My first foray into the giddy world of semi-professional baking came at the age of 6. My loving Mum and Dad (though never forceful, demanding or insistent that I become a ‘World Champion of Anything’) thought it would be a good idea for me to make a cake to serve at a small family gathering. Inspired, I gazed out over this new land of trust, youthful ambition and potential adulation and worked on a recipe. It had to be good! It had to wow the crowd! If my childhood hero, Michael Jackson, happened to be hungry and in the neighbourhood; it would need to make him ‘hee hee’ with joy!!
After a good 5 minutes of thought I had the perfect cake. Lets go to the supermarket, buy a chocolate Swiss roll and cover it in whipping cream. Hurrah!
Days later I was the toast of the party. There was nothing I could not achieve. My baking ego had stepped out of the shadows of playing in the park or bashing the rubber keys of my Z X Spectrum, and had blossomed into a thing of Gas Mark 9 / 240C beauty.
My next effort would therefore be a head turner. It would redefine the essence of cake.
I opted for a souflle.
It was crap!
Take a few moments to compose yourself, and remember that I’ve actually turned out ok. Look at this next bake in my Delicious Magazine journey, and you’ll see I’m no longer that precocious 6 year old who probably needed a slap.
Salted Chocolate and Dulce de Leche tart
For the pastry:
210g plain flour
45g icing sugar
112g unsalted butter
1 and a half egg yolks
For the filling:
2 tins of condensed milk
400g dark chocolate (I used 70% cocoa)
150ml double cream
Knob of butter
1/2 tsp Maldon sea salt flakes, plus extra to scatter as decoration
You will need a 23cm x 5cm deep loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin
1- Make the dulce de leche. Place the tins of condensed milk in a deep saucepan and totally cover with water. Bring water to the boil, and leave to cook at a good simmer for 2 hours with the lid on. Do not pierce the cans, and make sure to check the water levels often. Top up as needed. Once cooked, leave cans to cool.
2- Make the pastry. In a large bowl mix together the flour and icing sugar.
3- Chop butter into small cubes. The smaller the cubes, the less time it needs working into the flour. Rub butter into flour until mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
4- Add egg yolks and use your hand to combine until everything comes together into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest.
5- I find roughly grating the chilled pastry into the case and pressing it down allows for greater control of the pastry depth. Make sure the base of the tin is completely covered, then work the grated pasty into the fluted sides. Roll a rolling pin over the top of the tart tin to remove excess pastry and give a clean finish. Prick with a fork and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
6- Turn oven to 220C / Gas Mark 7. Bake the pastry case for 7-8 minutes. Keep a close eye as it can burn easily. Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
7- Open tins of cooled condensed milk and scoop into a bowl. It will have turned into a thick, light brown dulce de leche caramel. Give this a quick stir to loosen it up and then spoon into the pastry case.
8- Put chocolate, cream, butter and sea salt into a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Do not let bottom of the bowl touch the water as this will cause the chocolate to burn. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has fully melted and the mix looks smooth and shiny. Cover with cling film and leave to cool to room temperature.
9- Spoon chocolate over the dulce de leche until completely covered. Scatter with a few pinches of sea salt flakes. Chill until set.
These images of Tina were created by London based artist, Nigel Grimmer. We spoke with Nigel years ago about these pieces, and were very happy when he agreed to let us enlarge one of them to create a perfect backdrop to the main dining area at Tina We Salute You, E20. The new Tinas is in the Olympic Park, so it seemed fitting to have a mural of Tina in the woods.
Check out more of his work at http://www.nigelgrimmer.com/