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Showing posts from May, 2015

Another Coffee Cake

You may not believe by the looks of it but this is the same cake that I baked last week. This time around, I decided to bake the coffee nut sponge in foil lined ramekins to give me mini cakes. Then I got thinking about what to fill these cakes with. I'd already tried the version with ganache, and try as I might, I simply can't get myself to like buttercream. It's too rich, too sweet, just too much of everything. Now, if you dislike the cloyingly sweet buttercream as much as I do, I think I've found a genius solution. I filled and topped my sponge with pastry cream.

More specifically, this is peanut butter pastry cream from Johhny Iuzzini's Sugar Rush. I am a big Iuzzini fan ever since I saw him on Top Chef Just Desserts and I've become an even bigger fan after reading his latest book. Sugar Rush has some fantastic flavour combinations. And it's full of gems like this peanut butter pastry cream that goes so well with the coffee flavoured cake.

Ingredients
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Coffee Break

This post is about a delicious coffee flavoured sponge cake, sure, but it's also about another important topic bakers worry about - baking accidents. Cakes that don't rise, cakes that sink or crack or burn; I've seen them all. And here's the most important lesson I've learnt about baking disasters - you have to stop panicking and embrace them! Even if they happen half an hour before you have to leave for a party and this cake was meant to be your hostess gift. It's guaranteed that whatever you baked with butter, sugar, eggs and flour is going to be edible. Yes, it may not meet your standards for a perfect sponge but here's the thing - almost nobody in that party knows what a perfect sponge looks like. Which brings me to my second important lesson - ganache can cover almost any flaw and people will love what you end up with. Ganache, my friends, is a baker's best friend.

So here's what happened with this one. I followed a Mary Berry recipe to create…

Arancini

All cultures have dishes that use leftovers creatively. Some are so good that you make extra food and therefore, leftovers, just to have that dish. I was always told that arancini, the Italian rice balls that are made from leftover risotto, is one such dish. Alas, my first taste of arancini at a London farmer's market was underwhelming. Lukewarm rice and a soggy coating surely didn't make me an arancini fan. I had arancini again on my trip to Italy, but it was always pre-cooked and reheated so I really didn't see what the big deal is.

Then yesterday, while making risotto for lunch, I decided I'd make some extra and figure once for all what the deal with real arancini is. And finally, eating this carb loaded, cheesy dish right out of deep frying, I finally get it! Arancini can be truly wonderful when it's piping hot and just fried. You should try it too.

The base of a good arancini is good risotto. Mine was spinach and three cheese risotto but you can cook plain riso…

Molecular Mousse

Ever since I first heard about El Bulli and Alinea, I have been a huge fan of molecular gastronomy. It's an interest that's only increased over the years as I dined at Heston Bluementhal's restaurants and even tried the experiments some Indian restaurants are doing with liquid nitrogen and foams. But follow the trail of molecular gastronomy long enough and you soon realise that it goes far beyond the theatrical drama of spheres and gels and foams. Molecular gastronomy, in its true form, is the art of using science to make food taste better. And it does so by brilliant innovations like antigriddles and sous vide cooking.

Some of the molecular gastronomy techniques are so counter intuitive and yet so simple that they awe me. One such recipe, created by Herve This (the original brain behind this whole school of cooking) is the chocolate mousse. Traditional wisdom says that water and chocolate don't mix. But This melds the two together and somehow manages to create a ligh…