Purbeck ice-cream, Dorset

Purbeck ice-cream, Eggardon Hill

Berries with clotted cream and honeycomb hash, and kites!

We recently spent four days in Dorset near Lyme Regis. I didn’t know the county well and now I know that it will be a place to revisit again and again. It is stunning. The varied coast line with red pebbled beaches, bright chalk white cliffs, turquoise and green water and fossils is beautiful. Away from the coast are pretty little villages with thatched roofed cottages and undulating hills broken up with hedgerows delineating the fields. Everywhere we looked there was something to make us pause to take it in. We walked up Golden Cap, visited Lulworth Cove and Studland and went to a kite festival on Eggardon Hill. This was where we made one of the best foodie discoveries of our trip: Purbeck ice-cream.  I have lived in Italy twice and love Italian gelato but I think, yes, I really do think that Purbeck ice-cream might be better! This may cause some wild hand gestures and tuts from Italian friends. The flavours were typically British: berries with clotted cream, honeycomb hash, stem ginger and more. The salted caramel actually had little crunchy bits of hard caramel in it, it was so good! One of my favourite flavours of gelato is pistachio and there wasn’t a pistachio to make a true comparison with Italian ice-cream to but, seriously, this creamy goodness was amazing!

You can find more information and even an app with an ice-cream locator here

We stayed in the beautiful village of Whitchurch Canonicorum in a gorgeous little thatched cottage with alpacas in the field behind it. Find it here.

Flying monkeys at Eggardon Hill, Bridgport, Dorset

Monkeys, bananas and kites

Beautiful Dorset

One of the views from Golden Cap

Purbeck ice-cream, Dorset

Purbeck ice-cream, Dorset

Lulworth Cove, Dorset

Lulworth Cove

 

Maître Choux Eclairs, South Kensington

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Maitre Choux eclairs

I am a huge pastry fan and crème pâtissière/ custard/ clotted cream/ any type of cream fan. So éclairs are a pretty satisfying combination for me. I recently started seeing press about beautifully colourful and delicately designed éclairs that were reinventing this classic and had to find out more. My brief research showed that there was a new éclair joint in South Kensington and the website alone made my heart rate increase! It is almost like a fashion website with the éclairs photographed at every angle to make sure that you are fully informed about the height, width, depth, external and interior decoration of these scrumptious desserts. Maître Choux is a small new pâtisserie created by top pastry chef Joakim Prat.

The following Saturday we headed down on an éclair mission. The shop is a beautifully designed small space with panelling and Lee Broom lights suspended like jewellery. The window alone makes everyone stop in their stride as there is a bounty of colours and flavours on display with deliciously delicate decorations on top. This makes the simple decision of which éclair to try take at least ten minutes. Of course, the most sensible thing to do would be to buy ten to get a broad sense of the pastries!

A group of us went so we all tried different ones: pistachio, coffee, chocolate, and yuzu and lemon. All delicious! We had coffee (Monmouth) which came with chouquettes – delicious balls of choux pastry coated with chunky pieces of sugar. Some éclairs out there are too dense in general with heavy dough and an over generous filling of thick cream. I think they should be a puff of extravagance! Crisp pastry soothed with silky cream. These were perfect and the flavours were superb.

Maitre Choux, South Kensington

Maître Choux’s flavours vary from salted butter and caramel, dark multi-origin chocolate, Tahitian vanilla and pecan, to orange and saffron. Plus the flavours change so multiple trips are an absolute necessity. Every time I go to an exhibition in South Ken I will be sure to stop by to check on these deliciously indulgent éclairs. In fact, I’ll see if I even make it to any exhibitions!

Find Maître Choux at 15 Harrington Road, London, SW7 3ES

Maitre Choux, South Kensington

Maitre Choux, South Kensington

Rhubarb Upside-Down Pudding

Rhubarb upside-down cake recipe

When a recipe’s first instruction is to pour 100ml golden syrup into the bottom of a cake tin my sweet-tooth’s knee-jerk reaction is “Do it! Make it! Do it! Make it!”. Naturally I did and it was delicious!! This is a recipe by Lucas Hollweg from the Waitrose magazine, February 2014. I often pull out his recipes from the seasonal section and finally a year a few months later I have made this pudding. It is really easy and only requires 20 minutes’ preparation and 35 minutes in the oven: perfect for a laid-back Sunday afternoon. I have altered the ingredients slightly from the original recipe as I didn’t quite have everything so instead of light brown sugar I used dark brown (my favourite!) and instead of ground ginger I used allspice.

What you need:

A cake tin at around 20cm diameter

100g unsalted butter (and a little more for greasing the cake tin)

125g golden syrup

450g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into pieces 1cm long

Zest of 1 orange

100g dark brown sugar

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 free-range eggs

50g ground almonds

50g self-raising flour

What you need to do:

1. Heat the oven to 180C, 170C (fan).

2. Grease the cake tin with butter.

3. Pour 100g golden syrup into the cake tin and place the rhubarb pieces on top, packed tightly together.

4. Scatter half the orange zest over it.

5. Beat the butter, sugar, remaining syrup, remaining zest, ground allspice and cinnamon together.

6. Beat one egg in at a time with 25g of ground almonds.

7. Fold the flour in, then spoon the mixture onto the rhubarb pieces and smooth it so it is evenly spread.

8. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. It is ready when a fork comes out of the batter clean.

9. Remove it from the oven and leave it to stand for 15 minutes. Carefully turn it onto a plate and eat it with cream, ice-cream or crème fraîche. It is also delicious and very moist on its own.

I think I may even have some for breakfast! (It is good to start the day with fruit.)

Rhubarb and orange zest for rhubarb upside-down cake recipe

The rhubarb and zest on a sticky bed of golden syrup

Rhubarb upside-down puddingrecipe

Devouring has started!

Raspberry Ripple Custard Tarts – from Dan Lepard’s “Short and Sweet”

Raspberry Ripple Custard Tarts recipe

I was given Dan Lepard’s “Short and Sweet” for my birthday a couple of years ago and I love it. It is full of baking techniques from making breads to tarts to éclairs. I have been making Dan Lepard’s recipes for years as he writes baking columns for papers and every recipe always sounds and looks scrumptious!

I made his Raspberry Ripple Tart recipe for dessert when friends came over for dinner. Instead of serving little ones I made one large one with a huge swirl of raspberry through the custard. I also made several small ones (pictured) for dessert the next day – always necessary!

The recipe is relatively simple and definitely a crowd-pleaser. The raspberry ripple is simply raspberries crushed with sugar so if you don’t have time to make the pastry you could buy shortcrust pastry and just make the custard. If you do have time though it is worth the effort.

This is a good dessert to make in advance as the pastry needs to be chilled and the custard needs to cool as well so it will need about an hour and a half to make overall.

Here’s how to make it:

For the shortcrust pastry (once made it will require 30 minutes to chill) –

250g plain flour

50g icing sugar

150g unsalted butter (cold)

2 egg yolks

15ml ice cold water

A pinch of salt

For the custard –

325ml milk

Half a vanilla pod, split lengthways

75g caster sugar

3 tablespoons plain flour

2 egg whites (reserved from the eggs used for the pastry)

300ml double cream

For the ripple –

150g raspberries

75g caster sugar

Method:

1. First, make the pastry by putting the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.

2. Cut the butter into little pieces, put them in the bowl with the flour, sugar and salt and rub the butter into these ingredients until it has blended with them.

3. Stir the egg yolks with the water, pour this into the bowl with the flour mixture and combine it to form a soft and smooth paste.

4. Shape the dough into a block, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes before using it.

5. Heat the oven to 160C/ 180C fan.

6. Once the pastry has chilled, take it out of the fridge and roll it out thinly. Sprinkle some flour on the surface and rolling pin to avoid it sticking.

7. If you are making a large tart, line a greased tart tin with the pastry and, if you are making small tarts, cut circles of pastry and line each pocket of a greased muffin tray with the pastry.

8. Put a large piece of baking paper on the pastry (if you’re using one large tin) or muffin cases on the pastry (if you’re using a muffin tray), and fill them half-way with baking beans or dry rice.

9. Bake the pastry for 20-25 minutes until dry and golden. Remove from the oven, leave to cool and then remove the greaseproof paper or muffin cases with the baking beans or rice.

10.  Whilst the pastry is cooling, you can make the custard. Start by heating the milk with the vanilla pod on a medium heat.

11. In a bowl whisk the sugar, flour and egg whites until smooth. Beat the hot milk into this mixture in the bowl, then pour it all back into the pan and heat until boiling whisking the whole time.

12. Remove the pan from the heat, remove the vanilla pod and cover the pan with a plate (to stop a skin forming). Leave until the custard is cold.

13. Whilst the custard is cooling crush the raspberries with the caster sugar.

14. When the custard is cold, whip the cream until soft peaks form and fold it gently through the custard.

15. Put the pastry case/s on a plate or cake stand and spoon the custard into the pastry case/s and swirl the raspberries through it.

16. Devour!

Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard

Beautiful cover. Beautiful book.

Raspberry Ripple Tarts recipe

If that isn’t a tempting dessert photo, I don’t know what is!

Last weekend I attempted my first coffee Paris-Brest (a recipe from “Short and Sweet”) which are small choux pastries cut in half with coffee custard in the centre and flaked almonds and caramel on top. The choux pastry puffed up a lot (as it does in general due to the water content) which meant that they turned out nothing like the photo in the book! I need to attempt these again but I can certainly say that coffee custard and choux pastry are sublime together!

Paris-Brest

Not so Paris-Brest!

Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

      a recent trip to Berlin we were wandering around the trendy Mitte district and came across Princess Cheesecake. I could leave it at that; the name and the photos say it all!

We found it before we had had lunch so knew to save a lot of room as we would definitely be going back. It was simple and serene inside with a glass counter displaying the cheesecakes like jewellery. They all looked just as good as each other so which to get…? The passionfruit, the coconut, the Russian, the lemon? In the end we had the passionfruit, apple and Russian which has a crumbly texture. They were absolutely delicious, beautifully presented and showed the love and care that went into the recipe and making of each one. You can eat in and take a slice or a whole cheesecake away. There are so many types that there must be something to suit any taste. I loved the final touches on each cheesecake such as the chocolate petal shapes lightly placed at the end of each slice and the chocolate curls. The owner and pastry chef, Cornelia Suhr, has even written a book. Have a look at the website just to see the beautiful still life photograph, in 17th century Dutch style, of cheesecake ingredients amongst flowers, fruit and swathes of fabric and to hear Introduction and Allegro for Flute, Clarinet, Harp and String Quartet, 1905, by Maurice Ravel. It sets the scene for elegant decadence, with cheesecake!

You can find Princess Cheesecake at Tucholskystraße 37, D-10117 in the super cool and sehr fun Berlin!

Apple cheesecake, Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Chocolate cheesecake, Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Apple pie, Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Lemon cheesecake, Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Passion fruit cheesecake, Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Russian cheesecake, Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Jazz Apple Trifle, Cider Granita and Apple Doughnuts at The Tasting Room, Selfridges

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This wonderful dessert is from The Tasting Room on the second floor of Selfridges. The base of the trifle was jazz apple jelly with a light vanilla custard on top with specks of vanilla, fresh whipped cream  and a handful of cider granita. It was delicious, light and so appley. The mini cube doughnuts on the side had apple jam inside. The rest of the menu was extremely tempting but the desserts were what really caught my eye. Other temptations include pumpkin pie, butterscotch and amaretti streusel; rum and raisin ice cream, fruit peel and spice crumble; and warm rice pudding, thyme, raspberry jam and honeycomb.  I think I’ll have to go back tomorrow!

       

Christmas Treats: Brandy and Ginger Baubles

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Last weekend I had a pre-Christmas cosy pot luck feast with friends. I love pot luck dinners for their element of surprise and to be able to enjoy a range of tasty morcels. We had an enormous roast chicken with herby pork stuffing roasted on a bed of sliced lemons, carrots, potatoes and onions, puréed potatoes and parsnips (funnily enough this felt a bit like bread sauce!), pea and pancetta muffins, brussel sprouts with chopped chestnuts and pancetta, cheddar and herb scones, and a leek and mushroom pie. I hasten to add that there were 10 of us before you think I’m a greedy so and so. For dessert I made a chocolate Christmas cake (the recipe is one by Eric Lanlard which I read whilst relaxing in a bubble bath a few nights before – I highly recommend this relaxing activity of reading recipes in a bubble bath!). I only put marzipan on half the cake as marzipan isn’t adored by everyone. I am one of the adorers! I even mopped up the melted chocolate left over in the bowl from making the cake with a wodge of marzipan! An Italian friend made a Torta della Nonna (Granny’s Cake) which is like a  pastry pie with a custard filling topped with a sprinkle of pine nuts and finally we had Brandy and Ginger Baubles! The star of this post!

These are ludicrously easy to make and they trick you into thinking that you are eating truffles!

Takes 20 mins making and 2 hours chilling// Makes about 20 baubles

What you need:

150g gingernut biscuits

100g walnuts

60g icing sugar and a bit more for rolling the truffles in

2 tablespoons brandy

2 tablespoons cocoa powder and a bit more for rolling the truffles in

2 tablespoons golden syrup

What you need to do:

1. Break the biscuits up into about 6 pieces each.

2. Put the walnuts in a blender and blend until well ground.

3. Add the broken gingernuts and blend again.

4. Now put the remaining ingredients into the blender with the mix of walnuts and gingernuts.

I discovered a great way to avoid leaving a sticky mess of golden syrup on a spoon (and thus wasting a bit unless you lick it off!). I had measured the cocoa powder with the spoon before so it had a silky layer of the powder on it so when I squeezed the golden syrup on top it slid off beautifully! Neat!

6. Blend until you see the mixture come together into a ball.

7. Put the ball in a bowl and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

8. Take the mixture out, sprinkle some icing sugar on one plate and cocoa powder on another, make small balls of the mixture (about the size of a big marble) in the palms of your hands and roll them in the icing sugar or cocoa powder.

That’s all! They’re ready!

You can substitute ingredients such as the walnuts for pecans, for example, to make them more to your taste and use honey instead of golden syrup if you prefer.

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