spiced plum tarte tatin with shiraz reduction

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

It’s not often I make something, eat it, and then make it again the next day. This tarte tatin will do that to you! It is an utter delight. The shiraz reduction was like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I wasn’t expecting it to blow my mind. Of course I thought it would be yum and a fun way to use some shiraz in the recipe but I had no idea it would knock my socks off completely. The husband and I were eventually spoon fighting post shoot to see who could get the last drop.

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

FAT Bastard Wines asked me to create a dessert that would pair well with their shiraz for their upcoming 21st birthday. The shiraz has a pure fruit character and gives off hints of red fruit, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. This spiced plum tarte tatin is a match made in heaven for the shiraz as I used all the spices to toss the plums and get their juices flowing as well as in the sauce. I also added some orange zest to liven things up in the reduction and hey presto you’ve got a concentrated liquid gold version of the best sangria you’ve ever tasted.

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Two little tips… Remember puff pastry must stay very cold when you’re working with it. So cut the ring of pastry out and pop it straight back into the fridge. When it’s time to bake place it quickly onto the plums and into the oven. This will ensure a good puffy crust. Do not start drinking vino and get distracted, your pastry will suffer. Secondly there’s a butter zone of when you need to flip the tarte tatin once baked. Flip it too soon and all the caramel will be liquid, you’ll probably burn and make quite a mess. Flip it once it’s too cool and it’ll have solidified and you won’t get it out. If that happens fear not- just gently reheat the bottom of the pan on the stovetop. So aim for room temp. Check the caramel is sticky enough but the tarte is loose and wiggles around the pan.

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

One last thing… if plums aren’t in season nectarines will work beautifully for this too. Enough blabbing. Watch the video. Read the recipe and happy cooking!

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin

Ingredients:

7 large ripe plums
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla seeds
1 sheet puff pastry
100g sugar
50g butter

For the shiraz reduction:

300ml FAT Bastard Shiraz
100g sugar
The zest of 1 orange
4 cloves
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks

Vanilla bean ice cream to serve

Method:

Preheat oven to 220˚C.

Choose an oven safe round saucepan / buffet casserole dish.

Measure the diameter and cut out a ring from the sheet of puff pastry that will fit snugly in the dish. Place in the fridge.

Slice plums in half and remove pips.

Place in a large bowl along with the orange juice, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well and set aside.

In your saucepan melt the butter and add the sugar. Stir until they become homogenous, foamy and the sugar begins to caramelize. Switch off the heat and add the plums snugly. Keep the delicious juices from the bowl to add to your sauce later.

Remove the puff pastry from the fridge and cover the plums. Tuck the edges in around the plums.

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through.

While the tarte is in the oven make your sauce.

Add all the sauce ingredients into a medium sized saucepan along with all the spices, vanilla and juices from the plum bowl. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the sauce has reduced by half. Strain out all of the aromatics and pour into a serving vessel to cool.

When the tarte is baked remove from the oven and allow to cool. Don’t let the tarte cool completely or the caramel will set and you won’t be able to flip it and remove it from the pan.

So once the tarte is around room temperature place your dish on top of the pan and flip it.

Serve the tarte with vanilla bean ice cream and a super generous drizzle of the shiraz reduction.

Enjoy!

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Proudly sponsored by FAT Bastard Wines.

 

fluffy vanilla waffles for your valentine

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

Spread the love this Valentine’s Day and make these fluffy vanilla waffles for someone near and dear to you. I don’t buy into Valentine’s Day and all the fluff and fuss of expensive roses and an over priced meal in a restaurant. What I love about this day is the general message of spreading love and happiness. Doing something at home like cooking a special meal for your other half or drawing a handmade card for your mom- that’s what Valentine’s Day is about for me.

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

These vanilla waffles are indeed love at first bite. They have a super crispy crust to them and a fluffy vanilla scented centre. I love them with berries and honey while the husband opts for butter and maple syrup. They are a vehicle for delicious toppings like caramelized cinnamon bananas or plain Jane as they are with a dusting of icing sugar. I had some of the best waffles of my life at a brunch spot in Brooklyn, NY with fried chicken and maple syrup. They were sensational, but that’s a wee bit too much admin for me first thing in the morning! If you don’t have a waffle maker it’s really not a bad little investment. It also makes a mean batch of french toast!

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

Fluffy Vanilla Waffles 

makes 3 large waffles

Ingredients:

  • 170g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 25g sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 340ml milk, warm
  • 75g melted butter

To serve:  fresh berries, honey, icing sugar, whipped cream or ice cream and of course an ice cold bottle of bubbly

Method:

Heat your waffle iron according to manufacturers instructions.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, milk, vanilla and butter.

Whip the egg white until fluffy. Add in the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form.

Whisk together the wet and dry ingredients, and finally fold in the egg whites with a spatula until combined.

Ladle the batter into the waffle iron and cook until golden brown and crisp.

Serve with a dusting of icing sugar, fresh berries, a drizzle of honey and a cold glass of bubbly.

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer: Krone Rosé Cuvée Brut supplied by the lovely folks from Twee Jonge Gezellen.

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream | The Secret Life of Bee

I recently received the most gorgeous bouquet of kumquats from my neighbour with very sexy ankles. I ate one immediately and it burst with flavour! The kumquat is ever so perfectly sweet and tangy. You can eat these delicious little citrus treats peel and all. The peel tends to be even sweeter than the flesh. Their bright colour and zingy flavour made me think of warm weather, the beach and summery things like ice cream. 

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream | The Secret Life of Bee

The kumquat’s tart and tangy flavour profile also got me thinking about the tub of gooseberries in my fridge. They turned out to be a match made in heaven. Both flavours sang together as they bubbled away into a zesty compote. Making a compote and then stirring it into the vanilla base gives this ice cream a wonderful texture and pockets of sweet and sour.

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream | The Secret Life of Bee

As mentioned in the recipe if you don’t have an ice cream machine do not fret! Pour the vanilla mixture into a ziplock bag and freeze. Remove and break into chunks and whizz in a food processor, blender or with a stick blender if that’s all you have! Most of the time you can get around any fancy equipment required in a recipe with a little bit of a MacGyver attitude.

Kumquat and gooseberry ice cream

Ingredients:

  • 300ml milk
  • 300ml cream
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 4 free-range egg yolks

For the compote:

  • 200g kumquats, deseeded, sliced into quarters
  • 200g gooseberries, sliced in half
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100ml water
  • splash of brandy

Method:

Place kumquats, gooseberries, caster sugar, water and brandy in a saucepan. Slightly mash the fruit into the sugar and leave for 30 minutes.

Place saucepan on medium heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally until the fruit is soft and jam like. Around 15 minutes. Scrape into a bowl and place in the fridge to cool completely.

*prep an ice bath

Pour the milk and cream into a medium saucepan. Slice the vanilla pods and scrape in the seeds. Pop in the pods as well and bring to a simmer.

While the milk and cream are heating whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until pale and fluffy.

Just before the milk mixture starts to boil pour about a cupful into the eggs and whisk as you pour to temper the eggs. Pour the rest of the hot mixture in and whisk well.

Return the mixture to the heat and using a spatula cook the mixture gently until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. (85˚C for those with a thermometer.)

Sieve the mixture into the bowl and place in an ice bath. Stir until completely cool to stop the cooking process. Pop in the fridge if necessary.

Transfer the ice cream base into an ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.

*If you do not have an ice cream machine pop the mixture into a ziplock bag and freeze. Once frozen break into chunks and pop in the food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

Scoop ice cream into a bowl once completing either method. Fold cooled compote into the ice cream base to form compote ripples and freeze.

Scoop and serve with fresh gooseberries and kumquats.

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream | The Secret Life of Bee

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream | The Secret Life of Bee

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream | The Secret Life of Bee

 

vanilla choux buns

Vanilla Choux Puffs | The Secret Life of Bee

These little airy puffs of choux pastry filled with vanilla crème pâtissière say I love you with every little bite. Pile them up and serve in between you and your Valentine with a bottle of bubbly.

Choux pastry / pâte à choux is really a very easy pastry to master. There are two tricks. ‘Drying’ it out sufficiently in the pan and watching the consistency when you begin adding the eggs. You do not want a very wet dough. It must stand up on it’s own when you swish a finger through it so sometimes that means leaving a little egg behind when you’ve got a shiny, silky smooth pastry.

Vanilla Choux Puffs | The Secret Life of Bee

Vanilla Choux Puffs | The Secret Life of Bee

Once made the pastry is pretty robust. You do not need to pipe it out straight away and also if you pipe some dodgy looking choux you can scrape them back into the bowl and try again! You can also pre pipe them- freeze them and cook from frozen! Easy peasy! They are super light and fluffy and can be filled with anything sweet or savoury!

Vanilla Choux Puffs | The Secret Life of Bee

Vanilla Choux Buns

Ingredients:

Choux

  • 125ml full-cream milk
  • 125ml water
  • 110g butter
  • 5g sugar
  • 5g salt
  • 140g flour
  • 250g eggs (approx 5 large eggs)

Crème Pâtissière

  • 500ml full-cream milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 60g egg yolk (approx 3 yolks)
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 40g Maïzena

Method:

Preheat oven to 220˚C and line two baking sheets with silicon mats or baking paper.

Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil. Take the pot off the stove and add the flour. Return to the heat and mix the dough thoroughly with a spatula, drying it out. 3-5 minutes.

Place dough into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix the dough on its own for a few seconds to release some steam and cool down.

Whisk the eggs and pour them into a little jug.

While the mixer is turning, slowly add the eggs a little at a time. Mix the dough thoroughly between each addition. It will split and then come back together again. You do not want the dough to be too wet so you may not need to add all of the egg. I often leave a tablespoon or two behind.

Fit a piping bag with a 10mm piping tip and then fill with the choux pastry.

Pipe mini ping pong sized balls onto the baking sheets and place in the oven. Switch the oven off for 10 minutes. Turn back on at 160˚C and cook for a further 20 minutes. Remove choux and leave to cool.

Vanilla Choux Puffs | The Secret Life of Bee

For the crème pâtissière- bring the milk and vanilla to the boil.

Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until pale and creamy. Add the Maïzena and mix.

Once the milk reaches a boil- pour a splash of milk onto the yolk mix and whisk. Keep adding milk a little at a time. Then pour the mixture back into the pot and cook the pastry cream while whisking until it thickens and begins bubbling- about 3 minutes.

Cover with cling film on contact and place in the fridge to cool.

Jab little holes into the bottom of your choux with a piping tip and then fill with the pastry cream.

Dip the choux in your choice of topping- chocolate ganache, white chocolate or simple cupcake style icing.

Vanilla Choux Puffs | The Secret Life of Bee

 

 

vanilla sponge cake with buttercream icing

Vanilla Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting | The Secret Life of Bee

So over one glass four glasses of wine with a friend recently, we got chatting about baking. Specifically baking for the every day home cook. Sometimes it’s great having an amazing, seriously involved recipe that takes you 36 hours to execute and the result is drool-worthy. But other times you just need something convenient and yum without creating Hiroshima in the kitchen.

Vanilla Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting | The Secret Life of Bee

I have never used a cake baking kit before but was so pleasantly surprised at the result. The NOMU Vanilla Cake Kit created a delicious vanilla sponge cake that baked evenly and perfectly. I also liked that the kit required eggs, butter and milk. So you’re using all the good stuff that makes a cake super yummy, except they just make your life easier by measuring all the dry ingredients for you in a perfect ratio.

Vanilla Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting | The Secret Life of Bee

This was a very special cake for a very special bride to be and I could not have been happier that it turned out beautifully and was totally delicious. So find an excuse to bake this cake ASAP and you won’t be disappointed!

Vanilla Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting

*This recipe makes one cake. I used 2 cake kits, doubled the ingredients and made extra icing for the featured cake.

Ingredients:

For the icing:

*The nifty NOMU Baking Kit comes with three clearly marked sachets. One cake mix, one caster sugar and one icing mix sachet.

Vanilla Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting | The Secret Life of Bee

Method:

Preheat oven to 170˚C. Grease 2 x 20cm cake tins.

Using a hand held or stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on high until very pale and fluffy.

Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and milk. Mix.

Finally sift in the cake mix sachet and gently combine until just mixed together.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tins and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely before icing.

Vanilla Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting | The Secret Life of Bee

For the icing: 

Beat the butter on high speed until pale and creamy.

Sift in the icing mix and beat until well combined.

Add two squirts of vanilla paste for extra flavour and the beautiful look of little vanilla seeds throughout the icing.

Once the cake is completely cool begin assembly. Place a dollop of icing onto a cake board or cake stand to ‘cement’ down your cake. Place the first layer down and top with a very generous amount of icing and spread evenly to the edges. Place the second layer on top and ice the entire cake with a very thin layer of icing. This is called the crumb coat which glues down stray crumbs so you have a neater and cleaner finish. Place the cake in the fridge for the icing to set.

Remove the cake once the icing has set and proceed with the final layer of icing. For smooth edges use an off-set spatula or palette knife and dip in warm water. Decorate with flowers, glitter, gold dust, mini meringues and lots of LOVE!

Vanilla Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting | The Secret Life of Bee

Vanilla Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting | The Secret Life of Bee

Vanilla Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting | The Secret Life of Bee