The biscuit de Savoie is a tasty, light and fluffy sponge cake. The cake originated in the French region of Savoy (the name translates literally to “Savoy biscuit”) in the 18th century. It is important to bear in mind that the recipe for this biscuit contains no leavening agents. This means that the batter must be thoroughly beaten in order to infuse the cake with air, creating the light and airy texture that defines this cake.
Starting late December, pastry shops in Paris start filling up with Galettes des rois or King’s Cake to celebrate the festive Epiphany on January 6th. Since they are so good they are pretty much around till the end of January. At School at LCB Paris, we learnt to make these, also known as Pithiviers named after a town in the south of Paris.
King’s Cakes in France usually are layers of puff pastry filled with almond cream, it’s so incredibly tasty you just can’t stop eating it knowing fully well what is it doing to your waistline. You can have all kinds of fillings but I love the creme amandes. The tradition is to add a little figurine inside and who ever gets it on cutting gets to be the king.
First rule – With puff pastry it’s important to keep it well-chilled and work very quickly. Keep the second piece in the refrigerator until after you’ve rolled out the first. Make sure to seal the edges really well to avoid the filling leaking out. Snap the two ends together with your fingers and then poke a few holes at the top to enable the steam to escape as it’s baking.
To make the almond filling, in a medium bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine almond flour, sugar and butter.
Add eggs, rum and almond extract .
Take one pastry sheet and roll it into a circle. Then use any round circumference - plate/bottom of a springform pan to get an exact circle. Roll one piece of puff pastry into a circle about 9½-inches (23cm) round. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
Cover it with a sheet of parchment paper or plastic film, then roll the other piece of dough into a circle, trim it, and freeze the dough for thirty minutes.
Remove the dough and almond filling from the refrigerator. Take one circle of the dough pastry out of the refrigerator. Spread the almond filling over the center of the dough leaving 1 inch around the edges. Placate figurine or the prize 🙂
Brush water around the edges and then the other circle of dough on top of the galette and press down to seal the edges
Preheat the oven at 180ºC. Using a fork press down the edges further to create a design.
Stir together the egg yolk with the milk and brush it evenly over the top.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the galette is browned on top and up the sides. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Another year is just slipping by. Before you know it it’s Christmas. That time of the year when you have the chance to change your attitude and shrug away the less exciting bits of the year. Well, Almost. I need the change. And as I put up my tree in the studio, I decide to make something that will fill the air with Christmas spices and ginger and all things nice – Ginger Bread. I can’t think of a better way to bring in the Christmas Spirit. I want to make it everyday through this season. Here’s a recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson, but since I don’t like my bread too sticky it’s more my version of a cake which I can dunk in my tea.
Eat it as soon as it’s out of the oven. And watch how the year gone suddenly seems to be ending on a high.
I am obsessed with seeds of all kinds and while I love pumpkin and chia, there is something so exotic and oriental (oriental because I have plenty of memories of sesame encrusted sushi in Japan when I went there a decade ago and then some more from the stuff that Sadaharu Aoki a master Pattisier I encountered in Paris) about sesame seeds that I have been scooping for recipes to work with them. I recently came across something on one of the blogs I follow and I instantly knew that this is what I wanted my weekend baking to be.
So, here is a superb carrot cake recipe generously topped with sesame seeds. Also, carrots and sesame together are a bundle of health – sesame is super rich in antioxidants and vitamins and carrots are one of the biggest sources of Vitamin A. So let’s eat more cake!
Note: Be generous with the amount of sesame seeds you put on top of this loaf, the more the merrier. Let these tiny happy seeds fall all over the plate as u pull it out of the loaf tin and cut the cake; it’s great fun picking them off the plate later.
For as long as I could remember, I have not liked coconut in anything sweet. The only chocolate I never enjoyed was Bounty. How sad that it took me so long to discover how delicious and healthy this most easily available nut is. I started consuming EV coconut oil in things once the whole world started proclaiming its many advantages. And well, it grew on me.
I experimented with coconut in my baking and now I simply love it. I can create a whole new menu with things made from coconut. Tried coconut sugar ? It’s beautiful!
This is a beautiful cake and makes for a perfect tea time treat.
It started with me finding fresh fennel at the market I go to, to shop for vegetables and fresh herbs. I made some rosemary and fennel chicken and the aroma filled up the house leaving everyone pretty happy. This made me want to use fennel in my bakes so there I was trying to make my baking studio smell of fennel. I searched around and came across this recipe, tweaked it just a bit and here it goes. The recipe called for dried fennel seeds so I stuck to that, add as much as you want for flavour. Gods were by my side and I had some fantastic organic aniseed extract which I also added to the mini cakes. It’s gluten free, butter free and if u skip the icing (please don’t) it’s sugar free too. Enjoy!
The financier (pronounced fee-nahn-see-AY) often shows up on petit four plates all over France. There are many stories about how the financier got its name so I’m sharing just one of many. The financier was created by a baker named Lasne, whose bakery on the Rue St. Denis was near the Bourse, the financial center of Paris. Presumably, the rich little cake was named for the rich financiers who frequented his bakery. The cake was baked in rectangular molds, the shape of gold bars. I like this story!
It’s deceptively simple, but perhaps like all things French, so damn refined! It’s a staple at almost all the fine pastry shops across France and now they seem to be pretty popular almost across all the fine pastry shops in the world. It seems like an ordinary little tea cake but that’s why I said it’s so deceptive; it’s so different from a cake.
For one it appears in all kinds of shapes – round in some places and rectangular in the others (see the molds I found on my trip to France).
Second it’s so damn versatile – you can make them all so entirely different; drop pistachios in some, pecans or strawberries in others, dark chocolate nibs in some or mix and match in some…
Refined as it may seem it is relatively easy to make. A few tricks to keep in mind and you are home.
What you need is a whisk, a bowl, a pan and some French wine and some Jazz. The last two ingredients are not for the financier but for your soul.
A few steps make or break the cake. The first, browning the butter is what defines its flavour and adds depth to whatever the base nut you are using (almonds are the most traditional but hazelnuts or even cashews work just as well). You need to heat the butter over medium low heat until it begins to brown and smell nutty. Undercooking it is equally damaging for it will lack the necessary aroma.
The second trick is to mix the batter as little as possible. It should be stirred until just blended. If you stir too much, the gluten in the flour will get overworked and the cake will be tough.
The third trick they say is to rest the batter before baking. A few hours in the refrigerator and the flavours will harmonize. I have never been able to wait.
And one last bit; you have to eat them fresh. Now that’s not much of a problem, is it?
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel
120 gms icing sugar
40 gms flour
60 gms almond meal
100 gms egg whites (egg whites from about 3 large eggs)
100 gms unsalted butter (browned)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Butter 12 financier molds or a mini-muffin tin. Refrigerate buttered tin.
Sift together sugar, flour and almond meal into a medium bowl.
Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in previously beaten egg whites; whisk together by hand until ingredients have been combined.
To brown the butter, melt butter in a sauce pan over low to medium heat until bits begin browning. Continue whisking slowly to prevent browned bits from settling. Strain melted butter through a cheesecloth.
While still hot, slowly pour browned butter into batter, simultaneously whisking the batter until combined.
Evenly distribute batter among molds or mini-muffin tin wells, leaving about ⅛" of space from the rim.
Lower oven temperature to 170 degrees, and bake on the center rack for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean.
I wanted to make something really simple; I was having a friend over for tea who doesn’t like chocolate or cake and likes things citrusy. How complicated we are! So I peeped into my refrigerator and picked up the simplest and the loveliest citrusy ingredient of all – lime.
Got all the zest off using my microphone zester and rubbed into the sugar and had my entire studio smelling of fresh lime. Divine!
These ingredients combine together to give you melt-in-mouth cookies. So good for hot summer days and post a heavy seafood meal.
A scone can be described as a single serving cake or a quick bread. It’s a traditional English tea time treat; I like them for breakfast though. You can call it a kind of pastry since they are made with the same ingredients as short crust albeit with different proportions.
But really scones are so versatile. You can add your favourite ingredients to them. Most dried fruits pair well and so does chocolate. But, when I started figuring out the best way to make them I came across at least 15 different versions – add buttermilk, no butter milk, add egg, no egg, self raising flour, regular flour… it’s really endless. I tried a few variations myself and settled for this.
I didn’t have clotted cream at home so I just ate them up with butter – a generous dollop of it – and some jam.
If you want something warm, not too sweet, and made from scratch this is the recipe. The classic combination of apple and rosemary marries in a buttermilk and olive oil batter lightly flavoured with a hint of warm spices. Don’t want a loaf? You can bake it in muffin tins for muffins or, dollop it in a hot pan coated with oil and make pancakes. This batter will work for all three. I highly suggest trying it as pancakes.