Episode 49: Flavour-Full, Gluten-Free Cakes

Though I am able to eat gluten, many of my favourite, tried-and-true cakes are gluten free. This is because I love ground nuts and I love a moist crumb. In chocolate cakes and brownies you can very often get away without traditional flour, using ground nuts and/or eggs to replace the structure flour provides. In swiss rolls, using no flour or very little flour is essential to avoid cracks in the roll. Cakes also often keep better, if made with ground nuts – sometimes they’re better the next day and still good a few days after they’re made.

P.S. If you’d like, I can make another gluten free cake episode in the future, I’ve got plenty more ideas and good recipes to test and share! Perhaps with different flours or nuts. Email me if you’d like to see this – flourbuttereggssugar@gmail.com

Quick note: If using baking powder, make sure it’s gluten free (if needed), because not all of them are – but it should be fairly easy to find one.

Emiko Davies’ Torta Caprese

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Simple but utterly delicious.

I covered this in the Quest for the Perfect Chocolate Cake episode, but it is honestly a fantastic cake. Simple to make and delicious.

Crumbs & Doilies’ Chocolate Swiss Roll

Yule Log / Swiss Roll

I covered this recipe from Crumbs and Doilies ages ago. It was delicious, but were I make it again I would add another element: brandy cherries, a curd, a tart jam, maybe spicing. Sometimes simplicity is good, but sometimes it’s a bit boring. However, a fantastic base recipe. It also doesn’t have to be Christmassy – it could be filled or decorated differently.

Claudia Roden’s Whole Orange Cake

Whole orange cake on a summer picnic – it’s good year-round

I covered this in the whole orange cakes episode (of course we needed a whole episode on whole orange cakes!). The crumb is absolutely incredible and is actually better the day after it’s made. Don’t just take my word for it – lots of food writers have called this cake ‘legendary.’

Raspberry and Pistachio Meringue Cake

Ready for a mini wedding reception!
Ready for my partner’s birthday a couple of years back

I have made this for very special celebrations (including a friend’s micro lockdown wedding!) and it’s wonderful. I adapted it from a hazelnut macaron torte recipe from Deb Perelman, who adapted it from somewhere else. But I really love the combination of pistachios, raspberries and mascarpone cream. Grown-up but also people-pleasing.

Nigella’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

I made this one for a colleague’s birthday, but the photography/ styling is a bit naff. Definitely go to Nigella’s website for a tempting photo!!!

Nigella’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake is wheat and dairy free, and all the better for it. The olive oil brings out different flavours in the chocolate than butter. The crumb is incredible. This is my go-to cake for people who can’t eat dairy. Stupendous.

Valeria Necchio’s Torta di Nocciole with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Torta di Nocciola

This cake comes from Piedmont, where hazelnuts are abundant. Piedmont is well worth a visit if you ever plan a trip to Italy – especially in autumn when hazelnuts and truffles are in season. We stayed in Turin which we really enjoyed: not too touristy, church history and great food. But Alba is where the Slow Food festival is held.

Adapted barely, just to make it even easier and to include conversions, from here.

For the cake:
  • 3 UK/EU medium or US large eggs (c. 57g each), separated
  • 150g caster (superfine) / granulated sugar
  • 250g skinned, toasted hazelnuts (Note: If they aren’t pre-toasted, put them on a baking tray and go low and slow in the oven for 10-15 minutes. If they aren’t skinned, you can skin them after this by rubbing them together in a tea towel or shaking between two sieves. Don’t worry if you don’t get 100% of the skin off, it’s perfectly edible. Cool before using.)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 30g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • A pinch of cream of tartar (optional)
  • Icing sugar, to dust (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 170C / 150C fan/ 325F. Grease a 26cm / 10 inch tin with butter.
  2. Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks in a very clean bowl, with a pinch of cream of tartar for extra stability, if you wish. In a separate bowl (but you can use the same whisk if you do things this way round!), whisk the yolks with 75g of the sugar until pale yellow and airy.
  3. Blitz the hazelnuts with the remaining sugar to a fine flour – don’t go too far or you’ll have hazelnut butter. Add this, the baking powder and the salt to the egg yolks and combine. Stir in the melted butter. Gently fold in the whites.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes to moist crumbs.
To make the lemon swiss meringue buttercream:
  • 75g egg whites (c. 2 large)
  • 100g caster/ granulated sugar
  • 113g butter, softened but not too warm
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  1. Whisk (by hand is fine) the egg whites and sugar in a mixer bowl or large bowl over a pan of steaming water – you don’t want it too hot – until the sugar has dissolved. If you rub a little between your finger and thumb you shouldn’t feel any sugar granules.
  2. Whisk the egg whites and sugar to stiff peaks. A stand mixer is ideal here. It takes up to 8 minutes.
  3. Change the attachment to the beater, if using a stand mixer. Beat in the butter gradually, around a tablespoon at a time, until smooth and well-incorporated. Beat in the lemon zest.

Rukmini Iyer’s Tarta de Santiago

Tarta de Santiago (non-traditional decoration)

This Tarta de Santiago – or St James’s cake! – is so light and delicious. The subtle lemon and cinnamon flavours are fragrant and sophisticated as well as just delicious. Did I mention it’s easy to make? The recipe is via The Sweet Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer, but this cake is traditional in Galicia, Spain.

  • 250g caster/ superfine/ granulated sugar
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 200g eggs (which is about 4 US large or UK medium)
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • A pinch of cream of tartar (this just helps stabilise the whisked egg mixture, but it isn’t essential nor is it in the original recipe)
  1. Grease and line a 23cm/ 9 in springform cake tin. Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C / 160C fan/ gas 4.
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar (and pinch of cream of tartar, if using) until the mixture reaches the ribbon stage (where when it falls on to the mixture from the whisk, it leaves a ribbon-like trail for a couple of seconds before sinking in).
  3. Fold in the dry ingredients.
  4. Bake for about 40 minutes until moist crumbs. I found I could just look at this one and tell it was done.

Episode 48: Ap-peeling Orange Recipes

Ottolenghi’s Star Anise, Fig and Orange Soda Bread

Recipe here.

Caramelised Orange Pudding with Vanilla and Maple Syrup

Adapted from OTK Shelf Love

  • 4 large oranges roughly (you’ll need 2 to slice and char, the zest of two and the juice of around 2, 110ml in total)
  • 285ml maple syrup (165ml for the pudding, 120ml for the syrup) (10 fl oz.)
  • 160g plain/ AP flour (5.6 oz)
  • 65 ground almonds / almond meal (2.3 oz)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt (less if using salted butter)
  • 345g butter (225g for the pudding, 120g for the syrup) (12.2 oz, around 3 sticks)
  • 3 eggs plus one yolk (I used UK medium-large, around 60g/2.1oz each without shells)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 225g light brown soft sugar (7.9 oz)
  • To serve: barely sweetened, vanilla-flavoured whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, or just plain double / heavy cream (whichever you choose, you don’t want it too sweet as the pudding is sweet enough)
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C / 325F. Line a 30x20cm / 8 x 12 in baking tin (not loose-bottomed) with parchment with some overhang. The type of tin is important: a light-coloured metal tin is ideal. I used white enamel. If using glass or ceramic, you may need to reduce the oven temperature or use a water bath.
  2. Thinly slice 2 oranges. Char them in a hot non-stick pan for 1-2 minutes per side. My pan did not like this, but I’d recommend wiping round the pan with a little flavourless oil to help it along if the non-stick isn’t very non-stick anymore.
  3. Pour 120ml maple syrup into base of tin. Top with the charred orange slices.
  4. To make the pudding, beat the butter, salt and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and then the egg yolk. Add baking powder, flour, salt, almonds and combine. Finally, add the zest of 2 oranges, the juice of about 1 (60ml), 2 tbsp maple syrup and the tbsp vanilla paste and combine.
  5. Dollop on top of the oranges, taking care not to dislodge them. Smooth roughly.
  6. Bake for about 55 mins – 1 hour to moist crumbs. It shouldn’t be too cakey, as it’s a pudding with a large amount of fat and sugar in it and puddings are meant to be squidgy.
  7. Towards the end of the baking time, make the syrup. Heat up 120g butter, 120ml maple syrup and the 50-60ml orange juice (around 1 orange). Boil for about a minute, taking care not to burn.
  8. Once the pudding is out of the oven, stab all over with a skewer and pour the sauce over it evenly. Serve immediately, or re-heat to serve as leftovers. Keep in the fridge.

Melissa Clark’s Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

Blood orange olive oil cake

Adapted from here. Phenomenally moist and strongly orangey, this is a cake I will be making again!

  • 3 blood oranges
  • 200g sugar (7oz)
  • 3 US large eggs (UK medium-large)
  • 210g plain/ all purpose flour + 1 tbsp
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda / bicarb
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 133g pure olive oil (I used light)
  • Around 93g full-fat Greek yogurt (3.3oz)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F / 180C (convection). Grease and line a 2lb/900g loaf pan.
  2. Zest all 3 of the oranges. Mix with the sugar in a small bowl, using a fork or your fingers.
  3. Peel and segment two of the oranges and cut the segments in half by width. Toss the pieces in a tablespoon of flour to help stop them sinking.
  4. Squeeze the remaining orange and then add yogurt so that orange juice plus yogurt weighs 158g. I found my orange released 65 juice so I added 93g yogurt.
  5. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
  6. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the sugar, eggs, yogurt mixture, olive oil until well combined.
  7. Add the dry ingredients (flour mixture) and combine well, scraping down the sides and bottom.
  8. Transfer to the loaf pan.
  9. Bake for around 50-55 minutes. (Mine took 50.) A skewer should come out clean from the middle.

Episode 47: Cheesemaking and Chocolate-Lemon Cheesecakes

In this episode, I talked about cheesemaking and cheesecake’s possibilities and combinations.

Cheat’s Cheesecake

On my cheesemaking course, we made cream cheese and stirred in fillings. We were given one to try as an example: cream cheese mixed with lemon curd, that they smeared on a digestive biscuit (I imagine a Graham cracker would work just as well). Delicious! If you’re stuck for a dessert and have no time to make one, or you just want a little after-dinner bite, I highly recommend it.

Cupcake Cheesecakes

I came across these blueberry lemon cheesecakes on Delish and was inspited to make my own, showcasing the flavours of sharp lemon curd cream and the black cocoa taste of Oreos together. However you could do this with any soft cookie you like and any preserve or curd.

Chocolate and Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake

Adapted from Rukmini Iyer’s Sweet Roasting Tin.

I love Rukmini but found the proportions a little off, with a huge, dense layer of chocolate to a very modest layer of lemon. So I’ve given my own version below. I also think it would work well as a cream pie, with just a chocolate ganache instead of a cream cheese mixture – and would be lighter. If you’d like to do that, a whippable chocolate ganache is usually 2:1 cream to chocolate by weight. Also, if it makes things easier, do use all cream cheese or all mascarpone instead of needing to buy both cheeses.

  • 150g (5.2oz) chocolate digestive biscuits, or similar (Graham crackers would work well)
  • 60g (2.1oz) melted butter
  • 125g (4.4oz) cream cheese, spreadable consistency
  • 125g (4.4oz) mascarpone
  • 150g (5.2oz) dark chocolate
  • 1tbsp / around 15g syrup (the original recipe calls for honey, but golden syrup, corn syrup or even maple syrup would work)
  • 225g (8oz) good shop-bought lemon curd
  1. Crush the biscuits and stir in the butter. (The easiest way to do this is in a food processor, but failing that you can go for the bashing-with-a-rolling-pin method.)
  2. Press into a 20cm/ 8in springform cake tin with the back of a spoon. Put in the fridge to set.
  3. Melt the chocolate and leave to cool a little so it’s not hot. Whisk the cream cheese and mascarpone together until smooth. Add the chocolate gradually, then the syrup, and whisk in until smooth.
  4. Spread the lemon curd over the biscuit base. Then dollop the chocolate mixture on top and smooth. Put in the fridge to set for several hours, or overnight.

Episode 46: Brilliant Brioche and Terrific Tangzhong

In this episode I talked about my baking resolutions for 2022 and how I’m planning my baking year! I then talked about these two recipes….

Tangzhong: Believe the hype

So, um, it’s 2022 and I’m only just saying this. BUT… King Arthur Flour’s pillow soft cinnamon rolls, which were their recipe of the year for 2021, are excellent. Tangzhong is a brilliant method and I now use it regularly. https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/soft-cinnamon-rolls-recipe I look foward to trying their recipe of 2022, bagels, this time I’ll try to report back before the year ends!

Brioche: A weekend recipe. Effort, but fun

Brioche in all its fluffy, buttery glory

I found this recipe in Niki Segnit’s brilliant book Lateral Cooking.

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 50ml milk (or water), slightly warm to the touch but not hot (I must admit I don’t use a thermometer when I make bread, but I am informed that this is around 37C or 98F.)
  • 250g butter, softened
  • 7g salt
  • 30-60g sugar
  • 12g instant/ easybake yeast (you could instead use 15g dried yeast, if you wake it up in the tepid milk)
  • 5 eggs (mine were c. 60g each) at room temperature, beaten, plus 1 egg yolk for egg-washing

Mix. Mix together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the yeast and mix in. Add the milk and eggs and mix to form a dough. (I like to use my Danish dough whisk but you could use a kneading attachment or even a fork.) At this point I leave for somewhere between 10 minutes and half an hour to give the gluten a head-start before I knead, but you can start kneading straight away.

Knead. Knead until it is smooth and elastic. Niki says that doing this process by hand is ‘both an experience and an ordeal’. Given I’m lucky enough to have a stand mixer, I went with that. To your kneaded dough, start adding the butter, bit by bit, stopping sometimes to scrape the sides and bottom. Once you have fully and evenly incorporated the butter, cover the bowl and leave to rise for 1-2 hours (or maybe a bit more) in a warm place until significantly puffy or doubled in size. (Or, as I did, you can instead give it a slow rise in the fridge overnight – mine took around 12 hours.) Niki says you need to be patient with brioche dough, due to its fat content the rises take longer than a conventional loaf.

Shape and rise again. I went for 9 buns that weighed roughly 120g of dough each, but you could instead make other shapes, or 2 loaves. Then leave to rise overnight, for 12-16 hours, or possibly even longer, followed by a warm rise of a few hours. Or, you can do as I did, and just leave it in the fridge for ages – mine took 24 hours. You’re looking for a fingertip to make an impression for a few seconds instead of springing back immediately.

Egg-wash and bake. For a brown top you need egg yolk, for a shiny top ideally thin it out with a little egg white, but failing that water or milk does just fine. I also sprinkled the top with demerara sugar. I put my buns in a 23cm/9in square tin, which was really rather small, and they didn’t stay as one bun but merged into one slightly delightful lumpy mass. It took rather longer than the recipe stated, too: Niki told me 190C / 375F for 20-25 minutes. Her oven may well be more efficient than mine, but mine took 35 minutes. You’re looking for it to sound hollow when tapped, and to reach an internal temperature of 190F / 87C.

Sweet Doughs: More Directions

In the episode I talk about the many variations, specialities and combinations you could try out with sweet bread.

Episode 45: Loving Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen Spice Mix

Very lightly adapted from Luisa Weiss’s Classic German Baking

  • 30g ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp ground aniseed (I bashed some star anise then blended it with the other spices using a machine)
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper

Aged Lebkuchen

Aged lebkuchen
From Shauna Sever’s Midwest Made. On website A Beautiful Plate.
The only important thing I changed was using 2 tbsp lebkuchen spice mix instead of the called-for spices.

Elisenlebkuchen Feine

Elisenlebkuchen from Nuremburg
Recipe from Axel Müller, Schwabach (near Nuremburg) via my friend Anja!

Makes 30-35, approx 70mm (2.75in) diameter; more if you make them 50mm (2in) diameterm as I did. Store in an airtight container.

Ingredients

  • 270g eggs
  • 250g demerara sugar
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 300g ground almonds
  • 300g ground hazelnuts
  • 100g candied lemon peel, finely chopped
  • 100g candied orange peel, finely chopped
  • 15g lebkuchen spices
  • 2 tbsp rum, if liked (I used Cointreau)
  • Oblaten wafers or rice paper cut into rounds

Toppings

Sugar glaze: 150 g powdered/ icing sugar, 1 egg white, 1 splash of lemon. Mix everything and pour/ brush on.

Chocolate: 250 g Kuvertüre high quality chocolate, melted. Dip them into the chocolate. (Kate: I used a mix of dark and milk.)

For both, about 100g whole almonds, to top (if wanted)

Instructions:

  1. Finely grind the orange and lemon peel with some of the nuts in a food processor. 
  2. Beat the eggs with the sugar until frothy. Add the remaining ingredients in order.
  3. Let the dough mature in the fridge overnight.
  4. Use a teaspoon to put the dough on small wafers and smooth it out a little. Bake at 170-175 C / 340F convection oven for about 20 minutes.
  5. After cooling, brush with whole milk then dark chocolate or sugar glaze. (Kate: I skipped the milk by accident.)

Episode 44: German and Austrian Christmas Biscuits

Linzer Augen

Linzer augen, or ‘eyes from Linz’ (a city in Austria)

I used this recipe from Nigella, though I changed the proportions of flour and hazelnuts to 200g of each. This made it very sticky to roll out, so I’m not sure I’d recommend it, but it was delicious and they probably keep better. I couldn’t get hold of redcurrant jelly so I just used raspberry jam, but I think the redcurrant would help both balance the sweetness and fat with more acidity, and also provide a brighter colour. In future I might try finding a more tart jam. It’s not traditional but a curd would also be lovely.

Pfeffernusse

Adapted from London Eats.

Pfeffernusser, or ‘pepper nuts’
  • 150g all-purpose/ plain flour
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 150g runny honey
  • 100g sugar (depending on the flavour of your honey you may want to use light brown sugar or caster/granulated)
  • 1 tsp cold water
  • 60g egg (1 UK large / US extra large)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Icing sugar and water (I’m afraid I didn’t really measure this)
  1. Preheat oven to 375F / 190C.
  2. Put the honey and sugar in a pan and put on a low heat. Heat up, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the spices and salt. Add the tsp cold water. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Allow to cool to warm. Add the egg and combine. Add the flour, ground almonds and baking powder, baking soda and combine.
  4. Roll into walnut-sized balls. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool completely
  5. When cooled, make a paste of icing sugar and water. Dip the cookies in this paste. Alternatively, some recipes suggest rolling them icing sugar – do as you wish! They do need the extra burst of sugar as their interior isn’t overly sweet.

Vanillakipferl

I’ve essentially just halved this recipe from Plated Cravings for my two-person household. I also very slightly changed the method. Though, they keep well and it’s very easy to eat a lot of these, so you may want to stick to the original quantities!

Makes 20

For the dough:

  • 125g all purpose / plain flour
  • pinch of salt (a large pinch if your butter is unsalted?)
  • 115g butter, softened
  • 45g powdered / icing sugar
  • 100g ground almonds (you could sub in hazelnuts or pecans)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or scraped seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean

For the vanilla sugar:

  • 45g powdered/ icing sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla sugar (I like the fine one from Danish brand Torsleffs, because you need to be able to sift it. If yours has bigger grains of sugar, you could process it with the powdered sugar in a food processor to make it fine. You can also make your own by mixing vanilla seeds with sugar and leaving for a couple of days.)
  1. Combine all. I opted to cream the butter and sugar, then add the vanilla, then the flour and ground almonds.
  2. Chill well for an hour or more. Towards the end of this time, preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F (convection).
  3. Split into twenty pieces of c.19g each.
  4. Roll into small crescents. Refrigerate again for 10 minutes. (I tried not doing this and they came out more flat.)
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are turning golden. They are meant to be soft. 12 was plenty for mine.
  6. While still warm, sift over half the vanilla sugar mixture. When cool, sift over the rest.

Hausfreunde

Recipe converted to metric and slightly adapted from Food and Wine.

Makes 24

  • 240g flour
  • 50g sugar – I used caster but granulated equally good
  • 170g butter, softened
  • 1 large egg (mine weighed 60g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (less if using salted butter)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g marzipan
  • 140g dark chocolate
  • 24 walnut halves, toasted in a low oven for 10 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam
  • A handful of powdered sugar
  1. Cream butter and sugar to combine. Add egg, vanilla, salt and flour and beat to combine. Wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F / 180C (convection). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 in or 1/2 cm thick. Cut out cookies using a 2 – 2.25 inch / 5cm cutter. Space out on a lined baking tray with about an inch between them. Bake for 10 minutes. (I have no idea why the original recipe specifies 20 – it’s way too long for cookies this size.) Cool completely before assembling.
  3. To assemble, roll out marzipan on a surface dusted with powdered sugar and cut out 2in / 5cm rounds. Warm the apricot jam. Brush on both undersides of the biscuit with the jam, sandwich the two halves with a circle of marzipan. Melt the dark chocolate and dip the biscuits, or pour the chocolate over if you prefer. Top with a walnut and brush with more apricot jam or dust with powdered sugar.

Episode 42: Delectable Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t believe THE perfect chocolate chip cookie exists – unless you can get magical ones that change according to your mood and particular tastes. Instead, there are different chocolate chip cookies for different moods and preferences. I’m not fussy and will scarf down any and all of these wonderful CCCs happily, but consider these possible options.

Salted Peanut XL Cookies

Huge salted peanut chocolate chip cookie

Why it works: The water, raising agent and high quantities of chocolate and butter help these spread into massive, crispy cookies. You also bake them lower which aids the spread. These are an adaptation of Sarah Kieffer’s Pan-Banging Cookies. You don’t quite get the look of the original recipe but they are lower effort. While you need the sugar content to get the right texture, I like to add salted peanuts to help balance the sweetness.

Be aware of: In the UK we have smaller standard-size ovens, and on my large-ish baking trays I can only fit three cookies due to the spread! So be prepared to be patient as you may need to do a few rounds of baking and cooling.

Makes 13 huge cookies

  • 285g plain / all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda/ bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 heaped tsp flaky sea salt, crumbled, or 3/4 tsp fine salt
  • 225g room-temperature/ soft butter (I use European-style, high fat)
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 150g regular sugar (I use golden caster sugar, but granulated would be absolutely fine)
  • 1 large egg (50-60g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 100g dark chocolate (mine is 71% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 100g milk chocolate (mine is 35% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 200g salted peanuts
  1. Whisk the butter and sugar together. Since you aren’t looking for a tall cooking, you don’t really need to cream for ages.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk in.
  3. Add the flour, baking soda/ bicarb, salt and flour and combine.
  4. Add the chocolate and peanuts and combine.
  5. Throw in the fridge for half an hour or so, or until you’re ready to bake.
  6. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350F / 180C / 160 fan/ gas 4.
  7. Measure 100g of dough, shape into a rough ball and plop on a lined baking tray, very well spaced apart. As it says above you may need to do a few rounds of baking and cooling as they are so huge. Bake for 12 minutes until they look relatively well set. When under-baked, they’re still delicious but don’t hold their shape.

Brown Butter, Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

LOOK AT THE COLOUR. LOOK AT THE CRISPY AND GOOEY BITS

These are absolutely incredible. Deeply flavoured, caramel-y, gooey, chewy, crispy. These are now my favourite chocolate chip cookies. Adapted from Food and Wine.

  • 250g butter before browning – around 205g after browning
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g flour
  • 250g dark brown sugar
  • 50g caster/ granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (c. 120g)
  • 1 tsp flaky salt, or 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 250g chocolate – I used 125g 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate and 125g 40% cocoa solids milk chocolate
  1. Brown the butter: Melt the butter in a saucepan, and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, until foamy, smelling nutty and starting to brown. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer. Leave to cool to barely warm (around 15 minutes in my experience).
  2. Beat the butter with the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla. and combine
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda/ bicarb, salt and chocolate and combine.
  4. Roll into balls of around 76-77 g each. You should have about 15. Cover with cling film or something else to stop them going dry. Refrigerate for 1 hour or more. You can also freeze these before baking.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes at 375F / 190C / 170C fan / gas 5. If frozen, they will take about 2 minutes longer for a gooey cookie. For a texture like baking from the fridge, reduce the temperature and increase the time – I found 15 minutes at about 360F / 185C / 175C fan was just right.

The Soft, Sophisticated One (also Vegan): Olive Oil Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Vegan olive oil cookies- these ones I added chopped hazelnuts to

Why it works: Refrigeration allows the flour to hydrate properly, giving a more even consistency, as well as firming them up. Minimal baking at a pretty low oven temperature ensures softness. Also, unless they’re really under-baked (in which case they lose structural integrity), I found they lasted a good 3-4 days after baking without getting stale, which must be thanks to the olive oil. Oh, and this might be weird but I also quite like eating them straight out of the freezer. (I do the same with Hobnobs, a salty chocolate biscuit we have here.)

Adapted, barely, from Rukmini Iyer’s The Sweet Roasting Tin. (I am, in my view anyway, Rukmini’s biggest fan.)

Fancy a twist? Add about a couple of sprigs of rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped finely. Or 10 sage leaves, chopped. (You may want to set a few leaves aside of either for decoration.)

  • 325g all purpose / plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sea salt flakes (I used Maldon)
  • 150g chopped chocolate – dark is good, so is a mix of dark and milk. (On one occasion I used a hazelnut vegan chocolate a bit like a non-vegan milk chocolate.)
  • 170g soft light brown sugar
  • 125g light olive oil
  • 85g water
  • 100g nuts (optional) – hazelnuts or pecans are both great and could be pre-roasted, chopped, whole or roughly broken
  1. Mix the flour, baking powder, 1 tsp crumbled sea salt flakes and chocolate
  2. Whisk the sugar, oil and water. This is easier to do with an electric whisk.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry and combine. Refrigerate for about two hours.
  4. Towards the end of this time, preheat the oven to 350F / 175C / 155C fan / gas 3.
  5. Roll out the cookies with your hands into golf ball-sized balls. Space apart a bit. Bake for 12 minutes. It’s okay if they look soft and light-ish in colour.
  6. Allow to cool on the baking tray.

Episode 40: Here Today, Scone Tomorrow

Classic Scones, Cheese Scones, Fruited Scones

Classic scones are basically a 4:1 or 3:1 ratio of flour to butter (by weight), with baking powder (or soda), a little sugar and enough milk added to make a dough. They’re a crumbly, flaky quick bread – achieved through not using as much liquid as a bread and using the rubbing in method with the fat. Some use egg to wash the tops before baking, others just use milk. Some use buttermilk instead of milk, or add a squeeze of lemon juice to sour normal milk before using.

Rolling and stamping out does seem to help them keep their shape when baking, but if you prefer a more rustic scone by all means just pat it into a circle and divide using a knife or dough cutter.

I’ve gone with a smaller quantity of scones than most recipes, due to the fact that they really need to be eaten fresh (though they do freeze well). Feel free to scale up if you’re baking for a crowd.

Also – you can consider adding spices such as vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger. I think ginger scones with ground ginger and stem ginger would be a knock-out.

Hear me out, but you could leave out/reduce the sugar for a cheese scone but still have dried fruit in it. We serve dried fruit cakes and breads with cheese all the time in England and it’s completely delicious.

P.S. To me, chocolate does not belong in scones, but I can’t articulate why. It’s just not a thing. I love them both separately but never the twain should meet. But I could be missing out?!

Basic Scone Recipe

Makes 4-8 depending on how big you make them.

  • 150g plain/ AP flour
  • 50g butter
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 heaped tsp/ 6g baking powder
  • c. 25g sugar (you may want to reduce if making cheese scones, but many recipes don’t)
  • c. 75ml milk (whole preferred but whatever you have on hand – scones are not fine pastry they’re homely and rustic)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with milk, to glaze, or a little extra milk (you could sprinkle the scones with a little sugar before baking if you like – coarse for a crunchy top e.g. demerara or turbinado)

Additions

  • 50g sultanas, currants or raisins (for fruited scones)
  • 45g grated cheddar (for cheese scones)

Serving essentials

  • Clotted cream and jam, to serve (if making sweet scones)
  • Butter if making cheese scones – you could also consider serving them with more cheese and a little chutney.
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/ 375F/ 170Cfan/ gas 5.
  2. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder.
  3. Rub the flour into the butter using your preferred method – fingertips, pastry cutter, food processor, whatever.
  4. Stir in the sugar.
  5. Add the milk to form a dough. Use your judgement here – if it’s looking too dry, add more, a drop at a time, or if it’s looking wet enough, do stop before 75ml/g.
  6. Pat out to a few inches’ thickness (thicker or thinner depending on how you’d like your scones). Stamp out shapes as you like.
  7. Bake straight away for around 15 minutes. Best eaten on the day they’re made, even better slightly warm – but not too warm to melt the clotted cream…

Dawn Perry’s Sour Cream and Fruit Scones

Adapted from here.

I’ve been meaning to try a scone with real berries in it since I saw some raspberry scones my Aunt had been served up at a tea room in Devon. This is the second recipe I tried, and was more successful. I think the key is using frozen berries so they don’t add too much moisture before baking.

I’ve converted everything to metric and halved the sugar – we Brits prefer a less sweet scone because we tend to serve them with really good cream (and usually jam, but I prefer this berry scone with just cream).

Any British purists reading – a lot of historic scone recipes call for buttermilk, so sour cream is really not a bad idea.

Makes 8 large scones

  • 255g plain/ all purpose flour
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder (yes, a full tablespoon)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 115g butter (I use salted)
  • 130g frozen berries (I used a mix of blackberries and blueberries; they really MUST be frozen and strawberries will not work well – stick to blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries or similar)
  • 135g sour cream (full-fat)
  • 60g milk (whole preferably, but I used semi-skimmed/ 2% as it’s what I had)
  • 1 egg yolk and about 2 tsp more milk, for brushing
  • To serve: ideally clotted cream – if you can’t get hold of it, the highest fat cream you can find, lightly whipped
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/ 375F / 190C fan / gas 5.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Rub in the butter and flour using your preferred method. The original recipe suggests using grated butter, I just loosely rubbed the butter into the flour using my pastry cutter.
  4. Make a well in the centre, add the sour cream and most of the milk. You might want to hold a little back in case you don’t need it all. Bring together into a ball. Add the rest of/ a little more milk if needed but very gradually and carefully – it will quickly turn into a sticky mess.
  5. Working quickly so they don’t defrost, mix in the berries.
  6. Pat out into a circle or square. Divide into 8. Bake for about 25 minutes, checking at 15 and 20 to see how much longer it may need. If it’s catching (this is probably the sugar from the berries), turn down the oven a fraction.

More Scone Ideas….

I could do several episodes just on scones, but I do enjoy other things occasionally! Instead, if you’d like to try different recipes from those given, you may wish to purchase The National Trust’s Book of Scones by scone-obsessive Sarah Merker. Or have a look at the scone section on their website. If you’re baking for vegans or dairy free people, look at the vegan scone recipe here – which includes a method for a vegan clotted cream replacement.

Episode 38: The Whole Orange (Cake)

In this week’s episode, Kate talked about her recent fixation with whole orange cakes.

Starting with this one from John Torode, which didn’t turn out quite how she wanted… (also, I forgot to take a picture – sorry!)

Then on to the Best Whole Orange Cake recipe from Sunset Magazine, adapted by the team at Food 52.

Then, finally, on to this Claudia Roden classic ground almond and orange cake. I recommend having a slightly lower oven temperature (180C/ 350F / 160C fan) – I think this is the perfect amount of brownness on the outside for me!

Episode 37: Escape to Barra

In this episode Kate talks about her and Gemma’s visit to Barra (Gaelic spelling Bharraigh) in the Outer Hebrides. Here are some of the things they saw and ate!

Victoria Sponge Cake from the Cafe at Vatersay
One of the beaches at Vatersay
The view from our table at the Hebridean Toffee Company!
Scone from Macroon’s Tea Room, Castlebay Post Office, Barra
Kate eating her scone
Part of one of our packed lunches while out walking and swimming – made with Strathdon Blue cheese from the Highland Cheese Company.
Bread made by Kate.
Kate and a view on Barra
A curious sheep (I think – could be a ram?!) looks at Gemma
Sunset in Oban
A small loch on Barra