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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Brown Butter Cardamom Morning Buns

IMG_6313With so much going on in the world right now, I find my kitchen is a little pocket of calm and a place that feels like normal in a life not so normal. It’s somewhere that truly takes my mind off things.

I had been wanting to work with dough for weeks and had a crisp idea of how I wanted these buns to turn out. I have to say, I’m very happy. Inside is a soft buttery brioche swirled with a cardamom spiced brown butter sugar. The tins are coated with butter and sugar that slowly caramelises as the brioche bakes, creating a beautiful golden base. You’ll smell these before they’re ready; the beautiful cardamom butter wafting through the house. Once they’re baked; they’re brushed with a mix of brown butter and honey, finished with a sprinkling of sugar to give it a glorious shine.IMG_6263IMG_6275IMG_6280IMG_6301IMG_6308

 

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Black Tea Cake with Bramble Jam and Lemon Buttercream

 

For my birthday last October, I was given some Tea by one of my friends. It was called ‘Beautiful Tea’ by Mariage Frères. Mariage Frères is a Parisian brand which specialise in different kinds of Tea as well as Chocolates and Jams. I’m yet to find something from their range that I don’t love. The first thing I have to say about this Tea is that the packaging is divine! I’m a sucker for beautiful packaging, so I was bound to love this.

The fragrance of this Black Tea really reminds me of Earl Grey. It’s very floral with hints of Pomegranate and Cornflour. There was something about it that was really familiar to me but I couldn’t figure out what it was; even after my mother and I spent about 10 minutes sniffing it like two addicts.

If you love Tea, this is definitely a cake you should try. The flavour really bursts through the sponge and has a truly unique flavour. I decided to pair it with some Bramble Jam and Lemon Buttercream to match the floral notes in the Tea.

The flowers adorning this treat are actually made out of flower paste and wire. I went on a Sugarcraft course a few months ago and made this while on the course. Without any fresh flowers in the house, I thought these were a great, simple but still charming option.

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Blood Orange and Ginger Almond Cake

I havent seemed to be around here at all since the new year. I’ve been spending my days wrapped up in home yoga, enjoying a more savoury side of cooking and trying to cram in as much time with family and friends as I can. As much as I’ve missed my blogging internet self, It was some much-needed time to re-ground myself and remember whats important to me in preparation for a great year to follow.

I havent set any fancy new years resolutions this year, just one. To welcome the coming year with an open heart and open mind (and also looking after my self as a number one priority, but this should just be a given!)

Yes ok, cake isn’t exactly nourishing food but it is nourishment for the soul. Life would be pure hell without the little pleasures.

Blood oranges are a charming fruit to grab while they’re still around. I love how unsuspecting they look from the outside. As soon as you cut through that ordinary peel, you’re hit with a citrus sweet fragrance and an eyeful of juicy burnt orange flesh. Every time I cut into one I’m amazed at the colour.

I decided to make this cake using mostly ground almonds as it gives a great texture contrast to the squidgey orange pieces. Adding in a dash of ground ginger really brings the blood oranges and the sponge together. We’re finally coming out of the depths of winter and gearing up for all of the gleaming fruits and vegetables to come this spring. Cooking delicious food becomes an easy task when nature does all the work for you.

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Parsnip, Hazelnut and Stem Ginger Loaf Cake

Every week, me and my friend/colleague are tasked with coming up with three different desserts to put onto the Du Jour menu at work. This is by far, the best part of my job. It’s something I’ve had to earn; no more monotonous cookie dough rolling, cutting and baking for me! My role is so much more creative now; my imagination is let loose like an artist on a blank untouched canvas. The kitchen is my playground.

Yes, at times its stressful and draining having to constantly be conjuring up diverse ideas whilst trying to choose dishes that motivate and inspire me. I don’t want to just keep repeating the same ideas with different flavours. I need to choose things that aren’t only appealing and delicious for the customer, but also choose tasks that enable me to learn new techniques.

Last week, my friend and I decided to put carrot cake on the menu – fruity carrot cake with creme fraiche, crisp sweet carrot chips, coconut sorbet and caramelised roasted pineapple. Bright, bouncy dishes are back in along with breezy spring evenings.

While discussing this specific dish, my friend told me she’d recently made a parsnip loaf. As soon as she said ‘parsnip’ and ‘cake’; I was instantly intrigued. I had made carrot, courgette and even beetroot cake; but parsnip had never landed in my mixing bowl.

As soon as my days off came around, I was in the supermarket spying out my parsnips.

Don’t think that this parsnip cake is going to be anything like carrot cake. It’s not. Carrot cake has a fruity sweetness that emits from the vegetable whereas parsnips, though still sweet, are slightly more savoury. This is what has made this cake so great to me.

A slice of this loaf cake is versatile in both texture and flavour. The soft moist crumb is occasionally interrupted by crunchy roasted hazelnuts and luscious cream cheese. The crumb isn’t obviously sweet, however the topping and little hidden morsels of stem ginger make up for this.

An easy, quick cake that you cake whip up in an hour when unexpected guests arrive, or just for a mid-week treat to get you through to the weekend.IMG_0965 IMG_0990 IMG_1024IMG_1012

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Lemon & Blueberry Drizzle Cake with Summer Berries

I made this cake about a month ago. I know, I should’ve shared it sooner. Especially since it was such a crowd pleaser with my family. However, work and life got in the way and before I knew it a month had passed. So has the beautiful summer weather it seems. If anyone feels like reminding England that its July and supposed to be sunny, that would be great.

As much as I love this cake; its simplicity, its humble inviting nature and its glorious taste. It didn’t come without its trial and tribulations. This photoed (and thankfully last) cake was actually attempt number three. After two attempts the previous day (my heart breaks at the amount of wasted lemons) I decided to give it one last shot on the morning of my sisters birthday meet up. THANK GOD it worked or I would’ve probably begun to question my ability as a pastry chef.

I have a big weak spot for a simple slice of cake. Add some fresh seasonal fruit and honestly, I’m yours. There’s something about a simple fresh sponge that just makes my heart sing. This beautiful loaf is light but packed with lemon flavour (three lemons worth!) In every slice you’ll find beautiful blueberry jewels, a generous amount of lemon syrup and sticky lemon icing.

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Vegan Rye Cinnamon Pecan Rolls

I really REALLY wish there was somewhere near me that sold vegan cinnamon buns. Because I would be there every single frickin day. I need more baked goods in my life; its making me mentally unstable. Alas, the only place that has a baked good that’s close to a ‘normal’ pastry is Crosstown Doughnuts who have started doing Vegan Doughnuts every Fri, Sat & Sun. All other vegan places near me are very health focused and their baked goods are either in fact raw, or are made with buckwheat flour and there’s no dough in site.

I have yet to venture to Crosstown to try the Vegan doughnuts but the dough (via instagram) looks so bloody tasty, I need to get there ASAP.  (You’ll be seeing an update on that very soon via my instagram.) If anyone knows of any good bakeries in central London near the Victoria/Westminster/Mayfair area, PLEASE let me in on it.

I made these cinnamon rolls with the intention to freeze them in order to sustain me during the week ahead, but they never made it even close to the freezer. I shouldnt be surprised as that’s typical me, but you can’t blame a girl for trying.

This recipe is actually really similar to your average cinnamon roll recipe, and it was really easy to create a vegan version. I gave one of my non-vegan friends one and she soon sent through a lovely text about how amazing they were and how you would have no idea they were vegan. Those kind of words make me so happy; to know that living a vegan lifestyle you don’t need to miss out.

So here you are; a cinnamon roll that both you and your non-vegan friends and family will love. Ssh don’t tell them its vegan and I 100% guarantee they wont even know.

 

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