Saturday 26 November 2016

Savoury Babka

It's been a long, long time since I've done a savoury... I have done a couple of "unlisted" bakes, mainly for bake sales, or to actually feed people, but nothing documented and photo'ed. After a bit of thinking, I decided to do a savoury version of a babka. I first did one of these as a timed challenge during GBBO, but I've not really thought about it since.

I whipped up some volumes and weights for a "standard" loaf, something I've self-defined as 500g of flour, and then went for a nice simple filling of onion, and some leftovers in the store cupboard. I wanted to get a better, more even twist on the loaf this time, and also attempt to knot it to avoid use of a tin. Really happy with the final result, though I'd love to know how to stop bits of filling getting burnt on the outside...Maybe a lower temperature for longer?

To speed up the proving, get all the ingredients for the dough to room temperature, especially the eggs and butter (you're going to warm up the milk).

Savoury Babka - Recipe

Dough Ingredients

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 12g fast-action yeast
  • 200ml full-fat milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10g salt
  • 80g butter
1) Put the milk in a microwavable jug, and heat for ~30 seconds. You want it to be at about 35'C (use a temperature probe to check)

2) Stir the yeast into the milk, using a fork. Leave it to develop while you prepare the rest of the ingredients

3) Put the flour and salt into a stand mixer bowl, with the dough hook attached.

4) Add the milk and eggs into the flour, and mix for 2 minutes until all combined.

5) While continuing to mix, slowly add the butter until it is all in and combined.

6) Mix on medium speed for 8 minutes

7) Remove the dough, and place in an oiled, covered bowl. Place somewhere warm for ~2 hours to prove (until doubled in size)

8) While the dough is proving, prepare the filling

Filling Ingredients

  • 400g onion (approximately 2½ large onions)
  • 30g dried mushroom
  • 50g dried sun-dried tomato
  • 1tbsp sunflower oil
  • 30g butter
  • 10g soft brown sugar
  • 2tbsp sherry vinegar
  • Salt
  • Dried parsley
1) Finely chop the onion

2) Place the oil and butter in  large frying pan over a medium heat

3) Add the onion to the pan with the sugar, and fry/stir for ~15 minutes, until golden and caramelised.

4) Chop and add the mushroom and tomato, and cook for another 5 minutes

5) Stir in the parsley and salt

6) Stir in the sherry vinegar, then remove from the heat and leave to cool



  • 1 beaten egg
  • Sesame seeds (to decorate)
1) Take the proved dough, knock back, then roll out to a long rectangle about 20cm deep, and ~60-70cm long

2) Evenly spread the onion mixture over the rectangle

3) Roll tightly into a long sausage, with the filling inside. Ensure it is tight and evenly rolled.

4) Cut the sausage in half lengthwise, creating 2 semi-circular sections

5) Place these sections back-to-back, and then twist together, with the filling showing to the outside

6) Form a know with the twist, and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment

7) Cover, and place somewhere warm for~1 hour to prove

8) Pre-heat the oven to 200'C

9) Once proved, brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sesame seeds

10) Place in the oven, and pour ~½ litre of water into a pan at the bottom of the oven

11) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the bread is golden

12) Remove to a wire rack to cool.
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Friday 25 November 2016

Key Lime Pie

As I said yesterday, I had some spare pastry after doing the slices. I was originally going to do a lemon meringue pie, however I thought I'd mix it up a bit, and do a lime filling instead. I have a recipe for lemon meringue pie which I used as a base, so the only real question was how many limes equal one lemon. I went for 2 limes = 1 lemon, which in retrospect ws probably a little too much, as it turned out very, very lime-y. Probably 3-4 limes would have been wiser. It was still delicous, however...though it did somewhat overpower the stem ginger I popped in the mixture.

If I were doing this as a standalone recipe (as opposed to using up spare pastry from another recipe) I'd add some ground ginger to the pastry as well, to give an extra hit of flavour.

Key Lime Pie - Recipe


See the pastry recipe for Pistachio and Blackcurrant slices

1) Pre-heat oven to 180'C

2) Line a 20cm tart tin with the pastry, and run a rolling pin over the top to trim the edges

3) Line the pastry with cling-film and baking beans/rice

4) Bake in the oven for 12 minutes

5) Remove the cling-film and baking beans, then return to the oven for 6 minutes, until the base of the pastry begins to turn golden

6) Turn the oven down to 170'C

Filling/Topping Ingredients

  • Zest and Juice of 6 limes (note, probably just use 4)
  • 400ml condensed milk (1 tin)
  • 3 eggs (separated into yolks and whites)
  • ½tsp cream of tartar
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 5-6 lumps of stem ginger
1) Place the condensed milk, zest, juice and yolks in a bowl

2) Whisk thoroughly to combine, until a smooth mixture is formed

3) Chop up the stem ginger into fine pieces

4) Add to the mixture and whisk to combine

5) Place the egg whites in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment

6) Begin to whisk the whites, and once it starts to foam add the cream of tartar

7) continue to whisk the eggs, and slowly add the caster sugar, spoon at a time

8) Continue to whip until stiff, white glossy peaks are formed

9) Transfer the egg white meringue to a piping bag with a large star nozzle


1) Pour the lime mixture carefully into the pastry case

2) Pipe the meringue over the top of the lime mixture. I did a loop around the outside, then filled the middle with peaks

3) Place in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. The meringue peaks should begin to turn a golden brown

4) Remove to a wire rack to cool.
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Thursday 24 November 2016

Pistachio and Blackcurrant slices

This was another one that was along the lines of "using what's in the house", though I had earmarked the bag of pistachio kernels for a frangipane a while ago. I used the same pastry recipe as I used for some tartlets ages ago, as it's very reliable, and handles well. I also wheeled out the long and narrow tart tin, as these were going to be transported, so rectangular slices would be easier to pack and move. The pastry makes more than you need, and I was able to also line a 20cm traditional tart tin with it (which is sitting in the fridge, with a high possibility of being transformed into a lemon meringue pie!)

Generally very happy with how they came out...I did the pastry slightly thicker than I normally do (5mm, as opposed to 3mm), and combined with the high sugar content, this gives it a good snap, which I think works with the softer jam and frangipane also makes them easier to eat, as there is a bit of structural backbone.  I went for 10 generous slices, rather than 12 slightly anaemic ones!

Pistachio and Blackcurrant Slice - Recipe

  • Pre-heat oven to 190'C
  • Get a 36 x 12cm tart tin

Sweetcrust Pastry Ingredients

  • 375g plain flour
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 140g butter, chopped into bits
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • Chilled water
1) Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor

2) Whizz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs

3) Beat and add the egg, and continue to mix

4) Slowly add the water into the still mixing blender, until a dough starts to form

5) Take the dough out of the processor, and knead a few times until smooth.

6) Flatten into a disc, wrap in cling-film and chill in the fridge for half an hour

7) one chilled, unwrap the dough and place on a slightly floured surface

8) Roll out into a rectangle 5mm thick (I use batons), and larger than the tart tin

9) Line the tart tin, tucking the pastry into the corners,to form a tight fit

10) Using a rolling pin, roll over the top of the tin to trim the pastry to the tin

11) Line with cling-film and baking beans/dry rice

12) Bake in the oven for 13-14 minutes

13) Remove the cling-film and baking beans, and bake for a further 7-8 minutes, until the base is just turning gold

14) Remove from the oven, and reduce the temperature to 170-180'C

While the case is baking, you can prepare the fillings

Filling Ingredients

  • 150g pistachio kernels
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 25g plain flour
  • ¼ jar blackcurrant jam (or make your own!)
  • 25g dark chocolate (to decorate)
1) Put the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment

2) Beat hard until light and creamy. You will need to scrape the sides down a couple of times

3) Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure the mixture is light and smooth before adding the next one.

4) Put the pistachio kernels in a food processor

5) Whizz until you have fine, even sized bits (but don't go too far, or it will begin to turn into a butter).

6) Add the pistachios and the flour to the stand mixer, and mix hard


1) Spread the base of the tart case with the jam, making sure it is evenly distributed

2) Transfer the pistachio frangipane to a piping bag

3) Chop off the end, and pipe into the tart evenly, covering the jam

4) Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. You might want to turn it after 15 minutes if your oven is uneven.

5) Remove to a wire rack to cool

6) Once cool, take the chocolate and melt (for small amounts like this, I put it in a piping bag as chunks, and then put the piping bag in a glass of warm/hot water, and massage it occasionally)

7) Drizzle the chocolate over the top of the tart.

8) Cut into slices
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Sunday 20 November 2016

Carrot Cake

I've done carrot cake before, however I've not done it with walnuts, and the other recipe is a traybake. I wanted to do this as a more traditional cake. I had a couple of missing ingredients (mainly orange-based...turns out that near Christmas supermarkets start to get out of stock on all sorts of things).

I also wanted to do this as a slightly smaller cake...I settled on a 16cm cake tin, and went about tweaking the recipe to cater for what I had in the house, and also for the smaller size. Decoration should have been in the form of candied orange peel, something I'd like to give a go, as it adds loads of colour. As it was I went for a cinnamon-based icing, which has a good flavour, but looks a little muddy.

I probably over-based it by about 5 minutes (I did 55 minutes, as I'm always a little nervous that a moist cake like this will be under in the middle)...otherwise it's delicious!

Carrot Cake - Recipe

  • Pre-heat oven to 160'C
  • Lightly grease a deep 16cm cake tin

Cake Ingredients

  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 150g muscavado sugar
  • 3g baking powder
  • 5g ground cinnamon
  • 2g mixed spice
  • 2g ground ginger
  • 30g candied peel (orange and lemon)
  • 70g walnuts
  • 175g grated carrot
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g sunflower oil
1) Place the flour, sugar, baking powder a8nd spices in a large bowl, and mix together

2) Add the candied peel, walnuts and carrot, and mix together

3) In a measuring jug, whisk the eggs and sunflower oil together

4) Add the egg mixture to the bowl, and stir using a wooden spoon until there are no dry pockets of ingredients

5) Scrape the batter into the prepared cake tin

6) Level the top, then place in the oven for 45-50 minutes. A skewer should come out cleanly when inserted when the cake is done.

7) Leave to cool on a wire rack until you can handle the tin. Then, remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool completely.

8) Cut the cake in half to prepare for the filling and topping

Cream Cheese Icing - Ingredients

  • 35g softened butter
  • 135 full-fat cream cheese
  • 65g icing sugar
  • 4g ground cinnamon (+ more for sprinkling)
1) Put the butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment

2) Beat the butter until it is soft. Make sure to scrape the sides down and re-beat, to make sure no firm bits are left

3) Add the cream cheese, and beat hard

4) Add the cinnamon and sieved icing sugar, and beat thoroughly

5) Transfer to a bowl, cover with cling-film, and place in the fridge until needed.

6) To finish the cake, spread half the filling on the lower half of the cake, and form a sandwich with the top half

7) Spread the remaining icing on top of the cake, and spread out using a palette knife. Lightly sprinkle some cinnamon on top.
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Saturday 19 November 2016

Hazelnut Macarons with Hazelnut Buttercream

This was a bit experimental, triggered from finding 3 bags of blanched hazelnuts in the cupboard... I'd probably bought them for something ages ago (or, more typically, bought them for several things without checking to see if I already had some).

The cookbooks I have seem to lack recipes with hazelnuts in generally, if fact I've sort of already done them (with a Marjolaine cake and Nusskuchen). After a bit of pondering, I decided to give macarons, using ground hazelnuts a go. I'm pretty sure that you can make frangipane with other nuts (and I've done pistachio frangipane before), and hazelnut in meringue forms a dacquoise, so making super-picky macarons would be easy, right?

OK, so the macarons were not great. Firstly, I used a food processor to chop up the hazelnuts, but stopped before it started to form a butter (though I'll come back to this later, for the filling). The end result was somewhat chunkier than ground nuts, though probably as good as I can do with the equipment to hand. I used a complete swap of ground almonds for ground hazelnuts, and I suspect this was a mistake. While they are similar, hazelnuts are higher in fat, and lower in protein and carbs. Subsequent reading has suggested swapping out half the almonds for hazenut would have been better. I also dropped the amount of sugar in the mixture, which didn't help. The end result was a macaron that was very delicate, to the point of crumbling, and (more importnantly) no foot, and significant cracking. They tasted nice, but they were not right.

The buttercream, on the other hand, was bloody marvellous. As I said, I had 3 bags of hazelnuts (as well as half-used bag), so I also made a hazelnut-based filling. It seems that most people just use Nutella, however having made my own, I'd strongly recommend it, as it was a doddle, and lovely. I used a food processor to blitz the nuts, and then just kpet going (and occasionally scraping down) until a butterpaste formed. I then used that with normal butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder to make a buttercream to fill the macarons. It had a really good flavour, was not overly sweet, and I reckon it would go really well in a cake, or anything else where hazelnut complements.

So, probably don't bother with the macarons, but the buttercream is a goer! the recipe makes way more than you need...

Hazelnut Macarons - Recipe

Note - recommend using half the weight of nuts as ground almonds. Also, 100g of nuts, and 150g of icing sugar, as per a normal macaron recipe
  • Pre-heat oven to 150'C
  • Prepare two baking sheets with baking parchment, or silicone baking mats


  • 2 large egg whites (85g)
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 150g ground hazelnuts (see note above)
  • 120g icing sugar (see note above)
  • ½tsp cream of tartar
1) place the egg whites in a stand mixer, with the whisk attachment

2) Beat until they start to froth

3) Slowly add the caster sugar and cream of tartar, while continuing to whisk

4) Whisk until soft, firm peaks are formed

5) Mix the sieved icing sugar and nuts together...I find using a whisk to stir them gets them well combined

6) Fold the dry ingredients into the meringue carefully, maintaining as much air as possible

7) Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a medium round nozzle attachment

8) On the prepared baking trays, pipe out circles about 2½cm diameter, leaving 1cm gap in-between each.

9) Tap each tray on the work surface 4-5 times (to remove any large air bubbles)

10) Leave the trays uncovered for 30 minutes to allow the surfaces to dry

11) Bake in the oven for 18-22 minutes. With a bit of luck you'll get a foot form, and to cracking (if you have better luck than me)

12) Once done, remove from the oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool before filling

Hazelnut and Chocolate Buttercream - Recipe


  • 160g blanched hazelnuts
  • 120g butter (room temperature)
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 20g cocoa powder
1) Place the hazelnuts in a food processor, and blitz until they form a butter paste (you'll probably need to scrape the sides down a few times)

2) Transfer the paste to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment

3) Add in the sieved icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter

4) Blend the ingredients together

5) Transfer to a piping bag, and stick the macaron shells together in pairs, using a generous amount of the icing.
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Friday 18 November 2016

Simple Lemon Drizzle Cake

Never actually made a lemon drizzle before...I sort of went down the cupcake route, rather than the classic big cakes. I've been trying to cut back on the eating of junk food, but I was really hungry, and decided my make a small'ish cake with stuff in the kitchen, while watching TV. Not much attention made to presentation here! I did get to use one of the smaller cake tins I have lying round...

 Small Lemon Drizzle

  • Pre-heat oven to 160'C
  • Lightly grase a 12cm push-bottom cake tin

Cake Ingredients

  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 120g softened butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
1) Put all the ingredients in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment

2) Mix until a smooth batter is just formed

3) Scrape the batter into the greased cake tin, and gently flatten the surface

4) bake for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean (while this is baking, make the syrup).

Syrup Ingredients

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 50g caster sugar

1) Put the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan

2) Put over a low heat, and stir until the sugar has dissolved

3) Bring to the boil, and boil for 2-3 minutes

4) Leave to cool while the cake finishes cooking

5) Once the cake it out of the oven, leave it to cool for 5 minutes (leave it in the tin)

6) Skewer holes over the top of the cake

7) Pour the syrup over the cake, allowing it to soak in

8) Leave the cake until cool, then remove from the tin
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