Sunday, 26 January 2014

handkerchief quilt progress

i haven't managed to get much time nor have i had the head space to work on my handkerchief quilt lately but even so i've managed to applique ten handkerchiefs to their backing fabric..just fifteen to go before i start putting the individual pieces together..a day and a half tidying my studio means i can get to my projects much easier now and the order helps encourage creativity..

one of three handkerchiefs sent to me by the lovely jane at shady baker

the handkerchief my mother had at her debut

do you find messy spaces get in the way of your creativity?

apricot petite fours with lard pastry

i've noticed quite a few recipes lately where lard rather than butter is used in pastry making so i decided to make some to see what it's like..i didn't want to use commercially produced lard so i enquired at my local butcher and he very kindly gave me a jar of lard that he'd rendered himself to use in prosciutto making..before making the lard pastry i looked into lard's qualities and i found that relative to butter it is nutritionally superior..even though i learned this i was still a bit tentative and squeamish about it but despite feeling this way i used it to make both a savoury and a sweet recipe..even though i was very skeptical about using it in a sweet recipe, interestingly, this is where i felt it really shone..the pastry was lighter, flakier and crisper than when made with butter and it stayed that way for longer..

apricot petite fours with lard pastry
tea with hazel

ingredients pastry tarts

150 gms plain flour
75 gms lard
pinch salt
2 teaspoons (tsp) lemon juice
ice cold filtered water
apricot jam

ingredients kirsch creme patisserie

300 mls organic unhomogenised milk
3 egg yolks
50 gms sugar
20 gms plain flour
20 gms cornflour
1/2 vanilla pod
3 tsp kirsch


glace apricots (see here for recipe)
apricot glaze (made by reducing the sugar syrup used to glace the apricots)

method pastry tarts

~ place flour, lard and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs
~ add lemon juice and, using the pulse function, add water incrementally until the dough just begins to cohere
~ remove mixture to a lightly dusted bench and knead gently until it forms a ball
~ wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour prior to use
~ roll pastry to approximately 2mm thick and cut 12 circles with a 7 cm cutter
~ press pastry gently into paper case lined muffin tray with medium size holes (5cm base)
~ prick bases of pastry cases a few times and place foil bean parcels* in each
~ blind bake at 210 deg c for 12 minutes, remove from oven and take out bean parcels, and then place a small teaspoon of apricot jam in each pastry case
~ reduce the oven temperature to 200 deg c bake for a further 10 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned and the jam has melted
~ remove from oven and leave to cool for about 30 minutes before removing tarts from paper cases

method kirsch creme patisserie

~ split the vanilla bean and place it in a saucepan with the milk and heat until almost boiling and then remove from heat
~ remove vanilla bean and scrape seeds into hot milk
~ mix sugar with egg yolks, sift in flours, and mix well
~ add a little of the hot milk to egg mix and mix well
~ continue adding milk slowly to egg mix while mixing until incorporated
~ sieve mixture back into saucepan and cook until thick
~ remove from heat and mix in kirsch
~ transfer creme patisserie to a bowl, cover surface with cling film, and leave to cool

petite four assembly

~ place a large teaspoon of kirsch creme patisserie in each apricot tart case
~ top with a glace apricot cut side down and pour a teaspoon of apricot glaze on top
~ place each petite four in a fresh paper case

note: * to blind bake the tarts place 2 teaspoons of beans in 8 cm x 8 cm squares of foil and twist the top to create little parcels

would you consider using lard in pastry or biscuit making instead of butter?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

glace apricot recipe

it's becoming a lot harder to buy good quality locally grown glace fruit these days and by good quality i mean fruit that's glaced with sugar only and not with the addition of gelatine..i can only think of one retailer in melbourne, and it's been a while since i've been there, who stocks a wide range of it in bulk, although it might be available at the larger markets but i don't get to any of them any more..a long time ago i used to treat myself at christmas and buy a small plastic container of ditter's glaced fruit but i haven't seen their fruit in years..mind you, it's pretty time consuming to make as i've discovered, so maybe that's why it's not available as much anymore..anyway, i only ever really liked the apricot, fig and orange pieces from the ditter's selection and so now that i know how, i can make my own.. 


glace apricot recipe
adapted from here


3.5 kgs firm organic apricots 
2 tablespoons ascorbic acid powder
1 litre filtered water
filtered water


day 1

~ in a large non reactive bowl mix ascorbic acid with 1 litre of water 
~ cut apricots in half, remove stones and any blemishes, and place the cut halves in the acidulated water (to prevent oxidation)
~ steam the apricot halves (in one layer) in batches for 3 minutes only and place the halves in a large non reactive bowl
~ make a sugar syrup using 720 gms sugar and 1 litre water and pour the hot syrup over the apricots
~ once cooled place a piece of baking paper over the surface of the apricots (to prevent oxidation) and cover the bowl with a clean tea towel

days 2 to 5 (repeat each day for 4 days)

~ pour the syrup covering the apricots into a saucepan, add 240 gms sugar, stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved, bring to the boil and then pour over apricots
~ cover with baking paper and tea towel 

day 6 and day 8 (repeat twice)

~ pour the syrup covering the apricots into a saucepan, add 360 gms sugar, stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved, bring to the boil, add apricots to the syrup and simmer for 4-5 minutes
~ pour syrup and apricots into a large bowl and cover with baking paper and towel
~ leave for 2 days

day 9

~ drain syrup from the apricots and place them in a single layer on a cake rack over a piece of baking paper, and leave to drain
~ place the apricots on dehydrator trays (or on cake cooling racks in the oven) and dry at 100 deg c for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the syrup has a glossy set
~ once cooled store in layers between baking paper in a cardboard box or store in glass with the lid loose to avoid mould..

serving suggestions

~ glace apricots can be drizzled with a little of the syrup and served as a greek 'spoon sweet'  with a greek coffee and a glass of cold water
~ serve a little syrup and glace apricot with cake, creme caramel, ice cream or yoghurt
~ dip in chocolate
~ use as decoration on cakes and cupcakes

have you ever made or bought glace fruit and, if so, how do you like use it?

post publication note

i've done some further reading about the glace fruit industry in australia and discovered, sadly, that simarloo, the largest producer of australian grown glace fruit, closed its business about 3 years ago

this post submitted to punk domestics

Friday, 10 January 2014

organic apricot preserving

on thursday a friend of mine and i drove to harcourt, 121 kms from melbourne, to pick up 5 kgs of organic apricots that i'd ordered from mt alexander's fruit that might seem a long way to go for a few apricots but i just love a country drive especially when it involves buying produce..even when i go with no buying plan i nearly always manage to find something for sale either at a road side stall or at a farm or house..for instance in the past i've bought strawberries, free range eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, apples, honey and flowers just to name a few..the other day i saw horse poo for sale by the side of the road at $0.50/bag but i resisted buying any because i didn't want to risk contaminating the 10 kgs of organic flour i was planning on buying from red beard bakery in trentham on the way home..i usually manage to find something free too..depending on the season it might be apples, chestnuts, banana passionfruit, blackberries or pinecones..

i ended up buying 10 kgs of apricots instead of just the 5 kgs because i couldn't resist and i got carried away..some people are like that with handbags..not me..i don't even own one..i also bought two different varieties..rival and they weren't cheap at $5/kilo for seconds but i didn't even consider the cost..i just felt grateful and happy to be able to buy such beautiful organic fruit straight from the grower..

it was 33 deg c yesterday and just in case i wasn't hot enough in my unairconditioned house, with the rival variety, i made 5 jars of apricot jam and i bottled eight jars of apricots using my fowler's vacola..i took the box of goldrich apricots out of the fridge this morning and stared at them the end i began the process of making three and a half kilos of them into glace apricots and with the remainder i made another 6 jars of jam..i've made plenty of apricot jam before but this time i used stephanie alexander's apricot jam recipe from a cook's companion and the jam is just how i like it with a nice balance of sweet and tart..i'd never bottled apricots before and nor had i ever attempted making glace apricots..i can't tell you how either of them turned out though because i haven't tried the bottled apricots yet, although they look fine, and the glace apricots won't be ready for another 10 days..

organic rival apricots

glace goldrich apricots in process

rival bottled apricots

rival apricot jam

semolina kaiser roll, unsalted myrtleford butter and goldrich apricot jam

have you been doing any preserving recently? if so, what have you been making? and i hope you're having an enjoyable weekend..x