29 Nov 2012

My cherry twisted Bakewell tart

Last Saturday night, a "pancake party" at one of my friends' place (when French Londoners gather, they eat French food).
We’ve all beeing stuffing ourselves with savoury and sweet “crêpes” – including the mandatory "Crêpe au Nutella" (pancake with Nutella), widely acclaimed as the best pancake in the universe – when I notice one of my friends is stuck on the "Mushroom and Cheese Crêpe" round.

“Aren't you eating any sweet crêpes?” I ask, suspicious
“No, I actually don’t like sweet dishes too much”

I stare at him, mouth wide open, as if struck by lightning.
While I can spend days designing cake recipes in my head or dreaming about a cake I’ve seen on a market, some people actually don’t like sweet food. 
Suddenly, I tried to imagine my house without chocolate mousse, New York cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding and Bakewell tart…but I couldn’t. 

This is when I realised that my Mr. Right will have to like cakes, cause he's not gonna be able to get away from them!

bakewell recipe
Bakewell tart
The Bakewell Tart is one of my favourite British desserts, because I love everything that’s made with almonds.
The traditional recipe calls for raspberry jam, but I used the sublime Comtes de Provence black cherry jam instead, to make it extra special. 
(I didn’t ice the tart because I don’t like sugar icing, but you can put some on top of if you like it!)

1 shortcrust pastry
2 or 3 big tbsp of raspberry or cherry jam (I used black cherry jam from Comtés de Provence)
60g softened butter(at room temperature)
60g caster sugar
1 egg
30g plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
a few drops of Nielsen and Massey almond essence
a small handful of flaked almonds

Make the Bakewell tart: 
1/ Heat the oven at 180deg C
2/ Roll out the pastry onto a pie/tart/flan dish. Prick all over with a fork, and spread 2 or 3 tbsp jam evenly on top of it. Pop in the fridge until the filling is ready.
3/ Make the filling: cream (beat together until white and fluffy) the butter and the sugar with an electric whish or a wooden spoon. Add the egg, the flour, the baking powder, the ground almond and the almond essence, and beat until combined. (as always when we use baking powder, try not to over beat of the baking powder will dry the filling out)
4/ Spread the filling on top of the jam layer, scatter the flaked almonds on top of the tart and bake the tart in the oven for approx. 30min until golden.
5/ Serve lukewarm or cold, on its own or with a dollop of custard

Recipe adapted from the Great British Book of Baking.

Big thanks to the lovely people at Baking Mad (bakingmad.com) for giving me the opportunity to try the Nielsen and Massey almond essence, once of the best I’ve baked with so far!

What's on the Drinks Menu Alex?

- A sweet red wine like a Port (Portugal) or Banyuls (France), 
- a sweet white wine like Sauternes (France) or Muscat, 
- a glass of milk
Thank you Alex!  

And a big hug to my housemate Jed for modeling for me! You can follow Jed's amazing talent for landscape design on his blog here

22 Nov 2012

Double coconut rice pudding

Usual Saturday morning (3pm), it's 2002, my friends and I are sitting in the ugly burger place in Grenoble central station for our traditional "party debrief", trying to drown our hangover and shame of last night in litres of frying oil and mayonnaise.
We call it the "Hangover Burger"

(Dear mum and dad, I'd be much grateful if you could forget to read my blog this week)

My student card entitles us to a second burger for free (Yeah!), we order diet cokes to wash them down (well, real coke is full of sugar, really bad for you, you know?!)

"Hangover calories don't count"
"Calories eaten out of someone else's plate only half count"
"Cakes don't count either if they are homemade"

Dishonnesty doesn't taste bad at all, you just need to cover it up with whipped cream and caramel sauce! 

Double coconut rice pudding

Rice pudding made with vegetable milk doesn't count either ;-)


1 can coconut milk, well shaken (approx 400ml)
1 small glass of pudding rice or risotto rice
4 to 5 tbsp caster sugar (I used Sweet Freedom for baking)
2 heaped tbsp shredded coconut

Make the rice pudding: 

1/ Rince your pudding rice under running cold water and drain
2/ In a medium saucepan : pour coconut milk, sugar, rice, and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes (until the rice is cooked), mixing from time to time
3/ Once cooked, add the shredded coconut, add some sugar to taste if need be, and store in a airtight container (or a jam pot) for up to a week in the fridge

Option : You can serve it with a splash of dulce de leche, or chocolate sauce, or why not a tsp of Malibu

What's on the Drinks Menu Alex?
On the wine side: 
- Beaumes de Venise, 
- Muscat de rivesaltes,
- Cabernet d'anjou rosé 

Soft drinks: 
- vanilla soja milk
- coconut water
- and for a pinacolada spirit : a pineapple juice

Thanks Alex!   

14 Nov 2012

My banoffee pie

Cakes can be devided into  two categories, like girls' hair:

- Cakes that require much talent and effort, but which unfortunately still don't guarantee that the end result will be faboulous. 
ie : my damn hair, french macarons.

- Cakes which only need 10 min preparation with your eyes closed to make any boy fall in love on the spot.
ie: my best friend's hair which looks perfectly unperfect when she wakes up and has never been touched by a comb, banoffee pie.

I'll purposely omit here the third category of girls who spend 30 min everyday carefully messing their hair up and pretend "Oh, I just had time to jump into my jeans, I must look like a mess", because even if boys are naive little things, we can't be fooled Ladies.

In any cases, Mother nature is unfair, and if the banoffee pie wasn't so amazing, we would hate it for being so easy to make.

banana tart recipe

Banoffee pie

1 pack of digestive biscuits (approx 12 biscuit)
50g unsalted butter
2/3 of a can of Nestle carnation caramel or dulce de leche (see below how to make dulce de leche)
2 bananas
1 pot (approx 350ml) whipping cream

Make the banoffee pie:
1/ Preheat the oven at 180°C
2/ Crush the biscuits (in a food processor – or place them in a plastic bag and crush them with beat them with a rolling pin)
3/ To make the biscuit base: Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave, and mix with the crushed biscuits until well combined. Press firmly the biscuit mixture onto a lose-bottom cake tin, and cook for 10 min until golden. Leave to cool completely. 
At this stage, you can remove the base from the cake tin if you wish (or at least remove the sides, I wouldn't dare transfering it onto a different place because it could break)
4/ Spread the caramel on top of the biscuit base.  Refrigerate until set.
5/ Cut the bananas in 1cm thick slices and spread them evenly on top of the caramel
6/ Whip the cream with a hand whisk or an electric hand mixer until it forms soft peaks, and spread on top of the bananas. Refrigerate for at least 3hours (for the whipped cream to have time to set)
banana toffee recipe

banana pie recipe

carnation caramel recipe

banoffee pie recipe

banoffee recipe

carnation caramel

How to make Dulce de leche?

Empty the content of a can of concentrated milk in a small saucepan and cook it on medium heat until it gets a toffee colour (this will take approx 50 min). Be aware that it will become thicker and harder as it cools down. This will be perfect for millionaire shortbreads.
To keep it very soft, ideal scenario for a banofee pie, add 20g butter to the concentrated milk when you start cooking it.Again, stop the cooking when you get a golden coffee colour.

9 Nov 2012

Patagonian souvenirs

- How was it?
- My holidays in Patagonia? Cold, magnificient, delicious

I saw stunning landscapes, hiked a lot, met lovely people, had my lips cracked by the cold, saw whales and pinguins, crossed a giant country by bus, took millions of pictures of my teddy bear Chocolat, and... ate delicious food!

Argentinians master the arts of producing and cooking meat, and baking.
There are completely obsessed with dulce de leche (dense caramel sauce made from condensed milk) that they feature in every single baked good. 
But they also know how to bake really good cheesecakes (ricotta tart) and brownies (with dulce de leche, of course). 
I also fell in love for their empanadas. 

"Were your holidays about sport or food?" asked my dad. At Pauline a la crème anglaise, it's always a bit of both!

I can't wait to share some of the recipes I've brought back with you. In the meantime, here are some pictures!

7 Nov 2012

Homemade Ben's cookies - simply the best cookies ever

She was 12, she had decided to take horse riding lessons just because her big sister was riding horses and at that time, she would have done just about anything to copy her sisters (Too bad she was actually afraid of horses). 

The first time she fell from a horse, she felt so scared and vexed that she left the Horse Riding Club and never went back. The next time she climbed on a horse was 15 years later (some people don't forget easily what failure tastes like …)

When she turned 27, she started baking. When her attempt at one of the easiest recipes ever (cookies) miserably ended up with dry-ass cookies, she felt like that day she had fallen from the horse. She almost promised herself she would never try and bake cookies again.
Three years later, litres of custard had run under her kitchen's bridge...she tought that maybe it was time to make peace with the Cookie God. 

With her new friend Mélodie from her new favourite blog Les Falbalas, she challenged the Kings of Cookies themselves : Ben'sCookies, the chain officially making the best cookies on Earth. 

chewy white chocolate cookies

With a friend by her side, a spatula in her hand, hot tea infusing in a pot, she felt strong and confident. 
That girl would be me and our cookies were delicious. 
There is nothing but a friend to overcome one's cookie fear!

Double chocolate cookies
300g caster sugar
200g unsalted butter
275g self raising flour
1 egg
75g cocoa powder
Milk, few tbsp if needed
Chocolate chunks: I used Toblerone for a giant chocolate chunk in the middle of each cookie + good quality baking chocolat and praline chocolates from Comptoir du Cacao for chunks on top (make sure the chunks are quite big so they don't get lost melting into the cookie dough)

Make the cookies
1/ Preheat your oven at 180°C
2/ Cream the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon (or an electric mixer) until light and fluffy (this will take about 10 min)
3/ Add the egg and beat again
4/ Add the flour and cocoa powder and mix until combined (try not to over beat the ingredients or your cookies will end up very dry). If the dough is too dry, add milk one tablespoon at a time
5/ Add the chocolate chunks and a big Toblerone square in the middle of each cookie
6/ Spoon 2-tablespoon sized balls of dough on a baking sheet (or silicone baking mat) spacing them out quite a lot as the cookies will spread while cooking
7/ Bake for approximately 15 or until just cooked (you want them to still be chewy in the middle)

White Chocolate 
and French glacé cherries cookies

250g flour
A pinch of salt
170g unsalted butter
300g sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
Big chunks of white chocolate (as much as you wish, but plan for at least 100g) and 60g French glacé cherries (a mix of wholes and halves)

Make the cookies
Preheat your oven at 180°C
1/ Cream the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy (this might take about 10 min)
2/ In another bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla extract until light and fluffy too
3/ Mix the egg mixture with the butter mixture and add the flour and salt (again, try not to overbeat the dough).
5/ Add the chocolate chunks and French glacé cherries (try not to brake the cherries by incorporating them into the dough)
6/ Spoon 2-tablespoon sized balls of dough on a baking sheet (or silicone baking mat), spacing them out quite a lot as the cookies will spread while cooking
7/ Bake for approximately 15 or until just cooked.

homemade chewy chookies

French glacé cherries recipe

recipe glacé cherries

homemade ben's cookies

ben's cookies recipe

homemade ben's cookies

homemade chewy cookies
ben's cookie recipe chocolate

ben's cookies recipe
What's on the Drinks Menu Alex?
"I made cookies." Just to hear these words, the first thing that comes to mind is "I hope there will be enough cookies for everyone". 
But we rarely think about the drinks to pair them with. 
What do you think about a traditional glass of milk? For the greediest ones you can also enjoy these cookies with : 
- a vanilla or cherry milkshake, 
- nature or mango sweet lassi 
- or a smoothie with vanilla.

Thanks Alex! (Alex from www.mets-vins.fr)

Last but not least, big big thanks to the lovely people at Comptoir du Cacao (www.comptoircacao.fr) and to the French glacé cherries producers (Aptunion and Maison Leopold Marliagues) for giving me the opportunity to bake with their amazing products. 
Remember these celebrity chefs who keep repeting on telly that you need the best raw materials to make the best dishes? Well, they are right! 
Don't take my word for it, try it yourself.