Clementine cake

Perfect for an afternoon tea as it’s gorgeous on its own, or it can be served as a dessert with a good quality vanilla ice cream or custard.

Notes

  • Use any small sweet, easy peeler citrus such as clementines, satsumas or mandarins
  • Takes about 1 hour in total – about 10-15 minutes preparation and 40-45 minutes baking
  • You can measure out the olive oil via a liquid scale (mls) or weigh it into a bowl (grams) – the result is the same
  • If you’re finding it tricky to zest the clementines (the smoother skin of smaller citrus can be difficult) replace with the zest of one large orange

Equipment

  • Two large bowls
  • Springform cake tin, 20 – 23cm in diameter, greased and lined with parchment
  • Scales, spatula, balloon whisk/mixer/electric hand whisk, measuring spoons and jugs

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 205g caster sugar
  • 205ml mild olive oil, such as Filippo Berio Classico
  • 205g Tipo 00 flour or plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • A pinch of fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder or extract
  • 40g ground almonds
  • Grated zest of four clementines
  • 2 tablespoons of clementine juice

Also… for the topping

  • Icing sugar
  • Extra clementines, peeled for decoration
  • Juice of two extra clementines

Method

  1. Prepare your baking tin by greasing and lining with baking parchment
  2. Set the oven to 180 ºC fan / 200 ºC conventional
  3. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites, putting the whites in one (very clean) bowl and the yolks in another
  4. Whisk up the egg whites until they are stiff peaks, whisk in one tablespoon of the caster sugar and the vanilla extract into the whites
  5. Add the remaining caster sugar to the yolks and whisk until it turns pale and increases in volume
  6. Add the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder to the sugar/yolk mixture and slowly whisk in until it is all combined and then mix in the olive oil plus the zest and juice
  7. Fold in the whites to this mixture, a third at a time until it is combined. Try to be gentle while mixing in – a figure of eight motion is useful or use a balloon whisk to ‘cut’ the whites in gently
  8. Pour the mix gently into the prepared tin
  9. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the sponge springs back when depressed lightly with your finger and/or a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake
  10. Leave to cool in the tin
  11. Decorate with icing sugar mixed with the extra clementine juice and poured over
  12. Once the icing is set (or nearly set) decorate with the peeled mandarins

Apple madeleines with white chocolate

Always at this time of year I neglect my website. Not on purpose you understand; it just seems to happen year on year. I’m no late starter when it comes to anything else, its just… January. So, despite it almost being February this is my first 2021 post. Happy New Year!

I’ve written before that I eschew resolutions at this time of year. The spring equinox has me thinking about changes, new starts and determination rather than a grey and bleary 1st Jan. January (and February come to think of it) does not work for me for new starts, but it is good timing for gathering yourself together, looking after you and yours and starting to think about spring and those new shoots, literal or metaphorical.

So, while I’m in R&R mode, these little madeleines fit nicely. They are a twist on a traditional patisserie recipe, but incorporate winter fruit and indulgent chocolate. I’ve coloured my white chocolate to match the Pink Lady apples I used, but you don’t have to colour the chocolate at all, and if you don’t like white chocolate, then feel free to dip them in your favourite milk or dark instead.

Notes

I’ve included the little step that gets the chocolate finish looking like its sculpted! Once you get the hang of turning them out without breaking the chocolate (this depends on the trickiness of the mould you own) you’ll be making them perfect all the time.

Equipment

  • Small saucepan
  • Madeleine moulds (any mould will do but silicone ones are easier for this recipe)
  • Spoon, flexible spatula, scales, knife and cutting board, pastry brush
  • Medium bowl
  • Small heatproof bowl
  • Cooling rack

Ingredients

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1 sweet eating apple – I used a Pink Lady apple
  • 2 medium – large eggs
  • 150g plain flour
  • 145g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 300g of white chocolate
  • Food colouring
  • Plus – extra butter, about 30 g, for the moulds

Method

  • Melt the extra butter and paint the madeleine moulds with it using the pastry brush. Place the moulds in the freezer
  • Melt the 125g of butter in the saucepan over a medium heat and then immediately take off the heat
  • Whisk the eggs and sugar until they turn light and fluffy and have increased in volume
  • Folding gently with a spatula, now add the flour, salt, lemon juice and melted butter until combined. be careful not to over mix
  • Chop the apple (removing the core but keeping the skin) into small dice and immediately add to the mix
  • Chill the mix in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. This is an important step for madeleines
  • Warm the oven to 180C fan / 200C conventional oven
  • Spoon the mixture into the moulds, filling each to about two-thirds full
  • Bake the madeleines for about 12-14 minutes. They should be really springy to the touch
  • Leave to cool completely and remove from the moulds
  • Clean the moulds and dry thoroughly
  • Now melt the chocolate, adding a few drops of food colouring if you wish
  • Spoon a teaspoon of melted chocolate into one of the madeleine cavities in the mould and press back in one of the madeleines, so it squeezes the chocolate around it. Repeat with all the madeleines
  • Try not to jog the madeleines now and leave them to cool – you can speed up the process by putting them in the fridge
  • When the chocolate is fully cold, they should slip out fairly well from the mould
  • Enjoy!

Cinnamon buns

Notes

This makes 12-16 cinnamon buns, depending on how deep you cut each slice

Tin sizes don’t need to be exact – the buns will expand outwards and/or upwards. If using a rectangular tin, use one about 20 x 30 cm and if using a circular tin, use one about 30cm in diameter

This is a wet dough so you may want to use a stand mixer instead of your hands for the kneading stage

Preparation time – 2hr 15 (about 45 minutes of this is hands-on activity)

Cooking time – 20-25 mins

Equipment

  • a tin to place the buns in – rectangular or circular will do. See notes above
  • pastry brush
  • rolling pin
  • large bowl
  • sharp knife
  • small ceramic bowl/cup or small saucepan
  • stand mixer with dough hook (if not kneading by hand)
  • clean tea towel

Ingredients – for the enriched dough

  • 300g wholemeal bread flour
  • 150g strong white flour
  • 1 teaspoon of fast action dried yeast
  • 40g caster sugar
  • a pinch of fine salt
  • 120ml milk (doesn’t have to be warmed but it’s better if it’s not fridge-cold)
  • 70ml tepid water
  • 1 medium egg (beaten)
  • 25 olive oil

Ingredients for the filling

  • 95g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 100g chopped gale cherries

Ingredients for the glaze/topping

  • 30ml golden syrup or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of marmalade (with or without peel – your choice)
  • 30g – 40g of slivered almonds

Plus

  • extra flour for dusting
  • extra olive oil for resting the dough

Method

  1. Add all the dry ingredients into your bowl (that’s both flour types, sugar, yeast and salt) and mix them up a bit.
  2. Make a well in the middle and tip in the milk and water, beaten egg and olive oil and start to mix. This is a little wetter than bread and is messy so you may want to use a wooden spoon first to bring it together before you start to knead
  3. Alternatively, use a stand mixer with a bread hook instead of hand kneading
  4. If kneading by hand, tip out onto a lightly floured surface
  5. Knead for 8 – 10 mins (or in your stand mixer). The dough will have a smooth surface when it’s ready
  6. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with your tea towel
  7. Leave it to rise somewhere warm. This will typically take an hour and the dough will almost double in size
  8. Gently roll the dough out of the bowl on to a lightly floured surface and start to press it down gently into a rectangle (around 65cm by 15 cm)
  9. In a small bowl, mix the ground cinnamon, vanilla seeds, caster sugar and softened butter together
  10. Spread the cinnamon butter all over the dough
  11. Scatter over the chopped glace cherries
  12. Roll up the dough like a roulade/Swiss roll, starting from the long edge
  13. Cut the roll into 12-16 slices
  14. Place the slices end-on into your tin. If the slices have flattened as you cut them, you can reshape them by hand
  15. Space the slices around 1 cm apart
  16. Cover again and leave to rise a second time for around 30 mins
  17. Heat your oven to 180C fan/200C conventional.
  18. When risen, place in the oven
  19. After 10 mins turn the oven down to 160C fan/140C conventional and bake for 10 – 15 mins more
  20. Let the buns cool in the tin for 10 minutes
  21. Melt the syrup and marmalade together with a tablespoon of water – you can do this in the microwave or in a saucepan
  22. Brush the glaze over the top of the buns while they are still in the tin and then sprinkle with the almonds
  23. Leave until fully cool

Strawberry yogurt cake with olive oil

Strawberry yorgurt cake with olive oil - Ink Sugar Spice recipe

Perfect for an afternoon tea or appropriate for Valentines, this cake is light, moist and full of strawberry flavour.

Notes

  • Takes about 1 hour in total – about 10-15 minutes preparation and 40-45 minutes baking
  • You can measure out the olive oil via a liquid scale (mls) or weigh it into a bowl (grams) – the result is the same

Equipment

  • Two large bowls
  • Springform cake tin, 20 – 23cm in diameter, greased and lined with parchment
  • Scales, spatula, balloon whisk/mixer/electric hand whisk, measuring spoons and jugs

Ingredients

  • Large eggs, separated – 4
  • Caster sugar – 210g
  • Olive oil (mild) – 210ml/g
  • Tipo 00 flour or plain flour – 210g
  • baking powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Fine salt – a pinch
  • vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Ground almonds – 40g
  • Strawberry yogurt (a thick kind such as Greek yogurt) – 80g
  • Strawberries – 80g (about)

Method

  1. Prepare your baking tin by greasing and lining with baking parchment
  2. Set the oven to 180 ºC fan / 200 ºC conventional
  3. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites, putting the whites in one (very clean) bowl and the yolks in another
  4. Whisk up the egg whites until they are stiff peaks, whisk in one tablespoon of the caster sugar and the vanilla extract into the whites
  5. Add the remaining caster sugar to the yolks and whisk until it turns pale and increases in volume
  6. Add the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder to the sugar/yolk mixture and slowly whisk in until it is all combined
  7. Chop up the strawberries and measure out the yogurt
  8. Fold in the whites to this mixture, a third at a time until it is combined. Try to be gentle while mixing in – a figure of eight motion is useful or use a balloon whisk to ‘cut’ the whites in gently
  9. Fold in the olive oil
  10. Pour the mix gently into the prepared tin
  11. Using a teaspoon, dot the yogurt all over the cake – try to keep the blobs of yogurt fairly small
  12. Place the strawberries over the yogurt
  13. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the sponge springs back when depressed lightly with your finger and/or a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake (though be careful to notice that you’ve not spiked the yogurt and think the cake is still underdone
  14. Gorgeous on its own, or serve it as a very special dessert, say for a Valentine’s or birthday celebration, with a good quality vanilla ice cream. Alternatively, serve with crushed strawberries that have been mixed into a tub of crème frâiche (plus a dessertspoon of icing sugar)
strawberry yogurt cake with olive oil - all sliced

Pistacchio Garibaldi biscuits

Garibaldi1After I posted these on Instagram, someone pointed out to me that a comedian called Alexei Sayle did a sketch on ‘Revolutionary Biscuits‘ (I found this on YouTube: it’s definitely 80’s angry comedy). He says something like “You’ve got your Garibaldi – Italian dictator, you’ve got your Bourbon – French revolutionaries and of course you’ve got your Peak Frean Trotsky Assortment”.

I’m thinking there’s a whole new scope for dictator-named biscuit snacks. Who wouldn’t like to bite into a Pol Pot gingerbread? There’s sadly been that many dictators over time that you could fill a whole Christmas assortment box of biscuits.

I didn’t have any intention in posting this recipe, but I had a few enquiries about it from Instagram and, after raising a cursory question who’d like to try them, I got quite a few raised hands (which was delightful thank you!). So, here we are, recipe at the ready.

I remember Garibaldis from my childhood and they were old fashioned then, let alone now (even though you can still buy them I see, but clearly not in superior pistacchio flavour!). Sometimes a vintage bake is just the thing to hit the spot. My dear old Dad used to call them dead fly biscuits when I was tiny, which actually put me off eating them till he stopped teasing me. I didn’t really think there were dead flies in them, just that the association made me go “Euwww” too much to face trying them till I got older.

I’m sure that I remember my mum buying packs of ‘luxury’ versions covered with chocolate on one side. No one else around my age group I’ve asked remembers chocolate-covered Garibaldis and now they all think I’ve gone loopy. Whether my recollection can be relied on or not, I bet these biscuits would be even lovelier draped in a layer of milk choc, and I may well be doing this soon.

Notes

There are a couple of specialist ingredients in this bake: pistacchio paste and caramel syrup. Here in the UK you can buy the paste in any M&S food hall or it can be found in deli’s or online (see my resources page). It lasts for ages and is gorgeous and can be used in a lot of things, including savoury. Frankly, I’m never without a jar in the fridge, but then I’m a pistacchio addict. The syrup should be slightly easier to get hold of, but it’s probably not where you’d think it should be in the baking/ingredient section. It’ll be in the coffee product aisle in your supermarket as it’s primarily sold as one a coffee syrup, but I bet you’ll soon be using it in a lot of your baking! Alternatively, you can make something akin to this syrup by putting 100g of granulated sugar and a tablespoon of golden syrup in a saucepan, adding just enough water to soak through (and no more) and boil till it caramelises/is golden brown. Remember no stirring once it starts to bubble or it will crystallise. If it’s too thick once cooled but the the right colour, carefully add a teaspoon or two at a time of water and stir through until thinned enough to ‘baste’ with.

Makes one giant slab of biscuits – about 40cm x 30cm. Be warned – the first time I made these I tried to get them all in one large baking sheet. All the edges browned much faster because they were in contact with the conducted heat of the rim of the baking sheet. It’s much better to cut the slab of biscuits in half and bake on two trays as I’ve described in the recipe.

Don’t separate the biscuits, when you cut leave the them as they are as they’ll bake with sharp edges where you can see the raisins and pistacchios peeking out. If you separate them, the biscuits want to spread and you’ll get softer edges (not the Garibaldi way).

The pistacchio pasta frolla on its own makes excellent shortbread-style biscuits or is a great pie crust. In fact it can substituted for most sweet shortcrust pastry/pâte sucrée.

Prep time: about 20 mins | Resting time: 2 x 15 mins at least | Baking time: <20mins

Total make time: 1hr 10 roughly (well, it all depends on your own work speed in the kitchen!)

Makes about 24-30 (depending on the size of cut biscuits)

Garibaldi2 - ingredients

Equipment

  • Two large baking sheets
  • Baking parchment or paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Large bowl
  • Pastry cutter or table knives (you’ll see later)
  • Pizza wheel (ideally) or long sharp knife
  • Pastry brush
  • Spoons, scales, measuring jugs and spoons and a table fork

Ingredients for the pasta frolla (Italian sweet short pastry)

  • 00 flour – 300g
  • Caster sugar – 125g
  • Unsalted butter, kept cold – 200g
  • Pistacchio paste – 20g
  • Fine salt – a pinch
  • Eggs, large – 1 whole egg plus 1 yolk
  • Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon

Inclusions and caramel glaze

  • Pistacchios, shelled and slightly crushed – 125g (or thereabouts)
  • Raisins – 150g (ish)
  • Caramel syrup, such as Monin’s – about 50 – 60 ml

Additional

  • Extra flour for dusting

Method – pasta frolla

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together: that’s the flour, sugar and salt
  2. Cut the butter into small cubes
  3. Add the butter and pistacchio paste to the dry ingredients and cut it in, using either a pastry cutter, a couple of kitchen knives (in a two handed chopping action) or rub in with your fingers. (I’ve suggested using a cutter as the pistacchio paste is quite sticky but you can rub it in)
  4. Add the egg and egg yolk and the lemon juice and briefly knead until it’s all evenly distributed. You should not need more liquid – this is quite a solid pastry, but add a tiny amount if you really think it’s needed (this is most likely caused by a smaller size of eggs or a lower humidity in your kitchen)
  5. Leave to rest in your fridge for 15 minutes

Method – construction and baking

  1. When rested, halve the dough and roll both out in to as perfect a rectangle as you can on a lightly floured surface. It’s also best to slightly flour the rolling pin
  2. The rectangles don’t have to be perfect, but they should be as close a match to each other as possible
  3. Aim to roll out to about 3-4mm thick
  4. Transfer one of the dough rectangles on to a large sheet of baking parchment/paper
  5. Only slightly dampen the pastry brush and use it to moisten the top of this rectangle of dough
  6. Scatter the crushed pistacchios and raisins over this layer of dough and lightly roll over with the rolling pin
  7. Place the second dough rectangle over the first. Roll over with the rolling pin to press down – you don’t need to be really firm or you’ll end up with the pistacchios poking through the top. This creates that indented, mottled top to the Garibaldis which is really characteristic and helps gel both layers together around the nuts and raisins
  8. Using a fork, dock the biscuit dough all over, as you would when blind baking a pastry case. This may not be easy in some places because of the hard pistacchios! This stops the pastry from puffing up too much
  9. Using a pizza wheel or large sharp knife, cut the rectangle in half and slide one half of the biscuit dough away from the other slightly. Cut the baking parchment/paper along this gap you’ve created
  10. For each slab of biscuit dough, cut the dough using the pizza cutter or knife into rectangles: they should be about 4cm x 3cm. You’ll get about 12-15 from each half of dough, so about 24-30 in total
  11. Picking up one side of the baking paper, which now has one half of the sliced, unbaked biscuits on and place on a baking tray. Repeat with the other paper/dough onto a separate baking tray, so that the paper you rolled and cut them on becomes the baking tray paper
  12. Do not separate out the biscuits
  13. Take your pastry brush again and spread the caramel syrup all over the tops of both sheets of unbaked biscuits
  14. Leave the baking trays of unbaked biscuits to rest, ideally in the fridge (or somewhere cool if you can’t get the trays in the fridge) for 15 minutes
  15. Put your oven on to 170C fan / 190C conventional (about 325 F)
  16. When the oven is ready, bake for 18 – 20 minutes (you may need to turn half way through)
  17. Leave to cool in the trays for a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. They can be stored for 3 – 4 days in an airtight container

Garibaldi5

Summer season baked nectarine cheesecake with a biscuit and pink peppercorn base

image2

This is a rich, baked cheesecake. The bottom crunchy layer has the addition of crushed pink peppercorns and ground almonds, which gives a fabulous texture and a nice zingy tang to each mouthful, complementing the nectarines.

Notes

As a sort of aside, I’ve made this cheesecake while recovering from a (routine) hand operation (no, I’m not fishing for sympathy – that’s not me – and it’s all simple and straightforward so please don’t worry). I would normally make this without the use of a food processor (even though I do own one) except for the biscuit-crushing for which it is oh-so much easier than bashing them with a rolling pin, though that will work admirably. I have fallen heavily on the use of my processor in recent days to help me cook, including using it to chop veg, although I couldn’t cook at all for the first week – and it’s been a godsend. Also, a big thanks to my sons who have done some of the heavy work, like crush peppercorns, lift my processor out of the cupboard for me and move the tins in and out of the oven. It gets them learning about baking and they get a cheesecake that I wouldn’t be able to make on my own with one temporarily rubbish paw.

I have made this cheesecake previously (you know by now I try hard to make recipes a few times to ensure they are accurate) but I did have full use of both hands when it was made in the past!

To make sure the loose-bottom cake tin is fully watertight (so the cheesecake doesn’t leak out nor the waterbath leak in) lay a sheet of greaseproof/baking parchment over the bottom, then a layer of foil on that. Then fold it over slightly and close the ring as you would normally – it’ll be a little tougher to close but will be more watertight.

This takes only around an hour to make, but it does need several hours to cool and set properly – and ideally overnight. So it does require a little planning!

Oh and the last thing is, that pink peppercorns aren’t apparently pepper at all, but another dried berry with peppery overtones. As such, if you can’t get hold of it I would recommend swapping it for a half teaspoon of normal black pepper and the zest of a half an orange.

Equipment
  • 20cm springform cake tin
  • Kitchen foil and baking paper/greaseproof paper
  • Large bowl and a medium (heatproof) bowl
  • Food processor for crushing the biscuits and the nectarines
  • Pestle and mortar or fill a peppermill with only pink peppercorns
  • Large ovenproof tin (large enough to fit your cake tin in)
  • Spatulas
  • Saucepan
  • Kettle
Ingredients – base
  • Digestive or other plain biscuits – 185g
  • Ground almonds – 30g
  • Unsalted butter, softened – 80g
  • Pink peppercorns, crushed – 1 teaspoon
Ingredients – cheesecake
  • Cream cheese (such as Philadelphia) – 250g
  • Double cream – 300ml
  • Eggs, large – three
  • Caster sugar – 125g
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Zest from a whole lemon
  • Two nectarines, stones removed
Additional –
  • Extra nectarines, sliced as a garnish
  • A kettle-full of boiling water for a water bath
Method
  1. Take the base off the springform tin and cut or rip off a piece each of kitchen foil and baking paper, each slightly bigger than the base
  2. Lay these two sheets of foil one on top of the other and cover the base, smoothing it out and over the edges, making it tight. Don’t bunch it up at the edge/rim
  3. This little trick is to make the springform tin a little more water-tight and to replace the need for a baking sheet
  4. Clip the foil-covered base into the tin – it will be a bit harder than normal (you may need to push down any bunched-up areas) but it will ensure it fits more snugly
  5. Crush the peppercorns into fine crumbs in the pestle and mortar (if you’ve not got them in a peppermill)
  6. Warm your butter until it is just starting to melt
  7. Whizz up the digestives, ground almonds and peppercrons in your blender (or put them in a tea towel, making sure it is folded or twisted and bash with a rolling pin)
  8. Tip the warmed butter into the digestive crumbs and whizz mix together again
  9. Tip into the springform tin and press down with a silicon spatula (I found recently that it sticks less often than using the back of a spoon as I was used to) until it is as even as possible
  10. Leave to one side
Method – cheesecake mix
  1. Turn your oven on to 170C fan / 190C conventional
  2. Cut the nectarines into pieces and whizz them up in your food processor
  3. In a large bowl tip in all the ingredients – the cream, the cream cheese, the caster, the eggs, the lemon juice and zest and the nectarine pulp and mix until all the cream cheese lumps are smoothed through
  4. Tip all the cheesecake mix slowly into the tin while trying not to dislodge the biscuit base
  5. Place the cake tin inside the larger oven proof tin and boil your kettle up
  6. Pour the kettle-full of water into the tin to create a water bath and quickly get the whole lot into your hot oven
  7. Bake for 45 minutes – you may want to turn your tins 180 degrees 10 minutes before the end if you have an oven with a pronounced hotspot at the rear
  8. After 45 minutes, turn off the oven
  9. Take the tins out, remove the cake tin from the water bath and put the cake tin back on an over rack on its own (you can now discard the water bath)
  10. Keep the oven door open a little now – if it won’t stay open by itself, jam the handle of a wooden spoon half way down the door to keep it ajar
  11. Leave the cheesecake in for another 10 minutes
  12. Remove the cheesecake – it should have a voluptuous wobble in the middle when you jiggle the tin (this will set further as it cools)
  13. Leave to cool in the tin for a good couple of hours at least
  14. Make sure the tin is cool to the touch before you try to open the spring and remove the tin ring – if in doubt take a very sharp plain bladed knife and run just the very tip of the blade round the edge of the cheesecake (don’t put the whole knife down the side – you only want to break the join between the surface and the tin)
  15. Then, keeping it on the loose tin bottom for now (until it’s fully firmed or you risk breaking it), transfer to the fridge for at least another two hours, preferably overnight (this is better on day two)
  16. Just before serving, de-stone and slice the remaining two nectarines and arrange them on top

image1

Wholemeal maple syrup, date and pecan sticky buns

IMG_2203Can’t beat a fluffy, cinnamon-y, fruit, sugary breakfast bun. These are made with two thirds wholemeal for more of an earthy bite. I’m not sure I really believe wholemeal is truly much healthier than white bread, but it certainly feels more righteous.

Date and walnut are a traditional combination for a number of recipes (not just baking) but, although I do like this, I find pecans preferable. (Often if you can’t get hold of the freshest walnuts they can be a little acrid, where pecans do not seem to deteriorate in this way). I added a maple-syrup sauce for added sweetness, well that and it seemed to instill a sort of North American/Canadian vibe with the pecans (though what the dates are now doing there I am not sure – perhaps next time I’ll swap them from dried cranberries!).

Notes

This makes a lot of buns! About 16 in fact. They can be divided and frozen after baking – you can actually put the maple syrup sauce and the nuts on before freezing, though I would recommend adding the icing after you’ve defrosted them. (Leave overnight on a wire rack to defrost thoroughly).

Equipment
  • a tin to place the buns in. I used a 30 cm casserole dish, but any shape is just fine bowl
  • small saucepan
  • pastry brush
  • rolling pin
  • large bowl
  • sharp knife and a small spoon
  • small ceramic bowl or cup (this may be going in the microwave)
Ingredients – for the enriched dough
  • wholemeal bread flour – 300g
  • strong white flour – 150 g
  • easy-blend yeast – 15 g
  • caster sugar – 50 g
  • fine salt – a pinch
  • milk – 125 ml (doesn’t have to be warmed but it’s better if it’s not fridge-cold)
  • water – 75 ml (tepid rather than warm)
  • medium egg (beaten) – 1
  • unsalted melted butter – 25 g
Ingredients for the filling
  • butter, softened – 80 g
  • ground cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
  • Half a vanilla pod’s worth of seeds
  • caster sugar – 25g
  • chopped, stoned dates – 50g
Ingredients for the glaze/topping
  • crunched-up pecans – 35g
  • maple syrup – 30ml
  • marmalade (with or without peel – your choice) – 2 tablespoons
Icing
  • water – “enough” – by this I mean just enough to make a dropping consistency with the icing sugar – this will be around a tablespoon
  • icing sugar – about 75g
Plus
  • extra flour for dusting

Method

Preparing the dough

  1. Add all the dry ingredients into your bowl (that’s both flour types, sugar, yeast and salt) and mix them up a bit.
  2. Make a well in the middle and tip in the milk and water, beaten egg and melted butter and start to mix. This is a little wetter than bread and is messy (half the fun) so you may want to use a wooden spoon first to bring it together before you start to knead.
  3. Tip it out onto a clean surface. Try to resist adding a dusting of flour to the surface if you can (or if it’s not too ingrained a habit). Yes, some of it will stick to the surface but as you continue kneading it will lift off and combine, and then you haven’t changed the chemical constitution of the dough too much by increasing the ratio of flour. Alternatively, I expect you can use a machine with a bread hook – but this will also need 10 minutes (I always find it interesting that elbow grease and electricity have the same effect when it comes to dough).
  4. If the dough is a little hard work add a touch more milk – as mentioned, it should be just slightly wetter than bread (more like how wet a sourdough or brioche would be).
  5. The kneading will take about 8 – 10 mins depending on how vigorous you are! Just like other breads, the dough will be smooth and a bit bouncy when it’s ready. This is one of those things that you just get used to seeing after you’ve baked for a while.
  6. Clean out your original bowl and lightly grease it (or use another) and pop in the dough. I usually chuck a large linen teatowel over my rising bread, and sprinkle over a little bit of water onto the towel, but cling film will do nearly as well (this shouldn’t need dampening as it creates an airtight seal and the bread is already moist).
  7. Leave it to double in size somewhere warm but not hot – this will typically take an hour or so but it depends on the warmth. Like other sweet doughs you could make this one evening and leave in the fridge or somewhere cool to rise overnight.

Shaping, filling and rolling the buns

  1. Gently roll the dough out of the bowl on to a (lightly) floured surface and start to press it down gently (no heavy pummeling!) into a rectangle. You’re aiming for something about 65cm by 15 cm (2 foot by 10 inches in ‘old money’).
  2. Mix in the ground cinnamon, vanilla seeds and caster sugar into the softened butter
  3. Now you’re ready to add the filling ingredients. Spread the cinnamon butter all over the rectangle of dough – but leave a 1 cm gap down one long edge (this is to help the dough stick into a roulade shape later)
  4. Scatter over the chopped dates
  5. Now you need to roll up the dough like a roulade/Swiss roll, starting from the long edge which you haven’t left with a 1 cm gap. Brush a little bit of water or milk onto that edge you left so it sticks to the outside of the dough once you’ve roll it all up. It should look just like a doughy Swiss rollRolling up the dough
  6. Cut the roll into 15-16 slices
  7. Pop the slices end-on into the tin, so that you can see the Swiss roll shape and all the lovely fillings from the top. You may need to push the back into more of a round shape, as slicing them may have flattened them a little. Space the slices between 1 – 2 cm apart so that when they rise they bump into each otherSticky buns - ready to bake
  8. Cover with a that clean, damp tea towel or cling film from earlier and leave it to rise and prove a second time. You want them to puff up to about double what they were but this shouldn’t take as long as the first rise – about 30 mins.
  9. Pop on your oven to 180C fan/200C conventional.

Baking and glazing

  1. When risen, take off the covering and pop the tin in the middle of the oven and set the timer for 10 mins. After 10 mins don’t take them out – turn the oven down to 160C fan/140C conventional and cook for between 10 – 15 mins more. You want a nice golden top (not light but not too dark). You may need to turn the tin after the first 10 mins if your oven is not cooking very evenly (as you want the buns to all have the same depth of colour).
  2. Fetch the buns out when ready and leave to cool in the tin a bit.
  3. Now make the glaze by melting the maple syrup and marmalade together with a tablespoon of water until bubbling and the marmalade has melted completely into the maple syrup
  4. Add in the crunched-up pecans into the maple syrup sauce
  5. Brush (or pour) it all over the tops of the buns (while they are still in the tin), try a little to spread the pecans evenly across the buns
  6. Leave until fully cool
  7. Make the icing by mixing the icing sugar with the water until you get a smooth dropping consistency
  8. Drizzle the icing all over the buns with a small spoon and leave until the icing has solidifiedFullSizeRender

Raspberry and browned butter Madeleines

MadeleinesApr2017SquareYou know why I love Madeleines so much? Shh, don’t tell anyone but they are soo quick and easy and people often think mistakenly they require some sort of high-level patisserie savoir-faire. Mais non.

My utmost favourite to make is a butterscotch Madeleine, but these are lovely too. Nice to have some fresh fruit in them as well so you can convince yourself that cake, at least in this instance, is contributing to your ‘cinq par jour’.

No apologies for the smattering of pidgeon-French, it just tickled me…

Remarques
  • Makes about 18 Madeleines
  • You could use small bun tin, but really you need a shell shaped tin or it’s just a ‘little cake’. Normally I wouldn’t care about this sort of thing and I understand about not being able to afford additional bakeware, but this is one instance where it sort of does matter. Still would be nice as small cakes, but a Madeleine? Non.
Équipment
  • Small saucepan
  • Madeleine tray(s)
  • Electric whisk/stand mixer/balloon whisk
  • Large bowl and a smaller bowl
  • Flexible spatula
  • Tablespoon measure
  • Pastry brush
Ingrédients
  • Unsalted butter – 100g
  • Plain flour – 120g
  • Eggs – 2 medium
  • Soft brown sugar – 35g
  • Icing sugar – 85g
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Raspberries – a handful/70g
  • extra butter and flour to prepare the moulds
Préparation de la recette
  1. Gently heat the butter in a small sauce pan until it starts to froth and goes a nice toasty brown colour
  2. Leave the butter aside to cool a little
  3. Prepare the Madeleine moulds/tin – melt a little extra butter and paint this on the shell cavities. Then sprinkle over a little extra flour and tap the extra off
  4. Turn the oven on to 190 C fan / 200 conventional
  5. In a small bowl, smoosch up the raspberries a little with a fork – you don’t want to completely obliterate them, what you’re aiming for is a few whole, some in pieces and some crushed so the juice is oozing. This gives the Madeleines a variety of fruit textures and a few streaks of raspberry juice
  6. Whip up the eggs with the icing sugar in the large bowl for about 4 minutes until fluffed up and pale
  7. Whip in the soft brown sugar
  8. Fold in the plain flour, trying not to collapse the mix much (it will deflate a little but the only leavening agent in the recipe is eggs, so you’re relying on the lift you created from whipping eggs and sugar)
  9. Fold in the butter – it will seem a lot at first but it will fold in smoothly
  10. Fold in the smooshed raspberries
  11. Using the tablespoon measure, fill each shell cavity with the mix – it should be about 75% full
  12. When they’re all filled, place in the oven for 10 minutes
  13. Test doneness by pressing one Madeleine lightly with the tip of a finger – if it springs back then they are ready. If it leaves a little indentation, then pop in for a minute longer

MadeleinesCloseLandscapeApr2017

Bon appetit!

 

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A twist on Mont Blanc

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The original dessert Mont Blanc may be French in origin (though I’ve seen mention of it being created for the Borgias – really?) but for me it’s synonymous with Switzerland. I’m not sure there has been any dessert menu I’ve looked at in Switzerland that hasn’t included it, even away from the alpine cantons. When I’ve looked around to spy on what other diners have ordered and what the dishes look like, there has always been at least one person tucking into one. I think I tried my first one in the panoramic tourist restaurant on Mount Titlis.  I’ve been lucky enough to visit Switzerland a few times, as I have close family that moved near Aarau some years ago. Such a stunning place. Along with strong smelling fondue, rösti, butterzopf bread, brightly coloured hard boiled eggs, Rivella (a whey-based drink), cervelat sausages, co-operatively made schnapps and raclette grills this really does conjure up memories of Swiss food for me. Even if the real Mont Blanc is a little way along the Alps, over the border into Chamonix.

Traditional recipes for Mont Blanc use a sweetened chestnut cream, but although chestnuts are plentiful in the UK during autumn it can be difficult to source them throughout the rest of the year. So, I’ve stepped away from the chestnuts and the result is a very different version of the dessert and which could be perfect even in summer, especially if you serve it with fruits like strawberries, raspberries or figs.

My alternative recipe replaces the chestnut puree with a spiced biscuit cream, making it slightly more appropriate for warmer days and not just confined to the autumn months. The result is just as delicious, perhaps even more so if you never quite acquired a taste for chestnuts in desserts (like my children).

These are individual-sized Mont Blanc Pavlovas constructed on chocolate meringues, with a strawberry centre, chocolate ganache and a spiced biscuit cream (spiced biscuit spread mixed with cream).

This recipe features on the Inghams holidays site as part of their Foodie Finds cookbook.

Notes

biscuit spreadJars of ready-made biscuit spread from Biscoff can now be easily found in the jam and preserves section at most supermarkets, but you can make a close version yourself. I have prepared a separate recipe for a spiced biscuit spread which makes the right amount for this recipe.

Makes 6-7 mini Pavlovas

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Ingredients – meringues

  • 2 large egg whites (reserve the yolks for something else, like ice cream or custard)
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of a high quality milk hot chocolate powder (Swiss if possible)

Ingredients – chocolate ganache

  • 300g of fine quality Swiss chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids
  • 250ml of double cream

Ingredients – spiced biscuit cream

Ingredients – to plate up/serve

  • Strawberries (enough for each meringue plus a few extra to serve)
  • Ripe figs or other summer fruits
  • Icing sugar

Equipment

  • Two piping bags – one with a 2mm round nozzle, one with a 3mm nozzle (or both thereabouts)
  • Large, squeaky-clean bowl for the meringue
  • Large baking tray, lined with parchment or a silicon mat
  • Balloon whisk, hand electric mixer or stand mixer for the meringue and the cream
  • Small, heavy bottomed saucepan
  • Two smaller bowls (for the ganache and biscuit cream)
  • Two very small bowls or cups to pre-measure the caster sugar and hot chocolate powder for the meringue
  • A blender if you are making the biscuit spread yourself
  • A selection of spoons and a sharp knife

Method – meringues

  1. Put your oven on to 90C fan / 110C conventional
  2. Line a large baking tray with a silicon mat or good quality baking parchment (anything less and they may stick)
  3. Measure out the caster sugar and the hot chocolate powder before you start in separate bowls
  4. In a large and very clean bowl, whip the two egg whites until they form stiff peaks
  5. While still beating the egg whites slowly add in the caster sugar, little by little, until it is all incorporated. The meringue will stay the same consistency but become glossier
  6. Using a sieve to ensure there are no lumps, add the hot chocolate powder onto the meringue mix, and then mix in
  7. Using a large spoon, put two spoonfuls of meringue mix at a time in a heap on the baking paper – if you use two spoonfuls, each heaped meringue will be the right size to give you 6 or 7 Pavlovas in total
  8. Swirl each meringue mound with the back of your spoon to flatten them slightly into heaped disc shapes
  9. Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hr 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and jam the oven door open with a wooden spoon and leave the meringues in there for another hour. The Pavlovas should have a crispy underneath but be a little gooey in the middle
  10. For more information on how to make meringues please see my meringue 101 advice post or my recipe for giant chocolate meringues. I’ve also got a post explaining the science behind meringues

Method – biscuit cream

  1. Whip the double cream until it is very thick (but stop before the unwanted clotting stage)
  2. If you are making the biscuit cream yourself, crunch all the biscuits into a blender and whizz until fine crumbs. Add in almost all of the evap milk and whizz again. Test the consistency of the cream – it should be like a smooth peanut butter. If it’s too stiff add in the rest of the evap milk and whizz again
  3. Mix the biscuit spread (homemade or from the jar) into the whipped cream until there are no streaks of cream showing
  4. Put your smaller circular nozzle (about 2mm diameter) in a piping bag and spoon in the biscuit cream. It’s quite thick so won’t run out of the nozzle
  5. Twist the end tight and pop the piping bag in the fridge for later use if not constructing immediately (the biscuit cream is fairly soft and will still be pipeable straight out of the fridge)

Method – chocolate ganache

  1. Break up the chocolate into a heatproof bowl
  2. Warm the cream in a saucepan over a moderate heat
  3. Just as the first bubbles start to appear in the cream (ie just prior to it boiling) pour the cream over the chocolate pieces
  4. Leave it all for about 3 minutes, allowing the cream to soften the chocolate itself, then mix it all together until smooth
  5. Allow to cool, then place it in a piping bag fitted with a medium round nozzle (about 3 mm in diameter)
  6. Cover the end of the nozzle with a bit of kitchen foil to stop leaks, twist the end and set aside until you being to assemble (if not preparing on the same day place the ganache in the fridge in its bowl before putting in to the piping bag – them warm slightly before use)

Method – construction

  1. Slice the bottom off a strawberry so it sits flat. Place it on a meringue with a dab of chocolate ganache, so it doesn’t move about make2
  2. Pipe a layer of the chocolate ganache over the strawberry, totally encasing it make3
  3. Over the top of the ganache, pipe a continuous swirl of the biscuit cream. You’re aiming to make it look like a nest or a mound of spaghetti and try to hide all the ganache so that none shows throughmake4a
  4. Using a sieve, sprinkle some icing sugar over the top of the dessert so it looks like a dusting of snow on the top of Mont Blancmake5
  5. Serve with berries and enjoy!make6-finished