Quinces baked in honey

‘They dined on mince, and slices of quince
Which they ate with a runcible spin
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon. ‘

An excerpt from the lyrical ‘The Owl and the Pussy-cat’ by Edward Lear. This nonsensical poem has always tickled my fancy. From the pea-green boat, the unlikely pairing of a cat and an owl to the mince, quince and runcible spoon. What on earth is a runcible spoon? Conjecture abounds and opinion is varied. (Yes, another hard hitting exposé from the Cheergerm. Not exactly a hot topic on Twitter but it still matters, right?) It is certainly a word that Lear made up and appears in several of his works in different connotations. There is a ‘runcible cat’, a ‘runcible hat’, a ‘runcible goose’ and a ‘runcible wall’.

Some dictionaries define a ‘runcible spoon’ as a fork with three curved tines, or a ‘spork’. In one of his accompanying illustrations, Lear actually drew the ‘runcible spoon’ as more of a ladle. Some believe that it was a spoon designed specifically for babies by one of Edward Lears friends, George Runcy. However, this does not explain the varied use of the word in his other poems. It is most likely a word that Lear invented purely because of the delicious way it sounds and not because it had any real meaning to him.

Quince is my current fruity obsession. This dish is baked long and slow in butter and floral pink-tinged honey, given by a friend. Dark in colour, achingly soft and sweet; you can definitely cut these quince with a spoon. Preferably a runcible spoon.

QUINCES BAKED IN HONEY

WHAT YOU NEED
3 large quinces, washed well
80g butter
4 tbl runny honey
1/4 cup water

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Wash the quinces very well. Halve but do not peel the quinces then remove the pips and core each of them with a spoon to make a hollow. (This is not a job for wimps. Be warned.)
Place in a gratin dish that will hold them snugly (unlike mine) and using a third of the butter, grease the dish.
Arrange the quinces, hollow side up. Divide the remaining butter and honey between the hollows and pour water gently around the sides.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for at least 3 hours (denying on the size of the quinces) until they are soft and rich red. (Turn quinces over after 1 1/2 hours.)
Serve hot or warm with hollows filled with the honey juices and with cream, ice-cream , yoghurt or marscapone.

Recipe from The Cooks Companion by Stephanie Alexander , published by Penguins Books, 1996

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Quince and apple pudding, gluten free

A recent conversation with Kid 1, went like this.

Me: How does it feel to be turning twelve?
Kid 1: Oh, I’m really not that fussed about birthdays. Another year older, another year closer to death.
Me: Wow, that’s a bit of a downer!
Kid 1: Imagine how much worse it would be if I died before I even turned twelve? They could put on my tombstone ‘Kid 1. Never reached puberty.’ Or ‘Never been kissed.’
Kid 2 then chimed in. ‘Or never got a girls phone number. (The back story being that a girl gave him her number when he was a mere six years old. Nothing quite compares to beating your older brother in the romance stakes.)

The good news is that he made it to twelve. His sense of humour and unique view of the world is a constant joy to us. (And keeps us on our toes.) He was a big fan of these aromatic and autumnal wee puddings. The smell of the cooking quince was the musky, heady smell of an orchard full of every ripe fruit you could possibly ever imagine. This golden knobbly produce starts out as rock hard and with slow, gentle cooking, morphs into soft, sweet delectable flavoured fruit with pale pink to deep ruby colour flesh. (The longer and slower it is cooked, the deeper red it becomes.)

Adding a modicum of tart green apple adds a welcome sharpness and when topped off with a subtly spiced gluten free sponge, this is a fabulous wee pudding indeed.

Happy Birthday Kid 1, I promise to make these again for you soon.

QUINCE AND APPLE PUDDING, GLUTEN FREE

WHAT YOU NEED
2 large quinces
1 lemon
1 large Apple, peeled and chopped into 2-3 cm pieces
1 large knob of butter
1 cup water
2 tbl soft brown sugar
Pudding topping
60g butter, room temperature
50g soft brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
100g plain gluten free flour
50g ground almonds
2 tsps gf baking powder
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup milk

HOW YOU DO IT
Squeeze the lemon and place in a bowl full of water. Peel and chop the quince into 2-3 cm cubes and place immediately into water, this stops the quince discolouring.
Place the quince, butter, brown sugar and 1/4 of a cup of the water into a medium saucepan. Cook the quince on a low heat for about 30 to 40 minutes, once it starts to soften, add the apple and cook for another 20 minutes until the apple just starts to soften. Check regularly to ensure the water doesn’t dry out, replenish if it does.
Whilst the fruit is cooking. Preheat the oven to 180C and butter six small ramekins or tins or one large 1 litre pie dish.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. (Add vanilla essence if using here.)
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
Sift the gluten free flour, almond meal, baking powder, mixed spice and vanilla bean powder.
Fold the flour mixture and milk alternately into the egg mixture to make a soft batter.
Divide the cooked fruit between the tins then cover with the topping.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until well risen, firm and golden brown. (A one litre pie dish may take more like 30 minutes.)
Serve hot with cream, ice-cream or yoghurt. Kid 1 also loves them cold for a breakfast treat as well.

A Cheergerm recipe, the sponge batter adapted from a Stephanie Alexander recipe.


A fight to the death and chocolate swirled pavlova

Some marriages are life-long love affairs, full of flowery and undying proclamations of romantic love. Others are like a military alliance, where the couple march steadily along the highway of life, side by side, enjoying common goals with stoic fortitude. Some marriages are simply just endured and others don’t make it at all. Whilst ours has had its bursts of romance and is based on a rock solid friendship, it is probably best described as a prolonged torturous comedic metaphorical fight to the death. The winner of the day is the one who gets in the best joke, at the others expense of course. The final victor will be the last one left standing. I am going to make sure it is me.

This pavlova was made for a friends pre-Easter soirée. The Yak was a big fan of the grown-up savoury spiciness of this dessert. The soft buttery pears, the chewy meringue, the tangy sour cream and the sweet heat of the gingery syrup was a food revelation. Happy fifteenth wedding anniversary Yak. In the face of the fear that I won’t do better at this late stage of the game; I guess you’ll do.

CHOCOLATE SWIRL PAVLOVA WITH MAPLE POACHED PEARS

WHAT YOU NEED
6 small pears, peeled (I used rather large Corella pears but smaller pears would have looked better on the pavlova)
2 cup (250)ml maple syrup
5cm piece ginger, sliced
6 fresh bay leaves (I didn’t have any fresh, so I didn’t use any.)
6 egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups caster sugar (330g)
1/ tsp white vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
2 1/2 tbls cocoa powder
300-400g creme fraiche
1 tsp pure icing sugar, sifted

HOW YOU DO IT
To make the maple pears: place pears, maple syrup, ginger, bay leaves and 3 cups water (750ml) in a saucepan.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then cover the circle with a circle of baking paper and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. (My bigger pears took about 1 hour and fifteen minutes.) Remove pears from the liquid.
Discard half the liquid, reserving the bay and ginger. Return the remaining liquid, bay leaves and ginger to a deep saucepan and place over high heat.
Boil the liquid for 30 minutes or until thick and syrupy. Cool completely and set aside.
To make the pavlova, preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place baking paper on a large tray and draw an 18 cm circle.
Beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt to firm peaks.
Keep beating the egg white on low adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time.
Once all of the sugar is added, continue beating on a medium speed until the meringue is no long gritty to the touch and is stiff and glossy.
Fold through the vinegar, cornflour and 2 heaped tsps of the cocoa.
Spread into the prepared tray and sprinkle another 2 tsps of the cocoa over the pavlova and using a palette knife, swirl the cocoa through the pavlova.
Place it in the oven and drop the temperature down to 130 (120 fan forced) and bake for one hour. Rotate every 20 minutes to ensure even baking and colouring.
Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the pavlova cool down in the oven for at least 3 hours.
Combine the sour cream, icing sugar and remaining 1 tsp cocoa and spread over the pavlova. Halve (or quarter) the pears and arrange over the top. Served drizzled with the reduced maple syrup and scatter with the bay leaves. (If you had any.)

A Cheergerm adaption of a recipe from the April 2016 Delicious magazine. I changed the pavlova method


Gluten free lime yoghurt cake and awash in tears

Our house was awash in tears on the morning I made this cake. Our mostly calm before school routine was offset by self-disappointment, childlike hurt and a more grown-up, deeper sadness.

All surfaces seemed awash with liquid. Bench tops, faces, cupboards and eyes reflected a watery glow. We were in fear of drowning. Even in the car, tears continued to flow and school drop off was a sombre and quiet occasion.

Upon returning home, I was relieved to see our house had not been swept into the valley and that Noah and his Ark were not loading our dogger friend, cockatoos and other assorted wildlife on board.

From the fruit basket these gem like, green, freely given, home grown organic limes greeted me. They went a little way to soothing my aching head and worn out from weeping eyes. They spoke to me in limey voices (‘hello guv’nor!’) of a sweet something, that would greet my citrus loving progeny upon their return from school.

There is nothing like the smell of lime to put some pep in your step and allow a breath to be taken. This lovely cake is tangy from the citrus and Greek yoghurt with an extra fruity hit from the olive oil. The first recipe trial was fine, the second tweaked version you find here, is damned fine. And not a salty tear in sight.

Note to self, never leave a cake and the camera alone with The Yak, not even for a moment.

GLUTEN FREE LIME, YOGHURT AND OLIVE OIL CAKE

WHAT YOU NEED
1 cup full fat Greek yoghurt
2 eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice (this is roughly the juice of one lime)
Zest of one lime
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste, vanilla bean powder or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
210g gluten free flour (1 cup/140g gf plain flour, 1/4 cup/40g almond meal, 1/4 cup/40g brown rice flour)
3/4 cup raw caster sugar (or white caster sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder

Topping
1 tbl brown sugar (I used raw caster sugar)
1 tbl extra lime zest (I used the zest of one lime)

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a 22cm springform tin with baking paper.
Mix all the wet ingredients including the lime zest in one bowl until well combined. (If using vanilla essence or paste add it here.)
Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If using vanilla powder, add here.)
Pour the combined wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl and using a wooden spoon, mix until just combined.
Pour into the prepared baking tin and cook for approx 40-45 minutes. The cake is ready when it has browned on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for ten minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack.
When the cake is completely cool sprinkle with the topping mixture. This is delicious served with a big dollop of yoghurt on the side.
Feel free to use lemons if you can’t find limes.

A Cheergerm adaptation of a recipe from the blog Souvlaki for the Soul which was in turn adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe.

http://souvlakiforthesoul.com/2011/05/lime-yoghurt-and-olive-oil-cake


Another bloody gluten free chocolate cake

Me: Hey, Kid 1, do you want to come and watch Deep Purple play Smoke on the Water?
Kid 1: What does that even mean?
Me: You know, the very first riff you ever learnt on your guitar? It’s a video of the band playing the actual song.

Total silence from Kid 1. He didn’t even give me the courtesy of an answer.

It’s official folks.

I am old.

Speaking of age, WordPress kindly informed me the other day that this blog had turned one. My, it seems like only yesterday that I gave birth. How time flies when you are having fun.

To celebrate, here is the gluten-free chocolate cake baked for the Yak’s birthday a few weeks ago. Whilst stealing someone else’s birthday cake could be seen as a cruel injustice, I am really only stealing the idea of a birthday cake. First things first. To the man who actually ate this cake, Happy Birthday Mr Yak; you totally fabulous, dry witted, old before your time in a totally ironic way, Northern English bloke.

Secondly, Happy Birthday to this blog. It’s been a big ball of fun and I wish I could send all of you a piece of this light, fluffy chocolate cake action. As that is impossible, I will send you the idea of this old school chockie cake. The buttermilk gives the crumb a lovely moistness and as it’s not too rich, people usually come back for seconds. (Or thirds, hey, back off…leave some for me.) A dear friend has been making this cake for a few years and she changed it to a gluten free version when the Yak become a Coeliac.

Thanks for reading folks and enjoy your cake.

ANOTHER BLOODY GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE CAKE

WHAT YOU NEED
1 1/2 cups gf plain flour (220g)
2 tbl almond meal
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsps bicarb soda
1 cup caster sugar, raw or regular
1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder (or 2 tsp vanilla essence or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
1 cup buttermilk
185g butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 160C and line a 22cm non stick springform pan or grease a non-stick bundt tin.
Sift flour, almond meal, cocoa, bi-carb soda, sugar and vanilla bean powder in a large bowl or a mixer bowl.
Add 1/2 the buttermilk and cooled butter and beat at a medium speed until combined.
Gradually add the rest of the buttermik, egg and the rest of the butter (and vanilla essence if you are using a liquid form).
Beat on medium to high speed for around 2 minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy. Don’t overbeat!
Cook for 50 minutes to one hour. Test with a skewer. Leave in in for 5 minutes then turn out and cool complete on a cooling rack.
Dust with icing sugar. We ate it with strawberries and creme fraiche.

A recipe from a great friend and I have no idea where she originally got it from

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