Monday, 30 June 2008

Kardemomme Snurrer, or Cardamom Rolls

I sometimes despair at the dearth of bakeries in London. It's not that they don't exist - the Nordic Bakery, Baker & Spice, Ottolenghi, Konditor & Cook, and Peyton & Byrne all spring to mind. But they're expensive and I object to spending £3.50 on something I can make for 35p. Instead of having a bakery on practically every street corner, European style, Londoners really have to look for their fresh bread, cakes and pastries. Which is why I bake rather then spend half my life hunting down baked goodies. The ubiquitous cinnamon roll, tasty though it is, has been done to death, so I've opted for a bun swirled with fragrant cardamom: make these rolls, serve them at brunch or afternoon tea and your friends will never abandon you

  • 300g plain flour
  • 300g strong white flour
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 300-400ml whole milk
  • 1 medium egg
  • 20g fresh yeast/ca.10g fast-action bread yeast
  • 1 tsp freshly ground cardamom (much more aromatic than store-bought ground stuff)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Cardamom Filling:
  • 75g softened butter (take the butter out of fridge 1 hour before)
  • 35-50g golden caster sugar/light brown soft sugar (the latter gives a toffee-ish flavour)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1 medium egg for glazing
Scald the milk, remove from the heat and pour into a jug/container with the butter to allow the butter to melt.
Sift the flour, salt, dried yeast (if using fresh, put this in a small bowl, add the sugar and stir - the fresh yeast will foam slightly if it's active), sugar and cardamom. Blend with a large spoon to distribute the ingredients. Add the fresh yeast if using

Beat the egg and add to the slightly cooled milk. Make sure the milk is no hotter than 37ºC(if you don't have a thermometer, this is blood temperature, or the temperature at which you can comfortably put your finger in for a minute - ie. not boiling hot!) when you add it to the yeast and flour mixture as this is the optimum temperature for yeast to thrive - above 50ºC and the yeast dies

Bring the dough together, knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes until the dough feels smooth and springs back when poked

Place the dough in a lightly oiled large clear plastic bag and allow to rise for 45mins to 1 hour (you can also leave it overnight in the fridge)

Using a spatula, blend the filling ingredients until smooth and set aside. Take the dough out of the oiled bag and gently knock back for 30 seconds - keep the plastic bag for covering the dough during proving - then roll the dough into a rectangle, ca. 30cm x 45cm and start spreading the cardamom filling evenly across the surface. When you've finished this, roll up the rectangle and slice 2.5cm/1 inch thick pieces, place these on a lightly oiled baking tray or a tray with some baking parchment across. 

Prove the rolls, covered with the oiled plastic bag from earlier, for a further 30-45 minutes until they've doubled in size. Start pre-heating the oven to 220ºC after 20-25 minutes. Check after 30 minutes that the rolls stop springing back - poke the underside of one roll and if your finger leaves an indentation they've stopped proving. Once this happens, they're ready for baking, so beat the spare egg for glazing, and using a pastry brush to glaze the rolls. Bake on top shelf for 8-10 minutes, they should feel light, sound hollow and be a luscious golden colour. If you really want to gild the lily, sprinkle some caster sugar or light brown sugar on the surface of the rolls 2-3 mins before they finish baking...

Serve whilst warm with a cup of tea. Or freeze for future use... but I know which I would do

Friday, 27 June 2008

Easy-peezy Bermuda Ginger Lemon Cake

Bermudians probably won't agree with me - their speciality is actually Bermuda rum cake, but the reason I've named this a Bermuda cake is because I've just spent a week visiting my man on this picturesque island in the Atlantic - and in a fit of baking restlessness I concocted this cake one sunny afternoon. It's super easy, no need for metric measurements in this recipe - my other half lives like a bachelor, it's amazing I even found a cake tin! - instead a good old coffee mug provided the measurements below: 
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted self-raising flour
  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened yoghurt (for a richer cake, use sour cream)
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted (this was ca. 150g)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 3cm freshly grated ginger
  • zest & juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 180ºC, lightly oil a 22cm round cake tin, or line with greaseproof paper/baking parchment

In a medium bowl, combine all the wet ingredients. Add lemon zest and ginger, then the sugar and finally the flour. Using a large metal spoon, bring the mixture together, being careful not to over-fold it or the cake will be tough

Bake on the middle shelf for 35-45 minutes. Enjoy with a cup of tea, possibly with a splash of Bermuda rum in it!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Yummy Buttermilk Spelt Pancakes

These pancakes are so delicious, I love them for a weekend brunch treat - the spelt flour gives a delicious, nutty flavour. Depending on how virtuous you've been during the week, serve the pancakes either American-style with crispy bacon and maple syrup, or with a syrupy blueberry compote and fromage frais...mmm

Serves 2-3 people. If hungover, double the recipe and eat til you feel better (preferably with a bloody mary)
  • 250g spelt flour
  • 175g buttermilk
  • 50g melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp caster sugar
Sift all dry ingredients in a medium bowl, add the melted butter and buttermilk. Stir together with a large metal spoon. The mixture should take 2-3 seconds to drop from your spoon, if it's too runny, add some more flour, and if it's too thick, dilute with more buttermilk or regular milk

Cover and chill for 30 minutes

When you're ready to cook the pancakes, lightly oil a large saute pan, or ideally, a French crepe pan, over a medium heat

Fry your pancakes 1-2 minutes each side until golden-light brown

If making syrupy blueberry compote:
  • 150-200g frozen blueberries
  • 2-3 tbsp fructose sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (lemon and lime zest also make good additions)
Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer for 3-5 minutes and serve with your warm buttermilk spelt pancakes with a hefty dollop of fromage frais or greek yoghurt. Yum!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Norwegian Langpannekake

Not as exotic as it sounds, Norwegian langpannekake translates as "long pan cake"! This is a classic, moist chocolate cake which was always served at childrens' birthday parties when I was growing up in Oslo. I love it because of the desiccated coconut on top of the cake (and all that cocoa flavour of course!), but obviously one could use toasted almond slivers, seasonal berries or sprinkles instead of coconut...

serves 16 
  • 300g plain flour
  • 300g butter
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 150g sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180ºC, line a 20cm x 30cm rectangular cake tin with greaseproof paper/baking parchment

In a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients except the sugar and stir well to evenly distribute the baking powder.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy (ca.3-5 mins), then add the eggs, one by one, and beat quickly to incorporate each egg. The mixture may look split, but don't worry. Add the sour cream, beat one last time, and then make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Work quickly as the raising agent in the baking powder is activated by contact with liquid

Blend the wet and dry ingredients with a large metal spoon until the mixture looks even and then spoon into the long cake tin. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30 minutes, the cake is done when the surface feels springy and dry to the touch, if you're uncertain, use a skewer to test if there's any wet mixture remaining - the skewer should come out dry

Allow to cool on a wire rack while preparing the glasur (icing)
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 125g melted butter
  • 3 tbsp strong coffee or 1 shot espresso
  • 3-4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g desiccated coconut
Stir the cocoa, coffee and vanilla into the melted butter, sift the icing sugar and add to the butter mixture - if you don't want it too sweet, start with 3/4 of the suggested amount of sugar and then add incremental spoonfuls. When the glasur looks glossy and even, pour on the cake and allow to set a little before sprinkling coconut on top

Enjoy with a steaming cup of coffee, or an ice cold glass of milk!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Lavender Breadsticks

This recipe's inspired by these delicious lavender breadsticks I had on a recent press trip to Germany's wine regions, and the bread recipe itself is adapted from the wonderful Ballymaloe Bread Book...lavender may sound like an odd flavouring for bread, but it's surprisingly delicate in taste, and just fragrant enough to make these sticks ideal for dipping in honey, or served alongside a summery goat's cheese salad. I start this the night before baking the breadsticks - it seems like less hassle, after all you don't want to spend half the day baking breadsticks!
  • 340g strong white flour
  • 25g butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 packet fast-acting yeast or 10g fresh yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 175-200ml lukewarm water
  • handful fresh lavender, finely chopped
In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt and then rub in the butter. Stir the yeast and sugar together in a small cup (the yeast should foam slightly, this is a sign it's active)
Make a well in the centre of the flour, add the yeast, oil and most of water, mix to a loose dough. Add more water or flour as needed - it shouldn't be too dry, but if it's really sticky and wet it will be difficult to knead

Relax the dough for 5 mins, then knead for 10 mins until smooth and the dough springs back when poked, add the lavender before shaping into balls, chill overnight in a lightly oiled plastic bag - the dough will be easier to handle the next day when cold

When you're ready to bake the breadsticks, preheat oven to 220ºC, take your dough out of the fridge and knock back for 30 seconds.  Roll the dough into a rectangle and cut into 1cm strips. Sprinkle some seasalt (and cracked black pepper if you wish) on a tray and roll each stick, twisting back and forth to cover the sticks with seasoning

Place each breadstick on a lightly floured baking sheet, don't worry if they look a bit wonky and mis-shaped, they're not meant to be perfect.  Bake 8-12 mins until golden brown andcrisp. Cool on wire rack, or serve whilst warm with a light goat's cheese salad or dip in honey for an indulgent treat...

Monday, 23 June 2008

Cocoa-rich Brownies with Raspberries

A chocoholic's dream: dark cocoa-rich brownies and tart, seasonal raspberries. Growing up in Norway, we always baked cakes, muffins and brownies with unsweetened cocoa powder - an economical, under-rated ingredient which adds a dark, bitter chocolate flavour to baked goodies. I find using cooking chocolate can make these brownies too rich, but some prefer brownies that way. At any rate, these brownies are perfect for summer when raspberries are at their ripest, of course during cooler months one could always use frozen raspberries...

Serves lots of greedy chocoholics

Preheat oven to 180ºC, line a long, 20cmx30cm rectangular cake tin with greaseproof paper/baking parchment

  • 400g sugar
  • 250g butter
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 7 tbsp cocoa powder - green & black's is great
  • 4 eggs
  • 2-3 tbsp strong coffee or 1 shot espresso
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 150-200g raspberries
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, sift in the cocoa powder and stir until fully incorporated. Add the coffee/espresso and vanilla and set aside

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until pale and fluffy (ca.5-8 mins). Fold in the cooled cocoa-butter into the eggs, stir through briefly with a large metal spoon being careful not to knock all the air out. Sift the flour and salt in to this mix and stir through until it looks even

Finally, add the raspberries and stir 2-3 times to distribute them. Spoon the mix into the long rectangular baking pan and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The surface of the brownie mix should feel slightly soft to the touch, and have a dry, paper-thin crust. If you're uncertain, check with a skewer to see if any wet mixture remains, if not the brownies are ready. Resist the temptation to bake the brownies for too long otherwise they dry out and become rather hard

Allow to cool before slicing into squares. Eat as they are or serve them with a dollop of fromage frais, creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream. These also freeze well for future use...

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Sublime Key Lime Pie

You don't have to be in the Florida Keys to make this gem of a pie, which is excellent news. Use as much lime juice and zest as possible - you'll reap the rewards with a tangy, dare I say it, sublime key lime pie, perfect for lazy summer days or as a light dinner party dessert

Serves 6-8

Preheat oven to 170ºC. Have ready a 23cm round cake or ideally, pie tin

  • 100g melted butter
  • 150g digestive biscuit crumbs
  • 50g toasted pinhead oats
  • 30g macademia nuts, crushed (not strictly speaking necessary, but an extravagant little addition to the pie)
Toss all the ingredients together in a medium bowl, then using your hands, press the mixture evenly into the bottom and halfway up the sides of the cake/pie tin

Place this in the oven while preparing the lime filling (max 12-15 minutes, don't let it scorch)

  • 4 medium egg yolks (keep the whites to make a chocolate mousse, or meringue)
  • 1 can (400g) condensed milk
  • zest of 4 limes
  • Juice of 5-6 limes, sieved
Beat the egg yolks with the lime zest until it becomes pale and thickens

Add the condensed milk and beat again for a few minutes. Finally add the lime juice, beat for a minute or two until evenly mixed, then pour the filling into the cake/pie tin and bake on the lower-middle oven shelf for 20-25 minutes until the surface feels springy and set.

Serve on its own, or with a lime wedge, a few sprigs of mint and some fromage frais. Chill if not eating immediately

Norwegian Cheesecake with Tipsy Strawberries

Not very Norwegian at all, just an eye-catching title for this luscious cheesecake. The tipsy strawberries transform it into a "grown-up" dessert, but obviously you could just serve it with unadulterated berries. It's easier to make the cheesecake if you leave the ingredients out of the fridge before starting - helps to soften the cream cheese

Serves 6 Hungry People (8 restrained ones)

Preheat oven to 160ºC. Lightly oil a 23cm round cake tin

  • 200g wholemeal digestive biscuit crumbs
  • 50g melted butter
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cinnamon
Mix all these ingredients in a medium bowl, pat down firmly in the base of the cake tin and refrigerate while preparing the cheesecake filling

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 pot (think it's 240ml) sour cream - not light!
  • 240ml Philadelphia cream cheese - ditto
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • pinch salt
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with 125g sugar until pale, add the sour cream, vanilla, flour and salt. Beat in the cream cheese a large spoonful at a time

Meanwhile beat the egg whites with the remaining 50g of sugar until stiff peaks form, take one large spoonful of this and add to the egg yolk mixture to loosen it. Then fold through the rest of the egg whites, careful not to knock out all the air

Spoon into the cake tin, bake on middle shelf in the oven for 45-50minutes, or until the surface feels firm. Cheesecake shouldn't take on too much colour, if it is, turn the heat down
a smidgeon

Tipsy strawberries
  • 2 punnets strawberries
  • juice of 2-3 oranges (depends on how juicy they are...)
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2-3 tbsp Grand Marnier
  • 2-3 tbsp Cognac/Brandy
Quarter the strawberries, if small, chop in half, otherwise, quarter. Allow half the butter to melt in a shallow, large saute pan. Add the strawberries and sear very quickly. Add the cognac/brandy and Grand Marnier, stir and allow to evaporate (flambe if you're feeling brave). Remove the strawberries and set aside, add the orange juice and zest to the saute pn and reduce the liquid by 1/2.  If you happen to be in possession of some arrowroot add a spoonful off the heat (helps to thicken the sauce - not essential but some foodie friends are fussy). Add a few nuggets of cold butter to finish off the sauce, then place the strawberries back in the pan, and drizzle over each slice of cooled cheesecake.

Alternatively if you're a lazy slug, just drizzle these dipsomaniac strawberries over vanilla ice cream, also an excellent match

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Lemon Curd and Blueberry Muffins

This is a super-duper recipe for finishing half-empty jars of lemon curd. If you have blueberries, chuck them in, if not, try grating some fresh ginger into the mixture for extra punchy flavour. These muffins are perfect for picnics, kids' lunchboxes and for scoffing in the afternoon - as I just did!

Makes 18 regular muffins or 8-9 jumbo muffins

Preheat oven to 180ºCelsius

Line muffin tins with paper muffin cups or cut out squares of greaseproof paper and scrunch them into the tins

  • 225g plain flour
  • 50g porridge oats
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 180ml milk
  • 75ml fresh lemon juice (ca.juice from 1- 1/2 lemons)
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • splash of vanilla
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 100g lemon curd
  • 150g fresh or frozen blueberries
Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl, stir through to distribute raising agents and lemon zest

Beat the egg in a small cup. Pour the melted butter, lemon curd, lemon juice and vanilla into a measuring jug or bowl, stir through - the liquid will start to curdle due to the lemon juice clashing with the milk, don't worry this is normal!

Add the egg to the liquid mixture, make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the liquids. Fold through with a large metal spoon 4-5 times, then add your blueberries. Fold through another 4-5 times until the mixture looks even (a few pockets of flour are fine). The mixture should be fairly wet and dense - resist the temptation to over-fold the mixture at this stage, otherwise the muffins will be tough

Using an ice-cream scoop, distribute the mixture between the muffin tins and bake 25-30 minutes, depending on your oven 

Eat while warm or allow to cool. These muffins freeze well - provided you resist the temptation to scoff them as soon as they're out of the oven!