Lemon, Mascarpone and Almond Cheesecake Crumble

Crisp pastry case, filled with a creamy mascarpone and lemon cheesecake, topped with a sweet crunchy almond brittle.

 

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For the month of November Krista & Nicole of “Two Cups of Sugar.”challenged us to make our own version of cheesecake crumble pie.

I was really intrigued by this daring bakers challenge, as I have never had cheesecake in a pie before, but it sounded delicious!

 

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The original recipe used a crumble topping, but I decided that I would prefer a crunchy almond topping to keep it light.

I’ve never actually made a baked cheesecake before, so I was a bit worried, but this was surprisingly easy, so I will certainly be making cheesecake again!

 

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I had a lot of fun with this challenge, so I’m looking forward the next one!

Variations: You could easily change the flavour of the cheesecake to orange or lime. Another option would be to make a chocolate baked cheesecake and top it with peanut brittle!

 

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Ingredients: Serves 10

The Pastry:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 120g butter
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp water

The Cheesecake:

  • 500g mascarpone
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • zest and juice of three lemons
  • 4tbsp ground almonds
  • 200g caster sugar

The Almond Brittle

  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 150g flaked almonds

 

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To Make:

The Pastry:

Preheat the oven to 180C, and grease a loose bottomed tart tin.

Rub the butter into the flour and icing sugar, until it forms a fine bread crumb-like consistency. Then stir in the water 1 tbsp at a time until the mixture comes together into a ball of dough.

Turn out onto a floured work surface, and roll out until half a centimeter thick. Place into the tart tin, and press into the edges. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork, and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until just beginning to turn golden brown, then remove from the oven and set aside.

Cut 12 small hearts out of the leftover pastry and stick to the edges  of the pre-baked tart case with egg wash.

The Cheesecake Filling:

Whisk together all the cheesecake ingredients in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Pour into the tart tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until just set, there should still be a wobble in the centre when you shake the tin.

Leave to chill in the fridge for a few hours.

 

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The Almond Brittle:

Line a baking tray with oiled grease-proof paper.

Place the sugar and water in a small plan and cook over a medium heat, until the mixture forms a caramel.

Turn off the heat and stir in the almonds.

Pour onto the prepared baking tray and spread into a thin layer. leave to cool completely.

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Once cool, blitz in a small blender to a breadcrumb like consistency.

Pour over the top of the cheesecake.

Serve and enjoy!

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Walnut, Orange and Honey Yafawi Sfeeha

Thin crispy spirals filled with walnut and orange, soaked in a honey, orange and rose syrup.

thumb_DSC05668_1024The July Daring Bakers’ Challenge was brought to us by Manal from Manal’s Bites. She introduced us to an authentic Palestinian dish from Java that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup or a salad. The “Yafawi Sfeeha” or also known as “Milwayeh” which means twisted, is crispy yet tender and full of flavour.

Yafawi Sfeeha can either be sweet or savoury, so I decided to go for a sweet, nutty option suggested by Manal, but I used a syrup as well, for some extra flavour!

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I had no idea what to expect with these, as I had never heard of them before, but they are delicious! I’m so glad they were chosen as the daring bakers challenge. The sweet filling means they taste a bit like a Baklava, but with a completely different texture.

I’m really intrigued as to how these would taste with one of the savoury fillings, so I will probably make some more soon!

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Variations: I think using pistachios instead of the walnuts would be amazing, and you could also change the spices, cardamon would be a good alternative to cinnamon.

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Ingredients: Makes 8 Rolls

The Dough:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200g milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

The Filling:

  • 250 walnuts
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • zest of 1 orange

The Syrup:

  • juice of one orange
  • 3 tbsp honey

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The Make:

The Dough:

Combine all the ingredients for the dough in a large bowl, and mix to form a rough ball. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Return to the bowl and leave to rest for 2-4 hours, then divide into eight 100g balls and leave to rest again for a further 2-4 hours.

The Filling:

Blitz the walnuts in a food processor to a coarse mixture. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the sugar, cinnamon and orange zest.

The Syrup:

Combine the honey and orange juice in a small plan and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, untill it begins to bubble vigorously, remove from the heat and set aside.

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Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a baking tray.

Stretch each pice of dough out into a large rectangle, as thin as possible. Scatter over the walnut mixture and roll up into a long sausage shape.

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Twist the roll into a swirl and place into a well oiled baking tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until crispy and golden brown.

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Remove from the oven, and pour over the syrup mixture. Leave to cool, then scatter over some rose petals, and decorate with walnuts. Serve and enjoy!

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Charlotte aux Poire

Soft and sweet ladyfinger biscuits, encasing a mixture of apple custard, Italian meringue, and caramelised pear.

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For the June daring bakers challenge Rebecca from BakeNQuilt.com challenged us to make Charlotte Royale and Charlotte Russe from scratch. Savory or sweet Charlottes were definitely tasty showstopper!

I was really excited when I read this challenge, as I have a recipe for an Apple Charlotte in my Richard Bertinet Patisserie cookbook that I’ve been wanting to try for ages!

A Charlotte is basically a case made with ladyfinger biscuits, filled with a custard/ mousse filling, which is set in the fridge and then turned out. My Charlotte uses a Bavarois for the filling, which is a mixture of Italian meringue, double cream and custard.

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It did take me quite a long time to put the Charlotte together because of all the different components, and the kitchen was a complete mess! But each component was actually reasonably easy to make, so I feel like it would be difficult to go wrong, as long as you give yourself enough time.

I have stuck to the recipe in the book, but I used pears instead of Apple for the fruit chunks, and I added some extra gelatine because I was so scared that it wouldn’t set!

I didn’t really know what to expect when I cut into the Charlotte to taste it, but I’m so glad I made it because it is delicious!
I love the combination of the ladyfinger biscuits and custardy mouse! It would be an amazing dessert to bring to a family party, I’m sure that everyone would be really impressed!.

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Variations: There are an endless number of variations that could be done with the Charlotte, so here are a few of my ideas:

Lemon Charlotte: use lemon in the custard and fold in some lemon curd. You could even brush the ladyfingers with a lemonciello glaze!

Chocolate and Raspberry Charlotte: use chocolate in the ladyfinger biscuits, and ripple some chocolate ganache through the bavarois with some fresh raspberries.

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Ingredients: Makes 1 Charlotte and a few small pots of the Apple Bavarois

Sugar Syrup:

  • 100ml apple juice
  • 100ml sugar

The Apple Custard:

  • 150ml apple juice
  • 3 medium egg yolks
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 2 sachets of powdered gelatine (or 4 gelatine leaves)

The Caramelised Pears:

  • 4 pears, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Italian Meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 190g sugar
  • 1 sachet of powdered gelatine
  • 45ml water
  • 20g glucose

Apple Bavarois:

  • apple custard
  • Italian meringue
  • caramelised pears
  • 300ml double cream

The Ladyfinger Biscuits

  • 4 eggs
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 120g plain flour

Equipment:

  • 2 pint pudding bowl (or mixing bowl of the right size!)
  • piping bag with a 1cm circular nozzle

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To Make:

The Dried Pears:

Slice a pear into circular disks, about 2mm thick. Arrange on a baking tray and leave to cook in the oven at 80-90C for 15 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave overnight.

The Apple Custard:

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy.

Meanwhile, bring the apple juice to a simmer in a large pan, then stir in the gelatine and leave to melt.

Pour the hot apple juice over the egg yolks, whisking continuously until fully incorporated.

Return to the pan and simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool completely.

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The Caramelised Pears:

Melt the butter in a saute pan, and then add the sugar. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until it begins to turn golden brown.

Add the chopped pears to the pan and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until cooked through.

Set aside and leave to cool.

The Sugar Syrup:

Combine the apple juice and sugar in a small pan and heat until the sugar completely dissolves and bubbles begin to appear. Remove from the heat and set aside.

The Ladyfinger Biscuits:

Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Separate the egg yolks and egg whites. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add 80g caster sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form.

Whisk together the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar until pale and fluffy. Pour into the egg whites  and fold in, then fold in the flour.

Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a circular nozzle. Pipe fourteen fingers, each about 11cm long, and three circular disks. One to fit in the bottom of the bowl (about 8cm diameter), one for the middle (about 10cm diameter) and one for the top (12cm).

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Sprinkle with icing sugar and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, until golden brown.

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Leave to cool on a wire rack before assembling.

The Italian Meringue:

Combine the sugar, glucose and water in a small pan, and heat until it reaches 127C, then add the gelatine powder.

Meanwhile whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Pour the hot syrup into the egg whites, whisking continuously.

Continue to whisk for a further few minutes until glossy.

The Apple Bavarois:

Whisk the double cream until stiff peaks form. Then combine with the apple custard, caramelised pears, and meringue.

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Assembling:

Line the pudding bowl with clingfilm and place the smallest disk in the bottom of the bowl, then arrange the fingers around the outside of the bowl, making sure they overlap, so there will be no gaps.

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Use a pastry brush to soak the fingers and base with the sugar syrup, then press the fingers into each other to form a seal.

Pour some of the bavarois into the bowl, until half full. Place the medium sized disk on top, and brush with syrup.

Pour the bavarois over the middle sponge, to a few cm under the top if the ladyfingers.

Top with the final circular sponge brush with sugar syrup and press into the sides of the ladyfingers to seal.

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Leave to let in the fridge for at least 5 hours before serving.

Once set, pull out of the bowl using the clingfilm and turn out onto a cake stand. Dust with some icing sugar and decorate with slices of dried pear.

Cut into 8 slices and serve!.

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Picante Pepper, Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Focaccia

Soft, light focaccia, stuffed with sweet and spicy picante peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil.

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I recently joined the Daring Kitchen, which is a group who challenge bloggers to bake or cook something adventurous and exciting every month. For the month of April, Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise, took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch!

I have only tried making focaccia once before, so I was excited to make it again, and try a different flavour combination!

I found the focaccia reasonably simple to make, the most important thing is to keep the dough wet and sticky, I usually find wet doughs a bit of a nightmare to knead, but this recipe suggests kneading it in the bowl for a while before turning it out, which really helped!

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You also need to make sure you give the dough enough time to rise and develop some unevenly distributed air bubbles, so don’t move onto the next stage unless the dough has at least doubled in size!

I have used a Paul Hollywood recipe, for a basic focaccia, but I have added some picante peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil, for extra Italian flavour!

Variations: You could use whatever you want to flavour the bread, some olives would work well, or some toasted pine nuts!

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Ingredients: Makes Two Large Loaves

  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong white bread flour

  • 2 tsp salt

  • 2 sachets dried easy blend yeast

  • 2 tbsp

  • 400ml/14fl oz cold water

  • extra olive oil, for drizzling

  • 2 tbsp chopped picante peppers
  • 2 tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • grated parmesan cheese

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To Make:

Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and 300ml/10½fl oz of the water into a large bowl. Gently stir with a wooden spoon to form a beat the dough in the bowl with a wooden spoon for five minutes, gradually adding the remaining water.

Stretch the dough by hand in the bowl, tuck the sides into the centre, turn the bowl 80 degrees and repeat the process for about five minutes.

Tip the dough onto an oiled work surface and continue kneading for five more minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.

Fold in the chopped picante peppers and sun-dried tomatoes, then leave the dough to prove for a further hour.

Grease two large baking  sheets. and preheat the oven to 220C. Tip the dough out of the bowl and divide into two portions. Flatten each portion onto a baking sheet, pushing to the corners, then leave to prove for one hour.

Drizzle the loaves with oil, and press your fingers into the dough, to form lines of dimples. Then scatter over the fresh basil leaves and parmesan cheese.

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Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. When cooked, drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve hot or warm.

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