Iced London Buns

I’ve made these once before, they were lovely. Not sure why its taken me so long to make them again.

These Iced London Buns are from Justin Gellatly’s excellent book, Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding. You can tell they’re going to be tasty, before you mix the dough. Even the caraway seeds, which at first glance seem a bit odd, smell right when they’re in the bowl with everything else.

Greedy ants...

Both times I’ve made these I’ve not been too happy with the shape of the buns. They don’t turn out like the iced buns you buy from the shops, which are generally touching and have to be pulled apart. This is no bad thing, depending on your point of view.

Proving...

I’m not sure what happened when they were in the oven, as they didn’t colour up very well. Even with an egg wash, they came out slightly anaemic and patchy, rather than the stated golden brown. Maybe if I’d just brushed them with egg yolk, rather than whole egg, they would have been less patchy, who knows.

Out of the oven...

While my icing skillz leave a lot to be desired, I was relatively happy with how the icing on these turned out. I can’t help thinking that the icing would’ve looked better if I’d used a letterbox type icing nozzle, rather than just chopping the end of the icing bag. I might have to invest in some bigger icing bags and some nozzles and try that next time.

Iced buns!

If you fancy making some iced buns, then you could do a lot worse than these. I’d definitely recommend giving them a try.

Batata Harra

It’s taken ages to finally get round to making this, maybe it’s just because Ottolenghi’s Plenty More didn’t have a photo, but more likely that I’ve just been too busy doing other stuff.

To be honest, a year ago I couldn’t have told you what batata harra was, or where it came from; Wikipedia isn’t exactly replete with information either. It turns out it’s a Lebanese dish and the name translates as spicy potatoes, it’s also pretty damn tasty.

You’re supposed to make it with red pepper, but my wife used the only red pepper we had the evening before, even though I’d ask her to not to; so I had to make do with a yellow one. I’m sure the taste wasn’t affected, but you can really see why a red one is specified, as the yellow one is the same colour as the potatoes, so you loose a lot of visual appeal.

Ottolenghi’s recipe, calls for the oven to be on 240°C, which leads to nice and crispy potatoes, but utterly destroys the crushed garlic and chopped coriander. Never having had batata harra before, I have no idea if this is the desired result or not.

I made half the quantity in the recipe, which was enough as a main course on it’s own. I misread it though and used ½ a teaspoon of homemade chilli flakes, rather than a ¼. By the time I finished, it was like someone had blow torched the inside of my mouth while I took a shower; the sweat was streaming down my head. I know it’s supposed to be spicy potatoes, but I’d definitely use a touch less next time. I couldn’t help thinking that it needed some sort of yogurt or labneh based condiment to take the edge off the heat as well.

One other thing I might change, is the use of the lemon juice. While works really nicely with the other flavours, I do wonder if using barberries would give a similar effect. Mainly as the lemon juice seemed to soak into some of the potatoes and not into others. Having lots of little lemon flavour bombs scattered through out, might mean you get some lemon flavour to the last mouthful.

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush...

I have a love hate relationship with aubergine, but had my eyes opened when I tried some baba ganoush made by a friend. I had to have a go at making my own.

I associate baba ganoush with the Middle East, so when I was looking for a recipe my first query was basically Yotam Ottolenghi baba ganoush. What turned up was unexpected though, as it turns out that Felicity Cloake has done one of her How to make the perfect… for baba ganoush on The Guardian website.

I decided to go straight for Felicity’s recipe, as life is too short to go through the angst of picking one of the others and then being disapointed. I’ve made it twice now, and I have to say that it’s bloody delicious.

If like me, you don’t have a gas hob and don’t want to soften the aubergine under the grill, then buy a disposable barbeque. The small ones are big enough for four aubergines and the smokiness that’s imparted isn’t too much. Although it can take quite a while to soften large aubergines, as some of these wee barbeques aren’t the most powerful.

This will most likely become a staple dish at parties and barbeques going forward, it’s definitely worth trying.

Quince and Pear Tart

Quince and Pear Tart

One weekend a few months back, I decided that I’d like to bake a fruit tart. My first thoughts were along the lines of a traditional apple affair, but as we had some quince and pears kicking around, I decided to use those instead.

I knew I wanted to use the quince, but I wasn’t sure what else to use. I opened my copy of the Flavour Thesaurus, expecting it to be replete with quince pairings, but found only the one, mentioned as part of the Apple & Pear entry. Luckily it mentioned that quince was the ideal thing to flavour apple or pear tarts with, which is just as well, as I wanted to use up some pears I’d been given.

The Flavour Thesaurus also mentioned grating the quince, and adding it skin and all, which is what I did. I knew the gratings would have been be cooked for a while, along with the chopped up pears, so decided to adapt Tony Singh‘s Apple crumble with star anise recipe from The Incredible Spice Men, mainly as everyone knows that star anaise and pears go togeather. I was just after the way he par-cooked the filling, rather than the crumble topping.

Filling sorted, I hoicked my copy of the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book off the shelf and opened it at the pages dealing with pastry. I knew I was after some sort of sweetened shortcrust and decided to go with a pâte sucrée, rather than a pâte brisée. I decided not to blind bake the pastry, as being sweetened, I was convinced that it would be fine. So I lined a loose bottomed flan tin with the pastry and ladled the filling into it.

I’ll be honest and say I was a bit worried, as the filling was quite wet, from all the pear and quince juice, plus all the butter. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I put the top on and plopped it into the oven. I needn’t have worried though, as the pastry was fine, even though a bit of juice did come bubbling out of the slits I’d cut in the top. A quick sprinkle with some caster sugar and it was left to cool for a bit, before we had it for pudding. The leftovers lasted for a few days, they made lunchtimes at work just that extra bit tasty.

I’m normally that kind of person who slavishly follows a recipe and gets very stressed when things aren’t going according to the instructions. I was quite impressed with myself for managing to knock this up from inspiration, rather than than from a found recipe. I was going to list all the ingredients and the method I’d used etc, but to be honest, I sort of winged it. If you’ve found this page because you want to make something similar, then I hope I’ve given you enough hints and pointers to the books and recipes that inspired me, so you can figure out what I did.