24 Jul 2012

Olympic Break

My dear cake lovers,

I was telling you few weeks ago that 2012 is a very exciting year for me.
Just when I tought things could not get any better, they actually just did!

Pauline à la crème anglaise will become for few days "Pauline at the Olympic Games"

I have indeed been selected by Samsung to become an "official" London 2012 blogger!

Tomorrow, I'll take off my apron, put on my Samsung Global Blogger uniform, and go and blog about London's atmosphere during the Olympics for 8 days, alongside 33 bloggers from 20 differents countries.

Don't worry, I will be back very soon with lots of new recipes for you to try, and in the meantime, come and take a bite of the London 2012 Olympic Games with me!

To follow my Olympic adventures : My Samsung Global Blogger personal page

19 Jul 2012

All you need is Love, Love, Love!

Why do men cook? 
Because cooking leads to eating and it's challenging enough to make them feel strong and clever.

Why do women cook? 
Because that’s how they show their love. 

No, just kidding. 
Although….for many people (may they be women of men), giving love goes with giving food

I don’t have children yet, but I am already pretty sure I will be a mum who cooks and bakes cakes all the time. I think it might be hereditary.

I still have vivid memories of my older sisters cooking for me and taking care of me every time I visited them when I was a teenager.  
Amélie would cook anything that involved melted cheese and potatoes, and Marie would bake cakes. We would watch Buffy with a plate on our laps and I would suddenly forget all my worries (exams, homework, boyfriends dramas, etc).
Until now, when I am in crisis, the best remedy is a prescription of pecan pie at my sister’s.
So until I have my own children and can force-feed them with love and British cakes, I use my families, friends and colleagues as recipients of my love-cooking outbursts. 

It was then only fair that I baked for my friends’ wedding brunch earlier this month. The brief being to make as many cakes as possible in a day to feed a crowd, muffins came as the perfect option.
I broke my own personal record: 120 muffins of 5 different flavours baked in a day. 
Isn’t this love? 


Basic Muffin mix and variations

Servings: 12 muffins

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
3/8 cup oil (that is 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons)
1/2 tsp of vanilla essence
About 1 cup of ingredients which will make up for the "flavour" of the muffins

Make the muffins:

1/Pre-heat the oven at 200 deg C.
2/ In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together: flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
3/ In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients together:  egg, milk and oil
4/ Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, as well as the cup of flavouring and stir until just moistened. Do not over mix! (The less you mix, the better. Don't worry about lumps, they will disappear in the baking process)
5/ Grease or line muffin tins with paper baking cups (not necessary if you use silicone muffin cases).
6/ Fill about 2/3 full. 
7/ Bake at 200 degrees C for about 20-25 minutes or until well risen

Flavouring suggestions:
Double chocolate: white and dark chocolate chips + 1 tbsp of unsweetened chocolate powder
Pinacolada: desiccated coconut and pineapple chunks (I used canned pineapple)
Jam’s heart: just make a plan muffin and just before cooking, drop a dollop of your favourite jam on the center of the muffin mix. 
Banana nuts: mashed banana + crushed walnuts
Cinnabon: grated apple + ½ tsp ground ginger + ½ tsp ground cinnamon

NB: You can bake the muffins, leave them to cool completely and them freeze them (in freezing bags) for up to 2 weeks.

Jam's heart muffin

Pinacolada muffin
 PS: A special Thank You to Karine for letting me make a mess of her kitchen for a day!

11 Jul 2012

The Cake That Rocked

Have you ever had this weird feeling that you’ve made a decision on a gut feeling, and only understood a few years later why it was the best decision you could ever make?
I have. My entire life is a succession of gut-driven decisions that magically happened to make sense in the long run. Hobbies, relationships (altough I did make few bad choices in that field in the past), career choices…and coming to live in London.
When I came to London, I didn’t know that it would tick so many - absooolutely essential - boxes and change my life for the best in so many ways.

I finally:
  • Live in a country where nobody ever teases me on my outfit, should my dress be too bright or too short (in France I was an outsider, here I am almost a traditionalist!)
  • Live in a country where people smile and speak to you nicely most of the time, even if they might be in a bad mood
  • Live in a country where people don’t kiss to say “hello” or “goodbye” (I know, I am an offence to my French-ness, but I absolutely hate kissing on the cheeks!)
  • Live in the country of my dear beloved banoffee pie. Yes, this is enough good a reason to live here. 
  • Live in a kingdom, with a queen, princes and princesses and, of course, fairy tales
  • Live in a city where I can go and see live musicals as often as I want (and I do do so very often)
So it was high time I showed this new country of mine how much I love it.

The cake that rocked

This cake is as impressive as it is easy to make. You can even make the sponge in advance and freeze it until the day of serving. It is light, packed with fresh fruits and easy to cut in squares : ideal for a dinner with 6/10 friends. Easy peasy!

Ingredients for the sponge:
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 125ml full-fat Greek yogurt
  • zest 2 lemons 
  • option: 100g French glacé cherries (I told you, I use them everywhere!)
Make the sponge: 
  1. Heat oven to 180C. 
  2. Butter and line a 30 x 20cm traybake tin with baking parchment. 
  3. Measure all the sponge ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix together using an electric hand whisk until smooth. 
  4. Spoon into the tin and level the surface.
  5. Bake for 25-30 mins until lightly golden and the top of the cake springs back when pressed with your finger, and the sides of the sponge are shrinking away from the sides of the tin. 
  6. Carefully lift the sponge out of the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. 
  7. Remove the baking parchment.  
     Ingredients for the icing: 
  • 2 x 384ml pot whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup of icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp of lemon juice
     Make the icing:
  1. Beat the whipping cream with lemon juice until just set
  2. Fold in the sugar
     Decorate the cake:
  1. Spread the cream on top of the cake
  2. Draw the Union Jack flag with fresh raspberries (300g needed) and blueberries (175g needed) 

You can of course use any fresh fruits you like and draw anything you wish on the cake! Have fun!
Recipe adapted from www.bbcgoodfood.com

5 Jul 2012

Happiness is sometimes as easy as a Tomato Salad

My parents travel a lot.
From every single trip they always bring back local dishes that they make their new favourite and cook all the time until the next trip comes and brings a new trend. (My brothers and sisters do love teasing them about that)

(I actually got my passion for travels and tasting local foods actually from my Dad, whom I'll never thank enough for such a great gift)

To only name but a few, we enjoyed the times of:
- The Tagine and Berbere Omelette from Marocco
- The Phô from Laos
- The Ginger and Coconut Chicken from Madagascar
- The Crozets bake and Potatoes cooked in milk from The French Alps (God bless skying holidays)

I won't mention the "Meat dumplings Soup from Austria" phase though, which is still quite a painful memory from my childhood ;-)

The new favourite is the greek salad (and all variations)

So, my last visit to my parents was the perfect opportunity for me to enjoy the beautiful French sun, play with my new camera, spend some quality time with my parents and stock up on vitamines! 

Happiness is sometimes as easy as a Tomato Salad.

3 Jul 2012

The Queen's Apricot Tart

Signature dish: A magic dish that nobody can cook better (or even as good as) than the person gifted by its magic super powers.
PS: Do you really think you can pretend to be Zorro and fool anybody just because you can carve a Z on a wooden door with you Swiss knife?
As a relatively good cook, I obviously can cook tarts. They are even very good my tarts.
Yet, The Queen of Tarts, she cooks them better. That’s (one of) her (many) talent(s).
One day, a long time ago, the God of Tarts looked down at her, decided to give her The Gift and made her Queen of Tarts.
I’m gonna have to stop you right there if you are one of those who think that tarts are boring desserts, because tarts made by the Queen of Tarts are nowhere near boring. They are just heaven in your plate.
As she is my super-heroin, I can’t put The Queen of Tarts at risk and reveal her identity, but consider yourself lucky because she’s allowed me to share one of her recipes with you. I personally don’t cook tarts very often. My taste buds prefer visiting her when they crave for a tart.
I strongly advise you to give it a go though. Who knows, maybe a Queen or King lies in you?!

The Queen of Apricot Tart
A sweet shortcrust pastry
1kg fresh apricots
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
250g approx. crème fraiche (or double cream)

Make the tart:
1/ Preheat your oven at 180°C
2/ Unroll the pastry onto a metal tart tin
3/ Stone the apricots, cut them in half and lay them on a big plate. Sprinkle sugar on top of them (approx. 4 tbsp). Leave for 5 mins. The apricots will start releasing juice and soak up the sugar.
4/ In a big bowl, beat with a fork the eggs, crème fraiche and sugar. Add the apricots. Mix gently to coat all the apricots with the egg/cream/sugar mix.
5/ Pour the mix and apricots on top of the pastry, spread evenly. Bake in the middle of the oven for approx. 30-40 min or until golden. Eat warm or cold.

PS: this recipe is even more special to me because it was the first time I used my new camera that my wonderful friends and family got for me for my birthday. It is so amazing that it just makes me want to bake even more!