#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

Valentine’s Day – # 28 & 29

I’ve been a bit poor recently with the upkeep of this blog, so I’ll start with Valentine’s Day – least Thursday. If there’s Grigsons for special occasions one simply has to make them. So it was a choice between Sweetheart Cake or Valentine’s Day Syllabub; I went with the latter. The Grigson suggested making Elegant Sugar Thins to go with. The process for both required some prep the day before. For the syllabub add a splash of white wine, a good squeeze of lemon juice plus the grated zest, a dash of brandy and a big tablespoon of honey to a bowl and leave to infuse. For the bikkies, I simply made the mixture and let it firm up in the fridge shaped into a sausage. There were three – yes count them, three – options for the flavoring; lemon, vanilla or cinnamon. I went with vanilla, as I am loving it the moment after the rice pudding I did last week. The mixture was a basic biscuit one really – I really should find out how much of the Grigson’s recipes I can put in the blog without getting done… I only needed about a third of the mixture for the next day, so I’ve frozen the rest.

On the day, it was pretty straight forward: pour in a small tub of double cream into the lemony mixture and whip up. Place in two wine glasses and a sprinkle of toasted almonds. The Sugar Thins needed slicing very thinly and then sprinkled with sugar. They took only 7 minutes to cook in a hot oven.

For the main course I made chilli baked eggs – a recipe from another excellent book – Leiths Vegetarian Bible. This book is excellent – the recipes are all of such high quality. Most of the hundreds of recipes are traditional and not hippy cuisine at all.

All-in-all Greg and I had a lovely romantic evening, filling our faces and drinking wine as you can see by the photo – I do apologise for the depressing background of drying washing and part-built kitchen cabinets…

FYI: noone really knows who St Valentine was,and it may be a day that celebrates several saints all called Valentine. Also, the association with love and romance seems to have been completely made up as part of a story by Chaucer. I am officially a font of all knowledge…

#28 Valentine’s Day Syllabub: 5/10. When I first started eating it I thought it was lovely, but then the wine and brandy made it too rich and bitter for me. I’d have preferred it with just honey and lemon methinks!

#29 Elegant Sugar Thins: 8/10. Lovely delicate, sweet, crumbly and melt-in-the-mouth. I’m so glad I’ve made a big stash of the mixture in the freezer!

Greg says:
#28 Valentine’s Day Syllabub: 6.5/10. I think I liked this more than Neil did, he doesn’t really like boozy foods though. As usual however we tried to eat too much of it, but I think if you got a little egg cup’s worth in a fancy-pants restaurant you’d appreciate it much more. WHEN NEIL GETS A BLOODY DINING TABLE HINT HINT then we can share the wealth a little more. Are you listening?? Any road, the bitterness is nicely offset by these: #29 Elegant Sugar Thins: 8/10. Ooh I like a good thin, me: butter, lemon, cheese or sugar, you names it, I likes it. You could just sit and eat these all night with a brew in fact, they’re like a really classic sweet little biscuit from your Gran’s ‘parlour’. Muchos yum.