Brown Butter, Blueberry + White Chocolate Friands

I remember way back circa 2010 when I, along with the rest of the baking world, was obsessed with cupcakes. Sweet fluffy sponge topped with an even sweeter buttercream before being embellished with everything from sprinkles to caramel to chunks of chocolate bars. Perfect individual treats, there was no escaping the over decorated cupcake . It’s been quite a while since I’ve made one and I now find myself drawn to more understated cakes that aren't sitting under inches of frosting.

That’s where friands come in. More specifically, these brown butter, blueberry and white chocolate friands. Super popular in Australia, but less well known over in the UK they have a crisp exterior and a light, moist interior. Friands have fast become a favourite of mine and a more sophisticated big sister to the cupcake. They are incredibly easy to make – a quick mix of ground almonds, flour icing sugar, egg whites and melted butter and they’re baked in minutes.  I think the simplicity of them speaks volumes. In terms of decoration, here, less is definitely more. A light dusting of icing sugar is all that’s needed and I love that you still get those plump blueberries peeping through the surface.

I used a friand tin to give them that traditional oval shape which I think really adds to their charm but you could easily use a cupcake or muffin tin instead. Be sure to grease the holes well to avoid them sticking!

So, if like me, you're over cupcakes, give these a go and let me know how you find them. 


R E C I P E
makes 12

Ingredients

140g Unsalted Butter
100g Ground Almonds
50g Plain Flour
130g Icing Sugar
5 Egg Whites
80g Blueberries
80g White Chocolate, chopped

M E T H O D

Grease a friand or cupcake tin with butter and preheat oven to Gas Mark 4/180C/160C Fan

Brown the butter by heating it in a saucepan over medium heat and cooking until the butter turns golden brown and it smells sweet and nutty. Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside to cool.

Sift together the flour, almonds and icing sugar and set aside. Whisk the egg whites until frothy and pour into the flour mix. Fold until combined.

Stir in the cooled butter and add in the white chocolate and blueberries leaving a few behind to go on top. Mix to combine and spoon into the friand or cupcake tin. Top each friand with a couple of blueberries and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Let them cool before removing from the tin and dusting with icing sugar.
 

 

Cheesy Tear + Share Bread

There’s something about fresh homemade bread that just can’t be beaten. From the time and effort spent kneading, to that beautiful smell as it comes out of the oven, I find the whole process extremely therapeutic and calming. I used to be so quick to throw all the ingredients into my stand mixer and let it do all the work, but now, I really do take the time to enjoy each step.

I’m a big fan of bakes that are easy to share and this cheesy tear and share bread definitely fits the bill. Little balls of fluffy dough each filled with mozzarella and then baked together to make one gorgeous round of bread.  I’ve used Flora’s new Dairy Free Avocado and Lime Spread which adds such a lovely fresh flavour and makes a great change from using plain butter. I’ve incorporated the spread into the dough as well as smothering on loads more as soon as the bread comes out of the oven.

Whilst the spread is dairy free, I have used milk in this bread simply because I just love how it gives such a soft and fluffy crumb! These are literally like little puffy clouds which would be absolutely perfect for any summer picnic or barbeque. And the flavour possibilities are endless. You could add lots more garlic, a blend of different cheeses, onions, chorizo or anything you’ve got sitting in the fridge.

You can pick up the Flora Dairy Free Avocado and Lime spread from Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Ocado, so do let me know your thoughts about it and other fun ways to use it.


R E C I P E

Ingredients

400g Bread Flour
5g Instant Yeast
1 tsp Salt
100ml Water, tepid
175ml Full Fat Milk, lukewarm
100g Flora Dairy Free Avocado & Lime Spread
Zest of 1 Lime
1 tsp crushed garlic
120g Mozzarella, diced into small chunks

1 egg, beaten
Flaky Sea Salt
Handful Chopped Parsley


M E T H O D

Put the flour in a large bowl and add in the yeast and salt on opposite sides. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk and water. Stir and bring together to form a rough dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes until soft and smooth. Incorporate 1 tbsp of the Flora Avocado and Lime spread, kneading until it’s fully incorporated.

Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover and leave to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.

In a small bowl mix together the remaining Flora Avocado & Lime spread, lime zest, pinch of salt and the crushed garlic.  Set aside.

Once risen, divide the dough into 12-15 equal balls. Flatten each one, brush with a little of the prepared spread and add in a chunk of mozzarella. Seal it up and roll it against the worktop to form a tight ball.

Brush the base and sides of a 20cm spring form tin with a little more Flora Avocado & Lime spread and arrange the balls neatly inside. It’s fine if there are some gaps – this will close up once baked. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 6/200C

Cover with a damp tea towel and let it prove again until doubled in size. Brush with egg wash and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden.

Once baked brush with any remaining spread, sprinkle with parsley and sea salt and serve warm.

 

 

 

Favourite Vanilla Cake with Peach + Rosemary

I think every home baker should have a solid vanilla sponge recipe. A quick search on Google will give you an infinite amount of slight variations on this much loved classic, each one accompanied with suitable hyperbole claiming to be ‘The BEST Ever’. Discussions cover everything from whether to use whole eggs or just the whites, butter or oil, and the creaming method vs all in one. After much trawling through comment sections to see what worked for others and testing out some for myself, I’ve come to accept that what might be perfect for one person, just doesn’t cut it for someone else.

So, I've developed a recipe that works for me and it has become my go-to vanilla cake. Just the right amount of vanilla, not sickly sweet and with a soft, tender crumb.  A good vanilla sponge presents itself as a beautiful canvas to embellish as freely as you fancy or leave as is. It should have enough flavour to hold its own, but also be able to take a backseat and let the fillings steal the show.

I use the reverse creaming method in this cake which I first came across in the cookbook Cake Days by Hummingbird Bakery. Instead of creaming the butter and sugar together, the reverse creaming method mixes together the dry ingredients with butter. The flour gets coated with fat which minimises any gluten formation before adding our liquids. I find this method super easy as it makes over beating batter a lot less likely and produces a moist cake that is still sturdy enough to be stacked. 

Star of the show in a vanilla cake is the vanilla. You’ve got plenty of options ranging from the most commonly used extracts to the more expensive vanilla beans. My personal favourite has to be vanilla bean paste which you can get in most supermarkets. It gives a great vanilla flavour without it tasting artificial.

With this cake, I’ve gone for a peaches and cream vibe. The weather has been beyond beautiful over the past few weeks and I wanted that to be reflected in this bake. I found some gorgeous fat, juicy peaches and I’ve cooked them down with fresh rosemary to make a sweet and fragrant filling. I really enjoy incorporating herbs into my baking, like my Lemon and Thyme Cake,  I think it adds a lovely subtle complexity.

I’ve baked this in three 6 inch tins. Most of the cakes I make are this size and it's definitely a favourite as it makes it easier to get more height. It might be worth investing in a couple of these but you could also use the more standard 9 inch tin and just bake it in two layers. 


R E C I P E
serves 10-12

Vanilla Sponge
360g Plain Flour
380g Caster Sugar
1 ½ tablespoon Baking Powder
120g Unsalted Butter, softened
½ tsp Salt
3 Eggs
380ml Whole milk, room temp
½ tablespoon Vanilla Bean Paste

Peach + Rosemary Filling
400g Peaches
3 tbsp Caster Sugar
 2 tbsp Water
Squeeze of Lemon
2-3 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
 1/2 tsp Cornflour

Vanilla Buttercream
240g Unsalted Butter
180g icing Sugar
Pinch Salt
½ tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
80ml Double Cream
80g White Chocolate Chips

Chocolate Drip
100g White Chocolate

Sliced White Peaches, Crushed Pistachios, Fresh Flowers to decorate

M E T H O D

Grease and line three 6 inch tins. Preheat Oven to Gas Mark 5/190C

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add in the sugar and butter and mix in a stand mixer for 2-3 minutes until the mixture looks like fine sand.

In a separate jug, beat together the milk, eggs and vanilla bean paste. With the mixer on low, pour in half of the milk mixture until combined. Pour in the rest and turn up the speed to medium. Beat for another 30 seconds until you have a smooth batter.

Divide equally between the 3 tins and bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Leave to cool for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Buttercream

Beat the butter and vanilla for 4-6 minutes until pale and creamy. Add in the icing sugar and pinch of salt in 3 stages beating for 2 minutes after each addition. Pour in the cream and beat until it’s fully combined and completely smooth.

Peach +Rosemary Filling

Peel the peaches and chop them roughly. Place them in a medium saucepan with the sugar,lemon, rosemary and water. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the peaches are softened. Add in the cornflour and cook for a further 2 minutes until the peaches have thickened.

Mash any large chunks with a fork before removing the rosemary sprigs and transferring to a bowl. Let it cool before placing in the fridge until needed.

Assembly

Level each cake with a sharp serrated knife. Add a spoonful of buttercream and even it out with a palette knife. Add a little extra buttercream around the edges to make a little dam for the peaches. This will help stop any filling leaking out.  

Spoon on a dollop of the peach puree and sprinkle on some white chocolate chips. Repeat with the next layer and finish by placing the last cake on upside down to ensure you have a completely flat top.

Apply a thin layer of buttercream over the whole cake and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up.

Add another layer of buttercream and smooth with a bench scraper or palette knife. If you don’t want that  semi naked effect, add more buttercream to cover the whole cake.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave and let it cool. Pour carefully on top of the cake. Use a teaspoon to help push the chocolate over the edges to create a drip effect.

Decorate with crushed pistachios, sliced white peaches and fresh flowers.