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.

chocolate, chocolate cream, desserts, food blogging, food photography, ice cream, licorice, liquorice, recipes, restaurant food, sweets,

Fruit Tart with Liquorice Ice Cream and Blackcurrant Jelly.

fruit tart with liquorice ice cream
Fruit Tart with Liquorice Ice Cream. Served with Chocolate Cream and Blackcurrant Jelly

A melt in the mouth sweet pastry filled with a tangy fruit compote and topped with a dark chocolate cream. But it doesn’t stop there; Jelly and ice cream will take you back to your childhood…Mmm liquorice and blackcurrant.

Ingredients: Makes 6 tarts.

Liquorice Ice Cream: (makes approx’ 500ml)
3 egg yolks.
75g sugar.
300ml whole milk.
30ml double cream.
20g skimmed milk powder.
1/4 tsp salt.
1 tsp vanilla extract.
1 1/2 tspns liquorice powder.
1 tsp liquorice syrup.
1g ice cream stabiliser. (Optional)

Pastry for tart cases:
200g plain flour.
125g chilled butter.
50g caster sugar.
1 beaten egg.
Pinch of salt.

Blackcurrant Jelly:
100ml blackcurrant cordial (50% juice).
100ml summer fruit juice.
1 level tsp Agar Agar or jelling agent you prefer.
Note: I prefer agar agar as it sets to a gel at room temperature and makes wonderful soft jellies.

Fruit Compote:
180g Frozen summer fruits.
3 dessert spoons sugar.
Juice of 1/2 lemon.
3 tbls of cold water.
1 heaped tsp of cornflour.

Chocolate Cream:
150g Dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
110ml skimmed milk.
35ml double cream.
1 1/2 tsps sugar.
1 tsp vanilla extract.

6 fresh strawberries
6 sprigs of mint.
Zest of 1 large orange.
Or use fresh fruits of your choice.


Ice Cream:
Mix 2 dessert spoons of the sugar with the ice cream stabiliser. Set aside.
In a thick bottomed pan heat the milk, cream, milk powder, salt vanilla, liquorice powder and syrup to 82°C / 180°F. Note: Bring to a simmer if you don’t have a thermometer.
When the milk mixture has reached the required temperature, remove from the heat, and leave to cool for 3 mins’. Stir in the sugar and stabiliser mix.
With a whisk, cream together your egg yolks and remaining sugar in a heat proof bowl.
Now add your hot milk mixture to the egg yolks and sugar to create a custard – combine with a hand whisk.
Note: Make sure that your milk mixture isn’t to hot as it will scramble the egg.
Pour the custard back into your thick bottomed pan, and on a low heat, stir until the custard thickens. When the mixture coats the back of a spoon remove from the heat.
Note: If you have a thermometer. Heat and stir the custard to 60°C / 140°F and cook until the custard has thickened, about 5 mins’.
Strain the custard into a clean bowl and leave to cool.
Once cool refrigerate until chilled.
Once chilled, churn your custard in an ice cream maker.
Store your finished ice cream in a suitable container in the freezer.
Note: You can make this ice cream without the stabiliser but it will freeze to a firmer texture.

Heat all the ingredients to just boiling.
Pour the hot fruit liquid into an oblong mould or dish, lined with cling film. Pop any bubbles that may form. Set aside to set. (See image)

Tart Pastry cases:
Rub the chilled butter into the flour and salt.
Combine the sugar and the beaten egg.
Make a dough by combining the the egg mix to the flour mix.
Wrap in cling film and chill until pastry is firm.
Note: Initially this pastry mix is quite sticky. Have some extra flour ready to sprinkle over your hands when combining into a dough. Refrigerate the dough overnight, if you can, as it will help when it comes to rolling out.
When the dough has chilled divide into 6 equal portions and roll each piece into a circle – large enough to line 10cm tart cases.
Line six 10 cm tart cases with pastry. Bake blind for 10 minutes at gas 6 or 200°C/400°F
After 10 mins’ remove tart case from the oven. Remove parchment and baking beans and bake for a further 5 mins’ at gas 3 or 160°C/325°F.
Once baked remove from oven and leave to cool.
Note: Baking blind – line uncooked pastry tarts with parchment and weight down with baking beans, dried peas or rice. This stops the bases of the tarts rising (See image)

Fruit Compote:
Except for the cornflour, in a pan, heat all the ingredients to a simmer.
Mix the cornflour with 2 tabls of water and add to the simmering fruit mixture.
When fruit mixture thickens remove from the heat and set aside to chill.
Note: Don’t be tempted to add extra sugar to the compote. A slight tang or sourness is required to balance out the overall sweetness of the final dish.

Chocolate Cream:
Put all the ingredients into a pan and heat gently. As the chocolate melts whisk all the ingredients together until smooth.
Place in a clean receptacle to cool. Once cooled, place in refrigerator to firm to a piping consistency.

To serve:
Dust the edge of each tart case with icing sugar.
Half fill the tart cases with fruit compote. Top with a swirl of chocolate cream.
Turn out the jelly and cut into cubes. Arrange on the plate with slices of strawberry.
Tip: Slices of strawberry will stick to the sides of the moist jelly cubes – it gives a little height and interest to the dish.
Pipe more chocolate swirls around the plate.
Place a scoop of ice cream topped with orange zest with your finished dish.