Monday, September 21

Pear & almond tart


I started this last night after having a real hankering to poach pears, as well to retry the French tart dough recipe by David Lebovitz. I only managed to poach the pears last night, and worked on the tart crust before breakfast this morning. The tart crust works very well, but it's unfortunately not the prettiest thing in the world. Luckily, taste trumps looks any day.

I'm a big fan of pears, which is funny because in the past I would never eat them. Recently I've been wanting to bake pears into everything. There's something wonderful about baked pears that, for me, apples lack. So I headed out, bought some almond meal, and began my adventure. This tart isn't the prettiest in the world, I mostly put it down to my lack of experience so maybe someone else can do better? It's not really a worry though because it still tastes rather good!

Pear & almond tart

(Filling adapted from Simple Essentials: Fruit by Donna Hay)
makes six 10cm (4") tarts

1 quantity French Tart Dough divided into six 10cm (4") tart tins.

Poached pears

750ml (3 cups) water
330g (1 1/2 cups) sugar
1 tablespoon rose water
3 Packham pears, peeled, halved, and cored.

Place water and sugar in a large saucepan over a low-medium heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved simmer for 5 minutes. Start peeling your pears now, if you haven't already done so.

Add pears and simmer for 10 minutes, or until tender. Gently stir in the rose water and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove pears and cool on paper towel.

Almond filling

35g butter, room temperature
60g caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
75g almond meal
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon water

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla essence until thoroughly combined. Fold in almond meal, flour, and water.


Preheat oven to 180°C (350°f)

Spoon almond mixture into pre baked tart crusts, slice pears thinly and lay them over the almond mixture, you should have enough pears to cover all six tarts. If you have any extra, slice the remaining pieces even smaller and use them to fill any gaps. The almond mixture should be fairly well covered. Bake tarts for 15-20 minutes or until almond mixture is a faint golden colour. Serve at room temperature with cinnamon and whipped cream.

Thursday, September 17

Lemon blueberry muffins


Today I really wanted to make something but blueberry muffins were not that something.  Instead I had a hankering for apple muffins with some kind of nuts.  I found a recipe for apple pecan muffins and began, I got all my ingredients out and began to make applesauce.  Midway through I realised I didn't have any pecans, "oh well," I thought, "I'll just use walnuts".  I hunted for about half an hour mumbling about how I knew there were walnuts somewhere and eventually gave up accepting that there were no walnuts.

The trouble is, I still wanted to cook.  I could easily have made apple cake, or apple pie, or apple crumble but I didn't want any of those.  So, I scrapped my apple plans and went with lemon blueberry muffins.  Not quite what I wanted but still pretty good!

Lemon blueberry muffins

(adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking)
makes 12 standard muffins and 6 texas muffins

2 cups (250g) plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 cups (220g) frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F), lightly grease or line muffin tins with papers.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and, and lemon zest. Set aside 2 tablespoons of dry ingredients in a small bowl, you will use this later.

Combine Sugar, milk, oil, lemon extract, and vinegar in a large bowl.

Combine the 2 tablespoons of dry ingredients with the blueberries. Coat lightly.

Add the remaining dry ingredients to the wet, stir until just combined. Gently fold in the blueberries, stir approximately 3 times. Anymore and your blueberries will start to thaw and the juices will spread into the mixture.

Using a 1/3 cup fill the muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffin tops are lightly brown and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Wednesday, September 16

Strawberry jam

So, I've decided to start a blog. Why, I'm not sure. Maybe to counter my urge to photograph everything I make, maybe to legitimise it. Either way, welcome and I hope you enjoy your stay.

I'm going to start my blog with strawberry jam, which I hope it a good place to start.


I made jam for the first time, it was a fun experience. The winter strawberries are plentiful at the moment and incredibly cheap and, though I've never been a fan of strawberry jam, I am definitely a fan of strawberries.

So, I thought to myself "maybe home made strawberry jam tastes better than the stuff from the shop" and sett about finding out. Sure enough - it does! I'm not about halfway through a stick of French bread covered in strawberry jam and I'm feeling pretty content. Home made strawberry jam, it turns out, tastes like strawberries! It also turns out Jam is very, very easy to make.

Admittedly I didn't make a large amount as I have no need for more than 2 jars of jam so maybe it's more effort to make it in large batches. The two jars of Jam I made took 500g of strawberries and less than an hour - this includes finding jars, drinking tea, sterilising the jars, drinking more tea, hulling the strawberries and everything else. I completed my jam this morning before getting dressed and having breakfast, I felt quite accomplished by the time I was done. I bet you can guess what I had for breakfast.

Strawberry jam

(adapted from Simple Essentials: Fruit by Donna Hay)
makes approximately 2-3 cups.

500g Strawberries
500g white sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

Place a small saucer in the freezer, you'll use this later.

Wash, hull, and halve strawberries.

Place sugar, strawberries, and lemon juice in large wide-based sauce pan, such as a stock pot. Dissolve the sugar over a medium heat, and then bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the temperature reaches 104°C on a candy thermometer. Be sure to skim off the foam with a metal spoon while the jam is simmering.

At around 15-20 minutes place a small spoonful of jam on the cold saucer and run your finger through it. A line should remain, if it doesn't cook jam for a further 5 minutes and test again. Once cooked carefully pour jam into hot, sterilised jars. Store in the refrigerator.