Popina book of baking. Tarts and Florentines

I bought this book a while back. ‘Popina Book of baking’. I have to say it’s been an inspiration for a lot of the tarts I’ve made at home. There are 3 types of pastry that  Idisora Popovic uses for her tart cases

  • Shortcrust using Strong flour
  • Pizza dough using Strong flour
  • Spelt pizza dough using wholemeal spelt flour.

I’ve made tarts using the first 2 pastry recipes and this weekend, in practice for my last Afternoon Tea party for this year, I made

  • Red Wine poached pear, Celeriac, Stilton and Walnut Tartlets
  • Butternut squash and Parmesan Tatlets.

The use of strong flour made rolling the pasty easy. There was none of the crumbling so often found in shortcrust pastry when you use plain flour and just egg yolks. This recipe uses the whole egg with a little water. You still need to place the pastry in the fridge before baking, but the tartlet pastry held the filling just as it should.

I loved the combination of Pears – poached in red wine, Cinnamon, All Spice Cloves and Cardamon, with the Stilton and Walnuts

Next time I’ll pre cook, perhaps oven roast, the butternut squash rather than add it grated raw to the tart filling prior to baking.

Another recipe that I did for next week are Popina’s Florentines. ” nutty fruity nibbles dipped in dark chocolate”

For this I literally looked in my cupboard for ingredients and managed to find everything in the recipe apart from the pecans nuts.

When cooled, I dipped them in the  Silverspoon Easy Melt chocolate that I received in the post a few weeks ago.

With my practice over, I’m now set for next Saturday, where I’ll tweak the recipes a little such as less Onion in the Butternut Squash Tarts and poach the pears in more red wine as I only had half the amount needed.

Unless things change, Prima are coming to do a photo shoot at next Saturday’s Afternoon Tea. All my guests have been notified, I hope they’re not camera shy and I’m getting my daughter to give me a hand with serving the teas. I shall try not to hide behind tea pots etc,


Afternoon Tea, #ChallengeMark, Courgette & Chocolate Cake

No matter how many Courgettes you add to a cake mixture, you still won’t be able to taste them. This I found out when I made 2 x 6 ins cakes the other day. I used my guests at The Secret Tea Room yesterday as guinea pigs. I used 2 medium Courgettes with some cocoa, covered the cake with chocolate Ganache and coated the outside with crushed Nuts. The result was a moist chocolate cake, with no taste of  Courgette. I was hoping for a cake similar to a Carrot cake in appearance, but carrots have that wonderful Orange colour that stands out from the vanilla sponge but Courgettes, unless you leave the skins on, are really colourless. Yet they do add lots of moisture to a cake, so when in season why not add a couple to your cake mixture, no one need know. When I text my daughter to say I’d made a couple of Courgette and Chocolate Cakes, her reply was ‘Are you mad’ no I’m not and in fact many people bake cakes with courgettes in them. If you’ve never tried it, I suggest you give it a go while they are in season.

Combined with yesterdays Afternoon Tea, Mark O’Brien was working his way through August by visiting places suggested by readers of Culture Vulture and twitter. I was asked if there was a place for afternoon Tea, but as I was full, I suggested Mark work front of house, serving the tea as a way of earning some Tea and Cake. He did a grand job, greeting guests, hanging coats up, taking the Tea Orders and generally chatting to guests about what his #ChallengeMark was all about. He also did a great job keeping two pretty young ladies company in my front room who found themselves on their own due to some guests not showing up – an email stuck in their ‘out box’ meant I never got the cancellation. These things happen but I’m sure Mark had a lovely time talking to these young ladies and getting to know further places to travel in August.One of my guests, from Dinner at the Manor, a new Supperclub in Leeds, brought me some Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb and Stem Ginger Jam. This I have to try. Rhubarb and Ginger are some of the best combinations of flavours. Apart from enjoying this on toast for breakfast, I can see  it also being used as a filling for a future sponge cake. I can’t wait to visit their first Supperclub event in October.

Celebrations were also the order of the day as some guests did a BYO.

As is the order of the day, guests get to take cake home and I took my spare Courgette and Chocolate cake up to a friend’s house, to find that she was having guests later that evening so the gift of a cake was, I hope, a nice surprise for them.

My next Afternoon Tea isn’t until Sept 17th and with a few Clandestine Cake Club events in between, plus a few a few ‘close to my chest’ projects, I’m still going to be kept busy.