Monday, 30 March 2015

Training for a pilgrimage

Well it's not long now before myself and six friends head off for St Jean Pied de Port to start the Camino de Santiago - a very long walk across the top of Spain.  We are only going to do a quarter of it - with the intention of returning each year for the next three years to complete the 791km pilgrimage!
Needless to say we've had a strict training programme in place (?!) - stomping over the Chilterns most weekends, trying to find the steepest hill we could, to acclimatise ourselves to the accrued ascent of 990 metres on day one!
And obviously to compensate (and reward) us for each training session, there has to be cake (to be honest, I'm not sure anybody would have turned up for the training had cake not been made available!).
On one of our walks we were lucky enough to find a church that not only provided tea and coffee, with a kettle and fridge with milk, there was also cake in the fridge - what a welcome treat that was.  If you are walking the Ridgeway, take time to wander off the trail to Nuffield church for a bit of sustenance.
One of the group can't tolerate dairy, so each week I had the fun task of coming up with a different delicious dairy-free cake - another challenge I really relish!  Baking without dairy is actually pretty straight forward, and most of you who follow me regularly will know that I am a great lover of coconut oil (and the brand I think is the best for flavour and quality is Coconoil), so this is used for fat instead of butter and works really well.
Up until now though I'd never attempted pastry, so gave myself a new challenge!  And I'm pleased to say the result is pretty tasty.

Fig Tarts

Makes approx 10-12

For the pastry –
60 g wholemeal plain flour
100 g plain flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
60 g Coconoil
6-7 tbsp iced water

For the filling –
225 g dried figs, chopped
2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
pinch nutmeg

·        -To make the pastry, mix the flours and sugar in a bowl and then place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
·        -Melt the Coconoil in a microwave and leave to cool.
·        -Slowly spoon the coconoil into the flours, rubbing it into the flour as you would if you were using butter.  Return the bowl to the freezer for 15 minutes.
·        -Meanwhile, cook the figs in a pan over a medium heat with 300 ml water, until most of the water has been absorbed.  Stir in the sugar and nutmeg until the sugar has dissolved then remove from the heat.  Place in a food processor and blend until nearly smooth.  Leave to cool.
·        -Remove the pastry mix from the freezer and break up any large lumps with your fingers.
·        -Spoon in the water, using a knife to mix it in, then use your hands to finally bring the dough together.  Roll into a ball then wrap in cling film and leave to stand for 20 minutes to rest.
·        -Roll out on a floored work surface, then use a pastry cutter to cut 10-12 circles and place these in a cake tin.  Spoon the fig mixture into the pastry cases.
     Bake for 20-22 minutes at 180°C (450°F) Gas mark 4.

      Eat warm or cold with a dollop of creme fraiche (if you can tolerate dairy!).

       Happy Eating 

J     Joy xx