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Almonds anyone?

Updated on March 12, 2013

Hello fellow bakers! Well I hope you attempted the carrot cake recipe last week, and of course if you did you will have noticed my ‘deliberate mistake’. I forgot to tell you when to add the sugar!!!
Which confirms that although I am used to cooking, and can cook well, (so they tell me) writing about it is not my forte.
So, if you didn’t guess for yourself it should have read – add the sieved flours and all other dry ingredients. If you did make the cakes without the sugar, there is one consolation they would have been far healthier! Ok so that little faux-pas sorted.

This week I am going to repeat the rules to you, because many may not have read my first week’s article The ‘rules’ I really want to be second nature to you, as these ‘rules’ make for really good cooking. There is I suppose one additional ‘rule of thumb’: If you don’t feel like cooking, then it won’t turn out well!
I certainly proved that to myself this week: This year I have a number of orders involving macaroons, and you may know that these little treats are a bit of a nightmare to cook; enough to reduce the best of us to tears!

I had perfected (or so I thought!) a recipe which I found on the internet, and have made it my own. Last year I made these little treats in many colours for various clients. I already have a number of orders for them, including a wedding cake covered with them; the macaroons are actually stuck on to the tiered cake then painted to enhance the design. I am really looking forward to making this, so I decided to experiment and practise my painting skills with some macaroons which I needed to make. So, I decided to pop along to the local supermarket for the ingredients (Icing sugar, almonds, and eggs) as I also had a couple of other errands in town. Would you believe they didn’t have any almonds? I understand no icing sugar, but almonds - we grow them here on the island for heaven’s sake!! After walking around Santa Eulalia I did eventually find some almonds and icing sugar, but had wasted almost 2 hours of my day. Returning home to make the macaroons, I followed the recipe as normal, but I was by then not in the frame of mind to cook. Still feeling annoyed about the shopping experience the macaroons were not as they should have been. My husband was polite but condemning! They weren’t even good enough to paint, so I had wasted my day and the ingredients!

What did I do wrong? I didn’t cook with love and passion!

So with that said here are the rules repeated:
1. Cook with love and Passion!
2. Only cook things you like with Love and Passion!!
3. Use the best quality ingredients.
4. Use the right Equipment
5. Follow Instructions
Happy baking ‘till next week,

Yorkshire puddings

These days it has become rather an indulgence to cook cakes, so consequently many of us don’t do it very often and so that is what my blog is all about. Most people can cook, but have not built much experience of cooking cakes. Cake baking is more of a science than cooking a really good dinner.

Jamie Oliver awakened our interest and cooking skills with his enthusiastic hearty attitude of ‘throw everything into the pot’. You can feel the love he puts into it! His cooking is brilliant and he gave everyone the confidence to cook great food.

So even Jamie has to resort to measuring when it comes to cooking cakes. The balance of ingredients has to be just right, air needs to be added into the mixture, and using ingredients at room temperature is also essential - the eggs and liquids especially. This starts their chemical reaction of the ingredients raising before entering the oven.

As a way to prove this point, this week I’m giving you the recipe for Yorkshire puddings.

Ingredients to make 12 yorkies:

125 grams plain flour

2 eggs

200ml milk

Salt and pepper

Trex or vegetable oil

Heat the oven to 220c (fan) /240c (normal)/ gas mark 9

Sieve the flour into a bowl, then in a separate bowl or a jug, which is easier for pouring into the pan, add 2 eggs and whisk lightly. Add the sieved flour and milk in small amounts, whisking well between each addition. Mix until thoroughly combined, add salt and and pepper to taste then lightly whisk again. When completely mixed place this in the fridge or cool place. Chilling the mixture is a the little (or big) secret of good yorkies; I’ll explain why later.

Take a 12 pan muffin tray, add a small teaspoon full of oil or Trex into each round. Place the tray in the oven for 10/15 minutes until the oil is really hot and sizzling. Remove the batter mixture from the fridge and give another quick whisk. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately pour in the batter mixture, filling each hole to about half full. The mixture should start sizzling and raising in the pan, so you should immediately place the tray back in the hot oven. Cook for 16 minutes. Do not open the oven before at least 12 minutes!! If you do commit this mortal baking sin they may well collapse!! You can tell they are ready when they are well risen and brown; give them a minute or two extra if they are not a nice golden brown.

Once out of the oven place the yorkies on a wire rack to cool (don’t leave them in the tin as they will go soft and soggy. Serve immediately is the ideal, but you can re-heat them in the oven for a couple minutes if necessary. You can also freeze them when completely cold.

With Yorkshire puddings, we use the science a little differently. Chilling the batter in the fridge slows down the chemical reaction between the ingredients, and that keeps it flat instead of starting to ‘rise’. As you pour the mixture into the hot pan with its smoking hot oil, the cold batter chills the bottom of the pan, but starts working on the hot sides very quickly, hence they rise on the outside and remain hollow in the middle. They never turn out evenly, because the batter is not perfectly consistent, you never pour it perfectly evenly, and the pan too will not be at a completely even temperature, but that’s what is so lovely about a really good yorkie!!!

As you can see, this is just the opposite of what we do for beautiful cakes. We want our cakes to be evenly shaped, light in colour with an even sponge inside. Hence we work with warm ingredients and add to a warm oven keeping the temperature mild at all times.


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