Far Breton (or custard tart with prunes… or bread and butter pudding without the bread and butter?!)

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If you’re a baked pudding fan then you’re probably going to love this custard prune pudding… or should I say this bread-and-butter-type-pudding (minus the bread and butter). … or should I say crustless-milk-tart-type-pudding (with fruit in it)?!

Known as Far Breton in France, where it originates, it is incredibly quick and easy to make… and absolutely delicious!! I delivered a slice to my grandmother who is not known to repeat the words ‘THIS IS ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS’ several times in a row. She insisted that I bake it for our next family get-together. She promised in return that she’d show me how to prepare her very own one-of-a-kind non-bake rice pudding recipe.

I used Richard Bertinet’s recipe from his bread book, Crust. I added a handful of raisins and reduced the amount of prunes called for. I also added a teeny sprinkling of cinnamon to the batter.

Ingredients

130g caster sugar (I used regular sugar)
220g eggs (I used 4 1/2 medium sized eggs)
110g plain white flour
750g full-cream milk (cold)
400g of stoned prunes — soaked overnight in 50g of rum or tea (I used brandy)

You will also need pinch of salt (I added 3 small pinches of salt) and some butter for greasing an earthenware dish.

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Preparation

Richard Bertinet recommends greasing a 20 x 25cm (or thereabouts) earthenware dish with 50g of melted butter. If you cut down on this then the dish is pretty much a ‘fat-free’ dessert. Your dish should be about 4cm deep.

Place your oven tray in the centre of your oven and preheat to 220 degrees celsius.

Method

Mixing up the batter shouldn’t take you much longer than 15 minutes.

Warm the prunes slightly and spread them out on the base of your dish (you could cut them into smaller pieces and use less fruit). Whisk the eggs and sugar together so that they are well combined. Gradually sift in the flour while whisking and add some salt. Finally, whisk in the milk and pour the batter over the prunes.

Bake

Pop the dish into the oven for ten minutes before turning the temperature down to 180 degrees celsius. Bake for another half an hour or so — until such time as a knife blade comes out clean. I added ten minutes to my baking time because I used less fruit.

Enjoy warm or cold, as a dessert or as a breakfast treat. Actually, Bertinet points out that Far Breton used to be eaten for lunch by agricultural workers in France. And why not? Far Breton can be sliced like bread when it is cold… which should make it perfectly suitable for anyone… at any time of day?

 

The smoke break is over cough*cough… (and how to make Khir)

With Jacques, my writing buddy... having a picnic en route to le void...
 
I admit it was a rather long ‘smoke break’ but it was a good one.  One of the highlights being that  I managed to write my first ‘novel’.  By ‘novel’, I am referring to the fact that I got 50 000 words down on paper in a month for the NaNoMo challenge.  Novel, in this case, does not mean that anybody is ever going to read it!
 
Vipassana meditation Retreat, Worcester, Cape Town

The writing got me into a frame of mind where I felt ready to experience the silent ten-day Vipassana meditation retreat that my friend Dylan recommended.  It was an incredible experience but since this is a patisserie blog, I won’t say too much here except that one of my biggest fears about the retreat was that I was surely going to suffer…

I wasn’t concerned about what it would be like for a hyperactive person to sit in one place for several hours a day or worse still, to meditate cross-legged for a full one hour without moving.  Nor was I thinking about waking up at 4 am or what I would find as I exited the outer world to dive into the workings of my own mind and body.  Nope, I was worrying about the food.  I was anxious that I would suffer from a rumbling, grumbling, hungry tummy, based on the fact that only two meals were to be served every day:  6.30am breakfast and 11am lunch and that we were not permitted to take our own snacks with us.

The path to the dining hall at the Worcester retreat, Cape Town

I am pleased to report that the food turned out to be delicious vegetarian and was served in generous quantities.  I only felt hungry once (maybe we really don’t need to eat as much or as often as we think).   And I was delighted on the final day: we were served a cardamom scented creamy dessert for breakfast.  Bliss!

The dessert was symbolic of the story our teacher, Goenka had narrated the day before about a boy who threw away the bowl of khir his mother had made because he was convinced that there were black stones in it.  He was wrong, the black stones were cardamom seeds. He never got to taste the sweet dish.  The moral of the story: take out what you don’t like rather than throw everything away. See the recipe for Khir below.

Back on the road to nowhere…

This recipe for Khir (also known as Kheer) requires a lot of time.  It will  serve 4- 5 people:

250 g cooked basmati rice (or 100 g cooked in 400 ml water)

½ teaspoon salt

2.5 litres milk

150 g sugar

1 ½ teaspoons of cardamom (shelled)

¼ cup of raisins

25 g chopped cashew nuts

35 – 40 ml oil or ghee

For the rice pudding:

Slowly boil the rice with the salt until it has cooked or place your cooked rice in a pot.  Add the milk and bring to the boil using low heat.  Simmer and stir for approximately four hours or until the rice loses its shape or the milk has reduced to half its original volume.  Stir in the sugar and cardamom seeds (I would add the cardamom seeds earlier).  You could cook the pudding for a few hours the night before and finish your cooking in the morning if you want to have it for breakfast, as we did.

For the garnish:

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the raisins and cashew nuts and fry until the nuts are reddish in colour and the raisins have swollen.

Serve warm.

Lots else happened during the metaphorical smoke break which I’ll share over the next few posts eg. how to make your own recipe book.

Adios x

PS. Visit http://indianfood.about.com/od/sweetsanddesserts/r/kheer.htm for a different khir recipe using condensed milk, cardamom powder, almonds and saffron.  It is served cold and decorated with rose petals.

Condensed milk ice-cream (you might as well double the recipe!)

 

Scraping the leftover condensed milk from my mother’s tins over the years as a child, I grew to love the sweet, magical stuff.  One day I wondered what it would be like to have one’s Very Own Tin of Condensed Milk?  

There was no denying that it would be a very fine thing indeed and since it was Christmas time, I bought six tins, designed my own labels and carefully glued them onto the pots of milky gold.   

My sisters freaked at Christmas that year.  It was a major thing, let me tell you, to have your Very Own Anything with four girls around.  (Yes, condensed milk was always on the menu but shared: eg. my dad would punch holes into a tin which we’d pass around or make caramel which we’d all spoon out of the tin in one sitting).

My dad was fed sweet condensed milk as a baby.  My Mom baked with it.  It’s become a family tradition.  Needless to say, I can’t resist the stuff.  Take making condensed milk ice-cream for example:  it never quite gets to the ‘ice’ stage…

CONDENSED MILK ICE-CREAM RECIPE

Ingredients: One tin of Nestle condensed milk, one tin of Nestle Ideal Milk, 250 ml of cream and 5 ml of vanilla extract

Method: Mix the condensed milk, Ideal milk (evaporated milk) and vanilla extract. Whip the cream well and then fold it into the condensed milk mix. Place in the freezer until there is crystal formation.  Beat the mix again and freeze.

Chocolate brownies with chocolate mousse topping

A friend from chef school recently asked me for this *seriously* good chocolate brownie recipe. It took awhile but after a huge spring-cleaning session, I uncovered it in an old diary. Glad I found it but I think I’m happier about the clean out. I’m feeling 1000 tons lighter after throwing away boxes of things/photos/letters/files/memories I’ve been carrying around for years. Lighter (perhaps) than the mousse topping on this blurry brownie shot!

Brownie ingredients:

  • 250 grams butter
  • 1/2 a cup of cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 drop of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of walnut pieces

Brownie method:

  • Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees
  • Melt the butter in a pot
  • Add the sugar (allow it to dissolve a bit)
  • Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and add to the pot
  • Whisk the eggs and add to the pot
  • Add the walnuts
  • Mix together with a wooden spoon
  • Butter a tray and pour in the batter (use a palette knife to even out the batter)
  • Bake for 15 – 20 minutes in the middle of the oven (it’s ready when it springs back if you press it)
  • Allow to cool

Mousse ingredients:

  • 125 grams of Lindt dark chocolate
  • 125 grams egg
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon gelatine (or leave this out)

Mousse method:

  • Whip the cream
  • Beat the eggs over a double boiler until frothy/bubbly (but not cooked)
  • Add the chocolate and mix
  • Melt the gelatine (if using) over a double boiler and mix into the chocolate mousse
  • Fold into the whipped cream
  • Layer over the brownies
  • Dust with cocoa powder
  • Cut with a sharp knife (dip into hot water after each slice to ensure a clean cut)

The simplest Rustic Apple Pie

I made the quickest Apple Pie the other day.  I was driven by a picture in my head of an apple pie without a lid on it but I was anxious that the apples would be dry as a result… the chief tasters, however, had me thinking that I would definitely make it again.  Their words:

‘WOW, this is DELICIOUS!’

‘Hmmmmmmm, this is the best apple pie I’ve had in ages!’

‘Ooooohhhhh, I love how light it is and that it’s not overly sweet!’

Here is my rough & tumble recipe (the ingredients are highlighted in bold):

  • Make sweet pastry – see https://whippingitup.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/how-to-make-sweet-pastry-for-tarts-etc/
  • Roll out sweet pastry into greased pie tin
  • Wash and thinly slice 5 or 6 apples or more depending on the size of your tart tin (I used 4 golden delicious apples and 1 granny smith – perhaps the secret is that I used fresh apples)
  • Poach the sliced apples in some boiling water until just soft
  • Dry and soak in freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Line the pie dish with layered apples so that it looks beautiful (!)
  • Sprinkle with blobs of butter, cinnamon and brown sugar (I would have added a touch of clove if I’d had some!)
  • Bake at 180 degrees celsius until the pastry is golden brown

When the apple pie came out of the oven, I swirled the juices over the apples (which then had time to set on the journey down the road to the chief tasters).  I arrived to find my aunt photographing flowers…

My grandmother reading a book…

The Viking in the kitchen (who merrily whipped up the cream while I made the tea)…

And Claire on the phone to her love….

It wasn’t long before everyone gathered in the studio for a good ol’ fashioned tea.

(Oh, the delights of sharing good ol’ fashioned simple apple pie ‘n cream with lovin’ folk)!

A REALLY good baked cheesecake recipe

I have used this baked cheesecake recipe for several functions, including my own birthday party. 

It ALWAYS goes down well with everybody!  You can use your imagination for the toppings – I love using whole fresh strawberries on top (dusted with icing sugar).  You could also serve it plain, why not?!

Ingredients:

Method

  • Mix the cream cheese, condensed milk & cream together (until smooth)
  • Mix in all the other ingredients
  • Grease a tart tin and then line it with your sweet pastry
  • Pour the mix into the pastry tin
  • Bake at 110 degrees celsius until the pastry is golden brown and the cheesecake has set (test for readiness by prodding gently with your finger  – it should have a firm consistency)
  • Apologies but I don’t have a baking time for you – we were not taught to work with TIMES.  Chef Tim taught us to be in touch with what we were baking – the golden rule was this: ‘It’s ready when it’s ready!’  It was frustrating for us patisserie-chefs-in-training in the beginning but it has proved to be a wonderful way of working.

Allow your cheesecake to cool before serving.

Banana, Caramel & Cream Pie

I made a caramel and banana tart (called Banoffi, Bananarama and who knows what else!) on a sweet pastry base for the band.  It was the first time I worked with my new extra-large pie dish.  WELL, now I know why those monsters aren’t used too often.  It was pretty hard to roll out the pastry to that size without breaking it so I just ended up moulding the pastry into the dish with my fingers.

‘You look like a sculptor at work,’ said Starwalker peeping out from behind Julia Child’s ‘My Life in France’. 

I smiled because that’s exactly how it felt.  And that’s why I love working with pastry, you’re in touch with your ingredients all the way.  Perhaps that’s why I’m not interested in making cakes that don’t require much handwork – everything gets measured up and thrown into a mixing bowl!   

What you’ll need:   

Sweet pastry (see ‘how to make sweet pastry’ on my blog)   

1 tin of caramel (I used two in this case)   

1 tub of cream (as above)   

2-3 bananas (I used about 4)   

Lemon juice   

Cinnamon (if desired)   

Method:   

Apply the caramel in blobs onto the cool pastry base & then even it out with a spoon   

   

Whip up the cream and place on top of the caramel   

   

Slice the bananas and soak briefly in lemon juice before placing on top of the cream   

   

Spinkle with cinnamon & serve chilled   

Back to the band:  

I met up with them last night – it was their first gig at a restaurant in Pringle Bay.   

   

‘Hey, Whipping It Up, that Bananarama Tart was delish!’ said Geoff during the break.    

Next thing, Claire was inviting me to join them on stage as the back up percussionist on… wait for it…. the shakers.  ‘NO WAY!’ I said.  ‘OOooooooooooh, come on, you’ll enjoy it!’ sang Claire.   

And guess what, folks, I did it.  I faced the music and danced.  Yes, really, that’s the only way I could get the rhythm (not being a musician an’ all!).  And although I was shaking in my shoes, I faced that audience head on, I tell ya!   

BUT, Hmmmmmmmm, once again….   

Um,   

There wasn’t one!   

   

Except for this one local fellow, who didn’t seem to mind that the electricity had gone out and the kitchen was closed…     

 

How to make Creme Patisserie (Pastry Cream)

Way to go:  get all your ingredients ready before you start and follow the method step by step… keep your eyes on the pot, don’t take it off the heat and don’t stop whisking until the pastry custard takes on a ‘gluey’ consistency – the sign is that the custard starts ‘lifting’ slightly off the bottom and sides of the pot as you stir…

Ingredients

2 eggs

100g caster sugar

50g cake flour

10g custard powder

500 ml milk

1 drop vanilla paste

Method:

Gather your ingredients & sieve your custard powder & flour

Put the milk on the stove to bring to the boil while you cream your sugar and egg (whisk together in a large bowl until ‘white’)

Add custard powder and flour to sugar/egg mix (keep your eye on the milk)

Once the milk has boiled pour it into the sugar/egg mix, add the vanilla and mix well

Put mix into a CLEAN pot & WHISK constantly on the heat until it is thick & glue-like (until it comes away from the sides)

Pour the mix onto a clean surface to cool – spread it out and sieve icing sugar over it (to prevent skin formation)

Once cooled use for Danish Pastries, Fruit Tartlets etc etc or whisk together with whipped cream to make a Creme Santanora (1/3 cream and 2/3rds pastry cream as used in the Saint Hanore Cake).