Monday, 19 January 2015

Salted Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Doughnuts

Listening to: Serial- A journalist becomes obsessed (in her own words) with the murder of a teenage girl in Baltimore in 1999. Her ex boyfriend has been convicted of her murder but has maintained his innocence since his imprisonment at 17. Thorough research and excellent journalism results in an utterly intriguing podcast series detailing her investigation. I have never really gotten into podcasts, but Serial demonstrates how effective they can be when done properly. While baking, on the way to work, cleaning the house, chilling out with a cup of coffee. I'm hooked on Serial!

Raving about: The Walworth Farce at the Olympia theatre - I don't go to the theatre enough. So compelling, so intense, dark and bitter and sweet and funny. Brilliantly executed with thrilling performances from the Gleeson family. What are we if not our stories? I think all the weekend shows are sold out but if you are around Dublin and free on a week day definitely go. If you don't believe me listen to what Aaron Paul had to say when he saw it this week.
Reading: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Don't read too many reviews of this, all you need to know is that this a story about family, laced with humour, deft observations and interesting nougats of psychology. Short listed for the Man Booker prize, this is one of my favourite books in a long time. 

Eating: Baked Doughnuts! I am a foodie fad follower and when baked doughnuts started cropping up on my favourite blogs I knew I had to get a baked doughnut pan. They don't cost very much but you will need to go to a specialist kitchen shop. The possibilities are endless, but where better to start then chocolate and salted caramel frosting! The crushed pretzels add a salted crunch. In truth, they aren't much different than cupcakes but they are so much more fun! 

Makes 10 

Adapted from Joy the Baker
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp finely ground coffee powder (or melt instant granules in a tiny splash of water)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
25g milk chocolate, melted
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, slightly beaten
50g butter

For the frosting
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup cream
25g butter
1 tsp coarse salt
1 cup pretzels, crushed
1 cup icing sugar, sieved
3 tablespoons cream

1. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, coffee and cinnamon into a big bowl. Add the salt.
2. Heat the butter over a low heat until melted. Continue to heat until the butter begins to crackle and brown. Take off and allow to heat.
3. Spray the doughnut pan with cooking spray or brush with melted butter. Put in the fridge to cool completely.
4. Add the butter, egg and melted chocolate and mix well until completely combined.
5. Heat the oven to 180oC. Only fill the doughnut pan 3/4 full and bake for 12-15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Make the frosting. Heat half of the sugar over a low-medium heat watching cautiously. When the sugar has melted sprinkle over the rest in an even layer and allow to melt. Heat for 4-6 minutes until the sugar is copper coloured. Don't allow to get too dark.
7. Add the 1/2 cup cream into the caramel. The mixture might become lumpy, but keep whisking over a low heat until it becomes smooth again.
8. Add the butter and salt and whisk until melted and glossy. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool completely. If there are any lumps, sieve them out.
9. Beat the icing sugar, cream and 3 tablespoons of the salted caramel with an electric whisk until smooth.
10. Crush the pretzels. Spread the doughnuts with the frosting and sprinkle over the pretzels.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Almond and Ginger Bostock

I tried to brainstorm 10 reasons why January is great. That idea quickly got scaled down to 5 reasons why January is not so bad. After three journeys of brainstorming in and out to work I ended up with the following. Think positive! 

A. Normal TV programming is back. Like the little TV junkie I am I need my regular fix. And those sly networks know exactly what they are up to leaving us with tantalising cliffhangers before Christmas. I need my Mindy Project 21 minutes of happy time.
B. Using your Christmas vouchers/gifts. I got a whole slew of great cookbooks this Christmas and January finances mean that I  can get stuck into making and creating great new recipes. 
I also got a baked doughnut pan so my kitchen is being prepped to become doughnutopia. Incessant and obsessive recipe idea googling has already begun. 
Super excited about the three lovely vouchers I have to use over the coming weeks, dinner, afternoon tea and a one day photography course which means I have so much to look forward to! 

C. Longer daylight hours. I hate the short daylight hours so more sunlight as we inch closer to summer is a big bonus for me. In the winter I can't get up at lunchtime on a Saturday, laze around for 2 hours and still go for a nice long walk. I cannot be expected to be motivated until at least 2pm at the weekend. 
D. Award's Season. Who cares who won! It's all about the dresses dresses dresses. Did you see Julianna Moore's dress in the Golden Globes? Uh-mazing.  I want to be buried in that thing. 
E. Less nasty alcohol/food related ickiness. Bank balances and all round do gooders guilting us with their diets and alcohol bans means that most of us have been trying to be good. I for one do not miss the side effects of repeated over indulgence. 
So Bostock is bold. It won't be on any Weight Watchers menus any time soon, but boy is it worth it. Thickly sliced day old brioche is brushed with syrup, covered in sweet almond mixture, sprinkled with flaked almonds and baked until golden. Think of it as proper French toast. You can make your own brioche, but of course you can buy brioche and make this a super quick sweet treat. 
Makes 4 slices
70g ground almonds 
70g icing sugar 
70g butter, softened 
1 egg yolk
2 balls of stem ginger from a jar, finely chopped

25g caster sugar 
25ml water 
one thick slice of fresh ginger 

4 slices slightly stale brioche
25g flaked almonds

1. Beat the icing sugar and butter for 4-5 minutes with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and ground almonds and beat very briefly until the mixture is well combined.
2. Add in the ginger and fold carefully.
3. Put the caster sugar, water and ginger in a small saucepan and boil rapidly for 2 minutes until thickened.
4. Brush the brioche slices liberally with the syrup.
5. Spread thickly with the frangipane and sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Bake at 180oC for 20-25 minutes until golden around the edges.

Friday, 9 January 2015


I made this brioche while dancing around to the new Ben Howard album.... This Jools Holland performance is especially mesmerising. It makes me want to finally learn to play the guitar properly so I can do that cool from-the-top left hand action  (watch the video and you will get it). Great for moody shouty alone time singing.

One of the lyrics of another song Time is Dancing reads 'I am finally colouring inside the lines that I live between'. Check out the album for other such lyrical gems.

Brioche is a weekend baking exercise. With a food processor it is extremely straightforward, but does require a long 8-10 hour rise. Patience reaps rewards though, amazing toasted with butter and jam and also can be used to make bostock, brioche soaked in syrup and covered with frangipane- recipe to follow soon.

From Edd Kimber- Patisserie Made Simple

180g strong white flour
180g plain white flour
20g caster sugar
7g fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
85ml milk, lukewarm
150g unsalted butter, chilled and diced

1. Mix flours and salt together in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a dough hook.
2. Put milk and yeast together in a jug and mix until the yeast dissolves.
3. Pour the milk and eggs into the flours and mix on a medium speed until the dough comes together. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
4. Add a piece of butter at a time and beat at a medium speed until well incorporated.
5. Continue to use up all of the butter and beat at a medium speed for 10-15 minutes until the dough comes away from the side of the bowl. The dough will start very sticky, but kneading should bring it together.
6. Put in a clean bowl and cover loosely with clingfilm. Leave for 8-10 hours in the fridge to rise.
7. Take out the dough, punch the air out and tip into a lined 2lb loaf tin.
8. Leave to rise for another 2 hours in a warm place until doubled in size. When risen brush with a little beaten egg yolk for shine.
9. Preheat the oven to 180oC and bake for 20-25 minutes until the loaf is hallow when tapped at the bottom and well browned on top.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Passion Fruit and Chocolate Macarons

Hello! I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. Reality is slowly starting to worm its way back into our lives, but there is always macarons and brioche and other sweet treats to help us escape our January blues.

Today passion fruit and chocolate ganache is encased in cheetah like shells. I used these as part of my Christmas gift bags, which also included sea salt caramels and grapefruit marshmallows.

Use milk rather than dark chocolate here, as the dark chocolate would be too bitter with the passion fruit and as always with macarons, fill and allow to 'mature' for 24 hours. This will allow the ganache to soften the shells providing a delicious mallowy centre.  

Follow the recipe for the shells here, using a lighter yellow food colouring. Sprinkle the shells lightly with cocoa powder ten minutes before putting into the oven.

For the passion fruit chocolate ganache

8-9 passion fruits
275g milk chocolate (40% chocolate solids)
50g butter, at room temperature and diced

1. Scoop the flesh out of the passion fruits, seeds and all.
2. Blend with a hand held blender for 30 seconds until the seeds are broken down, if not completely.
3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a small saucepan, removing all the seeds.
4. Heat over a gentle heat until the passion fruit purée is almost boiling.
5. Put the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water until it is just starting to melt.
6. Pour over the passion fruit purée and stir clockwise until the ganache is smooth and creamy. If the ganache curdles, add a dash of cold milk and continue to stir.
7. Add the butter one cube at a time and stir until well incorporated and the ganache is glossy.
8. Pour into a clean bowl, cover with clingfilm and allow to cool and thick enough to pipe.
9. Pipe the ganache onto the macarons and sandwich together.