Apple and Ginger Surprise Loaf

What’s the surprise? (I hear you ask)
The surprise is that I made it.
I was actually just in the kitchen making a coffee and bemoaning the lack of biscuits to go with said coffee and my eyes began to wander and before I knew what was happening I had a bowl full of cake mix in front of me.

I was going to knock up a batch of biscuits as cheeky treat, but then I noticed a banana that had seen better days loitering in the fruit bowl trying it’s best to corrupt a lonesome apple and my head decided that the best place for them was inside a cake, rather than have them join forces and ruin what was left of the innocent ginger root. Ah now ginger, that would be nice with apple….

So the mixing began in earnest and i remembered the tin of chrystallised ginger in the cupboard that I’ve been forgetting about for the last 2 months, and when I was rummaging I found a jar if ginger syrup ( left over from the chrystallising ). Then I thought this might actually turn out to be rather awesome and I really should be taking pictures for the blog, but as my camera was in the somewhere, and my iPad was charging in the somewhere else I just decided to crack on before the baking muse decided to join them. It also occurred to me that I should probably be writing this down. And measuring the ingredients rather than just chucking and sloshing.

The following is a recipe of all the things I remember putting in it, in their approximated quantities. And even if I do say so myself it’s rather delicious.

Apple & Ginger loaf.

*75g Butter (softened)
*50g Sugar
1 Egg
*275g Flour
*2 level tsp Baking powder
1 overripe Banana
**75ml Ginger Syrup
**75ml Creme Fraiche
1 Apple (peeled and diced)
**100g Chrystallised Ginger ( finely chopped )

*these ingredients I did measure
**these ingredients I didn’t, but its a good ‘guesstimate’

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until pale and smooth.
Beat the egg and stir in gradually, adding a spoonful of flour each time you add some egg to avoid curdling. When all the egg has been stirred in , sift in the rest of the flour and baking powder and stir well.

In a smaller bowl mash the banana and mix with the ginger syrup and creme fraiche, then add this to your large bowl and stir well. The mixture should be slightly ‘gloopy’ in consistency, but not quite pourable. If it is too dry at this point add a little more creme fraiche. Now throw in the chopped apple and chrystallised ginger and mix thoroughly.

Transfer the mixture to a 2lb greased and lined loaf tin, cover the top loosely with greaseproof paper and place in an oven preheated to 170degrees. Bake for 1 hr and 15 minutes then uncover and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes. Poke a skewer or knife into the centre of the cake and if it comes out clean then it’s done. If not return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes ( you may need to recover the top to stop it getting singed).

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Take out of the oven and leave in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove it, take off the lining paper and leave on a cooling rack for as long as you can. The longer you leave it too cool, the easier it is to slice, but if you are impatient like I am, warm chunks are more than acceptable.

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A Bientôt.

Everything pickle

It all started with an aubergine. You see I absolutely hate throwing anything away, and the leftover aubergine was about a day away from the compost heap and was calling out to me every time I walked in the kitchen. What with that and the plaintive calls of the half parsnip, going to the kitchen was becoming quite a noisy affair. I knew that I would be out with friends for the whole of the next day so there was going to be little opportunity muck about in the kitchen so the moment was seized and I decided to cook.

What I was going to cook was still slightly up in the air so it was time to see what else needed using up. As it turns out there was rather a lot, and when presented together there was really only one answer.

Cheeky Chunky Chili Chutney

1 Aubergine
3 Carrots
2 Onions
1 Fennel
1/2 a large Parsnip
2 Tomatoes
6 Baby corn
2 tsp of chopped fresh Chillies
1 heaped tsp of wholegrain Mustard
300 ml of brown Vinegar
200 ml of white Vinegar
50 ml of cider Vinegar
100 ml of Red Wine
50 ml of ginger syrup
300 g of brown Sugar
Cold Water.

Don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients, and in particular the vinegar varieties. As I said I was using up odds and ends of stuff so as long as the volume of vinegar remains the same as the total in the recipe it really doesn’t matter what type you use. And if you need the recipe for ginger syrup you will find it on the chrystallised ginger post 🙂

Anyway….

Roughly chop all the veg, not too small this is a chunky chutney, and place in a large heavy bottomed pan.

Add the chillies and mustard, then pour in all the vinegars, red wine and ginger syrup.

If the liquid doesn’t cover all the ingredients, top up with cold water and stir well.

Turn on the heat and bring to the boil stirring all the time.

Once the chutney is just boiling add the brown sugar and stir till completely dissolved.

Turn down the heat to a good simmer and walk away, put you feet up, watch a bit of Telly.

The chutney needs to sit and simmer for about 2 hours with the occasional stir to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pan.

After a couple of hours the liquid should be a rich glossy dark brown, thick and sticky. Now is the perfect time to pot. Fill washed and sterilised jars to the top and screw the lid on tight.

 

Now you can eat this the following day ( which is just as well as a jar of it ended up at my friends barbecue the following evening ), and it has a really nice taste and a cheeky little bit of spice to it, but I’ve got a feeling that by around Christmas time, it will be sensational. I am trying to ignore the two pots left in my cupboard. It’s really not that easy you know.

A Bientôt

There will be pictures added to this post as soon as a small technical issue* has been rectified.

*The technical issue being that I’ve put them somewhere and I can’t seem to find them….

A ginger revelation

I’ve never been a fan of Crystallised Ginger, in fact I’d go as far as to say I really don’t like it. So when we were having a coffee at the local bar a couple of weeks ago and the landlord very proudly began offering his patrons a taste of his home made ginger I was reluctant to say the least.  He became rather insistent and politeness forced me to take the smallest chunk I could find from the bottom of the bowl and I bit down with coffee mug ready in hand to wash away the unpleasantness immediately.

To use the comparison of St. Paul on the road to Damascus is perhaps a little strong ( and more than likely blasphemous in some way), but I did have a moment of complete revelation. It was absolutely gorgeous. Before the first tiny morsel had been swallowed the request for more had gone out and whilst the chunks were a little large for my taste I was determined that this was something I was going to try to make for myself.

The very next day I went shopping for ginger.

For this recipe you will need 1 kg of peeled ginger root, 1 kg of sugar and  some water. That’s it.

It is always best to use fresh ginger root as it can become tough and ‘woody’ in texture quite quickly, so it is advisable to buy and cook your ginger on the same day if possible.

Peeling ginger is not a task I look forward to and the kilo of ginger sitting before me was looking rather ominous, but I decided to try out an odd tip I found on-line and to my delight it was a roaring success. Instead of using a knife, drag the edge of a spoon across the skin and it lifts away so easily and cleanly that you lose almost none of the flesh and you can get into all the knobbly bits with ease.Peeling ginger with a spoon

The next step is cutting your ginger root. As I mentioned the sample I had that got me so excited was a little on the chunky side so I decided to try very thin slices.

Use a knife to slice the ginger thinly

You can of course use a mandolin slicer for this as it is undoubtedly faster than a knife, but I cant*.  Slice the ginger as thinly as you can, place in a heavy bottomed pan and add just enough water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the water and re-cover with fresh water and bring to the boil again. ( Ginger root can be slightly bitter and the first boil gets rid of the ‘tang’).

Once your pot is boiling add your sugar (800 g)  and stir till it has all dissolved.

Boil gently for around 25-30 minutes until the liquid has turned a caramel colour and small sugar crystals begin to form around the edges of the pan

Boill until the liquid is caramel coloured

Drain into a colander and leave it to drip into a bowl for a further 30 minutes.

Whatever else you do at this stage DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES discard the liquid. When the cooked Ginger has drained decant the syrup into a jar and store for later use. ( There are SO many things you can use the syrup for it would be a crime to throw it away. I will write a separate post detailing all the things I’ve used it for so far, at a later date) .

Once the ginger is slightly less soggy spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle the remaining 200g of sugar over the pieces and roll it around to make sure there is a fairly even coating.

once drained roll in sugar to coat the pieces

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees, place your baking tray in the oven and then turn it off and leave to cool completely ( overnight if possible ).  You can just leave the ginger to dry out naturally but using the oven cooling method makes the sugar coating a little more crunchy. (Any excess sugar left on the tray can be used as a delicious addition to natural yoghurt of as a topping for cakes or gingerbread).

Once the ginger has cooled and dried completely it can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 3 months. You can use it in so many different ways;  chopped and thrown into cookie dough or cake mixtures, dipped in chocolate, spice up natural yoghurt with a few pieces, or of course you can  just eat it.

store in air tight container for up to 3 months

My first batch lasted less than 3 days……
A Bientot.

*The reason I cant use one is a story involving a mandolin slicer, my best friends finger tips and a late night visit to accident and emergency.  You know who you are.