Strawberry Tart

Is this really a recipe? I’m not sure it is, but the end result is delicious. You can easily make it from scratch, or get a similar result with ready made ingredients.

Firstly, you need a shortcrust pastry base. Put it into a flan tin, and prick the base then blind bake it until it just starts to colour.

Next, you need a custardy filling. We made creme patissiere but I don’t see why you can’t just use shop bought custard (ready made or from powder). Pour it into your pasty base.

Third, you need fruit. Strawberries go nicely here… slice in half and lay them on top. You can then glaze them with some apricot jam mixed with hot water.

If you fully bake the base up front then you could just chill it at this point. We hadn’t, so we baked a bit more (but watch out for the fruit catching). End result is a fresh and tasty treat – who doesn’t love strawberries, custard and pastry?

Easy Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve always enjoyed making cakes, but making biscuits (and especially cookies) is a different matter. I never seem to get them quite right – they always seem to end up too hard and brittle, regardless of the recipe I use.

That’s why I love this recipe from Waitrose – it’s absolutely foolproof and produces amazingly good cookies with hardly any effort at all. Highly recommended.

Ingredients

  • 200g crunchy peanut butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons plain flour
  • ¼ teaspoon of Maldon sea salt flakes (you could use regular salt, but halve the amount if you do)
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 3 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃ and line two baking trays with parchment / greaseproof paper.
  2. In a bowl, beat together the peanut butter, sugar, flour, salt and egg with a spoon until you have an even mixture.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and make sure they are evenly distributed through the mixture.
  4. Divide into 12 balls and place six on each baking tray. Press them down a little, and make sure to leave plenty of space between them because they will spread out during cooking.
  5. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes (or until they look golden and good enough to eat!), then leave to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

The Best Banana Bread

I came across this recipe as part of the Tesco “Food Love Stories” advertising campaign. We’ve tried making a few things from there and some have been a bit hit and miss, but this one was a real winner. However, their recipe goes on to ice the cake and top it with banana chips… I’ve never been a fan of these, so decided to stick with a plain loaf instead.

Truth be told, this is the best banana bread I’ve ever had and if anything I think the topping would detract from the bread itself.

Ingredients

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 2 very ripe bananas (about 300g peeled)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g sultanas
  • 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170℃ (or 150℃ fan).
  2. Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan, stirring continuously until the sugar is dissolved. Set to one side and allow to cool slightly.
  3. On a plate, mash the bananas with a fork.
  4. Beat the eggs into the butter and sugar mixture (one at a time).
  5. Mix the mashed bananas into the butter, egg and sugar mixture.
  6. Add the sultanas and vanilla extract and mix these in as well.
  7. Slowly add the flour and salt, mixing all the time.
  8. Pour into a loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes.

In theory you could have this buttered, but it really doesn’t need it – the loaf is incredibly moist and is a big treat even on its own. Added bonus – baking this makes your house smell amazing!

Edd Kimber’s Custard Creams

For me, custard cream biscuits remind me of my grandma. We used to visit her every Saturday morning and she would produce a plate of these with a pot of tea. I’ve never really eaten them much since, but whenever I do they bring back those memories.

When I heard that Edd Kimber (winner of the first series of the Great British Bake Off, aka The Boy Who Bakes) had a recipe for custard cream biscuits, I was intrigued. I’d never heard of anyone making them from scratch before, and whilst I had fond memories of them I always thought they were a bit “mass produced”. So when I found myself off work with a back injury which made sitting down painful, spending a day in the kitchen making these was a pleasant distraction.

TL;DR – They’re a million times better than the shop bought version!

Ingredients

For the biscuits

  • 225g plain flour
  • 50g instant custard powder
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 175g unsalted butter (chilled and diced)
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla bean paste

For the filling

  • 50g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of instant custard powder
  • Some milk (if required)

Method

Edd makes these biscuits using a food processor. I didn’t because I have an inexplicable aversion to the machines (and particularly cleaning them afterwards!). The instructions below are for making these by hand, but it does require quite a bit of patience and arm strength! If you want the food processor version, you can find it on The English Kitchen blog.

  • To start the biscuits, put the flour, icing sugar and custard  powder in a bowl and mix together.
  • Add the butter and vanilla to the bowl and beat everything together with a wooden spoon. This will take quite a while, but it will eventually come together into a dough.
  • Tip the dough onto a piece of cling film and press out into a rough disc, than wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
  • Roll the chilled dough out until and cut into biscuit shapes. We used a 5cm round cutter, but for authenticity you could always make rectangles. Prick the top of each biscuit with a fork. Remember to cut an even number of biscuits since you need a top and bottom for each finished biscuit!
  • Chill the biscuits in the fridge for another 10 minutes.
  • Place the biscuits on lined baking trays and bake in the oven at 180℃ for about 10 minutes or until just starting to turn golden brown around the edges.
  • Leave to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack (they need to be properly cooled before you apply the filling).
  • To make the filling, put the butter, sugar and custard powder in a bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon to form a paste. If it’s too thick to spread on the biscuits, add a little bit of milk.
  • Finally, assemble your biscuits by putting a layer of filling between pairs of the biscuits.

These really are sublime, and outshine the shop bought versions in every way. We stored ours in an air tight container and they kept for the best part of a week (well… nearly… they were eaten quite quickly!).