Tag Archives: Baking

Mince Pies

And so we finally come to the stars of the party, my mince pies. If they weren’t, I would have had to call it a Mulled Wine and Some Snacks Party,and  to be quite honest, I’m not really sure it would have had the same draw.

Mince Pies are a traditional British Christmas snack. My best friend refuses to eat them, due to an early childhood disappointment when he discovered that they did not contain mincemeat, but rather that they had fruits and spices inside. Originally, they actually did contain spiced meat, which was a way of disguising the fact that by the middle of winter, the meat was not at its freshest. They also contained some dried fruits.

Mince pies have existed since about the 13th Century, when crusaders brought back the idea of mixing spice with meat from their trips to win the hearts and minds of the residents of the Middle East. They were considered symbolic of garish Catholic Idolatry by the professional miserablist Oliver Cromwell, but apparently it is quite difficult to come between us Brits and our little Christmas pies, so he was not successful in his attempts to ban them. Again, quite lucky for me and my themed parties.

There is something to be said for the traditional ritual of baking these little treats that I find really restful, but exciting at the same time, as it heralds the start of my Christmas celebrations.

I had made some Pear and Ginger Mincemeat back in September, which I got out. You can just use mincemeat to fill your pies, but I like to fiddle some more, for a more luxurious pie. To ordinary fruit mince, I would add nuts and port, and let them soak for a few hours. As this mince had ginger wine in, I let this one soak in a little brandy, although I did add more nuts, for some crunch.

I had invited some people to the party that are vegan, and so I made up a batch of the Vegan Shortcrust Pastry. Some people prefer puff pastry in their mince pies, but I really think this is pastry overkill. Shortcrust is traditional, and for me it is the best way to get the right balance of pastry to filling.

The best bit about making these pies is getting the right mix of the circles between base and lid, so as to maximise the number of them you can cut from a single roll of the pastry.

Making mince pies

Terrific Tessellation

Firstly, you need to get the right size of circle for your tins. I use muffin trays, because I like the added depth that you can get than with ordinary tart trays. Whichever you choose, you need to cut out 2 sizes of circles for the base and the lid. The base should be about 2 cm larger than the diameter of the “hole” in your tray – this is to allow the pastry to sink into the tray, and to come right up the side. The lid should be about the same diameter as the hole. If you are going to use pastry cutters, then choose the size down from the base. I have also used a variety of glasses, and find a wine glass and a shot glass is also fine to use.

Roll out your pastry thinly. If you can 2-3 mm is ideal. Cut out the same number of base and lids. You will be likely to need to collect up the offcuts and re-roll these. If there is any left over, you can make a pasty with your mincemeat, or fill it with currants, a little sugar and some lemon zest and make an eccles cake.

Grease the tart or muffin trays well using butter or olive oil, and put the oven on at 180°C. Then gently put the bases into the trays, and press down with a little offcut pastry.

Add a heaped teaspoon of the mincemeat into each base. It needs to be generous, but not too full, otherwise your pie will burst in the oven.

Take the lid, and brush round the rim of one side with a little water (if you are not making this for vegans, then you can use egg wash or milk). Place the lid, watered side down, over the pie. You will need to seal the pie, which I do by placing a glass that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the lid over the lid, and pressing it down to seal he base and the lid together.

Filled pies

Pies – filled and sealed

Brush with a little water and place into the oven for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is a golden brown.

Serve the pies warm with a little icing sugar sprinkled over the top. You can make these in advance, and warm then through in a low oven before serving.

Mince Pies

Mmm Mince Pies

Great on their own, or with cream. Best served with a glass of mulled wine!

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Making Meringues

I am sure that you may have noticed by now that I use a lot of egg yolks – in stuff like custards, mayonnaises, pasta, pastry and sauces. This leaves me with a lot of egg whites to use up.  Since I hate waste, I try always to use them, which invariably means making macaroons, and meringues. I need to expand this repertoire, so expect to see consommés and more stir fries appearing here soon. If you have other suggestions for using up egg whites (although not the egg-white omelette, please, some things are a step too far, even for me!) feel free to leave them in the comments.

I had originally intended to make advocaat, in keeping with the Anglo-Dutch theme for my party, but I ran out of time. However, this time, the advocaat was actually the by-product of the intention to make meringues, instead of the usual situation where I have a load of egg whites left over from something else. No one missed the advocaat, anyway!

Since I make them so much, I thought that I would share my technique here. I haven’t given a recipe, as it will depend on how many egg whites you have and to some extent how old they are.

Start by heating the oven to 110°C. Then measure out  45 g sugar for each egg white. I like to use raw cane sugar, but you can also use caster, granulated or icing sugar. I have also seen sugar solution, but that seems to be for Italian or Swiss style meringues, and I tend to stick with French. It is possible to use soft brown sugar, but be aware that this makes it very hard to get a crisp, dry meringue. I think this technique may be best left alone or, if you insist, only use it to top lemon meringue pie.

Put the egg whites in a very clean bowl. There must be no fat or detergent in it. If you are unsure, wipe it with the cut side of a lemon (or other citrus), which will act as a degreaser. If the bowl has any fat, it may affect the ability of the eggs to maintain the air that you are about to whip into them. The same goes if there are any traces of egg yolk, so be careful when separating the egg, too. Note that the fresher the egg, the less likely that the egg yolk is to break when you separate it.

Next, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. This is when the egg whites look drier, the whisk or a spoon will create peaks when you remove it from the mixture, and if you are brave, you can upend the bowl and the egg white will not slide out. I would advise using an electric whisk if you don’t want it to take you hours.

Egg Whites at the Stiff Peak stage

The stiff peak - sadly lacking in many ski resorts this year

Then, a tablespoon at a time, add the sugar and whisk in thoroughly before you add the next spoonful. The egg white will stiffen further, as you add the sugar. At this stage, you are beating to incorporate the sugar, not to add any further air, so it won’t increase in volume.

Egg Whites plus half the required sugar

About half way through - stiffer and peakier, but not more voluminous

Keep adding the sugar, and whipping, a tablespoon at a time. Eventually, the mixture will become really stiff, to the point of being really hard to work,  and will look shiny. This is when you stop adding sugar. Because I use cane sugar, I find I need less than the stated 45 g per egg white. If you are using caster or icing sugar, you may find that you need to use all of it. This is also fine.

Finished Meringue mix

The final product - glossy, thick and much harder to beat

Don’t add more sugar than needed to get to this stiff consistency (or than the 45 g, whichever happens to come first), otherwise your meringues will leach sugar. This does not really affect the taste, but it does give them a rather unattractive look. A bit like a tree that is leaching sap.

Now your meringue is ready to be shaped. You need to line a baking sheet with some greaseproof paper. You can stick it down with oil or by dabbing a bit of the meringue in each corner and the centre of the paper and using this as glue to stick it to the baking sheet. Once the baking sheet is ready, you need to choose what shape and size you are going to have your meringue. You may wish to have it as a pavlova, in which case you need to shape one large disc, with slightly elevated sides, to hold the fruit in. I normally go for individual ones, because these are better for parties or for sharing. Most commonly, I will get two spoons and shape individual quenelles, which can then be stuck together with cream and fruit in a sandwich. However, I wanted to fill these with Chestnut Jam, so I decided that mini versions of the pavlova-style would be better suited to the task.

Some people would use a piping bag for that, but I lack the finesse, and the piping bags, so I made do with shaping them with two spoons. You can try either, I think both are just as good. I made them vaguely circular, like a nest.

Meringue nests

Not sure what I did here, but you get the meringue nest picture

Then it is ready to go in the oven. Bake the meringues for up to 1 ½ hours (but check after 1). If you have made one large pavlova style meringue, you will need longer – check after 1 ½, and leave in the oven up to 2 hours.

A Meringue nest

Meringue nest - a better view

The idea is not really that the meringue cooks, more that it dries out. You need to check that it is no longer soggy to the touch, and that it generates a hollow sound when tapped very gently on the base.It will have darkened a little, even if you use icing sugar. Mine are generally more golden than off-white, because the unrefined sugar I use is a light brown.

When you get the hollow sound, it is done. If it is at all possible, turn off the oven, but leave the meringue in there to continue to dry overnight. This will give the best result, but it will be OK if you leave it to cool outside the confines of the oven.

Once it is done, fill it with fruit, cream, fruit and cream, jam, or serve it with ice cream, mash it up with fruit and cream to make Eton Mess – whatever you like, really.

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Kruidnoten – Christmas Cookies

Kruidnoten

Kruidnoten – really tasty christmas treats

Dutch and Flemish children do not have to wait for Christmas to celebrate. On the 5th December, the Netherlands celebrate Sinterklaas, when St Nicholas visits them and fills their shoes with sweets and biscuits.

One of the traditional biscuits that are given out at this time of year are Kruidnoten. These are little aniseed – flavoured biscuits, that are given to children, and also appear on your saucer whenever you order a coffee in December.

I really like them, and wanted to try my hand at doing some myself. the recent Mince Pie Party seemed like the perfect place to start, and my guests wouldn’t have to wait until Christmas either. As a bonus, these biscuits are vegan, as they contain no butter. Much older recipes do use honey, but these days stroop is a great alternative.That link is in Dutch, but stroop is basically a viscous sugar syrup, often the by-product of refining sugars. It is widely available in the Netherlands and often used on pancakes.

If you cannot get stroop where you are, golden syrup is also perfectly acceptable.

I got the recipe that I used from here. I have translated it below, and adapted it very slightly, to make it wholly vegan.

Recipe: Kruidnoten

Ingredients

200 g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

150 g stroop or golden syrup

2 tsp speculaas spice. This is widely available in the Netherlands. If you are not in the Netherlands and fancy trying these, you can mix up your own – I will give the proportions at the end of this recipe.

1 tsp ground aniseed (I grind mine fresh when I need it in a pestle and mortar)

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C

Mix the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt in a bowl. Then make a well in the centre.

Add the stroop to the well, and stir in the flour. It should form a firm dough, but if it doesn’t, add a little more stroop or some water. I found that I needed a little of both, for this amount of flour.

Brush a baking sheet with oil.

Break off small chunks of dough, and roll them into balls. Press them into the baking tray, so that the base is flat. You will need to have well floured hands, and if the mixture gets a little sticky, roll it in a little flour as well.

Bake for about 15 minutes until the biscuits are browned. They should still be a little soft at this point, because they harden as they cool.

Recipe: Speculaas Spice

According to mijnreceptenbook.com speculaas spices can be made up yourself in the following proportions:

50 g ground cinnamon

15 g ground (or finely grated) nutmeg

10 g ground cloves

10 g ground ginger

5 g ground pepper

5 g ground aniseed

This mix will kep well in an airtight jar. If you want to make this up, you could reduce the amount of  each spice proportionately, or make up the lot, and try it in gingerbread, cakes and other recipes that call for either ground ginger or ground cinnamon to ring the changes.

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Old-Fashioned Gingerbread

Sticky Gingerbread

Old fashioned gingerbread – sticky, not crunchy

On Friday, we had our annual mince pie and mulled wine party. I have been so busy baking for this that I have not had much time to write these recipes up, nor to publish the older posts. I managed to wipe out all of the photos, and have not taken good records, so it is a little time-consuming to go back through all my archives and find the right pictures. I also had an international Christmas dinner for other friends yesterday. I have a lot to write up.   They will all be up soon, I’m  sure!

This year, I decided to try to make some other nibbles from English and Dutch traditions, most of which will appear here in the next few days.

I wanted to make gingerbread, the old-fashioned kind that is dense and soft – not biscuity, like the sort that you make gingerbread men with.

The basic idea is that you make a syrupy sponge, and then let it sit for a couple of days, so that it acquires the dense, sticky texture that I desired.

Of course, you can’t decorate them like you can with gingerbread men, but since this was an adult party, then I don’t suppose any of my guests minded.

I have been making this recipe for years, but there are many very similar ones that I have seen in cook books.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Gingerbread

Ingredients

280 g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

170 g softened unsalted butter. I use the pat of butter that I keep in a butter dish out of the fridge

90 g lichte basterdsuiker, or soft brown sugar

220 g golden syrup. I get this from home, but if you are in the Netherlands, and cannot get golden syrup, then I am pretty sure the stroop that you can buy to eat with pancakes will be fine instead.

1 egg

200 ml milk

4 balls of preserved stem ginger

2-3 tbsp ginger syrup (from the preserved ginger jar)

Method

Set your oven to 180°C

Mix the dry ingredients together. I don’t often bother to sieve ingredients when baking, although many recipes will call for it. It has never really affected anything that I bake. If you are in the sieving camp, then do so by all means.

In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and the butter together. I used an electric hand whisk, but if you have Popeye arms (or would like them) then a wooden spoon will do just as well. The mixture needs to be fluffy and several shades lighter than when you started.

Beat in the golden syrup, and the ginger syrup until it is thoroughly combined. When trying to get the golden syrup out of the tin, use a hot spoon (just hold it in hot water for a few seconds), if you don’t want to spend way too long waiting as the syrup drips sloooooowly from your spoon to the mixture below. If you are using stroop, then this is a little runnier than golden syrup, and comes in a handy squeezy bottle, so you shouldn’t have this problem.

Add the egg, and a tablespoonful of the flour mix (which should stop the batter from separating) and beat until it is all well combined.

Mix the flour in really well, then beat in the milk. You should get a really thick batter.

Finely chop the ginger, and stir it through the batter.

Pour into a square cake tin, about 20cm across. the bottom must be lined with greaseproof paper, and the sides well buttered (or brushed with oil). If you only have a round one, this is also fine, but I like to serve flat slices, for aesthetic purposes.

Because I hate waste, and don’t have children, I use a spatula to ensure that I get all of the batter into the tin, and scrape the bowl and the remains off the whisk. I did allow myself a tiny bit from the spatula after I had as much in the tin as I could physically get. It was a good job I waited too, the golden syrup makes this batter as moreish as crack.

Bake it in the oven for about 40 mins, or until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Leave it in the tin until it is cool enough to handle, then put it on a wire cooling rack.

You can eat it like this, when it is spongy and cakey. Better still, wrap it in greasproof paper and store it in an airtight container for 4-5 days, whereupon it will be sticky and dark and lovely. This is really good with a nice, proper cup of tea. People who enjoy Pickwick need not apply!

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Vegan Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

A lot of people (including me before I really thought about it) think that it is difficult to cook for vegans. However, with a little forethought, and some minor adjustments, it isn’t actually that difficult.

If you make it yourself, pastry is one of the easiest recipes to adapt to a vegan diet. When I was younger, and the world hadn’t woken up to the horrors of transfat, my mother used a special kind of margarine that as a solid at room temperature, and as a vivid yellow colour.I have no idea what was in it, and I am probably a bit afraid to find out!  Nowadays you can get a number of olive and vegetable oil-based ones. These are not so yellow either.

The following recipe is enough to give you the base for a large tart, or several smaller ones. I got 24 mince pies using this recipe.

Recipe: Vegan Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Ingredients

250 g plain flour

125 g block margarine (not the stuff that you spread on your bread – it needs to be more solid)

50 g icing sugar

Zest of a lemon

Method

First, measure the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl, and zest the lemon into a separate container. Take the margarine out of the fridge, and try to work with it as cold as you can. Cut the margarine into cubes and add to the flour. Try to hold as little of it in your hand as possible, to avoid melting.  Rub the flour, sugar and margarine to a fine breadcrumb, by rubbing your hands through the flour and margarine with your thumb over your upturned fingers. When you are done it should look like this:

flour dough as breadcrumbs - before you ad liquid.

The breadcrumb effect

At this point, mix in the lemon zest.

Then get some cold water in a jug – run the tap a little first to make sure that it is as cold as you can. Pour a little at a time into the flour and margarine mix and stir with your hands until it comes together to form a nice dough. At this point cover tightly with either cling film, greaseproof paper or foil. I never use cling film, so I just wrap my dough with whichever of the other two I have to hand. refrigerate for at least half an hour to allow the pastry to relax. If you don’t do this, the pastry will be difficult to work with, and may be too sticky or too short (crumbly).

Roll the pastry out thinly on a well floured surface. To get it even, turn it 90 degrees after each roll, and this should give you an almost circular piece of dough to work with. If you do not need all the dough at once, cut it in half, and put the bit you are not working with back in the fridge,after you have wrapped it up again, until you need it

Use in any recipes that require pastry, but that would be otherwise suitable for vegans. Instead of greasing the tin you are going to bake it in with butter, just use a liberal coating of olive oil.

Wherever you would use an egg/milk wash – i.e. any part of the finished product where the dough will be on display, such as pie crusts; or where you may need to add a liquid filling after a prebake, such as tart bases, then simply brush with water.

The resulting dough is quite short, but a bit denser in texture than all butter dough, and it is paler. My take on it is though, if you have one vegan guest, the other can eat vegetables, whereas your vegan friend cannot eat their food. This dough certainly passes muster for people who are used to eating animal products, so no need to cook special food for one or two.

UPDATE: I have now tested this same pastry with ground almonds, and it makes the pastry richer, and has a lot of flavour. For the amounts given in this recipe, add an additional 75 g ground almonds with the flour, and work with the butter, as above.

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Happy Birthday, Big Guy!

Raspberry and Chocolate Chesecake

Alternative birthday cake

Yesterday was the Big Guy’s birthday. In his native Sweden, it is customary for the rest of the family to get up early, and prepare a pancake cake. Some members of his family also insist on having spaghetti with tomato ketchup for breakfast as well.

Since I am not going to sin against the Flying Spaghetti Monster and neither of us are morning people, these are not a traditions that I intend to uphold. Although you should probably try the pancake cake I linked to on Ted’s blog, they really are very good.

However, he does get to choose whatever he wants for his dinner, and then we usually go for drinks with friends.

This year he asked for a lasagne and a cheesecake.

I am not about to blog a recipe for lasagne. I know from experience that everyone thinks that they make the best one, and this way trouble lies. There are a million different ways to cook it, and most of them were based on lasagnes they had in childhood.

However, the BG did get a baked cheesecake, which is something that I do infrequently, I prefer the ease of the non-baked version, but I have recently stumbled on a formula that seems to work quite well, and is quite easy too.

This version requires little faffing, no fiddly water bath techniques, and looks as though you have gone to a lot of effort.

Recipe: Baked Raspberry and Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients

200 g digestive biscuits

80 – 100 g melted butter – I find that the digestives in the Netherlands are a bit more absorbent than the ones in the UK, and so require more butter to glue them together

250 g mascarpone cheese

200 g cream cheese – or make it easy on yourself a tub of each

2 eggs

120 g icing sugar

3 tbsp plain flour

1 tsp vanilla extract – please don’t use vanilla essence, it is horrible

Zest of a lemon (use unwaxed)

200 g raspberries, plus more to decorate

100 g chocolate. I used a really good milk chocolate, because I can’t stand white. You use whichever sort you like.

Method

Firstly, crush up the digestives. This is quickest done in a food processor, but you can also crush them in a bowl with a rolling pin, or wine bottle; or you can stick them in a plastic bag and crush them with the aforementioned wine bottle, or even with your hands. If you choose the latter method, you can do it in front of your favourite soap on the telly. Last Night of the Proms would also be suitable, I guess,  but that is only on once a year.

Once your biscuits are in a fine crumb, then you need to add the melted butter and mix well. The biscuits and butter should form a solid-looking base in the bottom of a spring-form cake tin, when pressed with the back of a spoon. If they don’t then add more butter and mix in again. Keep trying the tin, until you have the desired base. Remember that the butter will harden, so don’t make it rock solid at this stage – the crumbs just need to look as though they are sticking together nicely.

Bung the tin in the freezer to harden off the base while you make the cheesy bit.

In a bowl mix together the cheeses, the sugar and the lemon zest until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and the flour, and mix these in well. The mix should be fairly sloppy at this stage. If it isn’t add an egg yolk.

Gently crush the raspberries with the back of a spoon. The idea is that you want to get fewer large raspberry lumps, but not that you have crushed them so much they become a coulis.

Break up the chocolate into manageable sized lumps. I kept my chunks quite big – maybe half the size of the chunks that the chocolate bar comes divided into, but this will depend on the size of the chunks the manufacturer makes. You don’t want them too small or the chocolate will melt when you bake it. Too big, and you risk people getting stabbed in the roof of the mouth by a too-chunky chocolate corner.

Mix the raspberries and the chocolate into the cheese mixture, then pour the lot onto the biscuit base. Bake it in the oven at 180°C for about 40 minutes. You want the cheesecake to be set, but to have a slight wobble in the centre. Don’t bake too much or it will crack, although this is just an aesthetic consideration, because it will still taste just as good.

Leave it in the tin to cool, then decorate with some more raspberries. Great served with lemon cream. Or just a cup of tea.

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Wild Garlic Tarts

Wild Garlic Tarts

Wild Garlic Tarts  

Wild Garlic – it is more than likely available in a wood near you right now. It looks quite innocuous, and is easy to walk past. However, walk on it, and there will be no mistaking the smell of garlic.

I love the stuff, and have it in soups, salads, as pesto, I use it as a pot herb, and anything else that I can think of. You can eat the leaves, bulbs and the flowers (although it should be noted that in many places digging up the entire plant is illegal, so only use the flowers and leaves), and all of them have that distinctly garlic taste.

Of course, there are a few basic guidelines to stick to when foraging, and don’t take the whole patch. Apart from needing to leave some for next year’s crop, wild garlic does not keep all that well, lasting about a week in the fridge. And it bruises easily, which only speeds up the deterioration.

One word of caution is that it is possible to confuse the leaves with lily of the valley early in the season, but there really can be no confusion once you smell the plant. If it doesn’t smell of garlic, just don’t eat it!

I had invited a couple of friends over to dinner, and happened to have had a foraging session the day before. I also collected nettles and other wild greens, but these can sometimes be a little ‘niche’ for most people. I thought introducing them to the delights of wild garlic would be an easy and very tasty way in.

As  this was to be a starter, I decided that little tartlets were the way to go. Plus, I had been given some beautiful little individual tart dishes that I wanted to try out.

With savoury tarts, I often prefer cheese pastry. Back in Britain, then only a good cheddar would do for this pastry, but now I live in the Netherlands, and I am not prepared to pay a small fortune for cheddar in a country that prides itself on making its own cheese. I have not necessarily bought  into the fact that Dutch cheeses are the best in the World, but there are enough specialty shops that you can find a good, tasty cheese. For a good cheddar substitute I usually use a piquant belegen boerenkaas (literally ‘sharp mature farmer’s cheese’, which is often unpasteurised).

These are great served with a salad (you can even use foraged leaves if you like), and a fruity dressing. I used home-made blackberry vinaigrette, but balsamic or raspberry would do equally well.

The recipe below is enough for 6 tartlets. If you have fewer people, then both the pastry and the filling will keep in the fridge for up to a week (although the pastry must be tightly wrapped, or just freeze it and thaw before use).

Recip: Wild Garlic Tarts

Ingredients

For the pastry

75 g butter

175 g plain flour (or a mix of half white and half wholemeal plain flour)

50 g of a tasty cheese, such as mature cheddar or piquant belegen boerenkaas

1/2 tsp dry mustard powder

Good pinch of cayenne pepper

For the tart filling

50-100 g wild garlic leaves, cut to a chiffonade

100 g good camembert, finely chopped (any well-flavoured rinsed-rind soft cheese would be good in this dish)

3 eggs

100 ml cream or milk

Freshly grated nutmeg

Paprika

Method

Firstly, make the pastry. I have had very little success in getting good results from using a food processor to form the dough. If you find this easy, combine the ingredients in a food processor, then add cold water to form the dough.

I rub the butter, mustard powder and the flour together by hand. For this I use cold butter, and often have cold hands, so I’m not working the dough too much. You can achieve cold hands by dint of poor circulation, or running them under a cold tap for a few minutes before working the dough.

Once the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs, I add the cheese and the cayenne. I don’t add salt, because the cheese should contain enough. Then I combine the lot with just enough cold water to form a dough.

The pastry needs to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour, but I often go and do something else, then get back to it when I have finished.

Roll out the pastry thinly, and put into the greased tartlet tins. You can also make one large quiche with this recipe. If making individual tarts, I find it easier to cut out smaller discs from the pastry, using a side plate as a template, then gently transfer the thin pastry to the tart tins, and cut to size. Pastry will shrink when you cook it, so it  is better to be generous. You can always trim it later, but you can’t unshrink it.

Blind bake in a hot oven at 180°C. To blind bake, I cover the pastry with rice in greaseproof paper, you can also use beans or ceramic beads. Once rice has been baked in this way, you can no longer cook it normally, so I keep mine in a jar to recycle for every blind bake.

Once the base of the pastry is dry (usually 10 mins) remove the blind bake and put back in the oven until the pastry has browned slightly, and is crisp.

Meanwhile, make the tart filling, by lightly beating the egg and cream, then adding the wild garlic leaves, cheese, paprika nutmeg and mixing well. Season to taste.

When the tart cases are out of the oven, allow to cool slightly, and fill with the filling. Return to the oven, and bake for 15 minutes, or until the topping has just set (could be up to half an hour if making a large quiche).

Serve warm or cold.

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