Episode 66: Crumble Forever: Streusel? Crumble? Coffee Cake? Whatever, it’s delicious

In this episode I started by talking about my birthday celebrations and the history of cinnamon, before moving on to the main event: Crumble Cakes/ Coffee Cakes/ Streusel Cakes.

Streusel, crumble or coffee cake: whatever you call it, it’s delicious. Inspired by the many people baking King Arthur Flour’s 2023 Recipe of the Year – Cinnamon Crisp Coffee Cake – and the variations of it – I had a go at it.

Things I did differently throughout:
1. I changed the sugar to brown. I love brown sugar, it adds extra complexity, it compliments both chocolate and cinnamon incredibly well, so it was a no-brainer for me to do this.
2. I changed the spicing slightly. This is something I’ve picked up from Swedish cinnamon bun and cardamom bun recipes. When one of these is the prominent flavour I often add a little of the other. It makes it more complex and less of a bash-over-the-head-with-cinnamon.

Attempt 1: Extra Crumbs

The original recipe is here. I love crumble and thought I’d like this, but I found it far too sweet. Looking at various streusel and crumble recipes, a common ratio seems to be – by weight – 2 parts flour, 2 parts butter, 1 part sugar. So I adjusted this to my taste for the next time I baked it. I also thought it went a little too far on the cake: crumb ratio. I like crumbs, but I do also like cake, and the cake wasn’t as sweet so doing more cake was better balanced. Still, Gemma’s colleagues were extremely happy to receive the version I thought was too sweet…

Attempt 2: Chocolate Lovers’ Version

The original recipe is here. I was already aware of my topping preferences so I reduced the sugar slightly. I used dark milk chocolate as we categorise chocolate differently here than in the US. (Mine was 40% cocoa solids.) I absolutely loved this. Make sure you don’t overmix it, be aware that it’s better on day 2 or 3 than day 1. I think buying chocolate milk is unnecessary – next time I would just use buttermilk. Finally, I’m not convinced by the weight conversions of cocoa. When I weigh cocoa, 1 tbsp is about 7 or 7.5g. If you have several tablespoons going in to a recipe, even a 1 or 1.5g discrepancy makes a big difference. Do what you are comfortable with.I went with tbsp not weight, so it weighed slightly more than it said, but it didn’t dry the cake out. DEFINITELY use the espresso powder, in fact better to use 1/2 tsp rather than 1/4. The roasty rich notes in coffee enhance chocolate, as we all know.

Attempt 3: Cinnamon Crisp with Plum Jam

Thirdly, I made a beast of a cake which had everything going on. It had the cake layers, the cinnamon-cocoa fudgy layer, it had a layer of plum jam AND a layer of cinnamon crumble. As a result, it was huge and took ages to bake, and the baking wasn’t quite as consistent as I’d like. So that’s something to ponder. Maybe the jam just didn’t belong there, or maybe it didn’t need BOTH the jam layer AND the cinnamon-cocoa layer. However, plum with cinnamon is delicious, plum with cocoa is delicious, plum with cinnamon and cocoa is delicious. It tasted divine.

Conclusion: The Cake for People Who Hate Icing

Brits like myself call coffee-flavoured cakes coffee cake, so we’re quite confused by this. But streusel cakes, coffee cakes, crumble cakes… they are the perfect cakes for people who don’t like icing. Still moist, still loads of different textures and interesting things going on, but no icing.

Below are the two recipes I’m happy with, adapted from King Arthur Flour.

Cinnamon Crumble Cake with Extra Crumbs

For the streusel/crumble:
100g plain / AP flour
100g butter
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Salt (1/4-1/2 tsp)
50g soft light brown sugar (or regular)
1 tsp vanilla (I used vanilla sugar but use whatever you have)

For the cake:
240g plain / AP flour
150g soft light brown sugar (or regular)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda/ bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt (less if your butter is salted)
113g butter (1 stick) (at room temperature)
2 tsp vanilla extract or bean paste
2 UK/EU Medium or US/Aus/Canada Large eggs, whisked briefly to break up the yolks
227g buttermilk or yogurt (unsweetened natural or Greek)

For the filling:
66g soft light brown sugar (or regular)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp cocoa (I used Dutch-processed but use natural if you like)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp vanilla (I used vanilla sugar, but use whatever you have)

Method/Directions

  1. Grease and line an 8″ or 9″ square tin. (Mine was 9″). Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ 160C fan.
  2. Mix the filling mixture together in a small bowl.
  3. Rub in the crumbs with your finger tips, with a pastry cutter or a fork. I like to rub in the butter, flour and spices then stir in the sugar and salt, but it doesn’t matter too much if you do them all together. Try to leave a variety of crumb sizes in the bowl – this is why it’s best to do by hand not in a mixer.
  4. To make the cake batter: In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter into the flour, sugar, salt and raising agents. Beat in the vanilla, eggs and buttermilk/yogurt until combined. I found that, even though we reverse creamed, it’s still very possible to overmix this cake.
  5. Spread about half the cake mixture into the bottom of the tin, using an offset spatula or the back of a dessert spoon. Sprinkle over the filling mixture as evenly as you can. Dollop remaining cake batter on top and smooth over. Sprinkle over the crumbs.
  6. Bake for c. 28-32 mins, until there’s no longer a wobble, or a skewer comes out clean of raw cake batter.

Chocolate Lover’s Crumble Cake

For the filling:
66g sugar
2 tbsp / 15g cocoa (I used my favourite Dutch processed one which is Green & Blacks, but natural works)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
45g chopped semisweet or dark milk chocolate (c. 40% cocoa solids). (If you have good quality mini chocolate chips, use these by all means. They’re impossible to find where I live.)

For the crumbs:
100g plain/AP flour
100g butter
3 tbsp/ 22g good cocoa (I used my favourite Dutch-processed, but natural works)
75g soft light brown sugar (slightly higher than the previous recipe to balance the cocoa) (you can use regular sugar if you prefer)
1/4 tsp salt (use more or less depending on the size of the salt grains/crystals and whether or not your butter is salted)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract
45g chopped semisweet or dark milk chocolate (c 40% cocoa solids) (If you have good quality mini chocolate chips, use these by all means. They’re impossible to find where I live.)

For the cake:
210g plain / AP flour
150g soft light brown sugar (or regular sugar if you prefer)
4 tbsp / 30g good cocoa (I used my favourite Dutch-processed, but natural works)
113g butter (at room temperature)
2 UK/EU medium or US/Aus/Canada large eggs, whisked briefly to break up the yolks
240g buttermilk or unsweetened natural or Greek yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract or bean paste
1/2 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
3/4 tsp salt (adjust dependent on types of butter and salt)

  1. Grease and line an 8 or 9″ square tin. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F / 160C fan.
  2. Mix the filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Rub in the crumbs with your finger tips, with a pastry cutter or a fork. I like to rub in the butter, flour, cocoa and spices together then stir in the sugar and salt, but it doesn’t matter too much if you do them all together. Try to leave a variety of crumb sizes in the bowl – this is why it’s best to do by hand not in a mixer.
  4. To make the cake batter: Mix the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, raising agents, cocoa, salt. Beat in the butter to this to get crumbs. Add the remaining ingredients and beat to combine. I found that it is possible to overmix a reverse-creamed cake so stop when combined.
  5. Spread about half the cake mixture into the bottom of the tin. Sprinkle over the filling. Top with the remaining cake mixture. Sprinkle over the crumbs. Bake for 28-32 minutes, until it doesn’t wobble and a skewer comes out clean of raw cake.
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Episode 65: A Roll Cake for All Occasions

This episode was born out of a disaster! I tried to make a yule log for our friends, who were having dinner with us, but I overfilled the tin and under-baked the cake, and when I tried to roll it, it became a sloppy mess. Luckily, I had some amaretti leftover from Christmas that we had instead! But, determined to get it right, I tried another recipe, and (almost) nailed it. It was exceptionally delicious, but the chocolate cream on the outside ended up too solid and wasn’t soft as it’s meant to be.

I then tried to make a vanilla honey cake based on the same recipe, but the honey made it unstable- however, adding it to the cream was incredibly delicious!

So, through trial and error, out comes this: a roll cake for any season and any occasion. I’m obsessed with this not just because it looks pretty, but the whisked sponge has the most incredible texture and is the perfect vehicle for flavoured heavy cream.

Tiramisu Roll Cake

A lightly chocolatey sponge, dusted with cocoa for further intensity/ tiramisu-ness, with an espresso-marsala cream. Spank my ass and call me Richard, this is my best invention. I strongly recommend using Dutch processed cocoa powder here, to intensify the flavour.

For the sponge:
90g plain flour
20g Dutch processed cocoa powder, plus a little extra for dusting (this is standard in Europe and the UK, for any UK/European listeners – it isn’t standard in the USA)
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 UK/EU large eggs (similar to US/Aus XL, or you can weigh – it’s approx 225g egg, minus shells)
A pinch of salt
100g caster (superfine) or granulated sugar

For the Coffee-Marsala Cream:
300ml/g double/ heavy cream (about 10 fl oz)
30g sifted icing sugar
1 scant tsp espresso powder
1 dessertspoon (10g/ml) of Marsala or sweet sherry

For the Chocolate Cream (optional – I actually prefer it without but if you’re making a yule log you need this to complete the look! My partner preferred it with as it was more chocolatey):
300g/ml double/ heavy cream (about 10 fl oz)
100g dark chocolate, chopped small
1 tbsp marsala/ sweet sherry
Pinch espresso powder

Method:

If making the chocolate cream, heat the cream until steaming. Pour over the dark chocolate in a bowl. Leave for 1 minute, then stir. The chocolate will beautifully melt! Stir in the marsala/ sweet sherry and the pinch of espresso powder. Leave to cool completely, including refrigerating it.

Grease and line a 9×13 Swiss roll (jelly roll) tin at least 1cm/ 1/2 inch deep with a good quality baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F.

Sift the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder together and set aside.

Whisk the eggs, sugar and salt together (salt can help stabilise whisked eggs, as well as enhancing the flavour) to the ‘ribbon stage’.

Sift the flour mixture in in two or three batches, folding in. I opted to use a large metal spoon as I found it easier to get into all the corners. The technique is more important than the implement, so use a spatula if you prefer!

Pour into the cake tin. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until springy to the touch. Mine took 14.

Cool for 1 minute while you prepare your work surface with a piece of parchment paper a bit larger than the cake tin, dusted with cocoa powder.

With courage, flip the cake on to the baking paper. Carefully peel off the old baking paper. Roll up from one of the short sides, with the baking paper inside. Leave to cool completely.

When the cake has cooled completely, whisk up the filling cream. Whisk together the double cream, espresso powder, icing sugar and the Marsala/ sweet sherry to soft peaks.

Unroll the cake gently. Spread the cream inside then roll back up, with the seam at the bottom. If you are not using the chocolate cream, simply dust with a little more cocoa and refrigerate until serving. It keeps for about 2 days.

If using the chocolate cream, whisk up the cooled chocolate cream to soft peaks. You can use the same bowl, wiped out, as it has had similar ingredients in. Spread over the cake, and drag a fork through it for a log look. Refrigerate until serving, loosely covering. It keeps for about 2 days.

Vanilla, Plum Jam and Honey Roll Cake

Like a well-balanced Victoria sponge in a more fun form. No overly sweet buttercream, a more moist sponge, and plum jam has a nice tartness. Obviously use any other jam if you prefer, or even lemon curd. Anything slightly tart is good – blackcurrant, blackberry, raspberry, etc. Personally, strawberry isn’t my go-to but it’s your cake, and if making for kids that might be the best option.

For the sponge:
110g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 UK/EU large eggs (similar to US/Aus XL, or you can weigh – it’s approx 225g egg, minus shells)
100g caster (superfine) or granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla (I used 1 tsp vanilla sugar, 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, but use what you. have)
A pinch of salt
Icing sugar, for dusting

For the cream:
300ml/g double/ heavy cream (about 10 fl oz)
3 tbsp nice honey – I used a runny blossom honey
1 tsp vanilla (sugar, bean paste or extract preferred to essence)
A pinch of salt
About 3-4 tbsp jam/preserve of your choice (see above for ideas). If it has large chunks in it blitz in a mini blender or just leave the chunks out.

Method:

Grease and line a 23 x 33cm / 9 x 13 inch Swiss roll/ jelly roll pan with good baking paper. It needs to be at least 1cm/ 1/2 inch deep. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F.

Sift the flour and baking powder and set aside.

Whisk the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla until ribbon stage. Fold in the flour mixture in two or three stages. Pour into the pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until springy to the touch. (Mine took 14.)

Cool for 1 minute while you prepare your work surface with a sheet of baking paper a bit larger than the tin and dusting it with icing sugar. With courage, flip the cake on to the baking paper. Carefully peel off the old baking paper. Roll up with the baking paper inside. Leave to cool completely.

When the cake is cool, whip up your cream. Whip the cream, salt, honey and vanilla to soft peaks.

Unroll the cake gently. Carefully spread the cake with the jam. The spread over the cream with an offset spatula. Roll back up, with the seam at the bottom. Dust with icing sugar. Cover loosely and refrigerate until serving. It keeps about 2 days.

Earl Grey and Crushed Raspberry Roll Cake

For the earl grey cream:
300ml double / heavy cream (c. 10 fl oz)
2 tsp loose earl grey tea leaves
30g sifted icing sugar
A pinch of salt
Freeze-dried raspberries, crushed lightly

For the sponge:
110g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 UK/EU large eggs (roughly US/Aus XL, or 225g in weight, minus shells)
100g caster (superfine) or granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract, or sugar)
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

Start with the cream, as it needs time to cool. Put the cream and tea leaves in a saucepan. Heat until starting to simmer. Take off the heat and steep for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and refrigerate until completely cold.

Grease and line a 23x33cm / 9×13 inch Swiss roll/ jelly roll pan with good baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F.

Sift the flour and baking powder and set aside.

Whisk the eggs, sugar, salt, orange zest and vanilla until ribbon stage.

Fold in the flour mixture in two or three stages. Pour into the pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until springy to the touch. (Mine took 14.)

Leave to cool for 1 minute while you prepare your work surface with a piece of baking paper a bit larger than the size of the tin, dusted with icing sugar. With courage, flip the cake out. Peel off the old baking paper. Roll up with the new baking paper inside. Leave to cool completely.

When the cake is completely cool, whip up the cooled earl grey cream with the icing sugar and salt.

Carefully unroll the cake and spread over the cream. Sprinkle over the roughly crushed freeze-dried raspberries. Roll up, with the seam at the bottom. Dust with icing sugar. Cover loosely and refrigerate until serving. It keeps for about 2 days.

Episode 64: Make-Ahead Holiday Desserts

Classic, 2-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

A classic, French chocolate mousse is just two main ingredients – chocolate and eggs. You may want to add sugar, or spicing. I add salt to both stabilise the whisked egg and season. If you’re nervous of raw eggs, there are many egg-free recipes out there using whipped cream. Personally, I love the simplicity and clean flavour of this.

4 eggs – UK/EU medium or US/Aus large, separated
110g dark (bittersweet) or milk chocolate with a high cocoa content, or a blend of both – the highest quality you can afford
A pinch of salt

Notes:
– If using dark/ bittersweet chocolate, you may want to add 2 tsp sugar and/or serve with cream
– It’s nice to serve with something acidic as it’s quite rich. I made the one above when raspberries were in season! But now I might add lemon or orange zest instead.
– Some crunch can be nice, hence the pistachios above but whatever is your favourite nut to go with chocolate is good. Only place any extras on top at the last minute, otherwise they’ll sink in to the mousse.

  1. Melt and cool the chocolate
  2. Mix the chocolate and egg yolks together.
  3. Whisk the egg whites to medium peaks, adding a pinch of salt and a teaspoon or two of sugar if wanted.
  4. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
  5. Cover and chill well before serving, for 2 hours or up to overnight adding any toppings at the very last minute. (You can’t make this longer in advance as it will eventually collapse.)

Burnt Caramel Custards

Heady with vanilla, silky, just a tiny bit bitter and topped with a crunchy brulee topping – this is a seriously sophisticated, yet understated, dessert. The best bit is you can make it in advance and chill in your fridge up to two days in advance, but if you’re bruleeing do this just before serving!

Recipe from Peggy Loftus Bon Appetit. Below I have simply halved and converted to metric, for 4 generous servings.

475ml/g double/ heavy cream
1 vanilla bean (or 2 tsp vanilla bean paste in my case)
100g sugar – granulated (or caster/superfine) plus extra for the topping
3 UK/EU medium or US/Aus large egg yolks
Salt, to taste

See the link for the full recipe.

Notes: For a more festive twist, I think you could add a little brandy into the cream; or infuse the cream with spices (eg a cinnamon scroll and a clove or two) and/or with orange peel along with or instead of the vanilla.

You could also add a crunchy biscuit on the side for textural contrast. A high quality speculaas/speculoos would be very festive, as would some sort of biscotti!

Further Suggestions:

Don’t fear the soufflé.

A basic soufflé is about having a thickish creamy liquid so you don’t drag the whisked egg whites down with lots of liquid. So you might make a reduced fruit puree, for example. Or a creme patissiere. Or a halva cream.

Other than that, if you know how to make a basic French meringue, you know how to make souffle. Ignore the tension building you see in food competition TV: it’s just science!

You can make the thick creamy bit in advance, but you’ll want to whisk your egg whites and bake JUST before serving, so it’s voluminous and light. Every recipe will probably tell you this, but don’t open the oven door while baking as the steam helps the rise.

Pared-down trifles…

In my house, my mum would always bring out an absolutely enormous bowl of trifle at Christmas, in a fancy glass bowl, that people would spend a few days working on.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan, I don’t like jelly all that much, especially not WITH fruit, and for me the whole thing is too sloppy. A 1970s British trifle is just not for me. I’m not necessarily right, I just have my own tastes.

However, the idea of a layered dessert you chill in advance is an excellent one. See tiramisu, for example, or cranachan.

So to start, you want something dry that will absorb liquid without dissolving into nothing. In Britan we might use madeira cake, in tiramisu it’s ladyfinger biscuits.

Then you want a nice, whipped liquid. In tiramisu, it’s classically a sabayon/zabaione, which is made with raw eggs. In trifle, it’s often whipped cream AND custard.

Then build up your layers, I personally just like a few flavours, like a tiramisu gives you – chocolate, cream, coffee, liqueur. And ensure some textural contrast by adding crunch to the top, if you want that.

A couple of ideas to trifle with:

Orangey, Cakey, Chocolatey, Nutty

Ladyfingers soaked in a orange juice and Cointreau, tinned clementines (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – I love them!), cream, shaved chocolate and toasted pistachios or hazelnuts on top

Lemony, Cakey, Almondy

A simple three layers: Pannetone soaked in a mixture made from lemon juice, sugar, hot water and limoncello; then lemon curd whipped with cream and sugar; then lightly crushed amaretti on top.

Spiced Prune, Almond, Port and Mascarpone

Recipe here – but I’d skip making a pound cake and try to find an almondy pannetone out of convenience. I chose this because plums and prunes (which are just dried plums) are sorely underrated in Britain. They’re tart, delicious and not too dry. They’re featured heavily in Tava by Irina Georgescu which is how I’ve become such a fan.

Apple, Honey, Oats, Whiskey

Recipe here – I reckon you could even cheat and use what Americans call applesauce – which by the way in Eastern Europe is delightfully called “apple butter”, and they have other varieties such as plum butter and pear butter. It’s simply fruit cooked low and slow for ages to greatly reduce the moisture content and increase the shelf life. I chose this recipe over normal cranachan because raspberries are wildly out of season here, but of course use berries if you like, if they’re in season, and/or if you have some in the freezer.

Episode 63: Joyful and Delectable Festive Baking

What a fabulous time I’ve been having doing loads of festive baking and having an excuse to start early! (‘It’s for the podcast’ is my brilliant excuse.) Out of all the below and everything I baked last Christmas, the things I’m going to make again and again are Mrs Wilson’s mince pies (of course), vanillekipferl, rugelach (I might try some different fillings too!), mahleb shortbread, Linzer biscuits (perhaps trying with a different jam such as blackcurrant, which is very European of me!) and…. when I have time on my hands and don’t mind dirtying many bowls, the cozonac. It’s INCREDIBLE but is quite the ordeal to make – on a par with brioche, more complicated, slightly less difficult to knead.

Treacle Gingerbread Cookies

Adapted from a recipe posted by Benjamina Ebuehi on her Instagram.

To make around 18-20 cookies:
125g butter, melted
200g muscovado sugar – dark or light
50g black treacle, molasses or golden syrup (If using dark muscovado, use golden syrup/corn syrup. If using light muscovado then use black treacle or molasses)
1 UK/EU medium or US/Aus large egg
260g plain/AP flour
3 tsp /1tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice or 1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg or mace (optional)
1 tsp baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
Demerara, turbinado or granulated sugar, for rolling

To make 36-40 cookies:
250g butter, melted
400g muscovado sugar – dark or light
100g black treacle, molasses or golden syrup (If using dark muscovado, use golden syrup/corn syrup. If using light muscovado then use black treacle or molasses.)
2 UK/EU medium or US/Aus large eggs
520g plain/AP flour
2 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp nutmeg or mace (optional)
1 tsp salt
Demerara, turbinado or granulated sugar, for rolling

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan / 350F. Line a big baking tray or cooking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Mix the butter and sugar together. If you want to avoid lumps in the sugar, sieve it. Stir in the syrup/treacle/molasses. Stir in the egg(s).
  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Chill for 3 hours or, better, overnight.
  4. Roll into 30g balls. Roll in demerara/turbinado/ granulated sugar. Bake for 15 minutes for a soft bake, or 18 minutes for a crisper bake.

Walnut Rugelach / Cornulete cu Nuci

Adapted from Tava by Irina Georgescu

I’ve given a large quantity because these are biscuits to be shared! But, you can absolutely halve the recipe, or freeze some unbaked and bake from frozen – just add 1-2 minutes to the cooking time.

Makes 32

500g plain/ AP flour, plus extra for dusting
250g cold butter (add a good pinch of salt to the flour if the butter is unsalted)
40g caster/superfine sugar (I imagine that granulated is fine too)
3 egg yolks (my eggs were UK/EU medium which is US/Aus large)
150g sour cream (mine was a 17% Polish sour cream)
2 tsp milk or water
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar (optional)
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling

For the filling:
150g walnuts
100g brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
50g butter

  1. Rub the flour and butter together until they look like breadcrumbs. You can use your thumb and fingers, a pastry blender or a food processor here.
  2. Add the sugar(s) and baking powder and mix well with a knife. Mix the sour cream with 2 of the egg yolks and the milk or water. Bring the dough together, kneading as little as possible. Add a drop or two more liquid if it’s too try to bring together. Wrap or cover and chill for 1 hour or overnight, if more convenient.
  3. Make the walnut filling by blitzing everything together in a food processor. Cover and chill until needed.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ 350F. Flour your work surface, rolling pin and hands. Take half/ quarter the dough (a lump weighing around 250g) and roll out to a circle, adding a sprinkle more flour if needed but not more than that! When you have a circle the size of a large dinner plate or slightly bigger, plate a dinner plate on top and cut around the excess. Cut the circle into 8 by going half way horizontally, vertically then cutting on the diagonals.
  5. Leaving a little space at the edges, gently squidge a bit of walnut filling on to each portion. Roll up from the long edge. Press the ends to seal and curve down a little to make a crescent.
  6. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.

Mahleb Kurabia Shortbreads

Again, I make quite a large quantity because I like to share, but you can scale up or down. Mahleb is unique but tastes a little like a cross between bitter almond and cinnamon.

Adapted from Tava by Irina Georgescu.

240g soft butter (add a good pinch of salt to the flour if you are using unsalted butter)
120g caster/ superfine sugar
360g plain/ all purpose flour
20g mahleb, or 2 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp almond extract, or another flavouring such as orange zest and cinnamon

100g icing / powdered sugar, spiced if you like with 1 tsp mahleb or 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  1. Cream the butter with the sugar. Add the flour and spice(s). Chill for 2 hours or a bit longer if that fits in with your time better.
  2. Roll into 25g balls. Flatten them slightly. Chill and freeze for 10 minutes just before baking. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan. Bake for 15 minutes, you want them soft and not to change colour much.

3. Cool then roll in or dust with the icing sugar.

Zedernbrot – Lemon and Almond Biscuits

Adapted from Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss

2 lemons
2 egg whites (mine were UK/EU medium which is roughly US/Aus large)
250g granulated or caster/castor/superfine sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
400g ground almonds/ almond flour or a mix of almond flour and almond meal
125g icing/confectioners’ sugar

  1. Grate the lemon peel. Add 2 tbsp lemon juice. Whisk in the egg whites then the granulated/caster/superfine sugar and salt (and almond extract, if using).
    Add most of the almonds, and add more until it feels firm enough to roll out. Cover or wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325F/ 160-165C. Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper to 1/3 inch thickness (don’t go too thin as you want some softness as well as some chewiness).
  3. Cut out and transfer to lined baking trays. They won’t spread much but leave a bit of a gap between them. If needed, rinse the cutter in cold water to prevent it sticking. Bake at a steady temperature for 10 minutes.
  4. To make the glaze, sift the icing sugar. Whisk in 2-3 tbsp remaining lemon juice. When the biscuits have cooled a bit, brush with the glaze.
  5. Leave to cool completely then store in air tight containers, separating layers with parchment paper. They keep for up to two weeks. I actually liked them better after about 5 days, partly as I had slightly overbaked them so they were a bit chewy at first.

Orange and Aniseed Shortbreads

Adapted from Tava by Irina Georgescu

150g butter
250g plain/ all purpose flour
60g caster/superfine sugar
1 egg – UK/EU medium or US/Aus large
1/2 tsp baking powder
Orange zest
2 tbsp milk or orange juice
2 tsp crushed fennel seeds
2 tsp crushed aniseeds
2 tsp aniseeds to decorate

  1. Rub in flour and butter. Add the other ingredients and bring together into a dough. Chill well.
  2. Roll out in to a rectangle 8mm/ 1/3 inch thick. Cut out shapes. Chill again for 30 minutes before baking.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F. Bake for 12-15 minutes then cool. I like a softer bake and bake on the low end of this.

Home-Made Mincemeat

Adapted from Cook As You Are by Ruby Tandoh

120g dark brown sugar (you can, as I did, use muscovado)
100g peeled and chopped cooking apple (Mine was a Bramley. Cooking apples are less sweet and have a more floury texture. But if you only have an eating apple, just use it!)
200g dried fruit – I used a mixture of mixed dried fruit and currants, as it’s what I had, but raisins or sultanas are also good
Zest and juice of 2 small-ish oranges (preferably unwaxed), or measure the juice to 75g/ml
75g pecans, or whatever nut you fancy, roughly chopped
75g suet – vegetarian or beef (If you can’t get hold of suet, freeze some baking block and grate it, before popping it back in the freezer before using)
1 tsp mixed spice (if you can’t get hold of this, it’s basically ground coriander with a load of warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves)
A pinch of ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp brandy, or a rich spirit of your choice (e.g. spiced rum), you could also add a dash of something like Cointreau or Kirsch

Combine the sugar, fruit, orange zest, juice, nuts, suet, spices and salt. Heat gently and cook when steaming for 6-8 minutes. You’ll see why the suet is essential – it melts in to make the mixture glossy. Cool until you’re ready to use.

Mrs Wilson’s Mince Pies

For the pastry:
500g plain flour
175g icing sugar
375G butter
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large orange

For the filling and assembly:
250g full fat cream cheese
50g caster sugar
500g mincemeat
Egg yolk and milk to glaze
Demerara/turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Icing sugar to finish

To make a smaller amount:

250g plain flour
88g icing sugar
188g butter

125g cream cheese
25g caster sugar
250g mincemeat
Milk to glaze
Icing sugar to finish

  1. Rub in butter and flour. Add orange zest. Stir in orange juice until just sticking together. Rest in the fridge until really cold, or up to a couple of days.
  2. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 190C/ 170C fan/ 375F. Grease a bun tin. Mix cream cheese with sugar. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a few mm thickness.
  3. Fill pies halfway with mincemeat then add 1 tsp cream cheese mixture. If using lids, brush them with a little egg yolk mixed with milk. You could also sprinkle sugar on top.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Quarkstollen / Quick Stollen

Adapted from two recipes – one over at ChefKoch.de (thanks to listener Julia for translating) and one in Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss

For the dough:
400g plain/ all purpose flour
1 tbsp/ 16g baking powder
150g flaked/ slivered almonds
100g ground almonds/ almond flour
150g granulated or caster/superfine sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Zest of 1 lemon (preferably unwaxed)
120g unsalted, high-fat butter (at room temperature)
250g full-fat Quark, or similar (I used a Polish twaróg).
2 eggs (UK/EU medium or US/Aus large)

Optional flavourings (I used all of them!):
1/2-1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp mace/ nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 tsp vanilla sugar/ extract/ bean paste
200g raisins/ currants/ other dried fruit
75g candied citrus peel (I skipped this)
1 tsp rum aroma/extract, or 2 tbsp rum

For finishing:
50g butter
Plenty of icing/confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ 350F. While the oven is preheating, toast the flaked/slivered almonds until lightly golden on a baking sheet. Line another baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients for the dough. Mix together the wet ingredients separately. Mix them together.
  3. Form into a loaf. Bake for about an hour until golden brown and baked through.

Cozonac Festive Bread with a Walnut, Chocolate and Coffee Filling

Adapted from.a few different recipes, most notably those of Irina Georgescu

For the dough:
600g strong white bread flour
8g salt
14g instant/ fast-action yeast
200ml full-fat milk (3-4% fat content)
2 UK/EU medium or US/Aus large eggs
2 UK/EU medium or US/Aus arge egg yolks (reserve the whites for the filling)
150g caster/superfine sugar (you can make granulated into superfine by pulsing a few times in a food processor)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
150g sour cream, at room temperature
80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled (or use salted and reduce the salt)

For the filling:
200g walnuts
2 tsp instant coffee or 2 scant tsp espresso powder (my preferred option)
25g cocoa
2 tbsp rum or milk
140g caster/superfine or granulated sugar
2 egg whites, reserved from the dough

Before it goes in the oven:
1 egg yolk beaten with a little egg white to loosen.

Make the dough:
1. In a stand mixer, mix the flour and salt, then mix in the yeast. Add the milk and combine well with the paddle attachment. Set aside.
2. Beat the eggs and yolks with the sugar until just before the ribbon stage, then mix in the sour cream, orange zest and vanilla.
3. Mix this into the flour mixture and beat, still using the paddle attachment on medium speed for about 6 minutes until thick strands of dough begin to separate.
4. Switch the mixer to low and add the butter, 1 tbsp at a time, combining well. At this point you may want to transfer to an oiled bowl (I kept it in the same bowl). Either way, cover and leave to rise until nearly doubled in size.

Make the filling:
1. Blitz the walnuts in a food processor until ground. Don’t go too far unless you’re trying to make walnut butter! Add the coffee, cocoa and milk or rum and blitz for a few second until combined. Set aside.
2. Whisk the egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the sugar until thick, glossy and holding peaks. Fold in the walnut mixture.

Assemble the loaves:
1. Grease two 2lb/ 900g loaf tins with butter and line with baking paper.
2. Lightly grease your work surface with a neutral oil. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Pat out two of the pieces into rectangles. Spoon and smooth a quarter of the filling on to one side, then roll up into two logs. Twist the logs around each other the best you can (the dough is very slack) then pop into one of the loaf tins. Repeat with the other pieces of dough and the other loaf tin.
3. Cover and leave to rise until puffy, you could do this in a warm place for a quick result, or overnight in the fridge.

When you’re ready to bake!
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan / 350F. Mix up the egg wash. When the oven is preheated, brush the loaves with the egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven to 150C/ 130C fan / 300F and bake for a further 20 minutes. If your oven tends to burn the tops of things, you may need or want to put a foil tent over them for the last 10 minutes or so.

Episode 61: Remember Rosemary

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember…” – Ophelia in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Baby Rosemary Sticky Buns

This recipe is adapted from my perennial fave and fellow queer British baker Ruby Tandoh. Apparently rosemary sweet buns are popular in Mexico City. Take my word for it and don’t overdo the rosemary. The original recipe calls for 8 sprigs, but depending on how bushy your sprigs are, you may need significantly less. 5 was the right balance for me.

500g strong white flour
1 tsp/ 4g salt
7g fast-action/instant yeast
315ml lukewarm warm water or milk
100g softened butter
175g sugar (soft light brown was my preference)
Pinch of salt
The leaves of 5 rosemary sprigs- more or less depending on your sprigs and preference

  1. Mix together the flour and salt. Mix in the yeast. Mix in the liquid. Cover. Leave to ‘autolyse’ for a bit, if you like, to allow the flour to soak up the liquid evenly and the dough to start forming gluten bonds on its own. I do this for about 15-30 minutes.
  2. Knead the dough until smooth and passing the ‘windowpane’ test. Cover and leave in a warm place to double in size, about 1-2 hours.
  3. When doubled in size. preheat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan / 400F. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle. Blitz the rosemary with the brown sugar in the food processor, or finely chop your rosemary beforehand. Mix the rosemary sugar and butter together and spread over your rectangle. Roll up on the long edge. Cut into 24 slices.
  4. Bake in a lined roasting tin for about 20 minutes until golden brown and baked through.

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Rosemary

I sometimes am lucky enough to get emails from publishers about exciting new baking books. Sugar and Spice Cookies, by Megan Neveu, is right up my street: simple recipes to make but with delicious, unusual flavour combinations and wonderful textures. I knew when I saw this recipe that it had to be included. Lemon and chocolate and rosemary and chocolate are woefully underrated combinations that deserve the same limelight as chocolate-orange.

I took some to my brother and sister-in-law’s house and it pleased both them and my nephews (aged 7 and 10). They even pestered me afterwards for where they could find the recipe. They are excellent cooks and bakers so that says a lot!

Makes 30 cookies

Cozy and classic meets fresh and vibrant in these cookies. They have the same taste and texture of traditional oatmeal chocolate chip cookies you know and love, but now with notes of citrus and pine. The addition of the rosemary and lemon zest brings a subtle hint of brightness that complements the chocolate chips beautifully. It’s a fresh spin on a classic I think you’ll absolutely love. (Megan’s words. Kate’s notes in italics.)

INGREDIENTS

1½ cups (180 g) all-purpose flour (plain flour)
1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
½ tsp salt
1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar (or caster/castor)
1–2 tsp (1–2 g) finely chopped rosemary
Zest of 1 lemon (smallish if you use Mediterranean lemons)
1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 US/Aus large egg, room temperature (UK/EU medium)
1 US/Aus large egg yolk, room temperature (UK/EU medium)
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
2 cups (180 g) rolled oats
1½ cups (255 g) semisweet or milk chocolate chips (I used 35% cocoa solids milk chocolate)

DIRECTIONS

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda (bicarb) and salt until well combined. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugars, rosemary and zest on low speed until the texture resembles wet sand. Add the butter and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until well combined. On low, mix in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla until smooth and well combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, mix the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and chill it in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pull the cookie dough from the fridge to sit out at room temperature for 20 minutes before baking.

Scoop 2-tablespoon (30-g) amounts of the cookie dough onto the baking sheet 3 inches (8 cm) apart. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the edges are set. Keep the cookies on the hot baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool to room temperature.

Credit:

Reprinted with permission from Sugar + Spice Cookies by Megan Neveu. Page Street Publishing Co. 2022. Photo credit: Megan Neveu.

Apple and Rosemary Crepes

Adapted from a recipe in Irina Georgescu’s Tava.

Makes 6-8 crepes, enough for 2 people. Do double the recipe if you like!! The sauce is excellent on vanilla ice cream with a few toasted nuts on top, if you have any leftover!

For the crepes:
Around 75g unsalted butter, for frying
2 UK/EU medium or US/Aus large eggs
1 tsp sugar (I used golden caster but granulated would be fine)
A pinch of salt

100g plain/ AP flour
200ml milk – preferably full-fat but another kind will work

For the sauce:
30g caster./granulated sugar
200ml/g apple juice
1-2 tbsp lemon juice (start with 1 and taste)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 rosemary sprigs
40g unsalted butter

Start the crepes by mixing the eggs with the flour, sugar and salt. Add the milk gradually to incorporate well. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Make the sauce: Melt the sugar in a pan, swirling to help it melt evenly. Caramelise to a dark golden colour. Remove from the heat and add the apple juice, lemon juice and cider vinegar and the rosemary sprigs. Simmer until the caramel has dissolved in the juice. Remove the rosemary sprigs. Stir in the butter and simmer until slightly reduced and thickened- about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat. Warm through before serving.

Make the crepes: Heat a little butter in a medium-large non-stick frying pan or well-seasoned skillet. Wipe round (being careful not to burn yourself!) if necessary to ensure even coverage of butter on the pan. Ladle in some mixture and quickly swirl it round to create a thin layer of crepe. Flip when golden on the bottom side and set on the top and cook a little more until it looks done.

Serve hot, with extra butter and sauce. I think it would be lovely with some caramelised apples, but I haven’t yet tried this out.

Rosemary Chocolate Loaf Cake

This is via another fave, Rukmini Iyer, in The Sweet Roasting Tin

For the cake:
170g light brown sugar
50g olive oil
120g full-fat natural yogurt
3 UK/EU medium or US/Aus large eggs
A pinch of salt
120g plain/all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 tsp for the chocolate
1 + 2/3 tsp baking powder
50g cocoa powder (Dutch-processed is my preference and is the norm in the UK)
30ml milk
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped
100g chocolate, chopped – my preference was for 35% cocoa solids milk chocolate

For the ganache:
150ml double/heavy cream
150g chopped chocolate – my preference was for 35% cocoa solids milk chocolate
A pinch of salt
1 long sprig of rosemary
1 long sprig of rosemary to decorate (optional)

First, make the cake. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan / 350F. Grease and line a 2lb/900g loaf tin. Mix the flour, rosemary, salt, baking powder. Mix the olive oil, yogurt and sugar. You may want to sieve the sugar if lumpy, or use an electric whisk to break up lumps. Then mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour mixture and combine but avoid overmixing. Add the milk and combine. Toss the chopped chocolate in 1/2 tsp flour then sprinkle it over the top of the batter. Push the chocolate down a little so it is partly covered. This method ensures the chocolate doesn’t all sink, but also doesn’t burn from being too exposed. Bake for about 45 minutes until it springs back or a skewer comes out clean of raw cake batter.

While the cake is cooling, make the ganache. Heat the cream with the rosemary sprig until steaming but not boiling. Remove the sprig of rosemary. Add in the chocolate. Leave for a few minutes, then stir. Cool for a while then spread over the top of the cake. Serve when the ganache is set. Decorate with the remaining sprig of rosemary, if you like.

Additional Suggestions

P.S. Not featured or tried yet, but I want to bake:
– Ravneet Gill’s Apple and rosemary tarte tatin
– Nigella Lawson’s Rosemary Remembrance Cake
– Blood orange rosemary cookies in Sugar and Spice Cookies by Megan Neveu.

Episode 60: Musings on Muffins

This episode was a JOY to research! All the below recipes BANG.

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

SOOOOO GOOD

This recipe is absolutely exceptional.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Muffins

Delish!!!

Adapted, very lightly, from the Sweet Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer

200g plain/ all purpose flour
50g cocoa powder (I like Dutch processed and use Green and Blacks)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
Sea salt flakes
150g soft dark brown or light brown sugar
90g olive oil
100g natural or Greek yogurt
150ml/g milk
1 UK/EU medium or US/Aus Large egg
100g chopped dark chocolate (mine was 70% cocoa solids)
12 heaped teaspoons of dulce de leche or tinned caramel (I use Nestle Carnation caramel)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan / 400F. Line a muffin tin with 12 cases.
  2. Sieve the brown sugar into a large bowl. Alternatively, you can break up large lumps with a fork and/or your fingers. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and fine salt and whisk/ fork together.
  3. Whisk together the olive oil, yogurt, milk and egg. Stir into the dry ingredients along with 75 of chopped dark chocolate until no unmixed flour remains and no further.
  4. Spoon about a tablespoon of mixture into each case, then add a heaped teaspoon of caramel, followed by a pinch of sea salt flakes. Top off with the remaining mixture before scattering the remaining chopped chocolate over.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until it springs back to the touch. Cool briefly and eat while warm or cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

Spiced Carrot Muffins

Without crumble topping is also very nice

Using the template recipe in Rukmini Iyer’s Sweet Roasting Tin, with my own twists

250g plain / all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder, one of them slightly heaped
150g light brown sugar (or a mix of white and dark brown sugar)
150g Greek or natural yogurt
100ml/g milk (mine was whole, ie. 3.5-4% fat, but it doesn’t matter too much)
90g oil (I used grapeseed)
1 UK/EU medium or US/Aus large egg
150g carrot, fairly finely grated (the second-biggest side of a box grater)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg or 1 tsp ground mahleb
1/2 tsp ground ginger (optional)
3/4 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp ground allspice
50g lightly roasted pecans, chopped
100g white chocolate, chopped
OPTIONAL CRUMBLE TOPPING
50g raw pecans
50g plain/ all purpose flour
25g cold butter
Pinch of salt
25g sugar (demerara or brown sugar are both great here)

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C / 170C fan / 375F. Line a muffin pan with 12 cases.
  2. If using, make the crumble topping by rubbing the butter and flour together and then stirring in the sugar and nuts. Alternatively, you can rub them all together by hand. Set aside.
  3. Sieve the brown sugar into a large bowl. Alternatively, you can break up any large lumps with a fork and/or your fingers. Then mix in the flour, baking powder, spices and salt.
  4. Mix together the yogurt, milk, egg and oil.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, along with the grated carrot, chocolate and lightly roasted pecans.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the cases, then sprinkle over the crumble topping over each.
  7. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until they spring back to the touch,

Lemon and Hazelnut Sour Cream Muffins

STOP IT

Again, I used recipes in The Sweet Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer as my starting point.

250g plain/ all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder, one of them slightly heaped
150g dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp fine salt
Zest of 1 lemon
90g flavourless oil (I used grapeseed)
200g sour cream
30ml/g lemon juice (roughly 1 lemon, but it’s best to measure)
1 UK/EU medium or US/Aus large egg
100g white chocolate, chopped
50g lightly roasted hazelnuts, chopped
IMPORTANT CRUMBLE TOPPING:
25g cold cubed butter
Pinch of salt
50g plain flour
50g raw hazelnuts
25g brown sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/ 170C fan / 375F. Line a muffin tin with 12 cases.
  2. Make the crumble topping by rubbing together the ingredients, or you can just rub together the butter and flour and stir in the nuts and sugar.
  3. Sieve the sugar into a large bowl or fork/rub it together until no large lumps remain. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Whisk together the oil, sour cream, lemon juice and egg.
  5. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients along with the white chocolate and hazelnuts.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the cases, then sprinkle over the crumble.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until they spring back to the touch.

Fig and Walnut Muffins

TOO good.

Here, I actually used this recipe for raisin and cinnamon muffins from Ruby Tandoh as my starting point.

100g butter, melted and cooled
180g light soft brown sugar (or a mix of dark brown and white sugar)
2 UK/EU large or US/Aus XL eggs
200g sour cream/ Greek yogurt
120g plain/ all purpose flour
120g wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
120g dried figs, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon of 1 tsp ground mahleb
50g lightly roasted walnuts, chopped
IMPORTANT CRUMBLE TOPPING:
50g raw walnuts
25g butter
Pinch of salt
25g demerara or brown sugar
50g plain / all purpose flour

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C / 170C fan / 375F. Line a muffin tin with 12 cases.
  2. Make the crumble topping by rubbing all ingredients together between your fingers and thumbs, or you could rub together the flour and butter then stir in the nuts and sugar. Set aside.
  3. Sieve the sugar into a large bowl, or break up any large lumps with a fork/your fingers. Stir in the flours, bicarb, baking powder and salt.
  4. Whisk together the eggs, sour cream and butter.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry along with the figs and walnuts. Spoon into the cases, then sprinkle over the crumble topping.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until it springs back to the touch.

Episode 59: Honey Cakes are the Bee’s Knees

Honey Loaf Cake with Sweet Dukkah

I forgot to get a picture of this one – sorry!! I wasn’t actually intending to use it on the podcast, but it was so good I had to include it.

I’m always on the look out for dairy-free cakes since I have a close friend who a) appreciates my baking (he has excellent taste!!!) and b) is allergic to the proteins in cows’ milk. He is also allergic to sesame, so I changed up the dukkah. Follow the link to find the original which I’m sure is absolutely delicious. This went down very well with some very discerning birthday guests.

Recipe adapted from this one in Benjamina Ebuehi’s The New Way to Cake.

For the cake:
300g plain / all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
160ml/ 170g vegetable oil
240ml/ 250g blossom honey
100g caster/ superfine sugar (though I’m sure granulated would work fine too)
100g soft light brown sugar
2 UK large / US XL eggs (c. 130-140g egg in their shells)
1 tsp vanilla extract or bean paste
200ml strong-brewed English breakfast tea

For the syrup:
3 tbsp / 45 ml honey
60ml water

For the dukkah (Kate’s non-sesame version):
90g blanched almonds, chopped roughly or buy them already flaked
1 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp rose petals
Scant 1/2 tsp cardamom
2 tsp poppy seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 160C fan / 350F. Grease and line a loaf tin. The original recipe calls for a long loaf tin, which I do not own, so I just used a regular 1lb / 900g loaf tin. (The original recipe bakes at a higher temperature due to the tin being longer as well, so I baked this lower and slower and it worked out just fine!

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarb/ baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Pour in the oil, honey, sugars and eggs and whisk until there are no lumps in the batter. Pour in the vanilla and tea. Stir until smooth. Pour into the cake pan and bake for around an hour, or until it passes the skewer test.

3. Heat the water and honey in a pan to make the syrup. Stir until the honey dissolves.

4. Blitz the dukkah ingredients in a food processor or spice grinder until you have a rough mixture.

5. Mix the dukkah with the syrup. Spread on top of the warm cake. Leave to cool completely before slicing.

Fig and Honey Sponge Pudding

Sticky and delicious

I followed this recipe from Miriam Nice. My recipe notes below!

If you are baking in another country, large eggs in the UK and EU are around 63-73g, or a US XL.
Instead of self-raising flour (which I don’t use even though I’m British!) just use 2 slightly generous teaspoons of baking powder.
To mix the sponge, you can use the creaming method, all-in-one, or even whisk the eggs and sugar and mix in melted butter with a tablespoon of flour. All work! You may, however, want to add a tablespoon or two of milk so it is a “dropping” consistency.
So long as you use metric weights in your baking the rest should be easy to follow! This is a great dinner party dessert when figs are in season.

Bienenstich / Bee Sting Cake

Sticky, crunchy and cakey

Recipe from Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss, or found here in cup measurements.

I found that the yeasted cake layer is quite thin, and also goes stale really quickly, so is best eaten on the same day. Next time I’m going to make a bit more of it, and possibly alter the cake layer recipe a bit, but I’ll serve it the day it’s made. Not including custard in the middle seems to be controversial among my German friends, but this still differs from a Swedish toscakaka in that it’s yeasted rather than made with chemical raising agents such as baking powder.

For the cake layer:
200g plain/ all purpose flour
1 tsp fast-action/ instant yeast
50g granulated or superfine/caster sugar
3 tbsp/ 45g/ 45ml whole milk
1 egg
50g European-style high-fat butter

For the topping:
130g good butter
100g light brown sugar (or just use granulated)
100g honey (I used blossom honey)
50g double/ heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
200g blanched sliced/ flaked almonds

For the cake, stir together the flour, yeast, sugar together. Then stir in the salt. Stir in the milk, and egg and knead together. Then knead in the butter. The dough should still be soft. Leave to rise for about an hour. It won’t double but it will get a bit puffy.

Press the dough into the pan. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ 350F. Line a 23cm x 33cm / 9in x 13 in tin with baking paper.

To make the topping. place everything except the almonds in the pan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring. Stir in the almonds and remove from the heat. Cool for 10 minutes.

Spread the topping evenly over the dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crisping. (Mine took 25 minutes.)

Let cool on the rack for 20 minutes. Cut into squares before serving.

Burnt Honey Cake / Russian Honey Cake

I followed this recipe from Edd Kimber, and consulted the 20th Century Cafe’s version on NYT Cooking.

Episode 58: Basque Bakes

In August, I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Spanish side of the Basque country, primarily Bilbao but with day trips to San Sebastian, Guernica and Bermeo.

Here are some things we ate!!!

On to our bakes for this week!

Basque Cake/ Tart

Is it a pie? Is it a cake? Does it matter? It’s delicious!

Adapted from this recipe by Nicola Lamb.

For the cake/tart layers

Cream 140g room temperature butter, 110g sugar and 1 tsp vanilla sugar (optional). Add 2 egg whites, the zest of a lemon (optionally) and 10g lemon juice and combine the best you can. Add 150g plain/ AP flour, 75g ground almonds, a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder and a scant 1/2 tsp baking soda / bicarbonate of soda. Refrigerate for 3+ hours.

Heat 300g milk with 2 tsp vanilla extract or bean paste. Meanwhile, whisk 2 egg yolks and 1 egg white with 90g sugar and 25g cornflour/ cornstarch. While whisking slowly, drizzle the hot milk down the side of the mixing bowl. When all combined, return the mixture to the pan and heat gently, stirring, until it bubbles and thickens. Stir really well. Transfer to a bowl or jug, place cling film directly on the top of the liquid to prevent a skin forming.

To assemble, portion off 150g dough. Roll this out between two floured sheets of parchment paper to an 8inch circle and put in the freezer while you work on the rest. Grease an 8 inch/20cm tart tin or springform pan really well. You may also want a parchment paper circle at the bottom. Pat the remaining dough into the base of the tin and then top with the custard, before laying the circle you rolled out over the top.

Put back in the fridge while you preheat the oven to 190C. Pop it on a baking tray then when the oven has come to temperature, bake for around 40 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool for a couple of hours before slicing to allow the crumb to set – but it is best served warm!

Basque Cheesecake

Adapted to metric from Molly Baz’s recipe.

Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F.

Beat 900g cream cheese and 300g sugar. Beat in 6 US large/ UK medium (or 5 UK large) eggs in gradually, one egg at a time. Then add 480g double/ heavy cream and whisk to combine. Finally, beat in 6 US large/ UK medium or 5 US XL/ UK large eggs.

Grease a 10 inch springform pan really well. Pop it on a baking tray. Bake for about an hour, it will still be a bit wobbly but shouldn’t be liquid. It will be puffed up and will fall – not to worry, that’s just what it does!!

Episode 57: Seeds Everywhere, on Everything: Crunchy and Chewy Seedy Breads

Koulouri – Cypriot Village Bread

  • 7g fast-action/ instant yeast
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar
  • 1 piece of mastic
  • 2 pieces of mehlepi/mahleb
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • 4 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp nigella/ black onion seeds
  • 1/2 tsp aniseed

Grind the mahlepi/mahleb finely with 1 tsp flour. Do the same with the mastic. Mix the salt, mahlepi/mahleb, mastic, cinnamon and 1 tbsp sugar into the remaining flour (minus 1 tbsp). Mix in the yeast. Mix in 330ml warm water and the olive oil. Add more water if you need to to bring the dough together. Rest for 10-30 minutes (just 10 if your kitchen is warm). Knead in a mixer or by hand until it passes the ‘windowpane test’. Leave to rise until doubled.

Roll into a long sausage, around 30cm / 12 inches. Place onto a lined or oiled baking sheet. Cut the dough into 20 and gently pull them apart so there is a small gap between each piece (2mm/ 0.01inches). Mix the remaining tbsp flour with 2 tbsp warm water. Brush the dough all over with this. Mix the sesame seeds, nigella seeds and aniseed together and pat all over the dough, including underneath. Cover loosely and prove again until roughly double.

Preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan / 400F. Add a dish of boiling water to the oven to create steam (I have a gas oven which produces steam anyway so I skipped this.) Bake for at least 22 minutes then check, it will probably need more time but it’s good to check It wants to be golden brown. Mine took about 30.

Covrigi – Salty Poppy Seed Twists

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 7g fast-action/ instant yeast
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 3 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 3/4 tsp flaked salt
  • 1 tbsp onion flakes or Nigella/ black onion seeds

Mix the sugar and salt into the flour. Mix in the yeast. Mix in 260ml warm water and 2 tbsp oil. Rest for 10-30 minutes (no more than 10 if your kitchen is pretty warm). Knead in a mixer or by hand until it passes the ‘windowpane’ test. Cover and leave to rise until doubled.

Divide into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a long sausage and cross over the ends for a pretzel shape. Transfer to an oiled or lined baking sheet , cover and leave to prove until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 220C / 200C fan / 420F. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the bicarb/ baking soda. Mix together the poppy seeds, sesame seeds, flaky sea salt and onion seeds/flakes. Lower the pretzels in the water for 30 seconds a side or submerge the whole thing for 30 seconds using a mesh strainer. Return to the trays. Brush with the remaining oil and sprinkle liberally with the seeds. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Lagana – Clean Monday Bread

  • 7g fast-action/ instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 3/4 tsp fine salt, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds

Mix the half the sugar and salt into the flour. Mix in the yeast. Mix in 275ml of body temperature water and the olive oil. Mix to a shaggy dough. Rest for 10-30 minutes (no more than 10 if your kitchen is pretty warm). Knead in a mixer or by hand until it passes the ‘windowpane’ test. Cover and leave to rise until doubled.

Stretch or roll out the dough to fit a 30 x 25cm / 12 x 10 inch lined or greased tin. Cover loosely and leave to rise again until roughly doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C / fan 200C / 420F. Dissolve the remaining sugar in 2 tbsp of just-boiled water.

Press the dough to make indents all over, a bit like a focaccia. Brush with the sugar water. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and a good pinch or crumble of salt. Bake for 20-22 minutes.

Rye, Caraway and Poppy Seed Bagels/Beigels

Adapted from Ruby Tandoh’s Crumb

For the tangzhong:

115ml/ g water or milk, 25g strong white flour

For the dough:

  • The tangzhong you made
  • 300g strong white flour
  • 125g dark/wholemeal rye flour
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 8g diastatic malt powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp flavourless oil
  • 2 tbsp caraway seeds
  • Flour or polenta, to dust
  • 2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda
  • 2 tbsp barley malt extract/ syrup (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp flaky salt, crumbled up
  • 30g poppy seeds
  • Oil, to grease

Make the tangzhong by putting the liquid and flour in a pan. Heat and stir until you get a gloopy mass. Transfer to another bowl if you like so it cools more quickly.

Once your tangzhong is warm but not hot, or room temperature is fine also, get on with the dough. Mix the salt, sugar and flours. Mix the yeast in. Mix in 250ml warm water, tangzhong and the oil. Mix to a shaggy dough. Rest for 10-30 minutes (just 10 if your kitchen is warm). Knead until it passes the ‘windowpane test’ then knead in the caraway seeds. Cover and leave to rise until doubled.

Turn out, divide into 8 and shape into bagels by rolling into a ball, push your finger through and twirl around a bit. Prove again until puffy and 1.5x in size. Preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan / 400F.

Put a large pan of water on to boil, add the baking soda/bicarb and malt extract, if using, to the pan and stir to combine. Lower the bagels in and boil for 60 seconds per side then transfer to a greased or lined baking sheet. Sprinkle over the poppy seeds, if using.

Bake for about 25 minutes.

Herby Sesame Twists

Adapted from Benjamina Ebuehi’s A Good Day to Bake

  • 450g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 9g instant/ fast-action yeast
  • 6-9 tbsp finely chopped herbs (Benjamina suggests tarragon, chives and dill)
  • 40g olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 80-100g sesame seeds

Mix the salt into the flour. Mix in the yeast into the flour. Mix in the herbs. Mix in 240ml lukewarm water and oil to form a shaggy dough. Rest for 10-30 minutes (just 10 if your kitchen is warm). Knead until smooth and elastic. Prove until doubled in size.

Divide the dough into 6. Split each piece in half and roll each into a long sausage. Twist the strands together and bring together to make a loop, pinching to seal. Line a baking tray.

Mix the honey and 100ml lukewarm water. Dip each twist in the honey water and then into the sesame seeds. Place on a prepared baking tray. Loosely cover and prove until around 1.5x the size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan / 400F.

Once proven and the oven is at temperatue, bake for 18-22 minutes until golden.

Episode 56: Summer Essentials

We’ve had some hot days (by London standards) and the fruit and veg has changed… hence inspiring this episode!

Cold Brew

I’m a complete coffee fiend. I don’t mind drinking hot drinks in the summer (I drink English-style tea several times a day all-year-round). I’ve never quite gotten why some people are so against it – people in hot countries still drink hot drinks. But I do like to have a bottle of cold brew on the go alongside sometimes having my pour-overs. As well as being delicious, great black or with milk, cold brew is great for throwing in a cake batter without having to wait for the coffee to cool down. It’s the easiest type of coffee to make, so long as you can wait 24 hours. You need some sort of funnel (I just use my pour over thing), filter paper and a bottle.

50g coarsely ground coffee, 400-500ml/g cold water (I prefer still but by all means use sparkling if you like). Ice and/or milk of your choice to serve.

Use the funnel to put the coffee in a 1 litre/ 1 quart bottle. Add the water. Shake. Put in the fridge. Leave for 24 hours. Strain. It may take a while, so I tend to strain while I’m doing other jobs like washing up or cooking. That’s it! It’s good for about a week in the fridge I think.

It’s STRONG! So do water it down or add milk and ice, to your wish.

Banana Choc Ices

Errr. So this really couldn’t be any easier. You peel and halve some ripe bananas, stick a skewer or lolly stick in them and freeze them. If using skewers warn your guests so they don’t pierce the roofs of their mouths.

Once frozen, you dip them in melted chocolate – use a spoon to coat evenly. My chocolate preference is 50-50 dark and milk. Then you roll them in roasted nuts of your choice. My favourite is roasted pecans, broken up into small pieces. Hazelnuts and salted roasted peanuts are also good. That’s it!

You obviously have to like banana. These aren’t a good replacement for a normal chocolate ice lolly for people who don’t actually like banana. But they are wonderful!

No-Churn Ice Creams

These aren’t winning any awards for health but they are so easy and delicious. If you don’t have an ice cream churn they’re particularly fab.

The base is 300ml/ 10 fl oz heavy/ double cream and 397g/ 14 oz (sweetened) condensed milk.

Simply whisk these two up together to stiff peaks – perhaps with a pinch of salt, then gently stir or whisk in your mix-ins.

These work even better if you add a little alcohol for a softer serve, but this isn’t essential. Despite having lived in Scotland, I don’t really like whiskey of any kind (sorry). No Bourbon, single malt Scotch or anything else for me, thanks. But Nigella uses it. I like to use Grand Marnier (orange liqueur), Chambord (raspberry liqueur), Kahlua (fruit cream), Baileys (coffee cream), spiced rum and creme de cassis (blackberry liqueur).

Depending on what kind of ice cream you’re making, consider adding vanilla as well.

Another variation: use a tin of caramel/ dulce de leche instead of the condensed milk. It will be sweeter, so do balance with more salt and use smaller servings.

I just had this genius idea: you could steep a flavouring such as earl grey tea or chai spices or tarragon in hot cream, let the cream cool down fully again, refrigerate it, then treat it as before.

Blitz-and-Churn Fruit Sorbets

I covered this last summer, but The River Cafe’s strawberry sorbet is absolutely magnificent. It’s rightly on Food 52’s Genius Recipes. Honestly one of the best ices I’ve ever made or tried. Unless you have an enormous ice cream churner, halve the recipe. The balance between the sugar and the lemon pith catapults this into being so much more than a basic strawberry ice.

This summer I plan on trying out the peach and lemon sorbet as well (also on Food 52), using whatever stone fruit I can get my hands on that looks good. Please do let me know of any other blitz-and-churn recipes I should try out!

My Mother’s Chocolate Sauce

Ready in minutes, this goes sticky on ice cream but has a gloriously bitter edge from the cocoa. Someone I was seeing once jokingly proposed to me based on this sauce. Please do adjust the quantities to your liking, I don’t usually actually measure this sauce but I figured I have to give a rough guide! It tastes 1000 x better than anything you get in a bottle from the shop.

Serves 4 allegedly but I’ve been known to eat at least half of this in one sitting….

  • 50g butter or margarine (growing up in the 90s, my mum used marge but I now use butter). It does work with vegan blocks as well, but maybe use a little less. If you want a richer sauce that doesn’t go as sticky, use 75g butter.
  • 100g golden syrup – I’m informed that corn syrup is a reliable replacement
  • 25g cocoa

Stick all of them in a pan. Gently heat to melt the butter. Once combined, boil it furiously for about a minute or more gently for a couple of minutes – this reduces it to make it more sticky.

Serve with: vanilla ice cream and possibly some raspberries.

Topped Ice Cream and Sundae Ideas

My Slovenian recipe book suggests putting pumpkin seed oil on vanilla ice cream and finishing with a little crumbled flaky salt. I will and will report back. I may add a few toasted pumpkin seeds on top, too (IMO a highly underrated ingredient.) I quickly depleted the small bottle we brought back in salad dressings, but pumpkin seed oil is common across central Europe, I think. I have a couple of Hungarian shops near me so I’m hopeful.

People on TikTok (an app I’m definitely too old for) suggest putting soy sauce on vanilla ice cream. Apparently it has salted caramel vibes. I’ve also seen sesame oil on ice cream, with more mixed reviews.

Affogato. Summer is affogato season as far as I’m concerned. Not everyone in Britain knows what this is. It’s more common in London but not so common in sleepy seaside towns. So I’ve been known to order an espresso and a scoop of vanilla ice cream and then pouring the espresso over the ice cream to the bemusement of wait staff and mild embarrassment of my partner. Phenomenal.

My opinions on Sundaes.

Sundae is a wonderful vehicle for balance and texture, yet all-too-often we just get sweet on sweet on sweet and gloop on gloop on gloop.

For grown-up sundaes, we’re going to need the following.

  • More fruit compotes. Imagine vanilla ice cream, crumbled ginger biscuits/cookies, rhubarb compote . DIVINE.
  • Well balanced sauces. Steer away from the squeezy bottled trash in the supermarket and make your own. My mother’s chocolate sauce (above) is a good start. Make a ganache! Or use products that are actually good, like condensed milk, dulce de leche, honey or maple syrup. How about sweetening up some nut butter even?
  • Crispy and crunchy elements that actually taste of something. Bland wafers are out. Spiced biscuits, salty oaty biscuits (a good UK example is Hobnobs), dark chocolate digestives etc are in. Tuiles/ cat’s tongue biscuits are in. Stroopwaffles are in. Granola is in! Sesame seed brittle is in!
  • Consider adding nuts or seeds. Toasted flaked almonds. Roasted pecans, hazelnuts or walnuts. PISTACHIOS. Toasted pumpkin seeds. These will all add a slightly savoury note, roasty-toastiness and CRONCH.