Friday Treats - tarts and bruschetta

So this week we are going savoury for our afternoon treats with some delicious tarts and bruschetta from Grow Harvest Cook, by Meredith Kirton and Mandy Sinclair. These simple but flavoursome recipes are perfect for an afternoon snack, and fresh from the oven they make a comforting and warming treat to share with friends. You won’t be having just one of these bite-sized goodies…

Fig and Blue Cheese Tarts


2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, lightly beaten

100 g (3½ oz) soft blue cheese, at room temperature

6 small figs, halved lengthways

thyme sprigs to serve

Makes 12

Preheat oven to 220°C (430°F) or 200°C (400°F) for a fan-forced oven. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Cut six 7.5 cm (3 in) rounds from each sheet of pastry. Place on the prepared tray. Score each round 1 cm (ó in) from the edge. Prick the centre with a fork. Brush with the egg and bake for 10 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.

Remove from the oven and press the centre of each pastry round down with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Spoon a little blue cheese into the centre of each tart shell. Top with a fig half, cut side up, and a little more cheese. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve topped with a sprig of thyme.


Mushroom and Feta Bruschetta


4 field mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil

25 g (1 oz) feta

salt and pepper to taste

Basil oil

50 g (1¾ oz/1 cup) firmly packed basil leaves

¼ cup vegetable oil

4 slices Italian white bread, lightly toasted

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) or 160°C (320°F) for a fan-forced oven. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Lay the mushrooms on the tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake for 5 minutes. Crumble over the feta and season well. Bake for another 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender.

Meanwhile, make the basil oil. Place the basil and vegetable oil in a small food processor. Process until smooth.

Spread the basil oil over each bread slice. Top with a mushroom and serve with extra basil oil for drizzling.


You could use Swiss brown or button mushrooms in this recipe. Leave whole or chop and cook as per above.

Halloween Treats

We’re getting in early on our Friday treats (our weekly gorge-fest here at the HG office) to celebrate Halloween with some spooky sugary goodness from April Carter’s trEATs. April’s Gingerbread Bats and Spiced Pumpkin Cakes are the perfect sweet treats for today, whether that be with an afternoon cup of tea or to hand our to trick and treaters this evening – get into the Halloween spirit with these seasonal goodies.


Gingerbread Bats

Makes 30 bats


100 g (3 ½ oz) unsalted butter

75 g (2 ½ oz) treacle

75 g (2 ½ oz) golden syrup

75 g (2 ½ oz/2/5 cup) dark brown soft sugar

450 g (1 lb/3 3/5 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of ground nutmeg

pinch of ground black pepper

1 large (US – extra large) egg yolk

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger


250 g (9 oz) Instant Royal Icing sugar

2–3 tablespoons water

a few drops of black food colouring

To make the gingerbread, heat the butter, treacle, golden syrup and sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted and all of the ingredients are well combined. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Into a clean bowl sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper, and stir to combine. Once the butter mixture has cooled, add the egg yolk and fresh ginger to it, mixing well. Then, fold in the flour mixture to form a dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead briefly until smooth. Split into two discs and wrap each one with clingfilm. Chill them in the fridge for at least 2 hours to allow the dough to rest.

Once your dough is fully chilled, preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F/gas mark 3) and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Put one disc in the freezer while you roll out the dough of the other disc to 4–5 mm (¼ in) thick on a floured surface. Cut out bat shapes using a cookie cutter, or make your own cardboard template and use a sharp knife to cut around it. Transfer your bats to the baking trays and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes. Bake in the oven for 8–10 minutes, or until the edges of the shapes are firm. Fully cool on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Using a food processor with the whisk attachment, whisk the Instant Royal Icing sugar with the water for 5 minutes to create a smooth paste that is thick enough to pipe with. Place a small amount of the white icing in a bowl for the bat eyes. Cover and set aside.

Add the black food colouring to the remaining icing and mix well in the with a spatula. Transfer the black icing to a piping bag and snip a small amount off the end. Pipe a black outline on all of the bat shapes. Reserve a small amount of the remaining black icing in the bag for the bat eyes.

Thin out the remaining black icing with some more water to give it a runnier consistency, then, with a teaspoon, use it to fill in the bat outlines.

Allow the icing on your gingerbread bats to set for at least 2 hours, then ice the bat eyes using the remaining white and black icing. Store in a tin or an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Spiced Pumpkin Cakes

Makes 24


60 g (2 oz) unsalted butter

75 g (2 ½ oz/2/5 cup) light brown soft sugar

1 large (US – extra large) egg

150 g (5 oz) pumpkin purée

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

150 g (5 oz/1 1/5 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½  teaspoon ground ginger

pinch of ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt


60 g (2 oz) full-fat cream cheese, chilled

120 g (4 oz/1 cup) golden icing (confectioner’s) sugar

pumpkin seeds to decorate

Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F/gas mark 3). Line a 24-hole mini muffin tin with squares of baking paper or mini cupcake cases.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, then allow to cool. Using a food processor with the beater attachment, beat the butter and sugar until combined. Add the egg, pumpkin purée and vanilla extract and mix well.

Into a clean bowl sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt, and stir to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in the food processor, and mix until the ingredients are well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that all of the ingredients are well incorporated.

Divide the mixture between the cake cases until each case is two-thirds full. Bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean. Set the cakes aside to cool in the pan for 2 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the cream-cheese frosting, use a food processor with the beater attachment to mix the icing sugar and cream cheese until it forms a smooth mixture. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag with the end cut off, and pipe small amounts of frosting onto the cooled cakes. Finally, decorate with the pumpkin seeds. Though best eaten fresh, you can store the cakes in a tin or an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature.

Friday Treats the French Way

So the weather is turning and the nights are getting darker, which can only mean one thing - nights in are back in fashion. Spend a rainy day this weekend baking an authentic French dessert and voila! - you have an excuse for a dinner party. This delicious tart is for impressing guests who love a traditional French dessert that tastes as good as it looks. Bon appetit!

Traditional Tarte aux Pommes


250 g (8 3/4 oz) ready-made shortcrust pastry (or make your own)


100 g (3 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

50 g (1 3/4 oz) caster (superfine) sugar

100 g (3 1/2 oz) ground almonds

2 large eggs


4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, halved and thinly sliced

50 g (1 3/4 oz) melted butter

1/2 egg, beaten


4 tablespoons apricot jam

2 tablespoons water

Lightly grease a 23 cm (9 inch) fluted, removable-base tart tin. Remove the ready-made pastry from the fridge and stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a 3 mm (1/10 inch) thickness and very carefully fit it to the tin, pressing down lightly. Make sure it takes the shape of the mould and covers the bottom of the tin entirely. When complete, prick the pastry base all over with a fork then put back in the fridge for at least 2 hours. This stops it from shrinking when baking.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Line the pastry base with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or uncooked beans or rice, and blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven, leave to cool, then refrigerate.

For the frangipane filling, combine the butter and sugar until creamy, then fold in the ground almonds. Add the eggs and combine well. Spoon the frangipane filling into the tart case, being sure to smooth it evenly with a palette knife.

Starting from the outside, arrange the apple slices in a spiral pattern, overlapping one another until the entire surface is covered.

Bake for 25–30 minutes in a moderate oven, preheated to 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3. After 5 minutes, brush with the melted butter. Bake until the filling begins to brown, then 5 minutes before the end of the baking time, remove and brush the beaten egg over the top of the tart. Return to the oven for the remaining 5 minutes, until the apple edges start to caramelise slightly. 

To make the glaze, heat the apricot jam with the water in a small pan, and sieve into a bowl. Remove the tart from the oven and, while still warm, use a pastry brush to generously cover the apples with the warm apricot glaze. Serve either hot or cold with creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.

Recipe taken from Sweet Paris (Mini Edition) by Michael Paul.

100 Best Cakes and Desserts
by Gabriel Gate
Published September 2012 

Rhubarb & Rose, author of Top of the Cake Pops, made these One Direction cake pops!


Feeling hungry? You soon will be after indulging in this delicious new book Sweet Paris by New Zealander, now London-based photographer, Michael Paul. Learning to waltz as a young teenager at his dance class to the whimsical strains of Cole Porter’s ‘I Love Paris’; this song became the soundtrack to Michael’s future love affairs, not only with his dance partners, but also with the notion of Paris. Later in life, he visited Paris for the first time and fell in love with the reality and was soon lured by the legendary tea salons, patisseries and boulangeries offering a wealth of sweet delights. In Sweet Paris, Michael describes the stories behind these mouth-watering creations, how they are made and his suggestions for where to find the best in Paris. He also includes a variety of recipes for both classic and modern indulgences such as mocha macarons, chocolate éclairs, madeleines and crème brulée. This book is a feast for both the eyes and the palate. Sweet Paris is published by Hardie Grant, £20, and available at all good bookstores and online here.

Sweet Paris
by Michael Paul

Published April 2012 in the UK 

Margaret Fulton Baking
by Margaret Fulton

Published April 2012 in the UK 

50 delectable treats

Illustrated by Daniella Germain

Published April 2012 in the UK


How to make Christmas cake pops

April Carter, the lovely owner of the blog Rhubarb and Rose was kind enough to let MyDaily film her make her delicious cake pops for a Christmas video.