Category Archives: baking

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.

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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!

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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

Light buttermilk and vanilla waffles

Today London feels like the gateway to summer! 24 degrees and rising!..
For breakfast, I whipped up those delicious waffles. Maybe it is the sunshine outside or my impending trip to Spain soon but I felt like giving the kids and I a particularly fruity breakfast and here it is.Those are made with skinny buttermilk so they are lighter and more virtuous than ever! plus covered in fresh fruit, they can definitely count towards your 5-a-day… Or is it 7 these days?!

Ingredients list:
This made 8 generous waffles.

  • 4 eggs
  • Self-raising flour 250g (I used light brown flour)
  • Butter 125g (I used English butter – with salt)
  • Buttermilk 280ml
  • Vanilla sugar, 2 large spoonfuls
(I make my own vanilla sugar by putting a split vanilla bean into a jar full of caster sugar.)
Fruity waffle

Fruity waffle

In a large bowl, work the butter and sugar until fluffy and creamy.
Split your egg whites from their yolk. Then, add the yolks one by one to the mix. Use an electric whisk for that and add the cream and flour, bit by bit. It should be creamy not lumpy.
Clean your hand whisk to beat the egg whites to a stiff consistency, adding a pinch of salt to help start it. They must make peaks when you pull out the blades but don’t overdo it! Carefully fold the whites into the mix with a wooden spatula. You now have a gloriously plump batter, soft as a pillow.

Warm the waffle iron or the electric maker and drop a large spoonful of batter in the centre. Bake until crisp and brown.

Those waffles are lighter and just as gorgeous as my previous recipe with full fat cream. This is the perfect version for a bit of spring clean – but with a smack of indulgence!

Try them with a dash of maple syrup in the morning or just with fresh fruit and a dollop of rich yogurt anytime of the day. They taste so delicious they hardly need the extra sugar so pile them high with fresh fruit -or fruit purée- and have them guilt-free.

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Used light whipped cream no sugar

In any case, guilt is a useless negative emotion and probably worse for you than the indulgent food you might be having, so just enjoy and forego the guilt – next time you might balance this out!

Just remember that enjoying a stress-free treat is very good for your mood and therefore good for your health: you will appreciate it better, certainly digest it better and maybe feel contented for longer! No-one can be virtuous all the time… Not even Gwyneth!..

Spring is here!

Spring is here!

 

GF banana bread – Spring clean specials!

With spring comes spring-cleaning and a renewed desire to shake the cobwebs away, clean up your act, de-clutter your life!

To take it one step at a time, I have decided to dedicate the next few posts to clean living and feel-good recipes.

Here coconut oil cream was used in place of rapeseed

Here coconut cream was used in place of rapeseed oil

First, choose to do one healthy thing or genuinely “good for you” action every day: today I sorted out my linen cupboard and threw any old towel or sheet to recycling! Tomorrow, I tackle my desk and office corner… Tough, but really good for the soul!

Now, a treat with this simple banana bread recipe:

IMG_8980Ingredients list :

  • Black, ripe bananas, 3
  • Egg, 1
  • vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon
  • Rapeseed oil, 3 Tbsp or 50 ml
  • Honey, 3 tbsp
  • Date syrup, 3 Tbsp or treacle
  • Baking powder, 1 tsp
  • Bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp
  • salt, 1 pinch
  • cinnamon, 1 tbsp
  • Coconut ( or almond) milk, 160 ml
  • GF flour blend, 150g
  • ground almond, 100g
  • oats, 50g

Mix the flour, almond and oats. Add the bicarbonate and baking powder.

Beat the egg in the coconut milk, add the oil, salt.

Mix it all in a wide bowl and add the crushed bananas, cinnamon, honey and date syrup. Date syrup or grape syrup are really great products and you should be able to source them in middle eastern groceries or oriental corner shops. But if you can’t find it just replace that with another couple of spoonfuls of honey or even treacle if you want a spicy taste.

Bake for one hour at 150 degrees. This bread has a cake-like indulgence – whilst remaining more virtuous than cake- and a moist, melting texture.

Serve sliced for breakfast, with or without a spoonful of yogurt. This recipe was inspired by the Minimalist Baker  .

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Valentine sandwich cake with lemon cream and blueberries

Sponge cake with lemon butter cream and fresh berries

Sponge cake with lemon butter cream and fresh berries

For Valentine’s day, I propose to you a very British classic : two layers of sponge cake with a butter cream filling with fruit. Nothing could be more traditional but if you are not used to sandwich cakes, it is a very nice way to celebrate a very anglo-saxon day! Do not forget a nice and corny card – or a very rude and inappropriate one!- and you are set for the tackiest day in the calendar!

Joke apart, I actually quite like Valentine’s days because it is attached to fond memories and because a day celebrating Cupid is never a wasted day in my books. Tonight you should open a bottle and curl up on the sofa to watch a nice soppy rom-com like “Love Actually” or “About Time”. Something romantic and cute that will make you think that really “Love is all around”! Because it is – that bit is true! Nothing else really matters, does it?!

Anyway, back to baking:

Ingredient list for the cake:

  • 3 large eggs
  • Butter
  • Caster sugar
  • self-raising flour
  • Vanilla extract
  • Baking powder, 1 ½ tsp

Weight the eggs and then weight a similar amount of sugar, butter and flour. Reserve.

Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the beaten eggs and the flour in alternance.

Mix the vanilla extract in. Beat the mix in with a whisk until light and fluffy.

Divide in two shallow tins and bake at 180° for 25 minutes.

Remove and let it cool.

Ingredients for the butter cream:

  • Butter, 100g
  • Icing sugar, 150g
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon

Mix in a blender or with a whisk. Reserve.

Spread the cream on one cake, lay blueberries on top, sandwich with the other cake and dust icing sugar to decorate – I used a paper heart as a stencil.

Crack open that bottle and curl up with your lover to enjoy this in front of that good British comedy! This is the one night of the year when I would not recommend going out unless you are truly desperate for food, or company, or both: restaurants are foul on Valentines’s day and you do not want to be compromised in such bad settings…IMG_8774 IMG_8778 IMG_8782