What’s got your goat?

Love it or hate it, goat’s cheese is the per­fect pair­ing for honey and ripe fruits – in this case, rasp­ber­ries, black­ber­ries and pears – mut­ing its sharp­ness and en­hanc­ing its creamy rich­ness

The Guardian - Cook - - Ruby Bakes - By Ruby Tan­doh

Goat’s cheese tends to po­larise: there are those, like me, who’ll eat it at any op­por­tu­nity, whether baked into the hol­lows of a few ripe, sliced figs, on toast, in sal­ads, or melted into a French onion tart; many oth­ers won’t go near it. But even if you fall into that lat­ter camp, I hope that you might find some­thing in this week’s recipes to sway you. Here, very mild, soft goat’s cheese is sweet­ened with sugar or honey, its sharp­ness muted and its smooth rich­ness en­hanced, whether melt­ing lux­u­ri­antly into the pear tart or pair­ing with bright rasp­berry jam in this almond layer cake. Slip a slice to your near­est and dear­est goat’s cheese haters, and watch them en­joy it, none the wiser.

HON­EYED ALMOND CAKE WITH RASP­BERRY JAM AND GOAT’S CHEESE CREAM

Rich with ground al­monds and honey, this is a firm, sweet cake, good enough to eat by it­self. I’ve not taken the min­i­mal­ist ap­proach here, though, in­stead opt­ing to sand­wich the lay­ers with a rich goat’s cheese cream and jam. Be­cause the cheese is so mild (it must be a very soft, crumbly one – the sort to be spread rather than sliced), it adds just a hint of tart­ness to cut through the hon­eyed, mel­low sponge with­out over­pow­er­ing it.

Serves 8-10

250g un­salted but­ter, soft­ened

175g honey

75g caster sugar

4 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla ex­tract

100g ground al­monds

200g plain flour

3 tsp bak­ing pow­der

¼ tsp salt

For the cream

100g soft, mild goat’s cheese

50g honey

100-150ml dou­ble cream to taste

2 tbsp rasp­berry jam

Ic­ing sugar, to dust

1 Pre­heat the oven to 170C/335F/gas mark 3½. Grease and line two 20cm round, loose-bot­tomed cake tins.

2 Beat the but­ter un­til smooth then add the honey and caster sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beat­ing well be­tween each ad­di­tion to avoid cur­dling. You may want to add a cou­ple of ta­ble­spoons of the flour along with the last egg to bring the mix­ture to­gether. Stir in the vanilla ex­tract.

3 In a sep­a­rate bowl, com­bine the ground al­monds with the flour, bak­ing pow­der and salt be­fore adding this dry mix­ture to the wet in­gre­di­ents. Fold lightly to­gether to achieve a smooth, thick bat­ter. Divide the bat­ter be­tween the two pre­pared cake tins and smooth the tops of each.

4 Bake for 25-30 min­utes, or un­til a small knife in­serted into the cen­tre of each cake emerges quite clean. The cake lay­ers should be a rich golden brown and feel springy. Leave to cool.

5 Once the cakes have cooled, pre­pare the fill­ing. Mash the goat’s cheese with the honey un­til very smooth.

6 Separately, whisk 100ml of the dou­ble cream to soft peaks (take care not to overdo it or it’ll be­come grainy) then stir a small amount into the sweet­ened goat’s cheese to slacken it. Fold in the re­main­ing whipped cream gen­tly, keep­ing as much air in it as pos­si­ble. Whip and add the re­main­ing 50ml dou­ble cream for a milder flavour, if you wish.

7 Spread the jam on one cake layer, then gen­tly dol­lop the cream on top and spread it to cover the jam. Stack with the sec­ond cake layer then dust lib­er­ally with ic­ing sugar.

Slip a slice to a goat’s cheese hater and watch them en­joy it, none the wiser

PEAR, WAL­NUT AND GOAT’S CHEESE FILO TART

I find comice or rocha pears work best here, though any firm, ripe dessert pear will do. The black­ber­ries should be plump and sweet, the goat’s cheese as mild as pos­si­ble. You could sub­sti­tute a cou­ple of ta­ble­spoons of an aro­matic honey in place of some of the sugar, but take care not to over­load the tart with mois­ture, or else the base won’t crisp.

Serves 8

2 medium dessert pears

2 tbsp flour

75g un­salted but­ter

150-200g filo pas­try sheets

4 tbsp caster sugar

75g wal­nuts, finely chopped

100g soft, mild goats’ cheese

75g black­ber­ries, halved

1 Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and in­side it place a heavy bak­ing tray large enough to take a 23cm flan dish.

2 Peel, core and thinly slice the pears from the top down into seg­ments. The seg­ments should be el­e­gantly sliced – no broader than 5mm at their wide edge. Toss the pear slices in the flour, tip­ping away any ex­cess flour af­ter­wards.

3 Melt the but­ter then brush the base and sides of a 23cm (9”) pie or flan dish with a lit­tle of it. Gen­tly lay one sheet of filo in the greased dish and brush with but­ter. Layer with a sec­ond sheet of filo and grease again. Re­peat un­til the filo is 5-6 lay­ers deep, cross­ing and over­lap­ping sheets if yours are wide enough to cover the en­tire base of the dish. Leave any over­hang untrimmed for the mo­ment.

4 Sprin­kle 1 tbsp of the sugar over the pas­try base. Scat­ter the wal­nuts over the base and ar­range the pears over the sug­ared pas­try so that the slices form two tightly over­lapped con­cen­tric cir­cles. Sprin­kle two more ta­ble­spoons of the sugar on to the pear slices. Crum­ble the goat’s cheese all over, scat­ter the black­berry halves on top and sprin­kle with the re­main­ing sugar.

5 Fold any over­hang­ing filo over the top of the fill­ing, ruch­ing the pas­try so that it partly cov­ers the tart. Leave a wide cir­cle of fill­ing ex­posed in the mid­dle. Brush the pas­try with but­ter, melt­ing ex­tra if you need to.

6 Place the flan dish on the now-hot bak­ing tray in the oven – this should help the base to cook quickly and evenly, avoid­ing a soggy bot­tom – and bake for 40-45 min­utes, un­til the filo is crisp and the pears ten­der. Serve warm with a driz­zle of cream or ice-cream.

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