Tea Loaf

Tea Loaf, not to be confused with Tea Cake is a light and juicy fruit cake. The dried fruit is re-hydrated by being simmered in black tea, giving the cake a simultaneously rich and zingy flavour. 

I must confess I actually hate fruit cake; I’m not really a fan of raisins and I personally really dislike the way dried fruit tastes when it’s been soaked for days and baked into a cake for an eternity in a slow oven. But my husband loves this kind of cake, so for anyone else who enjoys a light and fragrant fruit cake to nibble on over a cup of tea in the afternoon sunshine, here is my recipe:


Ingredients:

  • 300g mixed dried fruit
  • 225g water
  • 4 tea bags (I prefer Earl Grey, but any black tea will do)
  • The juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 100g of sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 225g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder


Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C / gas mark 4. Grease and line a 1lb Loaf tin.
  2. Place the water and tea bags in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the lemon juice and zest followed by the dry fruit. Simmer the whole mix for about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Take out the tea bags and discard.
  4. Set the pan aside for a minimum of 15 minutes to cool. Whilst the mixture is cooling, the fruit will absorb the tea and lemon.
  5. In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Then beat in the egg. 
  6. Mix the fruit into the butter, sugar and egg.
  7. Next add the flour and baking powder and stir until everything is well combined.
  8. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf tin and bake in the centre of your oven for around 1 hr. When the cake is ready it will be dark and bronzed on top and a skewer should come out clean.
  9. Allow to cool for around 20 minutes before you take it out of the tin. 

This cake is very moist and will keep well in an airtight container for up to 5 days. If you can keep your hands of it that is!

Pide

Move over Pizza: we have a new favourite bread based dinner and it’s called Pide!

Originating in Turkey this traditional bread is stretched thin and baked in a scorching hot oven, leaving the outside crisp and golden and the middle, soft and fluffy. During Ramadan this bread is eaten plain, with just a smattering of poppy seeds and sea salt, at the end of a long day of fasting. 

Alternatively it can be topped with various different things, similar to an Italian pizza, and sold from kiosks on the bustling streets. We like our Pide with a spiced Lamb topping and a sprinkling of pickled onions. Other great toppings include Halloumi or Feta, Spinach and Egg.

To make this as a weeknight supper, we put the dough on at about 4:30 and leave it to rise for an hour whilst we prepare the filling and any salads or dips we decide to have. By 5:30 I’m shaping the Pide, baking them in a hot and they’re on the table by 6. 


Ingredients 

For the dough:

  • 7g instant dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 300g flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 100g water
  • 30g yoghurt
  • 2tbsp olive oil

For the Lamb filling:

  • 500g minced Lamb
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the pickled onions:

  • 100g white wine vinegar
  • 100g water
  • 50g sugar
  • 5g salt
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 small red onions, sliced 

Method:

  1. Make the dough by putting the flour and yeast into the bowl of your stand mixer. Make a well in the centre and pour in the salt, sugar, water, yoghurt and oil.
  2. Mix on a low speed to combine the ingredients and form a dough.
  3. Continue mixing on a medium speed for 10 minutes until a smooth and elastic dough has formed,
  4. Set aside to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  5. To make the pickled onions, combine the water, vinegar, cloves, sugar and salt in a small pan. Bring to a boil whilst stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar, 
  6. Once the liquid has come to a boil, remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Add the onions, stir and set aside to cool.
  7. To make the Lamb filling, heat a large skillet with a small amount of oil. Add the onions and cook slowly until they start to caramelise.
  8. Add to this the Lamb and the ground spices. Turn up the heat to brown the meat.
  9. Then add the garlic and tomatoes. Add a little water if the mixture looks dry and cook on a low heat for approximately 15 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down.
  10. Season to taste and set aside to cool while you wait for the dough.
  11. Preheat your oven to its highest setting, prepare your baking tray by dusting it with flour.
  12. When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured work surface and divide into 4 equal portions.
  13. Shape each piece of dough into a long oval shape by stretching it with your hands. Place onto the baking sheet and spread the Lamb evenly across each Pide, leaving a 3cm edge all the way around.
  14. Fold the edge over the Lamb, pinching it at either end to make a point, and pinching all along the edges with your finger and thumb as you would to crimp a pie edge.
  15. Brush the edge of the Pide with a little olive oil.
  16. Bake in a hot oven for approximately 10-15 minutes, turning half way to ensure an even colour.
  17. The Pide are done when the dough has cooked underneath, the lamb is sizzling and the edges are golden.
  18. Serve immediately with the pickled onions on top.



Persian Love Cake

Pistachios, Cardomom and Rose Water are probably some of my favourite ingredients to bake with. This may have something to do with my love for middle eastern food. I find it very fitting then, that this cake is called a Love cake. The exact origins of this cake are unknown, and there are countless different recipes under this name. The main ingredients of this cake have been used in Iran and the area which used to be the Persian Empired for thousands of years, not only because they are delicious and fragrant, but also for their medicinal properties. 

According to folklore, this cake was first baked as a romantic gesture for a prince. Quite appropriately then, it has been a very popular choice for weddings for a couple of years now. I even baked it myself for my best friends wedding! 

For this bake, I’ve used a silicon mini cake pan. It gives really neat, rectangular cakes instead of the usual round muffin shape. The advantage of using a mini cake mould is that you don’t have to worry about portioning the cake before you serve. Also, everyone gets to enjoy the chewy, caramelised edge which forms whilst baking. The quantities on this recipe will yield approximately 18 mini cakes, but will happily fill an 8″ cake tin. I would not recommend trying to make this cake too deep, as the recipe is only 50% cake flour which means it has a really delicate crumb structure, and although delicious and light, is also prone to sinking.


Ingredients 

  • 200g Sugar
  • 200g butter
  • 150g pistachios (shells removed)
  • 150g plain flour
  • 5g baking powder
  • 1 tbsp rose water
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 Cardomom pods
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 50g double cream
  • Dried rose petals to decorate 
  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.
  2. Grease your silicone muffin pan with a little butter and dust with flour.
  3. Place your pistachios and Cardomom pods in a food processor and blitz as finely as you can. Add to this the flour and baking powder and pulse until combined.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mix no bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer.
  5. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the rosewater.
  6. Beat the dry ingredients into the wet.
  7. Fill each cell of the muffin pan with the batter until it is 2/3 full.
  8. Bake on the middle tray of your oven for approximately 20 minutes, turning the tray around after 15 minutes to ensure even colouring. When baked, the cakes should be lightly golden on top and springy. To check for raw batter, insert a clean metal skewer into the middle.
  9. Allow the cakes to cool in the muffin pan for 5 minutes, then gently remove. Sprinkle the cakes with a little extra rose water if you really want to intensify the floral scent. 
  10. While the cakes cool, make your ganache by heating the cream and pouring it over the white chocolate. Stir until all the lumps have melted. Set aside to cool to a spreadable temperature.
  11. When the ganache is the right consistency and the cakes have cooled, spread a little chocolate over the top of each cake and top with rose petals, chopped pistachios and any other pretty additions you have in your kitchen. I’ve used freeze dried raspberry pieces. 


Creme Chocolat with Rose Chantilly

We don’t really celebrate Valentines Day in this house. We are way to cynical. Also the thought of my husband presenting me with some naff red roses and a Dairy Milk Tray make me cringe so hard it hurts. 

This pudding is really quick but it’s got a sexy French name and I’m sure you could lick it from a spoon in a suggestive manner if you felt that way inclined, which is why I think it would make a very nice ending to a romantic meal. It needs at least 2 hours to chill in the fridge, but you could make the chocolate cream the day before and put the cream on just before you serve it. 

Bonus point: there’s lots of whipping involved which is great for bingo wings. 


Ingredients

  • 150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 300g double cream
  • 150g whole milk
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp rose water
  1. Put 150g of double cream and all of the milk in a pan and heat on a medium flame.
  2. Beat the egg yolks and 1 tbsp of sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Slowly pour the hot cream and milk mixture into the egg, whisking constantly.
  4. Return this back to the pan and cook over a low heat, whisking constantly, until it has thickened to the consistency of custard.
  5. Pour half of this on to the broken chocolate and stir until completely smooth.
  6. Pour the remaining custard into the melted chocolate and beat until smooth and glossy.
  7. Pour the chocolate cream into the vessel of your choice. Pretty tea cups, fancy glasses and jam jars all work well. As does a normal dish.
  8. Gently tap the pots of chocolate on the work top to get rid of the bubbles.
  9. Lick the bowl so that no chocolate goodness is wasted.
  10. After a minimum of 2 hours the chocolate should be set enough to decorate.
  11. To make the Rose scented chantilly, place the remaining cream and sugar into a bowl with the Rose water and vanilla. Whip until it forms soft peaks and is light and airy.
  12. Pipe or spoon on to the chocolate cream. Decorate with berries, rose petals and chocolate shavings. 

Blood Orange Tart

When you work as a pastry chef in a bakery where artificial colouring is outlawed, things start to get a little brown at this time of year. All summer we work with vibrant hues of pinks, purples and yellow. Autumn brings us beautiful purple and red shades from plums and spring brings us fluorescent pink from Rhubarb. There isn’t really a lot of colour to work with at this time of year. That is until blood orange season is upon us!

Blood oranges are in season from mid January to early March, so not long at all really. They get their beautiful colour from a naturally occurring pigment which only develops when night time temperatures are low. Some of them are stained red on the outside whilst some look perfectly, ordinarily orange. 

This Tart does take a bit of time, as it’s very important that you rest the pastry and chill the filling. Patience is most definitely a virtue when it comes to patisserie. Trust me when I say this took me a long-ass time to learn. If blood oranges are out of season, substitute with normal oranges. 

Ingredients 

For the pastry:

  • 250g plain white flour
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg

For the curd:

  • Juice and zest of 4 oranges
  • 200g butter
  • 150g sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, 1 whole egg
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

For the meringue:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar


To make the pastry:

  1. Cream the butter and icing sugar using a wooden spoon.
  2. Mix in the egg, then gently with your hands mix in the flour to form a dough. Be careful not to over work the pastry as this will leave you with a tough pastry case.
  3. Place in a plastic bag and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.
  4. Lightly dust a work surface with flour, roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin and line a Tart case. Make sure the pastry is pressed right in to all the knooks and crannies and leave a little extra pastry over hanging the edge of the case. Prick the base of the case with a fork.
  5. Place in the fridge or freezer to chill for at least an hour.
  6. When fully chilled, cover the pastry in greaseproof paper and fill the case with rice or dried beans. This stops it puffing up in the oven.
  7. Bake the pastry case in a preheated oven at 160 degrees/ Gas mark 3. It will need approximately 20 minutes, turning half way, plus another 10 with the paper and rice removed. Because of the sugar in this recipe, the pastry does colour quite fast, so keep a close eye on it.
  8. When the case is out of the oven, use a small sharp knife to tidy up the over hanging edges. Set aside to cool.


For the Blood Orange Curd:

  1. Set up a Bain Marie using a pan of simmering water and a heat proof bowl. The bowl must not touch the water.
  2. Melt the butter and sugar in the Bain Marie.
  3. In a seperate bowl, combine the eggs, orange zest and juice and cornflour. Make sure they are well mixed.
  4. Pour this mix into the melted butter and sugar. Cook it carefully on the Bain Marie, whisking continuously until it starts to thicken. It should be glossy, smooth and coat the back of a spoon when ready. 
  5. Place in a clean tub to cool, with some cling film on the surface so as not to form a skin.



When the Orange Curd is cool, pour it into the cooled Tart case and place this into the fridge to set. The Tart will be lovely just as it is, however if like me you have a constant need to go one step further, you can decorate your Tart with Swiss meringue…

For the Meringue:

  1. Over a Bain Marie, whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Cook until the mixture reaches at least 63 degrees, or is just about too hot for your pinky finger. 
  2. Using an electric whisk, whip the mixture until it forms stiff peaks. 
  3. Pipe or mound onto your filled and chilled Tart and carefully toast with a blowtorch.


Tips

  • If your Orange Curd lacks acidity (as Orange often tends too), squeeze in a little lemon juice at the end of the cooking. If you have it, a pinch of citric acid works even better.
  • If you do not have a blow torch and still want to do the meringue, cover the whole surface of the Tart in meringue and cook it under the grill. 
  • Any left over Orange Curd will keep in the fridge for 3 days and it tastes amazing on toast.
  • If you think you may struggle for time, you can line the pastry case up to a week before you need it and store it in the freezer. The Curd can be made a few days in advance and stored in the fridge. 
  • Freeze your pastry scraps with a date label and store for up to a month. A small amount will defrost quickly and be ready to roll for when you next need it. 
  • If you will not be serving your Tart within a few hours of finishing it, I recommend glazing the inside of the pastry case with an egg wash. Do this when you remove the paper and rice. 

Beans on Toast

….it’s a legitimate dinner.

I’ve read in a few places recently that the rest of the world think that the great British dish of beans on toast is a bit odd. This is bull shit. Beans on toast is one of the greatest meals of all time.

It serves as breakfast, lunch and dinner. It can even be a light snack for those of us with a heartier appetite. You can have it just as it is; piping hot beans and toast slathered in butter and gooey from the bean juice. Or you can pimp them up with melted cheese, fried eggs, hot sauce, sausages…. 

The only problem with beans on toast is….the beans. Tinned baked beans are fine if you’re heading out camping in the arse end of nowhere, or you’re stock piling for the end of the world as we know it. But if you have the time and the facilities, I urge you to make your own. 

Traditional baked beans are a lengthy process. They are a 10 hour labour of love, not including soaking time for the dried pulses. It’s 100% worth doing if you want to spend a day lovingly babysitting a crock pot of delicious, sweet beans. Look up a recipe for Boston Baked Beans and go buy some molasses.

If you are a normal person with a full time job and an actual life outside of the kitchen, I suspect you won’t be doing this any time soon. So here is my recipe for quick beans:


Ingredients 

  • 250g smoky bacon lardons
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cans of Haricot or Cannelini Beans
  • 1 500g carton of Passatta
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Method

  1. Dry roast the cumin and mustard seeds, grind finely and add to the paprika. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large, heavy saucepan. Add a drop of oil, then add the bacon. Fry until crisp.
  3. Add the celery and onion to the bacon. Cook on a medium heat, stirring gently until the onions are translucent.
  4. Put all the spices in the pan, stir well, then add the drained beans and the passatta.
  5. Re-fill the passatta carton with water, swirl it around and add to the pan.
  6. Throw in a pinch of salt and the sugar and mix the whole lot well.
  7. Bring the beans to a steady boil, reduce to a simmer and put the lid on.
  8. Leave the beans to simmer for 45 minutes to one hour. You will need to give them a gentle stir every now and then. Top up the water if it starts to look a little dry.
  9. The beans are done when the sauce has reduced and the beans are beginning to break down. Season to taste.
  10. Serve with freshly toasted sourdough and plenty of butter. 

Tips

  • If you are making these beans to eat at a later date, cool as quickly as you can, place in an air tight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Ensure they are piping hot when you reheat them.
  • If you are vegetarian or vegan, simply skip the bacon. These beans are packed full of protein as they are so it doesn’t really bring much to the party, I just really like bacon.
  • If you can get it, I recommend adding a dash of liquid smoke just before you serve this.

Fussiness Factor: Lola really like the sweetness of these beans. The onion and celery break down into the sauce and become invisible. If your fussy kids like this, it’s a good thing to have in the fridge to add vegetables and vitamins to whatever beige food they have requested for dinner. 


Chilli and Nachos

Otherwise known as “Crisps for Dinner”

Lets start with this: Hello, and a belated Happy New Year to all of my followers and readers!

I haven’t written anything or posted any recipes for such a long time. Christmas was (as always) a really busy time for me, both at work and at home. I feel like I’ve been rushing around like a lunatic since the start of November! This year at work we had some huge changes, I’ve started a new role (from pastry chef to head chef) and had a steep learning curve to climb. It was also Stink’s birthday in the second week of January and if you follow me on instagram you’ll have seen we had a mega-sparkly-rainbow-disco party. It was a lot of hard work but she loved every second so it was totally worth the stress and anxiety! Truth be told, as much as I love being busy and I thrive on abnormally high levels of stress, I’ve actually been feeling quite overwhelmed and utterly exhausted. 

This weekend I challenged myself to relax and do fuck all. I managed a few solid hours on the sofa in my pants and dressing gown watching garbage on telly, we had a blustery walk up a big hill and had a roast dinner. In other words I got my shit together!

This vegetarian chilli is big bowl of comfort which I make for my family and my friends frequently. It tastes best on a cold, dark evening, with as many friends as you can fit around the dinner table and a margarita in hand.


Ingredients 

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cans of beans (I’ve used black beans, but kidney and pinto work well too)
  • 500g passata 
  • 1 litre water
  • 2 tbsp lentils
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • A shot of espresso or 1 tsp of instant coffee powder 
  • 1 can of sweetcorn
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • A pinch of ground coriander seed
  • A pinch of chipotle chilli flakes
  •  1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika


Method 

  1. Heat a table spoon of oil in a large pan.
  2. Sweat the onions, celery and garlic on a medium heat until the onions are translucent. Next add the peppers and carrots and the spices. If if starts to stick to the pan add a dash of water. 
  3. When the carrots start to soften, add the drained beans, passata and water. Stir in the sugar, lentils, sweetcorn and coffee.
  4. Put a lid on the pan, bring to a boil then simmer on a low heat for at least 45 minutes. Stir the chilli frequently and add water if it starts to look dry. The lentils will stick like a motherfucker to the bottom of your pan and burn if you don’t. 
  5. Season to taste and serve with tortilla chips for dipping!

Tips

  • This recipe will serve 4 adults; to make more simply add more beans and lentils and adjust the water accordingly. 
  • This can be made in advance, cooled down as quickly as possible and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
  • The amount of spice in this is how I make it for Stink. It’s not exactly spicy, but it is warming. If you or your family are not so keen on spicy things, leave out the chipotle flakes and use a sweet paprika. 
  • I like to serve this with pink onions, which is red onions pickled in lime juice. To make this, simply finely slice a red onion, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cover in the juice of two lime. Massage the lime and salt into the onions, cover and place in the fridge. The salt and the acid in the lime will cook the onion and cause the red to seep out of their outer layers, turning the whole mix fluorescent pink. Leave over night for maximum pinkness! 
  • In case you think I’ve gone mental, the coffee is to add richness. It adds an earthy, warm dimension to the overall flavour of the chilli, but it doesn’t make it taste like coffee. 
  • Fussy-factor: Peppers and Sweetcorn = acceptable. Beans, celery and spice = slightly less acceptable. Being allowed to eat crisps for dinner means this is one of her preferred supper choices.