Sunday, 23 October 2011

Adjusting my focus and Chocolate Profiteroles

A recent trip to visit my lovely friend Smita in London made me realise how little I have focused on my surroundings recently. Thoroughout my visit, had Smita not spotted and pointed out the array of celebrities we walked by, or the huge Armani underwear advert on the bus featuring a very buff Rafael Nadal,  I would have been non the wiser to their nearby presence. It made me wonder, what else have I failed to notice?

My field of vision seems to have gone askew lately, too busy thinking about plans for the future. What I've come to realise is that I need to take more time to really see what is right in front of me, otherwise I could risk missing out on the wonderful opportunities that life has to offer.

Photography is something that helps me narrow in on the finer details of certain subjects. But, I've been abit shy about wielding my Canon 40D in public, favouring photography in the comfort of the indoors and with people I know. Again, this very blinkered approach has only recently come into my awareness. I need to overcome the embarrassment, either that or buy a smaller, less conspicuous camera.

For now, here are afew delicious treats I sampled during my London trip:

Earl Grey Cupcake at Primrose Bakery, so posh you even get a doily with it

Portugese Custard Tart from Borough Market, flakey buttery pastry and smooth, sweet, burnished custard, heavenly.

Laduree Macarons - Chocolate, Coffee, Salted Caramel and Praline, delicate and devine.  

Now back to the profiteroles, which was on the agenda at this months Cake Club. Chocolate profiteroles are a dessert I can rarely resist ordering at a restaurant. Who knew how little ingredients are needed and how easy these were to make?

The original recipe called for us to also make a caramel sauce, which unfortunately completely defeated us, even after 3 attempts.  Luckily Caroline had some spare chocolate and knocked up a decadent chocolate sauce to drizzle over the cream filled choux buns. All I can say is that these were incredibly good and will need to be made again.

Recipe - Chocolate Profiteroles by Gary Rhodes

  • 75g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 55g butter, finely diced
  • 150ml cold water
For the filling:
  • 300ml double or whipping cream
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
For the sauce
  • 150ml water
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 250ml double cream
- We melted some chocolate and butter and stirred in some double cream to make the chocolate sauce.

Serves 4
1) Dampen the baking tray under the cold tap after greasing it - this creates steam and helps the buns to rise. Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees C / 400 degrees F.

2) Fold the grease proof paper in half and unfold to leave a crease. Sift flour and salt onto the grease proof paper.

2) Bring the butter and water to boil. Add all the flour in one go and beat to a smooth dough over a low heat. Cool for 10 minutes.

3) Gradually beat in the egss with a wooden spoon until the paste is smooth and stands in peaks. Make sure each amount is fully blended before adding any more egg.

4) Spoon 16 individual teaspoons of the paste onto the tray. Bake for 20 minutes, until crisp and golden. If your oven is very hot, reduce to 190 degrees C / 375 degrees F halfway through baking.

5) Slit the sides of the cooked choux buns with a sharp knife. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack. This lets any steam inside escape and keeps them crisp.

6) For the sauce, dissolve the sugar in the water, then simmer until brown. Remove from the heat. Warm the cream separately, then stir into the hot caramel. Simmer for 5 minutes.

7) For the filling, whip the cream and the sugar in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Spoon into the buns, then arrange on plates and serve with warm sauce poured over the top.

Notes - The choux paste and caramel sauce can be made a day in advance and the cream whipped up to 4 hours ahead of serving. The choux pastry cases should not be filled more than 30 minutes before serving or the pastry will become soggy.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Iced Finger Buns

Whilst people have been posting some great recipes on the blogs I follow, things have been alittle quiet around here at With Milk & Flour.

The list of new recipes I want to try has been growing, but due to trips away and feeling unwell, admittedly the motivation has been somewhat lacking.
In the end it was greed that drove me back into the kitchen, delving into unchartered baking waters. Despite my fear of baking bread, when I watched last weeks episode of The Great British Bake Off, I knew I needed to make these Iced Finger Buns.  

The recipe is one by Paul Hollywood, judge on the GBBO and baker extraordinaire for celebrities. I can see why they used this recipe in the technical challenge round. These iced buns tested an array of baking skills.

How the bakers managed to hold the bun open with one hand whilst piping cream into the middle with the other, all whilst keeping everything looking neat and pretty is beyond me. 

The test of manual dexterity and mass of washing up involved was well worth it. These buns were such a delicious treat.

The smell of these buns coming out of the oven was lovely. Being new to baking bread, I get so much gratification from the heady scent it infuses into the kitchen.   

Literally as soon as the jam had been piped onto the last bun, we all dived in. The first bite was just heavenly. The buns had a slightly crisp texture to its outer shell, a nice contrast to the soft bread and creamy, jammy middle.

Sweet soft bread, icing, cream and jam, how can you resist such a combination?

                           Iced Finger Buns by Paul Hollywood

Makes 12

For the dough
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 2 x 7g packets fastaction dried yeast
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 40g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 10g sea salt flakes, crushed
  • 140ml lukewarm water
For the icing and filling
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 42ml cold water (I needed alittle more for a runnier consistency of icing sugar)
  • 200ml whipping cream
  • 1 x 400g jar strawberry jam, warmed and sieved, then cooled
You will also need:
2 baking sheets, lined with baking paper; a piping bag; a small plastic bag 

  1. Put all the ingredients for the dough into a large mixing bowl with 100ml water. Mix together with your hands until a dough is formed. Slowly work in 40ml water and massage the dough in the bowl for about 4 minutes.
  2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and knead well for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Return to the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to rise for 1 hour.
  3. Tip the dough out onto the very lightly floured worktop again and divide into 12 pieces. Roll into balls and then into ‘fingers’ about 12.5cm long.
  4. Divide the fingers between the baking sheets, leaving plenty of space around and between them to allow for spreading. Leave to rise, uncovered, for about 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7. Bake the fingers for about 10 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  5. For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Gradually stir in 42ml cold water to make a thick paste. When the fingers have completely cooled, split them open lengthways, not cutting all the way through. Dip one side of each finger into the icing and smooth it with your finger. Leave to set on a wire rack.
  6. Lightly whip the cream until thick and place in the piping bag. Pipe a generous line of whipped cream into each finger. Spoon the cooled sieved strawberry jam into a small plastic bag and snip off one corner. Pipe a delicate line of jam onto the cream in each finger
-Icing sugar slightly too thick, needed alittle more water for a more spreadable consistency
-Very difficult to hold bun open and pipe cream into it at the same time. Will slice the buns in two the next time.
-Buns were quite brown, will either turn down the temperature of the oven next time or cook in 2 batches.
-Whipped cream needed to be firmer, needed further whipping to obtain a stiffer consistency