Black Forest trifle

Well, I don’t know about where you live, but the weather has been a bit stink-o around here recently. I guess it goes with the time of year, but the wind and the rain doesn’t really help elevate my mood (which is pretty darn sombre after recent events in the news).

I’m not saying this recipe is going to cure all ills (especially since sugar is the devil these days to a lot of folks. Hey, I still love you, sugar!) but it was certainly a worthy use of leftover cake. I made my standard chocolate cake a few days ago (this time with added flaked almonds) but that’s quite a large amount of cake for one person to get through and I’m a bit short on freezer space so it’s heading towards stale. How to deal? Take some inspiration from ye olde Black Forest gateaux!

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Sainsbury’s were selling frozen cherries at a slightly reduced price recently and I had managed to find space to squish those into my freezer. They also had a modest discount on Alpro custard pots. You may also recall that I am never without a large supply of Fair Trade chocolate from Plamil, so I simply cut up some cake, placed some frozen cherries on top, heated up a pot of custard, added a few spoonfuls of chocolate chips to melt in and about a tablespoon of rum then poured the latter over the former! A good 5 minutes work, if I say so myself 🙂

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a cunning plan!

Going into town to a craft and food festival at the market this morning. I only have £6.70ish in credit so I don’t want to be tempted by anyone selling vegan muffins or other sweet goodies, unless they really look too good to miss, so I’ve treated myself to a sweet breakfast already!

3tbs self-raising flour, 3.5 tbs water, 1/2 tbs sugar, pinch of salt and a handful of frozen redcurrants and dried cherries made a single pancake, which I fried in a bit of oil, then drizzled with golden syrup and lime juice. The berries prevented it getting as brown as I would have liked (or possibly my impatience to eat it did that) but I feel like I’ve taken reasonable precautions now against unnecessary spending!

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Flapjacks on Sunday

flapjacks with chocolate chips melting on top

I’m still feeling a bit sore-throat-esque and also have been offered some casual work tomorrow morning so I’m not sure I’ll feel like getting up early and making potato scones as originally planned. Since I’m aiming to blog every day this month, if something gets posted just after midnight that relieves the pressure for a bit longer than normal!

Instead, here are some rather substantial snacks I made a few days ago based on this peanut butter and golden syrup flapjack recipe

Since my granulated sugar was nearer to hand I used that instead of light brown soft sugar. I didn’t have enough oats by about 65g, so I topped it up with about 35g of oat flour and 30g flax meal. To make up for no brown sugar I subbed one tablespoon golden syrup with molasses, but when I came to mix it all up it looked too dry so I ended up squeezing more syrup in anyway. I also wanted them to be ever so slightly cakey so I put a couple of spoonfuls of water in.  I used sultanas and dried sour cherries instead of raisins, and I couldn’t be faffed with the topping they suggest so I just sprinkled 100g chocolate chips over the surface shortly after they came out of the oven. Apart from those adjustments I followed the recipe faithfully!

And yes, I’ve finally decided to try Instagram three years after everyone else.

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almond and cherry custard pie

Welcome to pie-day Friday!

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Not sure why, but I’ve been hankering after desserts featuring set custard for a while now.  Possibly my recent talk of jellies has made me think of other smooth yet jiggly puddings, or it could be that there seems to have been a lot of discussion of trifle round and about, perhaps kicked off by this very brave attempt to emulate Rachel from Friends’ tradition trifle/cottage pie recipe – http://www.laughfrodisiac.com/4/post/2013/09/veganmofo-veganizing-friends-rachels-english-trifle.html

Whatever the reason, there was nothing to stop me from making a custard dish of some description, as I had both corn flour and custard powder, along with soya milk, sugar and a variety of flavourings. As usual, I had a good nosey at other people’s ideas and was inspired by Isa’s pastry recipe on the Post Punk Kitchen – http://www.theppk.com/2009/09/press-in-almond-crust/

I made up a batch of that, and since the Pyrex casserole dish I was using as a pie dish only measured 8 inches across I had some pastry left over for making some mini pies too.  Having gone renegade already, I further messed with the recipe by using water instead of almond milk, as I didn’t have any. If it had occurred to me that I would shortly be opening a litre of soya milk I could have used some of that instead, but I’m still a bit ill, so not thinking that logically.

It seems like a long time since I made anything with a press-in crust, have to say I messed around with it a bit, trying to get it evenly spread and I don’t think I did that good a job, although the clear Pyrex was useful for holding it up to the window to see where light came through more.

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That was baked for 15 minutes at 180/350, and while that was going on I set about improvising a custard.

Lately my custards haven’t been doing what I want them to. Fairly recently I tried to make a German-style lemon buttercream to go on a carrot cake and ended up with lemon curd instead, and my last attempt at a set custard came nowhere near the sort of jiggly bounce I was after, so I really went to town on the cornflour this time, and added in some firm tofu for good measure.

Although there was a certain charm about the idea of a simple vanilla and almond custard pie, I did think it might be boring to eat a whole one, so I rootled through the cupboards and found a weeny 42g jar of morello cherry jam, and a packet containing about 60g dried sour cherries. I spread the jam around the base of the cooked pie crust and sprinkled the cherries over before embarking on the custard.

Vanilla Almond Custard recipe:

1 pint of soya milk
7 tablespoons cornflour
about 1/3 cup sugar (yeah, I mixed cups with imperial measures. Whatcha gonna do about it??!)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
200g firm tofu

Method:

put the cornflour, tofu and about 1/5 of the soya milk in a blender and whizz until the tofu is incorporated and you have a thick cream.

Put the rest of the soya milk in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat, and whisk in the tofu-cornflour cream and the vanilla and almond flavourings, and whisk until very thick. It won’t take long, so on no account stop stirring or it will catch and/or go lumpy.

Pour over the pie crust.

At this point there are two choices. You can leave it to set, possibly having sprinkled some toasted flaked almonds over the top for decoration and texture, or you can do what I did, which was stick it, and most of the tiny pies into the oven. I had it on a very low heat, but when I looked after 20 minutes the almonds hadn’t changed colour so I whacked it right up to near the top heat for ten minutes to get them looking a bit more crunchy.

For comparison, I filled one of the tiny pies with just the custard and allowed it to set without baking. It did taste pretty good, I would strongly consider going that route in future, as I’m not sure the baking added anything to this sort of pie. However, an unbaked custard would undoubtedly stop the almonds from being crunchy more quickly, so it might be something that would work best being made and served on the same day, whereas there’s no way I’m going to get through a whole custard pie this weekend… although, having just tasted it, I might do that quite easily after all. Lovely thick vanilla-almond custard, juicy and tart cherries and buttery pastry. I know I shouldn’d say this as I made it but it’s really good!

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