Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Pistachio & Chocolate Biscotti + A Giveaway

mbakes turned three last month! We’re nearly out of the annoying toddler stage and hopefully; the recipes aren’t as clumsy anymore. Pair the diabolical explosions of sugar I used to post back in ’12 + 13 with my nighttime flash photography, and it makes me want to cry and murder every cupcake on the planet. 
Aaaaand then there’s Jane Hornby, she’s been writing recipes professionally for 15 years and her new baking book What To Bake & How To Bake It came out recently. If you have years of recipe writing under your belt and a whole book containing mostly quintessentially British recipes within, that’s enough to draw me in. The glorious book might be aimed at the amateur baker, but there's no harm in adding a collection of stable recipes to your collection (15 years = stable recipes, okay?). WTB&HTBI felt genuine, much more so than a book by a celebrity chef, whose home economist likely thought up/tested the recipes and then stuck a coy image of said celeb chef on the front cover to push the sale of copies, isn’t that annoying? 

What’s the USP, I hear you ask? (You’re not asking this), it might be the photography, which kind of reminds me of Ikea. Each recipe (there’s 50 of them, including pumpkin pie and JAFFA marble cake) comes with beautiful overhead step-by-step photographs from start to finish.  This recipe for pistachio chocolate chip biscotti is an adaptation from the pistachio and fig version in the book, every recipe in here is meant to be simple, so I chose the simplest of the lot, to see how good Jane’s ‘simple’ was, and my oh my, Jane’s simple is simply delicious, crunchy and not at all eggy. 
To celebrate three years, Phaidon have kindly offered two copies of What To Bake & How To Bake It for me to giveaway. To enter, follow the instructions on the rafflecopter below. You can only enter if you live in the UK, don’t hate me!
Pistachio & Chocolate Biscotti

Ingredients

2 tbsp melted butter
100g shelled pistachios 
100g dark chocolate chips
200g unrefined caster sugar 
3 eggs
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting and rolling 
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt 
Zest from 1 orange 

Recipe

Grease and line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F. 

Put the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and whisk for one minute, until the mixture is frothy and paler than when you started out. Whisk in the butter. 

Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and add them to the eggs. Use a spatula to fold together to make a dough. Add the zest, nuts and chocolate and stir into the dough using the spatula. 

Scatter a generous amount of flour on the work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Split the dough in two and dust each one with more flour. Shape and lightly pat each piece into an 8-10 inch sausage, taking care not to overwork. Gently lift each piece onto the baking tray, bake for 30 minutes then leave to cool on a wire rack and reduce the oven to 160 C / 320 F.

Use a serrated knife to slice into 1cm pieces, then spread the cookies on the lined baking tray and bake for another 30 minutes, turning them over half way through so both sides are golden. Cool the biscotti on a rack, or eat warm, they'll last for 2 weeks in a cookie jar.
Love Em xx

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Chocolate Meringue Cake

Okay, I underestimated the ‘working blogger’ and I overestimated my capabilities as a human being, it seems I was born lazy.  
Mum and I have been scrolling through range cookers from Argos, to replace our clumsy, tepid oven. Ours is a baker’s nightmare - it’s so inaccurate that even oven thermometers are confused by it. Sponge cakes come out with domed tops or they barely rise, and beating butter and sugar until the mixer's on the verge of combustion or a new bag of flour doesn’t always work. Most of the layered cakes on here were lucky escapes (face palm). 

Homemade meringue has always made me feel a bit uneasy because it always comes out just a bit too eggy to stomach. But last week I had a thought, what if I add meringue on top of a cake, purposefully over-baking it by baking the meringue for as long as the dense chocolate cake that will be at the bottom? Perhaps the secret to abolishing the raw egg aftertaste was to over-bake it. It seems, my incompetent oven could finally be put to good use.

By the time the cake is such that a skewer inserted won't be all gooey from the mucus of an egg, you’re left with a crunchy and weightless meringue topping. There’s nothing marshmallow-y about this one, but if that’s what you’re after (and I’m not judging) top the cake with meringue 20 minutes in to the cake’s baking time. 
Chocolate Meringue Cake

Ingredients

Chocolate cake
200g dark chocolate
300g unsalted butter, softened
300g light brown sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp coffee extract
150g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Chocolate swirl meringue
4 egg whites
225g golden caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
30g cocoa powder

Cream filling
300ml cream
Pinch of salt
Cream of tarter
A few pomegranate seeds

Lasts for three days if covered. 

Recipe

Preheat the oven to 180 C and line two 6” round cake tins with baking paper.

Start by whisking the egg whites until froth appears, then slowly add in the sugar whilst whisking. Keep whisking until white and glossy, then add the cornflour and mix to combine. Spoon two heaped tablespoons into a small bowl and sift over the cocoa, then whisk vigourously to combine – don’t worry if the mixture deflates. Set both bowls aside and make the cakes.

Melt dark chocolate over a pan of simmering water and set aside to cool. Cream the butter and sugar with a whisk or beater until a light shade of yellow. Whilst beating, slowly pour in the eggs. If the mixture curdles add a tablespoon of the flour, then add the rest of the eggs. Fold in the dry ingredients and equally divide the mixture among the pans. Pour in the melted chocolate and stir through until there are no white streaks. Spoon the white meringue over the tops of each raw cake, using the spoon to roughly level the tops. Spoon small blobs of the chocolate meringue all over then take a cocktail stick and swirl both meringues together.

Bake for 40/50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle is a little damp. The tops will crack in the middle as they bake and then collapse slightly when cooling. Whip the cream with the salt and tartar until soft peaks, and then sandwich the cakes together with the cream and pomegranate seeds.

I was contacted by Argos to talk ovens. I grew up with this brand, and we use them to buy many, many things (thank god for the store card). 

Love Em 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Malteser Doughnuts Recipe

Aloha! This week I'm bringing doughnuts over to Destination Femme... But they're not any ol' nuts, oh no...
This doughnut is the breakfast of champions, inspired by Justin Gellatly's basic dough recipe, there is enriched dough, cream, chocolate and it’s all deep fried in fat for an extra kick of flavour. Another round of indulgence is met when the whole thing gets bathed in sugar and malt powder. I’m not suggesting you eat this regularly, but if you feel like eating one more granola bar made with what is essentially sawdust is going to tip you over the edge, a day spent in the kitchen baking these doughnuts might help!

Click here for the Malteser Doughnuts recipe.
Love Em xx

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Buttery Cornbread

I’ve wanted to share this recipe for cornbread since August. I’ve already been in talks with my sister about making it as a side for this year’s American inspired Christmas dinner (this cornbread is the sole reason why Christmas will be American this year).  Also, sorry for mentioning Christmas. 

Buuutttt, I am glad we’re finally in the season of comfort food. This thick and buttery cornbread can be served savoury or sweet. My first batch was served with spicy jerk chicken and citrusy avocado salsa. My second batch had less sugar, so I chose to drizzle the bread with acacia honey and dried corn flowers from this little spice shop in London’s Borough Market. Adding corn flowers to a cornbread is possibly the corniest thing I’ve ever done. 

The sweetcorn season may have just ended, but as the kernels are fried in a pool of butter, using the frozen variety is just as good. To be fair, I only used fresh because they were on offer in the supermarket – who would pass up 4 husks for a pound?! 
Buttery Cornbread

Ingredients 

200g unsalted butter
450g fresh or frozen sweetcorn 
80g double cream 
50g milk
45g brown sugar 
2 eggs 
200g plain flour 
130g fine cornmeal/polenta
1 tsp sea salt 
1/2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda 

Recipe


Preheat oven to 190°C and butter and flour a 23cm round cake tin or one 1lb loaf tin. Add the butter to a large shallow saucepan on medium heat and once it’s turned to liquid add the corn. Leave to sizzle in the butter until the corn has browned slightly and the butter has only just scorched the bottom of the pan. It might be easier to do this in two batches to make sure all of the corn cooks through.  Scrape the entire pan into a food processor and blitz until it looks grainy but still has a creamy texture. Add the milk and cream and blitz again until the batter is loose and has cooled down a little. Add the eggs and blitz, and then do the same with the sugar. Transfer the corn batter to a large bowl, pour the rest of the dry ingredients in and fold through using a wooden spoon. The batter will be thick. Once the flour is as folded through as it will go, give it a good beating with the wooden spoon until all of the flour is evenly incorporated. Pour the batter into the tin and smooth the top with the back of a metal spoon. Bake for 35/40 minutes, the cornbread is cooked when the surface has a slight sheen and is smooth to the touch and a skewer inserted shows a moist (but not wet) crumb. 

Love Em xx

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

No Churn Tahini Ice Cream with Mulberry Molasses


It’s been a long and unexpected break from blogging. One that, lets be honest, I should have wrote about before making the rude exit.  I’ve learned that real-life panic settles in roughly two months after finishing all of the studying it’s possible to do in the UK before exhausting your loan options. 

My pre 9-5 panic made me avoid blogging (that, and a bit of laziness). So I’ve got oodles of admiration for the women whose blogs I read (and have grown friendships with), the ones who have impressive careers and beautiful blogs as well as recipes that make you wish you could live forever just so you can carry on eating (cringe, but so true).  
My family were the route cause of these tahini ice cream “half” sandwiches. Being away from blogging has meant extra time to dip flatbreads in mixtures of mulberry molasses and tahini, and then finally giving up and placing the jars on the table for potential (frequently occurring) top ups.

The sweet pungency of Mulberry is softened with tahini paste, as its stirred, the whole thing comes together as a fruity, nutty, runny sauce called Pekmez. Just as the ripples in Halva are made with mulberry molasses, so too is the topping for these tahini ice creams – it’s a good way to keep the flavours distinct, and it’s good for eliminating one or the other, if the sight/sound of one freaks you out a bit.
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