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Cover: A dish for all seasons

Recipes with caster sugar

07Jun 12

Blood Orange Sorbet

Blood Orange SorbetBlood oranges have a beautiful, intense colour can give vibrancy to all sorts of dishes including salads, cooked meals and desserts.

Serve blood orange sorbet for pudding with a glass of champagne, or in between courses to cleanse the palette.  This one is definitely for the grown-ups as it contains orange liqueur. (If you prefer strawberry, this strawberry sorbet with moscatel is also a tasty treat!)

What you need:

  • 250g caster sugar
  • 250ml water
  • 2 tbsp orange liqueur
  • 1L blood orange juice, freshly squeezed with the pulp strained off
  • Orange zest to garnish

What to do:

  1. First you need to make a sugar syrup.  Take a large saucepan, add the sugar and pour in the water, stirring together as the sugar begins to dissolve.  Gradually bring the mixture up to the boil, stirring constantly.  Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Leave the mixture to cool completely.
  2. Take a large mixing bowl, pour in the blood orange juice, and stir in the liqueur.  Gradually add the sugar syrup to the orange and liqueur mixture, tasting as you go, until the combination is lovely and sweet.  If you prefer a more tart sorbet, you can control that by adding less of the sugar syrup.
  3. Once you’re happy with the flavour (and still hopefully have plenty of the mixture left for Mum!) transfer the syrupy sorbet into a freezer-proof container and set it in the freezer for a minimum of 5 hours.  And here comes the slightly tricky bit.  You will need to make the sorbet on a day when you’re going to be available to stir the sorbet occasionally as it sets.  Over the 5 hour period of setting, remove the sorbet once or twice an hour, stir it and put it back into the freezer.  The only way around this last phase is to churn the sorbet until it sets in an ice-cream maker before freezing it.
  4. When ready to serve your sorbet, spoon it into a pretty bowl or half of an emptied orange with an ice-cream scoop, garnish with the orange zest and serve with a glass of champagne.

20 minutes to prepare, plus cooling time, and at least 5 hours setting time.

Makes: 4-6 servings

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12May 12

Rhubarb and Marzipan Crumble

 

Rhubarb and Marzipan crumbleSpring is in the air! Well, perhaps not quite yet. But no matter the time of year, I enjoy the occasional treat to satisfy my sweet tooth. However, knowing that I am also eating fruits and veggies helps me justify these cravings.

Rhubarb comes into season in March and is readily available in the UK until May - so there’s still a chance to get some good rhubarb, just! Every year, as soon as I see it in the greengrocer, I pick it up so I can make a favourite of mine, rhubarb crumble.

 

 

This year I made this classic crumble pudding with a sweet surprise.  In this recipe, the natural tartness of the rhubarb contrasts really well with the almondy sweetness of the marzipan.

What you need:

  • 10 rhubarb sticks
  • 6 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 110g Demerara sugar
  • 110g butter, left at room temperature for a while to soften
  • 190g flour
  • 150g Marzipan, cut into thin strips

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Chop the rhubarb into cubes, pop it on an oven tray, sprinkle over the water and caster sugar and bake it in the oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the rhubarb from the oven once it is cooked, and transfer it to an ovenproof dish.
  4. Create the crumble by rubbing the butter, flour and Demerara sugar together.
  5. Place the thin strips of marzipan across the top of the rhubarb before sprinkling the crumble mixture on.
  6. Bake the crumble in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the rhubarb mixture is soft and bubbling and the topping is golden brown and crispy.
  7. Serve with vanilla ice cream. (optional)
30 mins to prepare, 30 minutes to 1 hour to cook
 
Makes: 4 servings

A little more about rhubarb…

The edible part of the rhubarb plant, the stalk, is technically a vegetable, though we think of it as a fruit.

Rhubarb seems to have become a popular food in the 17th Century when cheap sugar became accessible.

Rhubarb is thought to have first been cultivated in China in 2700BC.

It is said that the Romans believed that people who ate rhubarb were barbaric in nature (possibly because of its natural bitterness) and that the name rhubarb may have been derived from the Latin word rhabarbarum meaning ‘root of the barbarians’.

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03Apr 12

Easter Hot Cross Buns Part 2

This is where we continue with the creation of the dough.  We will bake the Easter hot cross buns and decorate them with the classic piped white cross shape.  You will need to visit part 1 of this recipe for the ingredients and instructions on the first part of the dough creation.

What you need:

For the topping

  • A little vegetable oil for greasing
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup for the glaze, hot
  • Cinnamon powder for dusting

What to do:

  1. Clean and re-flour the work surface, and divide the risen dough into 12 even parts.  Roll each piece into a round, then with the palms of your hands, flatten each ball a little into a bun shape.  Re-cover the buns with the tea towel for another 10 minutes.
  2. Grease a baking tray with a little butter and move the buns to the tray.  Wrap parchment paper around the tray and buns and put it inside a large plastic bag (a clean shopping bag, for example), tying the bag tightly to seal out the air.  Once again, leave the buns in the airing cupboard for another 45 minutes to rise some more.
  3. Take a deep breath, and preheat the oven to 240ºC.
  4. Whilst the buns do their final rise, make the cross topping.  Put the plain flour into a mixing bowl and stir to a smooth paste with 2 tbsp cold water.
  5. Once the buns have risen, remove them from the bag and paper, put the cross topping into a piping bag and draw a cross shape with the mixture onto each bun.
  6. Bake the buns on the tray in the oven for 8-12 minutes, until they turn a pale golden brown.  Remove them and brush them over with hot golden syrup, then dust with cinnamon powder.  Leave them to cool on a wire rack or enjoy them fresh and warm.  You deserve it!

More than 2 hours to prepare – 10-20 minutes to cook
Makes: 12 hot cross buns

Note: For an extra twist on the classic recipe, try these cherry and walnut hot cross buns.

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03Apr 12

Easter Hot Cross Buns Part 1

Hot Cross Buns -1This is quite a time-consuming little project, making your own traditional Easter Hot Cross Buns. But believe me, if you can make the time, it’s worth it to eat them fresh from the oven; lavished with butter, or topped with a thick layer of seasonal rhubarb and ginger jam.  It’s also a great idea for something to do with the kids during the Easter holidays, if you find yourselves stuck in on a rainy day. (Try this especially kid-friendly hot cross bun recipe.)  I’ve split this recipe into 2 parts.  Visit part 2 for instructions on finalising the dough, baking and decorating.

What you need:

For the buns

  • 630g strong white flour
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g unsalted butter, use a tiny bit for greasing the baking tray
  • 90g caster sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ tsp yeast, fast-acting
  • 275ml milk, slightly warmed to tepid
  • 1 medium egg
  • 130g mixed dried fruit

What to do:

To start the process of making the dough

  1. To make the buns, sieve the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and salt over a large mixing bowl.  Peel the lemon with a zest peeler and leave to one side.  Add the butter to the flour, rubbing it into the mix with the tips of your fingers.  Create a well shape in the middle of the mixture. Next, add the sugar, yeast and the lemon zest.
  2. Beat the egg together with the tepid milk and add that to the well.  Mix everything together to create a soft and pliable dough.  Gently combine the dried fruit into the mixture.
  3. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and knead the dough onto it gently and lightly for about 4-6 minutes, or until the dough becomes elastic and smooth.  Shape it into a ball.
  4. Warm a plastic or ceramic mixing bowl in the microwave for a few seconds, grease it with butter, place the dough ball inside, cover it lightly with a clean tea towel, and leave it in the airing cupboard or somewhere warm to rise for one hour.
  5. On your floured work surface, knead the dough again, but roughly this time, for a few minutes – to knock-out some of the air and return it to the shape it was before you left it to rise.  Shape it back into a ball, pop it back into the bowl, cover it again and leave it for another half an hour to re-rise.

 continued in part 2

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