Whether you're after a delicious Fruit Tart and Pie, or some irresistible Cakes, Bakes and Treats, Julie Jones' Soulful Baker has it covered, with a wide array of delicious treats, perfect for any occasion. We have two scrumptious recipes for you to try...
Fruit crumbles make a regular appearance in our house during the colder months, bringing comfort as the nights draw in. Apple and blackberry is a family favourite, made all the better when wild berries are used – picked from nearby hedgerows. The fruits used may change throughout these colder months, both pears and plums making a good alternative, and as winter gives way to spring, there is always the rhubarb season to look forward to. Pre-cooking the crumble topping isn’t the traditional method but it does help to prevent any sogginess, and for that reason I much prefer doing it this way.
For the crumble topping
50g (1¾oz/⅓ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
50g (1¾oz/⅓ cup) wholemeal flour
25g (1oz/1½ tbsp) demerara sugar
50g (1¾ oz/¼ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
½ tsp ground ginger (optional)
100g (3½oz/½ cup/1 stick) unsalted butter
25g (1oz/4tbsp) rolled oats fruit filling
750g (1lb 10oz) apples
50g (1¾oz/3½ tbsp) unsalted butter
50g (1¾oz/¼ cup) soft light brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
150g (5½oz) blackberries
2 figs (optional)
2 plums (optional)
For the decorative finish (optional)
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas 6.
2 To make the crumble topping, tip the flours, sugars and ginger, if using, into a large bowl and mix together. Dice the butter and add to the dry ingredients, rubbing it into the flour with a delicate touch. Add the oats and give everything a mix together. Lay the crumble mixture out on a baking sheet and bake for 15–20 minutes, giving the crumble a mix halfway through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
3 Prepare the apples by peeling, coring and cutting them into 3cm (1¼ inch) chunks and place them in a medium pan. Add 30g (1¼oz) of the butter, the sugar and cinnamon, if using, along with 50ml (2fl oz/scant ¼ cup) of water. Set over a low heat and gently simmer for 10 minutes or until the apples soften.
4 In the meantime, wash and prepare the other fruit (if using). Remove the woody stalk from the figs and the stones from the plums, then cut each in to 8 pieces, adding them to the pan along with the whole blackberries. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
5 Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fruit to a suitable baking dish, leaving behind the juices. Add the remaining butter to the pan and turn the heat up a little, allowing the butter to melt. Simmer for 2–3 minutes, until the juices have reduced and thickened, then add to the fruit and stir everything together. Top generously with the blind baked crumble and bake for 20 minutes, or until the crumble is golden and crisp and pockets of sticky fruit juice start to bubble at the edges. Serve with a generous glug of homemade custard – comfort bathed in comfort.
Variation: If you wanted to serve the crumble with the addition of the decorative fruit as in the image, only half cover the coooked fruit with the crumble mix. In the meantime you could prepare the decorative fruits while the crumble-topped fruit is in the oven:
When the crumble has come out of the oven, decorate the exposed baked fruit with the decorative fresh fruit and serve.
Chocolate Cheesecake with a Chocolate Puddle
Very rich, very indulgent, very chocolatey, totally sinful but oh so wonderful. This cheesecake is a real dinner party winner and a definite crowd pleaser, especially for the chocolate lovers in your life.
You will need
Use a 21cm (8½ inch) round, 8cm (3¼ inch) deep loose-bottomed cake tin (pan)
For the base
20g (¾oz) hazelnuts, optional
45g (1½oz/3½ tbsp) unsalted butter
150g (5½oz) bourbon biscuits
15g (½oz/1 tbsp) caster (superfine) sugar
Pinch of salt
For the filling
150g (5½oz) dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
600g (21oz) full-fat cream cheese at room temperature
100g (3½oz/½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
30g (1¼oz/¼ cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
20g (¾oz/scant ¼ cup) cocoa powder, plus extra to decorate
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
300ml (10fl oz/1¼ cups) double (heavy) cream
For the chocolate puddle
75g (2¾oz) milk chocolate
20g (¾oz/1½ tbsp) butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
80ml (3fl oz/⅓ cup) double (heavy) cream
Chocolate shavings (optional)
1 Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C/350°F/gas 4. Grease and line the tin (pan) with non-stick baking paper.
2 First, make the base. Toast the hazelnuts, if using, in a dry frying pan (skillet), tossing occasionally so they don’t burn. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Melt the butter in a small pan and set both to one side.
3 Separate the biscuits, remove the cream centre and discard. Place the biscuits, nuts, sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and blitz until everything resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the melted butter, pulsing until it has been mixed through. Add the biscuit mix to the tin (pan) and press it down, covering the base in an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes, then leave to cool. Turn the oven down to 120°C fan/140°C/275°F/gas 1.
4 Now, make the filling. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate, remove from the heat and set aside. Place the cream cheese, sugar, cornflour (cornstarch), cocoa, vanilla and cream in the bowl of a free-standing mixer and beat together using the paddle attachment. Add one egg at a time, continuing to beat until the mixture is smooth. Add the melted chocolate and give one final mix. Pour the thick chocolatey mixture on top of the pre-cooked biscuit base and bake for about 1½ hours or until just set. A slight wobble towards the centre should still be evident.
5 Switch off the oven, open the door slightly and leave the cheesecake inside to cool for an hour. This prevents the cheesecake from cracking (don’t get disheartened if it does crack, the chocolate ganache will hide it anyway). Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely at room temperature before taking it out of the tin – run a palette knife around the edge to make this easier. Place in the fridge, loosely covered for at least 6 hours to firm up.
6 To make the chocolate puddle, gently melt the chocolate, butter and syrup together in a heatproof bowl set above a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth and combined, then add half the cream, stirring to incorporate completely before adding the rest. Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and dust around the edges with cocoa. Pour the ganache into the centre of the cheesecake to create a chocolate puddle. Sprinkle on some chocolate shavings if you wish. The cheesecake will benefit from reaching room temperature before slicing and serving. Serve with pouring cream or crème fraîche.
Recipes extracted from Soulful Baker by Julie Jones, published by Jacqui Small, out now.