Tag Archives: Birthdays

Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything in the sweet or pud line, but then it’s pretty rare I make anything outside of a good old crumble, bread and butter pudding or a cake. But today, armed with some handsome pickings of homegrown Rhubarb, I tasked myself with being a little more inventive and put together this cheeky wee tart. A simple (bought!) puff pastry base, smeared with a fine layer of gingered & slightly sweetened creme fraiche and topped with roasted rhubarb it really is simplicity in itself. And was pretty heavenly served with a generous dollop of the flavoured creme fraiche. It’s quite a ‘tart’ tart but then that’s how I personally like my fruit. Feel free to be more generous with the sugar than myself.

Rhubarb

On a sweeter note, it was my wee fella’s Big Third Birthday last week. The requested blinged-up (he LOVES his silver balls!) Choccie Cake was successfully made and (messily) consumed.

Happy Big Third Birthday to Baba Jacques!

Happy Big Third Birthday to Baba Jacques!

Jacques

Since rhubarb is very much in season I shall of course be entering my tart to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event.

Simple and in Season

Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart:

Serves 6:

6 – 8 Rhubarb Stalks

2 dessertspoons of Dark Soft Brown Sugar

3 heaped tablespoons of Creme Fraiche (half or full fat)

½ teaspoon of Ground Ginger

250g of ready made Puff Pastry

a little Plain Flour for rolling

a medium Free Range Egg, lightly beaten

a teaspoon of Icing Sugar, plus a little more for serving if you wish

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

Start with roasting off the rhubarb. Wash and cut the stems into roughly even lengths – anywhere between 5 and 10 cm. Place on a baking tray and scatter over a dessertspoon of the dark soft brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of water. Place in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Leave the oven on for the tart.

Meanwhile mix the creme fraiche with the remaining dessertspoon of soft brown sugar, the ginger and any juices from the rhubarb tray.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a rectangular shape. Roll it out a little larger than you intend the tart to be, so you can cut off some side strips. It should be big enough to house your rhubarb fairly closely. Cut 0.5 to 1 cm off each side and glue on to the sides with a brushing of beaten egg. The total size of my tart was about 15 by 30 cm which is probably what you’re aiming at. Brush the side strips with the egg.

Spread a fine layer of the creme fraiche mixture over the base of the tart. There should be plenty left to serve with the cooked tart. Lay the rhubarb strips. Sprinkle (through a sieve) over a teaspoon of the icing sugar. Place in the still hot oven for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is browned, cooked and risen.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with a generous dollop of the flavoured creme fraiche. Dust with a little extra icing sugar if you wish.

A slice of Rhubarb Tart

You might also like:

Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd

Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd

Clementine & Almond Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake


Parsnip, Pecan and Maple Syrup Cake

Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake

The recipe for this cake caught my eye recently on the BBC Good Food site and begged to be baked! Funnily enough I’d been searching for a little birthday cake inspiration and this happened to be the first one that popped up. Not the obvious choice for a birthday cake, but I made it nevertheless for Mr F’s recent Big Day. And being the winner of the Good Food’s 20th Birthday Cake Competition and coming complete with an enormity of rave reviews how could I not?.

I’ve been meaning to try my hand at baking with parsnips all parsnip season, and was particularly delighted to find such a gorgeous recipe. So far my foray into veggie baking has taken me to Beetroot (wonderful in a choccie cake, sadly baked pre-blog but must be made again!), Squash, Pumpkin (Chocolate Pumpkin Cake), Courgettes (Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd) and of course Carrots. Do please enlighten me if there’re any other veggies worthy of caking up?

Parsnip, Pecan & Maple Syrup Cake

Since I barely changed a bean of this recipe (other than slightly lowering the sugar content and upping the amount of apple), I’m not going to re-write the recipe but it can be found on the BBC site by clicking here: Caroline Berwick’s Parsnip & Maple Syrup Cake.  Please do try it too, it’s a wonderfully moist and wonderfully flavoured cake that’ll wow the most ardent of parsnip haters.  And the mascarpone and maple syrup centre is truly heavenly!.

Being a ‘bookmarked recipe’, I shall be entering it to Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes February Bookmarked Recipes Round-Up.

bookmarked recipes new logo

As parsnips are well and truly in season (though I fear I only have two or three biggies left in the ground) I’m entering the recipe to Ren’s Fabulicious Food Simple and in Season event, this month hosted  by Cake, Crumbs and Cooking.

Simple and In Season

Parsnip Cake

One Year Ago:     Beef in Guinness

You might also like:

Chocolate  Pumpkin Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake


My Girly Fairy Cake Heaven!

After all those tomatoes here’s a bit of cakey relief! It was my daughter’s fourth birthday a couple of weeks ago and I copped out of making a big show stopper iced cake and opted for these quickie, but nevertheless impressive (to a four year old anyway), pink iced glittery and oh so girly fairy cakes.

Unfortunately what she really wanted was a ‘horsey’ cake, but I’d made her a ‘horsey’ cake last year to the very best of my cakey baking and icing abilities. After initially recoiling in horror at the prospect of shaping and icing a horses head and/or body I had a major brain wave last year to construct a substantially simpler rectangular field of (plastic shop bought) horses complete with choccie finger fencing. It was a success. A huge success. But not a success I could beat this year…unless obviously I made her the exact same cake!

Last year’s third birthday ‘Horsey’ Cake!

So huge apologies Little Miss F, but I am not, nor ever will be a prospective candidate for the GBBO and thus it’s highly unlikely I’ll be carving that horses head too soon my lovely. Shame. She’s completely and utterly ridiculously infatuated with horses, and has been from a year old. Interestingly it’s come from no-where as we’re not horsey people at all. It’s the only thing she’s ever been interested in, every conversation or question she’ll without fail relate back to horses in some way. She only eats in the belief that one day she’ll grow enough to reach the stirrups (she’s no foodie, but does have a particular partiality for carrots, you guessed it, because horses do), the only film she’s EVER watched the whole of is Black Beauty (and I have no idea HOW many times she’s now watched it), she dreams of horses and riding EVERY night and loves nothing more than to watch the horse racing on TV, or worse in the local bar with all the drunken men folk whilst supping on an apple juice. Her life really is horses. And she’s going to be expensive.

So anyway back to the cakes, horsey cake request aside my pink and glittery job lot of fairy cakes seemed to be a good second best and she was, luckily, suitably impressed. Albeit most of her birthday party guests, being boys, weren’t so impressed. She doesn’t seem to have many girlie friends does funny Little Miss F!

Incidentally don’t be put off by the number (48), they’re really a doddle and don’t take long at all to bake, ice and decorate. Albeit I did bake them in a couple of batches as I don’t have that many cake tins or a big enough oven for that matter. The good thing about lots of little cakes is if you balls up on the decoration no one will notice….unlike on a big show-stopper cake. And they’re easy for your party guests to pick up and scoff and take home.

Pink & Glittery Fairy Birthday Cakes!

To make 48 small buttercream-iced fairy cakes:

For the Cakes:

330g of caster sugar

330g of butter, room temperature

6 medium eggs, free range, lightly beaten

3 teaspoons of vanilla extract

330g of self-raising flour

For the Buttercream Icing:

200g of butter, room temperature

400g of icing sugar

a few drops of red food colouring

For the Decoration:

Anything small, edible and pink/glittery

Mini smarties or other mini sweet or chocolates

Hundreds & Thousands

Edible glitter or sprinkles

Silver balls

Candles

Special Equipment:

4 small x 12 fairy cake tins and a large oven! Or 2 tins and 2 batches of half quantity cake mix and a smaller oven! 48 fairy cake cases

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4. Line the fairy cake tins with the cake cases.

In a large mixing bowl beat together the room temperature butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs a little at a time. Then stir in the vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon until well combined.

Spoon a teaspoon of the cake batter into each of the cake cases. Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until firm to touch and golden brown on the top (you could also insert a cake skewer and if it comes out clean they’re ready).

When baked place on a cooling rack to cool.

Meanwhile make your icing by beating the butter until very soft. Add half the sieved icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat until smooth again.

Now add a few drops of the red food colouring and beat until you have an even colour. You can’t really tell from the pictures but I iced half my cakes in a pale pink and the other half in a slightly deeper pink. If you want to do this just divide the icing in half and add a little more colouring to one of the halves.

Now for the fun bit!. Spoon about a half a teaspoon of the icing onto each fairy cake and smear evenly over. Gather your decorations and get creative! Kids love doing this so get them involved if you can (although not so good if it’s their birthday cake as it may just spoil the surprise!). I love this part, and it’s surprisingly quick to decorate 48 cakes!.

Arrange on a plate or cake stand. Add the appropriate number of candles and there you have it, Girlie Fairy Cake Heaven!

For Jacques’ birthday I made him this easy peasy Chocolate Birthday Cake. Here’s some other party food ideas: Cheesy Biscuits, Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Mini Muffins, Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tartlets (good for the mums and dads!), Chocolate Brownies (always a winner), A Trio of Dips for Babies, Toddler & Big People.


Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins

We’re just over the middle of the loooooonnnnng 10 week, yes TEN week summer school holidays here. France reportedly has more school holidays than anywhere else in the world, a great place to be if you’re a teacher. Actually I moan a lot about them but in truth I’m quite enjoying it really, well this holiday anyway. The first half we had lots of visitors which is always fun, and now we haven’t but I’m just enjoying being lazy and not having to get dressed and washed and breakfasted (well eventually we do!) and do the school run (not that it’s terribly stressful round here, 5 kms in about 6 mins, and it’s rare you ever see another car until you get to the actual school and there’s never any hassle parking). This holiday it’s lots of walks around the garden, fruit picking, marathon trampoline and paddling pool sessions, visits to local parks and the odd lake or swimming pool dip. Plus plenty of baking. I’m not going to mention the squabbling, squealing, screaming or sulking. Really I’m not. Ahhhrrrrr.

My daughter’s now nearly four and loves to bake (she’s been at school since she was just over two by the way, they start them young here!). Strangely though she’s not really a big cake fan (we really should have a DNA test done) but does love to eat anything she’s helped make. And Jacques at just over two has now decided he wants a piece of the baking action and is very much my master stirrer. He likes his cake but also has a partiality for savory. So during these long summer jollidays we’ve had many a baking session. Many way too messy to blog and show, but some just about okish!. Today it was the turn of some really-fruity fairly-healthy mini-muffins made with bananas, apricots and sultanas. I like to make my muffins small for the kids (and for me so I can eat twice as many) and tend to make them in the normal fairy cake sized cases and tins, but feel free to make them a normal muffin size too.

Use really ripe, preferably over-ripe with blackened skins, bananas.

Miss F the Urchin Child & Champion Spoon Licker

Makes 24 mini-muffins or 12 regular:

250g of plain flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

a large pinch of cinnamon

180g of golden caster sugar

2 large eggs

75ml of sunflower oil

75ml of creme fraiche (half fat works fine) or yogurt

2 very large over-ripe bananas or 3 medium sized

80g of apricots, chopped (the slightly squishy ‘ready to eat’ ones are best, but dried work too)

80g of sultanas

Preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a largish mixing bowl then stir in the sugar.

In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, oil and creme fraiche or yogurt. And in another bowl roughly mash up the bananas with the back of a fork.

Now for some serious stirring action. Throw the wet mixture into the dry along with the mashed bananas, chopped apricots and sultanas. Stir until well combined.

Place in cake or muffin cases in cake or muffin trays. It’s about a dessertspoon of the raw mixture for a fairy cake sized mini-muffin.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until a little golden on the top, firm to touch and an inserted cake skewer or fork comes out crumb free.

Remove from the trays and cool on a cooling rack for as long as your little ones will allow. Go gobble.

Here’s some other easy peasy baking with kids ideas: Cheesy Biscuits, Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Mini-Muffins, Chocolate Brownies

The new Naked Chef, admittedly it was 38°C and we were baking!


Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Mini Muffins

Toddlers &  Young Children, Finger Foods, Grown Ups too!

We make cheesy muffins pretty often at Chez Foti as both my kids adore them (and so do I!), especially when they’re still warm out of the oven. They’ve each been known to eat five in one go!  As it was public holidays here last Thursday and Friday and no school we did a spot of baking together. Actually the holiday was only officially on the Thursday but being France employees, teachers included, like to take the Friday off too and make a long weekend of it. Most of May it seems is taken up by these long weekends.

Anyway back to the baking, Francesca who’s now three and a half loves to do all the stirring, whisking, muffin case choosing and placing in the tins, dolloping and sprinkling. It’s a messy business but well worth it, if your patience and tolerance levels will allow!. Kids always seem much more interested in eating anything they’ve had a helping hand in making. Though Jacques at just two was more than happy to do some scribbling, with the occasional cursory glance, on the other side of the table. He participated in the eating only, which needless to say he excelled himself at again. I’m sure it won’t be long before he wants to join in too as he’s a natural born foodie.

As well as a mid morning or tea time treat savoury muffins are a great alternative to all the sweet stuff at kids parties, and are good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. My monsters had these for their dinner with some baked beans on the side. They happened to be coming out of the oven unintentionally at their dinner time anyway and there was no way they’d eat less than three so dinner they were!.

I make small fairy cake size mini-muffins for my kids using ordinary cake cases, and this recipe makes about 24. If you’re  making ordinary muffin sizes you should make 12.

To make 24 small mini-muffins, or 12 ordinary sized: 

2 medium free range eggs

250ml of semi-skimmed or full fat milk

85g of butter, melted then allowed to cool

280g of plain flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

a pinch of salt

a pinch of pepper

½ teaspoon of English mustard powder

140g of Cheddar cheese, grated

100g of ham, diced into roughly 1cm squares

100g of drained tinned sweetcorn (or defrosted frozen sweetcorn)

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6. Line muffin or cake tins with 12 or 24 cases depending on which size you opt to make.

Beat the eggs together, stir in the milk and the melted and cooled butter.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt & pepper and mustard powder.  Make a well in the middle and pour in the egg, milk and butter mixture. Stir together gently.

Stir in ⅔ of the grated Cheddar, the diced ham and sweetcorn and stir well without over mixing.

Spoon the mixture into the cake or muffin cases. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tops.

Place in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes until risen, firm to touch and a little golden on the tops.

Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for a few minutes then dig in….as if you couldn’t resist! They’re at their best eaten fresh out of the oven.

How about trying these other recipes? Cheesy Biscuits, Choccie Brownies, a Trio of Dips,  Homemade Fish Fingers or Sunday Dinner Leftover Cakes

Little Miss F making the same muffins at Grandma’s a few weeks ago


Chocolate Birthday Cake

It was Baba Jacques’ 2nd Birthday a couple of weeks ago. For one reason or another ,and usually by popular request, I tend to make lemon or orange birthday cakes or a combo of the two. But this time I fancied a change, and as Jacques’ never really that bothered about cakes anyway I went for a choccie one as that’s what I fancied!

As ever it was a quickie last minute operation and my Google search for ‘easy chocolate cake’ came up with this gem of a recipe, thanking you kindly The BBC. It’s a recipe I know I’ll be using time and time again for birthday cakes, or for a special tea time or after dinner treat. It’s incredibly quick, easy and surprisingly low in fat (choccie icing aside anyway). Not that you would have any indication of this from it’s rich fudgily (I’m making up words again) moist texture and depth of flavour.

So here’s the recipe, that I haven’t changed a bean of from the original: It makes two 20cm round cakes.

For the Cake:

225g of plain flour

350g of caster sugar

85g of cocoa powder

1½ teaspoons of baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda

2 free-range eggs

250ml of milk

125ml of vegetable oil

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

250ml of boiling water

For the Icing:

200g of plain chocolate

200ml of double cream

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/Gas 4.

Grease and line two 20cm wide cake tins with butter or oil.

Place all the cake ingredients together, except for the boiling water, in a large bowl. Using an electric whisk or a wooden spoon beat together until very well combined.

Slowly add the boiling water a little at a time, mixing continuously. The cake mixture will now be very liquid.

Evenly pour into the cake tins and bake in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes. The cakes are ready when the top is firm to touch and an inserted skewer or fork comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tins.

Now prepare the icing. Place the chocolate and cream in a saucepan and place over a very gentle heat. Stir continuously. Once the chocolate has melted into the cream remove from the heat and whisk the mixture until it’s very smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool for one to two hours.

Remove the cakes from the tins. Spread about a third of the icing over the top of one of the cakes. Sandwich the other cake on top. Now spread the remainder of the icing over the top and sides of the entire cake.

Decoration with Smarties purely optional!

Other recipes you might like, Chocolate Brownies, Cheesy Biscuits, Sticky Apple Pudding, Bread & Butter Leftovers Pudding


Nigella’s Choccie Brownies

If I want to bake something yum quickly then this is what I make, such a doddle, quick and generally faultless….even in our worse than useless oven (though admittedly I do occasionally have to slice off a burnt bum!). But this week we had the good fortune of Grandma’s wonderful fully functioning temperature controlled oven! Hence the run on half term baking.

I often serve brownies as a crowd pleaser pudding when we have friends round, and tend to keep a few in the freezer for impromptu visits. Unbelievably great served warm with ice cream and hot choc sauce.

Sadly I can’t any glory for the recipe as it’s originally the lovely Nigella’s (from her How to be a Domestic Goddess book) and was brought to my attention by the even lovelier supermum-supercook Lucinda. Lucinda used to bake my husband (and occasionally me) whole batches of these lovely brownies when he was working for her as a builder a few years ago in London, he’s such a sucker for homemade cakes and would gladly except them on part payment terms! Since leaving London I’ve taken over baking the brownies and do you know what, he still doesn’t rate them as highly as his Lovely Lucinda’s…despite using the exact same Nigella recipe. But luckily all those who don’t know Lucinda do!.

The original recipe calls for walnuts (250g) which occasionally I add, though more often don’t as we never seem to have any in. I’ve also added fresh raspberries and white chocolate chunks to the recipe in summers past which takes the humble brownie to a whole new level. As so much chocolate goes into these brownies you can really tell the difference if you use a good quality bar with a minimum 70% cocoa solids content.

Makes 30 – 35 small brownies:

300g butter
300g good quality plain chocolate, broken into chunks
5 medium eggs
400g caster sugar
1 dessertspoon of vanilla extract
185g plain flour
a large pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Butter and line with baking paper a brownie tin that’s about 25 by 30 cm (or even a little smaller if that’s what you have).

Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over a very low heat, stirring very regularly. Once melted set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile whisk the eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract. Stir in the slightly cooled chocolate mix. Finally add the salt and flour and combine the whole lot together with just a few turns of your mixing spoon. Apparently the trick to great brownies (from Lucinda the Queen of Brownies herself) is not to over stir the mixture. I get my three year old daughter to do this bit for me, a perfect task for her none too deft little hands!

Scrape the mixture into your tin, shake a little to evenly distribute and place in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes.

Towards the end of the cooking time regularly check the brownies as you don’t want to overdo them. They’re ready when the top is dry with a paler brown surface, but the middle is very dark brown, dense and still a little bit gooey. Remember that they’ll continue to cook a little more after they’re removed from the oven.

Whilst still hot score the top into little brownie squares


Cheesy Biscuits for Half Term

It’s half term for number one child this week, actually this two weeks…they generously do two in France, the country of more school holidays than anywhere else in the world! So we’re on holiday in the warmer climes of England luxuriating in the wonders of a centrally heated Grandma and Grandpa house, escaping the snowy sub zero temperatures of Siberian SW France.

Yesterday we had a spot of mummy and daughter cheesy biscuit baking. Great fun. This is a really REALLY simple recipe and great to make with kids. I make them quite often with my daughter who’s three as she hasn’t got a particularly sweet tooth (except for chocolate) and likes her cheese so these always go down a storm. Especially when she gets to cut them out herself with animal shaped cutters. Believe me she ate six before I had time to get the camera out and get a snap! If you want to get your kids into baking, invest in some interesting shaped cutters (whatever they’re into!) and make some biscuits, I guarantee they’ll love it.

And these cheesy gems are pretty popular with grown up folk too. You could always add a pinch of hot paprika to the biscuit mix to jazz it up a little, and cut them into more traditional round shapes.

80g grated mature cheddar

50g butter

110g plain flour plus a little extra for rolling

½ tsp of english mustard powder

1 egg yolk

salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 180℃.

Place the cheese, butter, flour and mustard powder in a food processor and whiz until you have a fine crumb.

Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper and the egg yolk and whiz again until a ball is formed in the processor. If a ball doesn’t form easily add a splash of cold water and whiz again. Remove from the processor.

If you have time cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for half an hour or so. If not, you can make them immediately but the dough is a little stickier.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it’s about 3 to 4mm thick. Cut the biscuits into your desired shapes. Re-roll any scraps until all the dough is used.

Place on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 7 to 10 minutes until puffed up and a little golden. Keep checking them regularly as they can overcook very quickly.

Once cooked remove from the tray immediately and place on a cooling rack to cool for a minute or two before eating. They’re particularly lovely eaten a little warm fresh from the oven. Enjoy!

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