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Monthly Archives: June 2015

Simple Quince Tart


This is a really easy tart. Some short crust pastry blind baked in a flan dish and some wonderful baked quinces layered in the pastry. Serve with cream. Bliss.

A few weeks ago I had a wonderful dinner with friends. Slow cooked lamb followed by tarte tatin made with quinces, which were redolent with heady spices. Cooked overnight, the quinces were a beautiful deep ruby red colour, and the cooking liquid had become quince jelly.

To me, baked quinces are the epitome of gorgeous winter comfort food!

My tart was not so elaborate as the tarte tatin but easy to knock up on a winter weekend afternoon, and quite delicious. This is a small flan just enough for 3 or 4 people.

Baked Quinces

50g butter
2 quinces
120g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Peel the quinces, halve lengthways and remove cores. Cut in quarters or slices. Melt butter in a heavy oven proof baking dish. Roll the quinces in the melted butter. Scatter over sugar and squeeze the lemon juice over the quince pieces.

Cover tightly with a doubled sheet of foil. Bake the quinces for 2-3 hours, basting a few times through the process, until the quinces are soft and a ruby red colour. Remove from the dish to cool.

Short Crust Pastry*

100g chilled unsalted butter
125g plain flour
75g sour cream

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 170 degrees C fan forced. Pulse the butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Remove from the processor and shape pastry into a ball. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Roll the pastry out to 3mm thick and place in a well greased flan dish or mold, about 18cm or 7 inches in diameter. Any small mold will do.

Rest for 15 minutes in the fridge. This will help reduce shrinkage when cooking. Remove from the fridge, place some pie weights or rice on the baking paper inside the tart, and bake blind in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove the weights or rice and the baking paper.

To assemble

When cool, place slices of baked quince as elegantly or as rustically as you please in the flan. Serve as is or with cream or creme fraiche.

*This makes enough for a small flan. Doubling the quantities will give you a large pastry shell. You would need 4-5  baked quinces to fill a larger flan.


One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Home-Made Honeycomb


This my new favourite chocolate cake recipe again! I love it because it is SO simple – one bowl in the food processor or a stand mixer. I posted a fancy version with layers and meringue buttercream  recently. This time it’s a more basic version suitable for crowds.

On this Queen’s Birthday weekend in June, I’m cooking for a crowd. So I’ve made the basic recipe in a big cake tin and a half size in a smaller tin, to accommodate kids and adults at our gathering. A chocolate buttercream icing and some home-made honeycomb – bliss!

I’m including both quantities in Ingredients. The Method is the same for both cakes – just throw it all in and mix!

Ingredients  – Big Cake
2 cups sugar
3 cups self raising flour
2 tsps sifted bi-carbonate soda
3/4 cup Dutch cocoa
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200g really soft butter
1 cup natural yoghurt
3 free range  eggs
1 cup hot coffee (instant or brewed)

Ingredients Small Cake
1 cup sugar
1.5 cups self raising flour
1 tsp sifted bi-carbonate soda
375 g  Dutch cocoa
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g softened butter
1/2 cup natural yoghurt
2 free range  eggs *
1/2 cup hot coffee (instant or brewed)

*It’s hard to halve 3 eggs  – putting 2 eggs in this cake just adds to the moisture of the cake.


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.  Grease a 23cm (9″) x 34cm (13″) rectangular cake tin and a 20cm (8″) square cake tin with butter and line with baking paper. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until just combined and the mix is smooth. Be careful not to overmix as this will toughen the cake.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 1 hour or less – until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Keep both cakes in their tins until they are cool. Carefully turn out on to a wire rack. Or you can leave in the tins as I did to make it easier to transport the cakes.

Ingredients – Buttercream Big Cake

150g butter, at room temperature
300g icing sugar
2 tbls dutch cocoa
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp milk

Ingredients – Buttercream Small Cake

50g butter, at room temperature
150g icing sugar
1 tbls Dutch cocoa
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp milk


Put all the ingredients into a stand mixer and beat, first on low, then gradually increase the speed, beating until all the ingredients have amalgamated and the mixture has that “buttercream” consistency.

Home-Made Honeycomb

160g caster sugar
25g honey
62g  glucose
2 tsp bi-carbonate soda

Dark chocolate, melted, to decorate

Combine sugar, honey, glucose and 60 mls water in a saucepan.  Cook till pale blonde  – 150 degrees C, using a cooking thermometer.
Remove from the heat, add bi-carbonate soda and beat vigorously for a few seconds.
Pour onto a tray lined with baking paper. When the honeycomb has hardened, drizzle with melted dark chocolate and break some into chunks and pulverize the rest.


To assemble

Ice the cakes with the buttercream frosting and decorate with chunks and pulverized bits of honeycomb.

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