Sunday, 13 July 2014

Tomato tart tatin

Tomato tart tatin

I don’t make many savoury bakes, but this tomato tart tatin is delicious! 

I made this tomato tart tatin for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I was surprised how well it turned out! I had friends and family visiting for the day and wanted to make something tasty to accompany the buffet lunch I was putting together. 

I used a mix of medium tomatoes and cherry tomatoes: de-seeding them all took quite a while – but trust me, the faff is worthwhile! I didn’t really know what I was looking for when cooking the tomatoes, but if you keep an eye on them, you can tell when the tomatoes have softened all the way through. You can chuck all the tomatoes in the pan at the same time, but you will need to take the smaller ones out much before the bigger ones. I expected there to be quite a bit of juice, but there wasn’t very much at all – not sure if this was due to the tomatoes I was using. However, I deglazed the pan with the sugar and vinegar and drizzled these juices over the tomatoes. 

Having watched people bake tart tatins on Great British Bake Off and MasterChef, I fully expected the turning out of the tart to be really difficult! I was very pleasantly surprised to find the tart came out easily and looked really quite pretty! 

Overall, I was really impressed with this tart. It was simple, but a little time-consuming to make, and the completed tart was really delicious – light, crisp pastry topped with sweet and slightly sour tomatoes! It was perfect for a light summer lunch, and would be great as a vegetarian offering at a barbeque, or for a summer picnic. A great idea to use up a glut of home-grown tomatoes!

Tomato tart tatin


  1. 25g butter
  2. Splash of good olive oil
  3. 800g medium and small mixed tomatoes, halved across the middle and seeds roughly scooped out
  4. 1 tbsp light soft brown sugar
  5. 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  6. 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves or oregano, plus extra to serve
  7. 375g block all-butter puff pastry
  8. Plain flour, for dusting


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C. 
  2. Melt the butter with a splash of olive oil in your widest frying pan. 
  3. Add the tomatoes, skin-side down, in a single layer (you can do this in 2 batches if they won’t all fit) and cook over a low heat until they have softened and have released their juices. 
  4. Lift out with a slotted spoon and rearrange in a tart tin (roughly 23cm), skin-side down – cram them in as they will shrink a little and you don’t want any gaps. 
  5. Add the sugar and vinegar to the pan, and cook until the pan juices are reduced and syrupy. 
  6. Drizzle the juices over the tomatoes in the tin.
  7. Scatter with the oregano or thyme and season.
  8. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to a good 25-26cm round. Lay on top of the tomatoes, and tuck the edges down. Use a fork to prick holes all over the pastry – this will help the steam to escape.
  9. Sit the tart tin on a flat baking tray and bake for 30 mins or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp. 
  10. Let the tart sit for 10 mins, then run a knife round the edge to release the pastry. 
  11. Carefully flip the tart over onto a serving plate or board and scatter with more herbs to serve.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Carrot cupcakes with orange buttercream

11 carrot cupcakes topped with a swirl of orange buttercream

It’s been a busy couple of months with lots of friends and family visiting! I made these carrot cupcakes about a month ago, when some friends were visiting on their way down from Leeds to Cornwall. I fancied making these as I haven’t made them for ages – they are a fairly quick and easy cake to make but they taste delicious.

The recipe comes from my “go to” Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery book. I’ve made them before and they work brilliantly well with the orange cream cheese icing in the book, however, they then need to be kept in the fridge. As my friends were travelling onwards, I wanted to give them some for their holiday and so I stuck with a simple orange buttercream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

The recipe is simple and these are a very reliable bake. The mixture is a lot runnier than most cake mixtures, but don’t be alarmed by this. If you have time before you start baking, soak the raisins in a mixture of boiling water, orange juice and a bit of cinnamon and they will plump up beautifully.  The recipe calls for 130g raisins, but I usually chuck a few more in.

Carrot cupcakes with orange buttercream

    Carrot cupcake with a swirl of orange buttercream
  1. 225g carrots, peeled and trimmed
  2. 130g raisins
  3. 2 large eggs
  4. 130g caster sugar
  5. 120ml corn oil
  6. ½ tsp vanilla extract
  7. Grated zest of 1 orange
  8. 120g plain flour
  9. 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  10. Pinch of salt
  11. 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Orange buttercream
  1. 115g butter, at room temperature
  2. 500g icing sugar, sifted
  3. 4 tblsp freshly squeezed orange juice

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C.
  2. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
  3. Finely grate the carrots and drain off any liquid.
  4. Combine the grated carrot with the raisins in a large bowl and set to one side.
  5. Using a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together for several minutes.
  6. Add the oil, vanilla and orange zest and beat well.
  7. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon together in another bowl.
  8. Gradually add these ingredients to the egg and sugar mixture, folding carefully after each addition.
  9. Pour this mixture into the bowl containing the carrots and raisins and mix with a wooden spoon until evenly distributed.
  10. Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two-thirds full.
  11. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when touched.
  12. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in the tin for about ten minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool.
  13. To make the buttercream, beat the butter, juice and half of the icing sugar until smooth.
  14. Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.
  15. Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag topped with a Wilton 1M piping nozzle.
  16. Once the cakes have cooled, pipe a swirl of buttercream onto the cakes and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon. 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Key Lime Pie

Key lime pie

A couple of weekends ago, my brother and his girlfriend came to stay for a night. They spent the afternoon helping EHH in the garden and so I thought that I had better put together something good for dessert. I had already baked my mini blueberry and lemon loaf cakes for snacks (which my brother ate straight out of the tin!) and so didn’t want to make something cake-y for dinner. I’ve never made Key Lime Pie before and it is one of EHH’s favourite puds so I decided to give it a go.

I found this recipe on BBC Good Food’s website, but made a few adaptations based on the comments on the webpage. I reduced the butter in the base to 100g – which was plenty – and I used half Gingernuts and half Hobnobs instead of all Hobnobs, just to add an extra flavour dimension. As there were only four of us, I didn’t cover the pie in cream but served it on the side instead – so that we could keep the pie for longer in the fridge.

Making this dessert is fairly simple. Pressing the biscuit crumbs into the tart tin does take a bit of time but it is worth it. Make sure that you don’t end up with a very thick section around the rim rather than properly moulding the corners. I was worried about it coming neatly out of the tart tin - but as you can see, it came out beautifully! You do need to allow plenty of time for the pie filling to cool and set fully once it has been cooked – I didn’t leave mine for long enough and it was still a little runny.

Overall, I thought that this dessert was ok. I’m not a fan of the texture of the biscuit base (but I never am – I don’t like cheesecakes etc with similar bases) and I felt that the filling was perhaps a little sharp (perhaps due to using normal limes rather than key limes). I definitely preferred the lemon tart that I made a little while ago. However, EHH loved this one and my brother and his girlfriend also seemed to enjoy it.

(Key) Lime Pie

  1. 150g Hob Nobs
  2. 150g Gingernut biscuits
  3. 100g butter, melted
  4. 1 x 397g tin condensed milk
  5. 3 medium egg yolks
  6. finely grated zest and juice of 4 limes (preferably Key limes)
  7. 300ml double cream
  8. 1 tbsp icing sugar
  9. extra lime zest, to decorate

  1. Heat the oven to 160C.
  2. Blitz the biscuits to crumbs in a food processor (or put in a strong plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin).
  3. Mix with the melted butter and press evenly across the base and up the sides of a 22cm loose-based tart tin.
  4. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cool.
  5. Put the egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk for a minute with electric beaters.
  6. Add the condensed milk and whisk for 3 minutes then add the zest and juice and whisk again for 3 minutes.
  7. Pour the filling into the cooled base then put back in the oven for 15 minutes, or until set on top.
  8. Cool then chill for at least 3 hours or overnight if you like.
  9. When you are ready to serve, carefully remove the pie from the tin and put on a serving plate.
  10. To decorate, softly whip together the cream and icing sugar.
  11. Dollop or pipe the cream onto the top of the pie and finish with extra lime zest.