Summer Baking

I was recently given a jar of homemade raspberry jam and to do it justice I made some scones last weekend.

I remembered reading an article in The Guardian a while ago on making the perfect scone which I managed to track down here. I decided to go with Rachel Allen’s version which uses a combination of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar as a raising agent and egg and buttermilk as the liquid ingredients. If I’d had any spare milk I might have added this as I found the mixture a bit too dry to combine well but I managed with what I had.

I followed the following suggestions in the above article :

  • Don’t use a rolling pin, just pat the dough out
  • Don’t twist the cutter – I couldn’t find a fluted one so my scones were plain rounds
  • Use Italian 00 flour for a lighter scone

The end result was pretty good.  The scones rose beautifully and had a really light texture.  Here they are with the delicious raspberry jam and some clotted cream for the perfect Cream Tea.

Continuing the summer fruits theme (which I hope you’ve noticed is carried through into the crockery) I also made a summer pudding for Sunday lunch. The recipe is very simple, just three ingredients, but the overall effect is delicious.

Ingredients

  •  Approximately 8 slices of white bread, crusts removed. Some recipes specify day-old bread but I just used cheap and cheerful thick sliced white bread
  • 1 kg or thereabouts of mixed summer fruits I used raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. Red, white or blackcurrants are also good if you can find them
  • 150g caster sugar. The amount of sugar you need really depends on how sweet your fruit (and tooth) is so taste and adjust accordingly

Method

Start by lining your bowl (mine holds 1 litre of fluid) with cling film, leaving the excess hanging over the edge. This makes it so much easier to turn the pudding out when it is ready to serve.

Wash the fruit and keep whole, although some of my strawberries were enormous so I cut them in half.  Put the raspberries and blackberries (and currants if using) in a pan with the sugar and three tablespoons of water and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved and the juice is running from the fruit. This only takes a couple of minutes. Add the strawberries and heat for another minute.

 image

Pour the fruit through a sieve, catching the juice in a bowl.

Now line the bowl with the bread, dipping each piece in the juice so that it is soaked on both sides. This ensures that you have any white patches in the finished pudding.

I started by cutting a circle about 8 cms in diameter and placing it in the bottom of the bowl. Then take four squares of bread and place around the edge of the bowl. Some recipes say to leave the bread standing above the rim but mine was pretty much level. This should leave four small triangular spaces which you can fill with carefully cut pieces of bread – a bit of a geometrical puzzle!

Tip in the fruit until it is almost at the top of the bowl.

You then need to cover the top of the bowl with more dipped slices of bread. I started with one square and then filled in the gaps.  This will end up as the bottom of the pudding so it doesn’t really matter how neat it is.

Bring up the overhanging cling film to cover the pudding and add another sheet just to make sure it is sealed. Place a small plate on the top and weigh it down with a couple of tins. Place the whole thing in the fridge, ideally overnight. I would recommend standing it on a plate because the juice does tend to overflow and the top shelf of my fridge was a pink sticky mess by the next morning.

 

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To serve: Peel back the cling film, cover the bowl with a serving plate and turn upside down. The pudding should plop out in a very satisfying manner and you can then just peel back the cling film. Serve with cream, crème fraiche or ice cream.

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