Madeleines

I was having a Eurovision party and I allocated each country performing a number and drew my guests a country at random. I drew France which was admittedly a much simpler option than say Moldova or Armenia of which I know very little of the food culture. I made some Madeleines which I have made many times before as they’re just so pretty and easy to pass around for a little nibble. The recipe is in Rachel Khoo’s book ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ and I believe it’s a good one as the madeleines have got their signature bump. This forms by turning the oven off mid-cooking for one minute and lowering the temperature for the rest of the cooking time. Amazingly, these madeleines were not the only success of the night. The UK actually came second in the Eurovision Song Contest which was a great surprise to us all. I’ve got to say that I think it was thoroughly deserved by Sam Ryder and his brilliant song Space Man.

Makes about 30 – 36

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 130g sugar
  • 200g plain flour (+ extra to flour the tin)
  • 10g baking powder
  • 1 lemon
  • 20g honey
  • 60 ml milk
  • 200g butter (+ extra to butter the tin)

Method

1.) Melt the 200g butter in the microwave on blasts of 10 seconds until all done. Mix it with the milk and honey.

2.) Measure out the flour and baking powder into one large bowl. Zest the lemon and add the lemon zest to this bowl.

3.) Crack the eggs into another bowl and add the sugar. Whisk until light and frothy. Add the flour mixture in batches and fold into the eggs until all is incorporated.

4.) Cover the bowl and refrigerate for a few hours.

5.) When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

6.) Melt some butter and brush the madeleine tin with it. Sprinkle over some flour, Shake the tin, best to do this over a bin or a sink. Tap the end to spread the flour evenly.

7.) Add a tbsp of the mixture to each shell.

8.) Bake for 5 minutes then turn off the oven for 1 minute.

9.) Turn the oven back on again but at 160 degrees C and bake for 5 more minutes.

10.) Take out the tin, place on a cooling rack and let cool before attempting to lift out the tin.

Cherry & Rose Cupcakes

Rose might not be a flavour to everyone’s taste but I think the people that like it really love it. I definitely fall into that camp and actually rose was a very traditional flavour in the UK until it was usurped by vanilla. If you love the rose flavour too I highly recommend Zymurgorium Turkish Delight gin liqueur. Despite the name, it’s made in my hometown Manchester as symbolised by the bee on the label – the worker bee is the symbol of Manchester and can be seen all over the city. This recipe I found in Lola’s cookbook was actually for cherry blossom cupcakes but I thought that if rose pairs well with raspberry it can also pair well with cherry and I was happy with the result.

Makes 9 larger cakes or 12 smaller

Ingredients

  • 100g self raising flour
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • salt
  • 95g butter + 125g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Morello cherry jam
  • 2 tbsp almonds
  • 500g icing sugar
  • rose water

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C

2.) Melt the 95g butter in a bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds.

3.) Sift the flours, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.

4.) In a stand mixer (or by hand with a wooden spoon), beat the vanilla, butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one and beat afterwards.

5.) Add the flours to the mixture, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp rose water and beat until fully mixed.

6.) Heat up 90g morello cherry jam in the microwave for 20 seconds to make it a bit runnier. Stir the jam through the batter but leave swirls.

7.) Put the cupcake cases in the cupcake tin. Divide the batter between the cupcake cases.

8.) Sprinkle the cakes with the almonds and bake for 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

9.) Whilst the cupcakes are baking, make up the icing.

10.) Melt 125g butter in the microwave for 20 seconds to soften. Add to the bowl of the stand mixer, beat with 1 tsp vanilla extract and 3/4 tsp rose water.

11.) Warm up 75g Morello cherry jam for 20 seconds in the microwave and add to the butter.

12.) Sift in half of the icing sugar and beat until fully combined. Sift in the rest of the icing sugar and beat again until fully combined.

13.) Set up an icing bag with a nozzle and add the icing sugar. Chill in the fridge until the cupcakes have cooled.

14.) Once the cupcakes have cooled, ice the cupcakes by starting on the outside of the cupcake, following the outside then spiralling inward to a point.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Living a relatively solitary life having started a new job working at home for the past year I don’t tend to make cakes all that often too more. Eating a whole cake between two people is just a bit too much. So when I heard a colleague of my husband’s brought a cake they’d made into work, I saw my opportunity and decided to make one myself. Unfortunately for my waistline (not so much for my taste buds) the majority of the cake came home as my husband’s colleagues are health freaks that don’t eat carbs. At my old company in London, everyone would bring treats in and we even had a baking competition (which I won twice). I can only hope that my colleagues at the new job I’m starting are more in this vein.

For my first cake in a while, I decided to choose a recipe from Nigel Slater’s ‘Notes from the Larder’. He is the king of cakes in my opinion. I’d made another hazelnut cake from one of his books in the past but I think that one didn’t have icing. The icing in this one uses hazelnut spread. You can use Nutella but I used Baci because I’ve seen a picture of the make-up of Nutella and I don’t think I can eat it anymore. At least with Baci I can claim ignorance even if it is made by Nestle and the less said about that company – the better! I’d try to avoid putting the cake in the fridge so put on the icing at the last minute.

Ingredients

  • 250g hazelnuts
  • 90g + 6 tbsp sugar
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 250g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp double cream or sour cream
  • 200g chocolate hazelnut spread

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C

2.) Line a 7 inch square tin (or round tin with 10 inch diameter)

3.) Oil a baking tray

4.) Put a frying pan on low-medium heat and add the hazelnuts to toast

5.) Once toasted, add the 6 tbsp sugar and let it melt to a golden caramel. It’s ok to move the sugar a little but don’t stir too much.

6.) Pour the mixture onto the baking sheet and allow it to cool until cool enough to be able to put into a food processor.

7.) Blitz the praline in the food processor to coarse crumbs

8.) Now, make the cake. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bain-marie.

9.) Measure out 100g of the butter and add in chunks to the chocolate and melt with the chocolate. Remove from the heat and add the 90g sugar and the praline crumbs.

10.) Beat the eggs in a bowl and add to the mix.

11.) Measure out the flour and the cocoa powder and fold into the cake mixture. It will be quite thick.

12.) Bake for 35 – 40 minutes (mine was done after 35)

13.) In the meantime, make the buttercream, beat the hazelnut spread, softened 150g butter (microwaving it helps) and the icing sugar until it’s not lumpy. Loosen with the cream/sour cream.

14.) When the cake is cooled and removed from the tin, spread the buttercream liberally over the top.