Episode 8: Chocolate Yule Log

Chocolate Yule Log from above
Chocolate yule log from the side
Un-iced chocolate log. Bad photo but look at that swirl!

I used the Cupcake Jemma recipe from Sally Dells: https://youtu.be/TfTA1ZHd7J4

1. Prepare a Swiss roll tin or baking tray – see link for the size Sally uses. Mine was slightly smaller. Grease, line and grease again! See also her useful tip for lining the tin.

2. Preheat the oven to 190C/ 170Fan /gas 5/ 375F.

3. Whisk 6 UK large egg whites (whole eggs will weigh roughly 60g each) with a pinch of cream of tartar to soft peaks. Add 30g caster sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks. Unless you’re very hench you’ll need an electric whisk.

4. Using the same whisk, beat 6 UK large egg yolks with 120g sugar, a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract until ribbon stage (you can see ribbon like structures in the batter). Sift in 50g good quality cocoa powder (in the UK we have Dutch processed as standard and I love Green and Blacks cocoa).

5. Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture in thirds, with a metal spoon.

6. Bake on the middle shelf for approx 10 mins. The cake should be springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 2-3 minutes. Don’t worry about it shrinking a little. It’ll still be very light.

7. Put a clean tea towel then a large piece of baking paper on a work surface. Flip the cake decisively on to this. Put another large piece of baking paper on top. Roll the cake up from the shorter edge. Leave to cool completely until it’s room temperature.

8. While it’s cooling, deal with the cream and ganache! Beat 150ml double cream with 1 tsp icing sugar. When it’s mostly thickened, whisk in 1 tsp brandy/berry liquer/ Kahlua/ liqeur of choice! Chill until needed.

9. In a large bowl, melt 100g 50% cocoa solids chocolate and 100g butter (we enjoyed it with salted butter). (Bain marie or microwave gently.) (My chocolate was only 35% so I added a tsp cocoa.) Stir until no lumps remain. Add 100-150ml double cream. Chill. When cool, beat until thickened. You could use the same whisk as before, unwashed, as it’s only had some cream on it.

10. When the cake is definitely room temperature, gently and carefully unroll it and remove parchment from the top. Spread with the cream using an offset palette knife. Roll up and place on a serving dish. Ice with the ganache. Gently drag a fork through the top of the icing if you want to make bark! Dust with icing sugar and decorate as wanted. (We used edible glitter and fondant holly.)

Suggested recipes for vegans

Chocolate log with chestnut buttercream https://www.thevegspace.co.uk/vegan-chocolate-yule-log/

Chocolate log bizarrely (maybe brilliantly?) made with squash puree https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/droetker/recipes/vegan-yule-log.html

Nigella’s Luscious Gingerbread! https://www.nigella.com/recipes/luscious-vegan-gingerbread

Episode 7: Dotty for biscotti, fruity for cantucci!

Cranberry and pistachio cantucci

In this episode I used Nadiya Hussain’s recipe with a few tweaks to make a pistachio and cranberry variation.

Nadiya’s brilliant recipe: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/spiced_biscotti_with_an_57953

I replaced all the fruit with 150g dried cranberries, used 150g pre-roasted pistachios instead of the nuts specified (roughly chopped), I used the zest of a lemon instead of an orange, and added 1/4 tsp salt with the flour.

So my base recipe is as follows:

350g plain flour, 1/4 tsp fine salt, 2 tsp baking powder, 250g caster (superfine) sugar, 150g pre-roasted roughly chopped nuts (e.g. pistachios), 150g dried fruit or chocolate (e.g. cranberries), the zest of a lemon or orange (if wanted). Mix all then add 3 lightly beaten UK large (US extra large) eggs. Mix in with your hands or a spoon, keep going until it becomes a workable, but fairly dry, dough.

Roll into fat sausages of around 5cm diameter. You could do this with floured hands or wet hands. Bake in a slightly above moderate oven (gas 4 1/2 / 360F/ 185C / 165 fan) on the middle shelf for 25-30 mins until baked but still pale. Take the “sausages” out and leave to cool just for a few minutes until they’re easier to handle without burning yourself. Turn down the oven to very low.

Slice on the diagonal using a sharp serrated knife to about 1-1.5cm thickness. I would recommend trying the end pieces for quality control 😉

Bake for 10-15 minutes on each side until golden and dry. Cool on a wire rack. (Important!) They keep well in an air tight container.

Suggested variations: Almond and mixed fruit, hazelnut and orange (a la Paul Hollywood), pine nut, coffee and hazelnut, pistachio and dark/milk chocolate, cranberry and white chocolate, hazelnut and chocolate, etc……

Vegan or don’t eat eggs? This recipe on The Spruce Eats brings the dough together with agave nectar and a bit of water instead of eggs and it looks really good. https://www.thespruceeats.com/egg-free-almond-biscotti-recipe-3376554

Episode 6: Mince Pie Extravaganza

Mince pies in a Christmas ornament scene.

In this episode Kate had a special guest- her aunty Christine – on to talk about mince pies.

These are the recipes they’ve recommended:

Josceline Dimbleby’s Mince Pies with Orange Pastry

Recipe in the Telegraph:

https://ww.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/christmas-recipes/josceline-dimblebys-mince-pies-with-orange-pastry-and-fresh-cran/

Feel free to add mascarpone instead of the fresh cranberries – both work beautifully!

Delicious Magazine’s Clementine and Pistachio Mince Pies

Feel free to substitute more pistachios for the ground almonds, if you’re feeling luxurious. And, to get the most out of the pistachios, pre-roast them and cool before using! (You know the drill – low oven, 10-15 minutes.)

HAPPY BAKING and seasonal greetings!

Episode 5: Manky banana palooza!

Banana, peanut butter chip pancakes with pecans and maple syrup

In this episode, Kate shared various ideas about what to with old bananas, including the recipes below.

Simple, delicious chocolate chip banana bread

Preheat your oven to gas 3/ 170C, 150Fan or 325F. Grease and line a 900g/ 2lb loaf tin. Chop 200g chocolate of your choice and toss in 1tbsp plain/AP flour. This helps them suspend in the batter rather than all sinking to the bottom

Cream 200g salted butter with 200g dark brown sugar. Mix in 2 UK large eggs (120g), 2 tsp vanilla extract, 200g mashed banana flesh.

Add 190g plain/AP flour and 1 tsp baking powder and combine. Fold in the chocolate.

Bake for about an hour and ten minutes – check at an hour. A skewer needs to come out clean of batter from the middle.

Easy Banana Pancakes with Peanut Butter Chips (adapted from Esther Clark)

Makes 12 sizeable pancakes, serving about 4 people

Mix 350g plain/AP flour, 3 tsp baking powder and 30g caster/superfine sugar in a bowl. Whisk in c. 150g-200g mashed banana (about 2 medium bananas), 2 UK medium eggs (100g), 1 tsp vanilla extract and 250ml whole milk (Oatly Whole also worked well and semi-skimmed cows’ milk would be fine too). Fold in 150g peanut butter chips. (I used Reese’s, bought online.)

Fry in butter on a medium heat until bubbles form on the top side. Flip and cook for a shorter time on the other side. Both sides should be golden brown.

Banana and Cocoa Small Batch Muffins

Line a muffin tin with six cases. Preheat your oven to gas 5/ 190C / 170 fan/ 375F.

Mix together 100g plain/AP flour, 25g cocoa (I use Dutch processed), 1 tsp baking powder, a pinch of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), 80g caster/superfine sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl.

Tip in 35g vegetable oil (or any flavourless oil), 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 UK large egg (60g), 130g mashed banana flesh (2 small bananas) and 70g buttermilk (or normal milk soured with a couple of squeezes of lemon juice and left to sit for a few minutes until it thickens).

Fold in 25g chopped pre-roasted pecans and dollop into the cases equally. Top with another 25g chopped pecans (or more, if you like).

Bake for about 20 minutes, until they are springy to the touch, or a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean of batter.

Episode 4: Just Because Pecan: Two Pecan Frangipane Pies

A sexy looking pecan frangipane pie

In this recipe Kate talks about the all-American pecan pie and why she decided to make pecan frangipane pies.

All-Butter Luxury Pecan Pie

Rub in 200g plain flour and 100g salted butter using your preferred method. Stir in 25g icing sugar. Bring together with tiny drops of cold water until you can squish it into a ball. Pat into a disc, cling film and refrigerate until cool but not totally solid!

Grease a 10 inch/ 25cm pie dish with butter. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Lift into the dish and lightly press it into place. Trim any excess.

Cut out a circle of baking paper slightly bigger than the dish. Screw this up then unscrew it. Place over the pastry. Weigh this down with granulated sugar, baking beans or dried pulses. Bake in a preheated moderate oven (gas 4/ 180C/ 160 fan/ 350F) for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the sugar and paper, prick with a fork in a few places and bake for a further 15 minutes. This ensures a crisp crust.

Whizz 150g pre-roasted pecans in a food processor. Beat 150g salted butter and 150g light brown sugar together and beat in two UK large eggs (120g). Stir in the ground nuts. Stir in a further 150g roughly chopped pre-roasted pecans. Dollop into the pie crust then top with pre-roasted pecan halves. Bake for c. 45 mins (check after 30) in a moderate oven (180C/ 160 fan/ gas 4 / 350F) until the frangipane is just set. (If the nuts start to catch place foil over the top loosely to stop them burning in the oven.) Leave to cool.

Once sliced, enjoy with whipped cream, clotted cream, ice cream… you get the picture!

Vegan Mini Pecan Frangipane Pies

Leave 320g bought rolled shortcrust pastry out of the fridge for at least 10 minutes.

Whizz up 200g pre-roasted pecans in the food processor until fine but not oily. Add 100g room temperature vegan baking butter (I used Naturli), a pinch of salt and 150g light brown soft sugar.

Grease 2 x 12 hole metal bun tins. (If you have one tin you can make these in two rounds, obviously.) Stamp out rounds slightly bigger than the holes in your bun tin. Press them lightly into position. Fill with 1 tsp frangipane mixture each. Refrigerate if you have time. Bake in a moderate-ish oven (gas 4.5/ 185C/ 360F) for about 20 minutes (check after 15) until the pastry is lightly golden.

Episode 3: Nice buns, hun! Yorkshire tea cakes and Cornish saffron buns

Saffron buns fresh from the oven. (Sorry for poor photography, I usually ask my partner to take photos for me!)
Inside a fluffy saffron bun, with melted pools of butter!

In this episode Kate talked a LOT about Regula Ysewijn’s book Oats in the North, Wheat From the South: A history of British baking, savoury and sweet. Its US title is The British Baking Book. It’s a wonderful book that makes a great present for anyone who likes British baking. If you are Kate’s mother, do not buy this for yourself. No reason – definitely nothing to do with Christmas!

This is the spiced teacakes recipe that Kate mentioned: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/spiced_teacakes_29429

Yorkshire Tea Cakes (adapted from a recipe by Regula Ysewijn)

Mix 8g instant/ fast action yeast, 300ml whole milk, 500g strong white flour, 60g sugar, 1 egg, the zest of 1 orange (optional) and 30g softened butter in a bowl. (I do this with a fork, or better yet a dough whisk.) Cover and leave to “autolyse” (a posh word for the flour soaking up moisture) for 30 minutes or so.

Knead the dough until it is nearly passing the windowpane test. Add 5g salt (less if using salted butter) and 100g small currants and knead until well distributed. Cover and leave to rise until the dough has doubled in size. If you’re in a rush you can turn your oven into a proving box by switching it on max for exactly one minute then turning it off and putting the bowl in. In a colder room, this first prove could take between 1 and 2 hours.

Split into ten (I weighed each roll after weighing the big ball of dough). Shape by stretching and pulling in dough, then turnng over. Place onto a lined baking sheet. Cover and rise in a warm place until noticeably puffy. (You could use your oven as a proving box, as above.)

With the rolls on the side out of the oven, preheat the oven to 210C / 190 fan/ gas 6.5 / 410F. Mix an egg with a splash of milk. Brush the rolls with the egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes. Best enjoyed warm from the oven or toasted with butter or clotted cream. (Or butter and cheese?!)

Cornish Saffron Buns (adapted from a recipe by Regula Ysewijn)

Grind 2 pinches / 0.5tsp / 0.2g saffron threads in a pestle and mortar. Mix with 100ml warm (NOT HOT) whole milk.

Add 500g strong white flour, 60g sugar, 50g softened butter, 8g instant/ fast-action yeast, 225ml warm whole milk (again, not hot) and the saffron milk to a bowl. Mix with a fork. Cover and leave to autolyse for 30 minutes.

Knead until bouncy (it really won’t take much). Add 5g salt (less if using salted butter), 50g candied citrus peel, 100g small currants and 5g caraway seeds (if wanted).

Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. If you’re in a rush you can turn your oven into a proving box by switching it on max for exactly one minute then turning it off and putting the bowl in. In a colder room, this first prove could take between 1 and 2 hours.

Split into ten (I weighed each roll after weighing the big ball of dough). Shape by stretching and pulling in dough, then turnng over. Place onto a lined baking sheet. Cover and rise in a warm place until noticeably puffy. (You could use your oven as a proving box, as above.)

With the rolls on the side out of the oven, preheat the oven to 210C / 190 fan/ gas 6.5 / 410F. Mix one egg yolk with a splash of milk. Brush the rolls with the egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes. Best enjoyed warm from the oven or toasted with butter or clotted cream.

Episode 2: Brownies… Should we stop messing around with perfection?!

Salted caramel and hazelnut brownies

Recipes mentioned:

Cocoa brownies by Alice Medrich: https://food52.com/recipes/21007-alice-medrich-s-best-cocoa-brownies

Salted caramel brownies by Jane Hornby: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/salted-caramel-brownies

Wholemeal rye brownies by Edd Kimber: https://www.theboywhobakes.co.uk/recipes/2019/3/14/best-ever-rye-chocolate-brownies

Rye and walnut brownies by Claire Ptak: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017852-violet-bakery-rye-brownies

Claire Burnet’s perfect brownies: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3yn2PTXYk5Td4ZGmHqBRP2d/chocolate-brownies

Edd Kimber’s turtle brownies (pecan and caramel): https://www.theguardian.com/food/2020/jun/27/edd-kimber-recipes-for-one-tin-desserts-and-cakes

Two-ingredient Nutella brownies by Nigella Lawson: https://i.stuff.co.nz/life-style/food-wine/75863776/recipe-nigella-lawsons-nutella-brownies

Chocolate olive oil cake by Nigella Lawson (dairy free): https://www.nigella.com/recipes/chocolate-olive-oil-cake

Vegan brownies on The Sweetest Menu: https://www.sweetestmenu.com/vegan-brownies/

Rukmini Iyer’s Salted Peanut Brownies aren’t available online. Buy her books if you can because they are amazing! This recipe is from The Quick Roasting Tin.

Dark Chocolate, Rye and Walnut Brownies (adapted from Edd Kimber)

Pre-roast 100g walnut halves in a low oven for 10-15 minutes until toasty. Melt 300g dark chocolate and 250g salted butter gently together, stirring intermittently. When completely liquid, set aside to cool. Preheat your oven to 180C/ 160 fan/ gas 4/ 350F.

Whisk 4 UK large (US extra large/240g) room temperature eggs with 150g caster sugar and 150g light brown sugar to ribbon consistency. Weigh 175g wholemeal rye flour separately and fork through to ensure there are no lumps.

Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture with a spatula. Fold the flour into this. (Optional: stir in a shot of strong coffee, around 25ml.) Pour into a lightly greased, lined 20cm x 30cm / 9×12 in pan/ dish.

Bake for c. 25-30 minutes. The centre should still be wobbly but it should be set around the sides.

Salted Caramel and Hazelnut Brownies (adapted from Jane Hornby)

Pre-roast (if necessary) 200g hazelnuts. If they have skins, remove these as best you can by rubbing the cooled hazelnuts in a clean tea towel. Chop the hazelnuts or leave whole – up to you!

Melt 300g dark chocolate and 250g unsalted butter together gently, stirring intermittently, until completely liquid. Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 180C/ 160 fan/ gas 4/ 350F. Lightly grease and line a 20 x 30cm / 9x12in dish.

Whisk 4 UK large (240g) room temperature eggs with 200g caster sugar. In a smaller bowl, measure 100g plain flour and fork through to ensure there aren’t any lumps.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and fold until combined. Fold in the flour. Stir in a shot of strong coffee (25ml). (You could mix 1 tsp espresso powder with 2tsp water, if you don’t generally make strong coffee!)

Spread just under half the brownie mixture into the pan. Mix a 397g tin of dulche de leche (I used Nestle Carnation Caramel) with 1 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt (e.g. Maldon). Spread this over the brownie layer. Scatter the hazelnuts over this. Then dollop and spread over the remaining brownie mixture.

Bake for around 35 minutes, until still wobbly in the middle but set around the edges.

Episode 1: Three, two, one, shortbread!

In this episode, Kate is talking about all things shortbread: where it comes from, the basic technique involved in making it at home and the myriad options when it comes to flavour.

A lot of these recipes were found via the wonderful baking podcast Preheated, which ended recently. Thank you to Andrea and Stefin for bringing so much joy into my life, despite never having met you.

Recipes mentioned:

Nigella Lawson’s Parmesan Shortbread: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/parmesan_shortbreads_86971/amp

Diane Henry’s Cheddar and Hazelnut Shortbread: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/cheddar-hazelnut-shortbread

Ruby Tandoh’s Tahini and Lemon Biscuits: https://www.nigella.com/recipes/guests/ruby-tandohs-tahini-lemon-biscuits

Just One Cookbook’s Black Sesame Cookies: https://www.justonecookbook.com/sesame-cookies/

Oleander + Palm’s London Fog Shortbread: http://oleanderandpalm.com/2012/08/london-fog-shortbread.html

Kate’s Suggested Recipes

Cocoa and Cardamom Shortbread

  1. Mix 260g plain flour, 1/2 tsp ground green cardamom and 40g good cocoa powder in a bowl.
  2. Add 200g cold cubed butter (salted by preference) to the bowl. Rub in using your fingertips, a food processor or a pastry blender.
  3. Stir in 100g sugar. Press into a lined ovenproof dish around 15cm x 10cm to achieve around 1cm thickness.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven at gas 5 / 190C / 170 fan for around 15-20 minutes until it starts to change colour slightly.
  5. Run a knife through the shortbread fresh out of the oven to make squares and leave to cool in the tin until barely warm, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

London Fog Shortbread (adapted from Oleander + Palm)

  1. Prepare 2 tablespoons/ 12g of earl grey tea leaves to create a fine consistency, perhaps using a pestle and mortar and picking out any “twiggy” bits, if necessary.
  2. Mix this with 300g plain/ all purpose flour.
  3. Add 200g cold cubed butter (salted by preference) to the bowl. Rub in. Stir in 85g icing sugar and 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste or extract. (You may need to sieve the sugar to avoid lumps.)
  4. Press into a lined ovenproof dish to achieve a 1cm thickness. Bake at gas 5/ 190C / 170 fan for 15-20 minutes until starting to turn golden. Score with a knife as soon as it is out of the oven to make squares. Leave in the dish to cool until barely warm, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.