Butternut Squash, Mushroom + Stilton Quiche

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There’s something so alluring about a beautifully baked quiche, just waiting for the first cut. I’m not sure if it’s the golden pastry peeping out around the edges or the shiny surface hinting at what awaits inside.

Sweet, tender butternut squash peeping through gives this quiche a delicate orange hue. Along with the sweet caramelised onions, floral rosemary and earthy mushrooms; it has a savoury sweetness that’s contrasted against the strong stilton cheese.

Savoury tarts aren’t something that’s thrown together. It takes time, but the reward of a soft-set rich slice of warm quiche waiting at the end more than makes up for it. There are a few crucial steps to make an exceptionally good quiche. Blind baking the shortcrust pastry and egg washing it to ensure a crisp base is the first. The second, is baking it until the filling is puffed and golden with an ever so slight wobble in the centre which will result in a velvet soft filling. I also choose to opt for a deep pie-style dish so that you have a tall slice that stands proud.

Quiches are such an adaptable bake. They’re perfect for lunch and dinner as well as those peckish moments. A way to use up spare vegetables, an excuse to spend a few hours tucked away in the kitchen or a need for a stunning picnic item; quiche is the answer.

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Raspberry + Dark Chocolate Muffins

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Baked goods at breakfast are my top pick to accompany a large dark cup of coffee. Buttery croissants, sweet danishes, warm banana bread and obviously a classic muffin. I’m a sucker for a big blueberry muffin but when I decided to knock up a batch, I wanted to go for a more refined flavour that wasn’t overpoweringly sweet.

Tangy raspberries and dark chocolate compliment each other in this perfectly sweet and tender muffin batter. Alongside orange and toasted almonds, these make a delicate morning treat.

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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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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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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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