13 May 2021

Rhubarb Curd

Our rhubarbs have once again sprung to life with a vengence and I've been searching for things to do with them. Last year, I was able to harvest 3 times, despite the two flower spikes that also came out. I could have even harvested a fourth time, but resisted, mainly because I had a whole drawer full in the freezer. This year, there were three flower spikes, which I decided to cut off, even though it doesn't look like they are having any draining effect on the plants themselves. I also ripped out a few of the largest stalks in order to try this recipe, which I found a few weeks ago.

Actually, I've already tried this recipe, with some of the frozen rhubarb, and I can honestly say, I wholeheargedly agree with the gushing commments on the originator's website. This was a really scrumptious recipe. And today, I made it with fresh rhubarb, as per the original.

Ingredients
makes about 600 ml

400 g fresh or frozen rhubarbs to get 300 ml juice
1 tbsp cornflour or potatoflour
150 g granulated sugar
3 large eggs
170 g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
pink food colouring (optional)

Method

  1. Trim, wash and cut the rhubarb stalks into 0.5 cm chunks, then process in a blender until they turn into purée.
  2. Place the blended rhubarb in a cheese cloth and squeeze out the juice.
  3. Mix together the corn-/potatoflour with the sugar in a large saucepan, then add the eggs and whisk until smooth.
  4. Dice the butter.
  5. Place on low-medium heat on the hob, add the butter and 240 ml of the rhubarb juice, then stir constanty until it thickens up into a custard consistency.
  6. Remove from the hob and stir in the remaining 60 ml of juice, the vanilla extract and pink food colouring, then transfer to jars.
  7. Place clingfilm on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and leave to cool down completely.
  8. Store in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks.

Now, since I don't force my rhubarbs, they are green, not bright pink like the ones in the shops. Possibly they are also a bit more fibrous. So both my original batch as well as the one I made today became a pale yellow in colour, because of the egg yolks and butter. So in the first batch I added some food colouring, a bit too much in fact and it went bubble gum pink. Not very pretty. I also had more than 300 ml juice, and added some additional 90 ml, which made it a bit runny. But the flavour was fantastic - sweet and tangy and really fresh and both Lundulph and I could have happily eaten it straight from the jar. But I had 5 eggwhites to use up, so I made my angel food cupcakes and used the curd as topping. Just like with the lemon curd originally, this was a very good combination, apart from the runniness.

In today's batch, I resisted the temptation to add the surplus juice and it's now cooling down on the cement slab in the larder. Lundulph said to skip the colouring, he thought the pale yellow is pretty enough.

A thing I noticed is that the curd matured over time, so some of the smoothness disappeared towards the end of the two weeks it lasted. I must try freezing some and see how that affects it. It was fine with the strawberry curd I made last year.

I've also set a little bit aside and frozen it, to see how that fares. I also looked back at the other curd recipes I've tried in the past and I'll try to use the one I made with strawberries last year, it has a fraction of the butter, so should hopefully be healthier.

25 March 2021

Fluffy Japanese Pancakes for Waffle Day

After holding off for a few years, I'm back watching Ann Reardon's wonderful videos and when I saw this one, I just couldn't resist trying it out.

Fluffy Japanese Pancakes

The video actually looks at a fake video on how to make these fluffy things at home and also provides a recipe that really works.

As today is Waffle Day in Sweden, Lundulph and I are following our tradition of eating pancakes and although this type of pancake requires serving immediately after cooking, we had a 30 minute break after dinner, while I made these. But I'd prepared as much as I could before dinner and made sure to let the oven pre-heat while we ate our main course, so it was definitely a success.

Additionally, today Lundulph got his first injection of the Corona vaccine, so this was an extra treat for him and his cheeks did go rosy and his eyes went all sparkly.

I pretty much followed the recipe and the video. It calls for egg white powder, which I've never used before, so it was quite interesting. Ann Reardon also recommended using baking powder to help with stabilising things, if you're a beginner baker. I'm not, but I used it just to be on the safe side. I'll try without it next time.

Ingredients

Makes 4

2 egg yolks
1 tbsp milk
1 ¾ tbsp plain flour

2 egg whites
1 ¼ tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp egg white powder
1 tsp baking powder (optional)

Sweetened whipped cream
Blueberries, strawberries, banana slices
Maple syrup or honey

Method

  1. Place a thick-bottomed baking sheet in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 10 °C.
  2. Prepare a piece of baking paper by brushing lightly with a neutral oil.
  3. Whisk together the yolks, milk and flour until a smooth batter.
  4. In a large glass or metal bowl, whip the egg whites together with the sugar, egg white powder and baking powder if using. They should reach to stiff peaks stage.
  5. Using a rubber/silicone spatula, scoop out some of the egg white foam and gently whisk into the yolk batter to loosen it up a bit.
  6. Then pour the yolk batter into the whites and with the spatula fold in very gently and just until the two have combined and there are no streaks visible.
  7. Turn down the oven to 160 °C, take out the baking tray, place the prepared baking paper and pour 3 - 4 blobs using an ice cream scoop. Leave plenty of room between them.
  8. Place back in the oven and set a timer for 2 minutes 30 seconds.
  9. When the time is up, open the oven and add a second blob on top of each of the previous ones. Set your timer for 7 minutes.
  10. Prepare the whipped cream and fruit while the pancakes are baking.
  11. When the second timer is up, take out the tray and flip them over with a palette knife. Then bake for a further 4 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and serve immediately with the fruit, drizzled with syrup or honey and a generous blob of whipped cream.

Comparing to the video, my egg yolks were a lot paler and so the pancakes ended up paler and I was worried that they hadn't baked properly, but I was wrong, they were beautifully puffed up. Though I ended up with lots of left-over mixture when I used the ice cream scoop, so next time, I'll transer the whole mixture to a piping bag, so that I can control both shape and size more.

I only bought blueberries for these and I used maple syrup. It worked very nicely. When I served them, Lundulph wondered if these were Yorkshire puddings, because he thought they smelt a bit like that, but he cut them open, spread a lot of blueberries on top and covered with maple syrup and whipping cream. Since I got my whipping cream dispenser a couple of years ago, we've been having a lot more whipped cream than normal, because it's such fun to squirt onto our various desserts.

28 August 2020

Hob Nobs Attempt 1

The other day, Lundulph had an unexpected hankering for biscuits around 10 pm. I generally don't keep a regular supply of biscuits because we'll just keep eating them, but I promised Lundulph I'd make some the next day. He said he wanted hob nobs. I searched on the internet and picked this one among the top results that seemed to be quite easy to do.

Ingredients

Makes 25 - 30

150 g unsalted butter
1 tbsp maple syrup
150 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
150 g granulated sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
120 g rolled oats

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (not fan) and line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Gently melt the butter and maple syrup on low heat.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Stir in the rolled oats.
  4. Pour over the butter mixture and mix together into a dough, it will just about hold together.
  5. Divide up into pieces of about 20 - 30 g each and shape into balls as best you can. it'll be quite crumbly, so aim for a round shape, leave about 7 cm between as they will spread during baking.
  6. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven, leave to cool a couple of minutes on the baking sheet, before carefully transferring to a cooling rack. They will be quite soft while warm.
  8. Store in an air-tight jar.

These turned out to be fairly similar to the Swedish havreflarn or oat snaps, though these were a bit thicker. Lundulph picked up on this and stated these were not hob nobs at all, however, I've seen him wandering around the house with the biscuit tin under his arm, so clearly they were still good. But this means, I need to find a different recipe.

16 August 2020

Pear Jam with Rosemary

Last week we visited Lundulph's parents to celebrate their birthdays with a picnic in their garden. Before we could do this, Lundulph tried to pick as many of the apples and pears as he could from the two trees, which dominate the seating area and are quite lethal at this time of the year, dropping large fruit randomly. Now I still have some apples from last year in the freezer, but no pears, so this year, I collected a bag of the largest pears and took home with the plans of making some sort of preserve.

I'd seen a recipe somewhere in my paper-based collection, while searching for other things and was very intrigued by it. Pears aren't that common as jams. The recipe also involved star anise, which I have, but use extremely rarely, so another reason to try this. As often happens I wasn't able to find this recipe again, so I searched on the internet and there are a couple that came up and seemed fairly good, but I also found this one that had rosemary in it and seemed even better, so I decided to do this instead.

Ingredients

1.5 kg pears, after peeling and coring
1 tbsp lemon zest (2 small lemons)
2 dl water
1 sprig rosemary
3 dl granulated sugar
2 dl soft dark brown sugar
3 sachets pectin (16 g)
1 tsp citric acid

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 120°C and place several clean jam jars and their lids in there to heat up and steralise.
  2. Dice the pears fairly finely, about 1 cm, and place in a deep casserole dish.
  3. Add the lemon zest and water, stir through to combine and bring to the boil.
  4. When the pears boil, cover the saucepan, reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Measure up the sugars and add the pectin, then stir well to mix.
  6. Once the 20 minutes are up, add the sugar mixture and the rosemary sprigs and stir carefully, cover and let simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat, take out the rosemary sprigs and stir in the citric acid, then carefully mash with a potato masher or blend with a blender.
  8. Taking out one jar at a time, fill it with jam and secure the lid tightly.
  9. Allow the jam to cool down to room temperature, then store in the fridge for up to 6 months.

I now have about 1.75 litres of lovely stuff and from licking the spoon, I can tell you it was very tasty. The recipe recommends this with a cheese board, but I'm pretty sure it'll work lovely on toast. The only thing is that due to the dark brown sugar, the jam is sort of brown and the original recipe uses just granulated sugar, but I didn't have enough so had to improvise. I will need to try the other recipe with star anise as well, if I can get more pears from Lundulph's parents.

A week later we tried the jam with some freshly baked bread. As it turns out, the pear flavour is almost entirely lost and the rosemary dominated. Also the jam hadn't set, but was more like a very sweet purée, so I've adjusted the amounts above to reduce the rosemary and increase the pectin. Lundulph thought it was OK, but if I'd used apples instead of pears, he wouldn't have known the difference. He wasn't particularly impressed with the rosemary and reckons I should skip it next time. I disagree, but it does need to be less.

Given the consistency it's turned out to be, I'll try to turn some of it into ice cream with the aqua faba foam, it might be nice.

6 July 2020

Chewy Biscuits

A few days ago, my Dad sent me a scan of a recipe for Swedish soft, thin bread. This came from the weekly magazine my Mum's been reading for several decades and it struck me, because I recognised the picture. What is going on here? I searched through old cuttings of recipes from the same publication and indeed I found that I already had this recipe, published about 11 years ago. Everything was the same, just some minor changes to the layout. Outrageous!

IMG_5998

The good thing about all this is that I riffled through a good part of my recipe collection and spotted a few interesting recipes, which I set aside to action as soon as possible. Here is the first one, as it seemed fairly easy to do.

Ingredients

100 g unsalted butter at room temperature
1 dl granulated sugar
2 tbsp light syrup / golden syrup / runny honey
2½ dl plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla sugar
100 g milk or dark chocolate with or without nuts

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 175 °C (not fan) and line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Whisk together the butter, sugar and syrup smooth and fluffy.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking powder and vanilla sugar and fold together to a homogeneous dough, but don't over-work it.
  4. Divide into three equal parts and shape each one into a long sausage, about 2 cm in diameter, and place onto the baking sheet, then gently press down to flatten.
    IMG_5995
  5. Carefully grate the chocolate and sprinkle generously over the dough.
  6. Bake for about 13 minutes until it starts going golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven, then cut each length with a knife into diagonal biscuits, then carefully transfer onto a cooling rack.
    IMG_5996

These were very nice indeed. Since Ocado have their Scandinavian food section, I have a regular supply of the light syrup, which is so popular in Swedish baking. I actually baked these a bit too long and they went harder than I wanted them once they cooled down. However, Lundulph and I gobbled them up far too quickly.

20 June 2020

Summery Swiss Roll

IMG_5991

Since the lockdown, my good friend Dr Cutie and I have started having Zoom-fika ever now and then and have been asking ourselves why we've not thought of doing this before now, it's really good to chat about this and that and discuss our latest bakes and ideas. Last time we spoke, I mentioned we always get massive jars with jam from my Mum and it takes us forever to get through, so she suggested using them on Swiss rolls. She says that's a staple for when you get unexpected guests, as it takes very short time to complete. So I decided to make a Swiss roll, it's been ages since the last one.

Following the double batch of strawberry custard I made, I decided to use it as filling instead of jam. When I asked Lundulph if he'd fancy this, his eyes sparkled and his smile went from one ear lobe to the other. And since I've not used my Cordon Bleu book for a while, I decided to use its sponge recipe. This also reminded me why I so rarely use this book, it focuses on cooking techniques, but is relatively vague with the recipes.

Ingredients

4 large eggs
1.5 dl icing sugar
1.25 dl plain flour
2 dl strawberry custard

Method

  1. Butter and line two shallow rectangular baking trays with baking paper. Each should measure 23 x 33 cm and be about 1.5 cm deep. It is easier to get the sponge out if the paper comes up around the edges.
  2. Place the eggs and icing sugar in a large glass bowl and place this bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. The glass bowl bottom should not touch the water.
  3. Whisk until the mixture goes thick and you can drizzle the figure "8" when you lift the whisk.
  4. Remove from the heat and keep whisking until the mixture cools down.
  5. Sift in the flour and carefully fold in.
  6. Divide the mixture between the two baking trays and carefully level each with a dough scraper.
  7. Bake for 4 - 5 minutes until golden brown. Then, take out of the oven, cover with a second piece of baking paper and a cooling rack, then flip out of the baking tray.
  8. Allow to cool, then prize off the baking paper from the tray. While keeping the sponge on the second baking paper, place it on a towel.
  9. Spread the strawberry custard evenly across the sponge, except 2 cm along one of the longer edges - this will be the outer edge of the roll.
  10. Now use the towel to carefully roll up as tightly as possible while making sure you don't get the baking paper included inside the roll. Place so that the outer edge ends up under the roll.
  11. Wrap with the baking paper and refrigerate to get it to keep its shape, then it's ready to decorate further or serve as it is. You may want to trim the edges, there will likely be custard oozing out from the rolling.

The recipe in the book actually stated that the above amount should be for one baking tray, but it was definitely twice more than it should have been. Unfortunately I'd only prepared one baking tray, so one it had to be and I ended up baking it for some 15 minutes due to its thickness. It also was very difficult to roll. Didn't correspond to the photos in the book at all. But it was very tasty and I think with half the thickness in the sponge, it would have been better. Perhaps heat up the custard and add some gelatin to it and prevent it from oozing out too much. Of course this isn't Dr Cutie's quick recipe, it takes a bit more work, but it's well worth the effort to make and serve guests.

Plus, Lundulph was happy and so was I, because it was very tasty and although it seemed to be massive, we got through it quite quickly. Another bonus with 2 Swiss rolls for a larger dinner party.

18 June 2020

Another No-churn Ice Cream Recipe

IMG_5986

A few weeks into our lockdown, I started making ice cream as a treat to Lundulph and myself and also to cool ourselves a little in the sweltering heat. But after 7 batches back-to-back, I've been wondering if there is another way of achieving a tasty ice cream with less fat and sugar, but which still freezes relatively soft. My Mum and my Sister experimented with oat whipping cream and reduced amount of condensed milk, which they reckon worked pretty well, though it did need some 15 minutes to "relax" a bit before it was scoopable. I've not come across oat whipping cream in the UK, so it's not something I've tried, but having made two batches of meringue recently, my thoughts spun onto the fabulous properties of aquafaba.

IMG_5994

I had some in the freezer (purposefully put there to test the statement that it will not lose its capabilities) and since Veggie-wannabe-Lundulph is working his way through various types of canned beans and chickpeas, there's always lots of this liquid in the house at the moment. Thus a search on the internet resulted in this recipe, which I used as inspiration for ice cream batch number 8.

Ingredients

Makes about 2 litres
3 dl strawberry custard
red gel food colouring
3 dl unsalted aquafaba
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp vanilla essence
120 g icing sugar

Method

  1. Measure up all the ingredients. Place the custard in a large bowl.
  2. Place the aquafaba in a stand mixer and sprinkle the cream of tarter over it, then start whisking on the highest speed for about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla essence, while the mixer continues to beat.
  4. In the meantime, using a whisk, stir through the custard to loosen it and add some red food colouring as it'll get very pale.
  5. After 2 more minutes of mixing the aquafaba, start adding the icing sugar, a spoon at a time, while the stand mixer continues to work for another 3 minutes until stiff peaks have formed.
  6. Start transferring the foam into the bowl with the custard in 4 - 5 parts, and fold each well before adding the next one, being careful not to know out too much of the air out of the mixture.
  7. Transfer to a plastic container and place in the freezer overnight.

Well, I think we have a winner. This was definitely soft scoop, I had no trouble dishing out our lunch dessert today. It wasn't too sweet, but also not too bland, the strawberry flavour came out very nicely and I thought it tasted a little like a sorbet, but fluffier.

IMG_6002

In addition, it seems that indeed aquafaba works fine for whipping even after freezing. I had some doubts as to it's lack of flavour. The "fresh" part was a little cloudy and the thawed part was very cloudy, but once there was air inside, the foam was white and looked silky and smooth. The inspirational recipe states that the aquafaba should be whipped for 9 minutes, which is why I've given the minutes in the instructions. It didn't mention the speed of whipping and the speed would depend on the size of the engine of the machine, but run on max should be a good bet. The idea is to reach "stiff peaks" stage when everything has been incorporated. Looking back when I first tried using aquafaba, I have a vague memory that it did take quite a bit longer to reach the desired stage, compared to egg whites, so a stand mixer is strongly recommended. I have a mixer attachment for my Kitchen Assistent and the bowl is very sadly plastic, so I've not used it for making meringue with egg whites, however, aquafaba worked absolutely fine.

IMG_5982

Of course, the aquafaba can't have any flavourings in it, so beware cans of beans in salted water or such. I believe any canned beans would work, but keep in mind that some beans will also release some colour into the liquid, so might not be suitable all times. I generally buy unsalted cans and have now instructed Lundulph not to throw the liquid away, but to start thinking of flavourings. The custard seems to be a decent base to use for a variety of fruit I should imagine. I also suspect we'll get through this ice cream a lot faster than the other one, there's just so much air in it.

IMG_5985

Lundulph thought it was very light and fluffy and agrees that there was a bit of a sorbet taste to it, but agrees it's a winner.

Update 12th June 2020:
Since the original batch, I've made 3 more, all of which I swapped out the strawberry custard with something else and omitted the vanilla essence.

Batch 1: 3 dl of puréed mango and strawberries. This was even more like a sorbet.

Batch 2: A ganache from 200 g Valrhona passion flavoured white chocolate and 90 g condensed milk. Melt the chocolate gently. Scald the condensed milk and stir the two together, this goes quite thick. I also only had 2 dl of aquafaba, so ended up with a smaller amount. This resulted in quite a tangy ice cream.

Batch 3:A ganache made with 438 g single cream, 62 g granulated sugar and 200 g 70% bittersweet chocolate. Scald the cream together with the sugar, chop the chocolate if needed, then pour the hot liquid over the chocolate and let stand for a couple of minutes until the chocolate melts. Stir together until it becomes smooth, cover the surface with clingfilm and let cool down to room temperature. This makes about 5 dl, so only use 3 in the ice cream recipe. I also added 1 tsp of ground cinnamon to the part I used for the ice cream. Lundulph didn't like this one much. My intention was to get a creamier feel to the ice cream, but it felt kind of coarse and I suspect was closer to a granita in texture. Still, I quite liked it and I'll try to incorporate chilli in the next batch. I've also run out of chocolate pencils, so I'll need to make some more of those too.

Batch 4:334 g ripe raspberries, 256 g granulated sugar, 1 red Thai chilli. Wash the raspberries well, then place in a large bowl and add the sugar. Wash and slice the chilli lengthwise, but keeping the stalk intact and add to the bowl. Stir through, then refrigerate for 24 h until the sugar has melted. Stir through every now and then. Remove the chilli and taste the mixture to decide if you want to remove the chilli or keep it in. If keeping it in, cut off the stalk, then blend the whole lot and push through a sieve to remove the pips. In the meantime whip 4 dl of aquafaba with 160 g icing sugar, then fold together and freeze. This amounts to almost 4 litres of ice cream.

Batch 5:200 g white caramel chocolate calets and 200 g single cream. Heat the cream to about 65°C, then add the chocolate and leave for a couple of minutes to let it melt, then stir until it all comes together into a fairly runny ganache, leave to cool to room temperature. Mixed with the whipped up aquafaba, this gives the usual 2 litres of ice cream.