Monday, March 21, 2011

Yogurt and spelt bread

When experimenting with making my own yogurt the result was not always up to my standard. One morning the yogurt was not quite set, still sour and tasty but not thick enough for me to sprinkle my muesli on. Not much goes to waste in this house though so I decided to bake with the "sour" milk. Yogurt is nice to use in bread baking because it gives the bread a little more flavour and makes it more moist. First I was going to make Rye cakes but when I opened my cup board I saw a bag of spelt flour and decided to use that instead of rye.. With a small amount of yeast and lots of time for proving the result was a lovely moist bread with a nice crust and lots of flavour.

350 grams plain flour
200 grams spelt flour
7 grams dry yeast
2tsp salt
2tbsp golden syrup or honey
500ml yogurt or butter milk+25ml warm water
50 grams butter, room temperature
a couple of hand full of mixed seeds if you like

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and add to the yogurt. Add syrup/honey, salt and butter (and seeds if using) to the liquid. Add spelt flour while stirring. Work the plain flour into the mix, you might need a little more to create an elastic dough, not too wet and not too compact. Leave to prove under a cloth for 3h. Work the dough a little by hand and cut into 8 pieces. Roll balls of each piece and roll out to about 2cm thick. Let prove again for 30min. Bake for 20min on 200C.

Insalata caprese

Sometimes the simplest things are the tastiest, in those cases it is all about the ingredients; they need to be top quality. I think most people knows this dish as Tomato and Mozzarella salad. For me, and the whole of Italy, it is Insalata Caprese. Two weeks ago deep red tomatoes caught my eye in the vegetable aisle in the local super market. Those tomatoes together with mozzarella, freshly ground black pepper, a drop of olive oil and some fresh basil became a lovely lunch. The days are getting longer and the temperature rising and I feel more and more like eating fresh, light food.Go ahead and try this if you haven't, with a piece of bread and maybe even a cheeky glass of wine it is simply delicious.

1 tomato
1/2 ball of mozzarella
salt and pepper
olive oil

Slice the tomato and mozzarella in 1/2cm thick slices. Arrange on a plate, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and ground black pepper and garnish with some fresh basil.

Home made yogurt

I am, as many other these days, quite aware of what I eat to amke sure I stay healthy and get all the nutrition I need. It is hard not to since it seems to be a favourite topic in magazines, books and TV programs. I have been thought from a young age to eat well and at regular hours. During week days my mum would make sure we ate well before heading to school, and at weekends breakfast was a meal the whole family would sit down to. I still make sure I eat breakfast every day and it does not even feel like a must, it is just a habit at this point.
My latest project has been to make my own yogurt, after reading how good probiotic yogurt is for a healthy digestion and boosting the immune system. It sounds a bit tricky but if you just have a thermometer, thermos and milk you are ready to go. You need to buy a good, plain probiotic yogurt to start the fermentation of the milk. After the first time you can save some of your home made yogurt and use as a starter for the next batch.

500ml milk (or as much you need to fill your thermos)
2tbsp probiotic yogurt (per 500ml milk)

Heat the milk up in a pot on medium heat. When it reaches 85C take off the heat. Fill the thermos with boiling water to sterilise it. When the milk comes down to 43C add the yogurt and stir. Pour out the water from the thermos, pour in the milk, put on the lid and let stand in room temperature for 8-10h. Transfer to a container and chill over night before eating. I like to eat mine with home made muesli.

Lemon semifreddo

Last week I had home made Lemon curd in the fridge and a bottle of Limoncello brought to us as a gift straight from Italy. It would have been a crime not to combine these to delicious things so I made Lemon semifreddo. Martin who was quick to grab the plate I used for the photo, a couple of minutes later I came in to the room and the dessert was gone. That kind of thing makes me smirk a little and feel very pleased with myself. The day after I served the dessert after a lovely meal and oh what a joy, the fresh tangy lemon cuts through the creamy, soft semifreddo and just melts in your mouth. The addition of limocello will not only make this dessert taste even better but also stop it from freezing too hard and leaves it kind of soft frozen. Served with fresh blueberries and mint it was a top class dessert.

4-6 portions

2 eggs, separated
200ml cream
60 grams caster sugar
50ml lemon curd
40ml limoncello

Whisk egg yolks and half of the sugar until fluffy and pale. In a separate bowl whisk the cream until soft peaks appear. In a third bowl whisk egg whites until fluffy, start adding sugar little by little while whisking. Continue whisking into a firm meringue.
Carefully combine whipped cream, egg yolks, limoncello and lemon curd. Last fold in the meringue and pour into a dish. Freeze for at least 3 hours. Leave in room temperature for 10min before serving.

Lemon curd

This classic, English spread goes just as well with your afternoon tea scone as in desserts and cakes. I came across Lemon curd a few years ago and was not that impressed to be honest, little did I know then all the wonderful things it can be used for. These days I make Lemon curd myself, I prefer not to eat in on toast or scones, I use it more as an ingredient while baking or making desserts. The other day I had some really juicy lemons in the fridge and decided to cook a small batch of Lemon curd, later in the week I used it for a lovely lemon semi freddo. The recipe comes from the "cooking bible" La Rousse, a personal favourite cook book that never lets me down with its many recipes.

2 lemons, juice and zest
100 grams butter
225 grams caster sugar
3 eggs, lighlty beaten

Melt butter in a pan on a low heat. Stir sugar, eggs , juice and zest of the lemons together until well combined. Add the lemon mix to the butter slowly while whisking. Stir until it starts to thicken, be careful not to let the eggs coagulate. Take off the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Keep in an air tight container in the fridge.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Digestive biscuits

Did you know you can make your own digestive biscuits? I did not until I the other day got the idea into my head and started having a look around on other food blogs and recipe pages. It obviously has been done before and there is a good few recipes out there. This recipe is one that came up on a few different pages and seemed easy enough. With a few different types of flour, butter and of course my lovely cookie stamp they turned out to be lovely. The taste is just like the biscuits you buy in a packet, maybe a little less sweet though. I like to dunk mine in a cup of tea but of course they go very well with a glass of cold milk.

12 biscuits

25 grams plain flour
35 grams whole wheat flour
40 grams oat flakes
40 grams butter
1tbsp milk
1/4tsp baking soda
1/4tsp salt
1tsp sugar

Blend oat flakes and whole wheat flour into a fine powder with a hand held mixer or in a kithcen assistant. Add plain flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Rub butter into the dry mix and last milk to bind it together to a dough. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and take out cookies with a glass or cookie cutter, prick with a fork. Bake on 175C for 15min.

Brown butter banana cake

With brown bananas in the fruit bowl and a wish to bake something I was today standing in my kitchen. I had the recipe for my Banana oat bran muffins in front of me and was all ready to start when an idea came to me. After making the Friands a few weeks ago I have been wanting to make something else with brown butter. Reading a few recipes and blogs for inspiration I now had a plan; Brown butter banana cake. Imagine a rich, dense banana cake with the nutty, caramelised flavour of brown butter, a touch of cinnamon and served warm. It was absolutely delicious and I will definatly keep this recipe in mind for the next time I see brown bananas in the fruit bowl.

120 grams butter
150 grams soft brown sugar
2 eggs
180 grams plain flour
1tsp baking soda
1pinch of salt
1tsp ground cinnamon
60ml plain yogurt
2 bananas

Melt butter in a pan and keep it on the heat until a foam appears on the surface, it smells nutty and looks brown in colour. Set a side to cool down. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl mix eggs, sugar, the bananas roughly mashed up and butter. Add dry ingredients and yogurt. Stir until well combined and bake on 190C for 35-45min.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chocolate Macaroons

The other day I baked Macaroons again and they turned out nearly just the way I wanted. A crisp chocolate meringe shell with a chewy inside, filled with smooth milk chocolate ganache. I used this recipe and added 1tsp of cocoa powder to the icing sugar/almond mix. The milk chocolate ganache is very easy to make and I chose to kepp it plain, next time I might flavour it with some liqour or whiskey. I used Fair Trade milk chocolate of good quality.

Milk chocolate Ganache

100 grams milk chocolate
50ml cream
1tbsp butter

Bring the cream to boil and take off the heat. Add butter and chocolate, stir until the chocolate has melted and it all looks smooth and well combined. Set a side to cool down. The ganache is set when not runny anymore and thick in consistency. Fill the Meringe shells with the ganache and put together two and two. Chill before serving and store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Blood orange drizzle cake

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" the old saying goes but in the month of March it is more a case of blood oranges being in season and I like to make the most of it.
Lemon drizzle cake is something I tasted the first time in London. We were strolling around in a park, the sun was shining and it was a lovely late summer day until all of a sudden the sky turned grey and it looked like bad weather was on the way. In the gardens of Kensington Palace a lovely cafe called The Orangery is located and as we seeked shelter in there the weather started to get better again, and by the time we had ordered our afternoon tea the sky was clear again. English weather, what can I say?
However I decided to go very Brittish this afternoon and ordered a slice of lemon drizzle cake accompanied by a pot of Earl Grey tea. What a pleasure to bite in to this soft, moist sponge drizzled with a lovely tangy lemon icing, sipping tea in the gardens of Kensington palace.
This month I have indulged in blood oranges as they are in season and the price is very reasonable. It is lovely to eat them just the way they are of course but it can be nice to make something more and since I love baking I decided to put a twist on the classic Lemon Drizzle cake and do a Blood Orange Drizzle Cake. A rich sponge is topped with a blood orange juice and sugar mix, the orange juice will sink into the cake and make it moist, the sugar will stay on top and create a sherbet like icing.


200 grams butter, room temperature
300 grams caster sugar
4 eggs
240 grams plain flour
1tsp baking powder
100ml milk
1 blood orange, zest and juice
1 pinch of salt

Cream butter, sugar and a pinch of salt until pale and fluffy. Add one egg at the time while beating into a smooth batter. Add flour and baking powder through a sieve. Last fold in milk, zest and juice of the blood orange and make sure all is well combined. Bake for 30-40min on 175C, a skewer should come out dry. Take out of the oven and let cool on a wire rack while making the syrup and icing.


1 blood orange, juice and zest
80 grams caster sugar (i used icing sugar, it wont be as "icy" on the top, still very nice)

Combine the juice and sugar, pour over the cake and sprinkle zest on top.

Serve with your afternoon tea or as a dessert with a dollop of cream or yougurt.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Swedish shrove tuesday pastries

The 8th of March this year was the date of Shrove tuesday. More known as pancake tuesday this is the day people indulge in pancakes. For me it was once again a day of making pancakes all day long in work since people, religious or not, really do want their pancakes on this very day. So working in a restaurant or cafe this day can be pretty busy.
In Sweden however this day is called "fat tuesday", but we dont eat pancakes. We eat a pastry called "Semla" or "Fastlagsbulle" (lent/fast-bun). A cardamom flavoured bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream, dusted with icing sugar. It is a real treat and should traditionally only be sold and eaten on this very day, nowadays most cafes and bakeries sell the pastries for weeks before the actual day to eat them though.


50 grams fresh yeast/ 14 grams dried yeast
500ml milk
150grams butter
85 grams caster sugar
1tsp salt
900 grams plain flour
1tsp cardamom, ground
1 egg+egg yolk for brushing the buns

Melt butter in a pan and add milk, let it be luke warm. Add the butter and milk to the yeast in a large bowl and mix until the yeast has dissolved. Add egg, sugar, salt and cardamom. Add 2/3 of the flour, mix into a paste. Gradually add more flour while working the paste into a dough, you might not need all flour, the dough is good when it is elastic and easy to work. Let prove under a cloth until it has doubled in size.

Divide into 20 pieces and shape little round balls. Let prove under a cloth on a baking tray lined with baking paper for 30-40min. Brush with a lighlt beaten egg yolk and bake for 8-10min on 220C. Let cool down.

Almond paste

100 grams ground almonds
100 grams caster sugar

Combine almond and sugar and and add just enough water to bind it togehter to a firm paste.

Cut the top of the buns and put a small bit of almond paste on each bun. Whisk 300ml of cream, not too firm but firm enough to pipe on top of the almond paste. Place the lid of the buns on top of the cream. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

If you have some unfilled buns left you can cut them into quarters and dry out on a low heat in to oven for a couple of hours and you have lovely, crisp cardamom biscotti.

Grilled Aubergine

I have always been a fussy eater and even now I find myself still learning to like certain types of food or flavours. Fish, capers, chickpeas and beans are only a few of the things I have learned to appreciate the last few years. One thing I am still working on is aubergine and I am getting to like it! Now I do not like the chunks of aubergine I so often find in Ratatouille, actually I do not like any chunks of auberinge. No, I want it roasted until soft and mashed up in to Baba Ganoush; a lovely libanese aubergine dip. But lately I have discovered how tasty aubergine is when thinly sliced and char grilled, soaked in a lovely marianade served as a side dich to grilled Halloumi salad and Bulgur wheat.
This recipe can also be used to make lovely Brushetta for a starter. Try to use fresh herbs as it will not only look pretty but also taste so much better.

1 auberine
1 red chili
1 clove of garlic
1 lemon, zest and juice
mint, basil, olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut the aubergine in to 0.5cm thick slices. Heat a grill pan until smoking hot. Grill the aubergine on both sides, it should have nice grill marks on it and start to feel soft. Place on a plate or in a serving dish.
Chop chili (without seeds), garlic, basil and mint. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over the aubergine. Scatter chili, garlic, lemon zest and herbs on top and season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pink macaroons with rhubarb and cream tea

I have done it again and this time successfully. I am talking about macaroons and I am now very proud to present my latest attempt to bake these little treasures. It is such a challenge to have patience for all the little steps that are crucial for a perfect result. This time the macaroon bases were close to perfection and they just looked absolutely gorgeous. The recipe is the same as my Hazelnut macaroons but this time I did it the traditional way and used ground almonds.

150 grams icing sugar
60 grams ground almonds
2 egg whites

Mix half of the icing sugar with the ground almonds pass through a fine sieve. Beat egg white until soft peaks appear, slowly start to add icing sugar bit by bit while beating. Continue whisking to a firm meringue. Gently fold in almonds and icing sugar, stir just so all is well blended and has lost a bit of its volume, be careful not to stir too much.

Drop or pipe small rounds of the mix on a tray with baking paper. If small peaks or bubbles appear gently tap the tray against your work top and they will even out and look smooth. Let dry for 1h before baking on 150C for 12-15min. Let cool down completely before removing from the baking paper.

Fill with butter cream or chocolate ganache. My filling was a butter cream flavoured with rhubarb and cream tea, it will come later on the blog.


Waking up on a weekend morning there is few things that taste better than a dense, chewy bagel toasted with cream cheese. The ring shaped bread with its variety of toppings and flavours has its origin in Poland and has since the 16th century spread around the world and is now mostly associated with cities in USA, Canada and UK with a big Jewish population.
For me bagels brings back memories of been a teenager and going to cafes to meet my friends for tea/coffee and having toasted sesame seed bagels with cream cheese and ham or turkey. Even before I tried a bagel I just knew I would like them. These days I don't eat too many bagels since they are rich in white flour and carbohydrates, but on a weekend a treat is a must and bagels really does the trick. What makes them so chewy and dense is the process of boiling the bagels before baking, sound a little tricky but it is easy enough and definatley worth the effort.

8 bagels

250ml water, luke warm
8 grams salt
8 grams sugar
7 grams dried yeast
400 grams plain flour

seeds, cheese, nuts...

Dissolve yeast in water and add sugar and salt. Add flour and bring together to a dough, Knead the dough by hand for 10min. Let prove under a damp cloth for 1h. Divide the dough into 8 equally sized pieces and shape little round buns. Let rest for 10min. Make a whole in the middle of each bun and pull gently to make it a little bigger and even. Let prove again for 30min.

Turn the oven on 250C. Bring a pot of water to the boil with 2tbsp of sugar. Gently drop bagels in to the water and turn the heat down to let the water simmer. Cook the bagels for 1min on each side, lift up from the water and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle topping of your choice on top of each bagel. Turn heat down to 220C when you put the bagels in to the middle of the oven and bake for 20min.

Apple cupcakes

Here is a lovely little cupcake that is very moist and tasty without being full of butter like so many tasty cakes seems to be. The muffin is a carrot cake recipe where I just swapped carrots for tiny pieces of Granny Smith apple. Flavoured with cinnamon and topped with lemon frosting they are a true delight. I made mine small but they can of course be made in to normal sized muffins.

15 small

1 egg
60 grams brown sugar
60 plain flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1/4tsp baking soda
50ml vegetable oil
1 apple (I use granny smith)
1tsp ground cinnamon

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnmon. Beat sugar and egg together, add the dry ingredients through a sieve. Last fold in oil and finely chopped apple. Bake in small muffin cups on 175C for 15min. Large muffins will take around 20min.
Let cool down while making the frosting.

50 grams soft butter
125 grams icing sugar
zest and juice of half a lemon

Mix all ingredients until smooth and well blended. Spread on top of the cold muffin and chill a little before serving with a small piece of apple on top.


Rich mascarpone mixed with eggs and marsala layered with savoiardi biscuits soaked in coffee this lovely dessert really hits the spot after a big Italian meal. Translated straight from Italian it means "pick me up" and it sure does. In Florence last year we spent most of our holiday eating and drinking and I would not be lying if I told you I had tiramisu nearly every day. Tiramisu would in my opinion be a grown up dessert and I used not to like it because of the strong flavours of coffee and alcohol, but it seems the more I have it the stronger I like the coffee to be and I am not shy with the alcohol. At the moment I have no marsala at home but I use coffee liquor and whiskey instead, work just fine. On top I also grated some very dark chocolate to give it a little extra kick. Here is a recipe for 4 portions.

250 grams mascarpone
2 eggs, separated
4tbsp icing sugar
whiskey/coffee liquor

8 savoiardi biscuits
200ml strong coffee+whiskey/coffee liquor
cocoa powder

Beat egg yolks and 2 tbsp of the icing sugar until pale. Add mascarpone and continue to beat until thick. Add coffee liquor or whiskey to taste. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until soft peaks appear and add 2 tbsp of the icing sugar and continue to whisk it to a firm meringue. Gently fold in the meringue to the mascarpone-mix.

Dip the savoiardi biscuits in coffee flavoured with whiskey/coffee liquor. Put biscuits in the bottom of a large dish or in portion glasses and top with the mascarpone-mix. Put one more layer of bicuits before topping with the remaining mascarpone-mix. Chill for at least two hours before dusting with cocoa powder and serving.