Chewy Chocolate Meringues

There’s something incredibly feminine about meringues. Maybe it’s the shape in which they are piped, twirling skirts dancing on the oven sheet; maybe it’s their white colour, made bronze at the right places with a fire torch or in the oven. The way you can mess about with them and they would still be unapologetically beautiful.

Continue reading “Chewy Chocolate Meringues”

Old Fashioned Gingerbread

Christmas means plenty of gingerbread – gingerbread men, gingerbread house… I’ve always wanted to make a gingerbread cake, as I like the flavours in there more so than Christmas pudding, and wanted a scrumptious gingerbread-like dessert to wrap up Christmas dinner.

This year, I found the favourite old fashioned gingerbread recipe and decided to adapt it by reducing the sweetness and doubling the spice, and also adding a layer of mascarpone cream icing on top. The result? Delicious! The cream and gingerbread taste worked really well together! Continue reading “Old Fashioned Gingerbread”

(The) Christmas Recipe – Panettone

Christmas is around the corner and I couldn’t avoid to get carried away with a Christmassy baking challenge: this year it’s traditional Italian Panettone. The original recipe for this sweet bread is usually made with sourdough starter or beer yeast and usually has long proving times. Keeping the ingredients as per the original recipe, I decided to use a slightly easier method that only requires dried yeast and overnight chilling so that the proving time is reduced to once only for three hours. The ingredient amounts would have required an 18cm panettone tin, but mine were 15.5cm, so I made two – perfect for a last minute Christmas present! Continue reading “(The) Christmas Recipe – Panettone”

Homemade Sourdough Bread recipe

If you are already baking your own bread, like our Simple Loaf recipe, you might feel ready or curious to take your baking to the next level. Sourdough, with its peculiar bitter taste and its all-natural, simple process, is the perfect step to that next level. When I decided to begin my sourdough voyage, I made mine from scratch in ten days, using the process suggested by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and which I will share with you in this recipe. Continue reading “Homemade Sourdough Bread recipe”

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Five Minutes Chocolate Cake

Back in Italy, the best colazione (breakfast food) to have at home would be a homemade cake shared with the family. True to my origins, I often crave something sweet for breakfast and I get itchy for the next baking mission. This time, I quickly put together some very basic ingredients I had at home and the perfect homemade cake came out with only 5 minutes of preparation and 30 minutes in the oven. This simple chocolate cake will stay perfectly fluffy and spongy for a few days (even if you store it in the fridge). Savour it for breakfast with a cappuccino or with a glass of milk as a snack. Or bring it to that last minute dinner invite! Continue reading “Five Minutes Chocolate Cake”

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Scrumptious Cocoa Cake – The Tale of a Fail

This chocolate cake recipe is inspired by Giallo Zafferano’s Scrumptious Cocoa Cake. In the Italian household of Blender and Basil, the hubby has a soft spot for chocolate. So when his birthday comes along I usually make a chocolate treat to celebrate – this year I made a more elaborate birthday cake than usual. The base of this cake contains dark chocolate and bitter cocoa, and I added less sugar than the amount suggested: this gave it a mildly sweet, mature and charged flavour. Continue reading “Scrumptious Cocoa Cake – The Tale of a Fail”

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Mince Pies and Hazelnut Ale – Eric Lanlard Launches Meantime’s Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale

Nothing sets off the festive spirit and signals the approach of Christmas quite like mince pies, and that’s what we learned to make with Master Pâtissier Eric Lanlard at Cake Boy in order to celebrate the launch of Meantime‘s latest limited edition beer in The Pilot Series: Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale.

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We found Eric Lanlard’s boutique patisserie by the river near Wandsworth Town on an evening in December, which, in London, means that it had been pitch black for several hours already. A step into the patisserie brought us into a different world, where the sofas were as colourful as the macarons. We sipped a glass of Meantime’s Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale as we stared at the mini Christmas trees and chocolate baubles on the counter. Fairy lights twinkled in the background – yes, it’s Christmas.

The nutty and smooth dark ale was created with Christmas in mind. But more than that, it is the spirit of experimentation that led Meantime’s Brewmaster Ciaran Giblin to incorporate hazelnut, an ingredient from baking and festive desserts, into an ale. The desire to create something exciting, different and unexpected sits at the heart of Meantime’s Pilot Series: 26 limited edition beers of which Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale is the latest addition.

It is, again, the spirit of experimentation that led Eric to incorporate the ale into these special mince pies. We soon donned aprons with the pink Cake Boy logo to find out how to make them. We gleamed a few top tips from the Master Pâtissier throughout the evening.

5 tips from Eric Lanlard – how to bake (and eat) the perfect mince pie Continue reading “Mince Pies and Hazelnut Ale – Eric Lanlard Launches Meantime’s Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale”

Sugarless apple, cinnamon and veggie muffins – perfect for babies

To kick start our new category of recipes (due to one of us having a baby who’s now eating solids), we thought we’d share this apple, cinnamon, carrot and courgette muffin. It uses a flour and banana base – the banana’s there to add some extra sweetness. All our baby recipes will be sugar and salt free, and as our baby has cow’s milk allergy, we’re using margarine (Pure, to be specific, as recommended by the GP). This recipe is inspired by the courgette muffin recipe from BBC Good Food.

Also, with our baby recipes, as all mamas are probably running low on time, we’ve gone for the method with the least amount of prep work. In this case, we’re doing as much as possible in the blender. You’ll still get a nice and fluffy texture following these steps!

These make a nice batch of 12 muffins. The prep takes around 5-10 minutes, and it cooks in 25 minutes.

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Scallion_pancake_flatbread_recipe

Scallion pancakes/flatbread recipe (cong you bing) – a Chinese paratha

Breads don’t always come out of the oven. This simple flatbread/pancake is very popular in China, both as breakfast, an accompaniment and as a snack, and is cooked in a frying pan. Now that the weather is colder, it’s even better straight out of the pan. Many claim that it’s the predecessor of the pizza, and I suppose, looking at how pizza doughs are made, there are similarities. The ingredients are simple: you just need some flour, salt, oil and spring onions (sesame seeds, sesame oil and five spice powder are optional but highly recommended).

The recipe is a lot looser than the others here, because there’s no set amount of oil to use, for example. In order to make it easier to follow, I’ve included more photos than usual.

The pancakes take around 40 minutes to make, but this includes 20 minutes of waiting for the dough to settle. The following recipe makes 2 pancakes.

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Ingredients
1 cup of plain white flour (around 150g)
1/2 teaspoon of five spice powder
8-10 baby spring onions
3-4 drops of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds

You’ll need water, more flour for dusting, and salt and olive oil at each folding stage. Continue reading “Scallion pancakes/flatbread recipe (cong you bing) – a Chinese paratha”