Brown Sugar Meringue Cake with Blackberries and Lemon Cream

Blackberry and Lemon meringue 2

It feels as if autumn may be rapping her chilly fingers on the door.  There was a frost this morning and a proper mist coming up off the river.  Whilst I am not ready to immediately dive headlong into winter stews and duvets of syrup puddings I am certainly happy to wrap up a little and enjoy the cool air and changes in the landscape.  Leaves are turning bronze and starting to flutter down into crunchy piles demanding to be kicked, cobwebs in the hedges are highlighted by the frosty dew and birds are collecting, swooping and considering a winter in the sun.  Relish these September days, before you know it we will be hearing about Hallowe’en and Christmas.

So, this is  belter of a pudding, just the ticket for this time of year whilst there are heaps blackberries around.  It is also very straightforward, you can make the meringue discs days in advance and I  have used a good store bought lemon curd.  Do make your own if you have the time and the energy, I didn’t and was perfectly happy with a shop version on this occasion.  Crunchy and chewy meringue, dusky and toffeeish from the brown sugar, vibrant lemony curd marbled into whipped cream and the deepest dark purple berries.

Most of the year the brambles are a pest in the garden, catching and scratching you endlessly.  At the moment though, I am delighted to see their little berries almost as black and shiny as the jet buttons on a Victorian governess.  Take delight in them as like all other seasonal treats they will be gone in a flash.  You could make this with those big, blowsy blackberries you can buy in the shops but that misses the point of these autumn treasures.  I picked the ones you see here whilst the meringues were cooking.

So have a go at this, it really is as stunning as it is delicious and if you miss the boat with the blackberries try it with some late autumn raspberries.

Blackberry and Lemon meringue 3

Brown Sugar Meringue Cake with Blackberries and Lemon Cream

The first time I marbled the lemon curd directly into the whipped cream and then spread it onto the meringue discs but I found it got a little lost.  I then blobbed the lemon curd onto the cream once this was already spread and then marbled it a little which I prefer as it is more distinct.  Obviously do as you choose.  Likewise use as much lemon curd as you like, I used just over half a jar.

3 egg whites

100g soft brown sugar

50g golden caster sugar

600g double cream

1/2 -3/4 jar good lemon curd

Blackberries, as many as you want

Zest of one lemon (optional)

A little icing sugar to dust

Draw two 20cm circles on baking parchment and put them onto baking sheets.  Preheat the oven to 140c.  Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form and then add both sugars a spoonful at a time whisking well until you have a shiny, stiff mass.  Divide this between the two baking sheets creating two 20cm discs, smoothing the tops.  Bake for one hour swapping the tins half way and then turn off the heat but leave in the oven to cool with the door ajar.  When they are cool peel away the parchment and put one onto your serving plate, whisk the cream until just holding its shape and spread half onto the first meringue disc.  Dollop lemon curd over the cream and marble it slightly with a knife then scatter over some of your blackberries.  Place the second disc on top of this and repeat this time using up the rest of your blackberries.  Grate over a little lemon zest if you want and dust with icing sugar.  Serves 6.

Blackberry and Lemon meringue 5

Lemon Posset

Lemon Posset

Out for a walk one morning last week there were signs of Spring everywhere.  Catkins and pussy willow, primroses, tiny wobbly lambs, the first shoots heralding the wild garlic and even some weeny tadpoles.  There is still a nip in the air, the sort that whilst fresh and invigorating to breathe in still makes you wish you’d worn a hat.  Anyway, it was glorious to be out and about and it got me thinking about lemons.  Of course, lemons.

Now I know that however good the Spring weather here we are unlikely to be surrounded by lemon groves anytime soon but there is something about their zesty, fresh sharpness than is perfect for Spring.  Awakening tired tastebuds which have been spoilt with rich stews and hearty puddings and paving the way for the abundance of crisp, green salad leaves that is Summer.

I must confess to always having lemons in the larder, I know we don’t grow them here but they are an essential in my kitchen and barely a day goes by without the squeezing of a lemon.

Lemon Posset 2

This pudding then is the very essence of Spring.  Retaining a little richness to bolster against the cold but with enough zip and zing to put a spring in your step.  Unbelievably easy, simply a combination of three ingredients which, through some culinary alchemy produce this creamy treat.  I like to serve it with some little crisp biscuits, perhaps the vanilla ones in Biscuits du Jour (November 2012).  These possets would make a great pud after last weeks’ Chicken with Peppers and Onions, and what an easy supper that would be.

Lemon Possets

450ml double cream

100g golden caster sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

Put the cream and sugar into a pan.  Heat to dissolve the sugar and bring to the boil, simmer gently for 3 minutes, add the lemon juice stir well, then pour into 6 x 100ml ramekins or glasses and leave to set.  Serve with crunchy little biscuits.

Lemon Posset 3

 

By the way these are neither too rich nor too sharp for children, my two hovered around whilst I was taking these pictures and happily scoffed one each.

 

Golden Syrup Sponge Puddings

Golden Syrup Sponge

I have avoided making steam puddings because despite finding them irresistible, the whole steaming for hours thing makes me nervous.  Recipes that implore me to keep the water in the pan at a certain level throughout or the pudding may explode make me want to turn the page.  Anything, other than a small child, that requires such focused and constant attention is not for me.  As such I have felt a whole range of  rib sticking treats out of reach unless I want to consider immediate redecoration due to wallpaper peeling from walls because of the steam (no I don’t have wallpaper in my kitchen but it is an image I am unable to shake from my mind) or the afore mentioned explosion and subsequent plastering of sticky dough to the ceiling and walls.

Somewhere along the line though I had heard or read of steaming puddings in the oven and had been meaning to try this for ages.   I regularly tear recipes from magazines and have stacks of these torn out pages waiting to be tried.  Of course, when I tried to find the bit of paper I wanted it was nowhere to be found (nor the beetroot, chocolate and yogurt cake which had been on my to do list for some months but more of that another time) so I had to experiment.

This is the result and I can’t convey to you how utterly delighted I am with it.  These puddings are a doddle to make, happily transform themselves in the oven and require no attention or subsequent redecoration.  They are unbelievably light and fluffy whilst still delivering that lip smacking golden syrup heavenly hit.    We had these for lunch on Sunday and were all literally a second away from licking the plates.

If there was ever a recipe to cheer up a cold, dreary and rain sodden January this is it.

Golden Syrup Sponge 2

Golden Syrup Sponge Puddings

I used 150ml metal pudding moulds and ramekins and they both worked very well.  Incidentally I reheated the two that were left in a pan of simmering water for five minutes the next day and they were still perfect.   Serve with cold cream or ice cream (or both).

120g soft butter

100g caster sugar

120g self-raising flour

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract

2 tablespoons milk

Pinch of salt

6 tablespoons of golden syrup

Preheat the oven to 180 and butter 6 moulds or ramekins then put a tablespoon of golden syrup in the bottom of each one.  You will also need 6 pieces of tin foil big enough to loosely cover the puddings.   Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, add the eggs one at a time with a little flour and mix well followed by the remaining flour and salt.  Add the vanilla and milk and incorporate it.  Divide the mixture between the moulds and then cover with the prepared tin foil, fix it loosely so they have room to rise a little.  Put into a baking tray, pour in boiling water to half way up the ramekins or moulds and bake for 40 minutes.  When done, run a knife around the edge of the puddings and turn out onto a plate being careful not to spill any of the hot runny syrup or burn yourself with it.  Serves 6.

Golden Syrup Sponge 3

Nectarine and Cherry Galette

Anna May everyday Nectarine and Cherry Tart-2

So, not a fantastic photograph I’m afraid but this was last nights pudding, it was on the table and I had to get a picture before it got eaten.  I have to share it though because it was the simplest, as these freeform tarts or galettes always are, and just fabulous because of the combination of fruit and crispy sweet pastry.  Immediately I have to admit that it was bought shortcrust (come on, it is the summer holidays) but that doesn’t matter.  I chose nectarines and cherries because I had some a little soft and in need of eating up.

I rolled the pastry, my daughter put the fruit on and folded the crust up, we popped it in the oven and it was done.  As luck would have it, a chance putting together of ingredients produced something wonderful.  I can’t take any credit – it was simply what was in the larder and I needed to make a pud.  Serendipity.

Nectarine and Cherry Galette

2 nectarines, sliced

A handful of cherries, stoned and halved

A handful of raspberries

1 dessert spoon plain flour or ground almonds

250g sweet shortcrust pastry

2 dessert spoons caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 190 and put a flat baking tray on the shelf to heat.  Put the fruit into a bowl with one dessert spoon of caster sugar, give it a mix and leave while you get on.  Roll out the pastry into a rough circle or oval.  Transfer gently to a tin lined with baking parchment.  Sprinkle the middle of the pastry with the flour or ground almonds (this will absorb any excess juice and stop the base of the galette becoming soggy).  Top with the fruit, fold the pastry edge over the fruit, sprinkle the whole thing with the remaining dessert spoon of sugar.  Put the tin into the oven directly onto the baking tray – this will ensure the base gets cooked properly and will be crisp and lovely.  Cook for 30-35 minutes until golden.  Some juice may leak out which matters not.   This was enough for 4 and we had it with cold cream.  Vanilla ice cream would be good too.

If you have pastry left, make mini versions of this or my lemon and raspberry tarts (June 2013) or just good old fashioned jam tarts.  Alternatively of course you could just make a bigger one of these and up the amount of fruit.