Chocolate pithiviers

This month, two of my favourite blogging challenges (hosted by two of my favourite bloggers) teamed up to create one behemoth of a challenge – We Should Cocoa meets Random Recipes.

Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog and Dom at Belleau Kitchen wanted us to randomly select a recipe to bake this month, but it had to be one involving chocolate. As I have three books dedicated solely to chocolate, I used a random number generator to pick one of them, and then asked my housemate to choose a page number to select my bake.

The book chosen was Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes, and the recipe was Simon Hopkinson’s Chocolate Pithiviers.

Initially I was a little daunted – it involved time consuming homemade puff pastry, and creme patissiere which I’ve never tried making before, but in the spirit of RR I embraced the challenge and dedicated my Sunday to baking.

I was super happy with how these turned out – the creme patissiere was easier than I expected, lump-free and lush tasting, and the pastry puffed properly, with actual discernible layers!

The only thing I felt that let it down was the filling, which could have just done with another depth of flavour, but overall they were definitely a success.

Thanks Choclette and Dom for making me try a recipe I would have never chosen otherwise!

Chocolate pithiviers (from Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes)

For the pastry:

  • 225g butter
  • 225g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 250ml iced water
  • juice of half a lemon

For the filling:

  • 250ml milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 75g sugar
  • 25g plain flour
  • 3 medium egg yolks
  • 110g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 egg beaten, to wash

To make the pastry, finely chop the butter and mix into the flour and salt, but don’t rub it in – leave the butter in lumps. Stir in the water and lemon juice and bring together into a dough. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and roll into a rectangle, roughly 18x10cm. Fold the top third down lengthways, then fold the bottom third over that. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes, then take it out, turn it 90 degrees, and repeat the rolling and folding. Do this 5 more times – that’s an hour of chilling, rolling and folding!

For the creme patissiere, heat the milk and vanilla in a saucepan until it reaches boiling point. Whisk the sugar, flour and egg yolks until light and fluffy, then slowly pour in the milk, whisking as you go. Return to the saucepan and stir over a low heat, until it thickens to a consistency a bit thicker than custard. Leave to cool completely.

Beat the remaining 110g sugar with the butter until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Beat in the cocoa powder and almonds, then finally fold in the cooled creme patissiere and the chopped chocolate, and chill again.

To make the pithiviers, roll out the pastry and cit into four 10x10cm squares and four 15x15cm squares. Place the smaller squares on a baking sheet and dollop a good amount of the filling in the middle (you will have way too much filling though so don’t try to use it all).

Brush the beaten egg around the edges of pastries, then place the larger squares on top and press down to seal. Cut into circles, leaving about 1cm around the filling. Remove the trimmings, then press down all around the edges with a fork. Re-roll the trimmings into another 10cm square and another 15cm square and repeat the process, so you have 5 altogether.

Brush the pithiviers with more egg wash, then score them lightly to get the sort of spirally pattern you can see on mine. Dust with icing sugar, then bake at 200 degrees – the recipe says for 15-20 minutes but mine took nearly an hour to crisp up underneath, no idea why! Serve hot with a dollop of cream – delicious ūüôā

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As this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, is all about chocolate I’m going to enter these for that as well – three challenges in one, brilliant!

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Salted dulce de leche brownies

Salted dulce de leche brownies

So, something a little less fancy than my previous post!

Sometimes simple and easy produces the best results, and this recipe delivers on that both in the making of the brownies themselves, and in the making of the homemade dulce de leche.

A little while ago a friend mentioned that they loved dulce de leche, so when I knew I would be seeing them I decided it was the perfect time to bake something with it.

Sure, you can just buy it by the jar and that would be the ultimate easy option, but it’s kind of expensive for what it is so I decided to have a go at making my own from condensed milk.

I think most people have heard of the boiling the can method of turning condensed milk into caramel, but I’ve never been willing to take the risk of it exploding all over my kitchen.

David Lebovitz suggests baking the milk instead, which sounds far less risky but rather time consuming. I figured that if thee basic principle was ‘condensed milk + heat = caramel’ the same effects could be achieved in the microwave in a much quicker time.

Kind of surprisingly I was right and it worked! Short bursts of heat and frequent stirring produces a golden caramel in under 10 minutes – win!¬†Warning – you need to use a bigger bowl than you think, because it will bubble up a lot, but as long as you do it’s so quick and easy you’ll be wondering why you haven’t used this method forever.

I added salt to the dulce de leche because salted caramel always beats regular, then referred back to David Lebovitz for the actual brownie recipe.

Super simple brownie mix, swirl in the dulce de leche, bake, et voila – deep, fudgy brownies bursting with pockets of salted dulce de leche. Simple but delicious.

Salted dulce de leche brownies (recipe adapted from David Lebovitz)

  • 1 400g tin condensed milk
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt
  • 170g dark chocolate
  • 115g butter
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 140g plain flour (I reckon this could be reduced to 120g for fudgier brownies though)

To make the dulce de leche, pour the condensed milk into a large bowl, then microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stirring in between each time, until it thickens and turns a golden caramel colour. Add in the salt a little at a time to your personal taste, then set aside while you make the brownie mixture.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a suacepan, over a low heat. Once the chocolate has melted, take off the heat and beat in the cocoa powder, eggs, vanilla, sugar and then flour, scraping down the sides of the pan between each addition.

Pour half the mixture into a greased and lined 8×8″ square tin, then dollop half of the dulce de leche in on top. Spread the rest of the brownie mixture over evenly, then dollop on the rest of the dulce de leche. Swirl it through the mixture with a skewer or knife, being careful not to mix it in too much.

Bake at 170 degrees for 25-30 minutes – the original recipe says 35-40 but mine were done way quicker. Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin, slicing into bars and serving.

tea time treats

I’m entering these into the September Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by Karen at¬†Lavender and Lovage¬†and Kate at¬†What Kate Baked. This month’s theme, chosen by Karen, is¬†flapjacks, oats, and traybakes¬†– I did have an oaty recipe bookmarked but just haven’t had time to make it, so hopefully brownies will count as a traybake instead!

Honey almond cake with macerated strawberries

Honey almond cake with macerated strawberries

I know me going on about how amazing Romania is may be getting a little tired now, but to be honest I don’t care – I loved it there and I want everyone to know!

Among the many, many delicious foods we ate there, the fresh strawberries and acacia honey we ate at the farm of Gabriel, one of our hosts, really stuck out, and as I was eating I knew when I returned home the combination would have to be recreated in some sort of cake form.

When I saw this post by The Little Loaf, I knew straight away it was the recipe I was looking for – a really simple cake that could let the delicate flavour of the honey shine through, with slightly sauced strawberries to serve alongside.

Gabriel very kindly gave me a bottle of his honey to bring home, and I can honestly say it is better than any honey I have ever bought in this country. To up the flavour of the honey, instead of making The Little Loaf’s spiced strawberries, I simply macerated them in honey and a squeeze of orange juice, bringing out all the natural sweetness and juices of the strawberries.

I think this cake may be the perfect marriage of cultures – Romanian honey meets British strawberries, to create the perfect cake to enjoy in the summer sun.

Honey Almond Cake with Macerated Strawberries (adapted from The Little Loaf)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g acacia honey
  • 135g low fat yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 60g plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 500g strawberries
  • 1 tsp honey
  • juice of 1/2 orange

Start by whisking the eggs until light and tripled in volume, then whisk in the honey, yoghurt and vanilla. Sift together all the dry ingredients (try to get the ground almonds as fine as you can) and fold into the liquid mixture. Pour into a greased and lined 8″ cake tin and bake at 165 degrees for around 25 minutes, or until golden and springy.

For the strawberries, wash, hull and halve them then add to a bowl with the honey and orange juice. Leave for an hour or more at room temperature for the juices to come out. Serve slices of the cake with a spoonful of strawberries on top, and a little thick to finish.

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‘Tis the season for summer fruits, and they’ve been chosen as the July theme for both Tea Time Treats, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and the newlywed Kate at What Kate Baked, and for Calendar Cakes, hosted by Laura at Laura Loves Cakes and Rachel at Dolly Bakes – so I’m entering this cake for them both!

Coffee and caramelised white chocolate cupcakes

Coffee and caramelised white chocolate cupcakes

When I saw this post on Poires au Chocolat, I knew that caramelised white chocolate would be heavenly, and I would have to incorporate it into my baking soon, in one form or another.

Then I saw this post, on What Rachel Ate, and decided that caramelised white chocolate in buttercream would be a thing of beauty, and that I really must try it out soon.

It’s taken me quite a while to actually get around to it, but when Kate at What Kate Baked chose fairy cakes, cupcakes and muffins as the theme for this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, it gave me the motivation I needed and these coffee and caramelised white chocolate cupcakes were born.

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It is so hard not to just eat the caramelised white chocolate straight from the bowl – slow roasting it for an hour until it turns golden brown gives the chocolate a whole new depth of flavour, and when you add a little salt at the end it’s just SO good!

The sweetness of the icing is a perfect match for a strong coffee cake, and I was really pleased with how the cupcakes turned out, with half the icing spread straight on top of the cupcakes and the other half flavoured with coffee and piped in swirls.

I made these to take along to a working lunch (along with some fab apple/maple/pecan bars which I will blog soon) and they went down a treat – cake really is the best ice breaker when meeting new people!

I will definitely be doing more with caramelised white chocolate soon – Emma’s gorgeous eclairs are high on the list, but I’m sure there are countless recipes calling for normal white chocolate that could be improved with caramelisation…

Coffee and caramelised white chocolate cupcakes (inspired by Poires au Chocolat and What Rachel Ate)

Makes 9 cupcakes

  • 115g butter
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 30g light brown sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 heaped tsp coffee granules, dissolved in 1 tsp water
  • 115g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

For the icing:

  • 100g white chocolate
  • 140g unsalted butter
  • 140g icing sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp coffee granules, dissolved in 1 tsp water

Beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg and dissolved coffee. Sift in the flour and baking powder, fold to combine and then divide between 9 large cupcake cases, in a cupcake/muffin tin. Bake at 170 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and springy. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

For the caramelised white chocolate, roughly chop the chocolate and place in a glass or ceramic baking dish. Place on the middle shelf of your oven and cook at 150 degrees for about an hour, stirring every 10 minutes – it should start to turn golden and caramelise and go delicious. Once it’s a nice caramel colour, stir in 1/2 tsp salt and transfer to a bowl to cool.

To make the icing, beat the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the caramelised white chocolate. Spread half of this over the cupcakes, then gradually add in the coffee to the remaining icing, tasting until it reaches a nice strength (if it makes the icing too runny, you can always add more icing sugar). Pipe the coffee icing in small swirls on top of the cupcakes, then serve.

Chocolate sticky toffee pudding

Chocolate sticky toffee pudding

Whenever I’m planning a trip abroad, the first thing, without fail, that I think about is the food.

One of the best things about going to another country is experiencing its unique cuisine, and the dishes it is best known for. And, obviously, cake, pastries and dessert are my priorities for getting a true taste of wherever I’m visiting.

European countries such as France and Italy are well known for their sweet delicacies – who could go to Paris and not try a macaron, or spend a weekend in Rome without eating a gelato? And don’t get me started on Belgium and its chocolates…

I often wonder though, what people think when they come to England. What foods are we known for? There are many cakes, biscuits and desserts which are uniquely British but have people outside of the UK ever even heard of them?

For me, if there’s one thing that feels truly British, it’s a good pudding. Treacle sponge, jam roly poly, bread and butter pudding – all traditional, warming desserts that take a good week to burn off the calories of – that’s what say’s British sweet treats to me.

tea time treats

What this brings me around to, in a round about way, is the theme for this month’s Tea Time Treats, hosted by Kate at What Kate Baked and Karen at Lavender and Lovage, which is ‘perfect puddings‘.

I don’t have many real ‘pudding’ recipes on the blog, largely because they’re the kind of thing that’s baked and eaten immediately, in the evening when there’s no light for taking photos, but I’m so glad I made the effort for TTT because let me tell you, this pudding is GOOD!

Sticky toffee pudding is a classic, which really doesn’t need improving. Unless of course you’re the friendly pony, in which case everything can be made better by adding chocolate.

This chocolate sticky toffee pudding, a Green & Blacks recipe, still has all the key ingredients of a traditional sticky toffee, but with a bar and a half of dark chocolate thrown in to intensify the flavour of the sponge and take it to a whole new level of indulgence.

This recipe makes a huge amount, and you honestly don’t want to know how many calories are in the sauce alone, but it is so worth it. Seriously, go make it now – it’s the perfect winter¬†any-time comfort pudding.

Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding (recipe from Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes, also available online)

Served 12, generously

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 150g pitted dates, chopped
  • 300ml boiling water
  • 100g butter
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the sauce:

  • 140g golden syrup
  • 140g light brown sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 115ml double cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Start by melting the chocolate over a low temperature then set aside.  Add the dates to a saucepan with the boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time, followed by the melted chocolate. Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and fold in.

Pour the dates and their water into a food processor and blend to a puree. Stir this into the cake mixture, then spread into a greased and lined 8×8″ square cake tin and bake at 180 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until risen and springy to the touch.

To make the sauce, heat all the ingredients in a saucepan over a medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Bring to the boil and stir until thickened. To serve, cut the warm cake into squares and pour the sauce over the top. Cream of ice cream will finish it off perfectly!

Blood orange drizzle cake

Blood orange drizzle cake

Blood oranges are a fruit I’ve always been intrigued by, but for some reason never see in the shops. I know they have a fairly short season, but I think it could be more to do with my local shops being a bit useless…

Anyway, when I did spot a bag last weekend I got very excited and decided I had to bake something with them straight away. A quick bit of research on Pinterest found this amazing looking loaf cake on Fabtastic Eats – the colour of the icing sold it to me, and a few hours later I was baking.

Unfortunately, my cake doesn’t look quite as luscious and inviting in my photos – I am so sick of never having daylight to take pictures, most of these were taken when I took the cake into my office but the horrible artificial lighting really didn’t do the poor cake any favours – I promise, it was a nice colour really!

It was also a very tasty cake – moist, a nice crumb, delicious orange smell but not too overpowering taste, and to be honest with a drizzle AND a glaze you can’t really go wrong.

I would definitely use this recipe again and perhaps try it with different citrus fruits, the only change I would make is possibly making more of the glaze, as the pony thought I’d been a bit stingy and wanted more of it.

tea time treats

I’m entering this into the January Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked. Karen chose citrus as the theme for this month, and I think I’m just about in time to add this cake as my entry!

Blood orange drizzle cake (adapted from Fabtastic Eats)

For the cake:

  • 160g plain flour
  • 20g cornflour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 230g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • zest of one blood orange
  • 2 tbsp blood orange juice
  • 225g butter, melted
  • 60ml milk

For the drizzle:

  • 30g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp blood orange juice

For the glaze:

  • 100g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp blood orange juice

Note: I juiced three oranges, and that was enough for the cake, drizzle and glaze.

Start by mixing the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt together, and set aside. Beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy, as you would for a roulade sponge, then add the orange zest, juice, and melted butter, pouring in slowly while you mix. Sift in half of the flour and fold until just combined; add the milk and fold, then the remaining flour and fold again, until no white bits of flour are left. Pour into a 9×5″ loaf tin and bake at 170 degrees for about an hour, or until risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean.

While the cake is in the oven, mix the caster sugar and orange juice for the drizzle. Five minutes after you take the cake out the oven, poke the top all over with a skewer then pour the drizzle on top, letting it soak in, then leave the cake to cool completely.

Mix the icing sugar and orange juice to make the glaze – add the juice a bit at a time until it’s a pourable, but still thick, consistency (you might not need it all). Take the cake out the tin and pour the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it run down the sides. Cut into slices and serve.

Nigella’s coffee and walnut cake (GF)

I’ve made a fair few coffee cakes over the years, as it’s my dad’s favourite, but I’ve never actually tried a traditional coffee and walnut because of his aversion to nuts, so when my colleague requested it as one of her favourites I was quite excited to give it a go.

After quite a bit of research I settled on a Nigella recipe, mostly because I was intrigued by the method, which literally involves chucking everything into a food processor and blitzing – could a recipe with no creaming, beating, sifting or folding really produce a light and fluffy sponge?!

I clearly should have had more faith, as this cake turned out beautifully – soft, light, just the right balance of coffee and walnut, and, big bonus, it even held up to using gluten free flour.

This cake received the best reviews I’ve had for anything I’ve baked in ages, so I can’t recommend strongly enough that everyone else tries it too!

Nigella’s coffee and walnut cake (GF) (adapted from here)

  • 50g walnut halves, plus 8 extra to decorate
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 225g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g gluten free plain flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp instant coffee
  • 2tbsp milk

For the icing

  • 125g butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp milk

Add the walnuts and both sugars to a food processor and blitz until the nuts are fairly well ground. Add the butter, blitz, then the eggs, and blitz again. Dissolve the coffee in 1 tsp water and add with the flour, xanthan gum and baking powder and blitz again. Finally pour in the milk while the food processor is running – you should end up with a smooth batter that drops off a spoon. Divide between two greased and lined 7″ sandwich tins and bake at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes. After removing from the oven leave for 10 minutes to cool then remove from the tins and put the sponges on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing, pulse the sugar in a food processor then add the butter. Dissolve the coffee in 1 tsp water and add to food processor, and blend until the mixture comes together. Add the milk and blitz again – you might need a bit more if it seems too thick.

Level the bottom cake if necessary, then turn upside down on a serving plate. Spread half the icing on the bottom layer, sandwich with the second cake layer, then spread the remaining icing all on top. Decorate with the reserved walnut pieces and serve.

I’m entering this for the November Tea Time Treats Challenge, hosted by Karen at¬†Lavender and Lovage¬†and Kate at¬†What Kate Baked. To celebrate TTT’s first birthday the theme is cake – and I for one would be more than happy to have a slice of this served up at my birthday party!

Homemade blueberry curd

When I saw that Kate from What Kate Baked had chosen jams, chutneys, curds and conserves as the theme for this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, I knew immediately that it was time to try a new curd recipe.

Not that I don’t like jams and chutneys, but they’re just not as easy to eat by the spoonful as a good curd, and having had success with a traditional lemon curd and a slightly more unusual raspberry curd in the past I was happy to have an excuse to try another flavour.

As luck would have it, my local fruit and veg shop was selling super cheap blueberries the other weekend, ¬£1.50 for about 125g, so I stocked up and decided to use some of them to make this curd and froze the rest (to be used in another recipe which also used the curd – sneak peak below…)

I based this on my raspberry curd recipe, but adapted it to cook the blueberries first so they’d release all their delicious purple juices – I clearly have a bit of a thing about vividly coloured curds!

It worked brilliantly, if I do say so myself, and I can’t wait to try baking with it – if it doesn’t disappear by the spoonful in the meantime…

Homemade blueberry curd

  • 125g fresh blueberries
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 small eggs
  • zest and juice of a lemon
  • 50g butter
  • 100g caster sugar

Heat the blueberries with the tbsp of water in a pan over a medium heat, until the berries soften and release their juices, then set aside. Add the lemon zest and juice, butter and sugar to a different saucepan and heat until the butter has melted and sugar has dissolved.

Whisk your eggs in a medium heatproof bowl, then slowly pour in the melted butter mixture, whisking continuously until all the liquid has been added. Pour back into the saucepan then return to the heat, and add the blueberries you set aside earlier. Heat gently, stirring, until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken – it should be thick enough to cover the back of a wooden spoon. Pour into a heatproof jar and leave to cool.

This doesn’t make a huge amount of curd, maybe 200g or so, but the recipe could easily be doubled. I left the whole berries in, but if you wanted a smooth curd you could easily filter them out by pouring the mixture through a sieve into the jars.

I am entering this to the October Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted alternately by Kate of What Kate Baked and Karen of Lavender and Lovage – the theme being jams, chutneys, curds and conserves!

Mini ginger peach pies

Peaches are one of my favourite fruits and I definitely don’t bake with them enough.

Quite often that’s just because I can’t resist eating them as soon as they’re ripe enough, but when I saw punnets on sale for a bargain 50p I bought them specifically with baking in mind, and managed to stick to the plan to make these mini ginger peach pies.

Pretty much everything gets 10x cuter when made in miniature so I’m a bit in love with these cupcake sized versions of a traditional lattice topped pie.

The pastry was a bit of an experiment, I didn’t have a spare egg so used some leftover condensed milk instead – luckily it turned out ok and made a nice crumbly shortcrust.

I’m not quite sure what inspired me to pair the peaches with ginger, but it worked really well and added a nice amount of heat to the sweetness – which would be even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side!

I’ve gotten quite into working out the calories of things I bake recently, using the My Fitness Pal calculator tool, and these pies worked out at a virtuous 190 calories each – brilliant!

Mini ginger peach pies

(makes 7)

  • 4 ripe peaches, stoned, peeled and diced into roughly 1cm cubes
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 1tbsp brown sugar
  • 170g plain flour
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 80g butter
  • 1tbsp condensed milk (light if you care about calories)

Heat the chopped peaches, ginger and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan until the peaches soften and release their juices, then transfer to a bowl to cool.

To make the pastry, combine flour and sugar then mix in a food processor with the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the condensed milk while the processor is running, then add cold water a teaspoon at a time until the dough comes together into a ball. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

To make the pies, roll the dough out to about 3mm thick, then use a pastry cutter to cut approximately 10cm rounds. Use these to line 7 holes in a greased and floured cupcake tin, then spoon in the peach mixture (you might need to drain off some excess liquid first). Slice the rest of the dough into thin strips and use to create the lattices on top – lay three strips vertically, then weave in three strips horizontally, trim and press down at the sides to seal. Bake at 180 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden on top and the juices are bubbling. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.

I’ve just realised that these pies are perfect to enter into this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by Kate of What Kate Baked and Karen of Lavender and Lovage – the theme being Picnic Pies!

Strawberry blondies (GF)

I don’t know if I’m the only person who finds this, but in the summer I sometimes feel slightly overwhelmed by the amazing seasonal ingredients available, particularly summer berries, and never have enough time to make all the recipes I want to try, meaning they often get put aside for another year.

I have tons of strawberry recipes bookmarked, some I’ll probably never get around to making, but when I saw these blondies on Love and Olive Oil I knew I would have to find time to give them a go.

I made them last weekend to take to a barbecue – I needed something I could make a couple of days in advance that would keep in the fridge for a couple of days, could be easily transported, and easily adapted to be gluten-free, and these ticked all the boxes.

It’s a pretty standard brownie recipe, with white chocolate subbed in for the dark, but what I love is how the strawberries all rise to the top as it bakes, making them look really pretty (and like more skill was involved than was actually the case!)

They went down really well at the barbecue, a few people asked for the recipe and I don’t think you would have known they were made with gluten-free flour.

Although my favourite way of eating strawberries will always be fresh, this is definitely a great way of using them in baking and I’m glad I found the time to make them!

Strawberry Blondies (gf) (adapted from Love and Olive Oil)

Makes 16 sqaures

  • 140g white chocolate
  • 75g butter
  • 135g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120g gluten-free plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 150g strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 60g white chocolate, chopped

Melt the 140g white chocolate and butter over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted, remove from the heat and beat in the sugar, followed by the eggs and vanilla. Sieve in the flour, baking powder and salt and fold until combined, then stir in the chopped strawberries and 60g white chocolate. Pour the mixture into an 8×8″ square tin, lined with baking paper, and bake at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes. I found that the top browned quite quickly, so after 20 minutes I covered with foil and cooked for a further 10-15 minutes until set but with a slight wobble. Leave to cool then slice into squares and serve!

As a barbecue is as close as I’m going to get to a fair or fete this month, I’m entering these for the July Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage¬†– I’d certainly be happy to buy one if I was at a summer fair or fete!