Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Time and key lime pie

The last few months have been busy here in the Back of beyond. After saying farewell to my dear Mum back in January, we have been trying to find a new "normal " for our lives. So much of the last 8 years has been focussed on supporting Mum in her desire to stay in her own home whilst her health and mobility failed that to begin with I felt slightly lost with all this extra time on my hands.
Initially I was reluctant to open up my order book for Back of Beyond baking cake creations mostly, I suppose, because I couldn't find any of my cakey mojo and the slightest stress seemed to have me in floods of tears. But time is a great healer ( a cliche I know) and with gentle nudges from Mr V-C ( he bought me a beautiful vintage french lace tablecloth for Valentines day, something for me to use in my cake photo's he said) I got back in my groove and the cake orders started to flow again. The tears still flow too at times but I am starting to be able to find some joy in my life again. Things were ticking along nicely and I was feeling very well until May half term. We had my gorgeous gal pal Gem and her 2 pickles to stay for a few days, the weather was fine so we got out and about on the farm, sharing all the things we take for granted with our townie friends.We visited the the sheep and skimmed stones at the river and generally had a jolly good time! (read that in an Enid Blyton voice) We were busy and having fun and I forgot to pace myself. Whoops, My chronic fatigue didn't like this and decided to rear its ugly head and give me a sharp reminder to pay it some attention from time to time. Some how and we still don't know how I managed to pick up a bulging disc in my neck. This is not to be taken lightly, boy, did this hurt. Only some very strong painkillers which were seriously trippy made any dent in the pain and I was prescribed lots of rest and some pretty painful physiotherapy  as treatment. Suddenly from busy, busy, busy I was back on the sofa and feeling quite sorry for myself.
 Thankfully my wonderful work colleagues kept me in the loop and took it in turns to visit me. On one of these visits on a glorious summers day I decided to make a Keylime pie. I have never made one before but will definitely be making one again! So quick and easy to make and so lush to eat. I am pretty sure my Mum would have loved this one too.

Keylime Pie

500g digestive biscuits
200g unsalted butter, melted
23-cm pie dish, greased

8 egg yolks
2 x 397g tins condensed milk
Freshly squeezed juice and grated zest of 5 limes, plus extra grated zest to decorate
450ml whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.

For the crust: Roughly break up the digestive biscuits and put them in a food processor. Process until finely ground. Slowly pour the melted butter into the processor while the motor is running. Press this mixture into the base and neatly up the side of the prepared pie dish, using the ball of your hand or a tablespoon to flatten and compress it.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until deep golden and firm. Set aside to cool completely.

Turn the oven down to 150°C (300°F) Gas 2.

Put the egg yolks, condensed milk and lime juice and zest in a glass bowl and mix gently with a balloon whisk until all the ingredients are very well incorporated. The mixture will thicken naturally.

Pour into the cold pie crust and bake in the preheated oven for 20–30 minutes. The filling should be firm to the touch but still very slightly soft in the centre (not wobbly!). Leave to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible.

When you are ready to serve the pie, whip the cream with a handheld electric whisk in a large bowl until soft peaks form, then spread over the pie and decorate with a little lime zest.

P.s I used the egg whites to make swiss meringue buttercream.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Saying Goodbye to Mum

2015 has not been quite the "Happy New Year" one would hope for as we were awoken on new years day by a telephone call to say my dear Mum was unresponsive and would need to go to hospital. 6 days, a lot of tears,hopes, coffee and miles driven later, Mum took a turn for the worst and a few hours later she passed away. Her poor body just couldn't take any more fighting. Her passing has left a huge chasm in my life and although I thought I understood she wouldn't last forever and she had been close to death on two previous occasions, I kind of thought she was like a cat with 9 lives and would beat adversity again!  Sadly that was not the case this time.

Mum was my first cookery teacher and as documented in my previous posts gave me my passion for baking. Her sweet tooth was legendary, Her top favourite foods were, cream cakes, prawns, toffee and scones with jam and cream!  Her favourite Christmas present this year was a box of Ferrero Raffaello (coconut version of Rocher) her face lit up when she unwrapped it! (Her response to other gifts was less warm and best left undocumented, Mum would always tell you what she thought!). Sadly she didn't get chance to finish them so Master Vander-Cave has been munching his way through them. Mum loved coconut flavours and as a bit of a wander down memory lane, whilst we await being able to give her a final send off, I made a Compton Tart. This was one of my childhood favourites and one of mum's favourites too. Just making this tart gave me such wonderful memories of my childhood with my mum. I will definitely be making more of Mum's old recipes in the coming weeks and months. This recipe was written in Mum's handwriting in a tatty old note book which has now become one of my most prized possessions.

Apologies for the imperial measurements but I want to give you this recipe in all it's 60 year old glory!

Compton Tart
1.5oz chilled butter
1.5oz lard (I use Trex)
6oz plain flour
enough water to mix

1oz caster sugar
2oz butter
4oz dessicated coconut
1oz golden syrup
1 egg
2tbsps Raspberry jam

Preheat oven 190c

Rub the butter and Trek into the flour until fine breadcrumb are formed and the fats are well distributed. Add water a table spoon at a time mixing the water in using a flat knife. (I admit I cheat and use my food processor with metal blade attachment) until a soft dough is formed. Wrap pastry in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

Grease a 7 inch flan tin or sandwich tin with loose bottom. 

Roll out pastry and line the tin with pastry. I use grease proof paper and ceramic baking beans to stop the pastry puffing up. Alternatively prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork. Bake blind for 20 minutes. Allow to cool before filling.  Now lower oven heat to 170c.

Whilst the pastry is baking make the filling. Melt together the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan over a gentle heat. Once melted allow to cool.

When the mixture has cooled slightly add the coconut and egg and stir well. 

Once the pastry case is cooked and the filling made, spread the jam over the base of pastry case adding more jam depending on how jammy you like your tart.

Spoon the filling over the jam and smooth with the back of the spoon. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown on top.

Allow to  cool before removing from tin.