Tag Archives: baking

Warm crumble of apples and pears

A beautiful still life!

A beautiful still life!

A new Wild Food Market has blossomed in our neighbourhood and I got these apples and pears from one of the producers’ stalls. It was such a beautiful feature on my dining table I could hardly decide what to do with it!

Knowing that the beautiful Bramley apples turn into a light, soft snow once cooked, I decided to turn my display into a crumble once again…

Ingredients list:

  • 3 Bramley apples
  • 3 or four pears
  • Same amount of Flour, brown sugar and butter (150g)
  • Oatmeal or plain oats, 100g
  • Cinnamon, 1 Tbsp
  • ginger, 1 Tbsp
  • One capful of Orange blossom water
  • Cornflour, 1 tsp
  • A few blackberries (optional)

Butter up a deep dish  – terracotta or oven proof glass is best.

Peel and chop the fruit and squeeze some lemon juice over so as not to oxidise too rapidly.

With your fingers tips, rub the butter into the flour and sugar until it has the consistency of sifted sand. Leaving some bits and lumps is fine too. Mix the oatmeal in.

Add the cinnamon and ginger.

Spread the fruit into the dish.

Drip the capful of orange blossom water. Sprinkle with the cornflour and toss it all together.

Now sprinkle the flour mix over all of the surface, trying to cover it completely.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes at 180 degrees.

Serve warm with cream or ice-cream.

For a slightly different but equally delicious version, check out here my Blackberry and Apple Crumble or a GF version here.

An apple crumble is the very best of classical English baking! Never tire of it.

Have a beautiful week-end everyone.

Advertisements

Light golden onion soup for after-party supper!

I always love old classics and this is a favourite of “Bistro cooking”, the sort of no-fuss, hearty and comforting cooking you might find in a true Parisian Bistrot. I know there are less and less of those haunts in Paris nowadays but they are worth seeking out. This soup reminds me of late night suppers after a play or a dance in Paris… It was a perfect student days pick-me up and it was served at my own wedding to give strength to the dancers around midnight – with this, most of us managed to last until 6am on the dance-floor!

Ingredients list:

(This serves about four bowls. You can easily freeze it too if you are doing it for yourselves.)

  • Roscof onions, 5 to 6 ( a lovely pink onion from Brittany)
  • Garlic cloves, 2
  • Ghee or butter, 2 Tbsp
  • Grape or date syrup, 2 Tbsp
  • Chicken stock cube, 1
  • Bay leaf and “bouquet garni” to flavour
  • Water, 500 ml
  • Cider, 200 ml

FullSizeRender
Peel the onions and garlic and chop it all together in a food processor- this will save lots of tears!
Melt the onions in a large saucepan with the ghee or butter. Leave to melt on low heat for about 20 minutes, watching closedly in order to avoid burning the bottom.
Add two spoonfuls of grape or date syrup – a little fruit sugar is needed to counteract the bitterness of the onions. I use grape molasse for its lovely spicy taste. I source it from Middle Eastern shops.
Add the chicken stock (made of one cube and 500ml water) and the bay leaves and bouquet garni. If you prefer, replace with a bunch of thyme and tarragon.
Herbs should play a big role in our spring cooking: they give it seasonal flavour, awaken the senses and have anti-viral properties.
Reduce and simmer for another 30 minutes.
The soup should be thick and golden. Add salt and pepper to taste, just before serving.

Beautiful Roscoff pink onions

Beautiful Roscoff pink onions

I serve this with a thick brown toast, brushed with garlic and spread with olive oil. It is also nice with melted cheese on toast. Dip in and enjoy!
This is health in a bowl. A perfect Friday supper after a couple of drinks down the pub! Onion soup is strengthening and good for recovery; the reason it is usually served at midnight during late parties in France is because it clears the head and gives you a nice boost before heading home…

Spicy pumpkin cookies

Cookies that melt in the mouth...

Cookies that melt in the mouth…

This lovely cookie I found on allrecipes.com. I was looking for a nice way to use my Libby jar of pumpkin purée and I really enjoyed the melting fudge-like texture of the dough  and the mixed spices.

Ingredients list:

  • Fine flour, 180g
  • Baking powder, 1 tsp
  • Baking soda, 1tsp
  • Ground cinnamon, 2 tsp
  • Ground nutmeg, ½ tsp
  • Ground cloves, ½ tsp
  • Salt, ½ tsp
  • Butter, 125g
  • Icing sugar, 90g
  • Pumpkin purée, canned, 100g
  • Egg, 1
  • Vanilla extract, 1 tsp

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt.

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.

Cream the butter and icing sugar. Add the flour and spices mix.

Drop ball shaped portions of the dough on greaseproof paper and reserve in the fridge for 30 min if possible – it will help them retain their shape.

Bake for 15 to 20 min then let them cool and drizzle some icing over them (icing sugar mixed with a few drops of lemon) or just dust in icing sugar.

If you do not have pumpkin puree, you can replace with unsweetened chestnut puree. The nice spicy edge of this cookie is made even nicer by the fact is is not over sweet.  The icing sugar does also improve the texture and makes the dough very fudgy and melting.

Enjoy those cookies with a nice cup of tea. That is my favourite British expression: not just any cup of tea but a “nice cup of tea”! Cures all ills – might even work on my nasty cold…

IMG_8470

 

Miniature classic Xmas puddings

This year, we are going totally British for our Christmas lunch. Usually I pick and mix : one starter here, a main there and some odd exotic bits from someplace else ; but this Christmas, lunch will be very traditional and purely British. For once, we are not travelling anywhere so that is one extra reason -if need be – to stay very local.

IMG_8384

In this spirit, I have decide to do my own Christmas puddings. I have been asked many times by friends to share a Christmas pudding recipe and I had none! But fear not, here is one coming!

I dived into some of my oldest books and searched far and wide to eventually settle on a mixed recipe which heritage is a cross between “Kitchen Essays” by Agnes Jekyll (in the beautiful Persephone Books edition) and Dan Lepard from The Gardian.

Little miniature puds in foil dressing

Little miniature puds in foil dressing

Agnes Jekyll calls hers “The Enchantress Plum Pudding” and calls for:
“Half a pound of bread-crumbs, sultanas, currants, raisins, mixed peel, suet, brown sugar, 4 eggs and the zest of two lemons. Mix and cook in usual way, serving with Brandy or orange butter.”
Though I love her concision and economy of style, I think my recipe needs a little expansion…

Ingredients list for 6 mini puddings:

  • Bread-crumbs, 125g
  • Sultanas, 125g
  • Currants, 125g
  • Chopped dates, 125g
  • Mixed peel, one small handful
  • Coconut cooking cream (or any shortening), 75g
  • Agave syrup, (0g
  • Brown sugar, 125g
  • Plain flour, 50g
  • Baking powder, ½ tsp
  • Mixed ginger, cinnamon and cloves spices, 2 tsp
  • nutmeg or mace, 1 tsp
  • Eggs, beaten, 2
  • Grated carrot, 1 small (or 50g)
  • Blanched almonds, 100g
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • Dark rum, 100 ml

Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and turn well with a wooden spoon until all is mixed evenly. It is traditional at this point to give a go to each member of the family at turning the spoon in the mixture and make a wish for the year ahead. The sunday before the advent calendar begins, so five weeks before Christmas, was traditionally called Stir-up sunday because it was the time to make your puddings ahead of Christmas day. You can still make it after that date but it will have less time to steep and for all the flavours to mingle…

Line and oil 6 small Dariole moulds. The ideal shape is round but you can be ground-breaking and inventive – you are making you own pudding after all!

Put the mixture into the moulds or into one big mould and cover with a small circle of baking paper. Then wrap each into a big square of baking paper and twist the ends on top. Wrap this into a square of foil and twist the ends then tie a rope around the mould, just below the rim and leave a loop – to retrieve the pudding after cooking. Cover and leave them to steep until the next day or two!

Put the puddings into a jam pan or a large cooking pan, pour some water in, being careful to only go halfway up the sides of the moulds – you will need to top up later but better not to drown the cakes… If unsure, you can stand the moulds on upturned jars or a small rack.

All ingredients together

All ingredients together mixed

Cover the pan with foil or a lid and cook on low flame  for 3 hours, checking the water level from time to time.

Let them cool down and put them under a cloth in a cool, dark corner of the house until Christmas day. A cellar would be ideal but failing that I have put mine under a bed!

On Christmas morning, you will need to steam them again in the same way for 2 to 3 hours. Serve warm, pour a thimble of rum over and set light to it!

I love the festive, lovely glow of anything flambéed! Love the smell it leaves behind too…

Stir and wish

Stir and wish for a happy Christmas day

 

 

 

 

A brioche fit for the Kings

Monday is the Epiphany, the arrival of the Kings and the last of the Christmas festivities.  For the occasion, the tradition in France is to choose a king by way of eating a crown-shaped-cake where a little figure (in older times a bean) has been hidden. Whoever has the symbol is the king for the day!

Half of France eats a cake made of frangipane and half eats a brioche based one. Being from the South, I chose this year to go for the brioche version. It is a moist brioche, filled with lemon peel, candied fruits and flavoured with orange blossom water. You can decorated it with more crystallised fruit or ground up  sugar.

Crown for the Epiphany

Crown for the Epiphany

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients list:

  • Fine flour (00), 300g
  • eggs, 4
  • Sugar, 75g
  • Bakers yeast, 1 tsp (or 15 gr of fresh yeast)
  • Butter, 150g
  • Orange blossom water, 2 capful
  • Milk, 100g
  • Candied peel and fruit, one cupful
  • one egg yolk

This is so easy to do in the Thermomix, I can’t resist to give you the step by step here but you can always make it in a bowl if you like!

Mix all the ingredients (but the egg yolk and candied fruit) in the Thermomix for 5 or 6 minutes on dough setting then empty the dough in a bowl and cover with cling film to raise for 1 hour.

Once the dough has raised, punch it back into shape by kneading air out of it. Mix the candied fruit into the dough and shape it into a crown. Use a silpat re-usable mat or a tray covered in oven proof paper. Decorate with crushed sugar and more fruit. Don’t forget to hide a “fève” or porcelaine figure in the cake and leave it to raise again for about one hour under a loose plastic bag – cling film would stick to the surface and ruin the look.

When it is risen, brush the top with a little yolk, decorate and bake at 160° for 25 minutes on the middle rack of the oven.

PS: I have to warn my readers it is pretty difficult to get good quality candied fruit in London, apart from lemon or orange peel and even that is hard to come by… I import mine from Provence where they produce the very best ones: Lilamand in Saint Remy de Provence or Maison Villaret in Nimes sell the “crème de la crème”: th variety is impressive, from apricots o chesnuts to wonderful melons. Though I have found good candied oranges or clementines in Italy too…  A good excuse for a bit of shopping abroad.

IMG_9238

These food-borne traditions are wonderful and  I am a sucker for all of them: I have to confess I do enjoy every one of them, from Christmas to Epiphany! I especially love sharing it all  with children around this time, especially the younger nephews and nieces for whom Christmas is still a new, fresh and magical time…

A beautiful wreath make for us by Peppermint Poppy alias Kenza

A beautiful wreath made for us by Peppermint Poppy alias Kenza