Tarte aux Framboises (Raspberry Tart)

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I’ve updated this delicious celebratory tart with a far better Creme Patissiere recipe. One of my lovely followers has a daughter who is using this recipe for her GSCE food tech exam. I’m so proud and happy that she is using one of my recipes! Anyway, they were having problems with the original recipe and the creme pat was ending up lumpy. Seriously not good, and I felt so bad that one of my recipes was failing at such a crucial time. So, the recipe has been tested and tweaked and we now have a creme pat that is as smooth as you like. Good Luck Charlotte, I hope the teachers like the result ūüôā

There’s so much more buzz around free-from than when I started my blog 7 years ago, and certainly many more products for sale (although I’d have to say the egg-free options are still sadly lacking) which is fantastic. But, it seems to me that lots of the products and recipes available fail to think about flavour or appearance. I don’t see why a free-from foodstuff should not be as pretty as a ‘conventional’ one and it should certainly taste as good. I bought some highly recommended ‘freeform’ doughnuts recently – they looked great but oh my, I have never eaten anything so heavy or unappealing masquerading as a doughnut before! In fact both girls took a bite and threw them straight in the bin, which was especially galling as they’d cost a pretty penny! Why do people accept such offerings? Maybe deep-down inside many people think sweet treats can’t be really tasty without dairy or eggs?! Well, I’m telling you they can be (sometimes they can be far nicer!). Ok, they’re often not identical, but I’m on a mission to prove the friendly food can be delicious food – there’s no making do or missing out with my recipes!

This tarte aux framboise is a perfect example. I think it looks good (I hope you agree!) and it certainly tastes good – I ramped up the vanilla in the creme patisseriere to compensate for the richness which is lost when eggs are not used. I don’t think anyone feels like they were eating an inferior ‘free-from alternative’ – ¬†so job done ūüôā

Whilst the delicate arranging of fruit makes this tart look complex it really is very simple – a crisp blind baked pastry case (shop bought shortcrust pastry is fine), a rich vanilla scented custard, fresh fruit and an apricot jam based glaze. All that is required is a little patient arranging and you have a pudding worthy of any patisserie window! p.s. note the difference between the next two photos – the apricot glaze really is the icing on the cake!

Tarte aux Framboises

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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make one 12 inch tart

for the pastry case:

1 recipe shortcrust or 1pack of shortcrust pastry

  1. Follow this recipe substituting dairy-free margarine for the butter, or use shop bought that is dairy-free
  2. Roll out the pastry and line a tart tin. Fill with cling-film or parchment filled with baking beans. Bake at 200 degrees Centigrade (180 degrees Fan) for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for a further five minutes until golden. Cool.

for the creme patisseriere:

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1/2 cup corn flour (cornstarch)

2 cups dairy-free milk

1/3-1/2 cup caster sugar (depending on how sweet your tooth is)

1tsp vanilla paste or extract or seeds from I vanilla pod

Salt, a pinch

  1. Pour the milk, sugar and vanilla into a saucepan. Heat until hot but not boiling.
  2. Pour the cornflour into a bowl, stir in a small amount of the hot milk mixture to make a smooth paste. Then add the rest of the milk mixture and stir well.
  3. Return to the saucepan and stir continuously whilst heating. It will initially look like it’ll become lumpy, but these will disappear as it gets thicker. You want it to be thick enough to be able to be piped.
  4. Pour into a bowl and cover with cling film (touching the top of the creme pat so no skin forms) and leave to cool

for the nappage (glaze):

1 tbsp apricot jam

1 tbsp water

  1. To make the nappage (apricot jam glaze) heat the apricot jam with 1 tbsp water (strain if lumpy) until bubbly and sticky.
  2. Brush over the fruit whilst hot

to assemble:

  1. Whisk the creme pat thoroughly and either pipe or spoon a 1/2 cm layer into the tart shell.
  2. Top with raspberries (whole or sliced in half) and bush with hot nappage.
  3. Leave to cool before eating.

Afternoon Tea at The Langham Hotel, London

children's afternoon tea menu at The Langham Hotel

I’m always astounded by my girls that they have never made a fuss, never whined and whinged about having food allergies. They’ve always just taken the whole thing in their stride, but for the first time at the age of 12 Big S has voiced a complaint. We were on holiday and the children’s menu came with ice cream – clearly a no go, but the nice waiter claimed there was a dairy-free sorbet. Having searched extensively in France for a safe sorbet and never having found one, we were sceptical, and there was no possibility to check the label ourselves. Besides, we were on a lovely day out on a beautiful beach and had to factor in scoops with ice cream traces having been used in the sorbet tub (happened more than once before), so we erred on the side of caution and said no. For the first time she voiced how unfair it is. We felt awful, it’s such a little thing, but being able to eat an icy dessert on a hot day can make have a big impact on your enjoyment, especially if you’re young.

the Langham Hotel

Anyway, it gave me the push to make plans that I’ve been harbouring for a little while come true. We’re massive fans of the Great British Bake Off Creme de la Creme (you may not know but the wonderful Claire Clark taught me patisserie when I studied at Le Cordon Bleu) and I’d heard that Cherish Findan, one of the other judges, serves a vegan afternoon tea at The Langham Hotel in London. Maybe, just maybe, they’d be able to make a fancy 5* tea for us too?? So I contacted Cherish and the hospitality team at the Langham, and yes they’d be delighted to cater for us and give us a memorable afternoon. Wow, exciting! The sorbet incident was long forgotten, luxury tea here we come!
children's afternoon tea The Langham Hotel, dairy-free egg-free

The hospitality and bookings team were most helpful (no doubt they always are in such a luxurious hotel, sadly I’m not so familiar with such surroundings ūüė¶ … Yet!) I went through our multiple requirements many times and was reassured that we’d be admirably catered for. The only caveat was that nuts are used in the kitchen. How could they not be in a kitchen serving fine patisserie? So they couldn’t guaranteed no traces of nuts. Little S is ok with most nuts; peanuts and sesame are our problems, so we took the decision that just this once for an ultimate treat we’d go with a nut warning. I also wanted the discussions over and done with in advance – the girls have to always put up with conversations with waiting staff who then to and fro to the kitchen, ferrying labels and often knocking choices off the limited menu as they go. Just for once, I wanted us to go to a restaurant and eat wonderful food with no fuss. We were also all going to have dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free versions so we could taste each other’s delights.

We booked it for the 1st September just before the shock of the start of Autumn and the return to school after a long, magical summer. Yes, you bet were we excited! We talked of the forthcoming treat daily, and planned what to wear, guessed what we might eat. Little S had high hopes of vegan macarons but I kind of knew that it wouldn’t be that experimental, there’s no reason for a usual pastry chef to have worked out the magic of aquafaba just yet!

So what was it like? It was totally magical. Expensive¬†yes, but we felt like true VIPs for the afternoon, and that is priceless when you’re used to multiple long conversations with catering staff, limited choice on menus and indeed limited destinations to eat out.

vegan afternoon tea at The Langham

We entered through the marble lined entrance hall, waited on by top hatted doormen and the first impression was, wow, what is that divine smell? It wasn’t food or perfume, it was just a delightful aroma. If this is what top¬†hotels are like, I’d love to visit more often! Of course you have to check the bathrooms in these places, no?¬†¬†Gilded¬†features, soft music, freshly laundered individual hand towels and beautifully scented soap and hand cream. Check!

Palm Court at The Langham

The actual dining room of Palm Court is stunning.¬†The epitome of luxury, with stunning chandeliers, softly played piano, extremely comfortable squidgy chairs and wonderful Art Deco features. This was going to be special. The girls were having the Hamleys children’s tea so were greeted by wonderful cuddly complimentary teddy bears holding their menu.

We were first offered drinks. The girls had a choice of strawberry and kiwi tea, fruit juice or hot chocolate. They chose fruit juice with was refreshed at regular intervals in our two hour sitting. Now neither D nor I drink tea, but were persuaded to try the drink of choice. I sampled the Langham blend which was without doubt the nicest tea I have ever tasted – taken black it had a light, delicate and flavourful with none of the bitter tannins I associate with tea. I wonder if they sell this blend anywhere as I could develop a serious habit with this one. The waiting staff were attentive and discreet which is probably perfect as waiting staff go.

strawberry sorbet lolly dipped in sherbet, vegan

Then the food started to arrive – wow! The girls began with a strawberry sorbet lolly dipped in strawberry sorbet which was probably the most strawberry tasting thing we have ever eaten. The looks on their faces were priceless as they savoured every last morsel. This was far better than a sorbet on holiday. D and I were served¬†vegetarian champagne jellies flecked with gold flakes. I don’t make this kind of thing at home!

vegetarian champagne jelly

Next¬†up were the sandwiches – the girls’ were cut like interlocking jigsaw pieces and contained ham, smoked salmon, red pepper and cucumber. There was an uncomfortable moment when we were told the red pepper also contained hummus which is obviously a no-go due to sesame, but thankfully it was a slip of the tongue, hummus had been kept out of our sandwiches. The adult vegetarian range included sweet red pepper, guacamole, cucumber and tapenade. And they kept coming, we had to refuse the multiple rounds which kept on being offered after a while.

vegan sandwiches at The Langham

The girls then had their teddy bears picnic pastries Рa vanilla carousel cake, a chocolate and raspberry cake, mango pate des fruits and a mango and pomegranate jelly all served with a rich chocolate drink and a bag of sweets. The highlights were certainly the cupcake and sweeties. The chocolate drink was actually too intense and the chocolate cake not as stunning as I hoped for, but overall we were mightily happy.

vegan children's afternoon tea

For the adults tea we had plain and fruit scones which were out of this world delicious. I think I make good scones but these had a wonderful glazed top and finer texture – they were heaven on a plate served with wonderful soft set strawberry jam. Honestly we’d have been happy to finish there, but next came the cakes! We had thought before that we might be hungry when we left, it was only afternoon tea after all, but we certainly didn’t need to worry at all!

plain and fruit scones, vegan

Our vegan/vegetarian version contained three sponges of which the raspberry was my favourite, along with a chopped pineapple cocktail and the most wonderful light and crispy shortbread. I cannot fault the food in any way, it was wonderful especially if you take into account our various difficult requirements.

vegan afternoon tea at The Langham

Just two negatives soured the occasion – we didn’t mention anything as we didn’t want to make a fuss and it was overall amazing and they’d gone to so much trouble. But, my vegetarian sandwich had a bit of ham stuck to the bottom – not nice! And worse for us was the waiter who came to chat about our requirements and started asking if any of us were ‘normal’ or we all had allergies – I’d just wanted to avoid that ‘oh you’re not normal’ attitude for once. He meant well certainly, but it was just a bit clumsy.
All in all I salute you the catering team at Palm Court, our requirements aren’t easy to cater for, especially when you’re also producing world class patisserie for other clientele. The whole occasion was an ultimate luxury treat and we were admirably catered for.

At one point one of the chefs came out to chat and offered a tour of the kitchen to our girls, but sadly we had to leave before he reappeared. We also saw Cherish herself on our way out, managing to thank her for the wonderful experience but I was not bold enough to have a proper conversation! But if you’re reading this Cherish, thank you so much you really made our day a very special occasion. We very much hope to return one day.

Disclaimer: I was not paid in any way for this review.

dairy-free, egg-free afternoon tea

Madeleines

egg-free, dairy-free madeleine

Its been a long journey to create a Madeleine recipe that actually works, that’s actually just like the real thing. Madeleines, if you don’t know, are iconic little shell shaped cakes immortalised by Marcel Proust in ‘A la recherch√© du temps Perdu’ and are held close to every French persons heart. This is how¬†Marcel Proust describes¬†them with reference to involuntary memories;

No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory¬†‚Äď this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. … Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? … And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt L√©onie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.¬†‚ÄĒ‚ÄĮMarcel Proust,¬†In Search of Lost Time

Definitely an experience worth recreating!

So how to recreate such an iconic classic – it was hard to get the right taste and texture without the essential ingredients of milk, butter and eggs, and many of my initial attempts looked good but simply didn’t have the right texture. This recipe on the other hand is spot on – the addition of aquafaba has lifted the fluffiness and and the sponge has the correct density. It is essential to have the correct madeleine pan, otherwise you’ll have to make mini cakes instead!

chocolate dipped dairy-free egg-free madeleines

Madeleines

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan madeleines

3 tbsp aquafaba

100g caster sugar

100 g plain flour

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp dairy free milk

3/4 tsp baking powder

75g dairy free margarine, melted

1 tsp syrup (or honey if you are not vegan)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade. Grease and flour the Madeleine mould and place in the fridge to firm up.
  2. Whisk together the aquafaba and sugar until slightly foamy, then whisk in the lemon juice and dairy free milk
  3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and again whisk in.
  4. Then with the whisk running, gently pour in the melted margarine and syrup/honey and whisk until you have a gorgeously shiny, silky dough
  5. Transfer to a piping bag and if possible, place in the fridge for a while to cool.making vegan madeleines
  6. Pipe into the moulds so they are filled level with the top
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and risen. To get the correct domed tops, briefly open the door of the oven after 3-4 minutes, then continue cooking.
  8. Cool in the tins before transferring to a cooling rack.
  9. Serve dusted with icing sugar or dipped in melted chocolate

dairy-free madeleines

Strawberry and Rose tart 

dairy-free strawberry tart

We were off to a friend’s house for a lovely lazy BBQ Sunday and having reminded them of our considerable dietary requirements, I felt that I really needed to make an effort to bring something nice to make up for all the extra effort they were going to. I sometimes forget, because we’re so used to all our varying dietary requirements, that it’s a bit of a minefield for others – if you’re not used to checking ingredients and thinking about traces its all a bit mind boggling! Anyway, our friends were delightful and happy to cater for us all, even me, the difficult vegetarian! I made a firm favourite, Devils food cake for pudding as everyone loves it, but then felt that maybe it wasn’t fresh and summery enough for a sunny BBQ! In fact I spent the whole night thinking it was the wrong choice and maybe I should make something else – I just didn’t know what, and certainly didn’t want to go shopping early on a Sunday morning!

So it was a case of get up, rummage in the fridge and larder and then get my thinking hat on! I had some frozen puff pastry and apples but apple tart wasn’t quite seasonal enough! Then I spied my bowl of slightly overripe strawberries – perfect; a fine strawberry tart was going to be ideal.

In fact I’d recommend this kind of tart for any impromptu get together – so simple to make but also pretty enough to impress! It would work with most fruit and is simply fruit, thinly sliced and layered over puff pastry, sprinkled with a fine layer of sugar and then baked. Once out of the ven, a coating of nappage (warmed, thinned jam) gives the perfect glossy finish. I chose some gorgeous rose petal jam form Confiserie Florian in Provence but apricot or strawberry would also work well.

Strawberry and Rose Tart

vegan strawberry and rose puff pastry tart

(dairy-free, egg-free,nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

Serves 6

1/2 sheet puff pastry [ensure it doesn’t contain butter!]

100g strawberries, finely sliced

1-2 tsps caster sugar

2 tbsp rose jam

  1. Roll out the pastry to a large square or rectangle. Lightly score around the edge to give a ‘frame of pastry’ which will rise up.
  2. Layer on the sliced strawberries and sprinkle with caster sugar
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 190 degrees centigrade/gas mark 5 until the pastry is golden around the edges.
  4. Cool and then brush over warmed, thinned [add a few drops of water] jam.

pretty rose tart, freefrom

Egg-free Tuiles/Wafers

 

tuile basket egg-free, vegan

I’ve dreamt of making delicate, light and crispy tuiles for a long time, but my egg-free attempts never worked. Whilst the results had been passable but they certainly weren’t good enough to be classed as an authentic wafer-thin tuile. It’s such a versatile classic recipe in which the paper thin, lightly scented biscuit or wafer is moulded into a variety of shapes – the classic tuile literally translates as ‘roof tile’ thanks to its gently curved shape. They add the finishing touch to any fine dessert when curled into straws (as often found in ice creams and sorbets), or they can be moulded into baskets or folded into cones.

The key feature of a tuile is that it has to be wafer thin. To achieve this, the dough needs to be thinly spread over a template, baked, and then a few seconds after coming out of the oven, carefully removed from the baking tray. To do this requires a palette knife and the tuile needs to be moulded straight away. Delay by even a few seconds and you’ve missed your chance; the tuile will shatter and break rather than be pliable. As speed is key I would suggest only baking a couple at a time, which makes this a laborious process, but there’s no real way round it.

I have to say that I am utterly delighted with the results of this recipe, they are so authentic that I dare anyone to taste a difference between these made with aquafaba ( water from a tin of cooked beans or pulses) and those made with the traditional egg white. We can’t. D said he was immediately transported back to childhood holidays with the French side of his family, eating lemon sorbet with a crispy tuile straw tucked into the frozen delight. So the results must be pretty good for a comparison like that!

lemon sorbet and dairy-free tuile straw

So lemon sorbet seemed to be the right thing to serve mine with (this one from New Forest Ices is egg, dairy and nut free) which went down a total treat. I also moulded some into baskets which is another classic tuile shape and filled that with creme pat and fresh fruit – yummy!

Egg-free Tuiles (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

egg-free tuiles

 

Makes plenty!

1/2 cup dairy-free spread or margarine

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 tbsp aquafaba

1 1/2 tsps vanilla essence

Pinch of salt

3/4 cup plain flour

  1. First cut a template out of cardboard, you want two circles with a diameter of 10-20cm. Then either line a cookie sheet with parchment and lightly grease, or use a non-stick baking mat. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade or 375 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Whisk together the spread and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Whip in the aquafaba and vanilla. (If the mixture starts to split quickly add 1tbsp of flour). Whisk in the rest of the flour and the salt until you have a smooth, velvety dough.
  4. Spread a thin layer of dough inside each template, being as even and careful as possible. Remove the template.tuile template
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until starting to turn a light goldenIMG_6643
  6. Remove from the oven and wait a few seconds, then start to manoeuvre a palette knife under the tuile. As soon as it it removed from the baking sheet, mould into preferred shape. It will cool and hold the shape within seconds.
  7. Store in a sealed container until ready to use.

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To make a classic tuile:

Once removed from the baking sheet immediately lie the cookie over a rolling pin and it should form the correct curved tile look

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To make a basket:

Once removed from the baking sheet, press around the base of a glass to form a basket

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To make a straw:

Once the palette knife has made sure the tuile is no longer attached to the baking sheet, gently roll around the handle of a wooden spoon.

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Profiteroles

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Profiteroles – those cream filled, chocolate topped choux buns – are so tempting and the ideal wow pudding for any special celebration. I’m thinking, these will be perfect¬†for Valentine’s Day. The recipe works particularly well with my egg-free creme patissiere¬†as the filling and chocolate sauce topping both soften the pastry making those vegan choux¬†buns taste even more authentic. Proud of these as I’ve not found other vegan profiteroles online and they really have come out a treat.

So, this is mainly¬†an assembly of other recipes…

You will need to make:

– Make a hole in each bun and using a piping bag fill with the creme pat
– Place them decoratively into a tower on a plate
– Then make the chocolate sauce and drizzle over the buns

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Chocolate Sauce (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, can be soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

  • 50g dairy-free dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free cream
  • 1 tsp honey or syrup

– Melt together until smooth and luscious. Drizzle over the choux buns.

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