Friday, 13 May 2011

Sticky Rhubarb and Ginger Cake

I may have left this post and recipe a little late in the rhubarb season now (not helped by Blogger’s breakdown the last few days), but this cake was so good and rhubarb itself is one of my favourite fruits so I could not let the whole season go by without a rhubarb post. Last year, it was this totally irresistible tart, this year it’s a totally irresistible cake.DSCF8582The cake came from the little book Jamie Oliver released to raise money for Red Nose Day and this recipe caught my eye immediately. Although we are now used to having raspberries, mangoes and strawberries available pretty much all year round as they are imported from abroad, rhubarb remains a fruit available just during its fairly short season – and even then it can be tricky to find. Personally, I love rhubarb. It’s got a gorgeous bright pink colour, it’s tart, its different and above all, it’s delicious!DSCF8590When we’re in Suffolk, the garden has a large rhubarb patch and so I was able to use our very own fruit for this cake. I wanted to make as much use of it as possible and so doubled the given amount in the recipe. I also stirred some through the cake mixture instead of just laying it over the top – and whilst these changes were good, I felt that the cake could still hold even more rhubarb! The cake turned out interesting though – I was not a fan straight out of the oven, but the day after baking it I loved it. Meanwhile, my Mum was the exact opposite – preferring it warm out the oven and not the next day. I’m not sure why this was, but basically if you don’t like this the first day then be patient.DSCF8592The cake contains dark brown sugar and golden syrup, so the sponge is deep and caramelly in flavour. The little specks of ginger dotted throughout add a welcome touch of heat ad change of texture to the cake without being overpowering. The rhubarb syrup saved from cooking the rhubarb is divine but worth pouring all over the cake to stock it full of flavour. All in all, a very interesting, tasty and perfect spring time bake. You can find the recipe (with the original amount of rhubarb) here.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Pineapple Tarts

I wonder who first ever thought that pineapples should be eaten? When you see them – prickly sides, thick skin, tall spiky stalk – they don’t seem like the most inviting fruit. But, once in, pineapples are worth it. Sunny yellow flesh, soft and extremely juicy and turning just a little bit sharp on your tongue if you eat too much at once. But before you happily eat the whole fruit, raw and fresh, these tarts are definitely worth a try. DSCF8524The tarts are super easy and straightforward with just three basic ingredients: pineapple, puff pastry, apricot jam and an egg (based on a Lindsay Bareham recipe from the Times). The longest part of the recipe was carving up the fresh pineapple as I am not experienced, but if it was a real rush I don’t see why canned pineapple could not be used. Once you have cut your puff pastry circles you just pile on your pineapple and bake – simple! After baking you glaze the tarts with the jam to seal them and make them glossy. The pineapple goes tender and soft in the oven whilst the pastry goes crisp and crunchy. Very moreish.DSCF8535They’re a great way of bring a little sunshine into a grey day, accompanied by some crème fraiche and straight out of the oven: delicious. I would make these again but I would also make a few changes, just to tweak the few issues we found. Next time, I would add a layer of something under the pineapple, such as marzipan in the galette (although that may be too sweet here) to create more substance and keep the pastry base crisp. Also, whilst the basic recipe is perfect for a super simple dessert, in the future I would precook or flavour the pineapple to add another aspect to the tarts. For example, a quick caramelise in some sugar in a hot pan would emphasise the sweetness of the pineapple whilst adding some new flavour/texture. With these changes, I doubt these tarts would last very long in my kitchen!DSCF8541