Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A plague of Mondays and a walnut cake

That is what they feel like, all those dreary little jobs to do on a Monday, letters to write, offices to call, grrrrrr - at least there was some respite to be had playing with my new chickens.

Three Orpingtons joined my flock on Sunday and very pretty they are too, they just need to settle in with my current girls and their man. To introduce new chickens which I tend to do every year because we always have a few that are destined to be for the freezer, I have a so far reliable method.

The first afternoon the new girls stay in the large dog cage where they can be seen by all the other birds, they get grain scattered in and around them so that they all have to eat together. They sleep separated for the first night. The second day they spend half the day still in the cage, but learning that the sound of grain rattling in a tin can brings them food - as well as a greedy audience to dine with them. They sleep separated for the second night. The third day the new girls are fed first so that they are not starving hungry and likely to fight for food, then the remainder of the birds are released to a mountain of grain so as to cut down on any fighting for food. And that's it....(touch wood) it has not failed me yet.

Now that Monday and the deluge of horrid little jobs is over, I can relax and get back to baking and sewing and other fun things.

Started today by edging my aida ready to start my cross stitch project for the winter, I usually edge with masking tape but have a cronic lack of it at the moment and it is just not on the shopping list so good old sticky tape (remember how hard Blue Peter presenters would have to work not to say the dreaded Sellotpe word?) will do.

And today's comfort food is Maple Walnut Tart.

pastry:     70g plain flour
70g wholewheat flour
pinch salt
100g cold butter cubed
1 egg yolk
2-3 tablespoons iced water to bind together

Rub the flour and butter together to form breadcrumbs then cut in the salt and the egg yolk, bind together with the water until you have a solid dough ball, then refridgerate for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, work it as little as possible so that it stays very short, mine cracked apart when rolling and I just put in the dish and pressed the edges together so as not to warm it up too much. Prick the base all over and bake blind for 10 minutes, finish with a couple of minutes without the baking paper and baking beans to crisp the bottom up.

filling:     3 eggs
pinch salt
55g caster sugar
55g melted butter
250ml maple syrup or just use golden
115g chopped walnuts

Whisk together the eggs, salt and sugar, stir in the butter and the syrup.

Pour the filling into the case and sprinkle over the nuts. Bake on a tray for about 35 minutes until the filling has set.

I admit freely this cake is moreish - it is not the healthiest breakfast to have but the sugar hit with coffee is just the best start to a cold winter's morning I can think of. Probably a good job a good friend did not manage to convince to join an on line slimming club - I think that alone would be all my points for the day used up in one meal.

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