Oh my crumble: recipe

Pear & Blueberry Crumble

I’ve covered crumbles previously, with Leon’s lovely recipe, and with the weather changing from autumn into a definitively wintry vibe, I thought it was high time I baked one again.

It was Mark Bittman who said “There’s nothing you can do with an apple that you can’t do with a pear.”, and with a clutch of slightly elderly pears on hand, it was time to road test them in a crumble. Oats stop the topping being a total flour-fest (which I find to be rather lumpy sometimes) and give it a crunchier texture.

Pear & Blueberry Crumble

For the pear filling:
6-8 pears (of any variety) – or one tin of pears in juice
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
¼ cup of water – or simply the juice, if using tinned pears

Handful of frozen blueberries

For the crumble:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup of rolled oats
1 cup of cubed, room temperature butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp ginger – optional

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Peel and core the pears, chopping the flesh into large chunks. Heat in a saucepan with brown sugar and a little water until you reach the desired consistency – softened but still solid. At the last-minute, stir in your frozen berries, and take your pan off the heat, and leave to one side.

In another bowl, rub the butter together with flour, oats, sugar and cinnamon to make crumble. Cool hands are your best tool here – you want a rustic look, not fine breadcrumbs.

Put the filling mixture in an oven proof dish. Spoon the crumble mixture evenly on top, filling any gaps. Cook the crumble at 180C for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve warm, or at room temperature, with a helping of ice-cream or thick yoghurt (my housemates and I enjoyed it with passion-fruit flecked yoghurt, which was a winner).

Yield: 6 hearty servings

N.B. If you find yourself with too much crumble topping, put it in a Ziploc bag and freeze, you’ll be able to use it later, straight from frozen, for micro-crumbles (an earthenware cup of crumble for one!), or any other crumble emergencies you may face.

Cranberry + orange

Cranberry and orange biscotti

I’m becoming a lot more domesticated in my advanced years! Biscotti, drizzled with milk chocolate, that I made last week for a charity bake off. While my chocolate drizzle was all over the show, and I didn’t win the Olly Murs tickets up for grabs (insert sarcastic sniff here), I was very happy with the flavour. The pairing of orange and cranberry is definitely my new jam. It’s very elegant, and feels quite right for autumn.

One day after making these, with leftover ingredients, I freestyled on a banana bread recipe – adding two handful of cranberries, orange zest, and using ricotta to replace the butter component. This twist was totally delish, as they say.

Orange and cranberry biscotti

1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
3/4 cup toasted and chopped almonds
Chocolate for melting (I always use buttons)

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees °C

2. Cream together butter and sugar in a bowl. Beat in eggs. Stir in the orange zest and juice. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, stir into the creamed mixture; then add in the almonds and dried cranberries, making sure every piece is swamped with the cake mix.

3. On a generously floured surface, divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a log about 1 1/2 inches wide and 10 inches long. Set the rolls lengthwise on a baking sheet at least 3 inches apart, and shape.

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the oven, until firm to the touch and slightly brown on the top.

5. Take out and cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then slice each log crosswise, at a diagonal, into 1/2 inch wide slices. Lay them cut side down on the baking tray and return to the oven for ten minutes, then turn them over and bake until golden.

6. If you are feeling fancy, wait for your biscotti to cool, then melt chocolate, and drizzle generously over the top. Put slices in the fridge to set for an hour.

Biscotti

biscotti

This weekend’s baking adventure: chocolate and almond biscotti. It’s one of my favourite nibbles, but always seems too expensive to justify buying in cafes… so I decided to give it a go. To my surprise, it was really easy to make, even the part where I had to blanch a cup of almonds and pluck the skins off by hand.

The secret to biscotti’s crispness is double baking. Round one, you bake it in log form for 25 minutes, then take it out, rest it and slice it. The sliced biscotti are then put back in the oven for another 20 minutes to get nice and crunchy. The results were delicious – and even better the next day. I’m definitely going to make some more and experiment – pistachio and white chocolate sound good to me!

Sunday nights & cinnamon scrolls

Sunday nights are still the weekend, and my new Bethnal Green family certainly knows how to make the most of them. As per mini-tradition, we invited our all friends round, cooked dinner and settled in for a night of wine, X-Factor and Downton Abbey. It sounds nerdy, but when there are 10 of you in a living room hooting and hollering at the TV, it’s really raucous and fun.

cinnamon bun

I contributed to the evening by making cinnamon scrolls. They received rave reviews, if I say so myself – so here’s the recipe should you ever want to win friends and influence people. They take a bit of work to make, but boy is a plate full of homemade cinnamon scrolls delicious, and impressive!

Cinnamon Swirl Buns with Cream Cheese Glaze
{Lazily adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s recipe in Bon Appetit, March 2008}

Dough:
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

 

Filling:
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

Glaze:
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Making the dough:

Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed. Pour into bowl, adding 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. The lucky among you may have a beater with a paddle attachment, otherwise it’s time to get out a wooden spoon and start stirring.

When the mixture starts resembling a shaggy mess, add 2 1/2 cups flour. Keep beating until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Put dough on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball.

Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. If you are in a hurry, like I was, put your dough to bed in the hot water cupboard, which speeds things up.

Shaping your scrolls:

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Punch down dough. Transfer to a floured work surface – I used the kitchen table. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, slice dough crosswise into 18 equal slices. The easiest way to do this is halve the log, then halve the half and so on.

Spray two baking trays with nonstick spray, then divide rolls between trays. Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C, then bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Making the glaze:

Combine cream cheese, icing sugar, butter, and vanilla in a bowl. Beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Enjoy served warm or at room temperature. Microwaving the leftover scrolls for breakfast the next day is also advisable!

Lemon Syrup Loaf

Love like a sunset… or a delicious yoghurt lemon syrup loaf baking in the oven?

Yoghurt lemon syrup loaf

My boyfriend really likes cake, and he bought me a loaf pan – so I’ve been on a bit of a baking spree. I nabbed the recipe for this loaf out of Viva – the New Zealand Herald’s weekly lifestyle supplement. It’s moist, suitably dense (a slice is definitely enough to make me feel full), and to be honest, sweet enough to eat without all the syrup hoo-ha.

Yoghurt lemon syrup loaf

125g butter, softened
3 teaspoons lemon zest
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup Greek style yoghurt, plus extra to serve

2 small lemons, sliced
1/4 cup caster sugar, extra
1/2 cup water
Icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Cream the butter, lemon and sugar until pale.

2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Fold in the flour and the yoghurt then spoon into a greased loaf tin and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the loaf springs back when lightly touched.

3. Put the sliced lemons, sugar and water into a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes or until syrupy. Spoon over the loaf before dusting with icing sugar and serving with extra yoghurt.

100s & 1000s Of Calories

Dearest Frankie Magazine has just emailed me to announce the release of their latest recipe book, Sweet Treats.

sweet treats is a nostalgic collection of 39 indulgent recipes from a time gone by. Delicacies range from peanut brittle, honeycomb and mint patties to caramel fudge, lollipops and coconut marshmallows. Each treat evokes memories of tuckshop lines and fete cake stalls. It will delight anyone with a sweet tooth!

I own their first book, Afternoon Tea (as does everyone in the house, it seems to live permanently on our kitchen table), so I’m really excited to check this compendium of sugar out. If the recipes are half as good as the styling…

[click the images for full-sized, readable recipes]

HOW AMAZING ARE THE CANDY HEARTS?! Could they be my new business cards? Or just favours to hand out to sexy strangers and the already beloved.

Things mine would probably say:

  • “You’re a hot babe”,
  • “Can I show you my narwhal?”,
  • “Totes rad”,
  • “Mega number one dreamboat”
  • “Vodka and soda, please”…

Typical. Anyway, Sweet Treats for the win!

New confections

“French macarons are the new cupcakes.”
– The Coveted on Twitter

I definitely agree! Not to be confused with macaroons (English style cookies that the Famous 5 and their ilk liked to scoff), macarons are soft, pretty and tasty! Think of them like a delicious sandwich – 2 sides of delicious cookie, with a chewy ganache filling. The cookie parts are made out of ground almonds, egg white and sugar. The ganache flavours range from the original almond to lavender, pistachio, orange blossom; practically any delicately exotic flavour you can think of!

The macaron mothership is the famous Ladurée bakery, with locations across the globe: from Paris to London and Tokyo. It was founded in 1862; rose to fame sometime in the mid-century and today they sell over 15,000 macarons every day of the week…! That’s a lot of pleasure!

If Ladurée is the celadon queen of macarons in Paris, then Pierre Hermé is the playful delivery boy. They deliver their sensational macarons and baked goodies all over Europe – packaged in cheeky, stylish gift boxes.

 

 

Are you nowhere near Europe like moi, or just want to try making your own dainty cookies? Here’s a recipe for making some Ladurée  style chocolate treatsSerious Eats also offer up a really complete guide to making macarons, accompanied by tasty pictures that will make your mouth water.

Macaron Ring by Le Pink Chocolat

I reckon soon we’ll be seeing a lot more jewellery and images inspired by the wee macaron, as evidenced by Le Pink Chocolate’s etsy accessory treats… Yummy! So there you have it, macarons, the new cupcake… watch out for them everywhere!