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For ages, quiche always seemed like a bit of a minefield! All of those issues to dodge; the blind baking, the soggy bottoms, the raw egg… Every time I mentioned to my mum that I’d like to try to make one, she’d look terrified and try and convince me that it wasn’t a good idea.
However, when I finally did try, it was a success! Although several pans are required, and the incredible mess, there’s something very satisfying about pulling a quiche out of the oven. If you can take the time to caramelise the onions, it adds a sweet flavour that really lifts the rich pastry and complements the delicate asparagus.
Salmon and Asparagus Quiche
1 small onion
120g smoked salmon
1 packet asparagus
150g butter, soft
A little water
Rub the butter into the flour, and add water in small amounts until a ball of dough is formed. Roll out to about 3mm thickness between layers of cling film, and lay into a quiche dish. Prick the pastry all over and bake blind for 15 mins, or until golden brown .
Chop onion, and cook with 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil in a small pan on a low heat for 15 mins, stirring frequently. Crack eggs into a jug and beat together with the milk. Chop asparagus into 2 cm chunks, and grate the cheese. Now spread salmon, chopped, onions and asparagus into the pastry base, and pour egg mixture into pastry. Sprinkle cheese over the top and bake for 25 minutes.
I drink spinach and apple smoothies like a stone cold crazy person. I’m a slave to the cross trainer. I never eat chocolate bars. I drink skinny decaf lattes. I trained myself to enjoy eating tomatoes. I’m secretly really competitive about eating healthily.
But when it comes to baking, these beliefs get flung out of the window. I have a distinct curve in my thigh that simply won’t disappear because I love butter, sugar and flour in any or all guises. Baking might not be good for your body, but it’s good for your soul, and if there’s anything that I believe passionately and wholeheartedly, it’s that the creation of your own food is the path to true happiness… and it tastes super good too!
Berry Crumble Bars
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3/4 cup of golden granulated sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 cups plain white flour
3/4 cup cold butter
1 medium egg
Juice and zest of one small lemon
3 cups mixed berries (I used blueberries and strawberries)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp cornflour
With cold hands, rub the sugar, baking powder, flour, butter and lemon zest briefly until the butter is slightly incorporated into the flour. Add the egg, and bring together with a fork until just combined; I found that my mixture was quite crumbly, so used my hands to bring it together a bit more. Press half of the mixture into a greased and lined loaf tin or small baking tray, and set aside. Whisk the lemon juice, sugar and cornflour in a small bowl, and fold in the fruit. Pour into tin, and top with the remaining crumble. Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 45 minutes - 1 hour, or until firm in the middle and browned on top. Chill well before slicing.
I love wearing lipstick because it shows off my new straight teeth. I love wearing it in a deep burgundy-purple because no-one else does… and pillarbox red is overrated. I love reminding myself that, come the end of exams, this Chanel lipstick will be mine in L’Exquise; no matter how many tables I have to wait on in the meantime.
I love reading biochemistry books such as The Epigenetics Revolution because it reminds me of what’s up ahead of me. It scares me and excites me in equal measure.
I love waking up early while the sunshine is still watery, and listening to the Joy the Baker podcast whilst baking up a storm and laughing until I cry.
I love not being on Facebook any more. I appreciate people being able to tell me their news face to face, and to smile and tell them what’s new with me. Get your heads out of the news feed and into the real world, people.
I love smelling the freshly mown grass as I lie in the garden in the rare British sunshine, listening to Ben Howard and watching the clouds sail by.
I love sweet blueberries, and their taste with soft, comforting vanilla. I love bringing something together only with a wooden spoon. I love butter and sugar and sharing these recipes.
Blueberry Crumb Muffins
Inspired by Joy the Baker
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup self raising flour + tsp of baking powder
A splash of milk
1 cup of blueberries, warmed slightly in the microwave to release their juices
+ for the crumble topping
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
Beat the butter on medium speed of an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until pale and creamy. Slowly add the sugar, and beat for a further 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until just combined. Fold in the milk with a rubber spatula, and add the sift half the flour into the bowl. Fold in and repeat with remaining flour. Add the blueberries and stir. Split between 6 muffin cases, and bake for 15 minutes at 180 degrees celsius or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched.
Meanwhile, rub the cool butter into the flour until fairly doughy and in large chunks. Add the sugar and mix with a fork. Break up any larger pieces and transfer to a baking sheet. Put in the oven at 200 degrees celsius once the muffins are done, until the crumbs are golden brown and firm. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
Spread a thin layer of berry jam on top of each cake, and pile crumb topping onto the muffin. Apply gentle pressure to ensure that the crumble is secure. Leave to cool for a further 30 minutes, and serve immediately with fresh berries and a cup of tea.
I am an absolute menace for not following a recipe. Sometimes because I don’t like the ingredients, sometimes because I can’t get the ingredients (Corn syrup? Golden syrup will have to do…) and just sometimes because I’ve got halfway through a recipe before realising that we don’t have any eggs/icing sugar/flour, in this case… just a pitiful amount of plain, and no self raising. Oh b-
However, ever the resourceful baker, I’ll throw anything in to restore the balance in the catastrophe of a baking venture. And nine times out of ten, it still doesn’t work. However, this time, it just seemed to work!
Staring at a scarily liquid cake mix, with my thimbleful of flour beaten in, I just couldn’t justify throwing away all of those ingredients… so I mopped up the excess liquid with oats, creating a moist cake - Mum thought it had grated carrots in, it had such a comforting, dense texture.
Not quite the gingerbread that Nigella had in mind when she devised her recipe; but after my meddling, tasty all the same.
Adapted from Gingerbread recipe in Nigella Kitchen
200g golden syrup
250ml strongly brewed tea
2tsp ground ginger
2tsp mixed spice
1/2tsp ground nutmeg
100g porridge oats
2tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
Stir the butter, golden syrup, sugar, tea and spices over a low heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan until the butter has just melted. Combine remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl, and then beat in the warm liquid. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Transfer the mixture to a greased baking tin and cook for 30-40 mins at 140 degrees celsius, until firm in the middle of the cake. Cut and serve when cool.
Good: days when the sun is shining. Days when new pens make your notes look awesome. Days when your underwear matches. Days when people tell you you look nice. Days when people give you some cake which is full of their love and creativity.
Bad: days when you dropped your folder and EVERYTHING fell out. Days when you forget your umbrella. Days when cakes fall in the oven… for no apparent reason. Days when creepy guys try and make conversation. Days when… you need to take a step back and breathe.
I’m pretty sure this can be solved with cupcakes. Whether you’re throwing the apron on and turning up the radio until you forget what’s stressing you out, purely because you want to eat copious amounts of cake mixture… or you’re making delicate chocolate cupcakes to make someone else feel super awesome and looked after… this is the way to go.
This is a great recipe for such an occasion. Only six cupcakes, so the perfect quantity for giving (or as damage control to prevent a dozen cupcakes being eaten… nothing is that dire.)
Simple Truffle Cupcakes
Makes six cupcakes
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
For the icing:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
A little water
Cream the butter and sugar for 3 mins on high speed of electric mixer. Beat the egg in a cup and add a little at a time, beating until just combined on high speed. Reducing to low speed, add the flour, beat briefly, then add the milk and vanilla essence. Finish by carefully folding in the cocoa powder with a spatula, and bake in cupcake cases for 15-20 mins. These can stand to be a little underbaked, if you like a bit of squidge!
For the icing - make a loose caramel by heating the sugar, butter and water in a pan. When just golden and slightly sticky, add the icing sugar and beat well. Transfer to a bowl and beat the cocoa powder into the mixture. A little milk may be added to loosen if too stiff. Chill before icing the cupcakes.