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!

Spiced apple cake

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An absolute gem of a cake this one, I often fall back on this recipe if I need to bake a gift or take in something to share to my office.

I have a condition (won’t bore you with the details) that means sometimes I cannot sleep as it gets a bit ouchy. I can frequently be found in my kitchen very early doors, baking, as what on earth else do you do at 5 am without waking everyone else up. This last iteration of this cake was made just this morning for that reason – up and about early and better off being active. If the pain wakes me I do usually bake, or I might do some yoga. Or yoga while waiting for the bake in the oven. Or just yoga while eating cake. Or if I’m really knackered, in pain and fed up with it all, standing in front of the fridge drinking milk from the bottle (sorry family) and mainlining that cake.

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Notes

I have also used this as a base recipe and adapted it according to what flavours I want or what fruit I have to hand – pears, peaches, raspberries, oranges etc. But I’ve made this particular spiced apple version many times, so much so it’s actually lodged in my head and I don’t need to refer to my recipe notes. It’s easy, has a great flavour and is generally rather lovely – so I thought I’d jot it down and share in its own right.

Typically for me it’s also on the small side. If you’ve read any my profile page or other blog posts you know that while I love to bake I am conscientious about trying to maintain healthy family eating overall. Often my bakes are in small batches so they are a small treat rather than a regular calorific, sugary indulgence. A little of what you fancy… as the saying goes.

I also made this cake, this time in a panibois (a reusable wooden baking form, which takes disposable/recyclable paper inserts). There are many online baking suppliers that sell these. You can make this in any small cake tin instead though – equivalent to about a 15 cm / 6″ round tin.

Also for this cake I normally ignore my electric hand mixer/stand mixer and do it all by wooden spoon. Honestly. It literally takes about 10 minutes to prepare and be ready for the oven, but you can easily choose to use your gadgets if you prefer. (Also turning the mixer on at 5am would be a bit rude by me).

Equipment

  • Panibois wood form and one paper insert – or a prepped/lined 15cm round cake tin
  • Knife (and apple corer if you have one)
  • Large bowl
  • Wooden spoon and balloon whisk – or alternatively you can use a hand electric whisk or stand mixer
  • small bowl with water and a drizzle of lemon juice (just to keep the apples from discolouring only)

Ingredients

  • Eggs, large – two
  • Plain flour – 180g
  • Baking powder – 1 3/4 tsp
  • Golden caster sugar – 170g
  • Unsalted butter – 170g (or 50:50 butter and margarine, but never just all margarine!)
  • Ground cinnamon – 1 tsp
  • Ground allspice – 1/2 tsp
  • Calvados or cider – 1 tablespoon
  • Squeeze of maple syrup (about 2 tspns)
  • Small tart apples, 2 – 3 – I used Cox, but any equivalent would do. James Grieve variety would be ideal if you could get hold of them
  • For the topping:
  • Demerara sugar  – about 2 tablespoons
  • Flaked almonds – a “handful” (that’s about 50g)

Method

  1. Put the oven on to 180 C fan / 190 conventional
  2. Core the apples (whether you peel them is up to your preference). Slice half of one apple for the top
  3. Cut up the rest of the apples into medium diced cubes
  4. Pop all the apples into the lemon water to stop them going a nasty brown/oxidising until needed
  5. Make sure the butter is at room temperature and easy to beat, but not at all runny (this would alter the cake and cause it to fail as a bake)
  6. Weigh out the butter and the sugar in the same bowl and beat together until incorporated and smooth
  7. Dry the apple
  8. Add in the spices, half the butter and one egg and beat
  9. When that’s mixed nicely, add in the rest of the flour, the last egg and the calvados or cider and the diced apple (reserve the slices for the top)
  10. Tip this mix into the panibois paper or your prepped cake tin and smooth over
  11. Arrange the sliced apple on the top of the cake mix, then sprinkle over the demerara and then the sliced almonds
  12. Bake for 40 mins in the middle of the oven, but I test the cake with a skewer after 35
  13. Can be served warm as a dessert with toffee sauce or ice cream (Mmmm!), as well as leaving to cool and slicing up as a delicious cake

Berry and apple pie with orange shortbread pastry art

berryApplePie1

No back story for this one and no science bit unusually for me but it does show you step by step how to create my signature contemporary pies with reverse lattice cut-outs. I’ve now been asked a few times for a run down on how I do one of my pies, so here is the full recipe and set of photos.

If you’ve got any queries about how to do this, just add it to the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer. I’d love to see any that you make yourselves – please show it here or tag me in Instagram or Twitter xxx

Notes

I have not used egg in the pastry as I do not want it to puff up during baking. It needs to bake as flat as possible and, as eggs are natural leaveners, not including any egg helps this. Also the pie is not blind baked – keeping a baking tray in the hot oven before you put the pie in helps to avoid that dreaded soggy bottom.

Equipment
  • 20cm pie tin
  • Rolling pin
  • Baking paper
  • Palette knife
  • Sharp knife
  • Baking tray wide enough to sit your pie tin on)
  • Pastry brush
  • Your choice of at least one small cutter
  • Bowls
  • Medium saucepan and wooden spoon
  • Rolling pin
Ingredients – pastry
  • Plain flour – 250g
  • Unsalted butter, slightly softened – 125g
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Caster sugar – 60g
  • Orange zest – zest of one large fresh orange
  • A little milk  – about 30ml to bring the pastry together and for brushing later
Ingredients – filling
  • Mixed fruit – 500g (can be fresh or frozen)
  • Eating apple – 1 whole apple, cored, peeled and diced (if you are using tiny apples, like a pippin, then you’ll need one and a half apples)
  • Granulated sugar – this is to taste, but you will need at least 80g and probably more depending on how tart your berries are. Plus you’ll need a little extra for sprinkling
  • Ground almonds – 60g
Method – fruit filling
  1. This will vary in the length of time taken, depending on whether you are using fresh berries (only about a 5 minute pre-cook) or frozen (about 15 minutes)
  2. Place your berries, the diced apple and the granulated sugar in your saucepan and put over a medium heat (leave the ground almonds for later)
    fruit
  3. You will need to continually stir and gently prod the berries to ensure they break up a little
  4. Whatever you do, do NOT add any additional water to the the saucepan – it may look at first as if they are too dry and will burn, but will a bit of stirring plenty of juice will come out. If you had added some water, the whole mix will turn out too wet for the pie
  5. Take the saucepan off the heat when the berries have oozed a little juice, some of them have broken up a bit and the apple has softened slightly
  6. Leave to cool while you make the pastry
Method – pastry
  1. No need to make this pastry in stages – put all the ingredients in a bowl together (excluding the milk) and rub together until you get it to the fine breadcrumbs stage
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  2. Drip in a bit of milk at a time (you only want ‘just enough’) until you can massage the pastry and bring it together into a ball. It’s ready when it picks up all the pastry bits from the side of the bowl – and remember not to overwork it
  3. If you’re in a warm or hot room, put the pastry in the fridge for five minutes so it’s easier to work with. If you’re in a cool room you can go straight to the next step. As it’s a simple shortcrust pastry it needs less consideration and resting than one with egg in it
  4. Have your pie tin ready. I used an enamel tin for this and have found I do not need to grease or flour it; it work fine as it is. You will know if your choice of tin is prone to sticking
  5. Break off about a third of the pastry and leave to one side
  6. Using two pieces of baking paper: one on the work surface and one on top of the pastry roll our the pastry as thinly as you dare. I do it to about 2-3mm. You will probably need to keep taking off the top sheet of baking paper and repositioning it so it doesn’t curl
    3
  7. Make sure it spreads wider than the full diameter of your tin
  8. Take off the top sheet and place your tin upside down on the pastry
    4
  9. Invert your pastry and tin together and peel off the baking paper gently
    5
  10. Lift and ‘feed’ the pastry into the corners of the tin and trim off the excess with a sharp knife
    6
  11. Put this excess together with the pastry you left to one side earlier
  12. Press down with your thumb all the way round the edge of the pie to ensure the pastry grips to the tin and doesn’t shrink during baking
    7
  13. Leave the pie tin to one side
  14. Roll out the remaining pastry using the same method as above (with the baking paper) and to the same thickness
  15. Press out shapes with your chosen cutter and carefully remove them. You want to use both the lattice you are creating AND the shapes you have cut out
    11
  16. Make sure that the gaps between the cut-outs aren’t too thin or they will break when you place the lattice on. Neither should they be too thick or you’ll have too much pastry. between 6-12mm is fine
  17. Make sure you cut out enough shapes so that the lattice it has created fits over the entire diameter of the pie
  18. What you have cut out will invert on the pie as you are going to flip the lattice pastry over
Method – filling and assembly
  1. Put your oven on to 190C fan / 210C conventional and put the baking tray in
  2. Spread out the ground almonds on the bottom of the pie
    8
  3. Now is the time to pour your cooled filling into the pastry case and spread evenly
  4. Dampen the edge of the pastry case with a little milk using the brush
  5. Lift the pastry lattice up with the baking paper still attached – flip this over and place it pastry-side down on the filled pie
    12
  6. Carefully remove the baking paper and press down the edges so that the lattice adheres to the pastry case
  7. Re-brush the edges of the pastry  where it is dry (the new lattice bits)
  8. Take your cut-out shapes and arrange them around the edge of the pie, pressing them down lightly (but not so hard you leave finger marks)
    13
  9. Sprinkle some extra granulated sugar over the pastry
  10. Pop in the oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden
  11. Can be served warm or left to cool
    berryApplePie1

Enjoy 🙂

 

Apricot, apple and almond Chelsea Buns

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I was just thinking I hadn’t made an enriched dough recipe for a while…

Background/history of the recipe

Chelsea Buns are a specific version of a traditional, rolled enriched and sweetened bread. Unusually for a bread, their origins are actually known, as they were invented at the Chelsea Bun House in London, probably in the early 1700s, as contemporary literature and reports from as early as 1711 cite the bakery.

The Chelsea Bun House would have been located just off the Pimlico Road (and technically in Pimlico not confusingly in Chelsea – perhaps it relocated premises at one point). There is a Bunhouse Place, but it appears it’s unlikely that this was the location and was named after, with Grosvenor Row or Jew’s Row more likely candidates listed in the food/London history books (Wikipedia says Jew’s Row but you know never to fully believe wikipedia, right?) If you want to find where Bunhouse Place is, this is it on Streetmaps.

Anyway, the original Chelsea Bun House is no more as it closed down in 1939. At the height of it’s popularity (and it was very popular) even Royalty succumbed to its treats as it’s reported both King George II and King George III actually visited. Although the Chelsea Bun bore it’s name, the bakery actually was most famous for it’s hot cross buns

Chelsea Buns are usually made with extra butter, dried fruit (currants, sultanas or raisins) and coated in a honey glaze. The sweet dough is pressed into a rectangle, covered with butter, sugar and fruit and rolled, like a roulade. This is then cut into slices and arranged, with a cut side showing, grouped together in a tin so they rise and cook touching together.

Though currants are the real traditional ingredients, Chelsea buns are often altered but the main thing is to keep their coiled shape and glaze.

My new flavourings for Chelsea Buns – apricot, almond and apple

I’ve chosen to try a new recipe, and it worked out even better than I’d hoped. The combination of apple, apricot jam and crunchy almonds was lovely. I think I definitely prefer them with a bit of a crunch (other nice alternatives are chopped pistachios; chocolate drops and orange; dried fruit, cinnamon and nutmeg – a Christmassy taste and red berries).

Notes

Chelsea buns are big and hearty! If you want something more delicate you can roll the dough up from either long edge into the middle of the rectangle of dough at stage 13. So you would have two mini rolls, and then cut down the middle between the two rolls to separate them before cutting into about 10 slices each and arranging them in a tin. Proving and cooking time shouldn’t be affected.

Equipment

  • a tin to place the buns in. I used a 23 cm round springform tin, but a square or oblong one would be just fine
  • large bowl
  • pastry brush

Ingredients – for the enriched dough

  • strong white flour – 450 g
  • easy-blend yeast – 15 g
  • caster sugar – 50 g
  • 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 – 20 g
  • small dessert apple – 1
  • flaked almonds (toasted or non-toasted – either will do) – 90 g
  • apricot jam – about half a standard jar (I like it with the lumpy bits of fruit but if you don’t you could warm it, sieve it and let it re-cool or buy a smooth jam)

Ingredients for the glaze/topping

  • apricot jam – 3 tbsps
  • water – 1 tbsp
  • a few extra flaked almonds

Method

Preparing the dough

  1. Add all the dry ingredients into your bowl (that’s the flour, 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 I’ve not tried that myself with sweet dough, I always do it by hand.
  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. Grease the cake/bread tin.
  2. Gently roll the dough out of the bowl on to a floured surface and start to press it down gently (no heavy pummeling!) into a rectangle. You’re aiming for something about 30cm by 20 cm.
Chelsea buns - prepraing the filling ingredients
The rectangle of dough with the ingredients spread and scattered on
  1. Now you’re ready to add the filling ingredients. Spread the butter all over the rectangle of dough – you may not need all 20g – but leave a 1 cm gap down one long edge (this is to help the dough stick into a roulade shape later). Now spread over the half jar of apricot jam.
  2. Peel, core and dice the apple finely now (if you do this earlier it will discolour – one way to stop that would be to cover it in lemon juice but that will make the apple too acidic for this recipe).
  3. Scatter over the diced apple and the almonds.
  4. 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 roll.
  5. Cut the roll into about eight slices.
Chelsea buns - cutting the filled dough into coils
The roll of sweet dough with the ingredients inside, sliced into coils
  1. 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 other.
Chelsea buns arranged in tin prior to baking
  1. 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.
  2. 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 jam and water together until just bubbling. Brush (or pour) it all over the tops of the buns (while they are still in the tin) and then scatter the extra few flaked almonds over the top.
  4. You can either enjoy them slightly warm or leave until fully cool.
Chelsea buns