Jammy berry, lime and coconut cake

I was in the car with Bert yesterday, went to change gear and couldn’t find it straight away. Bert laughed and laughed. ‘Your driving!’ he said, overcome with mirth. ‘You drive like this!’ And he leaned forward, scrunched his face up, held an imaginary wheel and made a screeching sound.

Today, on an empty country lane, I went round a bend slightly wide. ‘Too fast!’ he chuckled. ‘Corner too fast!’

Despite this, I made him a coconut cake for pudding. ‘You!’ Bert laughed, ‘you put cheese on cake!’ He picked the berries off, stood up, emptied the plate into the bin, put it in the dishwasher and pressed start.

Makes a 25cm square cake 

110g self raising flour

110g golden caster sugar

110g soft butter

2 eggs

Zest of 1 lime, finely grated

80g dessicated coconut

To top:

Dessert of spoon jam (we used raspberry)

Berries (we used blueberries and blackberries)

Scattering of dessicated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180/ gas mark 4.

Beat together all the cake ingredients until smooth, then tip into a lined 25cm square tin. Bake at gas mark 4/ 180 for 25-30 minutes, till golden and springy to the touch. 

Let it cool in the tin for 15 minutes then remove to a wire rack. When completely cool, thinly spread jam over the top. Stud with berries then shower with coconut (not cheese).

Raspberry fool

img_6298

I pity the fool!

Serves 4 (or, in our case, two and a toddler)

1 punnet of raspberries

1 tablespoon golden caster sugar

2 egg white

2 tablespoons golden icing sugar

About 300ml double cream (I used a 284ml tub)

Simmer the raspberries with the golden caster sugar for about five minutes, till they start to break down. Mash them with the back of a fork and leave to cool. You still want chunks in there so don’t mash too thoroughly.

Whisk the egg whites until they form peaks. Tip them gently into your serving bowl. Then whisk the double cream and icing sugar till they form stiff peaks too. (Instructions always say to whisk in separate bowls, but so long as you do the eggs first, since eggs are the more temperamental, you can use the same bowl and whisk for the cream.) Gently fold the whipped cream into the egg whites and then swirl the berries through to get a ripple affect. Chill before you serve.

Today Bert declared Ray (the dog) to be ‘beautiful’ and then asked if he was beautiful. I said he was and that we’re beautiful to everyone who loves us. By that logic, Ray is indeed beautiful. And yet…

Red and white jam tarts

jam tart

Bert had half a cucumber and two jam tarts for dinner.

I obviously cut the cucumber up, rather than just hand it to him like a banana.

He could have had some home made fishcakes. But no. Just cucumber.

We met his friends Fearne and Hugo for a play in the playground this afternoon. He proudly showed Fearne his plastic dinosaurs and let her play with the ‘green ones’. If you know Bert’s obsession with green, then this is even more touching. He then wrestled her to the ground over possesion of a bouncy mushroom. And finished off with an air hug and a kiss on the lips.

The guy’s got style.

Makes 8 tarts

1 block of puff pastry

Flour for rolling

Strawberry jam

A punnet of mixed red and white currants

Roll the pastry out till it’s about 1-2 mm thick and cut out large circles with a big mug (or something of about that size). Line the compartments of a cupcake tin with the circles – not the ones with the little, shallow indentations, but proper deep ones. Drop a generous teaspoon of jam into each, and scatter over currants to cover the jam like little jewels, alternating white and red with each tart. Put in an oven at 180 for about 10-12 minutes, till puffed up and golden. (That’s near the bottom of the Aga roasting oven.)

The fresh currants look pretty and they give a sharper tang to balance the sweetness of the jam, so these feel more grown up than normal jam tarts. Saying that, I told Bert’s dad I’d made jam tarts and he ran over to them in great excitement, saw that they had fresh fruit on and wandered off saying he’d ‘save them for later’. Meanwhile, Bert ate two.

This would have been a good one to make with Bert if he showed any interest at all in cooking with me wasn’t sleeping off his adult portion of lunchtime meatballs.

 

 

Berry and brown sugar frozen yoghurt

froyog

Serves 2.5

200ml plain yoghurt

50ml double cream

80g brown sugar

About 100g of strawberries and about 20g of blueberries (though to be honest, I just used what I had)

Put the yoghurt, cream and brown sugar into an icecream maker. While it’s churning, blitz half the berries in a food processor and roughly chop the rest. Add the blitzed berries to the freezing yoghurt and then fold in the chopped ones at the end. Churn till icecream-like. So easy you could make a second batch after your toddler’s in bed.

This really only counts as an easy, toddler dinner time pudding if you have the relevant electronics. I wouldn’t bother if I didn’t. Bert’s looks liquid in the picture because he’d been playing ‘Simon Says’ (Bert says) for 20 minutes. ‘Simon’ really likes us to put our hands on our head, pull two strands of our hair in opposite directions and do a mafia shrug.

Little blackberry and ginger upside down cakes

blackberry

Not very seasonal – but very nice. This is basically a pineapple upside down cake, purpled. I do this in ounces not metric, because it makes easy proportions with the egg (2 ounces of everything else for every egg).

Makes 6 muffin sized cakes

2 eggs

4 oz self raising flour

4 oz golden caster sugar

4 oz soft butter

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger

A few blackberries

Beat the egg, sugar, butter and flour together (in a food processor for laziness) till whippy. Butter the insides of a muffin tin, pop a layer of blackberries in the bottom of each and top with batter. Cook at 180 or on the grid shelf on the bottom of the Aga roasting oven for 15 minutes.

The creamy gingerness reminds me of the ginger-iced shortbread me and my sisters used to buy on the way home from school.

Storecupboard berry frangipane tart

frangipane

Should serve 8. Served 3.5. Let’s blame Bert.

75g golden caster sugar

75g soft butter

2 eggs

75g ground almonds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frozen puff pastry – 500g pack (there will be some leftover)

Frozen berries – enough to cover the pastry

Beat the sugar and butter together in a food processor (or by hand), then beat in the eggs and stir through the almonds and vanilla.

Line a pie dish with the puff pastry, cover with a layer of fruit and then cover the lot with the frangipane filling. Bake at 190 or in the middle of an Aga roasting oven for 30 minutes.

For dinner tonight Bert ate five new potatoes and three slices of tart. He was quite literally begging us for tart. Then he zoomed off in his tractor with John the bunny riding pillion.

Aromatic slow roast lamb feast with tomatoey broad beans, crushed new potatoes and orange berries for dessert

lamb feast

Today Daddy was home after a week away and Bert’s big brother and sister came to see him. He celebrated by not taking an afternoon nap.

Serves 4.5

For the lamb

I shoulder of lamb

1/2 a teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1/2 a teaspoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of zaa’tar

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Good glug or two of sunflower oil or a similar light oil

For the tomatoey broad beans

About 250g broad beans (I had a third of a bag of frozen ones)

About 1/2 a tin of tomatoes

Leaves from 2 springs of rosemary, finely chopped

Good handful of parmesan

For the crushed new potatoes

About 500g new potatoes

Really good glug or two of olive oil

Salt and pepper

For the orange berries

One punnet of strawberries

One punnet of raspberries

Zest of half an orange, finely grated

Juice of half an orange

Get the meat to room temperature then combine the spices and garlic with enough oil to make a thin paste. Rub the aromatic oil all over the meat, top and bottom, and then pop it in a roasting tray in a hot oven (about 220 degrees) for 20 minutes, before transferring to a cool oven for about seven hours. I used the simmering oven of the Aga, which I think is the equivalent of 120 degrees.

Meanwhile, your baby can laugh like a drain at a bouncing ball, at a dog jumping for a bouncing ball, at a dog looking like it’s nodding if you bounce a ball next to it, at a dog chewing a bouncy ball, at a dog not wanting to stop chewing a bouncy ball… the seven hours will fly by. At the end of its cooking time the lamb will just fall off the bone. Its tenderness is great for those of us with no molars, but to be honest no-one complained.

Simmer the broad beans till cooked through – about five minutes. Then add to the tomatoes with the rosemary and a little bit of olive oil. You could add a couple of chopped anchovies at this point, but I live with anchovy deniers. Simmer slowly for ten minutes or so then stir the grated parmesan through.

Cook the potatoes, whole and unpeeled, in salted water till tender then roughly mash with the olive oil and season. The oil is acting like the butter in normal mash here, so don’t be stingey with it.

Grate the zest over the berries and then squeeze the orange juice over. This is so simple but absolutely delicious.

We had our main course with roast carrots and salad. Bert ate loads. His little pot belly really isn’t so little at the moment.