Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Easy bread

Whilst I'm a fan of the sourdough-like texture artisan no-knead bread has, the extremely long proves are somewhat irritating and sometimes you just want the machine to do the work. I also had this love for an onion bloomer M&S used to do before they took it off the shelves. Enter this recipe from a soon to be defunct Great British Chefs website. I sent in my list of comments including the excess amount of salt in the recipe, but just in case they take it off the site, here it is below with my adjustments. It fits nicely into the rather large IKEA loaf tin, but any tin would do really. Texture wise it's like a soft farmhouse loaf thanks to the inclusion of oil. It also lends itself to making a picture bread (see pictures below where I sectioned off the dough, coloured with various natural food powders and baked off.)




Ingredients
1 onion, finely chopped and dried in the oven for 20 mins at 170ºC
500g Strong bread flour
50ml Oil (sunflower/vegetable)
10g Salt
250ml of water
20g fresh yeast or 7g of dried/instant yeast.
Seeds for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in the mixer (dissolving the yeast in the water if required.)
    Note: keep the salt and yeast separate for as long as possible, the onion can be omitted or substituted with other ingredients, and you can also add sugar and reduce the salt for a slightly different taste e.g. cinnamon and raisin bread?
  2. Knead until a smooth ball is formed (about five minutes in a mixer at the lowest speed).
  3. Prove for an hour under a tea towel or until doubled in size.
  4. Beat down and form into a roll and put into a lined loaf tin.
  5. Allow to prove for another hour. Sprinkle with seeds if desired.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 35-40 minutes until a tap on the bottom sounds hollow.
  7. Cool slightly and then slice and serve warm.
Picture bread:



Method:

  1. At step 2 above, divide the dough into sections and colour using spoons of colour, food colouring is possible but I used sweet potato powder, turmeric and matcha for this.
  2. Work the colouring into the dough and allow to prove the first time.
  3. Beat down and then stack the doughs into something that resembles your intended design.
    Note: Try to remove as many air bubbles as possible by being deliberate in your actions and smoothing the dough down.
  4. Continue to prove and bake as above.






Egg tart recipe - classic

This one I got from a friend's mum a long time ago when I saw the picture. This was like inception of facebook, pre Instagram and I've never seen anything as good since. Here are mine, packaged up and ready to go to friends before I consume far too much. They're pretty angerous, especially when warm.


My own skills being limited, but every time I want to go back and try egg tarts I search for this recipe. I've expanded some on the original recipe although it is as flexible as old school recipes seem to be. Lard can be replaced with shortening. Cake flour can be used instead of Plain flour. Eggs are medium or large. Where it says liquids as ounces, I literally weigh ounces of liquid out rather than fluid ounces. No idea if they're any different. I'll update the pictures when I make nicer ones. Trimming the pastry would probably make it nicer to look at, but I'll take the extra depth of filling any time.





Ingredients:
Oil Pastry:
150g Plain flour
230g Lard
2 tbsp custard powder
4 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Water Pastry:
150g plain flour
60g cold water
1 egg

Filling:
A: 8oz hot water
4 oz sugar

B: 4 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
3oz evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Combine Oil Pastry ingredients and freeze for 30 minutes.
  2. Combine Water Pastry ingredients and freeze for 30 minutes
    Note: Oil Pastry is quickly made using a food processor.
  3. Wrap the water pastry around the oil pastry and enclose completely.
    Note: The water pastry will seem insubstantial in comparison to the oil pastry but it will wrap (particularly if you shaped the oil pastry into a relatively compact block before chilling.)
    The water pastry is also annoyingly sticky, even to cling film so have some patience.
  4. Roll and fold 3 times (use cling film) and chill.
  5. Roll and fold four times chill and repeat.
    Note: Translate steps 4 and 5 as fold and chill till you have about 16 layers. I use a mix of book folds (fold to middle and then in half) and into thirds depending on how the pastry feels. For some reason if you chill this overnight the pastry feels even more brittle and rips, so it may be worth letting it relax a little when you remove from the fridge if it's not pliable. It really doesn't matter much if you fold length ways and then widthways, just keep the meeting of the ends neat and square as much as possible.
  6. Roll out to 3mm thick on a surface dusted with flour.
  7. Cut with a cutter, line tins and chill.
    Note: No greasing of the tin is required. If the egg leaks they will be painful to wash anyway but soak and scrub is the way to go. If the pastry is higher than the lip of the tin it can catch on the tin some when you remove and the pastry breaks off which destroys the look somewhat. Push from the centre of the tin out so as to preserve the layers.
  8. Make the filling by dissolving the sugar in the water.
  9. Mix ingredients for B together and then add A to B.
  10. Strain filling ingredients through a sieve and then fill tart cases to 80% capacity.
    Note: the aim is to have no airbubbles in the mix to avoid unsightly blemishes to the surface of the custard.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes at Gas Mark 7/220C.
    Note: These bake particularly well on a low shelf with the bottom heat on to cook the pastry before the custard.
  12. Remove from oven when there is still some wobble to the custard. They will be slightly domed at first but will fall once cooled.
  13. Total recipe makes approximately 18 egg tarts with excess pastry.


Saturday, 30 May 2020

Egg free vanilla birthday cake

Despite eating everything (bar sourdough), I seem to require vegan, egg-free or gluten-free cakes quite regularly, usually because of other people's allergies and if you want of get rid of (almost) everything, vegan is a good option which everyone can eat. I did it for my wedding dessert table. Actually the best thing I did was jelly and lots of it. Guaranteed not to have kids reaching for their epipens. Well, highly, highly unlikely I should say. Previously though, I've always either used the "with vinegar" option and these cakes tend to be chocolate or apple based. This year I've been asked to make a vanilla cake for my friend's son who is allergic to eggs. Thankfully he is now a little older than the first time I baked for him (so dairy products are now IN!)

The following was adapted from the following site, I actually made it in its coffee form as a part of a hospital drop off and it turned out well hence I adapted it to vanilla. Moreover though, as it didn't require any special ingredients (I refuse to buy flax seed), and just involved a bit more baking agent, it's a really handy recipe to have.



The recipe itself makes one four layer 5 inch cake.

Ingredients:

Cake:
300g self-raising flour (or plain with baking powder)
180g caster sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
300ml milk (any type)
120ml oil (sunflower or veggie oil)
1 tsp vanilla paste/extract plus 6 tsp water

Syrup:
2tbsp sugar
50ml hot water

For the cake:
  1. Preheat oven at 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine. (Like muffin mix, mix lightly and avoid overmixing until the flour disappears.)
  4. Bake for 16-18 minutes in 5inch lined pans (I use Wilton rainbow cake pans.)
    1. For a tray bake 20-25minutes and keep testing with a skewer.
  5. Combine sugar and hot water and stir until dissolved. (If you're being good, boil the water on the hob, you can also add flavourings or alcohol here).
  6. Brush or gently spoon over the still warm cake.
    Filling and decoration for one 5 inch layer cake (so double if you need two!):
    350g butter/dairy free alternative (very soft)
    700g icing sugar
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp salt
    Food colouring

    1. Beat the butter, vanilla and salt in a stand mixer.
    2. Sieve the icing sugar over the top and combine slightly manually before whisking on high until fluffy.
    3. Divide into bowls as required and mix in food colouring (I used Wilton Leaf Green, and a more concentrated mix with a smidge of Pandan essence which has some green food dye in).
    4. Pipe on the sides and swirl as you like, remembering not to overwork the mixture.
      NOTE: 200g butter's worth was probably enough to fill and crumb coat  the cake, 150g is more than enough for the sides and  decorative element, however if you are making a pattern, a fair amount gets scraped off to achieve it.


    Current go to Macarons


    I spent years using the french macaron method and accepted a certain element of crackage. It was just the expectation that the basic meringue is the simpler option, but then I bit the bullet and tried Italian meringue and never looked back. Yes it requires more washing up. But the "hit" rate as such is much higher. The cracks are not all blameable on hot spots. Sometimes it's just the mix. This recipe is from Pierre Herme as per the Telegraph. I do not use liquefied egg whites because it's never made a difference to me, and I'm definitely not buying mineral water, the remaining adjustments are just shortcuts to avoid over complication.

    The ones made here I decided to decorate (first time) by mixing up a little food colouring with vodka and just paint it on.



    MAKES
    around 72 macarons (or about 144 shells)

    Ingredients
    Part A:
    300g ground almonds
    300g icing sugar
    110g egg whites
    Food colouring (gel or paste)

    Part B:
    300g caster sugar
    75g cold water
    110g egg whites


    METHOD

    1. Part A: Sift icing sugar and ground almonds into a bowl.
      Note: Food processor it if the pieces are particularly large/replace any unsievable parts.
    2. Add food colouring to the egg whites and put in the bowl as well but do not mix.
    3. Part B: Boil water and sugar to 118C. As the temperature is rising, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. When the sugar reaches 118C, remove from hob and pour carefully over the still whisking egg whites.
    4. Continue to whisk until the meringue cools to 50C (or when the bowl is relatively cool to touch.)
    5. Fold Part A into Part B or vice versa. Macronage or make it like lava.
      Note: All the rules of macarons regarding not overmixing, undermixing etc apply but have to be learnt via brutal trial and error but remember if this is your first time, read a few webpages, watch a few videos and fight the natural urge to keep air in when you're folding, your goal here is to squish it out.
    6. Spoon into a piping bag and with a plain round nozzle, pipe rounds of about 3.5cm onto baking trays lined with silicon or baking parchment.
      Note: Here I usually hold the piping bag perpendicular and just squeeze for two beats. For neat rounds, slow yourself down as the temptation is to get faster and faster. Space them about 2cm apart because the wretched things sometimes merge.
    7. Rap the baking trays on the work surface a couple of times.
      Note: If you're in the mood I use a skewer to gently pop any big bubbles I can see. These would cause dark spots if you leave them alone.
      If you're using an add in like coloured sugar, sprinkle now.
    8. Leave for 30 minutes to form a skin (more if it's humid/rainy out.)
    9. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas mark 4 and put trays in the oven.
      Note: put two trays at once at your own risk, the bottom tray usually cooks at a different rate. Given this mix made me seven trays of 15 + a tray, you don't want to hang around that long, so make sure the two levels are not so close to allow for the air to circulate.
    10. As soon as the macarons form feet (cheer), open the door to let some heat out. If you see some cracking, open the door.
      Note: Roux brothers recipe asks you to leave the door permanently jammed open with a spoon, or magically have two ovens with different temperatures running. If you consider the process as really one of drying out, the let out of any steam makes sense. Herme says to do it twice in the 12 minutes by "quickly opening and shutting the door twice during cooking time". I prefer to do one when the feet are showing, and odds are I'll do a few near the end when I'm checking if they're cooked yet.
    11. Bake in total for 12 minutes (depending on oven and size of macarons, sometimes it goes up to 18minutes for mine as I make mine bigger, just give a little nudge to the top and if it wobbles it's not done. You can also see by flipping the parchment over and if the base its cooked you can see the whole macaron as opposed to a ring on the parchment.
      Note: don't overdry the macarons otherwise they are a) unpleasant b) require a good few days maturing with a very wet filling to revive.
      Also be confident of one coming off first as you can always return it to the oven at this point.
    12. Leave on the lining paper for a bit and they should either come straight off or can be scraped with a spatula.
    13. Fill with filling and try to avoid eating for at least a day

    The below is the remainder of the recipe which I used only once but list for completeness. From that experience I would say that you can't taste the lychee which is a shame, so if you were making it, consider leaving in chunks of lychee or reducing the white chocolate which can overpower.

    The ones above were filled with leftover vanilla buttercream, leftover marmite truffle (thank you Paul Young) and my emergency go-to, PBJ using cherry jam.

    For the raspberry jelly

    420g raspberries
    35g caster sugar
    4g gelatine leaves

    For the lychee and rose ganache

    410g white chocolate (Milky Bar or cheapo for me worked fine. Vahlrona for Mr Herme)
    400g lychees (canned fine)
    60g liquid crème fraiche or whipping cream
    3g rose extract

    To finish

    100g granulated sugar
    A few drops red food colouring

    Raspberry jelly:

    1. Soak gelatine leaves in cold water
    2. Blend raspberries and sugar together and strain for pips.
    3. Heat a quarter of the puree to 45C.
    4. Squeeze the gelatine leaves and add to hot puree before adding the remaining raspberry puree.
    5. Set the jelly in a clingfilm lined dish (4mm depth of jelly is what you are after.)
    6. Cut into 1.5cm squares

    Coloured sugar:

    1. Preheat oven to 60C.
    2. Mix sugar with food colouring and rub together (gloves suggested, between sheets of clingfilm is an alternative.)
    3. Spread on a baking tray and allow to dry.

    Lychee and rose ganache:

    1. Drain lychees, blitz and strain to make 240g puree.
    2. Boil lychee and cream together and then pour over diced white chocolate to melt.
    3. Add rose essence and stir.
    4. Cover surface of ganache with cling film and allow to cool before filling macaron.

    A Wong Egg Tarts

    We've been watching Zoom cooking sessions with Michelin starred A Wong during lock down and absolutely loving it. Possibly we've been giving him a bit of grief on the side, but all in good humour! My friends and I are big fans of Chinese food but it's a fine balance between great Chinese food, and doing what it takes to be Michelin - his needs to have the bells and whistles on it, but at the same time charging £8? for a Bor Lor Bau (pineapple bun) which goes for a standard of around £2 in Chinatown bakeries is shocking. In line with normal restaurant dessert prices scarily, but it better be the best bor lor bau ever. In line with that, he served his egg tart on the show with a scoop of clotted cream on top. *shields eyes*.

    Giving it a good shot here (see the picture) but just as an FYI, usually butter does not feature in chinese egg tarts, and usually the water pastry is...flour, egg and cold water. Having made them I only conclude that I prefer the recipe I had before. Whilst the pastry is easy to work with, they come out very pale and the filling is too sweet for my liking. The A Wong pastry was used throughout but the ones on the right were using an alternative egg filling. See the bottom of the page where I cook them in my usual way and despite the pastry there being scrap ends, I think they come out nicer!






    Ingredients

    Dough:
    Oil dough:
    120g shortening (or Lard)
    120g butter
    120g high gluten flour (double 00)
    pinch of baking powder

    Water pastry:
    120g high gluten flour
    15g shortening
    1/2 egg
    pinch of baking powder

    Filling:
    167g sugar syrup (made from 180g sugar & 270g water)
    22.5g evaporated milk
    2 eggs

    1. Put ingredients for each pastry in the food process and blitz.
    2. Flatten each into a small rectangle (think takeaway box/small lunch box) and chill.
      NOTE: The oil pastry is like a spreadable consistency, this is fine. The water pastry in my case was like fine breadcrumbs which would not come together so I added water to this. A slightly naughty step, my friend tried it without and said it worked okay so it might just be different flours/days etc. See what you're comfortable with.
    3. Flour a cloth on a worksurface (I used a silicon mat)
    4. Roll the water pastry (the second one with the least fat in) into something double the size of the oil pastry and enclose the oil pastry block within it.
    5. Hit with a rolling pin to seal and flatten and then fold using a book fold as you would with puff pastry.
    6. Wrap and chill.
    7. Repeat until 16 layers is achieved (twice more).
    8. Each time use the rolling pin to keep the edges squared and the mix pressed through.
    9. Roll the pastry out to 3mm in thickness.
    10. Cut using a cutter and push into the moulds/tins from the middle and up the sides.
    11. Do not trim the pastry edges to show the lamination.
      Note: Not in his recipe, however I chose to chill the pastry in the tins as it was a warm day. I also found it easier to get into the moulds at the base once it had chilled a bit.
    12. Boil the water and sugar together to form the syrup and cool.
      Note: the amount of water is excessive to get to the resultant required 167g, in addition when I did it, it cooled into a thick gloop which I had to then dissolve into the egg mixture. The bowl the syrup was cooling in was still hot so I don't know what happened. I reverted to half mix from my usual egg tart recipe just in case.
    13. Add the syrup to the egg and evaporated milk.
    14. Sieve to remove air bubbles and fill pastry cases to 80%.
      Note: This is to result in a smoother custard.
    15. Preheat the oven to 180C, non fan and bake for 15-20 minutes until pastry is golden and the middle is still wobbly.
      NOTE: other recipes do suggest bottom only heat as frequently the pastry is still raw and the filling already done. The other recipe I have heats them at a whopping 220C but surprisingly it works. If the egg bubbles, that's not right and shouldn't happen with these recipes.
      NOTE: I made 18 "standard dan-tat" sized tarts and had a good block of pastry left. Enough to make another six normal and a few from scraps.




    Tuesday, 19 May 2020

    Banana deco roll

    I attempted to start a lock-down bakeoff online and for the first challenge I set swiss roll or babka. It may die a prompt death if no one joins me but at least I tried. There's something addictive about designing challenges and I have a shedload. Geeky bake idea queen - and out there I'm guessing some frustrated producer of Bakeoff is dreaming of filming a football documentary or something.


    Here was my swiss roll anyway. I have previously made the Tokyo Banana recipe from here and whilst it makes the best sponge, the custard flowed straight out. It tasted really nice though and I need to work on that, but for this I wanted an actual banana custard and therefore I turned to this site for a creme patisserie recipe which I adapted to my ingredients.



    Decopaste:
    1 egg white
    30g caster sugar
    40g plain flour
    20g butter
    Food colouring.

    Method:

    1. Mix everything together in the order above.
    2. Divide into bowls and colour with food colouring or in my case, some cocoa powder.
    3. Place into piping bags/piping cones made with greaseproof paper.
    4. Pipe a pattern onto your lined baking tray and freeze for at least 15 minutes.
      NOTE: The mix probably makes enough for two trays if your pattern is quite sparing like mine. To achieve the banana design I drew banana outlines with the brown, then squeezed yellow into the gaps before using a skewer to spread the mix into the edges of the outlines.



    Cake:
    4 Egg whites
    40g caster sugar

    4 Egg yolks
    40g caster sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract

    45g cake flour (or plain mixed with some cornflour)

    Cake soak:
    2tbsp caster sugar
    1tbsp boiling water

    Method:

    1. Preheat oven at 170C.
    2. Whisk egg whites and caster sugar to a stiff meringue.
    3. Mix egg yolks, caster sugar and vanilla together and then sprinkle cake flour over and combine.
    4. Fold egg whites into egg yolk mix (traditionally best if you take a good scoop and beat it into the egg yolks to lighten the mix and then add the rest in a few batches folding gently to retain the air bubbles.)
    5. Spread cake mixture gently over the prefrozen deco paste.
    6. Rap the tin several times to be remove any big bubbles.
    7. Bake for 25 minutes.
    8. Peel parchment off promptly after removing from oven. (Save to use for rolling the cake.)
    9. Make a cake soak/syrup by mixing sugar in boiling water.
    10. Brush hot cake soak over the cake whilst it is still warm, then allow the cake to cool completely.
      NOTE: This step is extra useful here to keep the cake soft and bendy for rolling as well as keeping it moist.


    Filling:
    2 cups double cream (can use milk)
    6 tbsp sugar
    Pinch salt
    3 tbsp cornflour
    1 tbsp vanilla extract
    3 egg yolks
    1 egg
    3 tbsp unsalted butter
    1 mashed banana

    Method:

    1. Put all the ingredients bar the butter and cream into a bowl and whisk together.
    2. Boil cream and pour over the eggs, whisking all the time.
      NOTE: a teatowel under the bowl helps stop it moving.
    3. Pour the mix back into the saucepan and continue heating and whisking until thickened.
    4. Whisk in butter quickly, add mashed banana and leave to cool in a bowl.



    Construction:

    1. Trim sponge edges off.
      NOTE: you can leave them on and trim after, and generally I do that as well, however sometimes you get a crispy edge that renders your roll slightly triangular and then proceeds to crack.
    2. Place sponge design side down on the parchment paper (used side down or risk getting crumbs all over.)
    3. Slather custard on the plain side of the sponge, not going too close to the edges to allow for squeezing.
    4. Roll from the short side to get more swirl potential.
    5. Cling film the whole roll and chill in fridge to set the shape.


    Friday, 15 May 2020

    Basque burnt cheesecake

    Once upon a time we went to San Sebastian and there was a restaurant which sold pretty much only cheesecakes. They sold other things, but San Sebastian is a town where each restaurant has one or two items for which they are known for, and when the walls are covered in cheesecakes, it's fairly obvious what this place sells.

    Now it seems basque burnt cheesecakes have reached a new kind of cult status so naturally I had to try.  The recipe I used was from Bon Appetit, which for a 10 inch cake pan was far too big for me to contemplate. Instead, I reduced it by half and used a 7 inch pan. Also because I made it on the same week as a guiness cake we discovered the two are very palatable eaten together.



    Ingredients:
    480g cream cheese (room temperature)
    150g caster sugar
    3 eggs
    240ml double cream
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste for some nice flecks)
    20g plain flour

    Method:
    1. Blend the cream cheese, sugar, eggs and cream in order. (Wooden spoon
    works fine)
    2. Add salt and vanilla.
    3. Sprinkle flour across the surface and fold in gently. The end result should be smooth and unaerated.
    4. Bake in a lined tin (traditionally as per the picture, just scrunched in parchment paper) for 40 minutes at 200C, turn the oven off and allow to cool inside with the door ajar for another ten minutes.

    For the memories... holiday shots below...



    Breadahead Cheese and Olive Sticks

    One of my favourite lock down watches is Breadahead. You have to ignore a few things to get through it - the people who don't get what recipe is being made, the people who don't know the ingredients are online already, and  the people who inevitably ask if they can use sourdough instead of yeast. Repeatedly. Daily. You'd think they'd learn.

    Cheese and Olive sticks are my go to treats when I visit Breadahead. I've eaten a few things from them now, which given I'm allergic to sourdough is no mean feat, but these and the doughnuts are the must buy items for me. Failure to seal properly also means a lot of nice cheese crisps.



    Ingredients:
    700g strong white bread flour
    14g fine sea salt
    3g instant yeast (or 6g fresh)
    475g water
    200g cheese (cheddar and red leicester suggested, cut into 1 or 2cm cubes)
    220g pitted green olives (or use what you have)
    100g polenta (semolina is an alternative, however flour at a push)

    Optional 100g diced onions/chopped chillies.

    Method:

    1. Mix yeast, flour, water and salt together.
    2. Allow to prove in a warm place covered by a damp tea towel for one hour.
    3. Take the cheese and olives and place in the middle, drag the dough around the cheese and olives and fold in until combined.
    4. Tip dough onto board covered in polenta.
    5. Separate into 8 (approximately 200g portions) and form sticks and roll into shape on the polenta, coating outside in the polenta.
    6. Place four sticks per baking sheet (lined with silicon/parchment paper) and tuck in any cheese you can see.
    7. Leave in the fridge uncovered overnight.
      NOTE: I covered one with clingfilm (habit) and left one uncovered as instructed but could not detect any difference. It was also suggested that you could just bake straight away which I would probably try, maybe after a short prove, as whilst overnight proving tends to be for flavour purposes, I rarely have a lot of fridge space and cheese and olives are high in flavour anyway.
    8. Remove from fridge whilst you preheat the oven in the morning.
    9. Spray oven with water/place a roasting tin with water in the base to create steam.
    10. Bake at 230C for 10-15 minutes.

    Thursday, 14 May 2020

    Apple Cheesecake

    Apple cheesecake

    In a short on ingredients world everything for this cheesecake has remained readily available. It serves two generously, four if you’re being restrained, and one if you’re just having that kind of a day. This recipe is hugely adaptable to what you have in the house, any fruit, any biscuit, any sweetener or fats (the texture might be a bit different but it’s all delicious). If you have some yogurt, sour cream or an extra lemon, the extra tartness would be good but not essential. Whipped cheesecakes are the mother of all inventions. Add anything you fancy. If it tastes good on it’s own, it is rarely going to taste bad combined with all the other lovely ingredients.


    If you want to save yourself the washing up, make it directly in your serving bowls as a deconstructed kind of dessert (call it a parfait!). Officially you would chill the cheesecake to help it firm up and hold its shape which is essential if you’re using a tin, however I’m just fine eating it when the crumbs and butter are still warm with some of the apple and cheesecake mixture scooped on top - far be it for a recipe to get in the way of gluttony!


    Ingredients:
    90g Digestives (about 6 biscuits, use ginger nuts, bourbons, whatever you have or fancy)
    55g Butter (or margarine, or coconut oil…)
    150ml Double cream 
    180 - 200g Cream cheese (one packet - full fat is the only option here as reduced fat versions have a higher water content so it would be very liquid)
    70g Icing sugar
    1 Lemon (two if you can spare them!)
    2 Apples (one is fine, 2 gives you more choice to complete the design)

    Optional syrup:
    5tbsp sugar (soft brown sugar preferably but any will do)

    Method:
    1. Melt butter and combine with crushed biscuits. NOTE: If you have any spices you would like to add, ginger, cinnamon add it in. A pinch of salt if the butter is unsalted is also nice but not critical. 
    2. Place crumb mixture in the bottom of serving bowls loosely or press into a lined tin and chill.
      NOTE: I used a 15cm diameter ring which was 5cm deep directly on the plate, however a similar sized tin with a loose bottom and spring form sides would be a good call here to ease clean removal. Either line sides with a strip of baking paper or heat gently with a kitchen blowtorch to remove cleanly.
    3. Whip the cream to firm peaks and set to one side.
      NOTE: Leftover cream makes for a nice Pasta Alfredo sauce or soup topping.
    4. Whip the cream cheese and add icing sugar and the zest of the lemon.
    5. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese with a spatula in stages.
      NOTE: Add vanilla, add extra lemon zest or sour cream if you have it, just keep an eye on the consistency and add some more icing sugar and chill if it is getting too liquid. Any lemon curd or jam would also be nice gently swirled through at the end. 
    6. Spoon cream cheese mixture on top of the crumbs and smooth over if desired. Chill in the fridge whilst you do the next part.
    7. Core and slice apples thinly and poach in lemon juice, one tbsp sugar and just enough water to cover.
      NOTE: Add any optional extra flavourings to the poaching liquid - a teaspoon of cinnamon, a knob of butter, vanilla etc.
    8. When the apples are flexible but not breaking down, remove the apples and leave to cool.
      OPTIONAL: With the remaining syrup in the pan, add five tbsp sugar and boil until syrup appears thickened. Take off the hob and leave to cool - it will thicken more as it cools. Serve with the cheesecake or with your porridge in the morning.
    9. Arrange apple slices on top of the cheesecake mixture in overlapping circles from the outside, chill for fifteen minutes if you can bear it (or until you plan to eat it.)
      NOTE: The centre part is easiest if you roll a few pieces of apple in your fingers and press firmly into the cheesecake before allowing it to fan out.
    10. Remove cheesecake from tin and serve.

    Pao de Queijo

    Pao de Queijo is a chewy brazilian classic which we like adding chilli to. Think of it as the love child of cheese and chewing gum. Or stretchier version of a gougere. Or a cheesy profiterole. Wow it really seems like I don't want you eating these! I swear, try it. Eat immediately as they don't keep.

    Original recipe from All recipes

    These are best eaten immediately and make a great bar snack. 



    Serves 2 (makes around 8)

    Ingredients:
    40ml Milk
    60ml Sunflower/vegetable oil
    40ml Water
    125g Tapioca flour
    1/2 tsp Salt
    1 egg
    25g grated Parmesan (or alternate similar hard cheese)
    1 tsp of chilli flakes

    Method:
    1. Preheat the oven at 180℃.
    2. Boil Milk, Oil, Water and salt.
    3. Take off the heat and add the tapioca flour, beating in until combined. 
    4. Allow to cool and then add the egg, parmesan and chilli beating vigorously.
      NOTE: The mixture may resemble badly scrambled egg with white sections in, therefore I prefer to beat hard enough until these are not apparent. The difference in leaving them in is that the resultant cheese balls won’t be smooth in appearance.
      NOTE: At least some Parmesan/cheap alternative is critical to achieving a cheesy taste, cheddar, even the mature type, does not carry enough flavour.
    5. Scoop golf-ball sized balls of the mixture onto a lined baking tray, allowing plenty of room for spread.
      NOTE: I like sprinkling some cheddar over the top to add some colour and more flavour.
    6. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes and take out when they look round and puffed up.
    7. Eat immediately.


    Wednesday, 6 May 2020

    Add five years

    I swear I end up opening so many redundant blogs I never fill because I can never figure out how to crack into this one.

    Where was I? Oh yes, five years on, we got married (boo), bought a place (yay), have someone else to feed all my cakes to (YAY!!). I'm determined it seems to make him a very chubby boy indeed, even if he fights it.

    Where were we on the bakes? Corona hit, therefore we have all the time in the world and the sheer psychology of I CAN'T GET FLOUR because the world also decided to take up baking goddamnit.
    One 5am moment (we woke up a lot at the start of this) and we managed to get 25kg of cake flour and 16kg of bread flour. Thank you Shipton Mill. Did you know you can buy baguette flour too? It is so soft... like kitten soft. Makes lovely baguettes. No idea why I'm writing this, I never read blogs, it's straight to the recipe and figuring out whether I have what I need. Hello the echo chamber :D