The Musette: spiced apple bread & butter pudding

My beloved believes every meal should end with something sweet. I try to oblige, often crafting puddings out of odds and ends. One of my regular standbys is that Victorian favourite, Bread & Butter Pudding. I’ll generally use brioche or panettone that is past its best. You cannot make a decent bread and butter pudding with fresh bread.

It’s not a quick dessert as the stale bread has to be fully immersed in the rich custard before it’s baked otherwise it’s not unctuous enough. I like to heat the milk and any flavourings beforehand, leaving them to infuse the milk (or cream) with their heady perfume before pouring it over the beaten eggs and sugar.

At this stage, I’ll often add some dried fruit, such as raisins soaked in rum, if I’m using a plain brioche. Or, as in this case, some chopped apple and raisins gently poached this time in a mixture of rum, cinnamon and honey.

However, I always bake the pudding in a bain marie to ensure  a smoother texured custard, plus it keeps the temperature more uniform and gives a softer, silkier set to the finished dish.

Ingredients (serves 4 hungry cyclists)

  • 50g (1/3 cup) raisins or sultanas
  • 3 tbsp dark rum
  • 400ml (1 2/3 cups) whole milk, single cream or plant-based milk
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 crushed cardamon pods
  • 1 star anise
  • 6 fat slices of stale brioche, fruit bread or panettone, cut into small chunks
  • 3 large organic eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp raw cane sugar or honey
  • 2 medium sized eating apples
  • 1 tbsp raw cane sugar
  • nutmeg to grate

Method

1. If you’re using panettone or fruit bread, you can skip this step if you like. Put the dried fruit into a small cup, pour over the rum, cover tightly and leave to soak overnight.

2. Peel, core, slice and chop the apple and cook with the raw sugar/honey, adding the rehydrated dried fruit and any of the remaining rum, plus the powdered cinnamon. Cook until still al dente.

3. When you’re ready to make the pudding, put the milk into a small pan with the spices (except ground cinnamon). Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat, and allow to cool and infuse.

4. Meanwhile, chop up your bread of choice. Beat the eggs together until well mixed, and then remove the spices from the milk and discard before beating it into the egg mixture. (Usually, you’d beat the eggs and sugar together but I’ve not done this as there’s enough sweetness with the honey cooked apples). Put the chopped bread and fruit into the eggy mixture and leave to soak at least 20 minutes, ideally a couple of hours.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan). Pour the bread mixture into a 1 litre (4-cup) baking dish, scatter with 1 tbsp raw cane sugar and grate some fresh nutmeg over the top.

6. Place the baking dish in a roasting tin and and fill halfway with hot water to make a bain marie. Cook for 35 – 45 minutes until golden brown on top but the custard should still have a slight wobble. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving as is or with cream.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. Conventionally, the bread in bread & butter pudding is sliced and buttered. By using a bread which includes butter, I eliminate this step. Plus cubing the bread makes it easier to arrange in the baking dish, but that’s just my preference.

2. Typically, I’ll make bread & butter pudding with an enriched fruit bread so there’s no need to add butter or further fruit.

3. You can, of course, make a more traditional bread & butter pudding flavoured with the seeds from a vanilla pod.

4. I’ve also made the pudding with apricot jam filled brioche, substituting dried apricots for the sultanas.

5. You can also make a decious dessert with left over pain au chocolat (or croissants), even melting some dark chocolate into the custard before baking.

6. The finished dessert is not overly sweet, you may need to add more sweetner of choice for your taste.

 

The Musette: kaiserschmarr’n with rhubarb

A kaiserschmarr’n is a rich, thick Austrian pancake that is traditionally served for dessert. We’ve typically eaten it after a hard day’s cross country skiing. However, I also think it makes a fabulous and quick brunch dish. It is thick, eggy and torn to bits during the cooking process, which is great for those of us who are not adept at flipping pancakes – yes, that’s me! It easily doubles up if you’re cooking for a crowd. It may look a bit messy, but it tastes fabulous! It’s usually served with a fruit compote and I just happened to have some home-made rhubarb compote hanging around in the fridge.

Ingredients (serves 2 hungry cyclists or cross-country skiers)

  • 60g (1/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 4 large organic eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 240ml (1 cup) whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp organic lemon zest
  • 60g (1/2 cup) plain (all-purpose flour)
  • Icing (powdered) sugar to serve

Method

1. In one bowl whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, milk, vanilla, salt and lemon zest until fully combined. Whisk in the flour a bit at a time, whisking out any lumps.

2. Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture. I find it easiest to mix in 1/4 of the batter first and then the rest, taking care not to deflate the batter.

3. Then pour the batter into a warm non-stick pan (medium-heat) and cook as if you were cooking scrambled eggs turning the batter over gently to ensure all of it is cooked, around 10-15 minutes. Do not allow the batter to colour.

4. Serve warm, topped with powdered sugar and with the compote on the side – enjoy!

 

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. Traditionally, rum-soaked raisins are added to the batter and the kaiserschmarr’n is served with either an apple or plum compote.

2. You can also incorporate the fruit in the kaiserschmarr’n by gently cooking it in the pan first, adding flavourings of choice, before pouring in the batter.

3. For example, I cook apples in a little butter and honey with either vanilla or cinnamon while I cook the plums with mixed spice. The possibilities are endless!

4. If, heaven forbid, you’ve made too much, you can easily reheat it on another day.

The Musette: vegan scones

What better to enjoy with my recently made strawberry jam? Actually, it was my beloved’s idea. He said:

This jam would be even more delicious on scones.

Now, I cannot eat scones because they contain dairy in the form of butter and milk/cream. So I wondered whether I could create some non-dairy scones. Turns out you can and they’re incredibly light, soft and flaky!

Instead of plain (all-purpose) flour, I used white whole-wheat which gives the scones a lighter colour and a subtler nutty flavour. I also used raw cane sugar instead of granulated. Like the whole-wheat, this translates into a deeper flavour – in this case, caramely, molasses-y vibes. It also means a crunchier, crustier crust.

Ingredients (makes 6 scones, enough for 3 hungry cyclists)

  • 240g (2 cups) white whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp  raw cane sugar, plus more to sprinkle on top
  • 3 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 375g (1 2/3 cups) very cold coconut or oat cream (non vegans can use double cream), plus more to brush on top

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6 (400°F). Line a half sheet pan with greaseproof (parchment) paper or a silicone mat.

 

2. Sift the flour and combine it with the sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add half the non-dairy cream, stir a few times, then add the rest of the non-dairy cream and stir until a mostly-cohesive dough forms.

3. Finish bringing together with cold hands until there are no more noticeable dry spots, but don’t overwork the dough! Transfer it to a lightly floured work surface and use your hands to pat the dough into a square or rectangle approx. 3 cm (1 inch) high.

 

4. Divide into six pieces. Brush the tops with plenty of non-dairy cream, then sprinkle with lots of sugar (they should be completely covered).

5. Transfer the scones to the lined baking sheet, spacing them out evenly. Bake for about 23 minutes – rotating the tray halfway through – until well-risen, with browned bottoms and a light golden crust.

6. Scones are always best the day they’re baked – especially when still warm. However, any leftover – as if! – can be frozen to enjoy another day.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. While these scones were really light and fluffy, they did look a bit rough around the edges. The second batch I cut into squares and then, once baked, cut out scone circles which looked much more presentable.

The Musette: oven-roasted strawberry jam

I love making jams, marmalades and chutneys though I generally only make enough for our own needs. Occasionally I’ll make more to give as gifts for visitors and hosts.

I like making jam in the oven because it makes so much less mess. I know it sounds a bit strange but the result will quickly make you a convert because the fruit’s natural and added sugars slowly caramelise in the oven while the fruit reduces and concentrates its wonderful fragrent flavour. I should warn you that this will be the most intensely flavoured strawberry jam you will ever sample.

This particular batch was made from cut-price strawberries from a farm stall. It’s great for when you need to use up those quickly ripening berries in the fridge or when they are on sale at the local market. Frozen strawberries also work well in this jam, as does any ripe fruit.

This phenomenal jam gives your morning toast or “tartine”an instant upgrade but deserves to be centre stage in lots of delicious desserts too. It is amazing in a simple whipped cream “fool”, a delicious filling for turnovers or an outstanding topping for cheesecake. Any dessert in which you would use strawberry preserves or jam will be made even better by adding this intensely flavourful jam. It’s delicious on scones – recipe coming soon!

Ingredients

  • 1kg (2lbs) very ripe strawberries washed, hulled and quartered
  • 200g (1 cup) jam (preserving) or granulated sugar
  • juice of a freshly squeezed organic orange and lemon
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) orange flavoured liquer, I used Cointreau (optional)

Method

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large glass bowl, cover and leave overnight in the fridge.

2. When the sugar has dissolved, put into an ovenproof container and roast in the oven at 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 (350°F), stirring occasionally until the jam reduces and the juice almost completely boils off approx. 3 hours.

3. Watch it closely toward the end of the cooking time because the sugars will be very concentrated and will more easily burn.

4. Pour jam into sterilised jars and seal. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 months.

The Musette: spiced rice pudding

If I have a flat full of cyclists, or indeed guests, you’ll generally find a large bowl of home-made rice pudding in my fridge. It’s instant comfort food which can easily double as a quick and nourishing breakfast before a long ride. Pretty much everyone loves it because it evokes fond childhood memories. My husband claims it’s one of the few dishes his mother used to cook well. Frankly I doubt it as, like cigarettes, the outlaw’s cooking carries a government health warning!

I don’t like a skin on my rice pudding. I cook it on the top of the stove and I eat it cold, often with compote of spiced fruit. This particular recipe came about a few summers’ ago when I trained at altitude with some cycling friends who (like me) had sworn off milk, cream and white sugar.

Ingredients (serves eight hungry cyclists)

  • 1 litre (4 cups) rice or oat milk
  • 500ml (2 cups) coconut milk
  • 1 fat vanilla pod, split lengthways
  • 1 medium-sized cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 150g (1 cup) short whole grain pudding rice
  • 3 tbsp of rice or date or maple syrup

Method

1. Warm the milk, vanilla pod and seeds, star anise and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over a low heat until simmering. This helps infuse the flavours.

2. Add the rice which you’ve pre-rinsed under a hot-water tap and continue cooking, stirring from time to time until the rice is tender. I find this takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the heat.

3. Warning: don’t be put off by the putty-coloured and thick wall-paper paste consistency of the pudding.

4. Gently stir in the coconut milk to restore the pudding to a creamy colour and runny consistency. Add the syrup and the pinch of salt, stir to dissolve and check the sweetness. I do not have an overly sweet tooth, so you may wish to add more syrup, but do so in teaspoons rather than tablespoons.

5. Pour the rice into a serving bowl. Cover the surface with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave to cool. Do not remove any of the flavourings as they will continue to infuse the rice with their heady perfumes. When cool, put in the fridge. The pudding will thicken to the right consistency.

6. To serve, remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Remove the flavourings and serve either on its own or with a fruit compote (see recipe below in Sheree’s Handy Hints).

Sheree’s Handy Hints

 1. A more traditional rice pudding can be made in exactly the same fashion by substituting the rice milk with full-fat milk, the coconut milk with single cream, the rice syrup with 6 tbsp of caster sugar and retaining just the fat vanilla pod and seeds for flavouring. I generally work using the proportion of 150g (1 cup) of rice per 1½ litres of liquid (6 cups). Of course, it can be served either hot or cold.

2. I have also made the dessert using almond milk and soya milk but was less keen on the overall taste, preferring to use unsweetened rice or oat milk for the lactose–free version.

3. For a more Spanish take on the dessert, rather than the vanilla pod, use two sticks of cinnamon and a single large piece of lemon zest for flavouring. Serve the pudding cold with a dusting of cinnamon powder.

4. For the spiced plum compote, take 2-3 ripe, juicy black plums, quarter and remove stones. Simmer gently in a saucepan with a star anise and one cinnamon stick in either a few tablespoons of water or some plum vodka – I have a store cupboard full of all manner of alcoholic beverages which only get used for cooking – just until the plums soften and give up their juices. Sweeten as necessary with your sweetener of choice. I will generally use 1 tbsp of runny honey. Serve cold on the side with the rice pudding.

4. I have also served the lactose-free rice pudding recipe above decorated with toasted shredded coconut and with chopped fresh mangoes on the side.

5. There are a few more iterations that I have successfully tried with the traditional milk rice pudding.

  • A sinful adult version with the addition of a handful of raisins soaked in warm rum before the pudding is left to cool.
  • A more child-friendly version with the addition of 200g of dark melted chocolate.  Though, to be honest, plenty of adults enjoyed this too.

The Musette: sticky ribs

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 150˚C(300˚F)/130˚C fan/gas mark 2.

2. While the oven is warming, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic cloves.

3. Place a frying pan over a medium heat until it is hot, then add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Fry for 8 to 10 minutes or until the onion has softened but not coloured.

4. Add the chilli (if using), fennel seeds and brown sugar and cook, stirring, for a further 3 to 4 minutes until the sugar has melted.

5. Add the tomato ketchup and soy sauce and stir everything together. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens up.

6. Put the ribs into a deep-sided dish and pour over the sauce.

7. Cover the dish with foil and put it into the oven for at least 2 hours, then increase the oven temperature to 180˚C/(350˚F)/160˚C fan/gas mark 4, remove the foil and cook for 30 to 45 minutes more.

8. Once cooked, remove the tray from the oven and let the ribs cool down so they are not too hot to handle before serving.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. You can substitute honey, maple syrup or coconut blossom for the dark brown sugar.

2. If I’m using a bottled rather than home-made ketchup, I’ll also add a tbsp of tomato paste.

3. Feel free to up the garlic and chilli if you enjoy more heat.

4. Depending upon the size of the ribs, you may need to cook them for longer, so that most of the fat has melted.

5. If you want to prepare in advance. Allow the sauce to cool, cover the ribs with the sauce and cover the dish with cling film (plastic wrap) before leaving in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge before cooking to allow meat to reach room temperature.

6. The sauce also works well on pork chops and chicken wings.

The Musette: blueberry and lemon coffee cake

I follow a lot of food blogs, some vegan some not. But they’re all written by passionate cooks whose recipes are tried and tested. I often read about recipes and think: “Oooh, delicious, I must make that sometime.” Then, when sometime occurs, I can’t find the recipe. But, no more. I’ve set up a system whereby I store the addresses of all these fabulous recipes though I doubt I’ll live long enough to make them all!

As soon as I read Diana’s recipe for Blueberry Lemon Quick Bread, I realised that with only one egg in the list of ingredients this would probably work equally well as a vegan version. And, you know what? It did! A big thank you to Diana for the inspiration.

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 195g (11/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 75g (1/3 cup) golden cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp organic lemon zest
  • 180ml (3/4 cup) plant-based milk, I used almond milk
  • 3tbsp aquafaba (or use 1 egg, lightly beaten)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100g (1 cup) blueberries, I used frozen

Lemon Glaze:

  • 125g (1 cup) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1-4 tbsp organic lemon juice

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan). Spray the bottom and sides of a 1 litre (9″ x 5″) loaf tin with vegetable oil and line the bottom with greaseproof (parchment) paper.

2. Into a large bowl sift and combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add the lemon zest, sugar and stir well.

3. In a small bowl whisk together the plant-based milk, aquafaba (or egg) and oil.

4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and combine gently with a spatula using figure of eight movements until there are no dry spots of flour.

5. Add 1tbsp flour to a bowl containing the blueberries and gently mix to coat the berries with the flour. This will prevent them sinking to the bottom of the cake. Gently fold the berries into the batter – it should drop off the spatula – and pour into the baking tin. Level the top of the cake with an offset spatula.

6. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

7. Place the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before carefully remove the cake from the tin and placing it back on the cooling rack until completely cool.

8. Meanwhile, make the glaze by combining the icing sugar and lemon juice (1 tbsp at a time) in a small bowl. Add just enough lemon juice so that the mixture is thick but you can still drizzle it from a tablespoon.

9. Drizzle the glaze over the bread, wait for it to set and then enjoy!

10. You can store the cake in an air tight container or cover with cling film (plastic wrap) for 3-4 days but, trust me, it won’t last that long. If you’re going to freeze the cake, don’t add the glaze until you’re ready to eat it.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cake in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than the cake should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. If you think the cake is browning too quickly, particularly at the edges, cover it with an aluminium foil tent.

4. You can prepare a non-vegan version of the cake following Diana’s original recipe using a large egg and whole milk.

5. The recipe will work equally well with fresh blueberries but without the additional moisture from the frozen ones, you may need to add a couple of tablespoons of milk or plant-based milk to get the desired dropping consistency.

6. You can use this as the base recipe for a number of mixtures such as strawberries with orange, or raspberries with lemon, plums with clementines, rhubarb with ginger – the possibilities are endless.

 

The Musette: indulgent fish pie

We don’t get many visitors who stay overnight largely because we work from home. My brother-in-law and his wife recently spent a long week-end with us and I much enjoyed catering for them. My sister-in-law is a very skilled practionner of arts & crafts but not a particularly keen cook. I’m the opposite, barely capable of sewing a button back on but right at home in the kitchen. So it was a real treat to cook for them for a few days.

The fish pie is a British classic but all too often the fish ends up completely over cooked, lacking its identity, texture and flavour. In this recipe, I cool the sauce and then add the fish to the cold sauce before baking in a hot oven. This ensures that the fish is not over-cooked. This versatile recipe can be made with whatever fish you prefer. You can be creative with flavouring it, adding your favourite herbs and even some vegetables. You can make and chill the sauce ahead of time, or assemble the pie, minus the topping, and freeze.

Ingredients (serves 4 hungry cyclists)

  • 2 large shallots or 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 40g (3 tbs) butter
  • 1 large thyme sprig, leaves only
  • 4 tbsp Noilly Prat, dry vermouth or dry sherry
  • 2 tsp Pernod (optional)
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 250ml (1 cup) fish, chicken or vegetable stock (a stock cube is fine)
  • 200ml (3/4 cup) milk
  • 4 tbsp double (heavy) cream
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 250g (1/2 lb) skinless salmon or cod fillets
  • 180g (6 oz) smoked haddock fillets
  • 200g (7 oz) scallops
  • 150g (5 oz) large prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tbsp fresh organic lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Creamed Potato Topping

  • 750g (1 1/2lbs) potatoes, peeled
  • 75g (5 tbsp) butter, cubed
  • 50ml (1/4 cup) hot milk or single cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 75g (2/3 cup) medium Emmental (or similar) cheese, finely grated

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6 (400°F). Grease a shallow (about 2 litre /8 cups capacity) pie dish.

2. Start by making the mashed potato for the topping. Chop the potatoes into chunks and cook in boiling salted water until tender. Drain well and push through a potato ricer, or mash until smooth. Add the butter and hot milk or cream and mix until well incorporated. Allow to cool slightly, then stir in the egg yolks. Season well and put to one side.

3. Sauté the shallots or onion and celery in the oil and butter with the thyme leaves for about 10 minutes until softened. Add the Noilly Prat and Pernod (if using), then cook for 4–5 minutes until reduced right down.

4. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute or so. Heat the stock in a small pan or a jug in the microwave. Gradually stir it into the vegetable mixture with a wooden spoon until smooth, and boil for about 5 minutes until reduced by a third. Mix in the milk, lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes. Season well, then add the cream and parsley and leave to cool.

5. Meanwhile, cut the fish into bite-sized chunks and scatter in the pie dish with the scallops and prawns. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and seasoning. Put the dish on a baking sheet.

6. Pour over the cool sauce and mix well but gently with a fork. Pipe the mashed potato on top or spread and fluff it up with a fork. Scatter with the grated cheese and put the pie immediately in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 (350°F), and bake for another 20 minutes, turning the dish if it starts to brown unevenly. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving and receiving plaudits!

7. Serve the fish pie with fresh steamed greens (peas, asparagus, spinach or broccoli are perfect) and a nice glass or two of your favourite white wine.

The Musette: savoury bread and butter pudding

 

Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off

I was so looking forward to taking part in this challenge but sadly this week has been too busy for me to don my pinny. Instead I have to resort to that old favourite of here’s one I prepared earlier which met the brief because it’s a sandwich sponge cake, as follows:

  • Your cake must have at least two layers
  • Your sponge cakes can be any flavour and any colour
  • You can fill your sandwich cake with any filling you like
  • We would like you to decorate the top of your cake
Chocolate and raspberry delight

This is a cake I made for a [cycling] clubmate’s 60th birthday at the behest of his wife. It was my first fancy cake and went down a treat. It was a triple layer genoise sponge soaked in Framboise liqueur and layered with rich chocolate meringue butter cream, topped with fresh raspberries and surrounded by chocolate curls. My beloved christened it my chocolate fort cake. That man has no romance in his soul!