Cheddar + Garlic Herb Buttermilk Twist Bread

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I’ve been eating a lot of cheese lately. Since we’ve been blessed with some warmer days here in England, picnics have become more frequent and so have the cheese and meat plates. Browsing artisan British cheeses in lovely little Deli’s is one of my favourite things to do. Having beautifully made ingredients in my fridge is something that really inspires me to cook. It’s so gratifying to rummage in the fridge and emerge with an idea for a delicious meal.

Having this alluring loaf made me really look forward to breakfast and lunch for a couple of days. My housemate had leftover buttermilk from her homemade cultured butter, so it was the perfect excuse to make some buttermilk bread.

This isn’t the kind of bread to make a sandwich with. Its delicate and soft with a crisp cheesy shell. The strong basil and rosemary garlic butter leaves grooves in the fluffy buttermilk dough where its been absorbed along with the melted cheddar and parmesan. My favourite way of eating it is to toast it, spread over a thin layer of butter, followed by a layer of thinly sliced cheddar (yes, cheese on cheese bread), a sliced pickled walnut and a few slices of ripe tomato. It’s a very grown up version of a cheese and pickle sandwich. It’s also lovely with avocado and eggs as well as just on it own.

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Pecan Caramel + Biscoff Birthday Cake

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It was a weekend of birthdays for me last week. My sisters 30th and my friends 31st. It meant it was also a weekend of cake. Since we are still in lockdown and I have all the time in the world for once, I decided to make them both birthday cakes.

I’m really missing the culture of coffee and cake; although this heatwave here in England makes me crave ice cream by the tub load. I miss sitting, chatting and relaxing over a slow coffee and sweet cake with a loved one. I don’t often make cakes like this is in my spare time. I prefer a humbler cake at home but the special people in your life deserve something wonderful.

That brings us to this lovely cake. Five layers of brown sugar sponge, dark pecan caramel and glossy light-as-air Biscoff swiss meringue buttercream. A dream. Surprisingly, this cake isn’t too sweet. I was worried it was all going to be a bit much together, but it’s helped by the light texture of the buttercream.

In these weird and unfamiliar times, I like to think that something as simple and small as a piece of cake can help. Even if it is just a little.

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Vanilla Maple + Coffee Crullers

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Puffed, soft, sticky and sweet. French Crullers. I didn’t actually know that they existed until a few weeks ago when I was thinking about making doughnuts and ended up coming across them. One of my greatest pleasures is a strong cup of coffee alongside a golden brown, shiny, glazed doughnut.

The only downside to making them at home is that its quite a long process. It takes hours to make, prove, shape, prove again, fry and finish. I’m very much the kind of person that would take half a day to do that but I get that not everyone is. That’s where Crullers come in. Make choux paste, pipe it, fry it and glaze it. Finished.

However, these don’t have an ordinary doughnut texture. Expect a soft airy interior that’s not sweet nor savoury; very much like a traditional baked choux. The outside stays soft but retains its shape so that the sweet glaze can rest in its grooves.

Quick, fun and delicious. I just wish I made more.

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Rough Puff Sausage Rolls with Sage + Pickled Walnuts

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After a week of colder and typically English drizzly weather in June, I needed some buttery baked goods to brighten up the days. If you’re wondering what to eat, the answer is often sausage roll. Lunch box treat? Sausage roll. Snack? Sausage roll. Picnic in the park? Sausage roll. Cheeky breakfast? Sausage roll.

The first time you make sausage rolls, you realise what a sad version the shop-bought ones are. Pale soggy pastry, which lost all its flake in transit, filled with grey unseasoned filling. Granted, I have bought my fair share of supermarket sausage rolls. They have their place when time isn’t on your side and you just want convenience. Making your own is definitely more work but the beautiful product you get at the end is more than worth it.

I decided to make rough puff pastry as it’s a little easier than traditional puff pastry, but still gives you a flaky glossy and flavourful crust. By adding in fresh sage, caramelised onion and crushed pickled walnuts the sausage meat develops just the right amount of tang and sweetness.

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Carrot Cake + Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

 

IMG_6805Sometimes I just want cake. A simple recipe with instant gratitude. Something that doesn’t take me days to make. I love mixing a cake batter, pouring it into the tin and it’s straight in the oven. I wanted to make something quick and easy this week. I opted for carrot cake because it fit with the sunny weather we’ve been having and its very swift to throw together. I didn’t want to faff with a sandwich-style cake; aiming for ease here I went for a single layer cake that would be lovely to pack and take for a picnic (which is exactly what I did.) It also allows for a delightful cake to frosting ratio.

Toasted pistachios, orange cream cheese frosting and a lightly spiced carrot cake are flavours that melt into one another. The ritual of coffee and cake is prominent in a lot of cultures and for me, it’s a small moment in a day that feels like pure comfort.

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Extra-Flaky Cherry Pie

IMG_6700I had never been a particularly big fan of cherries growing up. I’d eat fresh when they were offered but they weren’t ever used in baking by family members. I can count my food dislikes on one hand, I pretty much love everything. Although one of my most loathed flavours is bitter almond, something that accompanies cherry in a lot of recipes. This means Cherry Bakewell tart is pushed to the side lines meaning my childhood memories of baked goods have not a cherry in sight.

When I started working in professional kitchens, one of the first things I noticed was the quality of the produce. Unlike anything you’ve ever tasted in the supermarket. Every ingredient had so much flavour, especially the fruit. Every year when cherries come into season, we receive large punnets of dark shiny cherries. Beautifully sweet and rich with their wine coloured juice, sometimes they seem too precious to do anything with other than leave them.

I’m also not an avid pie maker. Although I’ve always thought there was something so lovely about a pie that brings people together. Its humble but charming. Faced with the task at hand, I was determined to choose an extra flaky pie crust recipe. Enter Stella Parks. After much research, I chose Stella’s recipe knowing that the large butter layers and folding technique would ensure separate crisp layers.

My perfect cherry pie is crisp, buttery and golden. The filling needs to be firm enough to hold together when cut, but soft enough to that it remains silky when eaten. This turned out to be all those things. Delicious fresh. Delicious cold from the fridge. Delicious warmed in the microwave with ice cream. Delicious however you like it.

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New York Style Bagels

 

IMG_6446Bagels have always been some what of a mystery to me. I absolutely adore eating them but it’s not something you find a lot around London. My first (and only) attempt a few years ago were such an utter failure that they never even crossed my mind again until last week.

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to bagels and I really wanted to get it right. I spent hours reading recipes and watching videos on traditional bagel making methods. The dough needs to be firm and smooth to create a light but tight crumb along with the ability to mould and retain its shape.

What distinguishes bagels from regular bread is the boiling process. It feels almost sacrilege to put fresh proved dough into boiling water but its crucial to achieve that iconic texture. As you boil the dough you release some of the starches in the flour which then gelatinize and form a barrier around the bagel. By cooking the starches beforehand, you won’t lose as much moisture in the oven and have partially set the outside of the bagel resulting in a chewier and denser crumb.

A regular appearance of fresh puffed bagels with a generous schmear of cream cheese is very much welcomed in my kitchen. Since I can’t hop on a plane anytime soon, these will have to transport me to the busy pavements of New York.IMG_6424IMG_6457IMG_6469IMG_6502

 

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Sourdough chocolate chip cookies

IMG_6350I’m a bit obsessed with this cookie.

A few days ago I saw Edd Kimber post on Instagram about using sourdough discard in cookies and I was immediately intrigued. The main reason I’m put off keeping a sourdough starter at home is that I usually don’t have enough time to bake bread every week, so I end up using up a lot of flour to keep it alive but don’t do enough with it. Luckily though, my housemate has been keeping a starter due to all of the extra time we have at the moment.

When I heard about this ingenious way of using sourdough discard, I couldn’t wait to try it out myself. The science behind it is all about water levels in the recipe. 100% hydration sourdough starter is 50/50 water and flour. So for example; if you add 200g of sourdough starter into a recipe, you need to take 100g flour and 100g water out from the original. Flour is easy to simply re-calculate but water is a little more difficult.

I decided to try and adapt Sarah Kieffers iconic ‘pan-banging cookies’. My perfect cookie is crisp and rippled around the edge with a soft centre (which is exactly what this recipe provides.) There are a few ingredients in this cookie recipe that contain water. Firstly; the extra added water, then the egg and finally the butter. In order to add in the starter and its water I took out the original added water, the egg white and browned the butter to evaporate off the water. This all together gave me 100g of water to add back in which meant I could use 200g of sourdough starter. A great amount to use up and enough to impart a lovely flavour.

I also played around with the quantity of salt, sugar and chocolate chips as well as the size and method. It ended up not really resembling the original recipe but I am so happy with the results.

These beautiful cookies are a wonderful mix of nutty brown butter flavour, flaked sea salt and warm oozing dark chocolate. By banging the cookies halfway through baking, they purposely fall and create beautiful ripples along the edges. I’m always thinking about what a ‘perfect’ cookie would be to me, but I’m pretty sure its right here.IMG_6344IMG_6363IMG_6349

 

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