Monday, 28 June 2010

Some chewies and some changes

ginger chewies
So things are a-changing over here! In case you haven't been reading for very long, there's an impending wedding that's been keeping us busy. And it's now less than 2 months away! I can give it in days, but I shan't as that's just a stage of sad too far. But yes, it's super close and I'm SUPER excited!!

But you've gotta take the good with the, um, slightly less good! I don't want to go all out and say bad. Some of it's not bad at all, such as this is officially my last week at work. That's great!!! Freedom. But on the other side of that, there's the fact I currently don't have anything to go to. Scary... Intentional, yes, but still scary!! I kinda wanted to wait until some other pieces had fallen into place before talking about all the changes that are happening but then some pieces were just taking far too long to fall into place! One of those such pieces provides a bit more insight into why I'm taking some time off but I shall remain aloof about that for now!

And no, I'm not pregnant. I re-read that and realised that's what it sounded like! Nothing like that.

But some of it is bad. Really really sucky. Remember this? Well, it happened again. Words can't really describe how incredibly frustrating it is! We're doing ok on the emotional side of being burgled, but on the getting-our-lives-into-some-semblance-of-order side, we're struggling! Ooo, which reminds me, there are some workmen I have to phone...

So yes, I am yet again without camera. Or laptop. Joined with the fact I shall very soon not even have access to a work computer, that puts a bit of a roadblock in the way of the ol' blogging schedule. But when normality is restored, you shall be the first to know! In the meantime, a trawl through my flikr photostream revealed a picture of some cookies I baked up an age of makind ago and just never got around to telling you about them. They're great. Make them - they'll warm your soul when you're unemployed, broke, burgled and blue*.

Rosy xx

*Disclaimer - I'm not really that blue... Whilst 3 out of the 4 are true, again, re-reading this sounds like I'm about to leap out of a window. I'm not - I'm just obviously a little prone to exageration this afternoon!

Ginger Chewies
Adapted from Joy the Baker. I love her a little bit... And she in turn adapted it from Big Fat Cookies by Elinor Klivans.

280g all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
215g light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup black treacle (or molasses if you have it)
about 1/2 cup turbinado or demerera sugar

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 170C/ 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and spices until smoothly blended, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the egg and molasses and mix until blended and an even light color, about 1 minute. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it.

Spread the turbinado sugar into a small bowl. Roll 2 Tablespoons of dough between the palms of your hands into a ball, toss the ball sugar to coat and place on the prepared baking sheet. Continue making cookies, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm but they are still soft in the center and there are several large cracks on top, about 12-14 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. It took me a batch or two to get the right baking time for my crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle preference, but have a play and bake them until they’re right for you.

The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Rhubarb and Custard Crumble Tart

rhubarb crumble tart 2
Having gone from loathes to loves on the rhubarb front, I seem to be unable to stop making sweet treats from rhubarb at the moment. Well, this one wasn't really my fault as it was a Sweet Melissa Sundays treat, but I've also made this, this and kind of interesting coffee style cake that used so many recipes from all around the interwebs I don't know where to start linking. All in the hunt for perfection in rhubarb cake form. I know it exists! I ate it at Ottolenghi. But can I recreate it? Of course not! And those other imposters to the crown of awesomest rhubarb cake were just not the real deal. Whether it be a disappointing crumble or just a bit too 'wholefood' tasting, they were all fine, but not worth writing home about. Or to you about, should I say dear reader!

Then, as I was whiling away an hour or so with a cup of tea and a new cookbook, I spotted this tart. Not at all en route to my rhubarb dream cake, but an appealing diversion, especially with JJ's parents coming to tea.
rhubarb crumble tart 1
The idea of combining rhubarb crumble, custard and a tart all in the one dessert sounded pretty incredible to me - so off I set with the recipe in one hand. Only to fall very flat at the first hurdle. Apparently the initial step of blending butter, flour and sugar should form a dough to be rolled out (like shortbread). Mine looked like dust. No matter how much I blitzed in the food processor and even resorted to smooshing with my hands, it just would not come together. Major concerns about the recipe started to form in my mind. But I soldiered on! Baking up the crumbs in a slightly squished together layer (no rolling out happened) seemed to work well. In a second attempt at the tart a week or so later, I added more butter and it helped, but still didn't form a dough, so not a clue what's supposed to happen at that stage!

I won't even bore you with the pastry dough and how impossible I found it. I hate sweet tart dough - it's official. I shall, of course, persevere to find one that doesn't take one look at me and grab the counter with such force only hacking at a knife will get it off. Or maybe it's the way I look at it that scares it into shrinking about a mile away from the tin on all sides. Phew. So anyway, Pastry 2 - Rosy 0.
rhubarb crumble tart 5
But! Ah yes, there's a but. This tart is amazing. Whilst the recipe was, um, well, quite wrong in places and I'm gonna suggest you find your own way on the sweet tart dough front for the moment, the filling is heaven. Utter rhubarb and custard flavoured, creamy, dreamy, sweet heaven. Ya know what it reminded me of? Those rhubarb and custard boiled sweets. I love those. But better - less sickly. More elegant and flirty. A true lady of a tart. So lady like in fact, it's the prettiest of pale pinks! I think it would be just as tasty without the crumble but not very attractive... I've toyed with alternatives but whipped cream would just compete for creaminess and there is something pleasing about the buttery crumble contrast, even if it is a touch on the faffy side.
rhubarb crumble tart 4
Just make sure to eat it the day you make it - room temperature, it's perfection, but I tried it the next day and both the crumble and tart shell were soft. If I hadn't lost all enthusiasm by the end of this, I would've made a rhubarb sauce from a little extra rhubarb poached, pureed and strained. I think I'll be doing that next time - when I can face sweet tart dough again...

Rosy xx

Rhubarb and Custard Crumble Tart
adapted from here.

For the Crumble
100g plain flour
60g unsalted butter, cold
40g caster sugar

For the Custard
360g rhubarb
130g caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
130ml double cream

1 pre-baked tart shell

Preheat oven to 180C.

In a food processor, blitz the crumble mix until it looks like breadcrumbs. Turn out onto a tray lined with parchment paper, give a bit of a smoosh together with your fingers (but don't worry too much!) and bake crumble for 15 mins, until lightly golden.

Mix the rhubarb with the sugar and place in a roasting tin. Cover with foil and roast for 20 mins until soft. Break up with a fork and leave to cool slightly.

Lower the oven to 150C.

Place the cream in a pan and heat gently to simmering point. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the vanilla. Add the hot cream, slowly at first to temper, and the rhubarb. Fill the pre-baked tart case and bake for around 15 mins until no longer wobbly in the middle. Break up the baked crumble mixture and cover the rhubarb custard with the crumble. Leave to cool to room temperature and eat the same day.