Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Apple Crumb Bars

After seeing versions of Smitten Kitchen's Blueberry Crumb Bars on Brown Eyed Baker and Une Gamine Dans La Cuisine in the same week, I was tempted to make them myself. However we don't get blueberries in Pakistan, and as a fan of the classic apple crumble, I decided on good old apples instead.

These little squares of apple-crumbly goodness are just as good as breakfast, a snack, and even as dessert topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Apple Crumb Bars
adapted from Smitten Kitchen


4 to 5 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (you should have 4 cups of sliced apple)
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour

1½ cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 oz cold butter, cut into cubes
1 small egg

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
  2. In a mixing bowl, add the sliced apples and lemon juice and toss together. Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, sift in the flour and baking powder. Add sugar and salt and stir to combine.
  4. Add the butter and egg. Using a pastry cutter or a knife, cut the butter and egg into the dry ingredients until the mixture starts to look crumbly and no large pieces of butter remain.
  5. Grease a sheet of foil and press into a 8x8-inch square baking dish or pan. Press half the crumble mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  6. Add the cinnamon, sugar, and cornstarch to the apples and mix well.
  7. Spread the apple mixture evenly over the crumb base.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture evenly over the apples.
  9. Place in the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
  11. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Makes 16 bars.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chocolate Cookies

A few years ago I had a disastrous experience baking chocolate cookies, so I had absolutely no intention of baking Double Chocolate Cookies from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. It's heartbreaking when all that good chocolate goes to waste. I was flipping through the book looking for the Chocolate Muffins recipe when my sister persuaded me to bake the cookies instead.

The first time I baked them the batter looked very runny to me, not at all like cookie dough. So I ended up adding twice the amount of flour mentioned in the recipe. Some googling later revealed that the batter is supposed to be a bit thin, less like stiff cookie dough and more like brownie batter, and that I needn't have been alarmed. Both versions of the recipe turned out great though. The cookies made with more flour spread less during baking and so were slightly fatter.

Once the cookies came out of the oven and we finally had a taste, I was so glad I baked them. They turned out perfectly; intensely chocolatey, with chewy edges and soft, fudgy centres.

I have never baked anything that disappeared as quickly as these did.

Chocolate Cookies
adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook

50g (1.8 oz) unsalted butter
225g (8 oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 eggs
170g (6 oz) brown sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp instant coffee powder
85g (3 oz) flour
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Chocolate chips (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F (165⁰C).
  2. Line two baking trays with wax paper and lightly grease the paper. Set aside.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Stir in the salt, and set aside.
  4. Add the butter and chocolate to a large mixing bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water in the pan.
  5. When the chocolate has melted, take the bowl off the heat and set aside.
  6. Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and coffee to a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until combined.
  7. Pour in the warm butter-chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and mix well. 
  8. Stir in the flour mixture.
  9. Using a large cookie scoop* portion out all the batter (the batter will stiffen if it's left to sit, making it harder to scoop it out). Sprinkle a few chocolate chips, if using, on top of each cookie.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking tray for 10 to 15 minutes.
  12. Carefully remove the cookies and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

*I used a regular ice cream scoop (a large cookie scoop will also do the trick) to portion out these cookies. The scoop has a diameter of 2¼ inches and it holds about ¼ cup (approx. 3 oz) of cookie dough, resulting in 3½ inch cookies.

Make 9 cookies.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Apple Crumble

Everybody should have a basic crumble recipe in their back pocket.

Once you have that down (and it's not at all hard to master), it can go on top of anything; fruit, muffins, cakes...

It can also be adapted however you like; add nuts, rolled oats, maybe some dessicated coconut, a hint of your favourite spice(s)...

I prefer to make my crumble by hand because I like the texture of a handmade crumble better. However, it can also be made in a food processor and that is actually the better approach during very hot weather, when the cold butter that the recipe calls for almost immediately turns to liquid. Or, you know, if you just don't want to get your hands dirty, then you could use a food processor too.

I've always made a crumble with the proportions given below and they're pretty perfect, so I've no reason to mess with them (I can't remember where I first saw the recipe; must have been one of my cookbooks). However, I haven't made an apple crumble in ages and recently, as I was attempting one for the blog, I couldn't quite get the quantity of apples right. Finally I came across a recipe on Bon Appetit which had just the right crumble-to-apple ratio.

Apple Crumble
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 oz butter, cold and cut into cubes
½ cup flour
½ cup brown sugar

1 lb (450g) apples
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F (180⁰C).
2. Add the flour, sugar, and oats (if using) to a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add butter.
3. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture looks crumbly. You want to try and get the mixture as fine as you can but it's fine if there are some big bits of butter in there. The topping should look something like the photo below:
(To make the crumble in a food processor: Add the flour and sugar to the food processor. Process for 2 to 3 seconds to combine. Add the butter and process for 2 to 3 seconds at a time until the mixture resembles a crumble.)

4. Refrigerate the crumble mixture while you prepare the apples.
5. Peel the apples, halve them, remove the cores, and slice each half into four to six slices.
6. Add the sliced apples to a mixing bowl, add the cinnamon, lemon juice, and flour; mix well.
7. Add the apples to a small baking dish and sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the fruit.
8. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the crumble topping is golden brown.
9. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, custard, or cream. Store leftovers, covered, in refrigerator.
Serves 3 to 4.

For 6 to 8 servings, double the recipe and bake in a 8x8-inch square dish for 40 to 50 minutes.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chocolate Pudding

I had a pretty brutal wisdom tooth extraction last month. 

I couldn't eat anything hot the first day and couldn't chew for quite a few days after that.

One side of my face was very swollen and I didn't really want to go anywhere out in public with my asymmetrical face. No matter how much I tried to hide it with my hair, it still looked like I had stuffed a golf ball in my mouth.

I had taken time off work so I hadn't much to do. 

The only thing I really could do was get into the kitchen to occupy myself.

But what was I going to make that I could actually eat at the end too?

Answer: chocolate pudding.

Chocolate Pudding 
adapted from Smitten Kitchen


2 tablespoons cornflour 
1½ cups full-fat milk
¼ cup caster sugar
a pinch of salt
½ teaspoons instant coffee powder
4 oz semisweet chocolate (I used Cadbury's Bournville; you can use semisweet chocolate chips as well, or use dark chocolate if that's what you prefer)

  1. Add 1 cup milk, sugar, salt, and coffee to a saucepan and place on low heat, whisking occasionally.
  2. Dissolve the cornflour in the remaining ½ cup of milk.
  3. When the milk mixture in the saucepan starts to bubble at the edges, whisk in the cornflour mixture. 
  4. Add the chocolate and stir until it has melted.
  5. Once the pudding comes up to a boil and thickens, remove from heat.
  6. Pour the pudding into ramekins or bowls. To prevent a skin forming, cover the pudding surface with cling film.
  7. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Makes 3 servings.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut Loaf

I'd been having some trouble getting a banana loaf recipe right, but I've finally got one I'm happy with. Studded with chocolate chips and walnuts, it has a mild banana flavour and it's not very sweet either, so you may want to increase the amount of sugar in the recipe if you want a sweeter cake.

What's more, I used bananas I had frozen a week ago for this recipe. We had some overripe bananas (which are perfect for baking) but I didn't have time to bake with them so I popped them in the freezer. Saturday night I took them out to thaw and used them up Sunday morning. They will blacken further on freezing so don't let that alarm you, they're perfectly fine to bake with. They're a bit watery once they've thawed though so peel the bananas and place them in a strainer for a while to drain the excess liquid. Then mash them up and into the cake batter they go!


3 oz butter
⅓ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
⅓ cup milk
½ cup mashed banana
⅓ to ½ cup walnuts, chopped
3 tablespoons chocolate chips
½ tsp vanilla 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F (180⁰C).
  2. Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
  3. Add the butter and sugar to a large mixing bowl and, with an electric mixer, beat together until light and creamy (about 2 minutes).
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well after adding each one.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk.
  6. Stir in the mashed banana, chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, and vanilla.
  7. Pour the batter into a greased and lined 8x4-inch loaf pan.
  8. Bake for about 50 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Free-form Peach Tart

I try to make a stone fruit tart or pie at least once each summer. It's hard not to with the variety of fruit available. 

This kind of tart is really quite simple to make, and is a good option when you have little time and a lot of people to feed. You can make it ahead of time; it tastes great at room temperature, and cold from the fridge, and warm from the oven. 

I made this tart for a family dinner party a couple of weeks ago. We served it with cream and it was a big hit. Only one teeny tiny slice was left over. I hid it in a corner of the fridge and ate it the next day, before dinner, with warm custard. I didn't have any ice-cream but a scoop of vanilla would be have been perfect too.

The best thing about it is that it's no fuss. It definitely doesn't have to be perfect. Roll the pastry out into a circle, a square, an oval, invent your own shape. Whatever.

I didn't bother peeling the peaches. Slice the fruit, toss it with sugar and flour, pile it messily on top of the pastry and bang it in the oven to bake. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. (Don't think I've used that phrase since I was six years old!)

I made one a while ago with apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums. Despite the tart being some shape that was a cross between a circle and an oval, it was delicious and looked beautiful studded with dark cherries and dusted with icing sugar. I don't have any photos of that tart though because my computer crashed and I lost most of my food photos, so you'll just have to take my word for it...

And don't be intimated by the pastry; that's easy peasy too.

Shortcrust pastry
4 oz cold butter, cut into cubes
1¼ cups plain flour
2 to 4 tablespoons cold water
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons caster sugar (optional)

Stone fruit filling
700g to 750g peaches, white or yellow (or assorted stone fruit such as apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums)
3 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon flour

1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
2. In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, butter, and sugar, if using.

3. With the tips of your fingers, rub the butter into the flour, until it starts to look crumbly.

4. Add the cold water, a tablespoon at a time, and mix with your hands until the pastry starts to come together. (Don't be tempted to add too much water; 2 to 3 tablespoons should be enough. It may seem like the pastry is too crumbly and dry when you add the water but as you form it into a ball with your hands, your body heat will start to melt the butter and the pastry will eventually come together.) Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in cling film. Refrigerate the pastry for at least 30 minutes to allow it to rest.
5. Meanwhile, halve the peaches, removes the stones, and slice each half into 6 to 8 slices.
6. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on a greased sheet of wax paper. Flatten the pastry with your palm...

... dust with flour, and then roll it out to any shape you want.

7. Transfer the wax paper sheet with the rolled-out pastry onto a greased baking tray.

8. Mix the sliced peaches with the sugar and flour, then pile the fruit into the centre of the pastry, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border.

9. Fold the edges of the pastry over the fruit.

10. Brush the beaten egg over the pastry with a pastry brush.
11. Place the tart in the preheated oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the pastry is cooked through and golden brown.
12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

[July] Blueberry, Almond, and Poppy Seed Cantuccini

First Blogger wasn't working...

... and then my computer crashed!

I managed to transfer these photos before it completely died on me, so here's July's biscotti recipe.

The recipe comes from Leela Cyd's beautiful blog tea cup tea; I discovered it through Saveur a few months ago and it instantly became a favourite.

Recently, I have vicariously been experiencing Europe through her gorgeous photos of Portugal and Italy (browse through her travel posts here).

Another way I benefited from Leela's travels: her recipe for Blueberry, Almond & Ginger Cantuccini. Cantuccini, I have learned, is similar to biscotti but there's a slightly different technique involved resulting in a bit of a different texture too. The egg whites are beaten with the sugar like meringue and then the yolks and other ingredients are mixed in.

I've adapted the recipe slightly; mostly by eliminating ingredients I didn't have (agave) or didn't want to use (ginger).

I sliced mine at a very sharp angle which resulted in jumbo-size biscotti, so I suggest you slice yours at a larger angle if you choose to slice diagonally. Otherwise, just slice straight across.

Blueberry, Almond, and Poppy Seed Cantuccini

adapted from Leela Cyd

2 egg whites
200g sugar
2 egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla
250g flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
75g dried blueberries
100g almonds
3 tbs (blue) poppy seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
  2. In a large clean bowl, add the egg whites and beat with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes (the whites will form tiny bubbles and increase in volume as you beat them).
  3. Add the sugar to the egg whites and beat for another 2 minutes until the mixture is thick and glossy.
  4. In a separate small bowl, mix together the yolks and vanilla.
  5. Gently fold the yolk mixture into the white mixture.
  6. Sift together the flour and baking powder, stir in the salt, and carefully fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture.
  7. Add the blueberries, almonds, and poppy seeds and gently fold in.
  8. Grease a baking tray with veg table oil and line with wax paper or a Silpat, then lightly grease the wax paper or Silpat.. 
  9. Divide the dough into two parts and place on the baking tray. Shape each half into a log, about 3 inches wide, 1 inch high and 8 inches long.
  10. Bake the logs at 350for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Turn the oven temperature down to 300F (150C).
  12. When the logs have cooled, cut each log into ¾- to 1-inch slices, either at a slight angle or straight across.
  13. Place the cantuccini back on the baking tray, cut side down, and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the cantuccini over onto their other side and bake for another 20 minutes.
  14. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  15. Store in an airtight jar.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What I'm Reading... II

1. I've never been to Edinburgh but this post makes me want to go just to eat at Lovecrumbs (from Desserts for Breakfast)
Interlude: Lovecrumbs, Edinburgh, Scotland

2. Who would've thought... (from The Guardian)
Technology that traced Osama bin Laden now used to extend life of cakes

3. This sounds perfect for summer snacking... (from The Pioneer Woman Cooks)
Watermelon Pico de Gallo

4. Can't wait to try this! It seems so simple and easy... (from Lottie + Doof)
One-Pan Pasta

5. A friend introduced to me to this hilarious blog last week... (from english to english)
On teabags

Sunday, June 30, 2013

[June] Cranberry Almond Biscotti Thins

Back on track!

June's recipe in June.


This recipe was my attempt to replicate THINaddictives®, these very thin crunchy cookies I discovered a few years ago while on holiday in America. I really love the cranberry and almond ones and they're hard to find outside the US.

I had hoped they would turn out good, but I was surprised—pleasantly— at how great the result was. They are pretty close to the real thing. Crisp and crunchy, perfect for snacking, and loaded with cranberry and almond goodness.

Even better, no butter, no oil.

And no electric mixer needed.


⅓ cup whole almonds
⅓ cup dried cranberries*
1 egg
⅓ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla (optional)
¾ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
⅛ tsp salt

*This time I used Del Monte dried cranberries but I have used this brand as well.

1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F (180⁰C).
2. Spread the almonds on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven, let them cool, and then chop them up.
3. In a large mixing bowl, add the egg and sugar (and vanilla, if you're using it) and whisk for 1 minute.
4. Sift together the flour and baking powder, and add to the bowl. Add the salt, chopped almonds, and cranberries and mix well.

5. Scrape out batter onto greased and lined* baking tray. The dough is sticky so keep a small bowl of water next to you and dip your fingers in it to help you shape the log.

6. Shape the biscotti mixture into a log, 10 to 11 inches long, about 1 inch high, and about 2 inches wide. (It may look weird and runny at this point but it will turn out fine once it has baked.)

7. Place in the oven and bake at 350⁰F (180⁰C) for 20 minutes. Remove the log from the oven and allow to cool. Turn the oven temperature down to 290⁰F.

8. When the log is cool enough to handle, cut it, with a sharp knife, into slices as thin as you can easily manage. Mine were between 0.5cm and 0.75cm.

9. Place the sliced biscotti back on the baking tray and return to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes on one side, then turn them over and bake for another 15 minutes.

10. Remove biscotti from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container/jar.

Friday, June 14, 2013

What I'm Reading...

I haven't had time to bake/cook and post anything new in a while, so I thought I'd share some 
links to things that have caught my eye lately...

1. I read about cronuts only last week; I am fascinated and intrigued and quite tempted to give them a go...

2. It's been so ridiculously hot recently and since I can't ever give up tea, this would make a great summer substitute...
Cardamom and Saffron Iced Tea (from Honest Cooking)

3. Coffee isn't all that bad for you after all...
This Is Your Brain on Coffee (from The New York Times)

4. Cookies + Nutella + marshmallows = dessert heaven! (From Clockwork Lemon)
Toasted Marshmallow and Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies 

5. I love it when I discover a blog I didn't know about before. I found this one a few days ago; so many gorgeous recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, and so much more...
Une Gamine dans la Cuisine

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

[May] Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

Have I bitten off more biscotti than I can chew?

First I was posting my monthly recipe in middle of the month, then towards the end, and now I'm posting May's recipe in June!

I need to get more organized... I pretty much have the recipes for each month planned out but for blogging purposes maybe one recipe every two months might be more manageable? We'll see...

Anyhow, it's about time a chocolate recipe was added to the list. It took me a couple of tries to get it right though. The first time I made a recipe similar to this one I forgot about it while it was baking for a second time, resulting in very hard, almost teeth-shattering biscotti.

This time around I was much more careful and these were almost finished before I got a chance to photograph them.

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti


2 tbs canola (or vegetable) oil
2 eggs
¾ cup caster sugar
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
⅓ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp instant coffee powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
a pinch of salt
½ cup walnuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 325⁰F (165⁰C).
  2. Line a baking tray with wax paper. Spread the walnuts evenly on the tray and bake for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool, then chop them up.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. 
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add oil, eggs, and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is light and airy.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture, the coffee mixture, and the chopped walnuts.
  6. Turn the dough onto the baking tray (greased and lined with wax paper) and shape it into a log, about 12 inches long, 2 inches wide and about 2cm to 1 inch high.
  7. Bake the biscotti log at 325⁰F (165⁰C) for 25 minutes.
  8. Remove the log from the oven and allow it cool. Turn down the oven temperature to 290⁰F (145⁰C).
  9. When it is cool enough to handle, slice the log into ½-inch slices, either diagonally or straight across.
  10. Place the biscotti back onto the baking tray, cut side down, and place the tray in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the biscotti over and bake for another 20 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight jar.

More biscotti recipes on Chai + Cake:

Sunday, May 26, 2013

King's Chicken Curry

I was lazily channel-surfing one afternoon when I caught a glimpse of a man cooking in the outdoors. I quickly flipped back and saw that he was high up on a deserted mountain cooking a chicken curry on a small wood stove. He proceeded to make a paste with fresh turmeric and some other spices using the floor as base and another stone to grind with. It was all so rustic. 

As I continued to watch, I learnt that he was in Sri Lanka making a regal curry. What struck me though was that the ingredients used were quite similar to Pakistani ones and most of them are readily available in a Pakistani kitchen.

I googled the recipe, determined to try it for myself. The programme was My Sri Lanka with Peter Kuruvita on NatGeo Adventure. It's a 10-part series and I'm not entirely sure which episode I was watching, but I'm glad I found the recipe online.

With the exception of sandalwood and fresh turmeric (I used turmeric powder instead) I knew I could get together all the ingredients I needed to make this dish.

Served with rice this chicken curry is delicious and so unique. I love the flavour the paan brings to it, along with the other spices, all held together in the slightly tangy coconut-creamy chicken broth.

I'm impressed Peter Kuruvita. Next, I want to try the Prawns with Black Pepper and Curry Leaf Sauce.

King's Chicken Curry

Adapted from Peter Kuruvita

1 chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces
1 onion, sliced
4 to 5 cloves garlic, crushed
4 or 5 green chillies, chopped
2 paan leaves, torn into small pieces
1 sprig curry leaves
10 black peppercorns
¼ cup cooking oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
6 cloves
4 cardamom pods, crushed
2 to 3 cups water
1 can (400 ml) coconut cream
Dried red chillies, to garnish
  1. In a large bowl or dish, add the chicken, onion, garlic, green chillies, paan leaves, curry leaves and peppercorns and mix well. Leave the mixture to marinate for about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a large cooking pot, then add the chicken mixture and cook for a few minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink.
  3. Stir in the vinegar, then add the mustard seeds and turmeric and cook for about one minute.
  4. Add the cloves and cardamom pods and fry for another minute.
  5. Add the water to the pot, turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
  6. When the chicken is cooked, add the coconut cream, mix well and bring to the boil. When the curry has boiled take it off the heat.
  7. Garnish with dried red chillies and serve.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

[April] Almond-Orange Biscotti

Continuing with my biscotti challenge, here's the recipe for April.

(I really hope I'm not sick of biscotti by the end of this year!)  

My previous two recipes were made using butter, but I came across many recipes online that used no butter at all or used olive oil instead. Since I've been making these so often, I wanted to try and make some lighter versions too.

So this time around I decided to try an olive oil approach, before attempting to go completely 'fat'-free. I was a bit worried about the olive oil flavour being too strong though, so I used orange zest to counter it and also I used extra light olive oil the first time around. However I have made these with extra virgin olive oil as well and both versions turned out great. 

I am yet to try a recipe without anything to mask the olive oil flavour. Who knows, it might not even come across that strongly. But hey, I have still have eight more months, eight more biscotti recipes. The orange does go really well with this recipe though and I imagine it would be really good with lemon zest too.

(You can find more photos on how to make biscotti here and here.)


2 oz (⅓ cup) almonds
zest of 1 orange
⅓ cup caster sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F (165⁰C).
  2. Place the almonds on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then chop them up and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the caster sugar, olive oil, orange zest* and egg, and beat by hand, or with an electric mixer, for about 2 minutes.
  5. Sift together the flour and baking powder and stir into the wet ingredients, along with the chopped almonds.
  6. Turn the biscotti dough onto a greased and lined baking tray and form into a log shape, about 2 inches wide, an inch high and 10 to 12 inches long. (It's more of a batter than a dough, so use your spatula to shape into a log.)
  7. Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the biscotti log from the oven and turn the oven temperature down to 290F (145⁰C).
  9. When the log has cooled, slice it into ½-inch slices.
  10. Place the sliced biscotti back onto the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the biscotti over and bake for another 20 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.
(*You can zest the orange using a microplane or fine grater, or you can remove the orange peel using a vegetable peeler, making sure to use only the orange zest and none of the white pith. Grind together the peel and sugar in coffee grinder, as I did here, before adding it to the rest of the wet ingredients.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

[March] Chocolate-dipped Orange Pistachio Biscotti

Now that I know that biscotti is not at all hard to make and since it disappears very quickly in my house, I have been making it quite frequently. I may even have developed a bit of an obsession.

Anyhow since I've been baking a batch every few days, I thought I might do a biscotti recipe every month for the rest of this year. I feel like I'm jinxing it just by saying it, but hopefully I'll stick with this challenge of sorts I've set for myself.

So here's the recipe for March. It's inspired by Lindt Passion Orange & Pistachio milk chocolate. My mother brought some back from America and I haven't been able to get my hands on any over here since that one bar finished.

After my first bite, I thought this flavour combination would be great to bake with (because that's how my brain works) and I have been trying for a while to find a way to use it somehow; this seemed like the perfect way to do it.

You may not think so, but these flavours work incredibly well together and the result is an irresistibly delicious cookie; fresh orange and rich pistachios set in crunchy biscotti, finished with off with a little dip in your favourite kind of chocolate.

⅓ cup caster sugar
zest of 2 oranges
2 oz butter
1 egg
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 oz pistachio nuts

2 oz chocolate, melted (I used Cadbury Bourneville but use whatever you prefer)

1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
2. Place the pistachios on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes. When the nuts have cooled, chop them up.
3. Zest the oranges, either using a microplane, or by using a vegetable peeler to remove the orange zest. If using a vegetable peeler, then grind the peel together with the sugar first, as I did here.
4. Add the sugar and zest to a large mixing bowl, add the butter and beat with an electric beater for a few minutes until the mixture is light and creamy.
5. Add the egg and beat until well combined.
6. Sift together the flour and baking powder and stir into the butter mixture.
7. Stir in the chopped pistachios.
8. Form the cookie dough into a log shape, about 1 inch high and 10-12 inches long, on a greased baking sheet lined with wax paper.

9. Bake for 20 minutes. Then remove from the oven and turn the oven temperature down to 300F.
10. When the log is cool enough to handle, cut it into ½-inch slices.

11. Place the biscotti back onto a baking tray (greased and lined) and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the bisxotti over onto their other side and bake for another 20 minutes.

12. Remove the biscotti from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
13. When the biscotti has cooled completely, dip them in the melted chocolate and place on a tray lined with foil or wax paper. (When the chocolate starts to run out and is no longer enough to dip the biscotti in, just use a knife to spread remaining chocolate on the rest of the biscotti.)
14. Place the baking tray in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to set.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Orange Loaf

This delicious citrus-scented cake is a new favourite of mine. I have made it three times in less than a month and it has been a big hit.

It's simple to look at but packed with orange flavour; there's zest, there's juice and there's marmalade.

Now there is always marmalade at my house but if you don't have any it's totally optional  I've made this loaf with two tablespoons, with one tablespoon and with no marmalade at all and each time it's turned out great.

The glaze icing isn't essential either but it does look pretty. I think an icing with blood orange juice would be quite nice too.

Citrus season is on its way out and I suppose this recipe does come a bit late, but oranges are still around so there's time to make this cake yet.

Orange Loaf
½ cup caster sugar
zest of 2 large oranges
1 tablespoon flour
½ cup brown sugar
4 oz butter, softened
2 eggs
1½ cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1-2 tablespoons marmalade (optional)  
¼ orange juice
⅓ milk

Orange glaze icing (optional)
½ cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon orange juice
½ teaspoon water

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
2. Sift together the flour and baking powder, and set aside.
3. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the orange zest, making sure not to get any of the white pith.
4. Place the zest, 2 tablespoons caster sugar and 1 tablespoon flour in a grinder...

...and grind until you have a grainy paste.
5. Add the remaining caster sugar, brown sugar and orange peel paste to a large mixing bowl. 

6. Add the butter and beat for a few minutes until the mixture is light and creamy.
7. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after adding each one.
8. With the mixer on low, or using a large metal spoon or rubber spatula, mix in 2 heaped tablespoons flour and the marmalade (if you are using it). Then add the orange juice, then half the remaining flour mixture, then the milk and then finally the remaining flour.
9. Grease and flour a 8x4 inch loaf pan and line with wax paper. Spoon the cake batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven.
10. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
11. Remove from the oven and, after 10 minutes, turn the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the glaze icing:
12. Mix together the icing sugar, orange juice and water. When the loaf has cooled, drizzle the icing over the top.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Creamy Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Mushrooms

I haven't been able to bake as much or post as often as I'd like in recent weeks, what with work and a lack of photography equipment. So for now this simple recipe will have to suffice.

I suppose this doesn't result in the healthiest meal option but there's nothing like a comforting bowl of pasta when you've had a long day.

When I was studying for my Master's degree in England, pasta became much more of a staple of my diet. Quick and easy, sometimes I'd stir in store-bought tomato sauce or occasionally pesto from this amazing local deli. You can always create some kind of pasta dish with what you have lying around.

One afternoon I threw this together with whatever I had on hand at the time and it's become a favourite ever since.

200g/7 oz pasta (I used pennette rigate)
275g/10 oz cherry tomatoes*, halved
150g/5 oz mushrooms, sliced (I used fresh but you can use canned as well)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or Italian herb seasoning)
150-200ml cream
Cooking oil
Salt and pepper
(*If you don't have cherry tomatoes, use roughly chopped regular tomatoes)

  1. Cook the pasta in boiling water until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a pan, heat a few tablespoons of cooking oil and a knob of butter, then add the mushrooms and saute for a few minutes until they are cooked through. 
  3. Add the cherry tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Stir.
  4. Add the cream and the pasta, mix well and cook until heated through.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve.