#428 Sweetheart Cake

St Valentine had nothing to do with romance, but he did die on 14 February in the 3rd Century. His association with love didn’t occur until the fourteenth century. In the mediaeval age, people thought that birds mated mid-February, a certain Geoffrey Chaucer spotted that St Valentine’s Day coincided with this event, and brought them together in one of his stories, Parlement of Foules, cementing the two forever more.

Unlike St Valentine, I have no idea why this dessert is linked with love: jam, almonds and meringue don’t seem particularly romantic to me, and all Jane says about the recipe is that it’s ‘for St Valentine’s Day, to eat at the end of a meal rather than at teatime.’
I suggest using a normal flan tin and baking it any day of the year.
I’ve been meaning to do this straight-forward recipe for a long time but kept forgetting to make it in time for Valentine’s Day. Well this year I remembered. I also remembered to buy the heart-shaped flan tin required; something else I kept forgetting to do.

Begin by lining a heart-shaped flan tin with puff pastry (I made my own, following the recipe for #384 Quick Foolproof Puff Pastry) making sure you stud the base well with fork marks. I popped it in the freezer whilst I got on with making the filling. I used a 9-inch heart-shaped tin.

Begin by melting two ounces of butter in a saucepan. As it cools, beat the yolks of four eggs (keep the whites, you’ll need them) along with four ounces of caster sugar, the zest and juice of a lemon, two ounces of ground almonds and the cooled, melted butter, then fold in 2 ounces of slivered almonds.

Take the lined tin and spread over the base two to three tablespoons of raspberry jam. For these sorts of puddings, it’s a good idea stop spreading half an inch from the edges of the tin, as it makes the next step much easier.

Take the filling and spoon it into your tin – don’t aim for the centre, place smallish blobs all around the outside edge first. Now spread the filling evenly, edges first then moving inwards. This ensures the jam doesn’t ride up the edges of the pudding.

Bake in an oven preheated to 200°C for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry has risen and the filling set and golden brown.

Toward the end of the cooking time, prepare the meringue. Put your reserved egg whites, along with a pinch of salt, and beat with an electric whisk until you have whites that will form still peaks. Add a tablespoon of caster sugar and keep beating until you have a nice glossy meringue that holds its shape well.

Spread or pipe the meringue over the top going right to the pastry edges, sprinkle another tablespoon of caster sugar evenly over the top and bake for a further 15 minutes or until the meringue is an appetising golden brown.
Serve warm.
#428 Sweetheart Cake. Well it was certainly sweet, and it was definitely a heart, not I’m not sure if it was a cake. This pudding, a cross between a Bakewell tart and a lemon meringue pie, I enjoyed but the filling was extremely sweet. At least the meringue wasn’t too sugary, otherwise it would have been too sweet to eat, the lemon also helped take the edge off. I ate some the next day cold, and it tasted less sweet. Next time, I will half the sugar. 6/10

#280 Welsh Cinnamon Cake

Known as Teisen Sinamon in Welsh, this is a mysterious cake. Griggers doesn’t really give any history behind it in the book. She says that the recipe is by Mrs Bobby Freeman (who has written a book of Welsh cakes and buns). She also says that it’s bit of a pity that chefs don’t make traditional dishes enough in their restaurants anymore. I did find after a little research that is a Victorian recipe – thanks Victorian Recipes of Wales teatowel! I’m not actually sure if it is a cake – it’s more like a giant biscuit with some meringue on top. Quite American really.
I made this cake on request for my mate Chandra’s birthday the other day. I think it went down quite well at work.
Cream four ounces each of butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and then beat in two egg yolks (reserve the whites!). Sift eight ounces of plain flour, a rounded teaspoon of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of baking powder and mix them in stages into the creamed butter and sugar. Knead this mixture together and roll it out to line a nine inch flan tin with a removable base. Actually rolling it out is a total pain in the arse because it breaks up very easily. Instead spread it out over the base of the tin using your knuckles, pushing the dough up the edges and make it neat using the edge of a measuring cup. Bake for 20 minutes at 200°C (that’s 400°F). Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Heat some apricot jam with a little water to make a glaze and paint it thinly over the cake. Remember those two egg whites? Add another one and whisk until the stiff-peak stage. Then add three tablespoons of caster sugar and whisk again until the meringue becomes silky and creamy. Pile into the centre of the cake and make decorative swirls and spikes. Bake again at 180°C (350°C) until the meringue is a nice golden brown – about 10 or 15 minutes. Take out and cool on the rack again.
#280 Welsh Cinnamon Cake. Is it a cake? Is it a cookie? We just don’t know. It was very nice though – plenty of warm cinnamon spice. It was a bit stodgy too, but in a good way. I’m not sure about the meringue topping though. Not a bad one, by any means. 6.5/10.

#112 Queen of Puddings

I had people coming over for a nice Thai meal and initially thought I’d make some light fresh Thai-style dessert to go with it. Then I though, ‘Bugger that’ and went for the stodge option. I’d heard of Queen of Puddings and seen folk on telly making it, but had never eaten it before. Obviously something called Queen of Puddings must be a delicious taste sensation, mustn’t it? For those that don’t know, QoP is a dessert made of a sweet lemony custard base thickened with breadcrumbs and egg yolks, a layer of jelly, and then topped with meringue. According to Wikipedia, it goes back to the Seventeenth Century.

Begin by making the custard base:

Place 5 ounces of fresh brown or white breadcrumbs in a bowl and stir through a tablespoon of vanilla sugar and the grated zest of one large lemon. In a pan heat a pint of milk and 2 ounces of butter until almost boiling. Pour it over the breadcrumbs, stir it, and leave to stand for 10 minutes and beat in 4 large egg yolks (reserve the whites for the meringue). Grease a shallow dish with a 2 ½-ish pint capacity with butter and pour in the custard mixture. Bake at 180ºC for up to 30 minutes, though it could be much less; dependent upon the dimensions of your dish. Take out the dish when the custard is still slightly wobbly.

Warm up 2 tablespoons of fruit jelly: raspberry, blackcurrant or bramble and spread it evenly over the custard. You could use jam here too, but sieve out any seedy bits. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and then slowly fold in 4 ounces of caster sugar. Spread the meringue over the top and sprinkle a teaspoon or two of sugar over the top. Return to the oven until browned. Serve warm with cream or custard if you like (I served it au naturale).

#112 Queen of Puddings – 6/10. A nice desert; I think I had thirds by the end of the night – was a little tipsy by the end (sorry about the quality of the pic!). It was the crispy meringue that definitely saved it from being blow average. Though good, slightly disappointed that it wasn’t some kind of phenomenal pud.

#9 Manchester Pudding

First of all I’d like to apologise for the time lapse between making some food and then blogging it! I’m busy! busy! busy! these days. Anyway. I did #9 Manchester Pudding last Thursday as Joff was coming round. Me and Greg cooked a store-cupboard style tea so I thought I’d do a pud that seemed straight-forward enough. On the bus home I flicked through the tome and saw Manchester Pudding. I should have cooked it first, being in Manchester! I’d had Manchester tart before – shortcrust pastry, a thin layer of jam, then thick custard to the brim and sprinkled with dessicated coconut. This pudding was sort of similar:

Line an eight or nine inch tart tin with some puff pastry and spread it with either greengage, strawberry or apricot jam (I went for strawberry). Next put ½ pint of full fat milk into a pan with the pared rind of a lemon and two ounces of white breadcrumbs. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Remove the lemon rind and stir in two ounces each of butter and caster sugar, 2 egg yolks and two tablespoons of brandy. Pour into the pastry case bake for around 30 minutes at 180⁰C until almost set. Meanwhile whisk two egg whites until they’ve got to the stiff-peak stage and spread them smoothly over the tart. Sprinkle over a tablespoon of caser sugar and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes until the whites have turned golden brown. Serve warm.

It was lovely! We scoffed the whole thing between the three of us – so quick, in fact, I couldn’t take a photo of it’s innards! It was proper poor people’s food made slightly posh with the addition of meringue and brandy.

Greg says:
See I reckon there is a difference between Manc tart and Manc Pudding, to me the tart has to have coconut on top as Char mentioned. Regardless, the pudding was amazing! When it came out of the oven after the first baking it was completely alive! It breathed and pulsated like something from Dr Who. Basically it was a textbook dish, and felt quintessentially English too I thought, it had swollen to twice the original size after the second baking and we demolished it quick sharp with knives and spoons, dry-humping accordingly. Neil let me put the jam on so the jam was the best bit. 8/10

I say:
#9 Manchester Pudding: 8/10. Can’t knock it really! I’d give it more but I reckon there’s better ones out there!