Chocolate babka

25 Sep

chocolate-babka

The moment I saw those Great British Bake-off contestants tackling chocolate bread, I knew I’d be making chocolate babka.

I first heard of chocolate babka in that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry and Elaine fail to buy one for a dinner party, but have never made – or eaten – any type of babka until now.

It turns out that making babka is a time-consuming, fiddly labour of love. Part way through the bread-braiding process, I thought “this is the first and last chocolate babka I’m going to make.”

And then I tasted that pillowy sweet dough laced with swirls and knots of chocolate and nuggets of toasted pecan. If I hadn’t been stupified by deliciousness, I could have happily started making another one immediately…;-)

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Chorizo-leek phyllo tart

13 Sep

Chorizo-leek tart

We ate this chorizo-leek phyllo tart a few times over the summer. I’d cook it early in the day – tarts and quiches benefit from having enough time to cool and rest – and we’d eat for dinner with a green salad.

I’ve experimented with adding goat’s cheese, sundried tomatoes, and sliced olives, but didn’t feel the tart was improved by it.

The chorizo provides ample flavour, and without cheese, the cream and eggs bake to a silky, custard-like consistency.

Sometimes simple is best. Continue reading

Pepparkakor (Swedish ginger biscuits)

7 Sep

Pepparkakor (Swedish ginger biscuits)

“Oh, reindeer biscuits!” my daughter said when she saw these cooling on the rack. “Are they for Christmas?” “They’re moose biscuits,” I told her, “and they’re for the Great British Bake-off biscuit week.”

Why moose biscuits? Because I’m a proud, moose-loving Canadian, of course. (And also because it’s the only non-Christmas-shaped biscuit cutter I own…)

When making cut-out biscuits, it’s important to choose the right sort of dough. It’s dispiriting to go to the effort to cut out little bells and Christmas trees, say, and end up with indistinguishable, amorphous blobs.

Of the three go-to biscuit doughs I use to make cut-out biscuits, this peparkakor one is my favourite. It hardly spreads at all during baking, and the resulting biscuits are fragrantly spiced, and satisfyingly crisp.

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Homemade tahini

5 Sep

Tahini

The other day, I asked my husband to pick up some sesame seeds on the way home. Instead of the little packet I was expecting, he plonked a 500g bag on the counter. That’ll to take years to get through, I thought ungratefully…

I know that I have nothing to complain about. My husband and daughters are willing to pop to the shops at a moment’s notice, and generally return with a reasonable approximation of the requested item.

(Not like a former housemate who went to buy half a dozen eggs and returned with a six-pack of beer. “I knew it was six of something,” he said.)

And without that enormous bag of sesame seeds, I might not have discovered how easy it is to make tahini. Or how there is no comparison between fresh tahini and the pale lump of hardened sludge submerged in low-grade oil that is most store-bought tahini. Or how amazingly good it tastes.

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Grapefruit drizzle cake with yogurt icing

31 Aug

Grapefruit drizzle cake

The Great British Bake-off is back! Returning from a week in Girona a couple of days ago, we didn’t even unpack our suitcases before sitting down to watch the first episode. We have our priorities straight around here…;-)

“You are going to bake along with them again, aren’t you mum? You could do the technical challenges this time…” (While the thought of attempting my own Jaffa cakes is tempting, I plan to stick with signature bakes for another season.)

So, first up, drizzle cake…

Lemon drizzle is the undisputed champion of the drizzle cake world – a sweet-tart, sticky-soft, tea-time treat you’d have to go some way to improve upon. But having already written about my mum’s lemon bread, I decided to make a grapefruit drizzle cake instead.

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Sticky ginger cake with lemon icing

27 Aug

Sticky ginger cake with lemon icing

This lovely, slightly damp and sticky ginger cake is fast becoming a staple in our house. I love how the sharp lemon icing cuts the sweetness of the sponge.

The cake keeps really well, and is even more delicious the following day. It could well be even better the day after that, but we’ve never had one last long enough to find out…;-)

The original recipe is from the BBC Good Food website. Continue reading

Chicken and pea risotto

23 Aug

Chicken and pea risotto
Chicken and pea risotto is a nice, simple supper for a summer’s evening and uses ingredients I nearly always have to hand.

I started by simmering the chicken breasts in stock I then used to make the risotto, but it’s also a good way to use up leftover roast chicken. Continue reading