Monday, 2 May 2016

Raspberry and Chocolate Pavlova

If you're looking for a "special occasion" dessert, look no further.  I made (and ate) this on a rainy Friday... which was special enough for me.

Raspberry and Chocolate Pavlova

For the Pavlova:
4 egg whites, at room temperature
220g caster sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar

For the Topping:
250ml cream
350g sour cream
55g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ganache made with 100g dark chocolate, chooped and 100ml cream
250g fresh raspberries

Make the Pavlova:
Preheat the oven to 150C.  Mark a 20cm circle on a large piece of baking paper and line a large baking tray with it.  Set aside.

Put the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on high speed until they form stiff peaks.  Add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously.  Once all the sugar has been added, whisk for a further 10 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vinegar and whisk for a few more minutes.  The meringue should be firm and glossy.  Spoon about 1 cup of the mixture onto the circle on the baking paper.  Use a palette knife to spread it evenly to cover the circle.  Dollop spoonfuls of mixture around the circle to create a ring. 

Decrease the oven temperature to 120C and bake the pavlova for 90 minutes.  Turn the oven off and leave the pavlova in the oven for a further 90 minutes.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature.

Make the Topping:
Make the ganache by putting the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl and setting it aside.  Then, bring the cream to boiling point in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate.  Leave for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth.  Set aside to cool to a drizzling consistency.

Put the cream, sour cream, vanilla and icing sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on high speed until they form soft peaks. 

Pile the whipped cream into the centre of the pavlova and top with fresh raspberries.  Put the ganache into a disposable piping bag, snip a very small hole in the tip and and drizzle over the lot.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Portuguese Egg Tarts

I made these for breakfast, but you can eat them any time of the day.  It's never a bad time to eat little egg tarts... I might get that printed on a T-shirt.

Portuguese Egg Tarts

slightly adapted from here
Makes 15

For the Rough Puff Pastry:

200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
200g chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons chilled water

For the Syrup:

250g caster sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 thick, long strip of lemon peel
I vanilla pod

For the Custard:

25g plain flour
12g cornflour
300ml full cream milk
4 egg yolks, plus one whole egg

Make the Pastry:

Place flour and salt in a bowl, add butter and rub through with fingertips until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water, cutting it with a butter knife, to form a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll out dough into a 30 x 15 cm rectangle. Fold in the two short ends to meet in the centre, then fold in again to make a book fold. Roll the pastry into a 30 x 15cm rectangle again, then repeat folding process. Refrigerate as a small rectangle for a further 30 minutes before using.

Make the Syrup:
Put the sugar, cinnamon and lemon peel into a medium saucepan. Split and scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod. Reserve the seeds for the custard and add the pod to the sugar mixture. Put the pan on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the syrup to cool completely. Once cool, remove the cinnamon, lemon and vanilla pod.

Make the Custard:

Combine both flours in a mixing bowl. Pour some of the milk in and whisk to form a paste. Bring the remaining milk to a boil over low heat. Gradually add the hot milk to the flour mixture, whisking continuously, until smooth. Then whisk in the syrup. Add the egg, egg yolks and the reserved vanilla seeds. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Set aside.

Make the Tarts:

Preheat the oven to 250C (or to your ovens highest temperature). 

Roll the pastry out as thin as you can to a large rectangle. Brush the surface with water and roll the pastry, using one of the long edges, into a tight jelly roll shape. Cut the pastry into 15 even portions.

Press the portions into the holes of a cupcake pan, using your fingers to work the pastry up the sides of the pans.

Pour the custard evenly into the pastry cups until almost full. Bake for 20 minutes. The pastry should be golden and crisp and the custard should be set and scorched in places. Allow the tarts to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

You can use a spray bottle to mist the tops with a little water as they come out of the oven to make the tops shiny if you like, but it`s totally optional.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


These divine little twists of sesame seed coated bread are perfect with a morning coffee, or split and spread generously with butter and jam, or torn and dipped into your best olive oil and dukkah.  Bread, you've gotta love it.

Makes 10
slightly adapted from here

7g (1 sachet) dried yeast
2 teaspoons caster sugar
375ml lukewarm water
2 1/2 tablespoons thickened cream
1 tablespoon olive oil
475g 00 flour
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
100ml pomegranate molasses
1 cup sesame seeds

Put the yeast, sugar and water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, stir with a fork and set aside for 10 minutes to become foamy.  Add the cream and oil and mix with the mixer on low.  Gradually add the flour and mix until a soft dough forms.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm spot for about 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 230C fan-forced and line two baking trays with baking paper.  Set aside.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into ten even portions.  Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.

Take a portion of dough and cut it in half.  Roll each half into a long rope about 30 cm long.  Twist the two strips together and press the ends together to form a circle.  Repeat for the remaining portions.

Combine the pomegranate molasses, 100ml water and a big pinch of salt in a shallow bowl.  Put the sesame seeds in a separate shallow bowl.

Dip each ring into the pomegranate mixture, shake off the excess, then dip into the sesame seeds to coat all over.  Place the rings onto the prepared baking trays and bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through the cooking time, until golden.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Chocolate and Raspberry Brownies

The addition of raspberries here makes these brownies healthy.  Well, that's what I keep telling myself every time I go back for another slice.

Chocolate and Raspberry Brownies
slightly adapted from here

200g dark chocolate, chopped
250g unsalted butter, chopped
1 3/4 cups light brown sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups plain flour
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
125g fresh raspberries

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and a line a 23 x 23cm baking pan with baking paper.  Set aside.

Put the chocolate and butter into a saucepan and place it over a low heat until melted, stirring continuously.  Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

In a bowl, sift the flour, coffee powder, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt and mix to combine. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs together.  Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix to combine.  Add the dry ingredients and stir with the whisk until just combine.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the raspberries evenly over the surface.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  The sides should be just set, but the centre will still be a little wet.  The brownie will continue to cook as it cools, so it needs to be a little "under" when you take it out to get that desireably gooey finnish.  Take it out of  the oven, transfer it to a wire rack and leave to cool to room temperature in the pan before removing and slicing.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Banana Bread with Cardamom and Cacao Nibs

Breakfast is, without a doubt, my favourite meal of the day.  When else can you eat thick slices of banana bread smothered in French butter and call it a meal?  Not only that, but you still have two other meals to dream about.  

Banana Bread with Cardamom and Cacao Nibs
slightly adapted from here

2 ripe bananas (about 250g in their skins)
2 eggs
200ml buttermilk
125ml avocado oil
325g "00" flour
200g light muscovado sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
50g cacao nibs

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a grease and line a 23 cm x 13 cm loaf pan with baking paper, or use a paper liner as I have (love those things).

Put the bananas into a small bowl and mash to a puree with a fork.  Put them to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the egg, buttermilk and oil and mix on low to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the we ingredients while the mixer is on low.  Mix until combined.  Turn the mixer off, add the cacao nibs and stir them in with a spatula.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about an hour, but start check at 50 minutes.  The loaf is done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven, set is on a wire rack and leave it in its pan to cool completely.  Once cool, remove from the pan and slice thickly.  You can eat it as is, but it's especially good toasted and slathered with good unsalted butter.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Tortelli Piacentini Stuffed with Roasted Pumpkin and Almonds and Dressed with Brown Butter and Crispy Sage Leaves

Some people find pasta making a chore, but it's like meditation to me.  Mopping the floor is a chore, and there's no delicious payoff at the end of it, unless you eat your dinner off it, of course.

Tortelli Piacentini Stuffed with Roasted Pumpkin and Almonds and Dressed with Brown Butter and Crispy Sage Leaves
Serves 4

For the Dough:
400g "00" flour
4 eggs

For the Filling:
500g pumpkin (I used Kent) unpeeled and cut into thick wedges
Olive oil for greasing
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
30g savoiardi
20g ground almonds
25g fresh breadcrumbs
50g parmesan, finely grated

For the Dressing:
100g butter
12 sage leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Parmesan, for shaving

Make the Dough:
Put the flour and eggs into a food processor and blitz until it starts to clump.  Turn it out onto a bench and bring it together with your hands.  If the dough it crumbly, add a little water.  If it's sticky, add a little extra flour.  The dough shouldn't stick to your hands or work surface.  Wrap it plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Make the Filling:
Preheat the oven to 180C.

Grease a large baking tray and lay the pumpkin wedges on it.  Sprinkle with a little extra oil and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, until tender.  Set aside to cool completely.

Once cold, put the pumpkin (skin on), mustard powder, savoiardi, almonds, breadcrumbs and parmesan into a food processor and blitz until smooth.  Season to taste with sea salt flakes, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg.

Spoon the filling into a large piping bag (I use a large zip lock back) and cut a 1cm hole in the tip.  Put it in the refrigerator until needed.

Make the Tortelli:
Divide the dough into 4 portions.  Work with one protion at a time, keeping the rest of the dough covered to prevent it from drying out, and flatten the portion out with a rolling pin.  Feed the dough through the widest setting of a pasta machine 3 times, folding it into three each time.  This processes stretches the gluten in the dough and makes it easier to roll.  Then feed the dough through the next, thinner, setting and continue to do this until it goes through the last and thinnest setting.  You will have a long, thin sheet of pasta.  Flour a work bench and cut the dough into 7.5cm rounds using a cookie cutter.

Pipe a small strip of filling down the centre of each disc of dough, leaving enough room at each end so that the dough covers the filling when folded.

I could try to describe how to fold the pasta, but I found it easier when I was a beginner to watch an expert do it so I used this YouTube video and practiced.  It's actually pretty easy once you get a rhythm going.

Lay the pasta on a couple of flour dusted baking trays and repeat with the remaining portions.

Make the Dressing:
Put a large skillet onto a medium-high heat and add the butter.  Cook the butter until it starts to turn brown and smell nutty.  Add the sage leaves and fry until crisp.  Remove the sage and set them on a piece of kitchen towel. Turn the heat down and keep the brown butter warm.

Cook the Pasta:
Bring a large pan of water to a boil, add a good handful of salt and cook the pasta about 3 minutes or until cooked.  Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta cooking water and tip them into the brown butter with a little of the pasta cooking water.  Turn the heat up and add a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Shake the pan to emulsify the dressing, adding more pasta cooking water if needed to make a light sauce and remove from the heat.  Sprinkle with crispy sage leaves and parmesan shavings.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls with Coffee Glaze


Am I the only person who goes to bed thinking of what she's going to have for breakfast the next morning? Tell me it isn't so.

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls with Coffee Glaze
Makes 9

For the Rolls:
250ml lukewarm soy milk
45g vegan butter (or Nuttelex), melted
1 sachet (7g) of dried yeast 
15g grated coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
400g "00" flour (or baker's flour)
Olive oil, for greasing
Extra vegan butter, for brushing

For the Filling:
45g vegan butter (or Nuttelex), melted
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
45g grated coconut sugar

For the Glaze:
1 cup of icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon melted vegan butter or Nuttelex
1 shot of hot espresso

Make the Rolls:
Line a 25cm x 20cm (or similar) baking pan with baking paper and set aside.

Put the lukewarm soy milk and melted butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Sprinkle over the yeast, add the coconut sugar and stir with a fork.  Set aside for 10 minutes until foamy.

Add the salt and flour and mix on low until the mixture comes together.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and bring it together with your hands.  The dough will probably be a little bit sticky to start with, but it will become smoother and more pliable as you work it.

Put the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to double in size for about an hour.

Make the Topping:
Put the butter, cinnamon and grated sugar into a bowl and mix to combine.

Form the Rolls:
Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a rectangle about 5mm thick.  Spread the filling mixture all over the dough then starting with a long edge, roll the dough up tightly.  Cut the dough into 9 even portions and place them into the prepared pan.  Brush the tops with extra melted butter and cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Leave for about 30 minutes to become puffy.

Preheat the oven to 180C.  

Bake the rolls for 25 - 30 minutes or until pale golden.  Leave to cool slightly, then pour the glaze over the warm rolls and serve.

Make the Glaze:
Put the sifted icing sugar into a jug.  Add the melted butter and then add enough hot espresso to achieve a drizzling consistency.  Pour the glaze over the warm rolls.