Saturday, 27 June 2015

Chocolate peanut butter pie

V
Peanut butter can be so sticky to eat. Yes, I know, it’s sweet and salty, smooth or crunchy, but the thickness of it makes me feel like a dog playing with a Kong. That said, mixing peanut butter with honey and cream cheese and folding in glorious whipped cream then letting it chill on top of a deeply chocolatey homemade wafer base is (think saltier Oreos), perhaps, the best way to avoid the perils of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. I’m not boasting… but the peanut butter filling in this oh-so American pie barely hit the sides of my mouth. 
Chocolate peanut butter pie

Makes one 8 inch pie

Ingredients

For the wafer base
  • 295g plain white flour
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp fine salt 
  • 225g butter, softened plus 100g , melted 
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 25g light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp honey
For the filling
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 340g natural smooth peanut butter 
  • 40g light brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 220ml double cream

For the topping
  • 380ml double cream 
Note: Use 450g chocolate wafers such as Oreos if you don't have time to make your own. 

Method

  1. To make the wafers, sieve the flour, cocoa powder and salt and set aside. Cream the butter, sugars and honey with an electric whisk until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the dry ingredients, taking care not to over mix. Dump on a large piece of cling film and use it to shape the dough into a 30cm log, then wrap it up and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 Fan and line 3 large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Use a sharp knife to make an incision in the wafer log every 1/4 inch, then slice the cookies using the guide and place each wafer 2cm apart on the trays. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until the cookies are firm to the touch. 
  2. Let the wafers cool completely on a wire rack. Whiz them in a food processor until broken down, then pour in the melted butter and whiz to a fine crumb. Tip into an 8-inch loose bottomed cake tin and use your hands or metal spoon to evenly smooth the crumbs up the sides and bottom. Place in the fridge to set.
  3. To make the filling, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar and honey in a bowl with an electric whisk for 2 minutes, until the mixture is pale and smooth. If using a freestanding mixer, transfer the peanut butter mixture to a large bowl and use the whisk attachment to whisk the double cream to soft peaks. Spoon all of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture and gently fold it through with a spatula. Pour the peanut butter mixture into the chilled wafer crust and smooth the top, place in the fridge to set, then whip the remaining cream to soft peaks. Dollop the cream on top of the filling and smooth off with a spatula. Leave to set in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight, then serve. 
Love Em xx

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Tahini buns (tahinli çörek)

While I agree there’s nothing better than dipping a big chunk of warm bread in a bowl of tahini, recipes with tahini are endless and just…good. The Cake Hunter told me that she uses it to make vegan chocolate fudge. Another genius use for tahini is to stir it through some buttercream before layering with cake or adding a teaspoon to Greek yoghurt and dipping cubes of fried aubergine in it. It’s clear that tahini is a sweet and savoury melting pot. 

I’ve recently discovered that my favourite thing to do with it is to complement this stuff of gods with crappy vegetable fat. If I’m going to spread tahini on some dough like I would with a cinnamon bun, there needs to be a savouriness to make up for that lack of spiciness, even if it comes from smelly veggie fat. Dare I even say that using a pastry chef’s nightmare ingredient in a recipe actually yields flakier results? You’re not reminded of the richness of butter with these buns, instead there are crumbly edges and short textured interiors. I tell ya, veggie fat really brings out the pure taste of carbohydrates. Also David Cameron promises to put us through our paces for the next 5 years so I probably won’t be able to afford butter soon. 
Tahini buns (tahinli çörek)

Makes 16 buns

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 560g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 240g vegetable fat or margarine, cold and cubed
  • 300g buttermilk, cold
  • 1 egg
  • 50g poppy or sesame seeds
For the filling
  • 150g tahini
  • 120g sugar
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/160 fan/gas mark 4 and line 3 baking trays with greaseproof paper. Put the tahini and sugar in a small bowl, stir and set aside. The mixture should be thick and spreadable.
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and cubed margarine to a bowl and mix with an electric whisk until the texture is coarse and there are still lumps of butter here and there. Make a well in the middle and pour in the buttermilk, then mix until the dough looks shaggy. Tip out onto a clean surface and lightly knead into a rough ball, then leave to rest for ten 10 minutes. Split the dough in half and put one aside. Flour the surface again and roll the first half into a 30cm circle, then roll the second half of dough so that it looks identical to the first half. Spread the tahini sugar paste over one half, making sure to go right to the corners, then carefully lay the second half on top. Using a pizza roller or knife, cut ½ inch strips diagonally. Hold 1 strip from both ends, lift and twist, then repeat until the strip is completely twisted. Tightly roll the strip into a round then tuck the end in the bottom of the bun. Repeat with the rest of the buns, then space them apart on the baking trays. Beat the egg in a small bowl and brush each bun with it, then sprinkle with the seeds. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown, leave to cool and then serve. These are best eaten the day they are made. 
Love Em xx

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Pistachio and cashew baklava

Baklava can be tooth achingly sweet and sometimes that sweetness overpowers, as if there’s varying textures of sweetness and nothing else. But when you’ve tasted baklava from one of its (many!) home counties, it's almost like a rude awakening to the fact that there is more to it than 10 cups of sugar.

Super fresh baklava is gooey, the syrup seeps when you bite into it and it’s less cloying than the stuff sitting on the supermarket shelves collecting dust. You won’t find rose or orange blossom water in the authentic Ottoman versions (i
f you let the rosewater bubble away with the sugar the results are only slightly floral which I prefer) because the pistachios are fresh enough to hold their own. Have you ever tasted fresh pistachios? They taste so…green. And expensive. I love the almost bland creaminess of cashews, so I’ve paired them with pistachios in this recipe to economically bulk the nuts out. 
The baklava from Karaköy in Istanbul is drenched in melted sheep’s butter. I mean, it’s nice, but you couldn’t sit there and eat a whole tray of sheepy baklava, and luckily this kind of butter isn’t widely available in England so unsalted cow’s butter (expect to see ‘cow’s butter’ in my recipe lists from now on ;)) does the job.

PS, I’ll leave making my own filo pastry off the agenda for now, or until I grow a beard and look like one of these guys.
Pistachio and cashew baklava

Makes 1 tray of baklava, aprox 20+ pieces,

Ingredients
  • 250g unsalted butter
For the syrup
  • 250g unrefined sugar  
  • Dash rosewater (optional)
  • 1 tbsp honey
For the pastry
  • 250g packet fresh filo pastry 
  • 100g cashews 
  • 100g pistachios

Recipe
  1. The first step is to clarify the butter. Place the block in a small saucepan and heat on low until completely melted. Turn the heat up only slightly and let it bubble until foam stops coming up to the top. Use a metal spoon to skim off the foam and discard. Pour the liquid through a fine sieve to get rid of the milk solids, repeat if there is foam/milk solids still floating around. Set aside.
  2. Add 200g of cold water to a medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan along with the sugar and rose water. Boil rapidly on high heat for 7-10 minutes, but keep an eye out as it can burn. Stir in the honey then transfer to a jug and set aside to cool. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 Fan C. Add the cashews and half the pistachios into a food processor and blitz until fine and almost powdery, and then add the rest of the pistachios and pulse a few times until roughly chopped. 
  4. 4Carefully lay the filo on a clean work surface and place a 30cm x 14cm sized rectangular tin on top, making sure it's the right way up. Use a sharp knife to cut around the base of the tin. Lower half the filo sheets inside the tin, evenly spread the nut mixture on top and place the second half of the filo sheets on top. Use a sharp knife to cut 1-inch strips along the shorter length of the tin. Then cut diagonal strips 1-inch apart along the width of the tin, so that you end up with lots of triangles. 
  5. Pour the clarified butter (you may need to reheat) evenly over the pastries and bake for 25 minutes or until the tops of the baklavas are golden. Immediately pour the cooled syrup over the hot baklava, cover, and leave to rest for 3 hours or overnight before serving. 

Love Em xx

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Blood orange drizzle cake

It doesn’t get much more humiliating than having your last post be festive themed… Trees are blossoming and British men are shorts-clad in 10-degree weather. Then there I am, blogging an out of season drizzle cake. 
Cakes that require baking in rectangular tins get my vote. They can be iced, without all the fuss of splitting, straightening, filling, crumb coating and sweating. This is the sort of baking I want to do in the middle of the night because I'll wake up to a cooled cake which I can slice up and toast. It also requires just the right amount of elbow grease… i.e. not much at all. 

Blood oranges are tangier than your regular variety, adding their fresh juice to icing sugar makes for an addicting tangy topping. The sponge will taste as if it is an orange cake (a moist one at that, thanks to the ground almonds) but the flecks of blood orange zest are worth the change of fruit. 
Blood orange drizzle cake

Ingredients
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened 
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 3 eggs
  • 75g ground almonds 
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder 


For the syrup 
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar 


For the icing 
  • 250g icing sugar 
  • Juice of 1 orange


This cake works well with 2 fat lemons or ordinary oranges. 

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Grease and line a 1 lb/500g loaf tin. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric whisk (or freestanding mixer) until pale and doubled in volume. Grate in the zest of the oranges and set them aside for the toppings. Add the eggs one by one, mixing after each addition until well combined. Pour in the almonds, flour and baking paper and mix until just combined, and then fold the mixture using a spatula until there are no white streaks.  Bake for 45/50 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  2. Whilst the cake is baking make the syrup. Pour 1 tbsp boiling water over the sugar  and stir until the sugar dissolves, then add the orange juice. While the cake is still hot, poke holes in several places and carefully pour the syrup evenly over it, then leave to cool.
  3. Add 2 tbsp orange juice to the icing and stir vigorously, then slowly add a drop at a time, until you have a thick, pourable consistency (you may not need the whole orange). Pour the icing over the cooled loaf, garnish with sliced oranges then leave to set and serve immediately. 
  4. I hope my lack of posting doesn't deter you from swinging by, because I’m still baking like a maniac and feeling the need to share it. 

Love Em xx

Friday, 19 December 2014

Mincemeat and frangipane tart

As we get older, do our sweet-buds start appreciating the finer desserts in life, do we prefer treacle steamed pudding to whipped cream covered microwave brownie with toffee sauce? I’m 22 today and I cannot be bothered for birthday cake. Steamed pudding or mince pie tart? Pass it over. 

A couple of months ago I was kindly asked by the delicious. magazine team if I’d like to take part in their 2014 mince pie challenge. Of course I said yes, but not without crapping my pants a little. Richard Bertinet, Rebecca Smith – delicious.’ very own food editor and the managing director of The Guild Of Fine Food were to judge my clumsy baking? Have. A. Laugh. 

This Blogger was up against The Chef and The Gran. Gran’s mince pies deservedly came up trumps and won the judges over with her dreamily flaky pastry and suet studded mincemeat. To be honest, never trust a gran who can’t make a winning mince pie. 
I’m sharing the mincemeat recipe I used for my pies on here today, but these Almond Mince Pies are the ones I took with me to the challenge. 

I admit it is too late to start giving this mincemeat monthly feeds, but if you have any mincemeat knocking around, you could spread a layer of frangipane under a pastry shell and top it with mincemeat, so that all the juices from the mincemeat sink in to the un-toasted, slightly unflavoured ground almonds. As the mincemeat is cooked twice, you only really need to feed it if you can taste the difference between fresh and matured cognac (Side note: I cant). 

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, and if I don’t see you before 2015, thank you all for stopping by and reading/making the recipes – you're all amazing!
Mincemeat and frangipane tart

Ingredients

For the pastry
440g plain flour
75g caster sugar
35g ground almonds
Pinch sea salt
220g unsalted butter
1 egg + 1 egg separated 
1 tsp almond extract

I used a 20cm deep tart tin, but the pastry in this recipes caters up to a 23cm tart tin of any depth. 

For the frangipane
60g unsalted butter, softened
50g ground almonds
50g caster sugar
1 egg 
2 tsp plain flour 
1/8 tsp vanilla extract 
Pinch of sea salt

For the mincemeat
550g of your favourite mincemeat or...
340g sultanas
250g raisins
140g currants
50g dried cranberries, finely chopped 
250g / 3 Pink Lady apples, peeled and cubed
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 2 oranges, juice of 3
300g dark muscovado sugar 
1 ball stem ginger, finely chopped
3 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp cloves 
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp all spice
Pinch of sea salt
90g shredded suet
90g unsalted butter, melted
150g flaked almonds, toasted 
160ml Grand Marnier, or ordinary cognac

Generously serves 10

Recipe

For the mincemeat, stir the dried fruit together in a large bowl. Dice the apples and add them to the bowl, grate over the lemon zest, squeeze in the juice and stir to coat the fruit.  Next add the orange zest and juice, sugar, spices, peel, salt and fat then stir until everything is evenly coated. If using ordinary cognac, add the zest of the 3rd orange.  Carefully fold through the almonds. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a warm spot overnight, stirring occasionally to agitate the flavours. 

Preheat oven to 110°C/90°C Fan. Transfer the mincemeat to a baking tray, cover the top with foil and bake for 2 hours. Set aside to cool slightly, and then stir in the alcohol. Lastly, transfer to sealable sterilised jars. The mincemeat will last for 2 years if stored in a cool and dark place, feed it with about 1 tbsp of brandy every couple of months for an added kick. The flavours improve a little over time, so these are perfect for a last minute mince pie knock-up.

For the pastry, place the flour, ground almonds and sugar in a food processor and blitz for 10 seconds to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse 3 to 4 times until rough breadcrumbs form. Put the processor on a slow blitz and pour in 1 egg, water and almond extract, as soon as a ball of dough takes shape, stop the mixer. If the mixture feels dry add a tbsp extra water. Pat the dough into two discs, making sure one is two thirds bigger than the other and wrap with clingfilm. Refrigerate until chilled, around 30 minutes. 

Prepare the frangipane. In a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or with a bowl and spoom spoon), cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add ground almonds and mix for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, add the egg, then the flour and salt. Set aside. 

Remove the larger piece of dough from the fridge. Sprinkle a light film of flour over a work surface and roll the chilled dough to the thickness of a £1 coin, large enough to cover the inside of the tart tin. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and carefully unfold it into the tin. Brush the base of the pastry with some of the separated egg white, just enough to create a seal. Use a spoon or spatula to spread the frangipane across the bottom of the shell, then carefully dollop the mincemeat on top of the frangipane. Fill it up as far as you can, if you’re using a wet mincemeat, use a little less to prevent leakage. 

Take the remaining dough out of the fridge and roll as before, large enough to cover the top of the tart and to the thickness of a £1 coin. This time, press a star cutter where the centre of the tart is, and then roll the dough over the pastry shell. Trim the edges and seal the sides. Use the remaining dough to cut extra star shapes and place them around the centre of the star. 


Pop the tart in the freezer for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan. Lightly brush the top with the egg yolk. Bake for 45/50 minutes, until the top is a light golden brown. Cover the top with foil if it browns too quickly.  Leave the tart to cool on a wire rack and then sprinkle with a generous dusting of icing sugar. Lasts for 3 days if kept covered. 

Love Em xx
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