Sunday, 22 March 2009

happy mother's day; brioche and lemon curd macaroons

the sun has been shining all weekend on the south coast, and a wander along the sea-front was significantly improved by the spotting of a rogue giant bubble! I have been on a bread baking adventure this week, on Wednesday I made cider vinegar english muffins (yum), and for Sunday morning I prepared my mum's favourite...Brioche!
On my sea-front wander I also found some luscious lemons which were just to perfect not to buy; the majority were used up in an exceedingly delightful (and rather large) lemon layer cake. This did however leave me with a vast amount of egg whites, and what else could I make but some zest lemon macaroons, filled with lemon curd of course!
The first time I attempted lemon curd it was a complete and total disaster, now having successfully made two batches I have decided to blame the recipe and happily recommend the below:
Lemon Curd
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
1. Whisk the yolks and sugar together in a thick bottomed saucepan until combined
2. Whisk in the lemon juice, butter and salt
3. Cook over a med-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 5-6 minutes until the mixture turns opaque, thickens and coats the back of a teaspoon. Do NOT let it boil.
4. If you have rogue lemon pith in the curd then pour through a fine sieve into a small bow
5. Cartouche (press greaseproof paper to the surface) and allow to cool, then refrigerate until needed
Lemon Macaroons
180g finely ground almonds
240g icing sugar
140g egg whites, aged - separate from the yolks at least the night before and bring to room temp before using
2g salt, ground
80g granulated sugar
finely grated lemon zest
few drops of yellow food dye
1. Sift together the almond flour, icing sugar and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
2. Whip the egg whites until rather fluffy, then continuing to whip, gradually add the sugar & a few drops of food dye, until stiff but not dry peaks form
3. Add the dry ingredients and the lemon zest to the egg whites; fold with a spatula until a shiny mass forms
4. Fill a piping bag with a 1/3" tip and pipe small rounds (about 1 1/2" diameter) onto baking trays lined with baking paper (I pre-cut out the baking paper and pipe out all the batter first, this does cover the entire kitchen with macaroons but it makes the process much easier!)
5. Leave the macaroons to dry for about 30-45 minutes, you want the tops to be dry when you touch them
6. Preheat the oven to 180C; place one tray in the oven at a time and reduce the temperature to 145C, bake for 10 minutes then rotate and bake for another 5
7. Remove from the oven and cool - I remove mine from the baking paper immediately as I find the can stick but experimentation is key!
8. Once cool match up you macaroons and sandwich together with your filling.
I filled mine with my lemon curd that I had mixed into some basic buttercream (butter and icing sugar beaten together until fluffy, then beat in the lemon curd)...

Sunday, 15 March 2009

red nose day, cupcakes & cookies

my mum asked me to bake some goodies for her to sell for red nose day; on offer were Red Nose Sugar Cookies, Iced Vanilla Cupcakes and Red Velvet Cupcakes (no prizes for guessing which ran out first!)...and £155 was rasied for comic relief!

Monday, 9 March 2009

almond croissants and a sunday morning

the sun has appeared! and with it the tweets of various spring time birds, which can be heard through my open (!) kitchen window. what else could complete this nice twee scene that the weekend papers, a nice cup of hot coffee and some freshly baked almond croissants....
yum. happy sunday everyone!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

egg custard tarts

the 8 egg yolks had now been glaring at me from their ice cube tray compartments for 2 days now, a necessary but unfortunate by product of this cake, and at 10pm tonight I finally decided what to make. Egg custard tarts are simply awesome, they instantly take me back to small childhood memories of being allowed one as a treat from the bakers in the village I grew up in (ha, no, I did not grow up in a Famous Five book...I wish!). A nice melt-in-the-mouth sweet pastry, a firm but silky custard filling, topped with a sprinkling of nutmeg...mmmmmmm...and here is how...
90g cold butter, diced
125g plain flour
25g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
ice cold water
(I use a food processor to make the pastry so this is the method I will put here; this makes enough to line 1x9" case, or 5x4" cases)
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup milk (I used skimmed so any fat content is fine)
ground nutmeg
1. Put the flour, icing sugar and cold butter in the bowl of your food processor, with the knife blade in place. Pulse until the mix resembles very fine breadcrumbs.
2. Add the egg yolk and pulse again to incorporate
3. Add ice cold water a dribble at a time whilst pulsing, you only need a little, until the pastry comes together and forms a loose ball
4. Wrap the pastry in baking paper and pop it in the fridge for 20 mins to chill
5. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F and move the racks to the middle
6. Grease your tart cases (or you can use a muffin tin), flour a clean surface and roll out your pastry
7. Line your chosen cases and trim the excess pastry off
8. Scrumple up some baking paper and line the cases, fill with baking beads - push to the edges to stop shrinkage
9. Blind bake the cases for 15 mins, then remove the beads and paper and cook for another 5-10 minutes. This will vary depending on the size of case you are making.
10. Whilst the cases are baking make the filling by first hand whisking together the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar is pretty much dissolved
11. Whisk in the milk, try not to make the mix too foamy
12. Fill your baked cases to the top with the egg mixture and dust the tops with nutmeg
13. Pop back in the oven for 15-25 minutes (again dependent on tart size) until the filling is set but still a bit wobbly
14. Cool completely on a rack before removing from the baking cases