Friday, 27 August 2010

3 Cousin Canadian Pie

The Keston Kitchen...... on location

This edition of midnight baking comes to you live and direct from Vancouver, BC.

I am in the Kitchen of Mrs Gemma Stobbe – cousin, cook, mum of two and all round domestic goddess. We are also joined by cousin number two, the gorgeous, athletic Mrs Amy Jonston-Kakebeke, who has come from her downtown apartment to the sleepy suburbs of White Rock for a dose of domesticity.

Holidays are a great time to try a little baking – mainly because you have some time and don't have to do it at midnight. But also because you can experiment with the delicious local ingredients or your new surroundings... and in Beautiful British Columbia I have struck gold. A drive into the country on Sunday yielded many fruit - we screeched the car to a halt beside a roadside stall selling huge blueberries, juicy peaches and succulent apricots. All freshly picked that morning without a pesticide or supermarket insight.

(And for Rachael and Charlotte's sake I just have to mention the corn that also grows in BC– rows of super-sweet corn as far as the eye can see. De-lish.)

Returning home with more fruit that we could eat, there was only one thing to do – bake a pie (which, I was assured, is a very Canadian dish - as well as being a classically British pud, I reminded the ex-pats).

We used a combo of BC fruit, substituted some of the sugar for maple syrup – and voila – a very Canadian pie. Or a 3 Cousin Canadian Pie, as us ladies like to call it. And I am pleased to announce that it was enjoyed equally by adults and the under-5s alike. Best served warm with some real vanilla ice cream. AWESOME – as the Canadians would say.

Oh, and as I feel duty bound to be honest on this blog, I have to confess that the home-made pastry was a bit of a nightmare. Note to self – never try to make pastry in 35 degree heat. Just buy it from the store! The end result tasted good even if it did look a little rustic. And if I had mastered the fine art of pastry this early in my baking career, where would I go from here?!

A big thank you to my two gorgeous co-chefs – for help with the pie AND for a totally awesome holiday.

Jules in BC signing off


3 Cousin Canadian Pie


For the filling:

3 cups of pitted and sliced fresh peaches, nectarines, apricots (or whatever juicy fruit you have in the bowl)

2 cups of fresh blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

¼ cup maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup flour

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces.

(A cup is ½ a pint)

For the pastry:

Buy some – if you want an easy life! A 500g pack of short crust should do the trick.

Otherwise, Delia helpfully takes you through, step by step:

Preheat the oven to fan 180C/ conventional 200C/gas 6. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a shallow loose-bottomed 25cm pie dish. Make sure the pastry comes above the rim - it may shrink in baking and the filling could spill. Chill for 30 minutes.

NB – if you want some decorative pastry on top of the pie, cut out some shapes with pastry cutters (or your own design with a knife if you are feeling creative – a la my maple leaf!) and chill those in the fridge too.

Prick the base of the chilled pastry case all over with a fork, then line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 15 minutes. (You do not need to pre-bake the pastry shapes that will be on top of the pie). Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before filling.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, mix the f ruit, lemon juice, sugar, maple syrup, flour and spices.

Spoon the filling into the pie shell and dot with the pieces of butter. Place the pastry shapes on top (if using) and brush with milk.

Bake for 5 minutes, reduce heat to 180 and bake for a further 30 minutes until the filling is tender and bubbling and the pastry is golden.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Summer time and the baking is easy....

Lemon and Blueberry Loaf.

This cake is perfect for the summer months: it is quick and easy to prepare, so you don't have to spend warm evenings in a hot kitchen and are free to return to your gin and tonic outside while the cake bakes.

A hot summer means your baking should be light; lemons always seem to lift a cake. The burst of blueberries as you bite in adds to the fruity moistness of this loaf.

Once again, I have my old chefing pal Miss Katie Green to thank for introducing me to this recipe, which she found in the ever-inspiring Good Food magazine. This summer I have baked it to commemorate the first bbq of the summer in April, a birthday garden party in July, and then brought it to the office to celebrate a run of birthdays/leaving dos/general end-of-term levity.

I predict this beautiful summer to stretch long into september... so roll up your sleeves and enjoy.
Jules xxx

  • Ingredients
  • 175g softened butter , plus extra for greasing
  • 500ml tub Greek yogurt (you need 100ml/3.5fl oz in the cake, the rest to serve)
  • 300g jar good lemon curd (you need 2 tbsp in the cake, the rest to serve)
  • 3 eggs
  • zest and juice 1 lemon , plus extra zest to serve, if you like
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 200g punnet of blueberries (you need 85g/3oz in the cake, the rest to serve)
  • 140g icing sugar
  • edible flowers , such as purple or yellow primroses, to serve (optional)
  • method_hdr.gif
  • Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease a 2lb loaf tin and line with a long strip of baking parchment. Put 100g yogurt, 2 tbsp lemon curd, the softened butter, eggs, lemon zest, flour and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl. Quickly mix with an electric whisk until the batter just comes together. Scrape half into the prepared tin. Weigh 85g blueberries from the punnet and sprinkle half into the tin, scrape the rest of the batter on top, then scatter the other half of the 85g berries on top. Bake for 1 hr 10 mins-1 hr 15 mins until golden, and a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.
  • Cool in the tin, then carefully lift onto a serving plate to ice. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in enough lemon juice to make a thick, smooth icing. Spread over the top of the cake, then decorate with lemon zest and edible flowers, if you like. Serve in slices with extra lemon curd, Greek yogurt and blueberries.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

I Heart Italia: Focaccia

I Heart Focaccia by Charlotte x

While skipping through The River Café Classic Italian Cookbook, feeling slightly guilty for having used it only once (an exceptionally well chosen Christmas present from Matt) I noted a recipe for focaccia with black grapes. Bread and fruit – what a fabulous combination (I can hear my stepfather’s worried tones already). And, it just so happens that Rach has a punnet of red currants sitting on top of the fridge, looking a bit needy, as if they want to be used…

30 minutes later the dough is sitting to rise and I’m looking for fennel seeds. An hour later I am putting the focaccia together – a two tier piece de resistance with blueberries in the middle (not enough red currants in the punnet) and the little red bursts of delight sitting pretty on top. Sugar, olive oil and fennel seeds are thrown on and in the oven it goes to do its business.

Taste testers Jules, Rach, Matt and Ceri step up and despite being a little crispy round the edges (the pizza wheel cutter is not happy) everyone is very encouraging and I eagerly announce the birth of the weekly fruit focaccia - quite keen I admit, but I feel certain that everyone would benefit from a weekly focaccia.

So far I have made three in total (over 9 days). Focaccia number 2 had blueberries in the middle and cherries on top with fennel seeds adding a hint of exquisite excitement. This little focaccia came with me all the way to Pembrokeshire where it was very well received. Focaccia number 3 contained raspberries and was splattered with blackberries, caraway seeds, sugar and oil.

What’s great about this is that you can easily play around with quantities, fruits, seeds, nuts, and whatever else! I now plan to work my way through the other 199 recipes in Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers’ delightful book (while turning out the weekly focaccia of course). Just spotted focaccia col formaggio (with cheese) on page 119!

Recipe – adapted from The River Café


375g plain flour, sieved

150ml warm water

3 tablespoon golden caster sugar

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

10g dried yeast

Pinch of salt


The rest:

600g fruit (black grapes, red currants, cherries, blueberries, raspberries – the list goes on)

Extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons golden caster sugar

3 tablespoons fennel seed (I think caraway seeds work well also)


Sieve the flour into a heap on the worktop and make a well.

Dissolve the yeast in the water and mix in the sugar, salt and olive oil. Pour into the well and mix in with the flour. Knead for at least 15 minutes and then place in a bowl, covered with a damp tea towel (and preferably in a warm spot) for an hour (minimum).

Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Knock back the dough and divide into two. Press out half the dough onto a baking tray (greased with olive oil). Cover with half the fruit and sprinkle with 1.5 tablespoon of sugar, 1.5 tablespoons of fennel or caraway seeds and some oil. Cover with the remaining dough, crimp the edges and repeat.

Bake for around 40 minutes, leave to cool and dish out to deserving amici.