Friday, 30 March 2012

Irish Apple Tart to soothe a nice weekend

This is somewhat a delayed post for St. Paddy's Day but all in all it was my first ever attempt at making a decent Irish Apple Tart! Based on Richard Corrigan's recipe, I made my own little version of it replacing certain ingredients with others depending on what I had lying around at home.

150g dried currants
150ml Irish whiskey
250g caster sugar 
750g bramley apples (it is about 5 small ones / 3 medium ones / 2 big ones)
25g butter / 1 tbsp of butter
1 medium sized cinnamon stick
1 beaten egg
284ml double cream

500g plain flour
250g butter
100g sugar
2 eggs

  1. Firstly prepare the pastry. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour and cut in the butter. Using your fingers, rub in the butter until it looks like bread crumbs. If you are using a food processor (quicker even), pulse it until it looks like bread crumbs. Then add in the sugar and eggs to combine the flour mixture into a dough. Wrap it in cling film and leave it to chill for 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime prepare your apple filling. In a pan, heat up butter and apples with half the sugar and a bruised cinnamon stick (use a pestle and crush it a little). Add in half the portion of Irish whiskey along with it to cook the apples.
  3. In a separate pan, cook the currants with the remaining Irish whiskey and a little bit of sugar. Let it come to a boil and switch it off for the currants to soak in the whiskey.
  4. Heat up the oven til about 170 Degree Celcius. Take out the chilled pastry from the fridge to let sit for 5 minutes. Flour a surface before placing pastry and rolling it out to 3mm thickness. Using the rolling pin, raise the rolled out pastry on the rolling pin, and roll it up. Place in on a ceramic pie dish and unroll it. Flatten the pastry and edge out any air underneath. Trim the pastry edges, prick with a fork  to allow air to release and pop it into the oven for 10 minutes baking it blind with baking beans / beads. 
  5. In the meantime, check the apple filling that is soaked up the caster sugar and whiskey. Turn the gas off and let it cool. 
  6. Remove the pastry from the oven, take out the baking beans, and brush the pastry with the beaten egg, place it back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes. Repeat the process again. This keeps the pastry crispy. (A tip I learnt from Richard Corrigan himself).
  7. Then, place in the apple filling spreading it out equally. Then toss in the currants soaked in whiskey carefully distributing them. Whatever juice is left behind can be used when whipping up the whip cream. Roll out the remaining pastry to cover the top of the tart. Press the edges with a fork before poking the surface to allow the heat to escape. Then cut some leaf  shapes out of the remaining pastry. Brush it with remaining beaten egg before laying the leaves on it and brush the leaves with the beaten egg and pop it into the oven. Leave it for a good 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. 
  8. Take the tart out and leave it to cool.
  9. In a separate mixing bowl, whip the cream with the juice from the currants and the remaining demarara sugar. Serve a slice of apple tart with the cream.

A close up view of the pie!

It is also a pie which I think is suitable for the sunny weather that England is experiencing...a perfect snack for those who wanna go on a picnic! Not a whiskey fan? Or rather have it without alcohol? Simple, omit it completely! Add a bit of vanilla essence (1 tsp) to add flavour to the apple filling and you have a non-alcoholic apple tart coming your way :)

If you want the actual recipe? then click here.

Watch out for Sunday's post...something really cool is happening!

The Innovative Baker

Monday, 26 March 2012

Leftovers: Homemade Potato Patties

Following the making of my fish pie, I had leftover mashed potatoes and did not want to waste it. So after googling a bit on the use of mashed potatoes, I decided this was the easiest way to use it up! me, they're yummy...and since the mashed potatoes were already seasoned, all I needed was three other ingredients:

Leftover mashed potatoes
1 beaten egg
About 2 heaping tbsp of plain flour
About 2 heaping tbsp of breadcrumbs
Oil for frying
Chilli / Tomato Sauce for dipping

  1. Firstly lay out two plates, one with a kitchen towel and one without.
  2. Then on two other plates, properly distribute the flour on one and the breadcrumbs on another. Then a bowl for the beaten egg. 
  3. Arrange the plates in this order: first plate without kitchen towel, plate with flour, bowl with egg, plate with breadcrumbs and finally plate with kitchen towel.
  4. Pat a ball of mashed potatoes and flatten it and place on the first plate. Repeat the same process until mashed potatoes are finished.
  5. Then flour the potato patties, pat it lightly to discard any loose flour and then coat it with egg before placing it on the breadcrumbs and cover it before transfering to the final plate with the kitchen towel. Repeat the same process until all patties are done.
  6. Heat up a frying pan with some oil and fry until golden brown.
  7. Serve up with spicy chilli sauce or sweet chilli sauce
A perfect condiment actually for your serving of burgers and an alternative to french fries!

Yums it was, but now for something sweet!
The Innovative Baker

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Curried Fish Pie with Coriander Mash

I was away for the most part of the week in Germany attending to business but found the time before British Pie Week ended to make my version of a pie.

I always wanted to jazz up the fish pie. And just so happen I had leftover coconut milk in the fridge and a load of curry powder! And since I don't always make pie at home seeing that I live alone, I figured now is better than none. 

The Ingredients:

For the mash:
1 bunch of coriander - finely chopped
5 to 6 medium sized desiree potatoes - skinned and chopped into smaller pieces to boil
salt and pepper to taste
about 150gms unsalted butter
100ml double cream

For the fish filling:
200g mussels
250g fresh prawns
500g white fish meat (anything can be used depending on what you have in your freezer / fridge)
200g smoked peppered mackerel
250g brown cap mushrooms - quartered
2 leeks - chopped at 2.5cm lengths
2 medium sized carrots - chopped at 2.5cm lengths
4 to 5 celery stems - chopped at 2.5cm lengths
a bunch of curry leaves
2 heaping tbsp of curry powder
1 large yellow onion - diced
3 tbsp vegetable oil
500ml milk 
200ml coconut milk
about 6 - 8 small bay leaves or 3 - 4 medium bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary

  1. Firstly bring a pot of water to a boil to boil the potatoes. While water is boiling, add in the potatoes.
  2. Next heat up the milk with the bay leaves and rosemary at low level heat. 
  3. While doing so, prepare your seafood. Slice the white fish meat into smaller chunks as well as the smoked pepper mackerel. As the mackerel is already cooked, there is no need to poach it. However, poach the mussels, prawns and fish meat separately in the milk mixture and place in a bowl once fully poached. It would normally be about 3 to 4 minutes. Not too long or when you see the fish turns opaque, then you know it is cooked.
  4. Next in a large saucepot, heat up the oil and sweat the onions. Add in the curry powder and stir vigorously to coat the onions. Once the curry aroma is released, add in the curry leaves and continue stirring before adding in the poached seafood. Then stir in the vegetables before adding in ladle by ladle the milk used to poach the seafood in. Let it come to a boil and then reduce the heat. 
  5. While the fish filling is cooking, check that the potatoes are not overboiled by pricking a fork through. When it pierces easily then you know it is cooked through. Remove it from the fire and drain the water off. In the same pot, add in the chopped coriander, cream, butter, salt and pepper. Mash away and set aside.
  6. When the fish filling reduces (it should take about 20 to 30 minutes). Then add in the coconut milk. You don't want the coconut milk to split. It is almost like cooking curry but using milk instead. When the filling thickens, taste it to see if it salty enough. The smoked peppered mackerel would have given you the salty taste but if not enough, then add in maybe a dash of salt.
  7. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes. In the meantime crank up your oven to 190 Degrees. Turn the fire off on the fish filling once you see it bubbling. Using a ceramic pie dish, ladle the filling onto the base of the pie fish adding a little bit more of the sauce along. Not too much so that it doesn't escape the sides of the pie dish when spreading the mashed potatoes.
  8. Then either using a piping bag or a spatula, pipe or spread the mashed potatoes on top of the filling covering every inch of it. Use a fork to create some patterns on the side of the potatoes if you used a spatula otherwise the piping would have given you some magical patterns too!
  9. Place in the oven on the second tier nearer to the grill section to create the crust needed on the mashed potatoes. It should take about 20 minutes or so.
  10. Remove from the oven and serve piping hot!
The pie was certainly yummy and was polished off the next day at the office when I brought it in to share.

Next up is surprises for mums! My mum's coming up this weekend and she will be delighted at the spread I'll be making her. 

Mother's day here I come!
The Innovative Baker

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Chocolate Mocha Cake with Brandy Coffee Cream and Chocolate Fingers

My boss was celebrating her birthday and I decided to make a cake for her. Figured something with alcohol in it would be nice but I did not want to overpower the cake with it either so here's my version of a chocolate mocha cake with brandy coffee cream and chocolate fingers.

Cake ingredients:
2 cups golden caster sugar
1 3/4 cup self-raising flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup hot strong coffee

Icing ingredients:
1 x 300g cream cheese
1x 284ml double cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tbsp brandy
1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp non-instant coffee granules

Pink frosting ingredients:
124ml double cream
2 squirts of red coloring

Additional decoration:
3 packets of cadbury chocolate fingers
2 chocolate hearts

  1. Firstly heat up your oven to 180 Degree Celcius and line your cake tin.
  2. Then sift all your dry ingredients together except the salt. Then melt the butter either in the microwave oven or on the stove. Beat the sugar and butter together before beating in the eggs one by one.
  3. Once it looks pale and fluffy, add in half the dry ingredients and the cup of milk and beat till combined. Then add the second half of the dry ingredients and the coffee and beat till well combined.
  4. Pour into your cake tin and bake for about 50 minutes or until when pricked with a skewer or toothpick, it comes out clean. Take it out and let it rest for 10 minutes before removing the cake tin and letting it cool down.
  5. Next prepare your icing. Combine all the ingredients together and beat until everything is combined. Set aside.
  6. Next prepare the pink frosting by combining the ingredients and beat til stiff. Set aside.
  7. Now assemble the cake. Firstly place a little bit of icing on the base of the board before placing the cake on the board. This will prevent the cake from moving. Then slice the cake in half and remove the top half and put on the cutting board.
  8. Take some icing and spread it evenly along the cake, depending on how thick you want it to be. Then add the second cake layer on top. Then start icing the cake firstly on the sides before finally covering the top. 
  9. Next using the chocolate fingers, line them up like a fence. I used white chocolate fingers and normal chocolate fingers. Then place the two chocolate hearts on the side or wherever you think it would look nice. 
  10. Pipe the red frosting using a nozzle of your choice with whatever message you want to write.
  11. Serve with a nice glass of wine or a hot cup of coffee or tea.

This is how the cake looks like close up. To smoothen your icing, prepare a tall glass of hot water, dip your spatula in and spread it across. You can alternatively use a knife. The heat will spread it evenly.

Trust me, the cake was divine... my colleagues vouched for it.

Off to Germany for a few days,
The Innovative Baker

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Peanut Butter French Toast served with Caramelised Pears and Maple Syrup

I got bored of the usual breakfast I normally have. So this morning, I figured with the ingredients already in the kitchen and made a different breakfast. I was craving for peanut butter french toast, that somehow gets served in Hong Kong Cafes and the various Hong Kong themed cafes in Malaysia. Then decided to jazz it up with caramelised pears. So here is the recipe:

2 slices of brioche loaf or normal white bread
1 beaten egg
some butter
1 heaping tbsp peanut butter
1 pear - quartered and seeds removed
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 tbsp maple syrup

  1. Firstly beat the egg in a pasta bowl to make it easier for the bread to soak in the beaten egg.
  2. Toast your bread. Once toasted, lay it out on a serving plate to spread the butter and peanut butter. Before assembling it together.
  3. Next heat up the frying pan with some butter and then place in the quartered pears to begin caramelisation. Turn the pears to ensure all sides are browned. 
  4. Place the pears along the sides of the pan to make some space for the french toast.
  5. Next take the sandwich and place in into the beaten egg and make sure the sandwich is fully coated on both sides. Then place the coated sandwich onto the frying pan to fry it up!
  6. Turn the sandwich accordingly as well as the pears. Toss in some salt and pepper on the pears to season it.
  7. Ladle it all out and decorate on the plate any which way you want it. Then dribble the maple syrup on top and serve.
The pears can also be substituted with bananas or apples. Just depends on what you have in the kitchen.

I had a delicious breakfast and this is definitely did not take longer than 15 minutes to prepare. 

Have a go at it,
The Innovative Baker

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