Episode 21: Gorgeously Golden Turmeric Sugar Cookies

I’m not really superstitious but 21 is my birthday date and for some reason I just like it as a number. My prep for episode 21 didn’t disappoint, and it only took me one try to get these cookies right, thanks to a great recipe. Turmeric is earthy, citrus-y, fragrant and really hard to describe. I use it quite a lot in cooking (and love it) but not in sweet baking. Here it elevates a cookie from being nice to being interesting, complex and delicious. In this episode I also talk about my plans for a hot cross buns-baking marathon…

Very, very slightly adapted from Emma LaPerruque on Food 52.

Makes 12

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 115g butter (room temperature)
  • 150g golden or white caster/superfine or granulated white sugar
  • A pinch of salt (use more or less depending on whether your butter is salted)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 150g plain flour

For the sugar crust: 50g granulated sugar, 2/3 tsp turmeric

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 375F / 190C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper or silpat.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar and salt to combine and cream slightly.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla, turmeric, baking powder and flour. Mix well.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. I found I needed to do this for longer, maybe 20 or 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and turmeric for the sugar crust.
  5. Portion the dough into twelve chunks. Mine were about 37g each. Roll into balls, then roll in the sugar crust mixture. Place on the baking trays.
  6. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Hopefully it will have crispy edges but still be a bit softer in the middle. I swapped my baking trays halfway through as my oven cooks unevenly.

Episode 20: Getting Carried Away with Caraway Seed Cake

Perfect with a cup of tea… seed cake with a tender crumb

There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to seed cake recipes: fewer seeds, less sugar and a bit drier – sort of a more austere approach – or sweeter, strongly flavoured, and more moist. I prefer the latter! This delicately aniseed cake has been around for literally hundreds of years. Some websites even claimed that it’s medieval. It’s mentioned in Winnie the Pooh and the Hobbit! Credit to Andrea and Stefin of Preheated baking podcast: it took two American bakers to inspire an English woman to try this traditional British bake! And Regula Ysewijn, a Belgian baker whose historical British baking books are just wonderful. It’s so fun seeing your own country – that you thought was pretty boring – through someone else’s eyes…

P.S. This cake keeps well for a couple of days at room temperature in an airtight container or bag.

Ingredients (for best results they all need to be at room temperature when you add them!)

  • 3 UK large eggs (c. 180g)
  • 180g salted butter (or unsalted and a pinch of salt)
  • 180g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 180g plain (AP) flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp (or 3 tsp) caraway seeds

Method

1. Grease and line a 900g/ 2lb loaf tin, preferably light coloured and thinner metal to prevent it getting too dark on the outside. Preheat the oven to 160 C / 140 fan / 320 F / gas 3.

2. Gently toast the caraway seeds in a dry pan for a couple of minutes until a little more fragrant. Bash these up a little in a pestle and mortar, but you don’t need to actually grind them. It’s just to release a little more of their oils.

3. Cream the butter and sugar with electric beaters or using a stand mixer. Do this until extremely fluffy, it’ll take at least a few minutes. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and add, very gradually, to the butter mixture, to incorporate and create an emulsion. I literally do half an egg at a time for best results.

4. Add the ground almonds, flour, seeds and baking powder and beat until just incorporated. Finally, add the yogurt and incorporate very gently, perhaps just using a spatula if you have the patience.

5. Transfer to the loaf pan. Tap on the counter to get rid of any large bubbles to ensure an even texture. You can also swirl through the batter with a skewer to achieve this. Bake for 50-60 minutes. You want a skewer to come out clean, but if you over-bake this cake it will be dry.

Episode 19: Pink Peppercorn and Ruby Chocolate Shortbread #SpiceIsNice

I first came across pink peppercorn in sweet baking in Benjamina Ebuelhi’s fab book The New Way to Cake, which has in it a recipe for pink peppercorn madeleines. Pink peppercorns have a warm spice at the back of your palate, and at the front they taste sweet and sour. They are derived from a berry.

My partner suggested using ruby chocolate after we tried a version with milk chocolate. Milk chocolate was nice but the slightly sour berry notes in ruby chocolate compliment pink peppercorns perfectly. The colours also go perfectly together!

This recipe is just using the 3-2-1 principle of shortbread (3 parts flour, 2 parts butter, 1 part sugar – all measured by weight) with a couple of small twists. Using 3-2-1 it’s really easy to create your own recipes!

P.S. Spelt flour isn’t strongly flavoured, so it isn’t a necessity, but it does make lovely, crumbly shortbread if you want to get hold of it.

Pink peppercorn shortbread with ruby chocolate topping

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, measured whole, plus a few more to decorate
  • 150g white spelt flour (or just use plain/ all purpose)
  • 100g salted butter (or use unsalted with a pinch of salt)
  • 50g caster/ superfine/ white granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk (I used a UK large egg but any size will do, to be honest you could actually leave it out but I liked the richness here)
  • A scant teaspoon of water, if necessary
  • c. 50g ruby chocolate (it does alternatively work with milk or white)

Method

  1. Grind the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar. (I’ve tried doing this in a food processor but prefer the slightly chunkier bits you get from doing this by hand.)
  2. Rub in the flour and butter: use a pastry blender, fingertips or a food processor and rub together until you have crumbs the consistency of damp sand.
  3. Stir in the sugar. Beat the egg yolk lightly with a fork in a cup or small bowl, then stir in.
  4. Bring the mixture together with your hands. If that proves difficult, you might consider adding the scant teaspoon of water, or a very teeny drop more if necessary. Go slowly.
  5. Form into your desired shape and chill very well. I opted to press it into a greased and lined 8″ / 20cm cake tin. I then chilled it for a good hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 190C /170 fan/ 375 F / gas 5. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, depending on how thin it is, until just turning golden on the bottom or sides. If you have baked it in one block, score it with a knife while it’s warm out of the oven, so it will be easier to cut. Cool completely.
  7. Melt the chocolate either gently and carefully in the microwave or using the bain marie method. Drizzle over the shortbread (or dip the biscuits in, if you prefer and have a steady hand).

Episode 18: Three Cheers for Tres Leches! Spice-How-You-Like #Tintastic

I really like to spiced this with cardamom (an idea I got from the fab Benjamina Ebuehi), but it goes equally well with cinnamon and nutmeg. Heed my advice, here: do not bake this cake in a rush. Make it the day before, leave it to soak overnight and add the topping just before serving. I’ve tried to rush it and it wasn’t nearly as good. Also… there’s no getting away from the fact that this cake is an absolutely filthy, calorific monster, but it’s INCREDIBLY good. Don’t skimp on getting proper double cream. The one I used was 48% fat and all the better for it!

Tres Leches Cake, barely adapted from Cassie Best

For the cake:

  • 4 UK large eggs (whole weight c. 240g), separated
  • A pinch of cream of tartar
  • 200g caster/ superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g milk, preferably whole or semi-skimmed (2%)
  • 200g plain/ all purpose flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tsp cardamom OR 1.5 tsp cinnamon or a scant tsp freshly grated nutmeg

For the soak:

  • Half a 397g tin of (sweetened) condensed milk (see below!)
  • 170g tin evaporated milk
  • Around 3 tbsp (45ml) of fresh cream or whole milk

For the topping:

  • The other half of the 397g tin of condensed milk
  • 250ml -ish of double cream/ whipping cream (C. 38-50% fat content. The higher the fat content the better, otherwise you may need to add butter to make it whip up properly with the liquid condensed milk.)
  • Optional: A dusting of cocoa OR cinnamon OR a little nutmeg, as appropriate for the spicing inside the cake. You could also serve with berries, if they are good/ in season, or grated dark chocolate. (There’s so much sugar you don’t want to use milk chocolate here, and definitely not white!)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C / 160 fan / 350F. (If your oven cooks from the bottom like mine, consider lowering this by 5 or 10 degrees C and extending the baking time as needed.) Butter and line the bottom of a 20cm/8″ square, loose-bottomed, high-sided, non-stick cake tin. Leave the sides so the mixture can cling onto the sides (like it would in an angel food cake).
  2. In a scrupulously clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy, then gradually add 100g of the sugar and whisk to the edge of stiff peaks but not too far. You will need to use an electric whisk or stand mixer, unless you are seriously hench.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar until pale, thickened and frothy. Fold in the flour, spices salt, baking powder and milk.
  4. Fold into the egg whites (or fold the egg whites into this) in thirds, taking care to retain as much air as possible, while also not leaving any streaks of egg white. I use a large metal spoon in a “backwards six” motion (I’m right-handed), turning the bowl around as I go.
  5. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, checking a bit earlier, until cooked all the way through- a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to an appropriately sized dish. Meanwhile, mix together the soak ingredients in a jug.
  6. Skewer or fork all over. Pour over the soak very gradually, coming back to it every so often minutes to add a little more. Meanwhile, refrigerate for a few hours at least, or even better overnight.
  7. Just before serving, make the topping. Whip the cream and condensed milk together until thickened. Spread with an offset spatula or pipe on to the top. BE HAPPY!

Episode 17: Feeling Fruity? Fruit Cocktail Cake with Crunchy Coconut Topping #Tintastic

This week, Kate was talking about Scandinavian semlor, crumpets and this delightful cake.

A tin of fruit cocktail may not sound that appetising, but it really works in this light, brown-sugar-flavoured cake. Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee and a drizzle of cream over.

Cake ingredients:

  • 420g can of fruit cocktail
  • 180g light brown soft sugar
  • 180g salted butter (or use unsalted and a pinch of salt)
  • 1 tsp Scandinavian vanilla sugar or extract
  • 180g plain flour plus 1 tbsp
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 UK large eggs (180g)

Coconut crispy crunchies ingredients: 50g dessicated coconut, 30g light brown sugar, 50g butter

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 C fan / 350F. Grease and line the bottom of a 23cm cake tin, preferably springform and non-stick. Drain the fruit. (You may want to reserve the juice to drink or put in cocktails.)
  2. Make the crispy crunchies first: Melt the butter, stir the sugar and coconut in and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar with the vanilla for a few minutes until really light and fluffy. Add one egg, then beat in until smooth. Add the second and repeat. Add the third and repeat. Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir until well combined. Finally, toss the fruit with the 1 tbsp flour. Gently stir in the fruit.
  4. Transfer to the cake pan. Sprinkle the coconut topping over. Bake for about an hour until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin for a long time before turning out. This helps the crumb fully set, and to stay fluffy, rather than becoming compressed. Serve with a little cream.

Episode 16: Feeling Peachy? Juicy Peach and Dark Chocolate Muffins (Vegan, too!) #Tintastic

The inside of a muffin, loaded with flecks of dark chocolate and unctuous peach

Tinned peaches are delicious and unctuous but really sweet, which is why I’ve used dark chocolate here. By all means, use this recipe as a base and experiment by adding different ingredients from the peach, chocolate and vanilla. Ginger could be interesting, as could cinnamon. You could press a fresh raspberry or blackberry into the centre of each, for example, instead of the peaches; or toss blueberries in flour instead of the chocolate and add to the batter; or change up the chocolate.

This recipe was heavily adapted from one on Domestic Gothess.

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour plus 1 tbsp
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 250g oat milk
  • 75g vegetable oil
  • 150g caster sugar (I reckon granulated would be fine)
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1 420g tin sliced peaches
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • a couple of tablespoons demerara/ turbinado/ pearl sugar, to top (optional).

Method

1. Preheat oven to 190 C / 170 fan / 375 F/ gas 5. Line a muffin tin with 12 cases. Drain the peaches. (I reserve the syrup for mixing into drinks.)

2. Mix together the oil, milk, sugar and vanilla. A whisk works best but you don’t need to add lots of air. (I used an electric whisk but a balloon whisk and a little effort would work absolutely fine).

3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and add the salt. Set the batter aside. (Resting it will actually mean it bakes more evenly due to the flour absorbing more moisture. I just rested it for a few minutes but you could rest for half an hour or even a bit longer. Of course, you’ll not want to leave your oven on that entire time so preheat a bit later on.)

4. Chop the dark chocolate into small pieces. Mix with with the tablespoon flour so the chocolate gets a thin coat of flour. This helps the chocolate cling to the bottom and not just sink to the bottom. Stir the chocolate into the batter.

5. Distribute the batter evenly between the cases. I found an ice cream scoop and a spatula useful here. Press a peach slice into each. Then chop the remaining peach slices into halves or thirds and distribute evenly between the cases. Sprinke over the coarse sugar, if using.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the muffins are springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean of batter (a bit of melted chocolate or soft peach is fine!).

Episode 15: Ooh, what a lovely pear! Pear, Ginger and Almond Cake #Tintastic

In this episode I gave a run down of lots of things that go well with pears in baking, before talking about this simply delicious (and easy to make) pear, ginger and almond cake. It’s very easy, and has lots of textures and gorgeous flavours that go well together, including the correct level of ginger.

Pear, Ginger and Almond Cake adapted from Rukmini Iyer

Ingredients:

  • 60g salted butter (or just use unsalted with a pinch of salt)
  • 125g light or dark brown sugar (plus a few pinches)
  • 115g plain flour with 2/3 tsp baking powder (or use self-raising flour)
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (optional)
  • 100ml/g milk (whole or semi-skimmed by preference)
  • 1 UK large egg (US extra large – c. 60g in weight)
  • 1 415g (drained weight 230g) tin of pear halves, cut in half again (a tin of pear quarters would work well, too)
  • a couple of handfuls of flaked almonds

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 fan / 350 F. Grease and flour, or grease and line, an appropriate sized dish for a small cake. Mine was 20cm across and round.

2. Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes. Add a tablespoon of flour, then the egg and mix well. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well (no need to over-do it, though). Mix in the milk.

3. Transfer the cake batter to the tin. Push in the pear quarters in a nice, evenly distributed pattern. Sprinkle over the pinches of brown sugar, followed by the flaked almonds.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes, covering the top with foil if the almonds look too brown (or just add toasted ones at the end). Leave to cool slightly before serving warm, or to cool completely if serving as a cake rather than a pudding. (This is because the crumb will get compressed if you slice it when warm.)

Episode 14: Choux can do it: Are éclairs easier than you think?

A plated chocolate and cream eclair

This week I made éclairs according to Ruby Tandoh’s recipe, available via the Guardian or the Elle website (not Vogue as Kate said in the podcast!).

I forgot to add the water and therefore found I needed to add more egg to get the right consistency, but it actually worked out fine! The consistency needs to be smooth, glossy and forming a traingular/V shape before dropping off the spatula/spoon.

For me this recipe made 8 eclairs rather than 10-12. The amount of ganache is generous but I wanted a little more cream. When I was ready to assemble; I spread the (tart, in my case bilberry) jam on the bottom, added the cream, dipped the top in the ganache and sandwiched together. Absolutely delicious!

I can’t wait to experiment more with choux! Next week: pear, ginger and almond cake and more uses for tinned pears!

Episode 13: A Tale of Two Birthday Cakes… Saffron Almond Log

Saffron and almond log cake with bilberry jam

This week I was the driver of the Struggle Bus, attempting to make the Saffron Almond Log from Bronte Aurell over at Scandikitchen. You’ll have to listen to the episode to see how it turned out and what I would’ve done differently. These are the best two recipes I have settled on (for now) but I am still considering changing the form of the cake or the type of sponge!

Saffron Genoise Sponge – adapted from Ravneet Gill and Bronte Aurell

150g caster sugar, 130g plain flour, a pinch of salt, 5 UK large eggs, 30g butter, 1/2 tsp saffron threads. Icing sugar, for dusting.

1. Preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan / 390F. Grind the saffron threads, melt the butter and allow the saffron to infuse the butter. Grease and line a c. 23cm × 33cm (9×13 in) swiss roll tin / baking tray.

2. Whip the eggs on their own for 2 minutes on medium in a stand mixer. Add the sugar and whip on high for 10-15 minutes until 4x the size.

3. Sift in 1/3 of the flour and fold in carefully. Add another 1/3 of the flour and repeat. Add half the infused butter and fold in carefully. Add the remaining flour and fold in carefully. Finally, add the remaining butter and repeat. Don’t rush this process: you’ll want to avoid lumps of unmixed flour and a dense sponge.

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. If rolling, leave for 2 minutes before turning out onto a sheet of icing sugar-dusted baking paper and rolling so the baking paper is on the inside. You may also want to have a tea towel under the baking paper just to help you steady the sponge. Leave until completely room temperature before rolling.

Almond Cream Filling – adapted from Bronte Aurell

67g icing sugar, 200ml double cream, 100g ground almonds, 1/4 tsp almond extract

Whip the cream, almond extract and sugar together to soft peaks. Fold in the ground almonds.

Assembly

Cooled cake, almond filling, a few spoons of bilberry jam or another sharp jam (optional), two small handfuls flaked almonds, icing sugar

If not pre-toasted, toast the flaked almonds in a low oven for 5 minutes and leave to cool. Spread the cream inside the cake, leaving a bit for top. Dot the jam on top and spread so each slice will get a bit of jam. Roll up. Put the join of the cake at the bottom. Spread with the remaining cream mixture on top. Place the flaked almonds on top and dust with icing sugar.

Episode 12: Nutty But Nice: Really Simple Nut Biscuits (Cookies)

This week, I wanted to keep things simple in advance of baking a lavish lockdown birthday cake next week. Please excuse my British brain; to me a biscuit is a more catch-all term whereas a cookie is a specific type of biscuit, usually chewy or gooey, and involving a high fat content, flour and chocolate. Both of these could suit gluten-free huns, if you use gluten free oats for the vegan ones.

Hazelnut (or another nut) Meringue Biscuit adapted from Molly Baz.

A pile of hazelnut meringue biscuits

Makes 12.

To start with, a nutty meringue biscuit. As I found out (through getting it wrong) getting the proportions right is important. Pre-roasted nuts are also key to the flavour. I went with hazelnuts, but pecans would be fabulous. Pistachios and walnuts would probably work, too, with the latter giving the biscuits a woody, savoury note. As the original recipe notes, you could also fold in chopped chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • The whites of 2 UK large/ US extra large eggs (you could probably go down to UK medium/ US large, but this is what I had in stock)
  • 200g skinned, roasted nuts (listen to the podcast for advice if you can’t find these)
  • 140g caster or granulated sugar
  • a couple of pinches of cream of tartar if you have it
  • a large pinch of salt

Method: Preheat oven to 150C / 300 Fahrenheit. Pulse the nuts with the salt and 100g of the sugar until they resemble damp sand. In a large-ish, very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar (if using) to soft peaks, sprinkle over the remaining 40g sugar and whisk further until glossy and very thick. Fold the nuts into the egg whites in thirds. Dollop heaped dessert spoonfuls onto lined baking trays. They will spread a little but not loads. Bake for about 16 minutes.

Vegan Peanut Butter Biscuitsadapted from The Conscious Plant Kitchen.

Makes 8

Peanut butter biscuits with a chocolate centre

And, if you’re vegan/don’t eat eggs or dairy – and like peanut butter – this one is for you! You can adapt this really easily to using virtually any type of flour or any type of syrup; you just want to get the right damp-not-wet, rollable consistency. These have a savoury-sweet edge so if you want them sweeter add a bit more of something sugary – if it’s too wet add more flour! I prefer the childish peanut butter here and think the all-natural health food/ west African kind is probably a bit too oily. Other creamy nut butters would also work!

Ingredients: 240g peanut butter (I like creamy and crunchy); 100g oat flour (I just pulsed rolled oats in a food processor. Gluten free oats would work perfectly well here, if needed); 100g maple syrup; optional c. 50g chocolate of your choice (I like 70% dark chocolate here), in small squares or button form; a pinch of salt (perhaps more if using unsalted peanut butter); a few tablespoons coarse sugar e.g. demerara/turbinado/ granulated for rolling

Method: Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F/ gas 4. Combine the peanut butter, salt, oat flour and maple syrup in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Roll into eight 55g balls. Flatten these with your hands and press the chocolate into the middle. Fold the edges up to enclose the chocolate and shape into a ball. Roll in the coarse sugar. Press down with your fingers or a fork. These will not spread much so you can fit all 8 on a large baking tray. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until sort of golden brown.