)

175g softened butter.
175g caster sugar.
175g self raising flour – sieved.
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda – sieved.
3 large eggs – room temperature.

6 individual pudding moulds – 8cm x 5cm.
Butter for greasing.
8 fresh ripe apricots.
50g stem ginger – chopped. (See recipe below or buy ready made)
12 heaped tsps golden syrup.

Ice Cream:
150ml semi skimmed milk.
320ml double cream.
50g sugar.
50ml Irish Cream Liqueur.
Tip: If you want a stronger alcohol taste add more liqueur and reduce the milk by the same amount – ie: extra 20ml liqueur reduce milk by 20ml.

Stem Ginger recipe and stock syrup:
260g peeled fresh ginger – sliced.
400ml water.

Stock Syrup:
500ml water.
200g sugar.
1 slice of orange.
1 slice of lemon.
1 bay leaf.
3 cardamon pods.
3 cloves.
5cm cinnamon stick.


Ice Cream:
Bring all the ingredients to a simmer – leave to cool.
Once cooled add the mixture to ice cream maker to churn.
After approx’ 50 minutes it will form a soft ice cream.
Transfer soft ice cream to a plastic container – with lid – and pop in the freezer for several hours.
Note: Ice cream made with ice cream makers still need to be popped into a freezer – don’t expect the ice cream maker to give you a finished product. Once the ice cream reaches an almost frozen state the mixing paddle will stop turning, but not all the mixture is frozen. Add this extra freezing time to your timings. Ice cream makers with integrated compressor are best.

Stem Ginger:
In a pan, with a lid, simmer the sliced ginger in the 400ml of water until soft – 40-60 mins’. Be careful that the pan doesn’t boil dry.
While the ginger simmers make the stock syrup.
Put all the stock syrup ingredients into a pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
When the ginger is soft add the stock syrup and simmer until liquid is reduced by half and syrup thickens.
Store in sterilised jam jars.

Firstly prepare the pudding moulds.
Grease each mould with butter.
Pop a small amount of chopped stem ginger into the bottom of each mould.
Add a 2 heaped teaspoon of golden syrup to the bottom of each mould.
Slice 6 apricots and line each mould. (See image)

Once the moulds are lined, prepare the sponge mix.
Crack the eggs into a dish and beat with a fork until well mixed. Set aside.
Seive the flour and bicarb’ of soda together. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar with an electric whisk – or use a wooden spoon if you feel that you need a work out.
Once the butter and sugar are well creamed add the beaten egg a little at a time.
Once all the egg has been incorporated fold in the sieved flour and bicarb’ of soda.
Divide sponge mixture between the 6 moulds. (see iamge)
Note: Chilled eggs will cause the mixture to split, so use eggs that have been stored at room temperature. If the mixture splits before all the egg has been added, mix in a dessert spoon or two of the sieved flour – this should fix it.
Cover each pudding with parchment paper and then a piece of tin foil. Secure with elastic bands. (see images)
Note the fold in the parchment paper – this is to allow the sponges to rise during steaming.

Steam the sponges for 30-35 mins.
To steam the sponges, line the base of a large pan with baking beans or a wire trivet.
Just cover the beans or trivet with water and bring to a simmer.
Add the sealed puddings to the simmering water and top up with boiling water so the level reaches half way up the pudding moulds. (see image)
Put a lid on the pan and steam the puddings for 35-40 minutes on a low flame.
Once cooked, remove parchment paper and foil. Turn out onto plates and serve with the ice cream, fresh apricot slices and fresh cream.