Tuesday, 26 March 2013

FRESH LEMON PROFITEROLES

Does anyone else find normal profiteroles a bit overrated and stodgy? They always look better than they taste. I thought I’d do something about it and make them fresher, which I think the lightness of the pastry lends itself to. Lemon is probably my favourite ingredient in baking and here it brings to life a boring cream, and adds super-sweet sharpness with a splodge of lemon curd injected inside each profiterole. I then finish them with easiest drizzle icing, which is still the king of all icings.

For the Choux Pastry
50g butter
200ml water
The zest of half a lemon
100g plain flour
Pinch salt and sugar
3 eggs

For the Filling
300ml double cream
The juice and zest of half a lemon
2 tbsp lemon curd

Drizzle Icing
 4 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
(It works out that you only need 1 decent sized lemon for the whole recipe)

Line 2 baking trays with parchment or baking paper lightly greased.
Begin the choux pastry by heating the butter, water and lemon zest in a pan until the butter has melted and it reaches a rolling boil. At this point turn off the heat and quickly add the flour, salt and sugar and beat with a wooden spoon until it forms a sort of blob that comes away from the sides of the pan. Transfer into a large bowl and spread a little to cool for about 15 minutes.

In this time heat the oven to fan180/200c/6 and place a baking tray right at the bottom.
Once the mixture has cooled to about room temperature, beat the eggs individually before adding them to the mixture one by one, and mixing in vigorously. The pastry should now be reasonably thick but drop from the spoon. Spoon the mixture onto the trays in blobs, I got about 16 but might were a little bit on the big side, then dab each one gently with a wet finger. Pour some water into the tray to create steam and bake the pastry balls for 20 minutes, or until puffed up, firm and golden brown. Remove from the oven leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the filling whip the double cream, lemon zest and juice with a whisk until thickened. Transfer into a piping bag with a small nozzle attached and pipe the cream inside each profiterole. Once each is filled, either get a new piping bag or wash the same one and fill with the lemon curd. Pipe a small amount into each.

To finish mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice until you have an icing of drizzle consistency. Pile the profiteroles on top of each other and randomly drizzle over the fresh icing.

 

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

AMARETTO COFFEE CAKE

Before I started drinking my coffee stronger and darker I used to like it with a shot almond syrup. I don't really fancy my coffee cake more bitter though and to be honest it’s not really my favourite thing; I feel it needs something to enhance it. That’s where I copied the coffees I used drink to create this amaretto coffee cake. I’ve found that almond and coffee flavour really complement each other perfectly as the amaretto in this lifts it out of the bitterness coffee cake sometimes is. You can use almond extract if you like, maybe a little less than the measurements for amaretto, but I don’t actually have any. Plus I how the amaretto isn’t just sweetness, it has its own strength which stands up to the coffee.

180g butter
180g golden caster sugar (I blitz my unrefined granulated)
3 eggs
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
30g ground almonds
1 tbsp espresso powder dissolved in 2 tbsp boiling water
1 tbsp amaretto (almond liqueur)

For the butter cream
75g butter
225g icing sugar
1 ½ tsp espresso powder dissolved in 1 tbsp of boiling water
1 ½ tsp amaretto

Preheat oven to fan150/170c/4 Grease and line a 20cm spring-form tin.
Begin by creaming together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Quickly beat each egg before adding them one by one to the mixture. Sift over the flour, baking powder and ground almonds (these won’t go through the sieve but motion will break up any lumps so just tip them in after). To the espresso powder and boiling water add the amaretto before mixing this into the cake. If the mixture looks a little thick add a tiny more boiling water to the cup to get the remaining coffee, then chuck that into the mixture too. Pour into the tin and bake for 40 minutes in the middle of the oven.

Once baked, remove and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack. To make the butter cream, gradually beat together the butter and the icing sugar. I’ve seen recipes which say to use an electric whisk, but speaking from experience I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll be wearing the icing sugar. So add the sugar gradually and work for forearms whilst beating it. This way kitchen surfaces should stay clean. Mix the coffee in water with the amaretto, like with the cake, and add this to the butter cream. Mix well to a pale latte colour before piling it on top of the cooled cake. Swirl and spread the butter cream to finish.

  

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

ALMOND SLICE

This is another old recipe I found in my mum’s cookery notebook from school. It’s a pastry base slice, with a layer of jam and a light, cakey almond filling, topped with a pastry lattice. Nearly all old recipes feature a layer of jam somewhere or other, but it’s an easy and affordable way of adding extra flavour. I must admit my lattice was not even, weaved or handsome in any way, but the flavour and rich smell of the almond slice when baking made up for that. In fact, I don’t think the kitchens ever smelt this rich. My mum said it took her right back.

For the pastry
250g flour
1 tbsp icing sugar
125g cold butter, cubed
1 cold egg

For the Filling
125g sugar
125g butter
125g ground rice
2 tbsp almond essence (or liqueur)
1 egg
3 tbsp strawberry jam

To make the pastry, blitz the flour, icing sugar and butter together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the egg with a fridge cold knife (I put it in the freezer for a few minutes) until a dough just about starts to form. You may need 1-2 tbsp of cold water as well, depending on the size of the egg. Turn out onto a piece of cling film, and with the cling film, squash the dough together to form a ball, then flatten a little to make it easier to roll. Pop in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

While the pastry is resting you can make the filling by gently melting the sugar, butter and ground rice together in pan before adding the almond extract and egg (beaten). Set to one side.

Preheat oven fan170/190c/5 Line and grease a square brownie tin.
When the pastry is rested, take it out of the fridge and allow to warm up for 5 minutes. Roll out to the thickness of a pound coin then place the tin on top and cut around it, allowing a 1cm gap at each side, because it shrinks in the oven. This part of pastry is for the base only so the off cuts will be used for the lattice. Layer the pastry at the bottom of the tin, prick the base and blind bake for about 5-10 minutes, just to ensure the base won’t be soggy.

In the meantime re-roll the off cuts then slice into long strips for the lattice. I did about 14 strips, but you can do them however you want. Once the pastry is blind baked, remove from the oven and spread with the jam. Pour over the filling then lattice the pastry strips over the top.

Bake for about 25 minutes before taking out of the oven and leaving to cool completely in the tin. Having now eaten it, I can honestly say it’s one of the tastiest things I’ve ever made.