Wednesday, 04 November 2015

Aga Perfection

Cooking on an Aga has never been easier and who better to show you how than Mary Berry

Banana and Yoghurt Cakes (pictured above)

Makes 2 x 450g loaves
2 ripe bananas (roughly 200g)
250g self-raising flour
100g butter, softened, or baking spread
175g light muscovado sugar
2 eggs
150ml natural yoghurt
50g sultanas (optional)

Line 2 × 450g tins with a wide strip of baking paper, greased all over.

Measure the bananas into a bowl and mash with a fork.

Add all the remaining ingredients and beat well with a wooden spoon or with an electric beater for about 2 minutes until blended and smooth. Divide between the two tins and level the tops.

Bake on the grid shelf on the floor of the Roasting Oven with the cold plain shelf on the second set of runners for about 20-25 minutes until perfect golden brown and well risen.

Slide the now hot cold plain shelf into the centre of the Simmering Oven and sit the tins on top. Bake for a further 20-30 minutes until firm on top and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

Leave to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack.

Bake the banana and yogurt cakes in an oven preheated to 160C fan/140C/gas mark 3 for 40 minutes.

Pistachio and Raspberry Pavlova with Butterscotch Sauce

Serves 6


4 egg whites 
225g caster sugar
1 level tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar
50g pistachio nuts, chopped
300ml double cream, whipped
350g fresh raspberries

50g butter
50g muscovado sugar
150ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Line a large baking sheet with non-stick baking paper and, using a pencil, mark out a 12cm x 30cm rectangle.

Whisk the egg whites on high speed until they are like a cloud and then gradually add the caster sugar a teaspoonful at a time, whisking all the time. When the whites look shiny, thick and stiff, mix the cornflour and vinegar together in a tiny bowl and then pour into the meringue. Add the chopped nuts and stir everything together to combine.

Fit a piping bag with a plain nozzle and fill with the meringue. Twist to seal the top. Pipe along the lines of the rectangle and then along the base to give an even thickness of meringue. Pipe on top of the outer edges to build up the sides, in order to give a basket of meringue.

Slide the meringue onto the grid shelf on the floor of the Roasting Oven with the cold sheet on the second set of runners for about 3-5 minutes until lightly golden. Transfer to the Simmering Oven for 1-1½ hours or until it is easy to lift off the paper.

Allow to cool on top of the Aga for about 30-45 minutes to dry out a little (a Pavlova middle should be soft). Peel away the paper and place on a serving plate. Whisk the cream to soft peaks and spoon into the inside of the Pavlova, scattering the raspberries on top.

To make the butterscotch sauce, measure the butter, sugar, cream and vanilla extract into a small pan and heat on the Boiling Plate. Stir until the butter has melted, and then bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Set aside to cool slightly and then drizzle over the raspberries and Pavlova walls to serve.

Cook meringue in an oven preheated to 150C fan/130C/ gas mark 2 for an hour, switch off the oven and leave the Pavlova in the oven until cold.

Pear Frangipane Tart

Serves 10-12


100g butter, cut into cubes
225g plain flour
25g icing sugar, sieved
1 egg, beaten FILLING
175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
175g ground almonds
40g plain flour
1 tsp almond extract
6-8 fresh ripe Williams pears, peeled, cored and halved

Apricot jam, melted and sieved, for glaze
25g flaked almonds, toasted

If making the pastry by hand, rub the butter into the flour and icing sugar until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the beaten egg and bring together to form a dough. If making in a processor, combine the butter, flour and icing sugar in the bowl then process until the mixture resembles ground almonds. Pour in the beaten egg and pulse the blade until the dough starts to form a ball around the central stem. Form the pastry into a smooth flat cake, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes or until manageable.

Make the filling in the unwashed processor. Cream the butter and sugar together, then gradually add the beaten eggs (do not worry if it looks curdled at this stage). Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the ground almonds, flour and almond extract. Process for a few seconds until well incorporated. Leave this mixture in the fridge until required.

Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured work surface and line a flan tin 28cm in diameter, about 2.5cm deep. If possible, chill for a further 30 minutes.

Spoon the frangipane mixture into the pastry case and level the top using a small palette knife. Arrange the pear halves, cut side down, attractively on the filling. Be sure to leave enough room between them to allow the frangipane mixture to rise.

Lift the tin onto a baking sheet and bake on the floor of the Roasting Oven until pale golden, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer to the centre of the Baking Oven until set and golden brown; another 15-20 minutes.

Lift the tin onto a baking sheet and bake on the floor of the Roasting Oven for 15-20 minutes until pale golden. Now put the cold plain shelf on the second set of runners and continue to bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the almond filling is set and golden brown. If the pastry is becoming too dark, put a ring of foil around the edge.

Cool slightly, brush with hot apricot glaze and sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds. Serve warm with cream or crème fraîche.

Put a heavy flat baking tray into the oven to preheat. Place the tart on the tray and bake at 190C fan/170C/gas mark 5 for about 45-50 minutes until the almond filling and pastry are golden brown. Glaze and decorate.

The Complete Aga Cookbook, by Mary Berry and Lucy Young, with photography by Georgia Glynn Smith, is published by Headline, priced £25

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