October 13, 2014
Halloween is so very deeply American, that I feel any recipe surrounding it I feel has to be. American pancakes are my guilty pleasure. These ones, made with pureed squash or pumpkin are hellish moist and fluffy. Make sure you have these with strong filter coffee and pile ‘em high.
The fundamental rule for perfect pancakes is that your pan MUST be non-stick. Use a small one too for a good shape. Batter can always be tweaked and adjusted, but a bad pan = bad pan(cakes).
Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes with Bacon, Maple Syrup and Pecans (make about 6 big fat ones)
250g cooked butternut squash or pumpkin. The flesh scooped out and mashed with a fork or pulsed
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon / a grating of nutmeg / 1 tsp of ground ginger (or use mixed spice)
280ml whole milk
1 tbsp melted butter
grilled streaky bacon
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and spice
Separately whisk together the pureed squash, egg, milk and melted butter
Beat the wet goods into the dry to form a smooth batter
The batter wants to be fairly thick but still a droppable consistency
Heat your pan until good and hot. Spoon a ladle full into the pan and turn the heat down. The trick with these pancakes is to cook them low so they cook inside properly
Wait until bubbles start to appear (about 3/4 minutes)…
… then flip and cook on the other side
Grill your bacon and toast your pecans, then stack high and douse with maple syrup
September 22, 2014
I have an ‘apple pie Mum’. Not that she’s ever stayed home and been domestic in any way. More in that she’ll…sometimes makes an apple pie :/
Her pies have gone through various alterations throughout the decades. They’ve been deep-filled with huge chucks of sour apple, shallow-filled with sweet apple mush, and often billowing with puff pastry. There’s nearly always been a great hulking piece of cinnamon lurking in there, shedding it’s bark.
I bought her a Japanese mandolin for last Christmas, and she now she makes this kind — a plate pie, which has layers of perfectly tart sliced apple inside and a sweet pastry crust.
It’s the best so far. It’s the kind of pie that you’d see in Tom and Jerry, resting on the windowsill. It also doesn’t require any additional sugar.
I didn’t take enough photos when making it, but basically you just layer up the apples until you’ve used them all. Think French apple torte. The recipe feeds about 6
To Make it
6 granny smith apples
about 2 tbsp marmalade for daubing
zest of 1 lemon
cinnamon for dusting
1 egg (for the wash)
GO GO GO
- Roll out half the pastry and layer it over a heatproof plate. Cut out a plate-sized circle of greaseproof and cover with baking beans
- Bake for about 20mins, then remove the beans and paper, and cook blind for another 10. You may need to put some foil around the outer edges if they colour quicker than the middle
- Brush the cooked pastry with egg white and leave to cool completely
- Peel and slice the apples thinly with a mandolin
- Layer up the slices over the pastry, dabbing marmelade here and there as you go, and dusting with cinnamon and lemon zest. It will seem like you have too much apple, but build it high - they cook down
- Roll out the top layer and squidge the sides in. Don’t worry about it looking dead neat — this is a humble pie. Egg wash the edges to the base
- Egg wash the top and cut a cross. Bake for about half an hour or until it looks like the pie from Tom and Jerry
These are the instructions I included with my mothers mandolin — she’s cut herself every time she’s used it, of course.
September 17, 2014
This is quite simply the one and only soda bread recipe you need. Throw away all your other recipes, actually, burn them.
It’s from Richard Corrigan —a great wardrobe of a man, and the daddy of classic seafood — he knows his shit, especially if it’s Irish. The loaf from the outside looks pretty basic. Like a great dried cowpat - but the inside, oh man. Perfectly moist, dark treacly soft bread.
I don’t make bread often, I’m too impatient to wait for the proving. Soda bread rises with bicarb, so the whole process takes under an hour. It’s best eaten on the same day but can be stored in an airtight container for a few days.
If you don’t have buttermilk, just use 500ml milk mixed with the juice of a lemon. This creates D.I.Y. buttermilk that works just as well. You can also use a thin yoghurt
Place a damp tea-towel over the bread when it comes out — this keeps it moist
Your oven needs to be really hot. Preheat it for as long as you can before you bake
Soda Bread (makes one loaf)
Prep. Time 10 mins
Cooking Time 40mins
250g strong white bread flour
250g wholemeal flour
150g jumbo oats
15g bicarb of soda
1 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp black treacle
- Preheat the oven to 240C/475/Gas9
- Line a baking tray with baking paper and scatter a little flour over it to prevent sticking
- Sift the dry ingredients together and make a well in the centre
- Mix the wet ingredients together thoroughly
- Pour in the wet goods and mix well. You should end up with a wet dough. Transfer the dough to your lined tray. It should look all bumpy and un-bread-like
- Bake for 40mins. It’s done when it has a rock hard exterior and is hollow when you tap the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and place a damp teatowel over it. This keeps it from drying out.
August 19, 2014
This is an old school Galician almond cake. I think it’s invention was in the Middle Ages. The translation is cake of St James and it’s normally quite a religious looking confection, with it’s cross of St. James stencilled over the top in icing sugar. You can bake the filling in pastry, or have it as a cake, as it is here.
I choose to forgo the sugar cross, but apart from that the recipe is pretty true to the original. Oh except I swap almond essence for vanilla, because I think satan himself may have invented almond essence, horrible stuff.
This cake is flourless, so get stuck in if you’re gluten-free. It has a lovely sticky, nutty, cloudy crumb.
I like to serve it with macerated strawberries and thick cream. And amen, it’s delish.
- 250g whole almonds, blitzed in a processor until you get rubble-like almond flour
- 6 organic eggs, separated
- 250g caster sugar
- the zest of 1 orange
- the zest of 1 lemon
- 4 drops of vanilla extract
plus butter for greasing, flour for dusting, icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
Butter and flour a 25cm diameter cake tin or line it with a paper cake liner. Traditionally this cake should be quite flat and wide, but I prefer a less wide tin because I like the stickiness you get from a taller cake).
Beat the yolks and sugar until they are pale and paint-like in consistency, so you can’t feel any sugar grains left. Add the orange zest, lemon zest and vanilla extract and ground almonds. Mix well.
Whisk the egg whites in a super clean mixer (wipe a lemon in the bowl to get rid of any grease) until really stiff. Fold through the almond mixture in two parts. The almond mix is quite thick, so you’ll have to work the egg whites in a lightly as you can. You should end up with a really voluptuous batter.
Pour into your cake tin and bake for about 40mins. Leave to cool before turning out, and dust with icing sugar
Once you’ve turned it out, turn it the other way over, so you get a nice even surface for dusting
August 11, 2014
Tis the season to buy Victoria plums.
But if the ones you’ve bought are anything like the ones I bought this weekend, they’re a bit watery and sour. Good for nothing but stewing and topping with sponge. Which is exactly what this recipe is. Plum sponge - I like the way is sounds. Kind of olde Englishe. You can imagine a Tudor wench serving it up. Make it in a basin and spoon it out, then had with pouring cream.
This sounds wintery I know, but it’s hellish light. The plums don’t have shittonnes of sugar in, and the sponge is made with 00’ flour so it’s like eating a hot cloud.
Victoria Plum Pudding (serves 4)
Prep. Time: 15mins ** **Cooking Time: 30mins
- a reasonable amount of plums, stoned and halved (sorry, didn’t weigh them at the time, maybe a pound or so)
- 1 stem ginger (the stuff in syrup) grated
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g flour (I used 00)
- 100g butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- Butter a pudding basin and pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
- Stew the plums and ginger with a tbsp of sugar for 5 mins in a pan, until the juices start to leak out
- Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. The more you beat, the fluffier it gets.
- Add a whole egg, beat in.
- Fold in flour and add a tbsp of milk.
- Place the plums in your buttered basin, spoon batter over the top. Bake for about 45mins or until the cake’s risen and is golden.
June 17, 2014
So IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED, the world cup is happening. So we’re in need of a few more stomach liners and party nibbles to counteract the beer aren’t we?
Sausage rolls are what is eaten at England matches (so I’m told, I’ve never actually been to one). In Brazil they have a street snack called Pastel (translates simply to ‘pastry’), which is a deep fried crispy envelope, which is filled with spicy beef, chicken, cheese or even banana. They look a bit like those McDonalds apple pies. You can find them all over Brazil.
You can see where I’m going here can’t you? I’ve created a mongrel, aptly titled ‘Sausage Pastels’.
I’ve made these ones quite small because to be honest I would be arrested by nutritionists if they got hold of this recipe. They are essentially deep fried sausage rolls. Enjoy with ice cold beer and some spicy sauce. And don’t get too hammered because remember you’ve got confession in the morning.
So, to run you through it:
First you make the dough (if you can’t be bothered just use wonton pastry or filo). The dough contains vodka to make it crisp up better
I’ve made circular ones because I found it’s easier than making rectangles
The filling is just sausage-meat, so get really good sausages, Dutchy Originals or other. Adding chorizo would be good
These work EXCEPTIONALLY well from frozen. And you don’t need a gallon of oil, just a couple of inches, and fry them in batches, making sure the oil is good and hot before you put them in.
Find the recipe here
May 15, 2014
Some people find pastry stressful. I understand why. Lining a tart tin properly can be awkward. So this one’s for you.
Tart case, cookie cutters, baking beans, greaseproof paper – be gone. All you need for this recipe is a pair of hands and a rolling pin.
The fruit steams inside the pastry, which stays crisp because it’s cooked upside down, much like a tart tatin. You don’t even need sugar or butter because the pear caramelises its own juices on the baking tray.
I have used this method so far with plums and pears and it’s worked brilliantly. Serve with whatever, but if you’re trying it with pears then chocolate sauce is a no-brainer.
For excellent sweet pastry, I suggest this recipe (divide accordingly.
Find the full recipe here
May 06, 2014
What’s better than a Bakewell tart? I’m not sure I can answer that question, but this Chocolate Berry Bakewell tart is just as good. Technically it’s not a traditional bakewell, the jam layer is replaced with whole berries but it has the other elements of a Bakewell, only kind of easier.
If you haven’t made frangipane before, then let me explain. It’s an almond butter filling, that when baked envelopes whatever fruit you’ve chosen. The frangipane rises and cuddles the berries and forms a tart that is perfectly cakey and moist. It’s very easy to make and hard to fuck up.
I used frozen berries, but fresh cherries would be even better. Sadly Morrison’s didn’t have any in :(
Find the recipe here
NB Here is the recipe for the best sweet pastry in the entire world. The recipe in the link doesn’t include a pastry recipe because it’s the slutty way of doing things, but if you’re not a slut see below :)
For the sweet pastry: - 250g plain flour - 100g icing sugar - 100g unsalted butter - 1 egg
Blitz the flour and icing sugar in a food processor, add the butter and finally the egg. Bring the dough together with your hands, cling and refrigerate for over 3 hours, best is overnight.
To bake the tart cases, roll the pastry really thin, no thicker than a 50p. Line the tins and fill with greaseproof and baking beans. Refrigerate for a further 2 hours to prevent it shrinking when it bakes.
Bake on 180C for about 20 mins, then remove the greaseproof for a further 10. Wash the baked cases with egg white and allow to cool. Click the recipe link above for the chocolate frangipane filling.
April 29, 2014
Baking things like bread often fills me with dread – bread dread. You’ve got to wait for the yeast, then kneed it, then wait for the oven, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait and usually it comes out not resembling bread, but a small hard stone. Crumpets on the other hand are much more straightforward. They aren’t baked, but cooked on the top stove, which means that they don’t take long to cook and they don’t need to be kneeded.
In fact the most difficult thing about making crumpets is deciding what to have on them. Bacon butter with maple syrup is the one. There, I’ve decided for you.
Find the recipe here
April 24, 2014
There are some people that don’t like chocolate. There are also people who eat too much chocolate over the Easter period and never want to look at chocolate again until…the following week. These little coconut nests are the antidote to all that Easter chocolate.
If I had it my way I’d have pudding after every meal. But we’re not really allowed to do that are we, being, you know, responsible adults n all. Shame. Tiny little coconut nests aren’t really pudding though are they? They’re just incredibly delicious, bite size coconut morsels of joy – crunchy on the outside with soft and pillowy innards. They are embarrassingly easy to make and don’t require any special ingredients other than desiccated coconut and I’m pretty sure my local corner shop does that. Oh and they’re also gluten free!
Find the recipe here
March 04, 2014
How do you like your pancakes in the morning? I like mine wafer thin, piled high and doused in lemon and sugar. Call me boring, I can handle it.
But this year I have turned to one of my favourite cakes for this years inspiration – Guinness and Chocolate.
I love the drama of the black vs white. The ‘black’ comes in the form of a standard American pancake batter but with dark cocoa and Guinness. The ‘white’ comes in the form of a cream cheese sauce.
If you don’t like Guinness, don’t worry, no-one does except my weird next door neighbour Brian. The Guinness takes away the sickly sweetness of pure chocolate flavour and leaves a dark chocolate undertone with a slight bitterness that goes really nicely with the milky sauce.
For the full recipe go here
July 28, 2013
Plums are in season!
The imported ones, the deep purple, shiny round ones aren’t all that to eat, but great for cooking as they hold their shape and become sweeter and more plummy.
I had leftover pastry in the fridge, so came up with a 5-minute pie. Pretty self explanatory; half a plum, wrapped in pastry, sprinkled with sugar and that’s it, maybe cinnamon if you have it.
You can easily use shop bought pastry here, ‘saxbys dessert pastry’ is the best, I’m not sure if they do it anymore as I haven’t seen it in ages.
Or for homemade just mix 90g of softened butter with a pinch of sugar and salt. Add 180g of plain flour, 2 egg yolks and 3 tbsp of cold water. Mix until you have a sand-like mix, then bring it together with your hands. Clingfilm and leave in the fridge for an hour, then you’re good to go. When ready to bake, simply make a small ball of pastry, roll it out and mould it around the halved plum (this is oddly enjoyable). About 15 mins in a 180C/350F/gas5 oven should do it.
July 16, 2013
I’m not into cupcakes. Thick, gross, sugary icing, adorned with stuff you might find in a child’s dressing up box; edible unicorns, small plastic beads, glitter. A cake that needs that much icing is trying to hide something. Dry sponge anyone?
If you simply insist on eating ‘cute’ cakes, let it be these buttery madeleines. Bite-size and void of icing, these guys are much more worthy.
To make about 24 you’ll need:
- 3 eggs
- 130g/4.5oz sugar
- 200g/7oz plain flour
- 10g/1/4oz baking powder
- 1 unwaxed lemon, finely grated (zest only)
- 20g/3/4oz runny honey
- 4 tbsp milk
- 200g/7oz butter, melted and cooled
- a handful of fresh cherries or raspberries
- icing sugar, for dusting
Sift your flour and baking powder in a bowl, adding the lemon zest. Set aside.
Beat your eggs and sugar in a large bowl, until frothy and pale (this can take about 5 minutes by hand or only a couple if using an electric whisk). Aim to get them as pale and fluffy as you can.
Mix the honey, milk and cooled butter together and whisk to combine and add to the eggy sugar froth, stirring until fully blended.
Fold in the flour in two batches. Cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, this firms up the batter and lets it rest for the perfect Madeline consistency.
When ready to bake switch the oven on to 190C/350F/Gas 5.
Butter and flour your madeline cases (if you don’t have these, just use small cake tins).
Put a heaped tablespoon of cake batter in to each mould and press a raspberry (or pitted cherry) into each.
Bake for 5 mins, and turn the oven off for 1 minute. Then turn it back on for a final 5 minutes but on a lower heat of 160C/325F/Gas 3. This process helps them form their shape.
Cool on a wire rack, and leave to cool ever so slightly before dusting with icing sugar.
Madeleines have to be eaten warm, thems the rules.
June 15, 2013
I went to Gail’s Bakery the other day, not one of their many cafes dotted around London, but the restaurant branch in the West End, a one off, where they offer small sharing plates, cocktails etc. It was a nice enough meal, but one thing that stood out were the cookies that they offered up for dessert, ‘fresh from the oven’ alongside a mini bottle of ice cold milk. I instantly became an 8-year old with an American accent, and I liked it.
So I’ve basically copied Gail’s, everything about it, even the straw. Guilty. EXCEPT my cookies have peanut butter in them as well as chocolate. So that makes it ok.
This basic cookie mix can have anything added, nuts, different flavoured chocolate, spices, fruit. This one is quite American-sweet-chewy.
250g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
140g unsalted butter
200g dark brown soft sugar
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
1 egg yolk
1 bar of dark chocolate (I use 85%)
2 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter
Start by sifting together the flour, salt and bicarb and leave to one side. Melt the butter in a small pan or microwave and mix it together with the peanut butter, brown sugar and caster sugar in a large bowl. You should have a gooey, sugary paste.
Beat in the vanilla essence, egg and yolk until creamy. Add the flour mix and stir well to combine. You should have a soft dough that comes together in a ball easily.
Add your roughly chopped chocolate and stir in. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for at least an hour. This mix can be kept in the fridge for about 2 weeks, or frozen.
When ready to bake, form a lump of dough about the size of a ping pong ball, roll it into a ball in your hand, put it on a lined baking tray and squash it slightly (leaving space for it to spread out). Bake on 170°C / 340°F for 10-15 mins, until browning round the edges.
One should really leave them to cool on a wire rack, but personally I think they’re best eaten warm with a glass of something milky, Gail’s would agree, right Gail’s?
May 21, 2012
Coconut and chocolate, a good combo, but sometimes a wee bit sickly if over-sweetened.
These little babies are like sophisticated bounties, as they have all the joys of coconut, but are teamed with dark dark chocolate which brings a bitterness that works really well. A ‘grown up bounty bar’ if you like. Very good after dinner with coffee, or as a gift for a sweet granny, or as a replacement for the long dead forerro rocher. I’d recommend you use as darker chocolate as you can, I make them with 80-90%, probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but what can I say? I live on the edge.
The best thing is there’s hardly any need for a recipe as such because it’s just a list of ingredients mixed together. Now that’s my kind of recipe man.
Get your mitts on some:
- 200g Desiccated coconut
- 150g Caster Sugar
- 50g Melted Butter
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Yolks
- Dark Chocolate (70%)
Now mix together the coconut, sugar, eggs, yolks and melted butter.
The mix should look like scrambled egg. Put it in the fridge for about 10 mins, so that it firms up a bit, that’ll make it easier to shape.
Now to form your quinels, this takes a little bit of practice. Get yourself two spoons, and load one spoon with about half a spoonful of mix. Transfer the spoon from one to the other and whilst doing so, compress the mix so that you form a three-sided neat ‘quinel’ shape. There’s a little demo by me, you’ll find here….
If you really struggle with the shaping, then form little balls or nests, just make sure that they will hold their shape, so less Michelangelo, more Anish Kapoor.
Put your coconut sculptures into an oven, about 180 for 10-15 mins, you want them to be slightly golden on the outside, and the kitchen should smell like l’eau de coco.
When your coconut beauties are out of the oven and cooled…
Melt some good quality dark chocolate over a ban marie (a pot of simmering water with a heatproof bowl over the top). Melt your chocolate.
Now the fun begins. Yeeeeahhhhh.
Dip half the coconut quinels in to that melted chocolate.
Set on greeseproof paper, and put into the fridge so the chocolate sets.
And that’s it. My beautiful, bountiful coconut chocolate quinels. Find yourself some appropriately sexy cup and saucer and…
May 02, 2012
I think this pudding cannot be beaten, as it is always, always moist. You can mix it up in terms of what fruit you put in. Apple, pear, quinces and frozen berries work really well. Fresh cherries are amazing, but I wouldn’t use fresh strawberries or raspberries as they have a too higher water content. It’s good with custard in the winter and creme freche or cream in the summer.
The thing is, this is a base (a frangipan base), that you can play around with. It also goes really well in tart cases with fruit and crumble on top.
For the base you will need:
- 250g ground almonds
- 250g unsalted butter
- 250g caster sugar
- 150g eggs
- 100g egg yolks
- 25g plain flour
- Cream your butter and sugar. Add the flour, then the almonds, and then the eggs one by one until a smooth paste is formed. Refrigerate.
For the pears, take:
- 5 pears (not too ripe), peeled and cut in half, length-ways.
- 100g honey
- 1 Lemon
- A vanilla pod or good quality extract
- In a large pan, put your pears, honey, vanilla and about 200ml of water. Add the zest and juice of half the lemon, and add the other half whole. Then put the and cover until the pears are soft.
Flour and butter your cake tins and fill 3/4 with the almond cake mixture. Cut up your cooled stewed pears and push them into your cake batter.
Bake at 180 for about 10-15 mins. Cool and turn out.
I serve this with a stem ginger cream, which you can find in jars. Mix a little of the syrup with double cream and it should thicken nicely.
Scatter with toasted almonds.
If you don’t have individual pudding tins, you could bake the puddings in ceramic, like I did here, they look equally good, I think.
April 30, 2012
THIS. IS. EASY.
So easy, there is really not much to say, other than, well that. Lemon posset is a classic. Lemon is good for puddings; citrus but sweet.
It’s hard to go wrong with this recipe.
Also you can make it look swanky by serving in cute mismatching teacups, or black coffee cups.
It’s good with those thin almond wafer biscuits you can get in the posh ailsles of supermarkets, or if you want, you can make shortbread to go with, like I have…
You’ll need: Just 3 ingredients…wooohoooooo!
- 600ml double cream
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 large lemons (zest and juice only)
Put the cream and sugar in a pan and slowly bring to the boil.
Boil for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk well. Pour in to your pots and chill in the fridge for few hours or overnight. Sprinkle with lemon zest.
For the shortbread;
- 300g plain flour
- 250g unsalted butter
- 150g cornflour
- 100g ground almonds
- 150g caster sugar or icing sugar (or a mix of both!)
Mix the butter and sugar together. Add the flour and almonds. It should form a dough, which you can bring together with your hands. Wrap on clingfilm and leave in the fridge for a few hours, about the same amount of time as it’ll take your posset’s to set.
When the pastry is chilled, roll out on a floured surface and cut in to rounds. Put on a baking sheet and leave in the fridge for another 20mins or so, this’ll help the shortbread cook evenly.
A no fuss end result…
March 31, 2012
Now then, this little almond cake is not only moist and perfectly formed, but nestled in amoungst it’s crumb lives a pink fleshy piece of gingered rhubarb. Cupcakes, please go away, please. And make room for more cakes like this, understated, slick, and chilled out.
For the cake batter, have a look at my blog post for almond and pear pudding…here. It’s the same base, only this one uses semolina flour instead of the plain flour.
This is what your batter should look like. I store mine in the fridge, and even freeze it sometimes. This is one I have in the fridge.
For the fruity innards you’ll need;
- A few sticks of rhubarb
- A small piece of fresh ginger
- One vanilla pod
- 100ml Grenadine
- Light brown caster sugar
- 2 lemon zest
To cook your rhubarb, cut the stems in to 2cm lengths.
Place on a sheet of greeseproof paper and throw generous handfuls of sugar over them. Grate ginger over, along with the scraped vanilla bean, a glug of grenadine for colour and grated lemon zest.
Cover with another sheet of greeseproof and cover with foil so that the rhubarb is snuggled up inside a baking parchment and tin foil bed. Cosy. This is actually so the rhubarb poaches in it’s own juice, and no water escapes. Pop in the oven on 160. It’s crucial to keep checking on it, like a worried mother. I’d say every 5-10mins, as all ovens differ. The rhubarb is quick to go soft, and you want to take it out when it’s just on that turning point between firm and soft.
Grease and flour your cake tins. Spoon the chilled mix in to them. Bake at 180 for 10 mins.
Remove and add 2 pieces of rhubarb per cake. There should be a wobble in the centre, that’s where you put your rhubarb.
Bake for another 5 mins. Leave to cool, turn out.
A little dusting of icing sugar…
Now, this bit, this is sexy…