Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Tart

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I suspect that the year might be reaching its end when it comes to pastry making. The weather is slowly but surely actually warming up and we’re getting more than one day of blue sky and sunshine in a row.

Dealing with pastry in hot weather is a bit of a nightmare – not to mention that you then need to turn on your oven – so I’m going to have to get some baking out of my system sooner rather than later.

Thanks to having some hot-smoked salmon and some asparagus very fortuitously hanging around in the fridge (the salmon had been marked down and I’d forgotten to put the asparagus in something else) this tart (or quiche) was an easy dinner option. Thanks to having a trusty food processor, I even put in the effort to make my pastry. And thanks to having a new and as yet unused tin I even put in the effort to blind-bake. Something I frequently neglect.

You can’t really go wrong with tarts – bung in some kind of filling you like, top with eggs and cream and the job’s done. You’re going to like it (they’re like omelettes or frittatas but with a bit more faff on account of the pastry). With this recipe, do not look at the inclusion of the mozzarella, think it’s a bit weird and be tempted to omit it (or was that just me?) – it definitely adds to the richness of the finished product. And load up with as much dill as you can handle … because, well, it’s just delicious!

For us, this served three. We ate half and then shared a third quarter, leaving the final quarter for Master 5’s dinner the following day.

Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Tart

Ingredients

    Pastry
  • 150g plain flour
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Tart
  • Bunch of asparagus, chopped into chunks and steamed
  • hot-smoked salmon - as much as you can afford or have left over
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp (or even more) finely chopped dill
  • 100g mozzarella, shredded/grated
  • 6 eggs (yes, really)
  • ¼ cup cream
  • pepper to season

Instructions

  1. To make the pastry, process the flour, butter and a pinch of salt together until crumbs form. Add the egg yolk and process again, before adding a little cold water so that it comes together. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for about half an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 170°C fan.
  3. To blind bake, grease a 23 cm tart tin, roll out the pastry and line the tin then prick the base with a fork. Cover with a piece of baking paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the baking paper and beans and bake for another 5-10 so that the bottom is golden too.
  4. Allow to cool.
  5. When you're ready for dinner, flake the hot-smoked salmon over the base of the tart, follow it with the asparagus, dill, spring onions and mozzarella.
  6. Beat together the eggs and cream and season with pepper. Pour into the tart and then bake for 25-35 minutes until just set.
  7. Serve with a salad and feel virtuous, as you'll be getting tons of your 5-a-day.
http://eatingadelaide.com/smoked-salmon-asparagus-tart/

Mary Berry’s Sachertorte (sort of)

Sachertorte
Sachertorte

Great British Bake Off has returned for viewers in the UK, so I figure it is fitting to roll out another Mary Berry recipe. My write up of Mary Berry’s chocolate brownies remains, month after month, one of the most viewed pages on this blog.

So when I spotted Mary Berry’s Simple Cakes from the library I figured it was time to test out another one of her usually fool-proof recipes.

The very first recipe in the book is Sachertorte. Not a cake I’ve ever made before but one I’ve been privileged enough to eat in its birthplace, the Hotel Sacher in Vienna. Created in 1832 for Austrian royalty (let’s observe modern country borders for now), it is a cake which now boasts its own national day (5 December, for anyone who needs an excuse to eat cake).

This version of Sachertorte doesn’t quite match up with various ‘original’ Sachertorte recipes that you can find on the internet, as it contains no flour. But I like this, as it means that this cake is suitable for coeliacs! The cake itself is actually also dairy free (the ganache is not) so for anyone dealing with dietary requirements, it might suit.

Somehow, when making this cake I managed to not follow the recipe – not on purpose. I ignore recipes all the time on purpose. But baking, cakes – generally I’m an obedient cook. I read the recipe multiple times before commencing and I don’t stuff up.

Only when making this, I did stuff up. I managed to reduce the chocolate but a full 100g. And guess what? It was absolutely fine.

So the recipe that follows is not Mary Berry’s, though it owes a great debt to her. And, due to the reduced quantity of chocolate, I declare it a health cake (or something).

Purists will also note that I used blackberry jam and you are supposed to use apricot. My choice, like that of any good cook, was driven by what was open and immediately to hand.

Also – because the cake is almond based it is reasonably dense but also retains its moisture well. So it will keep well for a few days, providing you don’t eat it.

Mary Berry’s Sachertorte (sort of)

Ingredients

  • 165g dark chocolate (or 265 if you are actually following the recipe)
  • 6 eggs, 5 separated
  • 215g caster sugar
  • 150g ground almonds
  • about 4 tbsp jam of your choice (you can get away with less)
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 150mL cream

Instructions

  1. Grease a 23cm springform tin and base line with baking paper. Pre-heat oven to 160°C fan (180 conv).
  2. Melt chocolate in the microwave and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk the 5 egg whites to soft peaks (Berry describes this as 'stiff but not dry'). As I have just one bowl for my stand mixer, I then (gently!) tipped the whisked whites into a separate bowl so I could keep on using the stand mixer bowl. No need to clean if you do the egg whites first.
  4. Next, whisk the 5 egg yolks, the extra egg and the sugar until thick and pale. It should be thick enough that it leaves a trail when you lift the whisk from the bowl.
  5. Whisk in the almonds, chocolate and 1 tbsp of the whisked egg whites. The mixture will be quite stiff but make sure it's well combined before moving on.
  6. Gently fold the egg whites into the mix. Ensure it is well combined but don't beat - you don't want to knock out air.
  7. Turn into your cake pan and bake for 40-45 minutes until the a crust forms on the top and the cake starts to shrink away from the edges of the pan. For my cake in my oven, this took the 45 minutes. As I used the 'wrong' amount of chocolate, you will have to use your own judgement here!
  8. Cool the cake in its pan for 10 minutes or so then tip out onto a rack covered with a clean tea towel. I liked this trick - especially good for more fragile cakes.
  9. Leave it to cool completely. I did this much late Saturday afternoon and proceeded the following day.
  10. When ready to finish, heat your jam (gently - it's high in sugar content and this can go wrong easily!) and then brush over the top of the cake. As I only have a very coarse silicone brush, I actually just used a spoon to spread it around.
  11. For the ganache, melt the cream and chocolate in the microwave and allow to cool and thicken. Spread on the cake - you can see from the picture that it's a nice thick covering, but make sure you include the sides too.
  12. If you are keen, you can pipe the word 'Sacher' on the cake. I am not that keen.
  13. Serve with cream. And because the cake is almond based, it is lovely and moist - so if you are especially health-conscious, you can skip the cream.
http://eatingadelaide.com/mary-berrys-sachertorte/

Squidgy Chocolate Torte

Chocolate cake with pomegranate seeds
Mmmm, chocolate

As I write this we are STILL eating Easter leftovers. My Saturday afternoon panic (“OMG, will we have enough food?!”) was totally unnecessary and my family well and truly pulled out the stops.

After the beef salad, my other main contribution was this chocolate torte from a BBC Easy Cook magazine dated November 2014. I bought this at Manchester airport before a flight home – my purchasing decision driven by the fact that it was the cheapest of the food magazines available (which is pathetic as English magazines are generally embarrassingly cheap) and it had James Martin on the cover.

For the past 18 or so months, it’s sat by the side of the bed and been flicked through but never used. This recipe is illustrated by said chocolate torte liberally scattered with pomegranate seeds. As my parents’ tree is going nuts, and everyone in my family likes chocolate (particularly my dad and uncle who are the most vocal about it) I figured it would be a winner.

You can find the recipe on the BBC website where it seems it was first printed in BBC’s Good Food magazine 12 months before being reused in Easy Cook!

On account of not having any light muscovado sugar to hand, I subbed in dark brown sugar but for the remaining ingredients I did as I was told. However, some of the timings in the recipe were a bit off. Beating the eggs & sugar (in a stand mixer, no less) took longer than the 5-8 minutes suggested. The cooking time was similarly optimistic and I had the cake in the oven for an hour. That may be because my spring form tin is slightly smaller than 23cm – its diameter is not marked and I’m not sufficiently bothered to find a tape measure!

There was plenty of topping so any helpers who like to lick out bowls are well served with this recipe. And being light on flour, it keeps excellently.

It’s not the quickest cake to make (beating, beating, beating) but this is definitely a cake that will be made again.

Squidgy Chocolate Torte

Ingredients

  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 5 large eggs
  • 225g light muscovado sugar - I used half and half caster sugar & dark brown sugar
  • 85g ground almonds
  • 50g plain flour
  • ganache
  • 150mL cream
  • 100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
  • pomegranate seeds to decorate

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease a 23cm springform tin and line the base.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate. I always do this in the microwave on 30 second bursts, but you can also use a bain-marie - it will just take a bit longer!
  3. Crumble the sugars to remove any lumps (particularly important if you are using dark brown sugar) and then add to the bowl of a stand mixer along with the 5 eggs. Beat until thick, mousse-like, pale and doubled in volume. This takes a long time but once the sugar and eggs are combined you can up the speed a bit.
  4. Gently pour the melted butter and chocolate down the side of the bowl and fold in. Do this thoroughly - until the mixture is even in colour - it takes a while and it will feel like it is never going to happen but it will eventually!
  5. Sift over the almonds, flour and a ¼ tsp salt and fold in.
  6. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake until done. The original recipe says 30-35 mins but this wasn't enough for me - I needed an hour - although I do suspect my cake tin is slightly smaller than 23cm. The cake will rise and the top will be set. As this is squidgy, a skewer inserted in the cake will come out slightly moist with some crumbs attached.
  7. Cool the cake in its tin on a rake (it may sink and/or crack).
  8. To make the ganache, bring the cream to the boil on the stove and pour over the roughly chopped chocolate and icing sugar (always make sure to sift this). Leave for 5 minutes and then stir until all the chocolate is melted. Leave to cool and thicken (I ended up putting this in the fridge) before spreading over the cake.
  9. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and serve with cream.
http://eatingadelaide.com/squidgy-chocolate-torte/