Garlic Walnut Bread

“A bubble of warm air” is how our local German weather forecaster described the nearly double-digit temperatures we enjoyed last weekend, so that had us out in the orchard for a round of winter “grilling”, to use the literal translation from the German.

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And on the fire, apart from the ubiquitous “Bratwürtschen”:

Garlic Walnut Bread

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Made using my

Garlicky Cheese and Walnut Dip recipe

– which will of course work just as well indoors.

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Which is where I  shall be this coming weekend as we have quite the opposite of a “bubble of warm air” coming in for the start of the new year:

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Rhubarb and Rosemary Tiramisu

Edibles for the landscape: packing up a basket of edibles for a sunny Saturday in the orchard. On the dessert menu:

Rhubarb and Rosemary Tiramisu

I use the term tiramisu very loosely here as there is no coffee and no Marsala in this recipe, just lots of spring time flavours, quick and easy to transport in jars too:

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Double cream                   600 ml

Mascarpone                      250 g

Wild plum

blossom essence*          approx. 2 tsp

Caster sugar                      3 tbsp or to taste

Sponge fingers or

stale sponge cake           175 g

Rhubarb                              250 g

Honey for roasting

the rhubarb**                  2 tbsp or to taste

Rosemary blossoms      a handful – picked fresh on the day you are going to serve, otherwise they tend to turn brown overnight

  1. Wash and finely chop your rhubarb. Place in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with honey and slow roast, covered, at about 150°C until soft but not completely mushy. Leave to cool.
  2. Break the sponge fingers/sponge cake into bite-sized pieces and place half the amount in your serving dish(es) as a first layer.
  3. Drizzle about one teaspoon of plum blossom or almond essence over the sponge pieces.
  4. Place the cream, marscapone and sugar in a large bowl and beat together until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Place a layer of the cream mixture over the sponge, then a layer of rhubarb, then the rest of the sponge pieces. Drizzle the next teaspoon of plum blossom or almond essence over the sponge pieces. Finish off with a cream layer, topped with dabs of the remaining rhubarb.
  6. Place the tiramisu in the fridge to chill, ideally overnight.
  7. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary blossoms shortly before serving (they will keep their colour for a good few hours before serving but overnight is too long).

*Wild plum blossom season is now over in these parts so the recipe for wild plum blossom essence will follow next spring, almond essence will suffice in the meantime!

** I used Elderflower-Infused Honey (infused last summer) and can strongly recommend it. Follow the link and do yourself a favour once the elderflower blossom puts in an appearance in a few weeks from now.

 

Scones

I served so many scones at our recent “cream teas in the orchard” event that they filled the entire picnic basket:P1150954 (2)

Scones are about technique rather than recipe: the secret to success is to handle the dough as little as possible. Do not knead like bread – combine the ingredients until just mixed and then stop handling the dough.

 The other important tip is one I gathered from Frances Bissell in her brilliant book The Floral Baker: “put the scones close together on the baking sheet to encourage them to rise well and evenly” (page 31, The Floral Baker). Doing this also ensures soft, fluffy edges to your scones.

 If you are going to use a pastry cutter to stamp out your scones make sure it is a sharp one; a blunt one will give you hard, squashed-down edges to your scones. I have dispensed with stamping out scones altogether and use the “sliced sausage” method described in the recipe below.

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Prep. Time: about 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 15 to 20 minutes

Makes 6 to 8 scones

Plain flour                                            225g

Baking powder                                     2 tsp

Pinch of salt

Butter, chilled and diced                         50g

Sugar                                                 1 Tbsp

Buttermilk (or yoghurt mixed with water) 150 ml

1) Preheat the oven to 200°C.

2) Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and rub the butter in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3) Stir in the sugar and make a hollow in the centre. Pour in enough buttermilk to produce a soft but not sticky dough.

4) Place on a floured work surface and roll the dough into a “sausage” about 20 cm in length.

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5) Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into rounds and place these next to one another on a lined baking sheet.

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6) Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until well-risen and golden in colour.

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Puff pastry for pragmatic purists

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Too much of a purist for ready-made puff pastry with its ethanol, palm oil, emulsifiers and acidity regulators (check it out if in doubt: http://www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/?id=266524232)?

Neither the time nor the inclination for all the rolling and re-rolling required for making your own?

Then I have the pragmatist’s solution for you, from the family of curd cheese pastries – buttery, light and perfect for pairing up with jams and jellies out of the orchard!

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Puff pastry for pragmatic purists

Prep. Time: about 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 15 minutes

Makes about 15 pastry pieces i.e. croissants, or 1 tart base

Quark or ricotta                                             200 g

Butter, cold                                                    200 g

All-purpose flour                                            200 g

Pinch of salt

Pinch of sugar (or 1 tsp for a sweeter pastry)

1) Combine the flour with the salt and sugar. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until you pretty much have a breadcrumb texture.

2) Make a hollow in the middle, tip in the quark/ricotta and quickly work into the flour mixture to form a soft, fairly moist dough (do not over-mix).

3) Cover and chill for 30 minutes before using.

4) Use as you would puff pastry i.e. for croissants or sweet & savoury tart bases. Bake at 200°C for about 15 minutes (180°C fan oven).

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Flammkuchen… or Tarte flambée in French…

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… originating from the Franco-Germanic region of Alsace, recipes for Flammkuchen are now legion and it has moved on from its (albeit very tasty) cheese, onion, bacon roots…

It is Germany’s answer to pizza and – to my mind – a more sophisticated option.

This is my basic version with plenty of room for innovation – recipes are there to be tweaked after all!

Prep. Time: about 20 minutes – plus rising time

Cooking time: 20 to 30 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

For the yeast dough base

Strong white bread flour                                                 500 g

Fresh yeast                                                                    15 g

Salt                                                                                11/2 tsp

Sugar                                                                             11/2 tsp

Oil (rapeseed oil or olive oil)                                           2 tbsp

  1. Place the flour in a bowl together with the crumbled yeast, rubbing it in until well mixed.
  2. Add the salt and sugar and make a hollow in the middle of the flour.
  3. Measure out 300 ml of lukewarm water (100 ml boiling water with 200 ml cold water) and pour into the flour. Add the oil.
  4. Work quickly into a soft, sticky dough using your hands.
  5. Tip out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth.
  6. Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.
  7. Roll out to the size of a baking sheet. Line the baking sheet with baking paper, place the dough on top and leave to rise again while you prepare the topping.

For the topping

Cream cheese                                                                  200 g

Sour cream                                                                      200 g

Egg                                                                                  1

Salt and pepper                                                                to taste

Lardons (or chopped bacon/ham)                                    200 g

Grated cheese (e.g. Emmental or cheddar)                    100 g

Garlic clove, crushed                                                        1

Vegetable ingredients of your choice                                approx. 250 g

pre-cooked – or not – according to taste

e.g.    onion (sliced) and garlic (crushed)

pumpkin and carrots (both in strips)

chard or spinach (shredded)

tomatoes (sliced)…

My addition:

Chutney of your choice – spread (quantity to taste) over the dough base before adding the cream mixture

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C.
  2. Combine the cream cheese, sour cream, egg, grated cheese and crushed garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the cream mixture over the prepared dough base and layer your chosen vegetable ingredients on top. Sprinkle with the lardons.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until nicely browned on top. Serve warm.

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