The Great British Bake Off Christmas- Caramelised Onion and Stilton Tart.

Thursday 7th December 2017.

I love making pies, quiches and tarts but I always worry about the fat and calorie content in the pastry and the fillings.  But nothing beats a homemade pie or tart, especially on a cold Winter’s evening.

I had planned out the meals to cook for this last week but forgot I was a day behind with what needed eating up first in the fridge.  I had some chicken breasts which needed to be used so they ended up being cooked for Thursday night’s dinner.  Being a supply teacher and at the time having no work booked in for the day after, I thought I’d prep ahead just in case I ended up working.  We’d all be starving by the time I got in from work. Not only that but the last thing I’d want to do is to start cooking something from scratch.  I’m glad I was prepared.  I ended up working and didn’t get home until 6.15pm.

The Caramelised Onion and Stilton Tart from The Great British Bake Off Christmas book ended up being our dinner along with some new potatoes, peas and sweetcorn.  It was assembled and cooked the night before and it was reheated carefully the following night.

So, back to Thursday tea time and I’m cooking two meals one after the other.  I started off with the tart and then went on to cooking the chicken breasts in a chipotle marinade with new potatoes, peas and sweetcorn.  Yes I know we had that two nights running but it was what I was trying to use up in the fridge before doing my weekly shop at the weekend.  I began with making up the shortcrust pastry which was fine.  It was chilled in the fridge for half an hour as I was cooking three medium onions in some olive oil and butter. The long, slow and low heat of cooking the onions really helps them to caramelise.

When the pastry was chilled for long enough, I got it out of the fridge and rolled it out to fit it into my tart tin.  There was enough pastry to overhang the edges. I filled the pastry case with baking parchment and my ceramic baking beans so I could blind bake it.  After 12 minutes I had to remove the paper and the beans then pop the pastry case back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

As the pastry case was baking, I mixed together the filling.  I mixed together two eggs and another egg yolk, along with some double cream, some grated Parmesan Cheese and some crumbled Stilton.  I was also meant to add pine nuts to the mixture but when I looked in the cupboard I’m sure I couldn’t find any.  So I left them out altogether.  I’m sure walnuts would have gone well in the tart as well.

When the pastry case came out of the oven, I mixed the filling, along with the caramelised onions together. The mixture was poured into the case and I popped the tart back into the oven.  I always put the tart case onto a flat baking tray in case it leaked out all over the oven floor.

The following day, when we chose to eat the tart, I asked Mr SmartCookieSam to put it back in the oven to reheat through for half an hour.  The result was absolutely delicious.  I’m sure it was hugely calorific, what with all the cheese and cream in the filling not to mention the butter in the pastry as well.  But it simply melted in the mouth.  What’s more is that as the tart was so big there was enough left over to eat cold the next day for lunch. It was a big hit and a recipe I’ll definitely be making again.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Piñata Cake

I’ve always wanted to bake a Pinata Cake.  I’d seen loads of them on the internet but never had chance to bake one until last year.  There is a really fab Pinata Cake recipe in the second Clandestine Cake Club book “A Year Of Cake”. In fact it’s the cake picture which adorns the front cover.  People wonder how you manage to get the sweets or chocolates inside the cake in the first place.  My son asked if you get to beat the cake with a stick like a traditional Pinata until it breaks and the sweets fall out! Er no, you’d end up with crumbs but the idea is the same. You cut up the cake and a load of sweets fall out of the middle that you’re not expecting to be there.

In the Easter holidays it was my turn to be on my local WI Supper Rota. I usually choose to do this when there is a meeting which falls during the school holidays. I bake a couple of cakes.  There was a mix up over the supper rota but that’s another story.  Normally I wouldn’t bake anything so fancy and highly decorated but I had the ingredients in already and they needed using up.

The original Pinata Cake recipe is a chocolate sponge but I chose to bake a vanilla one.  The icing is made up of double cream whipped up with two packets of Angel Delight.  I hadn’t eaten Angel Delight for years. It was always something we had at my Nana Margaret’s house.  Nana Margaret was my Dad’s mum and she was a dreadful cook.  She nearly gave us food poisoning with raw burgers. My poor grandad must have had iron guts.  One day he nearly broke his tooth eating a rock hard apple pie which my Nana had put in the microwave for 30 minutes instead of 30 seconds.  At least she didn’t bodge up making Angel Delight.

To bake a Pinata cake you need to bake four layers of sponge. When these are cooled and turned out of the tins onto the rack you need to find a large circular biscuit cutter and cut a hole in the centre of two of the cakes. The other two are left whole.  To assemble the cake you spread a layer of Angel Delight icing on top of one of the whole cakes. Then place the first of the cakes with the hole cut out of it and repeat with the cream layer. Do this again with the other cake with a hole in the middle. Finally add some more cream.  Before you put the top layer on you need to fill the hole full of your chosen sweets.  The original recipe showed Smarties in the middle but I reckon any sweets or chocolates would look amazing. I used a large packet of Haribo Starmix inside mine.

It took iron will power not to get a spoon and start eating the icing there and then. I used two packets of strawberry flavoured Angel Delight although I reckon any flavour would taste great. Last year I baked a similar cake with Banana Angel Delight. This made it yellow and the inside was decorated with Haribo Minion sweets.  The top of the cake was decorated with blue sprinkles.  For this cake I raided my baking cupboard and found a couple of random jars of sprinkles which needed finishing off.

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The Pinata Cake uses Angel Delight and double cream as the basis of the icing.
The top of my Pinata Cake used lots of random sprinkles I had left in my baking cupboard.

Of course because of there being a mix up over the WI Supper Rota I thought I was on the list but I wasn’t. I turned up at the village hall and one of the ladies said I wasn’t doing it. As I had spent my entire day off baking and decorating three cakes I was extremely annoyed. When one lady said they had enough cakes and to put them back in the car I was so angry and upset. She also said well you could freeze them.  I told her I was taking them in, I had been baking all day and I had no room for them at home. Not only that but only one out of the three cakes was suitable for freezing.  My friend took pity on me and said I could sell them at the meeting. So that’s what happened. The three cakes were sold to cover the cost of my ingredients.  This also meant that I didn’t get to take a photo of the cake with all the sweets spilling out of it when it was cut.  I never mentioned to the lady that bought it about the inside of the cake so she would have had a surprise when she cut into it.  Next time maybe?

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx