As with many of you out there, there’s been severe lurgy in the H is for Home household this week. Well to be honest, we’ve contracted a succession of bugs stretching back 2 months at least – one after another, sometimes overlapping. And that’s after not having had a sniff of a cold for the previous 5 years. It’s certainly been quite a grim winter. When you’re feeling under the weather, any baking has to be quick and easy. These honey almond brittle biscuits seemed like the perfect answer today.
The preparation was literally a ten minute job – and they then less than ten minutes to bake. A small price to pay for some delicious home-baked biscuits.
And they were indeed delicious. The almonds and honey were a very good combination. There are lots of other potential ingredients to experiment with – peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans and coconut to name but a few. The biscuits were a lovely blend of soft gooey centres and crisp, crunchy edges. A little treat is always nice when your feeling sorry for yourself !
We’re more than halfway through January – did you make (or break) any new year’s resolutions? We’ve been having a ‘Dry January’ and other people may be having a ‘Veganuary’. I’ve been vegetarian for 30 years (and vegan at one point) so I thought that the former would be much more of a goal. Nevertheless, I thought I should try a vegan Cakes & Bakes dish to say that I got into the whole January swing!
This lemon meringue pie is surprisingly completely vegan. No butter in the pastry, no eggs or gelatine in the filling and no eggs in the meringue. Brilliant!
Despite being veggie for most of my life, I’ve only recently heard about aquafaba. It’s a versatile egg substitute that was ‘discovered’ by a French chef in 2014. It’s the cooking liquor from (usually) white beans such as butter beans, chickpeas or cannellini beans. If you’re using tinned, buy ones that are unsalted. If you’re making your own, it’s not the water that you soak dried beans in – that contains toxins and gets discarded – you use the water in which the beans have been boiled. I made my own and used the ‘discarded’ chickpeas to make a batch of hummus.
Many of the vegan lemon meringue pie recipes I found on the ‘net included a pinch of turmeric; I obliged but found the resulting filling to be on the orange side and resembled pumpkin pie. It didn’t affect the flavour, however. If preferred, you could use a tiny amount of yellow food colouring.
Making the meringue was a bit tricky. I think I under-whipped my first batch as the lovely peaks softened and sank in the oven. Some people prefer to pipe the mixture on to a lined baking sheet and cooking it separately. I did this with some of the leftover mixture and I couldn’t tell the difference from egg white meringue! It was soft and gooey and cracked when I broke into it.
I quickly & carefully blow-torched the top before it went into the oven on the lowest setting for at least 2 hours. This seemed to help it keep its shape. If you go with latter cooking method, The meringue doesn’t get as cooked thoroughly and will sink and begin to liquefy. It will be best eaten on the day you make it.
I’ve made a few ginger cakes before, however, this ginger stout loaf is probably the most moist, treacly, dark and delicious of them all!
I’ve had a couple of bottles of Hatherwood Purple Panther porter in the fridge since before Christmas. I’ve not tried them yet, we’re having a Dry January… does cooking with alcohol count as breaking the fast? I’ve only used about a quarter of the bottle, so I’m wondering how to use the leftovers… baking-wise. I’ve used it in the past in chocolate cake and bread, so perhaps something different this time. What do you recommend?
I’ve halved the original recipe, which is a Bundt cake that serves 12. It called for 3 large eggs. How do you halve 3 eggs? Well, I whisked up the 3 eggs and poured half of the mixture into the batter. I used the other half in a frittata for lunch… waste not, want not!
We’ve had lots of cold, damp, misty, murky weather of late. This rich, warming cake – served alongside a nice strong cup of tea – or with some piping hot custard – is the perfect antidote.
We’ve been having a busy first few days of 2018. I’ve been a bit tardy again this year with preparing & filing our tax returns so I wanted this week’s Cakes & Bakes to be quick and simple. This prune tea loaf is just the ticket!
Armagnac is the perfect pairing for prunes. However, if you prefer, you can swap this out for an equal quantity of freshly-brewed, strong black tea.
Serve warm, cut into thick slices, buttered generously accompanied by a cup of tea. After my little break, it’s back to doing the accounts!
Baked cheesecake is both Justin’s and my favourite kind of cake. I often make it for special occasions such as when we’re having people over to visit. The last time friends came to stay, I made a New York maple-walnut cheesecake. It was such a hit – with us and them – that I’ve been looking forward to making it again and sharing the recipe on here.
I found the recipe on the New York Times website. It’s pretty similar to the one I make using a Gordon Ramsay recipe, with one… or should I say two great additions. Including maple syrup in cheesecake is delicious; Tossing and coating walnuts in hot maple syrup and then sprinkling them over the top is candied heaven on earth!
I made a few little adjustments to the NYT’s original New York maple-walnut cheesecake recipe. For a start, I cut down on the quantities; much as I love cheesecake, 12 portions is too much for just the two of us. I also swapped the Graham cracker base for the more usual British version of digestive biscuit crumbs. Lastly, I doubled the amount of maple syrup in the actual cheesecake mixture as I thought the flavour was a little too subtle.
Also, the original method included an initial hot bake at 260ºC/500ºF for 15 minutes. This, I think, is to give the top of the cake a nice golden brown colour. It would have completely burnt my first attempt if I hadn’t been keeping an eye on it. This time around, I lowered the temperature and duration of this stage… it turned out perfectly!
The walnuts can be substituted for other nuts, I’d think that pecans or Brazil nuts – or both – would be wonderful.
Someone over on our Instagram feed asked when I was going to share the recipe for the 24-hour sourdough loaf that I’d photographed. I forgot that I’d never actually blogged about it, so here it is!
It’s my new favourite sourdough bread recipe because it helps me plan my baking time to a tee. No more hanging around at bedtime for my bread to be ready to take out of the oven. You start at “zero hour” with a refresh of the starter and end with taking it out of the oven.
The 24 hour duration is a fairly loose timing. You can stretch or shorten the time line to suit by warming or cooling the environment of the starter and the rising dough. I like to time it so that my final prove takes place overnight. The recipe suggests refrigerating the dough for this 8-12 hour stage however, our downstairs cloakroom gets really cold at night – and the banneton takes up a lot of space – so I do the rise in there.
It means I can get up in the morning, pre-heat the oven and La Cloche and enjoy lovely, fresh sourdough for breakfast!
Save the recipe to Pinterest for later!
24-hour sourdough loaf
585ml/20½fl oz water at 27ºC
180g/6⅓oz 1:1 (100% hydrated) fresh sourdough starter that's been refreshed the night before and again in the morning (Hour 0)
900g/31¾oz strong white bread flour
9g/⅓oz fine sea salt
a little rice flour for dusting your banneton (I can't recommend this enough!!)
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In a bowl, whisk the warm water and starter and mix well
Add the flour and salt (combined well) and mix until all the ingredients come together into a large ball
Cover with cling film and let the dough rest in a cool environment for 1½ hours
Lift and fold your dough over, do a quarter turn of your bowl and repeat three more times. Repeat hourly 3 more times
Shape your dough lightly and place into a dusted banneton
Cover with a shower cap or damp tea-towel and leave to prove on the side until the dough has risen by about 50%. This normally takes about 2 hours in a kitchen that is about 18-20 degrees, then transfer to the fridge for 8-12 hours
In the morning, preheat the oven to 220ºC for 30 minutes to 1 hour before you are ready to bake with your La Cloche in the oven. The dish or La Cloche must be very hot
Take the dish out of the oven and sprinkle a little flour over the bottom
Put your dough into the La Cloche and slash the top of your bread using a grignette (or lame) then place the lid back on top and return to the oven as quickly as possible. Bake for 45 minutes
Turn the heat down to 190ºC, remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes