24 Apr 2013

My lovey-dovey Welsh Cakes

Something's up.

I use expressions that are not mine, all the time.
I've discovered South London on Saturday mornings (like...before 2.00pm).
My mess has spread outside the borders of my own house.
I find shirts in my laundry basket.
I wear make up on Sundays (sometimes).
I make my lunch boxes two by two.
My diary doesn't revolve only around my own priorities anymore.
There's a book that's not mine on my bedside table.
Sometimes my colleages find me staring into space with a huge and silly smile for no reason.
My dad has this new touched sparkle in his eyes when he looks at me.
I'm becoming cheesy...and even...ninny.

I think I'm in love.

easy currants cakes recipe

Welsh cakes

Stop buying Welsh cakes now! They are so easy to make and so absolutely delicious that it would be a shame not to make them yourself. Seriously.
I love currants, so I doubled up the quantities of currants that usually call the traditional recipe. That makes them all the more gorgious!

Ingredients (for approx 15 Welsh Cakes)
225g self-raising flour
a pinch of salt
100 g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
40g currants
1 egg yolk, mixed with 3 tbsp of milk

Make the Welsh cakes: 

1/ In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt. Rub in the cold butter with your fingertips until the mixture ressembles fine crumbs

2/ Stir in the sugar and currents. Add the egg yolk and milk and stir together with a round bladed knife until the dough comes together (add milk one tbsp at a time if the dough is too dry) into a soft (but not sticky) ball 

3/ Roll the dough out onto a floured surface to a thickness of 1 cm and cut into 6cm diameter rounds with a cookie cutter. Gather the dough unused, roll it again and stamp rounds again until all used. 

4/ Heat a heavy-based pan (ideally a griddle pan) with a very little vegetable oil and cook the cakes in batches 1 or 2 min on each side until puffed up, brown and just firm to the touch. (The cakes should be cooked but not fried, so put as little oil as possible)

5/ Transfer to a cooling rack and sprinkle with caster sugar. Eat straight warm or cold.

easy Welsh cakes

easy welsh cakes recipe

This recipe is dedicated to you, my Love.

16 Apr 2013

Death by chocolate cake & Happy Blogday!

Here we are, it's been one year since I've launched Pauline a la crème anglaise, and it's been a fantastic year!

How has it changed my life?
  • For many people, A la crème anglaise has become my surname
  • I've improved my pastry skills a lot, and now only make totally disastrous cakes once in a while
  • I'm expected to bring cakes everywhere I go (Pauline = cake, it's as simple as that)
  • Props, books about British baking and ingredients have invaded my room and my kitchen
  • My week-end plans now revolve around the ultimate priority "when can I bake and blog?"
  • I discovered a passion for food photography, got a DSLR camera and my bedtime readings are now about food photography  (and god, there is so much to learn!)
  • I've extended my general shopping addiction to include looking for props for my blog
  • Some people I don't know comment positively on my blog and every single positive comment makes me feel like I just won an award
  • When people ask me what I do, I tend to start talking about my blog before my work!
  • People are still very surprised when I tell them that I got passionnate about British baking (the French think I'm crazy, and the British are suprised that someone french could look up to their food, rather down at it)
It's been an incredible adventure so far, and I hope that's just the beginning!
So without further a do, let's celebrate with a blogday cake!

recipe easy birthday cake

Death by chocolate 
Birthday cake

As my growing experience doesn't make up for my lack of concentration, I forgot to include the butter in my cake altogether!
And, Big Surprise, the cake was still really nice!
So, depending on if you wish to make the normal recipe or my "skinny by mistake" version of it, feel free to include the butter, or not! 

Ingredients for the sponge
300g good quality cooking chocolate
150g unsalter butter, diced (optional)
5 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g caster sugar 

Ingredients for the topping: 
200g good quality chocolate
100ml double cream 

Make the chocolate cake: 

1/ preheat the oven at 180deg C. 

2/ In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate and butter (check every minute and mix), until smooth. Leave to cool.

3/ In a large bowl (or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer), mix the eggs and vanilla for few seconds. Add the sugar, and mix with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy and volume approx. multiplied by  5 (it will take 5 minutes or so). When lifted with the whisk, the mix should fall back in a very thick ribbon -like trail

4/ Spoon the chocolate mixture into the egg mousse and fold in very gently with a metal spoon until well mixed (the dough should stay moussy)

5/ Pour into a cake tin (approx 22cm diametre) lined with greaseproof paper and butter and bake for approx 35-45 minutes until just firm to the touch (the centre should still be a little moist under the crust, as the cake will slightly continue cooking when out of the oven)

6/ Leave to cool before transfering to a cooling rack.

Prepare the topping: 

1/ In a bowl in the microwave, warm the cream and chocolate until the chocolate is half-melted. Whisk by hand until all the chocolate is melted. 

2/ Cover the cake with the topping and leave to set in the fridge for at least two hours (ideally overnight)

3/ Serve the cake cold with a dollop of double cream

skinny chocolate cake recipe

homemade chocolate cake

easy birthday cake

recipe cake death by chocolate

Thanks to Lisou and Berthe my Nestlé chocolate providers! This recipe wouldn't have been possible without you ;-)

10 Apr 2013

It's always the right time for a Pavlova

When I was a kid, I was so tiny that at home I used to be called "half-portion". 
My nicknames ranged from "Flea" to "Fly's leg"

In museums, ski resorts and theme parks, I enjoyed the special fare for "Under 7" until I was at least 13 which was great. 
What was less great was trying to get into a night club at 17 (legal age is 18 in France), knowing that I looked 14.

When I turned 20, I thought that I had probably caught up with it and looked like my age. 

At 27, when I got introduced to an important business partner, I was confident. Wearing a suit, smiling (but not too much to keep a serious face), I approached him to shake his hand, and he said "Oh god... she is so young!"

Well, only few year later, I'm finally convinced that it's probably a good thing that I look a bit younger than I am ;-)

twist on pavlova recipe

A French wintery twist on a Pavlova

Well, even if summer never comes, that won't prevent us from enjoying summer desserts, will it?
I took a great British classic (which actually comes from Australia, inspired by a Russian ballerina...that's what we call an international pudding!) and gave it a wintery French twist. 
The result is delicious, and makes for the quickest dessert ever. 
Perfect for a dinner party when you don't have more than 5 mins to spend on pulling together a dessert!

The star ingredient is one of my all time favourites: chestnut spread. With its smooth texture and its disctinctive taste, this French speciality brings a nice touch to this British traditional dessert!

You can find the very good Clement Faugier brand in most big supermarkets (in the "international food aisle"), or if you want something extra special : find the Comtés de Provence spread. It has small pieces of chestnut in it and the spread is lighter ; a real treat (available from Borough Market in London)

Ingredients, for 4 mini pavlovas: 

Mini meringue nests (I bought them from M&S)
4 big tbsp of chestnut spread
Greek style yoghurt (I use my favourite: Fage Total 0%)
Few hazelnuts
1 Marron glacé (glacé chestnut)

Make the Pavlovas: 

1/ In a baking tray, toast the whole hazelnuts until golden (it will take approx 5 min) at 180deg C. Roughly crush them, and leave to cool.

2/ Top each mini meringue with a good dollop of chestnut spread, then a good dollop of greek yoghurt, and decorate with hazelnuts pieces and marron glacé pieces.

recipe pavlova easy

winter pavlova

easy pavlova recipe

How to use your leftover chestnus spread?
In France, we love it on pancakes, or chocolate cakes, on warm toasted bread, with plain yoghurt...or directly from the pot with a big spoon!

3 Apr 2013

Yummy scrummy Chelsea Buns

From a British perspective, French people probably have a "very" latin character.
Politics, work, food, love, every topic is a potential reason to have heated debates, push each others' buttons, getting angry from time to time. The thrill of conflict, the passion of reconciliation make us feel alive. (Lunatics? us? Noooo)

On the other hand, British people are known for avoiding conflict, being diplomatic, phlegmatic, calm, rational and polite. 
When we punch, we scream, we strike (ok, maybe we are lunatics), they listen, they nod and they apologise whilst disagreeing.

Although I'm delighted to live in a country where it's unlikely my boss will start screaming at me when I make a huuuge mistake, and although I immensely enjoy my peaceful life with understanding and non-screaming people, I'm afraid some days that's not good enough.
Sometimes it itches me to get angry, and I wish I could find someone who would accept to fight back a little.

I wish I could get angry and have an argument with my landlord when he tells me that a 80 litre flood in my kitchen is not an emergency.
Or with the supplier who talks to me like I'm a 5 year old.
Or even with my boyfriend, who doesn't even get the concept (and the benefits?) of getting upset from time to time.

Well, maybe there is a support group for conflict-frustrated Frenchies somewhere... ;-)

recipe homemade chelsea buns

Chelsea Buns
I was light handed on the topping on these buns, when they could easily have much more topping in the swirls and a stickier top. 
So, don't heistate to follow your instinct and your taste, or even improvise with the topping ingredients!

Ingredients for the dough: 
450g strong white flour , plus extra for dusting
2 x 7g sachets easy-blend yeast
50g caster sugar
150ml warm milk
1 egg , beaten
50g unsalted butter , melted, plus extra for greasing
oil , for greasing

Ingredients for the topping: 
25g melted butter, plus extra for greasing
85g coarsely crunched almonds, plus a few extra to decorate
25g light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp apricot jam mixed with a lump of honey
option: sultanas, ground cinnamon, ground ginger

Make the buns: 
1/ Put the flour, yeast, caster sugar and 1 tsp salt into a large mixing bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk, 50ml warm water, the beaten egg and the melted butter. 

2/ Mix everything together to form a dough - start with a wooden spoon and finish with your hands. If the dough is too dry, add a little more warm water; if it's too wet, add more flour.

3/ Knead in the bowl or on a floured surface until the dough becomes smooth and springy. 

4/ Transfer to a clean, lightly greased bowl and cover loosely with a clean, damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place to rise until roughly doubled in size - this will take about 1 hr depending on how warm the room is.

5/ Heat oven to 200deg C and grease a deep 23cm cake tin. Tip the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few secs.

6/ Roll out the dough to a rough 20 x 30cm rectangle.

7/ In a small bowl, mix the butter with sugar, spices (if used) and spread evenly over the dough, then sprinkle with almonds and sultanas (if using).

8/ Roll up firmly like a Swiss roll from one of the long sides - dampening the open edge to help it stick if you need to.

9/ Cut into 8 even slices with a sharp knife, shape into 8 round pinwheels, then arrange in the tin, cut-side up. Cover with a clean, damp tea towel and prove in a warm place for about 20 mins until roughly doubled in size.

10/ Bake the buns for 10 mins, then lower oven to 180deg C. Cook for 10 mins more until golden brown. Melt the jam with 1 tbsp water, brush all over the buns, then sprinkle with a few more crushed almonds.

easy recipe chelsea buns homemade

quick chelsea buns recipe

quick chelsea buns recipe

quick chelsea buns recipe
(That's the most upset I've seen him so far ;-) )