Thursday, September 9, 2010

It is my birthday and I will eat cake for breakfast if I want to

It was just a question of which cake.

Here is an example of the kind of recipe I hate, full of shortcuts like ready made shortcrust pastry - nah can't buy that in my local supermarket, Victoria sponge mix - nada - not in France!

So you take a quick and easy looking recipe like this one and you have to go back to basics with it and it becomes very very long winded instead.

But that was what I wanted to eat for my birthday breakfast.


So I started yesterday with picking 3 kilos of blackberries! - also not in this recipe I know, but blackberries are what I've got.

This is my waste not a drop way of using blackberries, which can be quite labour intensive not to mention painful to pick.  We had to squeeze in our picking between storms yesterday afternoon, than a quick run back indoors to light the Rayburn and get on with the cake making.

Start by making sure all the stalks, leaves and bugs have been rinsed off then throw all the blackberries into a large pan, pour over enough water to cover and then a splash more and start simmering.  I left mine for 30 minutes or so while I got on with making the shortcrust pastry.


125g plain flour
pinch salt
55g cold cubed butter

rub with your fingers to create breadcrumbs then using a palette knife start cutting through the breadcrumbs as you add 2 or 3 tablespoons of cold water.  

Work it together into a dry dough with cold hands, don't overwork it, you want it stay dry not become greasy, roll into a ball, cover with cling film and throw into the fridge for half an hour.

By this time your blackberries should have cooked down into a thickish stodgy mess but a complete sludge.
 I love my big witch's hat colander - I am sure it has a fancy name, but we call it the witch's hat, the tiny perforations let all the juices through but keep even the smallest pips out, and because it is metal you can bash the fruit against the sides to get every last drop out, not that you need to do this for this recipe, just get the majority of the juice out.

Drain the juice off into a large jug and keep the fruit bits to one side.

While the juice is still hot, add some sugar and stir well to dissolve it, no actual measurements here, just add sugar to taste - then decant into a couple of bottles and add vodka - well, every birthday girl needs a birthday cocktail!

Now take the fruit pulp, stick it back on a low heat and add sugar - again no measurements just add enough to make a sweet mixture.  You are not making jam so no need to watch the temperatures or anything like that, just stir until the sugar has dissolved.

While that is cooking away, take the pastry back out of the fridge and roll out on a floured surface.  Prepare a pastry case with butter and some flour sprinkled in, then add the shortcrust and bake blind for 20 minutes.

A top tip I read recently or saw on the TV, use tin foil instead of baking parchment when baking blind as it makes the pastry crispier instead of soggy.

So while your pastry is baking, and your fruit pulp is cooking, time to make the sponge.


As you can not buy this is in ready made packs here in France, here is a basic and easy recipe.

250g unsalted butter
250g sugar
4 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g self raising flour

Beat the butter and sugar together first, basically this means mash the sugar into the butter with a wooden spoon against the side of the bowl repeatedly until the mixture is soft and creamy, then add the beaten eggs, vanilla and flour.

As this is a bakewell tart and not a victoria sponge, now add the 50g of ground almonds required in the original recipe at the top of the page, ignore the additional egg asked for.

The resulting mixture should be quite dry and not runny.

Take your pastry case out of the oven, remove the baking beans and tin foil and allow to cool.  Use the space in the oven then to sterilise a couple of jars.

As you can see my oven is doing double time here sterilising jars having baked the pastry, and also has a couple of trays of roast patty pan squashes on the go too.  Did not want to waste the oven space so shoved them in quickly.

Why the jars - well we started with 3 kilos of blackberries, and even with having extracted the juice you can't put 3 kilos worth of fruit pulp into a bakewell tart.

Back to the recipe (wow I'm rambling today!).

Spoon some fruit pulp into the pastry case, add your sponge mix on top, then throw on a couple of handfuls of sliced almonds on top to finish.

Bake at 200°C for 25 minutes.

Then eat!

Oh yes and the rest of the fruit pulp, stick it in your sterilised jars ready to use next time as a pie filling.
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Ellen said...

happy birthday to you,
happy birthday to you,
happy birthday dear Monika,
happy birthday to you!

So,at least one person sang for you today!

lots of love and have fun today (and all the others to come)
Ellen and Arjan

Susie said...

Happy Birthday!

(And I so agree with you about the recipes which want ready-made pastry, I swear it takes longer to buy pastry than it does to make it!).

Fran said...

Looks absolutely delicious, I hope you washed it down with a glass of champagne (you're allowed champagne for breakfast on your birthday!) Happy Birthday, enjoy the rest of your day. x

Mumma Troll said...

Happy Birthday. You cake looks wonderful and far more tasty than some impersonation from a shop.

resa said...

Oh, that looks marvelous. Hope it was a very happy birthday.

Absinthe Fairy said...

thank you everyone