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Cakes

Vanilla Berry Oatmeal Loaves (refined sugar-free)

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Vanilla Berry Oatmeal Loaves (refined sugar-free)

The ideal combo of oatmeal, pancake and muffin. They’re protein and fibre-full and naturally sweet (no refined sugar), bursting with berries (zero dryness here) and filling. They’re quick to make, and super convenient as they can be made in advance, frozen and defrosted when cravings strike. They also look rather irresistible on any breakfast table, so great for when you have guests.

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Roasted Strawberry & Vanilla Cake

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Roasted Strawberry & Vanilla Cake

...& 14 Thoughts from the Kitchen Sink

From the moronic to the morbid, here’s an insight into what happens when I bake and let my mind wander:

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-      Drowning in a vat of sticky bread dough would probably be the worst way to die.

-      When you sieve icing sugar and it puffs into the air in clouds, how many calories are there in one mouthful of air?

-      Why do so many obscure meats taste like chicken and not beef?

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-      What is the significance of sometimes craving baby food - especially rusks, and pureed apple and banana?

-      Why do we delude ourselves that avocado on toast has been ‘smashed’?  I’ve never seen anyone smash an avocado.  I suppose ‘smeared’ doesn’t have the same ring to it.

-      If I could subsist on one food for the rest of my life it would most likely be oats.

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-      Nandos’ ‘hot’ sauce is anachronistic.  It was created about 20 years ago and people’s (i.e.my brother’s and my) tolerance for heat has gone up.  They should downgrade it to ‘medium’.

-      What was the exact moment when someone decided to put sugar, milk, butter and flour together to make the very first cake?

-      How do you know nigella seeds are nigella seeds and not mouse droppings?

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-      If 2017 was the year of slime porn, why can’t 2018 be the year of dough porn? 

-      Earlier this year some pig farmers tried to halt the use of pig terminology as connotative of greed.  Imagine if other farmers were to do the same: we couldn’t exclaim something was cheesy, or call people ugly cows, or ask people with whom we’re angry if they want beef, or complain that bland people are vanilla, or exclaim that someone is mutton dressed up as lamb, or taunt cowards as being chicken…

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-      How many times in my life has a waiter spat in my food on purpose?

-      Why do I have six jars of preserved lemons in my cupboard when I only use a small shaving of one once a year?

-      The smell of freshly baked bread should be a perfume.

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That’s enough musing for one day.

Here’s the recipe for an exceedingly luscious cake. It is succulent, and filled with roasted strawberries so that there is at least one deliquescing in every bite. The berries on the surface turn almost jam-like in the oven.  Absurdly quick and easy to make, it is totally moreish. 

NB. This cake can be made gluten-free by substituting the flour for gluten free. 

Luscious Strawberry cake  

Serves 6-8 (depending on level of greed)

Ingredients

85g unsalted butter, at room temperature

160g caster sugar + 2 tbsp for the topping

1 large egg

120ml milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

190g white spelt flour (or gluten-free equivalent)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

400g strawberries, after having been hulled and halved

20cm diameter round springform cake tin, either totally lined with baking parchment (if you’re feeling lazy and you don’t mind crinkly cake sides), or thoroughly greased with butter and the base lined with a circle of baking parchment

 

Method

1)   Preheat the oven to 180°C. 

2)   Either by hand or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and sugar together until soft, light and fluffy (which should take about three minutes).  Then pour in the egg, milk and vanilla extract and beat to combine. It may look slightly curdled but that is not a problem.

3)   Into the wet ingredients sieve the flour, baking powder and salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients through until the batter is smooth and fully combined.  Pour into the prepared cake tin.

4)   Arrange the strawberries cut side down in the batter. You make need to overlap some or push some down to fit them all in. Sprinkle the 2 tbsp of caster sugar over the top and place in the oven. 

5)   Bake for 45-55 minutes (depending on oven), checking after 30 minutes. You may need to cover the top with aluminium foil if the surface looks at risk of becoming too dark. When ready, the top should be a deep gold and a cake tester should come out batterless (moisture from the strawberries will prevent it from coming out totally clean).

6)   Allow to cool on a wire rack and devour on the day, or within two days, of baking.

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

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Pear & Speculoos Caramelised Cookie Magic Cake

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Pear & Speculoos Caramelised Cookie Magic Cake

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Maybe they think that all the gluttony and swollen stomachs affect our ability to digest information, that all the turkey/mince/fruit/chocolate/stuffing becomes blinding and we are no longer able to read paragraphs of text.  Instead, we have to have things numbered so as to reassure us that whatever we are reading won’t detract too long from the Christmas stasis.  

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Every newspaper or magazine clearly has some greedy journalist on its team who takes it upon him or herself to rate every mince pie out there to save us all the hard work. Then the subjective lists are compiled and played back to us year after year, despite the foods remaining the same, in the identical, consumable, numbered format.

In response to this, and inspired by an affront to my eyes when opening the newspaper magazine this weekend, I thought I would do a light review of the food adverts themselves:

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WAITROSE

Apparently, it’s for fruit lovers: congealed, glistening and with blood/jam trickling through its rivulets. But what is it? Depends how you like your desserts, but I’ll pass.

1/5

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SAINSBURY’S

I know Christmas is supposedly about family and coming together, but the picture of “grandma” with a prawn coming out of her head doesn’t conjure up any feelings of warmth for me 

1/5

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BOURSIN

I’ve caught members of my family spooning Boursin directly into their mouths. I was cynical at first about their Christmas rebrand with the addition of the “merry” epithet. But somehow, heady with garlicky creaminess, it has caught on in my household – we are now asking each other whether we’d like some “Merry Boursin” on our toast.

4/5

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LIDL

Lidl has gone down the particularly salivating route in showing us the turkeys pre-slaughter. They are relaxing free range by a bale of hay with the sun shining to stained glass effect through the translucent wattles. Delicious.

0/5

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Anyway, with all this Christmas “magic” abounding (and as a remedy for all this gaudiness), we might as well move on to an actual “magic” cake. Making a cake is magical enough, but there is a childlike joy when you put a homogeneous mix into the oven and it emerges, burnished, in perfectly ordered layers. This particular magic cake is like a perfectly formed French entremet, but without the effort.  All it requires is eggs to be separated and whisked and somehow it all falls into place. When making the speculoos topping, I would advise making a bit extra to allow some innocent “sampling” during the process (it’s ambrosial).

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Ingredients

 

Speculoos layer

300g Speculoos cookies + 100g for decoration

220ml unsweetened condensed milk

¼ tsp salt

 

Cake

3 eggs, separated

75g caster sugar

90g unsalted butter

50g plain flour

¼ tsp salt

300ml milk

4 small pears, peeled, cored and diced into 1cm cubes

 

21cm square cake tin (or round tin with similar area) fully lined with baking parchment.  It doesn’t matter if the tin is marginally larger or smaller

 

Method

1)    Preheat the oven to 150°C

2)    Put all the ingredients for the speculoos layer into a blender and blitz until smooth, and set aside.

3)    Melt the butter and set aside to cool. In a bowl (if doing by hand) or electric mixer beat the sugar with the egg yolks until thick and pale. Pour in the butter and 150g of the Speculoos layer and gently combine. Then sieve in the flour and salt and fold to combine. Pour in the milk and combine.

4)    In the bone-dry bowl of an electric mixer or by hand, whisk the egg whites vigorously until they thicken and hold their shape in stiff peaks. Very gently fold them into the batter, taking care to preserve the aeration.

5)    Scatter the diced pear evenly on the bottom of the cake tin, then gently pour the batter on top. Smooth the surface with a knife and place in the oven to cake for 35 minutes. The cake will still be soft when you remove it from the oven but this is how it is meant to be. Put it onto a rack to cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge for an hour to set.

6)    To serve, lift the cake out of the tin on the serving plate using the baking parchment and remove baking parchment. I choose to slice off the cake edges in order to better expose the layers. Spread the remaining speculoos layer on top and over it crumble the decorative speculoos cookies.

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Recipe adapted from "Magic Cakes" by Christelle Huet-Gomez

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Triple Layer Chocolate, Coffee, Vanilla Cake

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Triple Layer Chocolate, Coffee, Vanilla Cake

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It’s on an almost daily basis that I find my thoughts converging on that scene in Matilda:  Bruce vs the chocolate cake – moist, dense, dark, and yes, revolting. It’s a tempting challenge, and only on a handful of occasions in my life have I come close to those chocolatey depths (or heights, depending on your perspective). 

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The first time was at my 9th birthday party which took place in the civilized private room of a pottery painting shop, surrounded by friends from my all-girls school, all politely detailing their teacups with flowers, and hearts, and stars. The birthday cake arrived, tall and majestic, lavishly enrobed in sumptuous swathes of soft chocolate buttercream.

All I can say in mitigation of what was to come was that at least I waited until my slice was placed in a bowl. But then the urge became overpowering, and it was with unbridled joy that I plunged my face into my bowl and into the luscious embrace of the cake.

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But my Bruce experiences don’t end there. I waited a further nine years until I was at university, when a five pence coin thrown into a neighbour’s dessert meant that it had to be devoured without cutlery. This was a curse to many, but an opportunity I wholeheartedly seized. Why waste time on cutlery when you can cut to the chase, pig-in-trough style, with an audience?  

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The desire was mostly satisfied then but I still dream up opportunities to replicate it. I imagine this cake would be peak territory for such caveman antics: a base layer of moist and rich chocolate cake (ticks the Bruce box), a golden middle tier of coffee cake, and a fluffy vanilla sponge top tier. The buttercream is deeply chocolatey with a pinch of salt to counteract the sweetness, and the cake is topped with a mirror ganache drip glaze (easier to do than you may think). Nigella famously writes in her recipe: “Feeds twelve, or one with a broken heart”. This feeds twenty, or one with an overpowering Man vs Food, Matilda’s Bruce desire.

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Although this cake has multiple elements and steps it is not difficult to carry out.

  •  If you wish to have all three layers identical, then just triple the quantity of one cake.
  • Feel free to experiment with buttercreams as well (for example, vanilla, coffee, or caramel). 
  • Additionally, I use dark fruits to decorate the cake, but you can keep it plain, or venture down more chocolatey routes. It is also delicious kept simple, without the mirror chocolate ganache.
  • This is effectively three cakes in one so you can just make one of the cakes, and make a third of the icing in which to cloak it.
  • The chocolate cake recipe makes slightly more than necessary, hence the muffin cups into which the excess mixture is poured – a bonus in my book…

Ingredients

The vanilla and coffee cakes:

450g unsalted butter, at room temperature
450g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp milk
8 large eggs, at room temperature
450g self-raising flour, sieved
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tsp boiling water

The chocolate cake:

400g plain flour
250g caster sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
50 high quality cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
140g soured cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter, melted
125g corn or vegetable oil
300ml cold water

Salted cocolate buttercream:

250g high quality 70% dark chocolate
375g unsalted butter, at room temperature
680g icing sugar, sieved
½ tsp salt
4 tsp vanilla extract


Mirror chocolate ganache:

100g double cream
100g high quality 70% dark chocolate

Equipment:

3 (or 2 if you wash one up in between making vanilla/coffee and chocolate cakes) x 20cm diameter round cake tins, buttered, with the base lined with a circle of baking parchment
1 muffin tin with 5 muffin cases
piping bag fitted with a 2-3mm round nozzle


Method

The vanilla cake and the coffee cake:

1)    Preheat fan oven to 180C. In a large bowl with a spoon, or in a mixer fitted with the paddle, beat together butter and sugar for about 3 minutes until the mixture turns fluffy, soft and almost white. Beat in the vanilla and milk.  
2)    Then beat in one egg at a time alternating each egg with a tablespoon of flour. Don’t panic if it looks slightly curdled, as this is normal. Add in the rest of the flour and salt and, by hand, gently fold them into the mixture.
3)    Pour half the mixture into one of the lined baking tins – this is the vanilla cake. For the coffee cake, add in the dissolved espresso powder into the remaining mixture and fold in gently. Pour into the second baking tin and place both in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes until golden on top and a skewer comes out clean. After 30 minutes, you may need to cover them with tinfoil to prevent the surface from burning. 
4)    Once cooked, remove from oven and place on a rack to cool.

The chocolate cake:

1)    Preheat fan oven to 180C. Into a large bowl, sieve all the dry ingredients and mix through. In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, soured cream and vanilla. 
2)    In a third, large bowl, either by hand or in a mixer fitted with the paddle, beat together oil, butter and water until combined. Into this bowl, pour the dry ingredients and fold gently to combine. Then pour in the egg, cream, vanilla mixture and fold gently together until smooth and just combined.
3)    Pour off 300g of the mixture into a separate bowl and divide equally between 5 muffin cases. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place muffins and large cake in the oven. Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, and the large cake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Check the large cake after 30 minutes, as you make need to cover it with tinfoil to prevent the surface from burning. Once cooked through, remove from the oven and place on a baking rack to cool.

The salted chocolate buttercream:

1)    Melt the chocolate in a bowl sitting on top of a pan of boiling water (don’t let the water touch the base of the bowl containing chocolate). Set the melted chocolate aside to cool slightly.
2)    In a mixer fitted with a paddle, or in a large bowl with a spoon, beat together the icing sugar and butter until combined. Pour in the melted chocolate, salt and vanilla, and beat once more until combined. 

The chocolate mirror ganache:

1)    Make this only once the cake is iced. Heat the double cream in a small pan over a medium heat until it just begins to bubble. Remove from heat immediately and stir in the chocolate until it has melted and both combine into a glossy ganache.

Assembly:

1)    The cakes should be of equal depth, so line the three cakes alongside each other and, with a long-serrated knife, slice the domes off each to make them even. I then place the cakes in the freezer for 10 minutes as it makes them easier to ice. 
2)    Place the chocolate cake on the stand on which you wish to serve the cake. This will be the bottom most layer. Place about a fifth of the icing mixture on top and spread it carefully with a spatula. Place the coffee cake directly on top and repeat, finally placing the vanilla layer on top. 
3)    At this point, if you are impatient, you can continue to ice the rest of the cake with the remaining buttercream, and proceed directly to stage 4.  If, however, you want to ice the cake perfectly, it is advisable to do a crumb layer. This involves placing another fifth of the buttercream on the top of the cake and using a spatula to spread it evenly in as thin layer as possible around the cake, coating and filling any irregularities or gaps so that the sides and top are totally smooth and flat. Once this is done, place the cake in the fridge for a further 30 minutes until the icing is slightly hard to the touch. Remove from the fridge, and place the remaining icing onto the top of the cake and use a spatula to spread it off the top and around the sides. I dip the spatula in hot water to help achieve a smooth result. Place the cake back in the fridge while making the ganache.
4)    Spoon a third of the ganache into the piping bag. Begin by drawing a line round the edge of the cake surface as a border. Then to make a drip, hold the piping bag very still with the nozzle pointing directly down, and put consistent pressure on the bag to allow the drop to fall from the edge down the side of the cake. Stop when the drip is nearly at the length you want. Continue along the edge of the cake making drips of different lengths. Once this is done, pour the remaining ganache onto the top of the cake and spread with a spatula to cover the surface. 
5)    Top with dark fruits or any decoration of choice, and serve. 

All cake recipes are adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Fudge Cake and Victoria Sponge Cake recipes

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Spelt Scones & Damson Jam

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Spelt Scones & Damson Jam

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Adorned with dew drops of glaucous fruits, the damson tree was innocent in its fairy tale perfection. Plump and firm, tart and succulent they were ideal contenders for picking. There seemed at first glance to be very few, but as the minutes rolled by, our bags heavier and the ladder creaking, the tree continued to proffer its bounty. The result: 6kg of damsons and a swollen stomach from ones that never quite made it into the bag.

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Our supply of sugar rather pitiful in the wake of the unsurpassed abundance, I heaved an Olympian quantity back from the supermarket. The one bag that decided to split has left a coating of sticky grit on any coins that I dig out of the corners of my bag.  

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Then on to the stove went the damsons, the heated sugar and a touch of water. They blistered, bubbled and broke out of their skins. The stones rose to the surface like witches on trial and had to be picked out one by one. Meanwhile the mixture boiled and thickened, giving off a foamy pink effervescence that I carved off as it supposedly tastes slightly bitter (although I rather enjoyed spooning it directly into my mouth). Then as it reached its rich amethyst depths and a satisfying viscose texture, I took it off and poured it into the sterilised jars: therapeutic and deeply satisfying…the first-time round.

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But as I tried to leave the kitchen I was bludgeoned with another 3kg worth of damsons. I was pelted, too, with threats of waste and rotting fruit if I didn’t make jam immediately. The kitchen became heated with the upset from my father who had cultivated and nurtured the tree for years.

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So, I gave in and became a slave to the damson tree once more, boiling, straining, stirring pouring. And now we have half a fridge thronging with jar upon jar of jam. And what does one do when he or she has a year’s supply of jam? Well, I find eating it straight from the jar perfectly acceptable, but others need a medium as an excuse. So I made scones. These are not the dry, stale and overly sweet ones that leave you desperately seeking a currant to relieve you from the accumulating doughy mass at the top of your palate. These are soft, light, moist and crumbly. Rustic in shape, they are best eaten immediately or on the same day (though it is unlikely they will survive longer). 

 

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Spelt Scone Recipe – makes 12

500g white spelt flour (can be substituted with plain)

4 ½ tsp cream of tartar

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

(optional: 2 tbsp sugar if would like them sweet)

1/2 tsp salt

125g cold unsalted butter, diced

300ml milk

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

 

6cm round cookie cutter

Large baking sheet, lined with baking parchment

 

Method

1)    Preheat the oven to 220°C.

2)    Into a large bowl sift all the dry ingredients. Add in the butter and with fingertips rub it into the dry ingredients until like damp sand. Pour in the milk and very gently fold in until just combined (there may still be pockets of flour).

3)    Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it lightly for about 10 seconds. Roll out to a 3cm thickness and then cut out as many scones as possible. Lightly re-knead the scraps of dough and roll out once more to cut out the last remaining scones.  Space them out on the tray and blush with the beat egg. Place in oven to bake for 8-10 minutes until they are shiny and golden.

Damson Jam Recipe (makes about 3kg, 9 jars)

NB. This recipe can be adapted for any number of damsons by maintaining the ratio

2kg damsons (slightly under-ripe and not too soft)

2kg sugar

200ml water

9 jam jars, sterilised

Method

1)    Pour sugar into an over proof dish and place in oven heated to a low temperature (around 120°C) while the damsons are prepared. Place a couple of small plates into a fridge to cool – these will be used to check the jam’s consistency later.

2)    Grease a large stainless-steel pot with butter to prevent the fruit from sticking. Then pour in the damsons and water and stew over a medium-low heat, stirring gently until the damsons’ skins break. Pour in the warmed sugar and stir over medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

3)    Increase the heat to medium-high and allow to boil (controllably), stirring occasionally to prevent the fruit from sticking. After a few minutes, as the fruits break down, a pink foam will rise to the surface. Using a slotted spoon, siphon this off into a bowl. If some remains it won’t ruin the jam, it just doesn’t taste as pure as the rest. Then, as the stones begin to rise up, siphon off those too.

4)    After about 15 minutes of boiling, when all the stones have been removed, pour a teaspoon of the liquid onto a cold plate. Let it sit for about a minute then tilt the plate, if the liquid is no longer watery, with a viscosity between a sauce and a jam, and wrinkles when pushed with the finger, it is set. For the more scientifically-minded, it should be 105°C on a sugar thermometer. Pour the jam into the sterilised jars and allow to come to room temperature before sealing them with lids.

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Raspberry & Orange Financiers

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Raspberry & Orange Financiers

Entremets, soufflés, macarons, choux buns - even making ciabatta, a two day process, which culminates in a dough whose tenacious elasticity has been known to reduce some people to tears - I’ve generally met their challenges.

However, hubris met nemesis a couple of weeks ago. I came home to the nutty toasted perfume of a new recipe my mom had tried out: ridiculously simple, five ingredient coconut wafers so thin you could see the sunset through them, so tender that they crumbled in anticipation of hitting one’s tongue, and so light and moreish that a second batch was immediately required in order to satisfy my family’s greed.

I duly crumbed, clumped, chilled, and sliced.  “Make them thinner,” my mom said. And I did, each slice crumbling into thousands of buttery coconut crumbs. I pressed them together and started again. And again. Unfortunately, it was only my patience that turned out thin, and the petulant three year old in me ended up scooping together the entire mixture and, from a height, throwing it down onto the tray.

Finally, I managed to get the fragments to coagulate by adding water. Things went more smoothly, but the biscuits, when baked, were slightly tougher, less flaky and less moreish than the original batch. Nevertheless, my brother took them to university. One of his friends, suffering from tonsillitis, reached into the box of biscuits, and in taking out one, touched many. The rest were binned, mostly due to the possibility of their having being infected with tonsillitis, but clearly not delicious enough to warrant risking it – a failure in my book.

After nursing my crumbled confidence for several days I swerved off the rocky path of coconut wafers to try my hand at financiers. I have always admired them - perfectly bite sized and innocent- looking with the flush of raspberry in the centre. They are also simple to make, requiring few ingredients, and turning out both delicious and delicate.

The history is much debated, but some say they were create by nuns of the Order of the Visitation and then adapted by a French baker, Lasne, to sell in the Parisian financial district where their almond content allowed them to keep well in the pockets of bankers. 

They are elegant and dainty, slightly crunchy on the outside, the tender blond crumb perfumed with a slight orange tang and moistened by the burst of raspberry.  They do keep rather well and would bless a summer’s picnic.

Recipe:

Makes 30 (approx)

50g unsalted butter

50g plain flour

160g icing sugar

140g ground almonds

1/2 tsp salt

200g egg whites (6 large eggs)

1/4 tsp almond extract

zest of 1/4 orange 

60g raspberries (minimum of 30 raspberries i.e. 1 per financier)

 Very well-greased and flour- dusted 3 x 12 hole mini cupcake tins (with 2.5cm diameter circles)  OR 1 to be used 3 times

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a small pan over a medium heat. When completely melted, stir the bottom of the pan continuously until the butter turns a deep gold colour and nutty in aroma. Set aside to cool.
  2. Sieve the flour and icing sugar into large bowl. Stir in the ground almonds and salt. Once combined, pour in the egg whites, almond extract, zest and slightly cooled butter and stir to fully combine. Cover the bowl and allow the mixture to chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  4. Spoon the batter into the holes until each is two thirds full. Press a raspberry into the centre of each - the batter should rise to all the way to the top. 
  5. Place in the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes or until light gold in colour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool (to avoid them becoming soggy) or devour immediately. 

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Cinnamon Apple Crumble Pies

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Cinnamon Apple Crumble Pies

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This is the cinnamon apple crumble pie 2.0. Tried, tested, and enhanced...Cinnamon Apple Crumble Pies Soft, crunchy, crumbly, fresh, sweet, and on the cusp of sour – the Gail’s Bakery apple crumble cake is what I crave.  It’s the ultimate winter treat, although I gaze longingly through the bakery window at them year-round.

Cinnamon Apple Crumble Pies

 

 

Cinnamon Apple Crumble PiesI bought the Gail’s Artisan Bakery Cookbook a few months ago in the hope that they had divulged the secret of their signature apple crumble cake. They hadn’t.

Cinnamon Apple Crumble PiesCinnamon Apple Crumble Pies

As a result I’ve just had to develop my own recipe – more wholesome, with more cinnamon and less sugar, I’ve heard they may even be superior…

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Cinnamon Apple Crumble Pies

Cinnamon Apple Crumble Pies

Cinnamon Apple Crumble Pies

 

Ingredients

(Makes 15)

Pastry

320g (11.3 oz) wholegrain spelt flour

110g (3.9oz) icing sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

165g (5.8oz) butter, roughly chopped into cubes

1 large egg, beaten

Apple Filling

700 (1lb 5oz) grams of peeled, cored and coarsely grated Bramley apples (about 3 large apples)

70g (2.5oz) caster sugar

Crumble topping

80g (2.8oz) wholegrain spelt flour

45g (1.6oz) oats

45g (1.6oz) caster sugar

50g (1.7oz)  butter

2 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

15 hole muffin/cupcake tin, greased (usually they come in 12s, in which case you will need 2 x muffin trays

 

Method

Pastry

  1. In a blender, blitz together dry ingredients. Then add in the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles damp sand. Pour in the egg and continue to pulse until the mixture clumps together into a dough. Avoid mixing it more than necessary.
  2. Flatten the dough roughly into a disc and wrap in cling film or baking parchment. Chill in the freezer while you make the other elements.

Apple Filling

  • Place all ingredients in a pan and stir over a high heat for about 5 minutes until the apple turns soft but some texture still remains.  Strain the mixture using a sieve, pressing down to get rid of excess liquid (about 250ml, which incidentally tastes like a delicious mulled cider).  Set aside to cool.

Crumble

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until the mixture resembles damp sand.

Assembly

  1. Preheat an oven to 180˚C.
  2. On a floured surface, roll out the chilled pasty to a thickness of 0.5cm. Cut the pastry into circles with an area similar to that of the muffin tin holes (about 8-10cm), and press each circle in the holes. You may need to patchwork the pieces together.
  3. Prick the pastry lining the muffin holes with a fork, and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or cooked through and beginning to golden slightly.
  4. Take the tin out of the oven and spoon 2tbsp of the cooked apple into each pastry shells. Top the cakes by spooning a few tablespoons of the crumb topping over each cake, patting it down and then sprinkling the rest of the mixture over.  I like to clump some of it together before scattering it over in order to add further texture and rustic appeal.
  5. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the crumble topping is golden and crisp. Serve hot or cold.

Cinnamon Apple Crumble Pies

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Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

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Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

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 How to bake and stay (reasonably) in shape. Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

I am often asked how it is that I am not obese.  I am by no means super skinny, but people wonder how I avoid rolling around the place when I am seemingly baking the whole time and have little resistance to delicious things.  So, here’s my secret.  Have a go.

Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

 

What I need: a running machine; a radio; an oven; a timer

Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

What I do:

Pour the batter into the cake tin, lovingly smooth the surface over with a spatula. One lick of the spatula before it goes in the sink (just a little indulgence). Carefully open the oven door, and bend down slowly so that the batter remains level.  Place the cake tin tenderly on the rack. Set the oven timer.  22 minutes.  Then GO.

Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

Run up the stairs, two at a time.  That’s one minute either side to rush back down.  Turn up the radio. Leap on to the treadmill, and run. 10 mph minimum. 20 mins to go.  Sweat, pound, sweat.  15 mins.  Beyoncé’s screaming.  Oven beeps.  Run back down (Beyoncé’s mumbling). Open oven door, skewer the cake.  Damn - not cooked. Rip out a sheet of tin foil. Cover the cake.  Burn hand.  Set timer: 7 mins more.  Repeat process until skewer comes out clean.  Place cake on rack and allow to cool.

Stretch and shower.

Hover over the cake with a knife.

Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

You can make the cake sans-icing by simply halving the recipe and, before serving, dusting with a little icing sugar.Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

 

Ingredients

Cake

200g butter, at room temperature

170g caster sugar

30g light brown muscovado sugar

2 tbsp ground coffee

¼ tsp salt

70g toasted walnuts, ground to a fine sand

4 large eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp instant coffee, dissolved in as little hot water as possible to make a smooth paste

240g self-rising flour, sieved

2 x 8 inch cake tins, greased and with bases lined with a circle of baking parchment

 

Coffee Syrup

40g golden syrup

50g caster sugar

2 tbsp instant coffee

100ml boiling water

 

Coffee Icing

300g butter, at room temperature

450g icing sugar

1 ½ tsp vanilla

2 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in as little hot water as possible to make a smooth paste

¼ tsp salt

 

Caramelised walnuts

60g walnuts

2 tbsp caster sugar

3 tbsp water

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Using an electric mixer, or with a vigorous hand, in a large bowl beat together the butter, caster sugar, muscovado, ground coffee and salt until light and fluffy.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, vanilla and dissolved instant coffee. Beat this into the butter-sugar-coffee-salt mix.  Once combined, stir in the ground walnuts.
  3. Finally, gently fold the sieved flour into the mixture, being careful not to overbeat. Divide the mixture between the two tins and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes (checking after 20) or until a skewer comes out clean.
  4. While the cakes are baking, make the coffee syrup. Dissolve the instant coffee in the water and pour into a small pan along with the syrup and sugar.  On a medium high heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved, then allow to simmer for 5 minutes or until it thickens slightly to the consistency of maple syrup.
  5. Remove cakes from oven. Stab them all over with a cake tester or skewer, and spoon the syrup equally over the two cakes.  Set aside on a rack and allow to cool.

Icing

  1. Beat together butter and icing sugar. Once combined, beat in the vanilla, coffee and salt.
  2. Remove the cakes from tins, place one on the serving plate and spread ¼ of the icing on its surface. Place the other cake on top and spread the icing evenly over the cake.

Caramelised Walnuts

  1. In a shallow pan, over a medium-high heat, stir together water and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Then pour in the walnuts, and continue to stir and coat them until all the water has evaporated.  Decant them on to a sheet of baking parchment, and allow them to cool.
  2. Once cool, chop roughly, and scatter as desired over the cake.

Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

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Spiced Blueberry Tart

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Spiced Blueberry Tart

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Is it just me, or is anyone else sick of logging on to Facebook, innocently hoping to drain away half an hour of one’s day (minimum) by looking at pictures of people one may or may not have half met once trying to prove how much fun they are having by posting pictures of themselves with friends/family, strained smiles stretched across their faces, and who are clearly not that immersed in the fun as they have had to spend half an hour trying to get one decent picture out of the hundred they’ve taken to emblazon it across their Facebook wall and maybe, just maybe, turn it into a cover photo?

And then – BAM - your gaze is diverted,

and you are staring down into the depths of a garishly coloured plastic bowl filled with some unidentifiable artificial gunk, pink fleshy hands massaging some other substance into it to form some putty-like emulsion which is then mushed and squeezed and squidged into a plastic mould, whizzed up, and extruded through a bag and…… oh look, it’s that Gooey Oreo, Jellied Eel and Green Marshmallow Mini Coffee Cup that “you’ve always wanted to make for your slumber party with the gals”.

Here’s an antidote.  It is simple yet sophisticated, humble yet sumptuous, tangy but not cloyingly sweet, and light yet not so light when you’ve had 4+ pieces….

Ingredients

Pastry

200g white spelt flour (can be substituted with plain flour)

100g butter, roughly cubed

2 tbsp icing sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 small egg, beaten

12 x 36cm tart tin, greased and dusted with flour

Blueberry filling

800g frozen blueberries

250g caster sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp cornflour

Zest of ½ medium sized orange

Method

  1. Place flour, butter, icing sugar and salt in a food processor, and blitz until it resembles damp sand. Pour in the beaten egg, and pulse until the mixture combines to form a soft dough.  Remove from the processor, wrap in baking parchment and place in the fridge for half an hour (or freezer for 10-15 minutes) – this will prevent the dough from shrinking when it bakes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Lightly dust a surface with flour and roll out the dough in a rough rectangle to 0.5cm thickness. Roll the pastry around a rolling pin and transfer to the tin, pressing it into the fluting (if, indeed, your tin is fluted). Run a knife along the top edge of the tin to remove excess pastry. Prick the base of the pastry a few times with a fork, and place back in the fridge for 30 minutes (or freezer for 10 minutes).
  3. Prepare the pastry for blind baking by lining the inside with a sheet of tin foil and filling it with baking beads to weigh it down while it bakes and to prevent it from shrinking. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is dry and beginning to turn golden.  If it is cooking too slowly, you can remove the beads and tin foil after 15 minutes and continue to bake.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. To make the spiced blueberry filling, place a large pan over a high heat and pour in all the ingredients. Stir continuously until the sugar is dissolved in the juice that runs off the blueberries. When the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium-high and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from catching, until the liquid is almost completely reduced and with the viscosity somewhere between a syrup and a jam. Allow to cool to room temperature, then pour into the pre-baked pastry case.
Spiced Blueberry Tart

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Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart

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Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart

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I never caught on to the Disney hype – I endured a few of the films when I was younger but was never enthralled by its saccharine princesses and unrealistic princes. I rejected the dressing up stage of childhood, and have none of the nostalgia that is awakened in many when hearing or singing the songs.  My only knowledge of Lion King is from Cindies (arguably the stickiest night club in Cambridge) which is played for 30 seconds without fail every Wednesday evening to excite the Disney addicts and to jolt inebriated students out of their drunken kisses.

What I did love was the sugar-glazed brutality of the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film.

I adored the Chocolate Room, and my six year old self spent a lot of time fantasising about edible wallpaper and edible TV adverts. However, the first scene, where Augustus Gloop falls into the ‘chocolate’ river, is almost too painful to watch.

It was concocted using 150,000 gallons of water, real chocolate and real ice cream, yet despite its authenticity, its watery thinness is more the stuff of sewers than of dreams.

If I were going to bathe in chocolate it would need to be velvety, glossy and thick… and after 15 years of dwelling on this I’ve come to terms with the fact that this tart is probably the closest I will get to doing that.

Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart

Ingredients

Chocolate pastry

225g plain flour

30g cocoa

150g unsalted butter, chopped into cubes

110g white caster sugar

3 egg yolks

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp ice water

baking beads/uncooked rice/dry beans

4 fresh figs, halved (optional)

12 x 36cm tart tin, greased and dusted with flour

Salted caramel chocolate ganache

300g 70% good quality dark chocolate

300g white caster sugar

300ml double cream

20g light brown muscovado sugar

20g butter

1tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

Pastry Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C
  2. Blitz all the ingredients in a blender. Pulse until into turns into a damp sand texture. Tip out on to a surface and press it so that it clumps together into dough.   Wrap the dough in baking parchment and put it in the fridge for an hour, or in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  3. Dust a surface with flour and roll the pastry out in a rectangle to a thickness of 0.5cm. Any excess can be frozen and used within 2 months. Transfer the pastry to the greased and floured tin to line it. Don’t panic if it crumbles in the transition, just patchwork it together in the tin. Place a sheet of baking parchment or tin foil over the pastry, and fill it with the baking beads to weigh it down to prevent the pastry from shrinking as it cooks.
  4. Place it in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the baking parchment and baking beads. Reduce the oven temperature to 150˚C, and place the pastry back in to bake for a further 10-15 minutes until it is fully cooked. Set aside to cool.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Ganache Method

  1. Chop the dark chocolate roughly, and set it aside in a heatproof mixing bowl.
  2. Place the caster sugar in a saucepan over medium high heat and, when it starts to melt, stir gently with a rubber spatula to avoid it burning around the edges. Push any unmelted sugar into the already caramelised sugar to aid the caramelising process.
  3. Once the sugar has turned a rich, dark gold colour, while still on the heat, pour in the cream whisking all the time. If clumps form, don’t panic: keep whisking over medium low heat, and they will eventually melt.
  4. Once the lumps have dissolved, whisk in the muscovado sugar, butter, vanilla and salt, and stir the bubbling mixture on a medium heat for another 2 minutes.
  5. Pour the mixture into the bowl of chopped dark chocolate and stir immediately until all the chocolate has melted and the caramel and chocolate are fully combined.
  6. Pour into the tart shell, smooth the surface over with a palate knife, and place this in the fridge for an hour (or freezer for half an hour) to set. Decorate with sliced figs to serve.
Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart

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Tipsy Triple Raspberry Macarons

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Tipsy Triple Raspberry Macarons

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Tipsy Triple Raspberry Macarons I refuse to believe that the macaron is simply a fad.  Admittedly, there was a craze which saw the opening of several French macaron boutiques in London. I shan’t name names but one of the largest French specialists does not even make them fresh in London. Instead, they import them frozen from France - in a state of hibernation, as they call it.

Tipsy Triple Raspberry Macarons

Tipsy Triple Raspberry Macarons

Despite this, the specialists remain, and the macaron is here to stay. Now that the craze has faded a little, I feel more free to write a recipe as people will be slightly less sick of the sight of the perfect ruffled shells.

Tipsy Triple Raspberry Macarons

Many are intimidated at the prospect of making them, but there really is no need.  The rumour of the challenge in making them may well have been promulgated by the macaron specialists themselves in order to justify their extortionate pricing.

Tipsy Triple Raspberry Macarons

To make them extra tangy and fruity, raspberry is worked into these macarons in three ways: freeze dried raspberries, raspberry jam and raspberry liqueur.  If you can’t get hold of freeze dried raspberries, just omit this element from the recipe.

Tipsy Triple Raspberry MacaronsTipsy Triple Raspberry Macarons

Tipsy Triple Raspberry Macarons

Triple Raspberry Liqueur Macarons 

 

Makes about 30 small macarons

 

Ingredients

110g icing sugar, sieved

50g ground almonds, blitzed in a blender to a fine powder, and sieved

5g freeze dried raspberry powder OR 10g freeze dried raspberries, crushed or whole (see below)

60g egg whites (about 2 eggs' worth)

40g caster sugar

A couple of drops of pink food dye (optional)

200g seedless raspberry am

4 tbsp Chambord (raspberry liqueur)

 

2 large baking trays lined with baking parchment – if you wish to achieve perfectly circular macarons, create guidelines for the piping by drawing in pencil round a 4cm bottle lid repeatedly on the greaseproof paper, leaving at least 4cm between each circle.  Flip it over after doing this to ensure that the pencil does not transfer to the macaron

 

Piping bag fitted with 0.5cm nozzle

 

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the sieved icing sugar, ground almonds and freeze dried raspberry powder.  If you can only get hold of crushed or whole freeze dried raspberries, place these in a blender and blitz until they are as pulverised as possible, and then sieve to remove the seeds.  You should be left with a fine red dust.
  2. Pour egg whites into the bowl of a bone dry electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk at a high speed until soft, foamy peaks form.  Then, with the whisk still ongoing, add in the caster sugar, a tablespoonful at a time.  Keep whisking until the meringue is glossy and firm peaks form.
  3. Take a third of the meringue and mix it into the dry ingredients.  If the dry ingredients don’t fully combine, stir in another tablespoon of meringue.  At this point you can add a couple of drops of food dye to reach desired colour - anything from baby  girl to schiaparelli pink. The mixture should turn into a thick, smooth paste.  Then, gradually fold in the rest of the meringue, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture becomes glossy and smooth.
  4. Spoon mixture in the piping bag and pipe little dots directly onto the corners of the baking tray to stick the baking parchment down.  Then pipe the mixture into each circle.  Once finished piping, tap the tray down firmly on a hard surface a couple of times to remove the air bubbles from the macarons. Then set the macarons aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.  This will allow a skin to form and will lead to the creation of the often-elusive but essential “macaron foot”.
  5. While they are resting, preheat oven to 150˚C. Bake the macarons for 20 minutes or until they can be lifted off the tray cleanly with a pallet knife. Allow them to cool until they reach room temperature.
  6. Place raspberrry jam in a small pot over a medium-high heat and stir continuously. After it has bubbled furiously for a couple of minutes, stir in the Chambord.  Allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes,  or until it has become more viscous and thick enough to be able to be dropped off a spoon. Remove from the stove, allow to cool for 5 minutes and then sandwich each pair of macaron shells together with a teaspoon of the mixture.

Tipsy Triple Raspberry Macarons

 

Tipsy Triple Raspberry Macarons

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Tarta de Santiago

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Tarta de Santiago

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When life gives you … quinces Tarta de Santiago

 

The scent coming from the paper bag was soft and sweet, and old fashioned rose-like, and when I turned out its contents, eight yellow, somewhat misshapen apple-pears tumbled out.

Tarta de Santiago     These quinces were the unwanted fruit of an unappreciated tree in someone else’s garden.  Beguilingly biblical in appearance, their uncompromising hardness metamorphoses into something utterly different after cooking.

Tarta de Santiago

Tarta de Santiago Originally referred to as the Kydonian melon, and mentioned in 6th Century BCE Greek poetry, the quinces we recognise today are believed to have been indigenous to Kydonia on the island of Crete. The Ancient Greeks dedicated the quince to Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, who was often represented with the golden apple of Hesperides in her right hand – that apple, in all likelihood, a quince.  Indeed, quinces symbolised love and fertility, and Plutarch refers to the ancient wedding ritual whereby a bride would take a bite from a quince before retiring to the bridal chamber with her husband – possibly to freshen her breath, too.

Tarta de Santiago The path of the wedding procession of Helen and Menelaus was said to have been strewn with quinces, myrtle leaves and crowns woven from violets and roses. The fruit was also said by Pliny to have warded off the malign influence of the evil eye, and its medicinal value as an aid to digestion was also noted.

Tarta de Santiago

The Byzantines made wine from quinces as well as kydonaton, a thick quince jelly, probably the ancestor of French cotignac or condoignac, a delicacy made with honey, wine and spices that was considered a worthy gift for kings.

Tarta de SantiagoApicius, the first extant Roman cookbook writer, of the first century CE, preserved quinces whole in honey diluted with a spiced wine reduction, and also combined them with leeks, honey, and broth in hot oil in a dish known as Patina de Cydoniis. In the 4th Century CE, Palladius, an agriculturist and writer, composed a recipe for baked quince strips, possibly the first stirrings of membrillo, the Spanish quince gel that we know today.

Tarta de Santiago

During the 16th and 17th centuries, cooks in England prepared many variations of quince preserves which they called quidoniac, quiddony or paste of Genoa.  Often the preserve paste was thick enough to be moulded into animal or flower shapes. Nowadays, many cultures use quinces in their cuisine: in India, a quince sambal is made by making a puree out of quinces, onions, chillies, orange juice and salt. In Iran, quinces are sometimes cored and stuffed with minced meat, and Moroccan tagines often include quince along with dried fruit and spices.

Tarta de Santiago

Despite its pertinence in history and mythology the quince has rather fallen out of fashion.  Now the prized aphrodisiac and breath-freshener has been reduced to an unloved (except by the cognoscenti), knobbly peculiarity.  I hereby am starting a quince appreciation campaign and when life gives you quinces, make membrillo, and with the membrillo make Tarta de Santiago.

Tarta de Santiago

Membrillo is the rose-tinted translucent and slightly grainy gel that miraculously results from boiling quinces with water, sugar and citrus.  Its perfumed exoticness makes one think of orange groves and balmy breezes, and when combined with the citrus infused almond cake and pastry layers, one is transported right to the Alhambra.

Tarta de Santiago

 

Recipe

Ingredients

Pastry

150g white spelt flour (substitutable with any flour of your choice including gluten-free to create a gluten-free dessert)

40g caster sugar

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp salt

Grated zest of ½ unwaxed orange

100g butter, roughly chopped into small cubes

1 egg yolk

25cm x 25cm square tin (or round tin with similar dimensions) at least 8cm deep, lined with greaseproof paper

Filling

250g quince paste (membrillo)

2 tbsp lemon juice

Grated zest of ½ unwaxed orange

Grated zest of ½ unwaxed lemon

65g ground almonds

Cake layer

150 ground almonds

100g caster sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp salt

Grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange

Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

150g butter, melted and allowed to cool slightly

100ml triple sec

3 eggs

Optional candied orange decoration

Follow instructions from my recipe for Citrus Syrup-Soaked Cake

Method

  1. In a blender, blitz together sugar, cinnamon, flour, salt and butter until the mixture resembles damp sand. Add in the egg yolk and blitz until the mixture comes together into dough.  Flatten into a disc, wrap in greaseproof paper and chill in a freezer for 15 minutes or refrigerate for ½ hour.
  2. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough out to a 3mm thickness and transfer to the tin to line the base. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
  3. Preheat oven to 180°C. To make the filling, place the quince paste (membrillo), lemon juice and zest in a small pan over a medium heat and stir until smooth and fully combined.  Remove from the heat and stir in the ground almonds.  Remove the tin from the fridge and spread the quince mixture evenly over the pastry.  Refrigerate once more.
  4. To make the cake layer, whisk together ground almonds, sugar, cinnamon, salt and zest in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together melted butter, triple sec and eggs.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until combined in a loose paste.
  5. Remove the tin from the fridge and pour the cake layer mixture over the quince layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown, springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean.  Allow to cool before serving.

Tarta de Santiago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

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Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

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  Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake with Salty-Sweet Fudgy Biscuit Base & Blackcurrant Glaze

Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

 

I’m at risk of sounding like one of those mindless click-bait buzzfeed articles when I say this, but I mean ever word: you’ve been eating white chocolate incorrectly your whole life.

Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

 

Would you believe me if I told you that the innocent Milky Bar Kid’s saccharine white cocoa butter chocolate has a deeper, darker, more seductive side?

Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

The corruption process is simple.  All you need is:

- heat

- good quality white chocolate

-a tray

Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

After about 20 minutes, the heat will begin to convert the pool of glossy molten cocoa butter into white chocolate’s luscious evil sister.  I dare you to try it.

Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

It’s pretty sublime on its own but, if you can resist eating it all, it works deliciously well in a cheesecake.  I pair it with a fudgy, salted, graham cracker-style base and an astringent blackcurrant glaze to cut through the sweetness.

Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

Often cheesecakes call for a base simply made out of crushed store-bought cookies.  I’m no stranger to doing this myself, but I’m always left with a pang of guilt for cheating.  Not only does homemade biscuit base taste better, it’s chemical-free and you have much more control over the flavour balance – this one’s especially fudgy.

Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

However, if you’re feeling lazy you can make the base using 400g digestive biscuits blitzed into crumbs with the 120g browned melted butter.  If you are a coeliac just use gluten-free digestive biscuits.

Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

You can also use non-caramelised white-chocolate.  It will still taste delicious, just not anywhere near as ambrosial.

Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

If you can’t get hold of any blackcurrants, feel free to use fresh or frozen raspberries or redcurrants instead.

Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

This is best made the day before serving and kept in the fridge overnight.  In fact, the fridge works wonders.

Caramelised White Chocolate CheesecakeCaramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients

Salty-sweet, fudgy biscuit base

200g white spelt flour

60g light muscovado sugar

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

60g unsalted butter, diced

70g clear honey

4 tsp vanilla extract

120g unsalted butter, for melting

Large baking tray, lined with baking parchment

20cm square tin (or round with similar capacity), lined with baking parchment

Caramelised white chocolate filling

300g good quality white chocolate, broken into pieces

180ml double cream

500g full fat cream cheese, at room temperature

100g caster sugar

4 eggs, at room temperature

1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (or the seeds of 1 vanilla pod)

Bone dry baking tray (preferably non-stick)

Sour cream topping

220ml sour cream

40g icing sugar, sifted

Blackcurrant glaze

200g blackcurrants

80g caster sugar

3 tbsp water

100g fresh blackcurrants to decorate (optional)

Method

Salty-sweet fudgy biscuit base

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Pour flour, sugar, bicarb, salt and diced butter into a blender and blitz until the mixture resembles damp sand. Alternatively, use your fingers to rub the butter into the other ingredients.
  2. Whisk together the honey, vanilla and milk. Stir this into the dry mixture to combine and form a paste-like dough.
  3. Spread the dough on to the baking tray in an even 0.5cm thick layer. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.  If it doesn’t become dry and brittle after cooling, bake for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Brown the 120g of butter for melting by placing it in a pan over medium heat and allowing it to turn a golden brown before setting it aside to cool.  It should give off a wonderfully nutty aroma.
  5. Crumble the baked biscuit into a blender with the browned melted butter, and pulse until it turns to damp sand-like consistency. Tip this out into the lined cake tin and press down to form an even layer.  Place in freezer to set.

Sour cream topping

  1.    Whisk together sour cream and icing sugar until smooth. Store in the fridge until ready to use

Caramelised white chocolate filling

  1. Preheat the oven to 130˚C. Pour broken white chocolate on to the tray and place in the oven. Every 10 minutes remove the chocolate from the oven, stir with a bone dry utensil, and place back in the oven.  After about 30-40 minutes it will have taken on a beautiful honeyed caramel tone.    As ovens vary in character and different chocolate brands vary in ingredient quality, it may take longer.  The chocolate may also seize.  Don’t panic if this happens: just keep going until it turns golden (I’ll explain how to proceed with this in the next step).
  2. Increase the oven temperature to 160˚C. Place the double cream in a small pan over a high heat. Once it begins to boil, remove from the heat and pour into it the caramelised white chocolate.  Stir to combine until smooth. If the chocolate did seize in the oven, it will be lumpy.  If this is the case, pour the lumpy cream and chocolate mixture in a blender and blitz until completely smooth.  If a few recalcitrant lumps remain, simple sieve them out.
  3. Either using a stand mixer fixed with the beater or a hand held whisk, beat the cream cheese together with the caster sugar until completely soft and smooth. Beat in the cream and white chocolate caramel.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla.  Pour this into the cream cheese mixture and beat until completely smooth and glossy.
  4. Remove the cake tin with the biscuit base from the freezer, and pour into it the filling mixture. Bake in the oven for 1 ½ hours, checking after 45 minutes.  If it begins to go brown, cover with tin foil and continue to bake for the full time.
  5. Keeping the oven on, remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Spread the sour cream topping in an even layer over the surface of the cake. Place the cheesecake back in the oven, switch off the oven and leave its door slightly ajar while the cheesecake sets inside for a further 1 ½ hours.
  6. When the cheesecake reaches room temperature, remove from the oven, cover the cake tin with cling film, and place it in the fridge to allow it to set over night, or place it in the freezer for a couple of hours.

Blackcurrant glaze

  1. Place 200g blackcurrants, caster sugar and water in a small pan over a high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. When it begins to boil, reduce heat slightly and allow it to simmer for 5-10 minutes or until it thickens to a viscosity like that of maple syrup.  Strain the mixture through a sieve and place the liquid back in the pan to simmer for a further 3 minutes.
  2. Allow the syrup to cool slightly then carefully pour it over the chilled cheesecake. Scatter with fresh blackcurrants and serve.

Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake

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Summer Berry Lemon Curd Tarts

8 Comments

Summer Berry Lemon Curd Tarts

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Summer Berry Lemon Curd Tarts I endured school lunches for four years and then abandoned them. Waking up twenty minutes early to throw together a packed lunch seemed worth it at the time.  My school lunches weren’t even bad.  In fact, they were probably rather good – good enough to avoid having Jamie Oliver sniff his way into our school kitchen in pursuit of good TV.

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What turned me (and my stomach) resided in the stainless steel vats adjacent to the desserts:  pools of lurid yellow purulence (custard).

Summer Berry Lemon Curd Tarts

 

 

Notwithstanding my decade old aversion, I decided to venture into custard territory last week.  And I found my cure: lemon curd-filled tarts.

Summer Berry Lemon Curd Tarts

Summer Berry Lemon Curd Tarts

 

Made using both lemon juice and zest, paired with a lemon-infused tart shell, and partnered with fresh berries, these make a tangy and refreshing summer dessert.

Summer Berry Lemon Curd Tarts

Summer Berry Lemon Curd Tarts

 

I use spelt flour in the pastry to add extra nuttiness and depth of flavour.  It also has a lower GI than wheat flour.   However, if you can't find it, you can substitute plain flour.

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IMG_1021 Summer Berry Lemon Curd Tarts

Summer Berry Lemon Curd Tarts

Summer Berry Lemon Curd Tarts Summer Berry Lemon Curd Tarts Ingredients (makes 12)

Lemon tart shells

360g white spelt flour  (substitute with plain flour if unavailable)

110g icing sugar

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

¼ tsp salt

190g cold unsalted butter, roughly chopped into small cubes

1 egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp cold water

 

A 10cm pastry cutter

1 12-hole cupcake tin, greased with butter and then placed in fridge to chill

Baking beads or rice to weigh down the pastry while it bakes

12 cupcake cases

 

Lemon Curd

Finely grated zest of 4 lemons

200 ml lemon juice (4-6 lemons)

200g caster sugar

4 medium eggs

4 medium egg yolks

180g unsalted butter

1 baking tray with lipped sides

200g blueberries

150g strawberries

150g raspberries

Icing sugar for dusting

 

Method

Lemon pastry tart shells

  1. Blend together flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt in a food processor, and add in butter, pulsing to combine until the mixture resembles damp sand. Alternatively, if working manually, mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and rub the butter in with your fingers.
  2. Pour the egg yolk, vanilla and water into the mixture and pulse/stir until the mixture just comes together. Flatten the pastry dough into a disc , wrap in baking parchment/cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour, or freezer for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 150˚C.
  4. On a floured surface, roll half the dough out to the thickness of 2 or 3 mm, and cut the pastry into discs using the pastry cutter. Gently press the pastry discs into the prepared cupcake tin.  You will find that there is some dough left over.  This can be frozen for about a month.
  5. Set the cupcake cases into the pastry shells and fill them with the baking beads/rice to weigh the pastry down and prevent it from losing its shape during the bake.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden and firm to touch. If they have not turned golden by this point, remove the baking beads/rice and cupcake cases and bake for a further 5-10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.  These can be made 2 or 3 days in advance and kept in an airtight container until you are ready to use them.

Lemon curd

  1. Place lemon zest, juice, sugar, eggs, egg yolks and half the butter in a saucepan over a medium-high heat and whisk continuously while the ingredients cook together.  When the mixture has thickened slightly and threatens to stick to the bottom of the pan, reduce the heat and continue to whisk for another couple of minutes until thickened, whisking all the while.  Off the heat, whisk in the remaining butter until thoroughly combined.  It should be smooth and glossy.
  2. Sieve the curd over the baking tray, and spread it out with a spatula so that only a thin layer coats the tray. Cover the surface of the lemon curd with baking parchment or cling film and place the tray in the fridge for a minimum of half an hour or until it has cooled and become slightly firmer.  Alternatively, place the tray in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Assembly

Arrange the pastry shells on a serving plate and spoon in the lemon curd (roughly 3 tsp per case). Top generously with the berries and dust with icing sugar just before serving.  They can be kept in the fridge for up to 6 hours before serving; longer than that they tend to become soggy.

Summer Berry Lemon Curd TartsSummer Berry Lemon Curd Tarts

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Brown Butter Brioche Cinnamon Buns

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Brown Butter Brioche Cinnamon Buns

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Brown Butter Brioche Cinnamon Buns

When I was six I experienced peak cinnamon bun.  In the middle of a farmers’ market in Toronto I was handed a parcel wrapped in brown paper.  Inside was a glistening golden sticky buttery cinnamon swirl - a full face experience, and well worth it.  Ever since then I’ve been looking for one to mirror its spiced perfection, but my quest continues to this day.  To the untrained/inexperienced/non-cinnamon obsessed palate a cinnamon bun is just a cinnamon bun.  Wrong.

Brown Butter Brioche Cinnamon Buns

My gluttonous many-year quest has allowed me to sample the many different types:  there is the American gloopy, slightly under baked, doughy, cream cheese-coated type.  This can be found in a ubiquitous American chain (at particular low points during my degree I used to linger outside the Cambridge branch just to catch the cinnamon perfumed scent).

Brown Butter Brioche Cinnamon Buns

 

At the opposite end of the scale there’s the more refined flaky and French variety which is unsatisfyingly mild in terms of cinnamon flavour if you’re an obsessive like me.

Brown Butter Brioche Cinnamon Buns

 

Somewhere in between the two is the Nordic variety, cardamom and cinnamon infused, with a delicate dough (my trip to Norway this summer will be dedicated to experiencing as many of these as possible).

Brown Butter Brioche Cinnamon Buns   My own recipe falls somewhere in the middle of the 3 varieties.  The brioche dough is soft and light on the inside and crisp on the outside, the browning of the butter in the filling adds a nutty richness, and the muscovado sugar makes the bun moister and adds greater depth of flavour than plain caster sugar.  As the buns cook, the sugar cinnamon filling caramelises slightly at the base adding a moreish stickiness.

Brown Butter Brioche Cinnamon BunsAlthough the brioche dough requires starting the evening before, don’t let it stop you from making these.  They are, in fact, incredibly easy and quick to make.  It’s also rather lovely going to bed knowing that a cinnamon bun awaits you the next day…

Brown Butter Brioche Cinnamon Buns

 

 

Brown Butter Brioche Cinnamon Buns

 

Ingredients

Brioche

1 ½ tsp active dried yeast

3 tbsp lukewarm water

285g strong white bread flour

¾ tsp salt

40g caster sugar

3 medium sized eggs + 1 to paint the buns

115g cold unsalted butter

Cinnamon Filling

90g butter

160g light brown muscovado sugar

3 tbsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

 

1 round 9 inch tin, greased and dusted with flour

 

Method

  1. In large bowl stir together yeast and water until the yeast has dissolved. Leave in a warm place for 5-10 minutes until the yeast is activated and the mixture begins to go slightly frothy.
  2. Add in the flour, salt, sugar and eggs and mix until thoroughly combined and the dough is smooth and sticky. If you are using a Kitchen Aid, as I do, fit it with the paddle and mix.
  3. Stirring continuously (or with the machine on a medium-high speed) add in the butter bit by bit, waiting until it is fully combined before adding more. Once the butter is fully combined, keep mixing until the dough is smooth and shiny. This will take about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Placed dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling film, and place in fridge overnight or for minimum 8 hours.
  5. The next day make the cinnamon filling by placing the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Once it has melted, leave it on the heat for another minute until it goes golden in colour and has a rich, nutty aroma. Mix the sugar, salt and cinnamon with the butter to form a paste and set aside to cool.
  6. Remove the dough from the fridge and, on a board dusted with flour, roll it out to a rectangle of roughly 30cm by 38cm and to a 3/4cm thickness. Spread the cinnamon filling evenly over the rectangle.
  7. With long side of the rectangle closest to you (i.e. landscape as opposed to portrait), roll the dough from the long side to the other long side tightly, like a scroll. With the seam side down, slice the roll into 12 even slices. Arrange the slices spiral side up in the prepared tin, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rise for an hour in a warm place.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. To give the buns a beautiful golden shine, beat the egg and brush a thin layer over them.
  9. Place the tin in the oven and allow to bake for about 20-30 minutes until the surface is a golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. If it looks a little too dark early on in the bake, cover with tin foil. Once cooked, place on a wire rack to cool (or eat immediately).

Brown Butter Brioche Cinnamon Buns

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Stripy Lemon & Raspberry Cake - Recipe

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Stripy Lemon & Raspberry Cake - Recipe

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Stripy Lemon & Raspberry Cake This stripy lemon and raspberry cake speaks for itself: elegant and refined on the outside, yet quirky on the inside - great if you feel like a change from the usual, and you’re in the mood for something fun.

Stripy Lemon & Raspberry Cake

 

 

 

Stripy Lemon & Raspberry Cake

Unlike most layer cakes, the stripes are vertical.  This makes it both superficially pleasing and more delicious - more stripes = more sumptuous raspberry compote...

Stripy Lemon & Raspberry Cake

 

Please don’t be intimidated by the lists of ingredients and the recipe.  It really is a lot easier  and quicker than you may think: the stripes are formed by baking the sponge in a baking sheet, spreading the cooked surface with the raspberry compote, cutting it into strips, and rolling them, one strip after the other, swiss roll-like, into a ‘log’.

Stripy Lemon & Raspberry Cake

The sponge is light and lemony, the raspberry compote is tart and moreish, and the icing is infused with berries to provide a little summery freshness.

Stripy Lemon & Raspberry CakeStripy Lemon & Raspberry CakeStripy Lemon & Raspberry CakeStripy Lemon & Raspberry CakeStripy Lemon & Raspberry CakeStripy Lemon & Raspberry CakeStripy Lemon & Raspberry CakeStripy Lemon & Raspberry Cake

Ingredients

Cake

120g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

3 large eggs

140g caster sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

½ tbsp. water

 

Baking sheet 38x25x2.5 cm, lined with baking parchment and covering both the base and shallow sides.

Additional baking parchment

 

Raspberry compote

200g raspberries fresh or frozen, but if using frozen, defrost before use

40g caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp water

150g raspberry jam

2 tbsp corn flour

½ tsp lemon juice

 

Crumb coating (optional – but makes icing easier and adds extra tanginess and interest to the cake)

75g icing sugar, sieved

50g butter at room temperature

2 tsp lemon juice

 

Berry-infused cream cheese icing

25g red berries (raspberries and redcurrants work well, and you can use frozen), blitzed until smooth to make a puree

½ tsp lemon juice

75 g cream cheese, at room temperature (essential)

50g unsalted butter, softened to the point that it is threatening to turn into liquid

300g icing sugar, sieved

 

Method

Raspberry compote

  1. Place frozen/fresh raspberries, sugar, vanilla extract, and water in a saucepan over high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the texture is slightly syrupy.
  2. Stir in the raspberry jam and corn flour, and boil for a further 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Blitz the mixture together with the lemon juice in a blender until smooth.

Lemon Sponge Cake

Stripy Lemon & Raspberry Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 220˚C.
  2. Beat together eggs and sugar for about 5 minutes until pale and custard-like (I find it easier to use an electric mixer).
  3. Fold into the wet mixture the sifted flour and baking powder, lemon zest, salt and water. Stir as little as possible and with a light hand so as to keep the mixture airy.
  4. Pour the mixture into the lined baking sheet and spread it out in an even layer right up to the edges of the tray. Place in the centre of the oven, and bake for 4-5 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
  5. While the cake is still warm from the oven, flip it upside down on to a large sheet of baking parchment. Carefully peel off the parchment layer on which it was baked.
  6. Spread the compote evenly over the lemon sponge, and slice lengthways (i.e. from short side to short side) into 4 equal strips of cake.
  7. Begin with one strip and roll into a coil. Place the edge of the roll next to the edge of the second strip and continue to roll.  Continue with the remaining strips until a large spiral is formed.  Place the ‘log’ spiral side up on a plate or cake stand.

Lemon crumb coating (optional, but makes icing the cake easier, and adds extra tanginess and interest)

  1. Beat together icing sugar, lemon and butter until creamy and spread in a thin layer over the top and sides of the cake. Place in the fridge for half an hour, or the freezer for 10 minutes.

Berry-infused cream cheese icing

  1. Beat the butter until completely smooth, then beat in the cream cheese. Stir in the berry puree and lemon juice, before beating in the icing sugar.
  2. Spread evenly over the cake using a spatula. Decorate with berries, or as desired.

 

Stripy Lemon & Raspberry Cake

 

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Wholesome American Style Spelt Pancakes (Dairy-free) - Recipe

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Wholesome American Style Spelt Pancakes (Dairy-free) - Recipe

Khanom krok, crepes, blinis, dosas, tortillas, msemmen, ingera, beghrir, and both pandan and rice  pancakes - dense, spongy, fluffy, light,...  I've devoured them all.  But when it gets to Sunday, and brunch is obligatory, I always revert to American-style pancakes.   I want to whisk up something quick, easy and delicious.

The internet is currently riddled with recipes for "sugarless, 2-ingredient protein pancakes".  Warning: two ingredients = egg and banana, and there are many things I'd rather eat than a banana omelette.  So I came up with my own healthier version of American-style pancakes using wholegrain spelt and coconut oil.

They're fluffy, light and filling, and the wholemeal spelt flour adds a warming nuttiness as well as lowering the overall GI level.  They're also really  addictive - the photos are of the fourth batch I made on the day (as the first batch were consumed as a solo act, and the second and third were inhaled by my brothers).

I paired them with a very simple mixed berry compote, the recipe for which is below.

Ingredients

Wholesome American Style Spelt Pancakes

340g wholemeal spelt flour (can be substituted with plain flour, wholemeal wheat or white spelt)

4 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3 large eggs

450ml unsweetened almond milk (can be substituted with any other kind)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

45g coconut oil, melted + extra to coat frying pan (can be substituted with butter)

Berry Compote

500g mixed frozen berries

3 tbsp maple syrup (optional)

1tbsp vanilla extract

Method

Pancakes

1.) In a blender, blitz together all the ingredients until smooth.

2.) Place shallow frying pan over a medium-high heat and melt 1tbsp of coconut butter (or butter, if using), swirling it around to coat the pan.

3) Pour batter into pan to desired pancake size and cook for a couple of minutes until bubbles begin to break through the surface.  Flip, and cook for a further couple of minutes until golden.

Mixed Berry Compote

1.) Place pan over high heat, pour in all ingredients, and stir to mix through.

2.) When the berries have melted and the mixture begins to simmer, reduce to a low heat and cook until berries are completely cooked through.

3.) Drench pancakes.

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

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Sumptuous Carrot Cake - Recipe

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Sumptuous Carrot Cake - Recipe

Sumptuous Carrot Cake - Recipe

Moist, juicy, dense, fruity, this is the queen of all carrot cakes. I have now abandoned all previous carrot cake recipes in favour of this one

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Ingredients

Cake

4 large eggs

350g caster sugar

225ml vegetable oil (or any other flavourless oil)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

300g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

500g carrots, peeled and grated (about 5 carrots)

200g pineapple chopped roughly into 1cm cubes, and 2 tbsp fresh pineapple juice (you can squeeze it yourself)

zest of 1 orange

juice of ½ orange

100g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

2 x 20cm round tins, buttered and with base lined with baking parchment

Icing

200g butter, at room temperature

500g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

200g icing sugar, sieved

Method

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 170˚C.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until smooth, resembling a thin custard. Whisk in oil and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, sieve together flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt. Gently fold these dry ingredients into the egg mixture.
  4. Stir grated carrots, chopped pineapple, pineapple juice, orange zest, orange juice and chopped walnuts into the mixture. Divide mixture between the tins and place in middle of the oven to bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cook on a wire rack, then wrap in tin foil/cling film and place in fridge overnight. This is to aid the icing process.  If you don’t have the luxury of time, place cakes in the freezer for half an hour before icing.

Icing

  1. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until soft, creamy and shiny. Add in cream cheese and sieved icing sugar and continue beating until completely smooth.  If the mixture is of an almost runny consistency, place in fridge for half an hour.
  2. Sandwich the two cakes together using a quarter of the mixture. Use the rest to coat the top and sides.  Chill in the fridge before serving.  Keeps well for several days in the fridge.

Adapted from Gail’s Artisan Bakery Cookbook

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Wholesome Berry & Oat Breakfast Loaf - Recipe

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Wholesome Berry & Oat Breakfast Loaf - Recipe

Wholesome berry & oat breakfast loaf If you’re undecided as to what to have for breakfast, make this: fruit, oatmeal/porridge and pancakes rolled into one.  It’s delicious, quick to make, filling, and just sweet enough to satisfy any sweet craving but also not so sweet that it will send blood glucose levels skyrocketing...

Wholesome berry & oat breakfast loaf

 

brunch

Wholesome berry & oat breakfast loaf

Wholesome berry & oat breakfast loaf

Wholesome berry & oat breakfast loafWholesome berry & oat breakfast loaf

Wholesome berry & oat breakfast loaf

Wholesome berry & oat breakfast loaf

The almond milk & coconut oil can be substituted for their dairy equivalents, (milk & butter) in the same quantity.

Wholegrain spelt flour can be substituted for white/wholegrain wheat flour, or gluten-free.

 

Ingredients

110g rolled oats

300ml hot unsweetened almond milk

100g coconut oil

60g caster sugar

50ml honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 medium egg

Zest of half a lemon

1 tsp baking powder

140g wholegrain spelt flour

300g frozen mixed berries (or fresh)

11 x 22cm loaf tin (or one of a similar area), greased and dusted with flour

Serves 8

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Mix oats with hot milk and allow to soak.
  2. Beat together oil, sugar, honey, vanilla, egg and lemon zest. Sieve in baking powder and flour and mix until just combined.  The bran in the wholemeal flour won’t sieve so just add it in once you’ve sieved as much as possible.
  3. Using a sieve, drain the excess liquid from the soaked oats , then stir them into the mixture.
  4. Pour into loaf tin and scatter berries on top.
  5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Serve warm or cold.

Wholesom Berry & Oat Breakfast Loaf

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Citrus syrup-soaked cake

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Citrus syrup-soaked cake

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IMG_3830 This citrus syrup soaked almond cake takes me back to the Jemaa el-Fnaa, the central square of Marrakesh: the teeth pullers ready to pounce with their pliers, the snake charmers forcing a writhing snake scarf on your neck, and amongst this the orange juice vendors lined up, the citrus scents suffusing the air…

 

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Incredibly easy and quick to make, this cake will last for several weeks if kept in a sealed container.

It can be made gluten free simply by using gluten-free bread crumbs.

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The candied orange topping is optional.

 

Ingredients

 

Cake

50g stale/toasted white bread crumbs (gluten free can be used)

175g caster sugar

100g ground almonds

1 ½ tsp baking powder

200ml vegetable oil

4 eggs

Finely grated zest of 3 medium /2 large unwaxed oranges

Finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp salt

 

Citrus syrup

Juice of 2 oranges

Juice of 1 ½ lemons

75g sugar

6 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

 

Optional Candied Orange

1 cup water

½  cup caster sugar

2 small unwaxed oranges sliced across the diameter 2mm thick

 

20cm diameter tin, lined with baking parchment

 

Method

Cake

  1. In a large bowl whisk together oil, eggs and orange and lemon zest until combined.

 

  1. In a separate large bowl mix all dry ingredients together.

 

  1. Pour wet mixture into dry and stir until combined. Pour into lined tin and place in cold oven & turn heat to 180˚C.

 

  1. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

 

Citrus syrup

  1. While cake is cooking pour all ingredients into pan & place on medium high heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved then let it simmer for 4 minutes until it has reduced slightly to a thin, non-viscose syrup.

 

  1. As soon as the cake is removed the oven stab it all-over with a skewer , don’t hold back. Pour the syrup over.  It may initially look like it’s drowning, but it will rapidly be absorbed.

 

  1. Serve when cool.

 

Optional candied orange layer

  1. In a large frying pan stir together sugar and water until sugar has dissolved.

 

  1. simmer for 3 minutes then add orange slices. Don’t worry if they overlap.

 

  1. Simmer on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, or until the skin of the orange is translucent.

 

  1. Arrange as desired.

 

 

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(recipe influenced by Sophie Grigson)

 

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