Friday, 29 July 2011

Glorious good pud

I have been accosted this week by several indignant blog-readers, some of whom I was unaware of, reminding me that its been a whole month since my last post. I am truly sorry, but even more delighted that there’s somebody outside of my family who  reads this, so this is for you kids, and I promise not to be so slack in the future.

My buddy Mel, who is a teacher and on her well-earned summer holiday (though can’t seem to lie in – she emailed at silly o’clock this morning) tells me she is off to the races at Goodwood tomorrow and she needs to make a pudding that will stand up to two car journeys and summer heat (here’s hoping).

Ah Goodwood! If I close my eyes, I can almost hear the thunder of horses, the sweeping views down to the Solent and enormous cotton-wool clouds drifting overhead. I hope the sun’s out for them.

Anyway, back to the pudding. Trying to stay largely away from anything soft or involving too much melty stuff, such as cream or chocolate I lighted on this delicate and retro-sounding recipe in How I Cook.

I can’t say that I’ve tried them all, but the thing I like best about Skye Gyngell’s recipes is that they come out (even in my clumsy hands) pretty much as they look in the book – minus the backdrop of vintage crockery, country flowers and sun bleached-tabletops of course. I know I am obsessed with this book, so I will put it down after this post, I promise. Though probably not for long.

This can be baked, transported and sliced with the minimum of fuss and the compote will be delicious and summery. A tub of crème fraiche to dollop on the side is all it needs. Put a quid on for me, my friend. x

Pound cake

Makes 12 slices
450g unsalted butter, softened, plus some melted to grease
450g plain flour, sifted
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarb of soda
450g golden caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 large free-range eggs
125 ml whole milk
Finely grated zest of an orange
Finely grated zest of a lemon

Heat the oven to 160˚C. Line a loose-bottomed cake tin (23 cm) with foil and baking parchment and brush the parchment with melted butter, dusting afterwards with a little flour. (NB I probably wouldn’t do any of this as I am too lazy and then it would probably stay in the tin, only to be prized out with a spoon…)

Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and bicarb together into a bowl and put to one side.

Using an electric mixer (your Magimix will do fine, Mel), beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together on a low speed for 2 minutes, increasing the speed to high and beating until pale and fluffy. Turn the speed down again and beat in the eggs, one at a time, alternately with the milk. (To substitute my lack of ‘speeds’, I would use the pulse button for slow, the continuous button for fast…)

Using a large metal spoon, fold the flour into the mixture in three batches, followed by the orange and lemon zest, until evenly combined.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin and gently level the surface with the back of a spoon. Stand the cake tin on the middle oven shelf and bake for 1 and ¼ hours, or until the cake has begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Leave in the tin for 5 mins then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. This cake is best eaten slightly warm from the oven (or the sunny boot of your car).

Apricot compote

Serves 10-12

1 kg ripe apricots
175g caster sugar
Pared zest of 1 lemon
1 vanilla pod, spilt lengthways
Tiny pinch of salt

Half apricots and remove stones, keeping 3 or 4 stones and throwing the others away.

Put the halved apricots and all the other ingredients into a pan with the reserved stones. Pour in a little water, just enough to give a 1cm depth in the pan and place over a low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring from time to time, for 10 minutes. The apricots should be soft and brighter in colour, their skins having slipped off. Set aside to cool.

Spoon the cooled compote into a suitable container, cover and refrigerate until well chilled. This will keep until you need it.

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