Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pear Polenta Cake

Pear Polenta Cake

I know January is typically the month we all turn our thoughts to getting rid of the Christmas excesses, but I'm not sure how you can do that when there is still Christmas food in the freezer. I've always tried to make a bit of an effort towards the end of January, afterall I've got a stash of chocolate that needs eating up and I'm sure it's not going to go to waste whilst starting some kind of daft diet.

I'm not sure that this is an authentic Italian polenta cake, but putting that aside, it tastes delicious. The recipe is a bit of a faff and the mixture at times doesn't look very promising but it turned out to make a fabulous dessert. If you have a couple of ripe pears in the fruit bowl, but not overly ripe, this recipe is a great way to use them up.

Pear Polenta Cake

You will need: 23cm springform tin, greased with butter and base lined. Dust the tin with flour.

100g plain flour
40g polenta
1 tsp baking powder
large pinch of salt
grated zest of one lemon
2 large eggs
75g golden caster sugar
5 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp raisins
50g unsalted butter (softened)
2 medium desserts pears (peeled and sliced)
25g unsalted butter, softened
10g caster sugar
2 tbsp apricot jam
toasted flaked almonds
icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
2. Mix the flour, polenta, baking powder, salt and lemon zest together in a bowl.
3. Beat the eggs and half the sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Little by little beat in the milk and almond extract. Beat in the flour and very soft butter. Note: I had an issue mixing the butter into the batter by hand and had to whiz everything briefly in the food processor (but in my case the Thermomix) to make a lump-free batter. Stir in the raisins. Now dollop the mixture into the tin and smooth evenly.
5. Arrange the pear slices over the cake batter. Melt the butter and brush over the slices of pear. Sprinkle over the caster sugar.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes until golden and cooked through.
7. Place the tin on a cooling rack and allow the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes.
8. Remove the cake from the tin. Heat the apricot jam with 1 tablespoon of water, brush over the top of cake.
9. Decorate with toasted flaked almonds and a dusting of icing sugar.

You may also like:
Gingered Semi-Freddo Cupcakes
Pineapple and Lime Cake
Mini Lemon Bundt Cakes

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Coldpress Juices - Review

Coldpress Juices

These two bottles of mixed fruit and vegetable blended juices have been sent to me from the clever people at Coldpress, and they have certainly added some welcome zing into Kitchen Delights dreary January.

There is a lot of technology going on here to bring us these amazing juices, from the way the fruit is pressed through to the design of the bottles. I've been sent some information to briefly explain that using 'cold-pressure' technology as opposed to heat-heavy pasteurisation this pioneering juice brand launched these two new 'nutritionally dense' drinks that retain all their ingredients' natural minerals and vitamins.

Fruity Greens: I was surprised how easy it is to individually identify the apple, celery, kiwi, lime and banana. The vegetable element is kale and spinach which in no way overpowers the fruit.

Berry Beets: A fruity blend of apple, beetroot, raspberry, pear and lemon - I love the vibrant colour, and I was definitely won over with the refreshing zing. The perfect drink to sip on throughout the day and will give me a welcome boost of energy instead of turning to my usual coffee.

Available in 500ml bottles
Fruits Greens (63 Cals/150ml) and Berry Beets (65 Cals/150ml)
Provides one of your five a day.
RRP: £2.79
Available: Waitrose
For more information please visit

Disclaimer:  We were sent the products for review.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Plum Frangipane Tart with Crushed Amaretti

Plum Frangipane Tart

I bought these plums on a whim from the supermarket, they're what I call the dreaded 'ripen at home' which often translates to 'never will ripen at home'. Why do I do it? This time they were kind to me and ripened at home in a good 10 days after purchase without going mouldy which is a first.

Fortunately the plums were delicious, which is a blessing, especially after I had taken a fair amount of time making this fabulous tart which is topped with crushed Amaretti biscuits and flaked almonds.

I mainly buy Amaretti biscuits before Christmas and these together with flaked almonds make the most glorious crunchy topping for the ever popular frangipane bake.

A slice of plum frangipane tart with flaked almonds and crushed amaretti

Thermomix Instructions in Italics

You will need: Oblong tin deep fluted tart tin with loose base.35cmx10cmx3cm 

For the pastry:
175g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
75g cold butter, cubed
25g caster sugar
1 medium egg, beaten with a splash of water
For the filling:
75g butter, softened
75g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
75g ground almonds
2 tsp plain flour
½ tsp almond extract
6 plums halved and stoned
For the topping:
Crushed Amaretti biscuits
Flaked Almonds

1. Place the flour and butter in a food processor and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix in briefly, then add 3 tablespoons of the egg and water mixture. Whiz until the dough just comes together.
Place the flour, butter, sugar and 3 tablespoons of the egg and water mixture into the TM jug 20 Secs/Speed 4.
2. Chill the pastry for 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and line the tin,
3. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/ Gas 5 and place a heavy baking sheet inside on the oven rack to heat up.
4. Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork, now chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
5. Line the pastry case with crumpled baking paper and spread over a layer of baking beans. Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and remove the baking paper and beans. Return the part baked pastry case to the oven for 10 minutes until light golden brown.  Leave the pastry case in the tin to cool on a rack.
6. Now make the frangipane filling by placing the butter and caster sugar into the food processor, whiz briefly.  Add the ground almonds, flour, eggs and almond extract. Whiz again until smooth.
Add the butter, caster sugar, flour, ground almonds, almond extract and eggs to the TM jug 1 min/speed 3.
7. Reduce the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4.  Pour the frangipane into the tin,  Arrange the plum halves cut down side on top of the filling. Scatter over crushed Amaretti biscuits and flaked almonds.
Bake for 45 minutes until the tart is golden brown. Cool on a rack.