Bakewell Tart

Video link

This week, I’m sharing with you a video recipe! Yay!! This bakewell tart used to be my number 1 favourite when I was about 16. My gran made it once and gave me her recipe, I thought the sweet jam (she used apricot, a LOT of it) with fragranced almonds and earthy pine nuts was the absolute perfect combination.

I hadn’t made it for years so when I bit into the one I made for the video, it took me way back. I used damson jam instead which was a really good alternative, less sweet than apricot & more fruity.

Regarding the filling, as I didn’t have the original recipe, I looked around the internet for regular bakewell tarts but was unsatisfied with all of them (too little egg, too much sugar, flour???) so I made up my own. To me, the pine nuts are essential as they really take the tart to a whole new level. They balance out the sweetness that can sometimes be overwhelming.

Ingredients (for 6-8 people)

– 120g of ground almonds
– 120g of sugar
– 120g of soft butter
– 75g of pine nuts
– 2 small eggs
– half a lemon zest
– 1.5-2 tbsp of jam, damson or raspberry are best
– a pastry case, 20cm, already blind baked (see my pate sablee recipe)

Preheat oven at 180 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one. Add the ground almonds and lemon zest. Add 50g of pine nuts, keep the remaining 25g for decoration.
Spread the jam onto the pastry. Spread the almond mix on top of the jam. Sprinkle with the remaining 25g of pine nuts.

Bake for about 35min or until the middle of the tart doesn’t wobble.

Leave to cool completely or eat it slightly warm.

Video link

Mylène

Traditional tiramisu

Video link

This is definitly a favourite of our household. It never lasts very long and is enjoyed with lots of “mmmhhhh” and “thish ish sho delishous”.

The recipe is traditional but I added my own little touches.

Some notes…

Regarding the use of raw eggs, the subject seems to be very controversial but I honestly don’t mind. These days, raw egg related diseases are almost non-existent so… it’s up to you if you feel comfortable with eating uncooked eggs.

If you don’t have amaretto, don’t panic, you can replace it with rum or other alcohol. Just think if the alcohol you have would work with the flavours of the tiramisu, or if you’re in doubt, just leave it out altogether.

I’ve seen some people “soaking” the sponge fingers for only 1-2 seconds.
If you like your tiramisu very mild and the biscuits to be still quite chewy, then don’t soak them for very long. I personally prefer to soak them for longer but that’s just me!

Anyway, here’s the recipe.

For about 5 servings, you’ll need:

– 3 eggs
– 250g (1 tub) of mascarpone
– 100g of sugar
– 1 bowl of very strong coffee
– 1 tbsp of cocoa powder + 2 more for dusting
– 3 tbsp of amaretto
– 1 packet of sponge fingers
– vanilla extract (optional)

First, make the coffee and stir in the cocoa powder and amaretto. The cocoa powder might sink at the bottom of the bowl so make sure you stir it often.

Separate the eggs yolks from the egg whites. Whisk the egg whites with half of the sugar until firm.

Whisk the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar until pale and creamy. Add the room temperature mascarpone and whisk until smooth.
Add a little bit of the egg whites to the egg yolks-mascarpone and fold it in. Then add the rest of the egg whites in one go. If you’re using vanilla extract, add it now.

layers

Soak half of the sponge fingers in the coffee and lay them on the bottom of your dish.
Depending on how strong you like the tiramisu, you can soak them a tiny bit of leave them until soft. Add half of the creamy mixture and then repeat the layers one more time.

Leave in the fridge for at least 3h. Before serving, dust with coca powder.

If you’re going to make double, you can double the layers too.

smoothing

YouTube video link

Mylène

Italian meringue macarons

For the first time, I’m going to share a macaron recipe.

It’s been about 2 years since I’ve been able to create good macarons but it hasn’t always been that way.
I rarely use this recipe as I prefer french meringue macarons.

To explain quickly, french meringue macarons are made with egg white whisked with a small amount of sugar to obtain a light but stiff base to then incorporate some icing sugar and ground almonds.
The italian meringue macarons are made by mixing half of the egg white (non whisked) with icing sugar and ground almonds and whisking the other half of the egg whites with hot sugar syrup to make a very stiff, heavy meringue which is then mixed with the almond paste.

Both recipes contain roughly the same amount of ingredients, only the actual method is different.

They also look and taste slightly different: The italian one looks matt and very rounded, with a small “foot” and is fragile and cakey.
The french one looks shiny, with a large foot. They have a slight crunch on the outside and should be chewy inside.

If you’re not a macaron crazy like I am, you may not tell the difference between the two but to me, this is important business.

Here is the recipe and some tips to creating the italian version to perfection.

For about 50 macarons, you’ll need:

– 200g of icing sugar
– 200g of ground almonds
– 2 x 80g of egg whites (4 large egg whites)
– 200g of sugar
– 80ml of water
– food colouring

First, you’ll need to grind the icing sugar and ground almonds together until you get a very thin powder, this will ensure your shells are smooth.
You can do it in a food processor but the almonds will certainly not be fine enough. I use a coffee grinder and it’s perfect. Sieve the powder that you get from doing this.

Heat the sugar and water together and let it reach 110°C.
For this step, it’s highly recommended to use a candy thermometer. If you don’t have one, count 4 minutes from boiling and you should get it right.
Just before your sugar reaches 110°C, start whisking half of your egg whites. Don’t whisk the egg whites until they’re firm otherwise the hot syrup will break them.
Add the sugar syrup, still whisking. Keep going until the meringue is cool.
I recommend using a kitchen robot because it will take a while to cool down.

Meanwhile, add the other half of the egg whites to your powders (almonds & icing sugar) and mix until you get a thick paste. You can colour the mix right now with the colour of your choice.

Always go darker than the shade you want as the meringure will lighten it up a lot.
I recommend using powder colours as they are much stronger than paste or liquid colours. The alternative is to add your colour to the meringue instead.

Fold a bit of the meringue into the almond paste to loosen it up a bit and then fold in the rest of the meringue.

This stage is the trickiest one: when to stop folding. You may have to fold the mixture for a while before getting the perfect consistency. You don’t want an under-mixed batter as it will form peaks and look rough and you don’t want an over-mixed batter as it will be impossible to pipe and never hold it’s shape as a circle.

The batter needs to be runny but not liquid.
If you take a spoonful of mixture, pour it on you worktop, leave it for 1 minutes, you’ll see how it behaves.

Line baking trays with baking paper, fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe your macarons, this requires practise!

Hit the bottom of the tray to bash the extra air out of the mixture and leave in your dryest room.
If you leave them in your kitchen, they’ll never dry because of the damp air.
This stage may take from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the weather and the temperature.

When you can very gently touch your macarons without the batter sticking to your finger, they’re ready to go in the oven. 140°C for about 20 minutes.

If you have a gas oven, it will be harder to get perfect macarons as the temperature is usually harder to control than an electric oven.

Take them out after 20 minutes and leave to cool completely before filling them with buttercream, jam, lemon curd, chocolate ganache….

Hope you enjoy the recipe

Mylène

A really good vanilla custard

In France, we call runny custard “creme anglaise” (English cream) and I really understood why in the first year I lived here. You eat A LOT of it! You seem to have it with or in most puddings.
In France, most puddings and desserts are served as they are, no cream or custard required. There are some things like chocolate brownies or a very chocolatey and rich cake with which we do serve custard but it has to be very cold and is usually quite runny.
And then we have the creme patissière, a thick custard.

The other thing that surprises me is that everybody (I mean most people) use shop bought custard.
I think that english people have a very different approach to shop bought stuff. You would never think about serving a shop bought custard in France, some guests would be quite insulted if you didn’t make your own.

custard_mix

Home-made custard is simple and 100 times better.

If you make your own, I assure you, the people you are cooking for will know and will appreciate the fact that you spent the 5-10 extra minutes to make it from scratch (tip for come-dine-with-me contestants). For me, the 2 things you need for a very quick and quality custard are corn flour and vanilla – you can use any sort of vanilla (extract, pod, paste…) but I highly recommend a vanilla pod or the vanilla powder.

I love vanilla powder so much. I use it everywhere. I can’t bare the extract anymore. You can find vanilla powder in good supermarkets and it’s fairly cheap for the quantity and quality you get.

I’m sure you already know the recipe but I’ll put it anyway!

For 800g of vanilla custard, you’ll need:

– 500ml of milk
– 5 egg yolks
– 100g of sugar
– 10g of cornflour (optional, it’s just much quicker)
– Vanilla

Heat the milk and vanilla together.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour until fluffy and light yellow.

When the milk is boiling, add a little of it, a bit at a time, to the egg mixture without stopping whisking.

Bring it back to the hob and put on a medium heat. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes or until it reaches the constistency you’re looking for.

It will get thicker when it cools.

If your custard is lumpy, whisk it and if the lumps are still there, you can seive it.
You can adjust the quantity of cornflour you need. If you want it thicker, put more of it or if you like it thinner, put less.

If you want a stiffer custard, for a trifle or a vanilla slice, you need more cornflour (about 40g).

Mylène

(Sort of) Chelsea buns

Like a lot of people, I watched this year’s series of The Great British bake off.

One of the last recipes shown was the Chelsea bun. I never tried that kind of buns before so I decided to give it a go.

I read the complete recipe before I made it. (I didn’t really know if I had all the ingredients for the filling but thought it would be ok anyway) so when I had to prepare the filling, I read: dried apricots, raisins, dried cranberries, I realized I only had the raisins… I also didn’t have apricot jam to glaze them.
Actually, I had but when I opened the jar, it did the “fizzzzz” , like when you open a bottle of lemonade, so I wisely decided not the use it.

So I changed the apricots into dates, the cranberries into pecan nuts (my ultimate favourite) and the apricot jam into cherry jam.
I didn’t really fancy the icing on the top so I decided to go without it.

At the end, I was really happy I changed the recipe. The nuts give something else to the bun, the cherry jam makes them look so good.
Anyway, here’s the recipe.

For 12 buns, you’ll need:

– 500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
– 1 tsp salt
– 7g of fast-acting yeast
– 300ml of milk
– 40g of butter, plus extra for greasing the tin
– 1 free-range egg
– 40g of sugar

For the filling:

– 30g of butter
– 75g of sugar
– 2tsp of cinnamon
– 100g of raisins
– 100g of pecans
– 100g of chopped dates

For the glaze:

– 1 tblsp of cherry jam, melted

Start by making the dough with all the ingredients, knead it for 5 to 10 min until elastic and smooth.

Leave it to rise in a warm place, uncovered for 1 hour.

After rising, put the dough back on the worktop, roll it out to get a big rectangle in front of you (about 40cm by 30cm).
Stick the end in front of you to the worktop by pushing it on it, this will make it easier to roll the buns.

Spread the butter on your rectangle, then the sugar and cinnamon and then your fruits and nuts. Press gently on them to make it stick to the dough.

Start to roll out that “sheet” towards you, you have to do it quite tight. You should end up with a big sausage like dough.

Cut that into 12 portions, and lay them on a baking tray, lined with baking paper and buttered. The buns shouldn’t touch each other yet.

Leave it for at least an other hour to rise. After that hour, the buns should start to join.

Bake for 25min, 200°C or until golden brown.

Brush each bun with the warm jam.

Eat warm or cold.

Mylène

French butter cream that will change your life…

I’ve never been a great fan of butter cream; I thought it was heavy and much too buttery and fatty. I came to England and noticed that the british style butter cream was basically sweet butter mix.

I didn’t like butter cream until I tried a recipe seen in one of my supergreat book. I promise you, It will change your birthday cakes into something really amazing.
The texture is light, fluffy, and you have a really delicate taste of butter… Heaven!

For a dose of butter cream, you’ll need:

– 3 egg yolks

– 75g of sugar

– 30ml of water

– 150g of soft butter

– A vanilla pod, or any flavor you want to give (melted chocolate, raspberry coulis,…)

Heat the sugar and water together, leave it to boil for about 3 min, my original recipe says 5 min but if you overdo it, the sugar is going to ruin your mix, so it’s better to underdo it a tiny bit.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks until they’re nearly white.

When the sugar’s ready, pour it slowly on the egg yolks, still whisking. Keep whisking until the mixture cools down. Put the soft butter in the mixture and whisk until you end up with a lovely buttery texture.

Add your flavor and mix!

It takes a tiny bit more time than British butter cream but it is totally worth it. My sister always hated butter cream until she tried mine so trust me and try that wonderful recipe as soon as you can.
I’m maybe a bit too passionate about it but if you want to change your (baking) life, French butter cream will do it for sure!!!!!!!

Mylene

Berry swirl bun internet research…..

When I have some free time on my own, I cook, of course, and I love looking for new recipes, usually on the internet.
It was during one of these moments that I found this recipe. It’s Jamie Oliver’s one, which means that you can’t really be disappointed.
So, the recipe is a Swedish bun with berries. The official recipe is with blueberries but I used blackcurrants, which are sharper and go very well with sweet buns.

Like any buns or pastries, it’s better just when it’s straight out of the oven so don’t feel bad if you can’t resist!

You’ll need:

–  One packet of yeast (7g) stirred in
–  375 ml of warm milk
–  2 eggs
–  A teaspoon of grounded cardamom
–  200g of sugar
–  A bit of salt
–  800g of plain flour
–  50g of melted butter
–  For the filling: between 200 and 400g of berries of your choice, roughly mashed in 75g of sugar and a tiny bit of orange juice

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, the salt, cardamom, butter, sugar, 500g of flour and the milk and yeast mixture.

It’s going to be thick and sticky.

Then add the rest of the flour. Knead this dough until it’s soft and lovely.

Put it back in the bowl, cover it with a tea towel and leave it to raise in a warm place for an hour or until it doubles of size.

Put the dough on your worktop and make a rectangle with it (use your hands). It doesn’t have to be big, about 30 cm long and 20 large.

Pour the berry mixture on it and then take the edges of your pastry and fold it in the middle and press gently to let the berries go into the pastry. Fold again.

It doesn’t have to be precise, it’s actually supposed to be quit messy.

Cut the dough into eight bits (I like having little portions so you can cut it into more than eight) and stretch and pull each portion in a long thin “kind of sausage”.

Roll this around your finger and put it on a baking tray with baking parchment on.

Do the same with all of the portions.

Leave these uncooked buns for 30 min in a warm place.

Cook for half an hour at 180°C until gold and crispy.

Tadaaaaam!!!!