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Saturday, 27 April 2013

Patisserie at Home - Book Review

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Just out this month is a fabulous baking book by rising pastry star, Will Torrent, called Pâtisserie at Home. An absolute treat for all keen home bakers, the book has 80 recipes with clear step-by-step instructions to make French pastries at home.

You will find some timeless classics in the book (eg sachertorte, Black Forest gâteau), but also updated versions and some with a modern twist - the apple & Calvados crumble choux buns have an apple compote inside, Calvados cream and a crumble topping!

Not all the recipes are easy though, some are time consuming, and a couple of the recipes need special bakeware or ingredients if you want the finished dish to closely resemble that in the book. But having said that, all of the recipes look achievable to make in a home kitchen.

One of the things I loved about the book, apart from the clear layout and print, was the photography by Jonathon Gregson. Each recipe is accompanied by a mouthwatering full page photo of the finished dish, and some of the recipes show more than one photo of the various steps (eg croissant pastry, macarons, salted caramel & chocolate tartlets).

Another lovely addition is that most of the recipes have a little note in the description (and also at the end of the recipe) with different variations that can be applied to the pastries; the idea of replacing the tarte aux fraises to one with sliced mango and passion fruit is brilliant!

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Inside view of the book, the ingredients are in bold, always on the left of the recipe

The first chapter covers the basic techniques, including different types of pastry, crème pâtissière, frangipane and ganache. Also included are ideas for finishing touches, caramelized nuts and tempering chocolate. 
The other chapters are for: pâtisserie (eg mango & passionfruit mini éclairs, spiced rum babas); tarts (eg lemon & yuzu meringue tart, tart éxotique); petit fours (eg coffee & chocolate madelines, raspberry & vodka chocolate truffles); gâteaux and desserts (eg red berry charlotte, chilled lemon soufflés); and, lastly, bakery and viennoiserie (eg brioche, palmiers). 


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I tried out several recipes, the first one was for the white chocolate & almond meringue domes, page 39. You do need a 6-hole half-sphere silicone pan for this, which I do have and don't use often enough, although I think if you weren't too precious about the shape you could get away with using a muffin shaped silicone pan. There are four components to the recipe, but not too difficult to make - it's basically an Amaretto ganache, covered in white chocolate mousse, which has a meringue disc on the bottom and then the whole thing is drenched in white chocolate ganache!! I had enough mixture left over to make 4 mini domes, which I thought were a better size, although some in my family preferred the sugar overdose that came with the larger ones.


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Various stages of the white chocolate domes

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Finished domes ready for serving

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Inside the white chocolate domes

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Fruity florentines


The second one was the florentines, page 88. While I always follow the recipe quite closely when reviewing a cookbook, sometimes I have to substitute an ingredient along the way; in the case of the florentines it was cranberries instead of apricots, and white chocolate to decorate them instead of dark. I did have a slight issue with this recipe, which called for the mixture to be refrigerated overnight to set. When I followed the instructions to drop the mixture into the prepared muffin pans and flatten slightly, the mixture did not spread out when cooking, like florentine mixture normally does. My florentines were not cooked in the middle and were burnt around the edges. For the second batch, I warmed the mixture up a little and it spread properly in the pans, creating perfectly round florentines that were all the same in size and shape. I probably won't refrigerate the mixture next time, and am definitely going to make them again, maybe a Christmas version using dried cherries and pistachios.


Usually my new books make their way to the bookcase overflow on the floor in the dining room after a couple of weeks, but this one will be given a special place on the little shelf in the kitchen that I save for my favourites. I want to try a couple of the chocolate truffle recipes and the one for the almond & honey friands, I can also hear the croissants recipe calling out to me!


If you are quite confident with pastry you will enjoy the recipes in this book and be inspired to come up with your own versions of the pastries - and even if you are just starting out on your baking journey, you will find that you can master some of the less complex recipes with ease.

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Cranberry and Ginger Florentines
Recipe adapted from Pâtisserie at Home, by Will Torrent, published by Ryland Peters & Small.
The original recipe used dried apricots instead of dried cranberries, dark chocolate instead of white chocolate and glacé ginger instead of crystallised ginger. I have put where you refrigerate the mixture overnight, but that didn't work for me - if it works for you I'd love to know.

Makes about 24

50g butter
150g raw cane sugar
1½ tbsp honey
3 tbsp plain flour
300ml double cream
200g flaked almonds
175g dried cranberries, chopped
50g crystallised ginger, very finely chopped
75g white chocolate

Put the butter, sugar and honey in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Stir until the sugar has almost dissolved. Add the flour and stir over a gentle heat until the mixture is smooth and comes away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and slowly beat in the double cream until smooth. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the almonds, cranberries and ginger. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate overnight to set

The following day, preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5 and lightly grease and flour 2 x 12 hole muffin pans. Drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture into the pans and flatten slightly with the back of the spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-9 minutes, or until the florentines have spread and are bubbling and lightly browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then using a small pallet knife or a small offset spatula, ease them out of the pans and allow to cool on a wire rack

Melt the chocolate on low power in a microwave or in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (not letting the base of the bowl touch the water). Put the chocolate into a small piping bag and drizzle over the florentines, or use a fork to flick the chocolate over them.

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Naughty me, I gave the undersides a dunk in white chocolate too!

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This book can be bought from Ryland Peters & Small, Amazon and all good book shops.

Pâtisserie at Home by Will Torrent
£16.99 / Hardback, 176 pages
Publisher: Ryland Peters & Small 

April 2013
ISBN: 9781849753548 
 
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of the cookbook from Ryland Peters & Small, but all views expressed above are my own.


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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2013 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Carrot Cake with Mascarpone Honey Icing


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My blog turns 6 this week, wow! Even I am surprised I've kept it going this long... but I'm not going to waffle on about it, instead I'm sharing cake, a lovely carrot cake with fabulous mascarpone honey icing.
And if you are reading this, I would like to say a huge thank you for visiting, commenting and emailing. It means a lot to me to know that there are people who have made the recipes and enjoyed them.  


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Carrot Cake
Adapted from British Baking by Peyton and Byrne, read my review of that book here.

225g unsalted butter, softened
225g light brown sugar
4 eggs
200g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
225g fresh carrots, peeled and finely grated
150g walnuts, chopped
50g sultanas

Preheat the oven to 170ºC, and line a 20cm springform cake tin with non-stick baking paper.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Beat the eggs into the butter, one at a time, mixing well.

Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix until just combined.

Stir  in the grated carrots, walnuts and sultanas. Spoon into the prepared  cake tin and smooth the top so that the mixture is flat.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake, and the cake is springy to the touch. 

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When cold, you can ice it with the mascarpone honey icing.


Mascarpone Honey Icing
The recipe in the book is for cream cheese icing, I subbed it for mascarpone and it's amazing!

500g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter
200g mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon runny honey, you can use lavender or heather honey if you prefer

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. 
Add the mascarpone cheese and beat for another 30 seconds.
Add half of the icing sugar and mix in well, followed by the rest of the icing sugar.
Add the honey and beat until the texture is creamy and ready for piping or spreading onto your cake.


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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2013 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Triple Chocolate Brownies

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A while back, I was sent some pots of luxurious Food Thoughts 100% Organic Cocoa to try. Produced in the Dominican Republic by an accredited Fairtrade consortium, the cocoa is made with the finest beans and is ideal to use in baking due to its high cocoa fat content.

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Brownies + clotted cream = heaven

Did you know that cocoa can boost your mood? For a long time we have known that it contains compounds that boost endorphins and serotonin, two of the best known chemicals that are  responsible for making us feel happy, and a small daily dose can actually improve our health ...and I know I'm always in a good mood after eating chocolate or cocoa!

Food Thoughts Cocoa has a lovely rich chocolate taste - perfect for cakes, biscuits, desserts and brownies, which I chose to make. It also makes a good smooth bedtime drink.

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Triple Chocolate Brownies
I use a microwave to melt the butter, you can melt it in a small saucepan if you prefer, but don't let it burn.

170g unsalted butter
75g cocoa powder
150g sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
90g plain flour
Pinch of salt
200g roughly chopped chocolate, I use a mixture of plain, milk & white chocolate


Preheat oven to 160ºC and line a 20 cm (8 inch) square baking tin with baking parchment.
Put the butter into a mixing bowl and microwave in 20 second bursts on high until the butter has melted, add the cocoa powder and mix well using a wire whisk. Add the sugar and mix well.
Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking into the mixture.
Gently whisk in the vanilla, flour and salt until you no longer see any flour.
Fold in the chopped chocolate with a large spoon. 
Spread into the prepared pan and bake for about 22 minutes.
Cool before cutting into squares and serving.


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The cocoa also makes the perfect topping for a cappuccino, just mix a couple of spoons of cocoa with a little caster sugar and sprinkle onto your frothy coffee.

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Food Thoughts Cocoa is certified to international Fairtrade standards, which enables farmers and workers in developing countries to improve their working and living conditions, and encourages environmental protection. More information on Fairtrade here. It is also certified by the Soil Association, the UK's leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use, as well as organic accreditation.
Food Thoughts Cocoa is available at Sainsbury's and retails at £2.20.

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Disclosure: I was sent some Food Thoughts Cocoa to try. I was not paid to write this post, all views are my own. 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2013 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Happy Easter!

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Always a lovely surprise to find a feather on your egg.

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I remember when you could only fit one of these in your mouth at a time, they seem to have shrunk over the years!

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Happy Easter!

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2013 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.