Strawberry Savarin

Strawberries are just divine. They burst with flavour when you pop them into your mouth. I can’t think of anything better than strawberries and cream on a hot summer day. It’s my favourite dessert. These berries are organic and they taste so much better and more natural than the hybrid variety. I’m sad that we don’t get them throughout the year.

I have made this Savarin several times. A Savarin is actually a brioche dough baked in the shape of a ring. It’s where bread meets cake! I once made the recipe from the queen of cakes – Rose Levy Beranbaum. It took two days but the result was superb. She recommends resting the dough overnight in the fridge and does not use instant yeast. I have used instant yeast for this recipe, which is quite easy. Don’t worry if the dough is wet. It all turns out perfectly in the end, I promise you. It’s quite simple to make and the syrup has to be poured on the savarin and left aside for a few hours. The best way to do this is to unmould it first and put it back in the mould after some time. I made some holes in the cake bread and then poured the sugar syrup over it.

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I used rosewater to flavour the syrup and the cream. It was a refreshing change from the usual rum or vanilla. Rosewater and strawberries turned out to be a lovely flavour combination. You can also fill the savarin with Chantilly cream and serve the berries on the side. Either way, it’s just delicious. If you want to make something special, then this savarin will be perfect. As you can see in the photo below, the texture of the Savarin is great.

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PREP: 15 minutes COOK TIME: 4050 minutes TOTAL TIME: 2 hours

Ingredients

135 gms plain flour

3/4 ozs instant yeast

15 gms caster sugar

2 eggs

3 ozs warm milk

40 gms butter

Pinch of salt

Syrup

120 gms sugar

1/2 cup water

1-2 tbsp rosewater

Crème Chantilly

Instructions

Grease a 7 inch Savarin pan.

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar, beaten eggs and yeast to the warm milk and mix well. Tip the mixture into the centre of the flour and beat for about 5 minutes. A stand mixer is a good option, but if you don’t have one, then just beat well with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave to prove in a warm place until it doubles in size – around 40-50 minutes. Cream the butter and salt and beat it into the yeast mixture with the remaining sugar. Beat for about 5 minutes and pour the batter into the prepared pan and prove until the mixture reaches the top of the pan – around 15-20 minutes. Preheat the oven at this point to 200C, while the dough is proving. Bake for 20-30 minutes until well browned.

While the Savarin is baking, prepare the syrup. Dissolve the sugar in the water and boil steadily for 5 minutes. Flavour with the rosewater and set aside.

Loosen the savarin from the pan and turn it out carefully on to a wire rack. When it is still warm, put it back into the pan and make small holes with a toothpick. Baste the savarin with the syrup until the cake is completely soaked through. Leave it in the pan for 4-5 hours or overnight and turn it out carefully on to a serving plate. Fill the centre with the strawberries and serve with Chantilly crème.

Pear and Pistachio Ganache Mille- Feuille

What could be better than making this lovely mille-feuille for a special occasion? Crisp layers of puff pastry with juicy pear and a delicious white chocolate pistachio ganache – It just melts in your mouth!

Readymade puff pastry makes this an easy option. I made the pistachio paste from scratch because it’s not available here. I got the recipe from here https://www.sweetandsavorybyshinee.com/homemade-pistachio-paste/. It was really good. Instead of the usual Creme Patissiere I opted for a white chocolate ganache for the filling and mixed it with the pistachio paste. It blended perfectly with the pears. I used regular baking chocolate and I was happy with the result. You could use Guittard if it’s a special occasion. 

There are many good white chocolate ganache recipes available on the web. It’s also really easy to make either by the stovetop method or by microwave. However, this is the recipe that I used – https://letthebakingbegin.com/white-chocolate-ganache/.

I cut out the pastry heart shapes before baking them. This makes it much easier to handle and assemble. I hope you enjoy making them. This recipe makes around 7-8 mille-feuille pastries.

PREP:   15 minutes  COOK TIME:  30-40 minutes  

Ingredients

250 grams puff pastry

1 large pear, thinly sliced

1 cup white chocolate ganache

5 tbsp pistachio paste

Green food colour (optional)

Icing sugar 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Blend the white chocolate ganache with the pistachio paste and a drop of green food colouring, if using. Transfer this mixture to a piping bag and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. 

Roll the puff pastry to a thickness of about 2mm using a little flour to dust the surface and cut out the heart shapes. Use the remaining pastry in the same way. Prick the pastry with a fork to prevent them from rising. Line a baking tray with parchment and place the heart-shaped pastries on it. Cover it with another piece of parchment and place a baking tray over it. Bake for about 20 minutes rotating the tray halfway to ensure even baking. The pastry should be golden brown in colour. Remove the tray from the oven and transfer the pastries from the parchment on to another tray. Let the pastry cool completely.

To assemble, place some pear slices on top of a pastry and pipe some pistachio ganache on it. Place another pastry on this and repeat the same process. Top with another pastry heart and dust with icing sugar on top. Assemble all the pastries this way. 

 

 

Lime and Plum Trifle

A British classic, this dessert has many variations. Originally it consists of sponge cake soaked in syrup, topped with fruit and custard and whipped cream to finish it off. I decided to experiment with the numerous limes that my tree had borne this year. Asian limes are much stronger than lemons and so a little bit goes a long way.

I also wanted something without too many calories and so I substituted Greek yogurt for the cream. I also made a coconut milk custard instead of the usual egg custard, which is both dairy free and eggless. You can make this completely vegan by using vegan cake and coconut milk yogurt. 

Lime and coconut is a wonderful combination. Trifle is all about layering. The bottom layer consisted of sponges sandwiched with lime jam that I had made earlier. These were soaked in syrup and topped with the coconut milk custard. Then I topped this off with the plum compote and the final layer was the lime curd folded with the Greek yogurt.

The layers blended well together and the result was a lovely trifle with a decidedly sharp lime flavour. I love lime and lemons and so I found it delicious. You can let your imagination run riot and experiment with various fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, oranges, etc.

PREP:  20 minutes  COOK TIME:  40 minutes

Ingredients

6-8 trifle sponges or shop bought cake cut into slices

400 ml+ 3 tbsp coconut milk

3 tbsp cornflour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

600 ml water

350 grams sugar

1 tbsp lime zest

500 gms plums

400 ml Greek yogurt

1/3 cup lime/lemon curd

6-8 tbsp lime/lemon jam 

3-4 tbsp vodka (optional)

Instructions

First, make the sugar syrup by boiling the 600 ml water with the 350 gms sugar for about 10-15 minutes until you obtain a syrup. Add the lime zest and allow it to cool.

Cut the plums around the middle and twist to remove the stone from the centre. Place the plums in a small pan and add about a cup of the sugar syrup. Cook for about 10 minutes until the plums are softened but still whole. You can also cook them completely to make a sauce but I just left them whole. Reserve some of the syrup for decoration.

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Mix the 3 tbsp coconut milk with the cornflour to make a slurry. Place the 400 ml coconut milk in a pan with the 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla extract  and add the slurry. Heat the mixture, stirring vigorously until the mixture thickens to a custard. It will take about 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Place the lime curd in a bowl and fold the Greek yogurt through it, until they are well blended. Do not overmix.

Sandwich the sponges with lime jam or any other jam that you prefer. Place the sponges in a wide glass dish and spoon about a cup of the sugar syrup on them to soak them completely. Splash the vodka on top. Next spoon the coconut milk custard on the sponge layer and then the plum compote. Finish the dessert with the lime curd and Greek yogurt mixture. Decorate with the reserved plum syrup and enjoy.

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Last-Minute Christmas Pudding

The classic end to a traditional Christmas dinner – this recipe is amazingly quick to make. The end result tastes just as wonderful and it looks superb. Nobody will know that you made this as a last minute pudding.

The usual way of making this pudding is to steam it for 4-8 hours. This recipe just requires 20 minutes in the microwave. Serve with brandy butter or cream. I used some whisky to flambé the pudding at the end. It adds to the flavour of the pudding.

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PREP:  15 minutes  COOK TIME:  25 minutes  SERVES:  6-8

Ingredients

300g good-quality mincemeat

140g fine-shred orange marmalade

225g molasses cane sugar

4 tbsp black treacle

3 eggs, beaten

4 tbsp whisky

100g butter, frozen and coarsely grated

225t g self-raising flour

4 tbsp whisky to flambé (optional)

Brandy butter or cream to serve 

Instructions

Butter and line the base of a 1.5 litre or 21/4 pint pudding basin with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, stir the ingredients together, adding them one at a time in the order they are listed, until everything is completely mixed.

Tip the pudding mixture into the prepared basin and cover with a circle of parchment. Place the pudding basin on a plate and microwave on Medium for 20-25 minutes until cooked and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then turn out onto an attractive cake stand. Place the whisky in a small bowl and use a match to set it alight. Pour the burning whisky on to the pudding. Serve with brandy butter or cream.

 

 

 

Poached Mangoes with Strawberry Coulis

My friend Beryl was an amazing and passionate cook who was very generous with her time and her recipes. She was warm and friendly, and really loved to feed people. She was one of my earliest food influencers. I got this recipe from her.

She passed away some years ago, but I continued to cook the recipes she gave me. Beryl used a thinned down version of her own blueberry jam as a topping, but I decided to try it with a strawberry coulis instead. The combination of the luscious mangoes cooked in spicy sugar syrup and the strawberries are amazing. It’s a dessert that can be put together very easily, even if you’re tired and pressed for time; serve it and watch the compliments flow in.

yoghurt and matcha swirl with mango

This modern and elegant dessert shows how well matcha goes with yogurt, chocolate and fruit. I was surprised when I tasted this lovely dish. It was wonderful to taste the silky combination of mango with the white chocolate and yogurt and I could get the subtle flavour of matcha too. It’s the perfect ending to a special party! Keep your guests wondering  what actually goes into making this super easy and delicious dessert.

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This superb dessert recipe is from http://www.epicurious.com and was created by Meryl Rothstein.

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PREP: 30 minutes SERVES: 4

Ingredients

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut into small cubes

4 tsp sugar divided

31/2 oz high-quality white chocolate

11/2 cups Greek yogurt

1 tsp matcha powder

Instructions

Mix the mango with two teaspoons of the sugar and macerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the white chocolate in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted. Remove from heat and whisk until smooth. Cool slightly and gradually whisk in the yogurt. Divide the mixture between two small bowls.

Whisk the remaining two teaspoons sugar and matcha powder in another small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon hot water and whisk to form a smooth paste. Add the paste to one bowl containing the white chocolate-yogurt mixture. Whisk to blend well.

Divide the mango into four and place them in attractive glasses. Make a well in the green yogurt mixture and pour the white yogurt mixture into the centre. Fold gently once or twice just enough to create swirls. Spoon over the mango, dividing equally. Chill until you are ready to serve.