Robin Hood was another of the films that I struggled to come up with a dessert idea for. Quite often when I'm struggling for ideas I fall back on the location that the film is set - it's often a fail safe method!
I wasn't able to find any Sherwood Forest cake, but I did come across the next best thing - Nottingham Pudding. I'd never heard of Nottingham Pudding, but on doing some research I found out that the pudding dates back to medieval times, when it was originally served as a side dish to savory main courses. Since then the dish has evolved and became more commonly served as a dessert.
I had toyed with the idea of making some target practice cupcakes, with little cocktail-stick arrows pointing out of them, however, the Nottingham Pudding had started to grow on me, and made the cupcakes seem a bit of a boring option in comparison!
I experimented and played around with the recipes I found. Most of the recipes I found suggested using one apple per person, stuffing the apple with the spiced butter, and covering with the batter before baking. However, I decided against using whole apples and opted to slice mine instead. There were a few reasons for this - first of all that I didn't know how many people would be coming so I wasn't sure how many apples I'd need; secondly because I thought a whole bramley apple (which are rather on the large side) might be a bit much for one person; thirdly because there are normally between 5-8 of us, and I don't have a baking dish big enough to fit that many apples; and finally because I was dubious about whether the 30 minutes needed to cook the batter would be enough to bake the apples thoroughly and make them soft.
So instead I decided to slice the apples and soften them in the spiced butter before adding the batter and baking. I think it worked out fairly well, we ended up with a pudding that was soft apple and caramel on the bottom, and crispy pudding on top, and everyone seemed to enjoy it - especially with lashings of custard!
However... on the day of baking I had a horrible feeling that this would all go very wrong - a medieval recipe that I've never tried before but am adapting anyway... and I was worried we'd end up dessert-less. Well, when I was sick my Mum came to visit and we watched Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals. Jamie made some jam tarts which reminded us of my Mum's favourite cakes that we always used to bake together when I was little, a kind of jam and sponge tart that my mum called Maids of Honour. Anyways, feeling a little nostalgic, and uncertain about the Nottingham Pudding, I decided to honour Maid Marian by making some delectable Maids of Honour tarts as a back up plan. (Plus I don't like apple... so this way I get to share some of the baked treats!)
Below are the recipes for my version of a Nottingham Pudding, based on recipes found here, here and here. For the Maids of Honour I used my mum's old recipe, but decided to try it with Jamie Oliver's idea of layering the jam and sponge, as described here.
Prep time: 45 mins Cook time: 45 mins Serves: 8-10
75g plain flour
1 medium egg
3 large bramley/cooking apples (mine came to 838g)
75g butter (plus a pinch of salt if you are using unsalted butter)
50g dark brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
2 tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 7, and grease and line a baking tin
- Prepare the batter mixture. Sift the flour into a bowl and create a well in the centre. Add the egg, milk water and salt to the flour and beat until smooth (this takes about 2 minutes with an electric beater, or about 5-7 minutes by hand.) Put the batter in the fridge to rest whilst you prepare the apples.
- Peel, core and slice the apples and place these into a bowl. Pour the lemon juice over the apples.
- In a large pan over a low heat, gently melt the butter. Add the sugar, salt, cinnamon and spices and stir until syrupy. Add the sliced apples and lemon juice to the pan and stir well, ensuring all of the apples are coated in the syrup. Cover the pan and leave to cook over a low heat for 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until the apples start to soften.
- Take the batter from the fridge and beat quickly with a fork until smooth again (it may have separated slightly in the fridge, this is normal)
- Place the softened apples and the syrup into the baking tin, and cover evenly with the batter. Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins, until golden brown and crispy around the edges.
1 medium egg
100g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
100g mixed-fruit jam (raspberry also tastes great!)
- Cut the butter into cubes and place in a large bowl with the plain flour and the pinch of salt. Rub the flour, butter and salt together between your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Using a cutlery knife, stir in the water a little at a time, using just enough to make the mixture form a dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 10 minutes, whilst you prepare the fillings.
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 and grease a bun tray. (Make sure to grease the tray really well so you can remove the tarts easily!)
- In a large bowl, mix together the margarine and caster sugar until smooth and creamy, then beat in the egg. Add the almond to the mixture and sift in the flour. beat well until all of the ingredients have combine to a thick, stiff batter.
- Place the jam into a small bowl and beat for about a minute to soften it. put the jam and sponge mixture to one side.
- Take the pastry dough from the fridge and generously dust your work surface with flour. Roll out the pastry and cut 12 circles from the dough. Gently place these circles into the bun tray, pressing them lightly into shape.
- Spoon 1/2 tsp of jam into each pastry case, followed by 1/2 tsp of sponge mixture, and another 1/2 tsp jam. Finish by topping the last layer of jam with another 1tsp of sponge mixture on each tart. (tip - try not to let the jam or sponge mixture flow over the sides of the pastry case!)
- Bake the tarts in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown on top. Leave to cool in the tray for 5 minutes, and then carefully remove each tart using a tablespoon. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
- The tarts taste great warm or cold - which means you should eat one straight from the oven and save one for later!! ^_^ (Tip - if you're going to eat the tarts warm, give the jam around 5-10 minutes to cool first, or you may burn your mouth!)
Next week we'll be watching The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and filling our rumbly tumblies with a delicious honey cake.