Posts Tagged 'vanilla'

i hate‚Ķ.apple & rhubarb cobbler

cobblers are bad. and no one told me. no one bothered to tell me. and for some years now i have yearned to construct and consume the cobbler. because my brain was washed. and i thought that what id be getting is some kind of fruity-crumbly-buttery-cakey melange. but no sir. i will tell you this now – because no one ever told me and if i dont say it you will never know. the cakey looking thing on top of a cobbler is, in essence, a scone. and i do not like scones. not even with jam. i like them in theory of course. who doesnt. but when cake comes to scone – i dont like them. they taste like damper. and my increasingly sweet teeth dont care for it. it didnt achieve any kind of oneness with the fruit, and it seemed to be a stand alone scone, ruinously atop some perfectly good fruit. why, i asked myself, why would anyone want a cobbler? i suppose, the answer is, people like scones. and fruit. and the two together. so i post this for those of you who have a penchant for floury, undersweetened, overrated, (ill grant you fluffy) scone-like biscuit cakes. and i done some more tilt-shifting so i guess there’s something here for everyone.

ingredients (for 4-6 ramekins…you wouldnt want much more. me, i wanted less)

3 apples chopped/cubed

rhubarb cut into cm bits – or same size as the apple

tbsp sugar

for the dough:

1 1/2 cups flour

pinch salt

1 1/2tbsp sugar

2 1/4tsp baking powder

3/4 cup cream

6tbsp unsalted butter

first combine fruit with the sugar and stir to combine. i gave it a massive hit of vanilla. up to you really. put into respective baking dish(es?).

preheat the oven to 190 degrees. then make the dough. put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and with fingertips mix in the butter until it looks like coarse bread crumbs. then add the cream and mix until all its just wet. spoon lumps of the dough onto the fruit.

oven for 30-40 minutes. depending on an infinite number of things.


apple and raspberry crumble

i cant come up with anything really coherent to say – about this crumble (which i felt to be disturbingly good and completely inspired) or anything else for that matter. i got broken by an unfortunate train of abuses, principally among them, physical exertion to the point of paralysis and because of, or perhaps as a result of that, intellectual stasis which has left me entirely unable to finish this sentence. so i will give to you this recipe which i made up – and i love love love it. and if my brain hadn’t melted i would tell you why. but as it is, i cannot and so i suggest you make it for yourself and see.


2 apples

1 punnet of raspberries

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

tsp vanilla extract

60g melted butter

100g chocolate chopped (either white – if youre using raspberries because obviously. or dark – dark with raspberries would also be a delight)

preheat oven to 190 degrees. melt the butter in a saucepan and set aside.

mix together the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl. add some cinnamon if you choose. i chose no.

pour over the melted butter. the original recipe had 85g melted butter but it was too much and it started to get too wet. i then had to add more flour. so i say 60g and i think thats probably right. but just check its consistency. should be like wet sand. not a wet mixture though.

then add chopped up chocolate.

put raspberries and apples into ramekins and fill to nearly the top.

crumble over the crumble.

bake for 20-30 minutes.

walnut cannoli with marscapone

last night i was presented with a number of horrifyingly dull ways to pass the time…sit and read a tome entitled ‘marxism and the french left’, do some school-related things that are too boring to utter, re-read the american food blogs that make me mad and indignant, indulge in voyeuristic facebook related activities and numb my ever diminishing humanity, or dematerialise into the void between four computer screens. so the only real option then, as far as i was aware, was to make some cannoli. this recipe was taught to me by the master giorgio locatelli…and from my first sighting (and subsequent eating) it was burned into my minds eye. and last night it flashed in front of me…like a dream recalled. actually these arent quite cannoli…because not even i am prepared to use lard and/or (probably or) duck fat. i would re-title it walnut tuiles with marscapone but that just sounds like a lot of wank. so cannoli. with marscapone. very very lovely indeed.


70g butter

250g sugar

4 egg whites

60g flour

190g walnuts ground

tsp (or 6) of vanilla


300g marscapone

20g icing sugar

tsp vanilla

(also optional, i added a shot of espresso and i feel some shards of chocolate would have been a very elegant solution to the problem of a complete absence of chocolate. alternatively some candied peel because, while i find it to be deeply offensive to my tastebuds, i do recognise its place in the world and mostly in the world of cream which needs an edge. some chopped walnuts, mixed into the marscapone, would be good too to echo whats going on around it.)

first melt the butter. then beat the eggs and sugar. slowly add the flour and beat well for about 5 minutes until thick and creamy looking. slowly drizzle in the melted butter. finally add the vanilla and the walnuts and mix to combine. cover this with glad wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours (preferably over night).

to make the filling, mix the marscapone with the vanilla and the sugar.

if you are using some espresson just add a few tsps of a shot to the mix and stir to combine. cover and put in the fridge until you need it.

preheat the oven to 180 degrees. the cooking requires some craft work…not my thing but its just cutting a whole in a piece of cardboard, about 12ish cm in diameter. place the cardboard circle down on a baking tray lined with baking paper and spread very very thinly the walnut mix in the middle of the circle. (spread it so thinly that you can see the baking paper through it).

put the tray in the oven for about 8-10 minutes until lightly brown. as soon as they are out you need to roll them up. you can wrap them around the handle of a wooden spoon. if you got those fingers that can touch fire then just roll them up with your hands. they need to be rolled when they are still very hot, because as soon as they start to cool they will harden.

then put your marscapone mix into a piping bag and pipe it into the centre.

et voila.

p.s. i also made some chocolate ones. i made it up as i went along so im not too sure what i did…its all a bit of a dark brown chocolatey blur. but i melted 100g of chocolate and a few knobs of butter to make a chocolate gnache. then i simply and gleefully mixed that through the marscapone mix.

actually if i had my time again i would have added equal chocolate to marscapone. it was too subtle a chocolate taste. but after eating a block of it during the journey, that may well have been a good thing

banana bread

ok, i know…its all very cwa, very church fete, very wifey. but i never did eat it and never did done make it. and so i did. and fascinating it was. mashed bananas…like for an infant. with melted butter. and sugar. but so many questions arose…white or brown sugar? walnuts or no nuts? bread or cake? the answers soon became clear – almost intuitively, as if the moment i embarked upon this exercise in old world baking, i was suddenly taken over by the spirit of margaret (member of the victorian branch of cwa, head of crafts, deputy catering coordinator) and i had known these answers all my life. brown of course. no nuts…too wild. not bread. not cake. just loaf. the only questions that remained were those pertaining to two parts of space and time which should never have touched (and i am not referring to me and the victorian branch of the cwa.) i couldnt, however, entirely embrace the blandness. im not tough. im not rough. im not stoic. i cant run a household and a local community. i can barely run myself.i dont hang washing on the line in between milking my cows and speaking loudly at town meetings. im not a joiner. and i dont darn. i cant chop wood. i cant fix anything. i lack motivation and gumption. and im sometimes prone to princess like behaviour. so a cake made for filling those kinds of dreams, and those stomachs, is a bit beyond my capabilities. i therefore made it mine. but in honour of all that im not. and to be honest, in spite of the deep and fundamental character deficiencies of its creator, i am of the belief that it would blow margaret’s ever diminishing hair back. so here it is…banana bread, subtitled: “are you there margaret, its me schleps”, loaf in tin, june 2010.


4 bananas mashed & 2 bananas chopped

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup brown sugar (or light brown)

1 egg beaten

1tsp vanilla extract

1tsp baking soda

1 pinch salt

1 1/2 cups flour

1tsp cinnamon (optional…i didnt. nor did i add an optional 1tsp nutmeg. because when given the option i first say no. besides, margaret would have wanted it this way)

preheat the oven to 175 degrees. first mash up the bananas. add the melted butter and mix to combine.

add the sugar, then the vanilla and then the beaten egg and stir. sprinkle in the baking soda and salt and mix. finally add the flour and stir to combine. pour into a loaf tin (whatever size you got…they are pretty standard and margaret wouldnt care for that sort of dicking around over centimeters and diameters)

lay chopped bananas atop and give a final sprinkling of brown sugar. or demerara if you live for crunch.

bake in the oven for 50 minutes. and it will be glorious.

perfect chocolate chip cookies

its been brought to my attention that there is an angsty, existential undertone to these posts. perhaps its becoming oppressive. and i have been doing A LOT of blog reading of late and it seems that there is no place for melancholia in the food blogging world. i have watched videos of young girls giggling with glee as their car-mel transforms from translucent to a golden, nutty brown. i have heard joyful, giddy exaltations such as “oooh, its science!!! lol babes”. i have read as people took “strollers”, “hubby’s” and “the little baba” to the local farmers market on a sunny spring sunday morning. ive read enough alliteration. ive seen enough sycophantic comments. ive also seen a keen interest and disturbing level of camaraderie betwixt and between food bloggers. i have stared the sickly, the saccharin, the nauseatingly glowing, in the face and i have decided that this is not a space for the mournful to come. it is not a place for the outpouring of bile. this is not a place for healthy levels of alienation. so in the place of this weeks melancholia, i suggest a cookie. the cookie. the classic, perfect all-american chocolate chip cookie. sans ennui. and accompanied by giggles, cries of delight, glee, exclamation marks (literal and metaphorical…sometimes even metaphysical) and excited, hysterical hand clapping. YAY FOR COOKIES!!!!!!!!!


350g plain flour

3/4tsp baking soda

1/8tsp salt

225g butter

215g packed brown sugar (see snow for how to really pack it in right)

3/4cup caster sugar

1tsp vanilla

2 eggs

400g chocolate (milk or dark…whatever does it for you)

preheat the oven to 175 degrees. mix flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl so its well incorporated

in a separate bowl put the butter and sugar together. add in the vanilla.

beat this until smooth. then add in the eggs one at a time, beating after each. then fold in your flour mixture until combined and smooth. gloriously smooth.

then add in all the chocolate….or what little remains

line a baking tray with baking paper. take mouth size balls of dough and drop them onto the try. put into the oven for ten minutes. they will come out looking soft, unreasonably so, but thats what you want, whether you know it or not

these can be eaten with a tall glass of milk. or you could call them biscuits and have them with some espresso but youd only be fooling yourself. alternatively these, placed next to 3 loaves of sourdough, a doomed polenta cake, and a revolting lump of starter, could also be deemed too much to bare and be swiftly discarded of

pear & almond tarts

these tarts were conceived of initially as an exercise in waste management. i had lots of shortcrust pastry, lots of hopes, and so many dreams. but more to the point i had the need to not do what i was meant to be doing – a need which always, invariably ends in baking. the french left was going to have to wait…because i was filled with a sudden, unexpected and extremely pressing sense of urgency to use up my chilled pastry. and i doubt the communards would disapprove of my pear and almond tarts. as it happened, the amount of pastry i had remaining only made for ten tartlets and as a result, i was left with a glut of frangipane mixture. so i was forced to turn that into a cake. mores the pity. it was more of a cake-tart. i spent some minutes looking at the almond mixture – trying to work out the science which would transform this from tart filling to cake, in and of itself. ‘what does it need?’, i asked out loud, much to the consternation of those around me trying to record audio (yes these cakes are the product of a very artistic, if occasionally fraught environs). it had butter, it had sugar, it had eggs, and it had ground almond substituting flour. all it lacked was air and, henceforth and forthwith, lift. so i took my almond mix and to it i added one whisked up egg white and a smattering of baking powder. and poured it into a cake tin. i also lined it with the roasted pears left over from the tartlets, which were, in turn, left over from the free-form pear and raspberry tart, which were loosely based on left overs from some teacakes, which lay in the house that jack built. so here they are – the tartlets and a tart cake. both were lovely and didnt taste like leftovers at all.


1/2 quantity shortcrust pastry – divided into ten tartlet tins – pre-baked, ready to rock

350g butter

350g sugar

350g ground almond

4 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

4 pears roasted (in oven on 200 degrees with 2 tbsp vanilla sugar and a few knobs of butter. i used vanilla paste – and tossed the pears in the sugar and vanilla in a bowl before spreading them out on a baking tray to cook – until tender which is about 30 minutes)

couple handfuls of raspberries

preheat the oven to 190 degrees. make the almond mix. beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. add in the ground almonds, then the vanilla and beat to combine. then add the eggs one at a time and beat until fully incorporated. what you have now is beyond description – its golden, sweet, textually mind blowing heaven. what you no longer have is self-restraint. so at this stage, take a moment to enjoy.

pour the almond mix into the tart cases – filling them almost to the top.

then press the fruit into each one. you can of course exercise your freedoms and use any fruit you choose. and you do not need to roast them first. i did for unrelated practical reasons but mainly on account of a total lack of direction – but they did seem to taste lovely roasted, their flavour concentrated and intensified and given the tarts are only in the oven for 20 minutes, it helped that they had already had some cooking. this again depends on their ripeness. mine were like rocks.

i also used some leftover frozen raspberries – so push them into the top. frozen is probably better because there didnt appear to be any bleeding…which is all you can ask of a raspberry in a cake.

put them into the oven for 20 minutes or until golden

and then there were more….

if you are mad enough to continue on in the belief that you are responsibly managing potential waste (by making another cake that had no where to go and nothing to do, thereby only adding one more step before it all goes to the bin) then take your leftover frangipane mixture. to it, fold in one egg white, which has been whisked to stiff peaks and give it a tsp of baking powder. mix together and then pour into a greased 21cm cake tin. arrange your leftover pears on top, which ever way you see fit and push them in gently to the cake mix

put into the oven, which yes, is still on but turned down to 180 degrees for 30-40minutes or until golden brown

pear & raspberry tea cakes

teacakes sound so naff. but kugelhopf doesn’t. it has resonances of the old country. wherever that may have been. and all things sweet and heavy which come from the east. and when i saw these teacakes in the ottolenghi cookbook i was filled an overwhelming nostalgia for a time and a place which never existed as well as an insatiable hunger…for teacakes. i began the search for some mini kugelhopf tins. fortuitously there is a baking supplies store conveniently located near my house where the aforementioned tins were also conveniently located. it had been a while since i last turned on the oven…after some failed sourdough i felt it best to keep a low profile. after spending days up to my arms in fermented yeast, i felt a little numb to the whole exercise. and my self-esteem took quite a battering when my first sourdough, albeit a prototype, still in its embryonic/learning-what-not-to-do phase, failed to do any of the things it was required to do, including but not exclusive to, working. but as soon as i saw these teacakes i was suddenly filled with a sense of possibility and hope and i heard hundreds of voices in my head chanting “yes we can”. moved as i was by my own internal dialogue, i decided it was time to get back up on the dying horse and rediscover beauty. i looked to the truest most pure source of beauty i know – butter, sugar and vanilla. and surely enough, there it was. and here it is.


180g unsalted butter

260g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1/2tsp baking soda

1/4tsp salt

160g caster sugar

2 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

170ml sour cream

2 pears halved, cored and cut into 1cm bits

250g raspberries

first preheat your oven to 170 degrees. grease 6 mini kugelhopf tins. you can use muffin tins if you cant find the “proper” tins. no one will judge. but you will end up with muffins rather than teacakes. no one will judge you, you will only be cheating yourself. then prepare your fruit and by that i mean open your bag of frozen raspberries and cut up your pears. pears in small dice…they will stay the size they are so cut them the size that will make sense to your mouth

sift together the flour, baking powder and soda and salt. set this aside. cream the butter and sugar until light and gorgeous. mix in the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla and beat well.

gently fold in a third of the flour mixture, then a third of the sour cream. continue this until they are both mixed in and the batter is smooth. finally fold in the pears.

scatter some raspberries onto the base of the tin.

then spoon the mix into the tins and fill it almost to the top and smooth it over.

then press about 5 raspberries into the the mix so they are just below the surface.

bake for 25-30 minutes. check with a stick of any description you can find to make sure they are cooked through. not that there is anything wrong with raw cake batter. but by then, you may have had enough raw dough and will be looking for something more cooked through

let them cool before, in the immortal words of nigella, “applying to face”

nb. smoo – time this took was roughly an hour, including oven time as well as spoon-licking time, raspberry grazing time, and marvelling at the quality sara lee’s frozen raspberries which are remarkably superior to creative gourmet (which seem to come in one large frozen clump as opposed to sara lee’s exquisite, physics-defying, individualised raspberries which have a flavour i n’ere before tasted from a frozen berry) and cheaper.
nbb. i also made a ras-white-choc, replacing the pear with raspberries and inserting 100g white chocolate finely chopped – the berries bled and the chocolate was a bit of overkill. but it was still sublime – as only raspberry and white chocolate can be.