Category Archives: baking

Olive Oil Chocolate brownies – A Nigella recipe

Last may, on a walk by the cliffs with some friends, I sampled the best chocolate brownies ever at the charming Salmarsh café in Seven sisters country park, Sussex. This recipe, inspired by Nigella Lawson, is the closest I can get to the Saltmarsh brownies – that is until I go back to enjoy them!

 

This month, I have travelled to a land of cacao and volcanoes, of high rain forest and dry Pàramo heath, of hot springs and salty ocean waves, and I wanted to celebrate the beautiful, godly taste of chocolate with this very delicious recipe which unites the best cacao from South America with the best olive oil and almond from Europe. A nice one to take on holiday wherever you are heading!

Ingredients list:

  • Virgin olive oil, 100 ml (plus more for greasing)
  • Cocoa powder, 50 grams good-quality (sifted)
  • Boiling water,125 ml
  • 2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
  • Ground almonds, 200 grams
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Caster sugar, 150 grams
  • 3 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 170°C. Grease a 22 or 23 cm/ 9inch tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.

 

Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, dark, fragrant paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.

 

In another bowl, combine the ground almonds (or flour) with the bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt.

 

Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale-yellow, aerated and thickened cream, a lot like a mayo.

 

Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and add the ground almond (or flour) mixture.

 

When it is all well mixed in, pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.

 

Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Eat with ice cream.

PS: Have tweaked the original to include less sugar and oil and more almond but see what you like!

Brioche bread and butter pudding with orange blossom water

Bread and Butter pudding to use up Christmas left-over brioche!

Ingredients list:

  • Panetone or pandoro, sliced horizontally
  • Liquid cream, 500ml
  • Butter, 50g
  • Brown sugar, 50g
  • Eggs, 2
  • Dark rum, 3 tbsp
  • Orange blossom flower water, 3 Tbsp
  • Vanilla essence
  • Some icing sugar to sprinkle
Hope you all had a lovely Christmas!

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas!

IMG_2168Butter a flat dish and then each slice separately ,then lay the buttered slices into the dish. By slicing the pandoro horizontally, I produced large star shapes which were a great look for our festive table.

Mix the sugar, cream, milk and flavourings into a jug and pour on top of the bread to cover generously.

Let it steep for a few minutes, then put in the oven for 30min at 170°making sure it does not dry out – add milk if necessary.

Serve warm with a sprinkle of orange blossom water and icing sugar on top.

This is a great way of using up the left over bits of brioche or panetone, post Christmas. The flavours of rum and orange flower blosson hit a winning note and make this dish a very posh version of the humble bread and butter pudding.

Pumpkin, ginger and cinnamon bread

Here I indulge my love of all things ginger! Don’t you love this warm colour and spice?! And it goes so well with pumpkin it would be a sin not to pair them… Here is your week-end recipe, just in time!

Libby’s pumpkin purée is a very ubiquitous ingredient in the UK and it is a great product to use when winter makes fresh fruit a bit more scarce… So this is a cupboard or pantry recipe, unashamedly quick and practical.IMG_2049

Ingredients list:

  • Eggs, 3
  • Libby’s pumpkin purée, 3/4 of a jar
  • Brown sugar, 150g
  • Rapeseed oil, 100ml
  • Self-Raising Gluten free flour mix, 150g
  • Bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp
  • Ground ginger, 1 generous Tbsp
  • Cinnamon, 1 Tbsp
  • Vanilla extract

Blend the eggs with sugar and pumpkin purée.

Add the oil, then the flour mixed with the bicarbonate.

Blend in the spices. I use a robot for that but you can make do with a hand whisk because all the ingredients are very easily blendable.

Pour the mix into a rectangular pan and bake for 30 minutes at 180°.

This is a lovely and light cake with lots of seasonal spices, perfectly suited to the winter and delicious with a cup of chai latte or coffee latte.

Because it is rather low in sugar and has no dairy in it, I will still call it a bread but it is as indulgent as it gets! The pumpkin purée makes it very moist and similar to a gingerbread. Just a nice, healthy twist on it…

NO butter, no dairy, no gluten! No fun?! Actually plenty of taste – As I said I DO love all things ginger…IMG_2007

 

 

 

Choux and choux!

As we would say in French: “There are choux and choux”, as in : not two are necessarily the same, though they might be called the same…

I thought I knew all about choux, chouquettes, gougères and the lot…  I had even made my own overfilled éclairs a few Christmasses ago ( in my trusted Thermomix) and I have to admit I had felt quite pleased with myself. See below!

Hello Boys!

Boy I feel smug!

…That was before I met  “Maître Choux” in Harrington road, South Kensington, and a whole new level of Choux making appeared before me! Shaming my paltry efforts but titillating my taste buds so wildly that I can only forgive and not forget…

IMG_9969 IMG_9616 IMG_0255 “Maître Choux” is a brand new French pastry shop that has opened in the “French Quarter”, between a French Bookshop and a Saturday farmers market, in the most Parisian of London roads… And the mastery shines in a dazzling variety of “petits choux” and éclairs that can only have been dreamed up in a Palace of Dame Tartine or in some kind of foodie fantasy written up for Babette’s Feast! To try any flavour is to get hooked. My favourite is their lemon “petit chou” with a crispy craquelin covering a springy choux base and encasing a tangy  Greek yogurt and lemon filling.

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Me with Jérémie and Joackim at Maître Choux

Myself with Jérémie and Joakim at Maître Choux

“Maître Choux” concept is simple: Just choux, only choux and soon all of them choux! Chef Joakim is an “artiste pâtissier”, ex-Robuchon and The Greenhouse, and his precious little wonders are inspired by fashion, jewellery designers or or simply the London street. The flavours are bold but classic like an éclair in violet and blueberry presented in glorious purple livery or a choux filled with the finest Vanilla beans and topped with a smooth white disc. They use the very best ingredients in foundation flavours such are Vanilla, Pistachio or Salted caramel and hence their opening a few weeks ago was greeted by passer-bys who came to congratulate them, thank them and even bring gifts to celebrate! In an area spoilt with choice and home to some great food outlets, this says something about how different and innovative their offer looks and tastes like.

What do Jérémie and Joakim enjoy about being in London?

They love the creative energy of the city and reckon it is currently Europe’s food capital! So they are striving  to raise the standards for an equally artful and creative fine patisserie scene. No wonder they are busy!

Their little parcels of happiness, in their prettily dotted box,  do not come in cheap though, but believe me it is well worth the spend. Yet because this blog is about democratic cooking and baking, and especially affordable home cooking goodness, I have asked them for one of their best sellers recipe and here it is for you readers in all of its simplicity and perfection. I tried it last week in my kitchen (Thermomix at the ready) and served it to a posse of yummy mummy friends  and babies – verdict was unanimous and very appreciative ! Thank you all at Maître Choux for a very delicious (and affordable) treat.

JoackimTHIS IS THE RECIPE FOR THE LEMON ECLAIR – Kindly gifted by @chefjoakim:

We are listing all the ingredients in order of use during the recipes to give you a clearer view of the process from the start. In order to make things easier for yourself and minimize potential mistakes, weigh and prepare each ingredient in its own bowl before you begin.

Lemon Meringue Éclair

(20 pieces)

Choux Pastry

Before we start, please preheat your oven at 180 degrees, fan off, minimum humidity setting.

Ingredients list:

  • 200g whole milk
  • 300g water
  • 240g butter
  • 10g sugar
  • 8g salt
  • 375g Flour
  • 500g of eggs (approx. 10 eggs)

Bring to boil the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt and watch over the pan. AS SOON AS IT IS BOILING, add the flour and stir firmly with the spatula for one minute or so, until the mix doesn’t stick to the sides of the pan any more. When it does not stick to the sides of the pan any more it means it is ready.

Now take the pan off the heat and add the eggs little by little and one by one until the mix is smooth but not too runny. The hard part in making choux pastry for an untrained eye is in this step: if the mix is too thick it needs more eggs, however the eggs must be added slowly as if it becomes too runny then it will not raise in the oven.

Chef’s tip: Trace a deep line into the choux pastry with your spatula. If the line closes up slowly, then it’s ready!

Lemon Cream

Ingredients list:

  • 250g Lemon Juice (approx. 5 lemons)
  • 220g Sugar
  • Zest of 5 lemons
  • 270g Eggs
  • 300g Butter
  • 100g Greek Yogurt
  • 5g of soaked vegetable gelatin leaves

Before you start, soak the gelatin in cold water.

To make the lemon cream, bring to boil together the lemon juice the sugar and the lemon zests. Once it is boiling, add the eggs and cook for 3 minutes until boiling while mixing sharply with a whisk.

Once it is cooked and still hot, add the gelatin and the butter, then use your hand blender until the mixture is soft

Once it is cold, add the Greek yogurt to the mix and stir with the spatula. It is now ready to use.

Lemon Meringue (optional)

  • 100g Egg White
  • 180g Sugar (divided in 3 portions of 60 g)
  • 10g Lemon Juice
  • Zest of 2 Lemons

Whisk the egg whites then add the sugar. Carry on whisking until the texture is thick then add the lemon juice and the lemon zests.

IMG_0289

Choux Pastry

 Before we start, please preheat your oven at 180 degrees, fan off, minimum humidity setting.

Ingredients list:

  • 200g whole milk
  • 300g water
  • 240g butter
  • 10g sugar
  • 8g salt
  • 375g Flour
  • 500g of eggs (approx. 10 eggs)

Personally, I halved the quantities and so the list looked like this:

Ingredients list B:

  • 100g whole milk
  • 150ml water
  • 120g butter
  • 5g sugar
  • 4g salt
  • 190g Flour
  • 6 medium eggs

Bring to boil the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt and watch over the pan. AS SOON AS IT IS BOILING, add the flour and stir firmly with the spatula for one minute or so, until the mix doesn’t stick to the sides of the pan any more. When it does not stick to the sides of the pan any more it means it is ready. Note : make sure the mix is not too runny or it will not raise but also not too dry or it will collapse soon after! This is where experience comes into… Dry it in the pan or add a bit of water until you get it right.

Now take the pan off the heat and add the eggs little by little and one by one until the mix is smooth but not too runny. The hard part in making choux pastry for an untrained eye is in this step: if the mix is too thick it needs more eggs, however the eggs must be added slowly as if it becomes too runny then it will not raise in the oven.

Chef’s tip: Trace a deep line into the choux pastry with your spatula. If the line closes up slowly, then it’s ready!

Transfer the choux pastry into your pastry bag and pipe into an éclair shape. Do not pipe them too close together as they need space to rise Then keep inside the oven at 180c for 35 minutes until golden.

Have a lovely sunny week!

Revisiting old favourites: Nigella’s moist chocolate cake

I still have my much fingered copy of “How to be a domestic goddess” by Nigella Lawson in prime position on my kitchen shelves. And I have adored this recipe since I started making it because it is both light and strong but does not give you this chocolate overdose feeling, even if you eat tons of it!
To emphasize the strength and lightness of the mix, I make it with twice as much chocolate and a third less sugar than the original but I particularly love the tangy taste left by the use of bicarbonate. It reminds me of a moist gingerbread…

Recently, I have been adding cinnamon and ginger to the original mix because I love spices and because they go so well with this moist and dense chocolate base… Here is one good reason for reblogging!

The other one is that I am due to serve it tomorrow to some of my favourite bloggers and can’t wait to get their feed back on it! I am having the closest thing there is in adulthood to a Teddy bear picnic: a mum and babes tea party! I wanted to celebrate a few very good friends first babies and this seems a good reason to throw a tea party but because those friends are real foodies and very demanding girls, I am desperately trying to impress and feeling a little nervous…

“Domestic goddess” or not, I am going to enjoy this tomorrow! (this was written early summer and party went well thank you very much – Babies lovely and even the mothers behaved!)
Ingredients list:

  • Butter 225g
  • Muscovado sugar 260g
  • Eggs 2
  • Vanilla extract 1tsp
  • Dark chocolate 200g
  • Flour 200g
  • Bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp
  • Boiling water 250ml
  • Optional spices: Tablespoonful of cinnamon and ginger

Pre-heat the oven to 190° C and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. This cake mix will be very runny so this is pretty essential.
Cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon then add the beaten eggs and vanilla. Melt the chocolate with a spoonful of water and add it to the mix. Measure the flour with the bicarbonate and add it in batches to the mix with the boiling water until you have them all well combined.

Note that you can add some cinnamon and ginger in the mix to make it richer in taste but do not have . A nice twist is also to present it with a cinnamon and ginger infused chocolate icing- more indulgent but totally worth it for a special party.

Pour into the tin then bake at 190° for 30 minutes. Turn down the oven to 170 °and bake for another 15mn.

Remove when the cake has raised but is still squidgy inside. It keeps well and like gingerbread is lovely the next day with a cup of black tea or Chai Latte.

Here are a few photos from the tea party:

My lovely friend and blogger @homesweetlondon

My lovely friend and blogger @homesweetlondon

HIghtea IMG_0281