Tag Archive for Dried fruit

Apple and Apricot Cake

A moist cake, filled with fruit. The apple almost disappears, but gives the cake lots of extra flavour and moistness. It is quite firm, but not heavy. It is one of those cakes that is best when it is freshly baked. It is nice on its own, but would also work well with some whipped cream, crème fraîche or custard.

AppleAndApricotCake2

Apple and Apricot Cake
Slightly adapted from “Mary Berry’s Baking Bible”

250 g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
225 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 eggs
150 g butter, melted
225 g apple, peeled, cored and cubed
100 g dried apricots, cubed
25 g flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 160C. Line a brownie tin with baking paper.
Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla extract, salt, eggs and butter together in a bowl, then beat well for 1 minute. Fold the apple and apricots through. Spoon into the tin and level. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
Bake for about 1 hour, or until the cake is golden, firm to the touch and beginning to shrink away from the side of the tin. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin, then turn out, peel off the baking paper and serve. Or leave on a rack to cool down to room temperature.

Walnut, raisin and cinnamon whole grain bread

Made with a basic unsweetened whole grain dough, these buns get their sweetness from the raisins. They make a nice breakfast smeared with some butter, but are also lovely as an accompaniment for cheese. The walnuts give them a nice bite.

WalnutRaisinCinnamonBread2

Walnut, raisin and cinnamon whole grain bread (12 buns)
Adapted from “Mary Berry’s Baking Bible”

225 g flour
225 g whole grain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
40 g butter, melted
250 ml warm water
7g sachet dry yeast
100 g chopped walnuts
100 g raisins

Measure the flours, salt, sugar, cinnamon, butter, water and yeast into a bowl and mix together by hand or with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, until combined to fairly sticky dough.
Knead for about 4-5 minutes on a lightly floured work surface or in the mixer, adding a little extra flour if needed.
Transfer to a large bowl, cover tightly with cling film (make sure no air can escape) and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-1.5 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
Tip the dough on a lightly floured work surface and flatten the ball slightly. Add the chopped walnuts and raisins and knead into the dough, then shape into 12 equal sized balls. Space these equally in an oiled roasting tin. Cover with some oiled cling film (otherwise it will stick) and leave to rise for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220C and bake the buns for 20-25 minutes, or until they sound hollow when tapped and are nicely browned.

Alternatively, shape the dough into a loaf and bake in a loaf tin.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I love thick, chewy oatmeal raisin cookies. This recipe makes them. Try it, you’ll love them too.

OatmealRaisinCookies2

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (about 12 – 16)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

The last trick to getting a really thick, chewy cookie is to chill the dough before you bake it. You can scoop it and then chill it, or, if you’re like us, scoop it, freeze them and store them in a freezer bag so you can bake them as you wish. I find they’re always thicker when baked from the cold — only a couple extra minutes baking is needed.

115 g butter, softened
125 g brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
95 g flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
120 g rolled oats
120 g raisins

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, stir this in. Stir in the oats and raisins.
To make the cookies extra thick and chewy, you need to chill the dough. Either chill it and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies on a tray and chill the whole thing. Or scoop them, freeze them and bake them if you want cookies (takes a few minutes extra baking).
Preheat the oven to 175C. Place the cookies about 5 cm apart on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Take them out when golden at the edges, but still a little undercooked on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.

Bread and butter pudding

When we returned from France, we had 2 baguettes leftover. As you may know, French bread is best on the day it is baked; it turns stale very quickly. And these baguettes were already 2 days old. I hate to throw away food, so I decided to make them into bread and butter pudding. A classic oven-baked British dessert, in which the bread is smeared with butter, scattered with raisins and soaked with custard. Officially it is dessert, but I rather have it as a (luxurious) weekend breakfast, since it is quite heavy. The recipe below is a mix of ones I found in several of my cookbooks, tweaked to my liking.

Pretty classic bread and butter pudding (serves 6-8)
2 stale baguettes, sliced, ends used for something else
25 g butter, melted
75 g sugar
100 g raisins

250 ml cream
350 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

2 tbsp sugar, to sprinkle on top.

Grease a large, deep ovenproof dish (18×23 cm) with a little of the butter.
Cover the base of the dish with about 1/3 of the slices of bread. Brush with 1/3 of the butter. Sprinkle with 1/2 the sugar and 1/2 the raisins. Layer the 2nd 1/3 of bread on top, brush again with butter and sprinkle the other half of the sugar and raisins over. Cover with the remaining portion of bread.
Mix cream, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, eggs and yolks. Pour over the pudding and leave to stand for 1 hour (can be kept overnight covered in the fridge).
Preheat the oven to 180C. Brush the top of the pudding with the remaining butter, then sprinkle over the sugar.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, crisp and slightly puffy. Serve immediately, don’t let it get cold.

Variation: you can used (white/brown) sliced bread with the crusts removed, or use brioche/croissants to make it extra luxurious.

Stuffed Vegetables

Rice with lots of different bits and pieces, savoury and sweet, loads of different flavours and textures, stuffed into delicious vegetables. You definitely don’t miss the meat in this dish! I like stuffed vegetables, it is a fun way of serving, a bit different than the average rice dish. But I always have one problem: the amount of filling never matches the volume I need to fill the vegetables that I want to fill. Usually I err on the side of caution and make more filling than I need, and serve the remainder on the side. Or store it for next days lunch.
I cooked a double batch of rice on a previous day, stored half and used it for this dish. Because brown rice takes 30-45 minutes, I wouldn’t cook it specially for this dish, so a bit of planning is advised. Alternatively you could use basmati, or another rice, that does cook quicker.

Stuffed Vegetables

Stuffed Vegetables (serves 2)
Slightly adapted from “Leon – Fast Vegetarian”

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sambal badjak
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tomato, cubed
1/4 cup raisins, soaked in hot water and drained
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup brown rice, cooked in bouillon
1/2 cup drained and rinsed canned chickpeas
1/4 cup cooked spinach, chopped
1/4 cup cubed feta (or crumbled goats cheese)
salt and pepper
optional: 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (like parsley, mint, dill and/or coriander)

vegetables of choice (aubergine, pumpkin/squash, courgette, onions, paprika, tomato)

Precook the vegetables in the oven at 175-200C (time/temperature will depend on the kind of vegetable you use), then scoop out the flesh if necessary.
Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and sauté until soft and golden. Add the garlic and sambal, and sauté for another few minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and tomato, and cook for 2 minutes. Add all the other ingredients, mix and season well with salt and pepper.
Stuff the vegetables with the filling and cook in the oven at 160C for 20 minutes.

Note: Omit the feta to make this dish vegan friendly. Or use a vegan cheese instead.

Fruitcake

I think anyone should have a recipe for fruitcake. It is easy to make, most people will like it, you can play around a bit with the different kinds of dried/candied fruit in it, and importantly: it is a classic. Fruitcakes come ranging from very light to very heavy, this one falls a bit in between (to keep the baking time reasonable, and to make maturing not necessary). Often, fruitcakes contain alcohol, this cake doesn’t, but I expect that you can soak the raisins and currants in something alcoholic before adding them (make sure you dry them), or drizzle the cake with alcohol after baking. Because it contains so much dried fruit, it will stay fresh and tasty for quite a while.
The washing of the cherries may seem a bit of a weird step in the recipe, but it is a necessary one. The sticky layer around the cherries is hygroscopic, meaning it will attract water. This will locally make the batter very running, causing an uneven bake, and the cherries will sink to the bottom as well. And, if you can find them, use natural glacé cherries, not the luminescent ones. I couldn’t, so I did use the luminescent ones, because in my opinion, you cannot make fruitcake without glacé cherry.

Fruitcake

Fruitcake
Adapted from “Mary Berry’s Baking Bible”

100 g glacé cherries
100 g succade (candied peel)
75 g chopped dried apricots
50 g raisins
50 g currants
3 eggs
175 g self-raising flour
100 g softened butter
100 g brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 140C. Grease a loaf tin.
Cut the cherries into quarters, put in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well, then dry with kitchen paper.
Break the eggs into a large bowl. Add the flour, butter and sugar. Beat well until the mixture is smooth. Add the dried fruits and stir through. Pour into the prepared tin and level the top.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 80 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown, firm to the touch and shrinking away from the sides of the tin. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

Carrot and orange salad

A small and fun side salad, fresh and slightly sweet. You can add bits of orange or grapefruit if you like. I like to make this in autumn and winter, when carrots are abundant but other salad vegetables are not. The salad on my photo has a bit of a strange colour, because I used white, yellow, orange and purple carrots from my garden. When you use “normal” orange carrots, the salad will be orange too. I like to grate the carrot finely, but you can also slice the carrot into julienne or grate it coarsely, if you prefer.

Carrot and Orange Salad

Carrot and orange salad (serves 2)
Inspired on a recipe of the Voedingscentrum that I read somewhere

30 g raisins
150 g carrot
30 ml orange juice

Wash the raisins and soak them 10 minutes in warm water. Wash (or peel, when you use thicker/older carrots) and grate the carrots. Drain the raisins and mix with the carrot and orange juice.

Dutch food: poffert

Poffert is a traditional regional dish from the province of Groningen (where I come from), although a similar dish can be found in other parts of the Netherlands. It is a cross between a steamed pudding, bread and bundt cake/gugelhopf and is very filling, especially because it was served with a generous pat of butter and lots of brown sugar or stroop. That was why it usually was eaten as a main, and in winter. It was often cooked when the whole family needed to work on the land, and there was no time to cook. The batter was made, placed it in the pan and a few hours later there was food, while she could do other things. By richer people it sometimes was eaten as dessert or snack, and nowadays it is more of a special treat. But you know that a dish is popular when there is a a small village (about 15 houses, 3 farms and a small shipyard) named after it: de Poffert is located between Hoogkerk and Enumatil. The village was named after the tavern called de Poffert, that was there because de Poffert used to be an important quay for tug-boats, especially during the sugar beat campaign in fall (there was, and is, a sugar refinery in Hoogkerk). The captains used to eat loads of things made with flour, hence the name of the tavern.

Real poffert is cooked au bain marie in a special ‘pofferttrommel'(literally poffert bin), a bundt shaped pan with a lid. Some people line the tin with slices of bacon before filling it with batter, to prevent sticking. Nowadays people often cook the poffert in an oven instead of au bain marie (in my opinion you make something else than poffert in that case), and use other kinds of dried fruit as well, or even make a savoury variant with bacon and smoked sausage. It is not necessary to have the special ‘pofferttrommel’ to make poffert, you can also use a heat-proof bowl or a bundt pan that you cover with aluminium foil or baking paper secured with a bit of kitchen rope. There are even people that use a small pan that fits inside the larger pan.

Poffert is normally eaten with (molten) butter and brown sugar or stroop, but you could also use apple butter instead of the stroop. Some people serve theirs with cinnamon and brown sugar, but I think poffert does need the moisture from butter or something else. Not traditional, but delicious options are a splash of cream, vanilla sauce or toffee sauce.

Poffert

Poffert (for a bowl or tin that can hold 2 liter, serves 4 generously)

250 g flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
scoop of sugar
100 g raisins
200 ml lukewarm milk
1 egg
accompaniments of choice

Mix all the ingredients to form a nice batter. Pour it into your pofferttrommel or the tin/bowl you are going to use. Place into the large pan with warm water. Place the lid on top and leave to rise for an hour. Then turn on the heat and cook the poffert in about an our. Control with a sateh stick if the poffert is ready, the stick should come out clean. Serve warm with your accompaniments of choice.

Note: you can also make poffert with self-raising flour (quite a luxurious variant) instead of yeast, and sometimes half wheat and half buckwheat flour was used.

Courgette Oatmeal Bars

And here is another recipe to use up courgettes. These bars are soft, sturdy and filling. I like it when things like this are not too sweet, but this recipe makes bars that are really just barely sweet. They were almost not sweet enough for my taste (although my husband adores them as they are), so when you like things to be sweeter, add more honey. They have quite an unique taste and texture, so it is quite hard to describe it accurately. Think more along the line of a sturdy baked oatmeal, than something like a cookie bar. They can be frozen very well, so you can make a batch and eat a square each day as a snack.

Courgette oatmeal bars (18 squares)
Slightly adapted from A Sweet Baker

2 cups grated courgette (about 1 large or 2 small courgettes)
2 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 medium banana)
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a 23×33 cm baking dish with baking paper.
Mix courgette, eggs, coconut oil, milk, honey, banana, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla well. Stir through the rolled oats, them fold in the raisins and walnuts.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and flatten with the back of a spoon until it is even.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Remove from the baking dish (using the baking paper) and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for 2 days, or freeze them.

Carrot Courgette Muffins

Another recipe for the courgette surplus. These muffins are very moist, which means that they keep well and can be frozen as well. The moistness mainly comes from the carrot and the courgette, but the muffins certainly don’t taste like vegetables. They are barely sweet, and walnuts add a bit more texture. Because the muffins consist mainly of vegetables and whole wheat flour, and only have a little bit added sugar (in the form of honey/maple syrup) and fat, they are actually quite healthy and filling. My muffins are a bit darker than you can expect from the recipe, because I used stroop (Dutch molasses/treacle), which is darker than honey/maple syrup.

Carrot Courgette Muffins

Carrot Courgette Muffins (12 muffins)
Slightly adapted from Cupcakes & Kale Chips

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
45 g butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup finely grated courgette
1/2 cup finely grated carrot
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a muffin pan with paper or silicon liners.
Mix flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda, and mix together butter, honey, egg and vanilla extract in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir together until just combined. Add the courgette, carrot, raisins and walnuts and stir until just mixed. Divide the batter over the muffin cups.
Bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Leave to cool 10 minutes in the muffin pan, then take out to cool further.
Store in an airtight container for 3 days maximum, or freeze.