Monday, 28 October 2013

Apple and Pear Chutney - nearing the end of the crop

Last of the fruit-themed posts for a bit, as supplies from the garden dwindle in the rack.

I've made several chutneys recently, and have realised that I don't like large chunks of anything in them. So for this recipe the fruit is cut in to pieces a little smaller than a peanut, and that seems ideal.

If only one of the two fruits is available, that's fine - but if it's only pears, a little less cooking time is needed as they soften more quickly than do apples.

The method is easy and should take about 30 minutes including prepping the fruit. This quantity fills just about two standard jam jars. The picture looks a bit odd, as it's a very small jar - all other jars are full of the wretched strawberry-grape jelly as I try to get it to set for a third time. The rest of my chutney had to go into another container until Mr P finishes the marmalade and the jar becomes available.
Exactly what it says on the jar ....
Apple and Pear Chutney
(The fruit amounts are as-they-come unpeeled weight)

500g apples (approx 4 medium)
250g pears   (about 2)
1 tbsp oil
1 heaped tsp coriander seeds
1 heaped tsp mustard seeds
80ml vinegar - cider or white wine type
60g sultanas
60g soft dark brown sugar

1  Quarter, peel and core the fruit, then chop into pieces a little smaller than a peanut.
2  Heat the oil in a medium pan.
3  Add the coriander and mustard seeds, cover the pan, and fry the seeds. Soon they
         will start popping, so then fry them gently for 2 mins, stirring occasionally.
4  Add the fruit, vinegar, sultanas and sugar and mix gently.
5  Bring up to a simmer, and cook until the fruit is soft - 10-15 mins - stirring from 
         time to time.
6 Pour into the clean jars - using a funnel makes this easier, otherwise pour the
         chutney into a jug and use that.

This turned out really well, I thought. Goes nicely with crackers and cheese, cheese on toast, on a vegburger or with vegetarian sausages. And I'm thinking these fruits might be substituted with small chunks of mango, though a little less vinegar and a shorter simmering time might be needed. Must try that.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Apple and Cinnamon Traybake - it's a piece of cake

Unintentionally, the photo bears more than a passing resemblance to the previous post pic for pear muffins. But hey. The squares look rather large, but the apple is actually quite small!

This is another fairly quick and very easy recipe, I think, and the result is a traybake of very nice, moist and not too crumbly squares (or you could do triangles) with a mildly crunchy topping. Prepping the apples takes a bit of time, so I do this first and turn on the oven after that. Lining the baking tin with parchment is worth the trouble.

Although there are 10 steps in the 'method', the preparation steps (1-8) wouldn't take much more than 20 minutes.

I use a 24x18cm baking tin to get just the right height of the finished cake. (My calculator says that's roughly the same as 21cm square.) The mixture doesn't look that much and spreads quite thinly in the tin, but it should all rise nicely. This quantity makes 24-30 squares.
Apple and Cinnamon Traybake
The oven will need to be at 150C, middle shelf. 24x18cm baking tin, lined with baking parchment.

4 medium apples 
170g butter 
240 caster sugar
3 (medium) eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract (or 3 if using essence)
265g self-raising flour
2 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
60g demerara sugar (otherwise soft brown)

  1  Quarter, peel & core the apples. Chop to hazelnut-sized pieces.
  2  Soften the butter in a large bowl, e.g. 10sec in microwave or sit 
         for a minute over a pan of very hot water.
  3  Add the caster, eggs and vanilla and beat together until smooth.
  4  Stir in the flour and cinnamon until none is visible.
  5  Pile half the mixture into the tin and spread over the base.
  6  Scatter half of the apple pieces evenly over it.
  7  Add the remaining mixture, smooth over and top with the rest of 
         the apple.
  8  Sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over this.
  9  Bake for 30-35 mins until top is browned and a skewer inserted 
         into the centre comes out clean.
10  Leave in the tin for about 10mins, then cut cleanly into squares.

This recipe also works well if apples are replaced by 3 mashed over-ripe bananas, mixed in with the flour instead of layering. In either case the cinnamon could also be left out & some chopped nuts (pecan/walnut/hazelnut) added. All of these can be frozen, or kept in a tin in the fridge for a few days.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Pear Muffins, Wheat-Free

Yes, I know I've recently done gooseberry muffins, but these are a different kettle of fish. Ran out of plain wheat-free flour so used self-raising. If plain flour is used, an extra teaspoon of baking powder should balance things out.

As can be seen in the picture, they look more like rock cakes although the texture is softer than that. Should have smoothed the dough before baking. Taste great, though, and it's hard to believe they've no wheat content.

This recipe makes about 16 muffins. I used my 12 silicone cases and 4 paper variety. When they came out of the oven, the silicone ones just floated out, while the paper had to be peeled off carefully to avoid crumbling.

Pear Muffins, Wheat-Free
These need the middle shelf of the oven, at 170C, and muffin cases set out on a baking tray.

270g wheat-free self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
Half teaspoon salt
80g granulated sugar
350g ripe pears (about 3 medium), cored, peeled and chopped fairly finely
1 egg
100ml milk
50g melted butter
1 tbsp caster sugar (optional)

1  In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and sugar.
2  Add the chopped pears and mix them in to coat with flour.
3  In a smaller bowl, beat the egg, milk and melted butter lightly together, then stir into
         the flour mixture to form a soft dough with no dry flour visible.
4  Fill each muffin case to half or three-quarter level, making sure each has some pear
         pieces, and smooth over!
5  Bake in the oven for 16-18 minutes or until a skewer poked through comes out clean.
6  Sprinkle with the caster sugar if used, and leave on a rack to cool.

I'm thinking that, as xanthan gum isn't in everyone's kitchen, it would probably be OK to leave it out. However, it's trailed as helpful to make a decent spongy texture so I use it in all my wheat-free baking, just in case.

These muffins freeze well. Otherwise, if they've been around for a while, they'd be good crumbled as the base for a trifle, with vegetarian jelly poured over to set, topped with sliced ripe pears, then a thin layer of custard and finally whipped cream. For decoration I fancy honeycomb pieces or finely chopped gorgeous stem ginger.