Dessert Trollied

In my last post I talked about Waitrose’s Raspberry & Drambuie Meringue Gateau. They stopped doing it a few years ago so I’ve had a bash at recreating it. The end result isn’t exactly the same as the dessert I remember if I’m honest – It’s more of a variation on a dessert my Dad makes, which has a nod to that delicious Waitrose pud of old:

You’ll need:
– a high-sided springform cake tin
– a large mixing bowl
– something to whip the cream (electric or hand whisk)
– a small sharp serrated knife and a bread knife

– a ready-made sponge flan case larger than your cake tin
– 250g of fruit (I used strawberries and raspberries)
– 300ml whipping cream
– 250g mascarpone cheese
– 2ish tablespoons of Drambuie if you have it (I used whiskey)
– 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
– 2 small ready made meringue nests
– A little icing sugar for the top

Start by using the small knife to trim down the flan case so it’s the same size as your cake tin. Then, using a sharp bread knife, cut through the sponge base laterally to give you two thin pieces of sponge. Take it slowly using small strokes, check that you’re cutting evenly as you go.

Separate the two layers of sponge. Save the top layer for the top of the dessert as it looks tidier. Use the bottom layer in the bottom of your cake tin. Take care because it’s quite thin and fragile. Spoon about a third of the booze over the base layer and move the tin and sponge top to one side.

In your mixing bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the mascarpone cheese to the cream and fold together. Wash your fruit (and cut the strawbs into smaller chunks if you’re using them) and add to the cream/cheese mix. Roughly crumble the meringue keeping some larger chunks (for crunch) and add that too, along with the remaining booze and the vanilla essence. Fold until it’s combined – don’t over mix, it needs to just come together.

Spoon the cream and fruit mix into the cake tin carefully a little at a time. Don’t push it against the sides of the tin too much – doing that means you run the risk of it sticking to the sides when you remove the tin to serve. Lightly smooth the mix until it’s flat and place the remaining layer of sponge on the top. Sprinkle icing sugar over the top sponge evenly whilst it’s in the tin (less messy than doing after you take it out!), cover and pop it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

When you take it out of the fridge to serve, remove the cake tin gently and slowly. You can also try heating a metal skewer and branding the top of the pud – the skewer needs to be really hot so you can do all the stripes (or criss-crossing if you’re really quick) in one go. This is a practised art but worth doing because it looks really pretty and the taste of caramelised sugar adds to the favour of the dessert.

Give it a go – its a lovely summery dessert. Perfect for this bonkers heatwave we’re having at the moment. If I were to try again, and make it more like the Waitrose pudding, there would be a layer of meringue in the middle the same size at the sponge base & top. The trick would be working out how to stop the meringue layer from going soggy and losing its crunch. And there would be Drambuie – lots of it.

(A final thank you to Rob and Sarah for being very willing volunteers for my first attempt… “it’s the perfect cake – more filling than sponge!”)

A Quarter Of The…

A few years ago I worked on the Deli in Waitrose’s finest branch – Hall Green (branch 122 for the WaitroseSpotters amongst you). They were good days… The summers were long and hot, and we’d often be found in the beer garden of the pub next door after a shift where I’d be sipping a […]

Soda Bread

Attempt No. 2

Having found myself a step closer to that elusive work/life balance, I’ve been enjoying mastering the art of making Soda Bread.  It’s incredibly easy, very quick (50 minutes from start to finish) and absolutely delicious. A couple of people have asked me which recipe I use.  I’ve been using Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe from his Everyday TV series, but with some helpful pointers from MADE‘s resident Soda Bread Expert (Jo Maguire) I’ve been tweaking and experimenting with some additional ingredients.

There hasn’t been a vast difference between the levels of success I’ve achieved, after all, it’s difficult to go wrong with soda bread, but here are some pointers anyway. The dough takes around 5 minutes to make (less depending on whether you can remember where you put the scales), requires no proving and is most successful when handled as little as possible – a very rough mix produces a much more authentic-looking loaf of bread. I’ve been using a wide shallow cast iron casserole dish on which to cook it. The even heat distribution gives it a lovely crust along the base (no oil needed – just flour the dish/tray).

Attempt number 1: made using a mixture of Buttermilk and yoghurt and followed the recipe exactly.  It was delicious if a little salty.  Realised I could afford to make the shape of the loaf a little flatter.  Felt very sleepy after eating some – not sure if this is a good sign.

Loaf no. 3

Attempt number 2: less salt and flattened out a little more before putting in the oven. Used only buttermilk this time and made sure it was room temperature rather than straight from the fridge – this seemed to help make a more aerated loaf.  Small yellow patches appeared in the loaf – Jo tells me this is the result of too much soda and possibly because I didn’t sieve it into the mix. Crust held well but loaf seemed cake-like and stodgy after a few hours (which is most likely because I cut into it whilst it was still hot according to Jo).  Felt less sleepy after eating some of this one.

Attempt number 3: Jo’s top tip was to add a teaspoon of honey to help lighten the loaf – not sure if this helped because I used a mixture of buttermilk and yoghurt again (both straight from the fridge) which make have counteracted the effect of the honey.  This time I used half white, half wholemeal flour and added a tablespoon of linseeds.  Used 1 and a half teaspoons of soda rather than 2 which helped balance the flavour of the loaf (previous attempts tasted very soda-ey in comparison). End result was much more like the shop-bought soda bread I like so much.  Most successful so far and will use this variation from now on.  Produced no drowsiness. Might also benefit from a little more honey and a mixture of other seeds (pumpkin and sunflower would be nice).