Nothing beats homemade shortbread. This is my very favourite recipe -- a lovely rich buttery shortbread with a delightful crunch. It's especially decadent when topped with this beautiful rich lemon frosting made with freshly squeezed lemon juice. It's just divine!Read More
So there's this pan. We've had it for, oh, maybe ten years. It's been sat in a drawer at my parents' house, unloved, and I rediscovered it over easter. It makes Æbleskiver, Danish Pancake Puffs, which I have discovered today are, quite frankly, delicious! They are little light balls which can be filled with all sorts of flavours. The possibilities for flavour combinations are endless but the ones I'm making are filled with mascarpone and lemon cream which is tangy, fresh and decidedly yummy.
If there's one person that's possibly even more addicted to baking and cooking ware and gadgets than me, it's my mum! When they spent a decade out in Toronto, we discovered our love for Williams-Sonoma and my mum used to get drawn into all the in-store demos and come home laden with all the necessary kitchenware and ingredients required to make them at home. Cue, the Æbleskiver pan. I secretly love the hordes of different cooking bits and bobs she's gathered over the years!
Making these pancakes was a voyage into the unknown as I haven't made or tasted them before. The batter and filling are simple to make; the cooking of them takes a little more technique! We start by making the Lemon and Mascarpone Cream which is as simple as it sounds -- equal amounts of mascarpone and lemon curd beaten together for a few minutes until smooth and creamy, then refrigerated until you're ready to cook the pancakes. I would make this to taste and would have an even tangier lemon cream next time as it's one of my favourite flavours.
The pancake batter is again an easy recipe using buttermilk. First of all, the dry ingredients are mixed together in a bowl. Then the egg yolks are lightly beaten in a separate bowl and the buttermilk whisked into the egg mixture. This is added to the dry ingredients and mixed until combined. You get a rather lumpy mixture so don't fear if you don't have something beautifully smooth at this stage!
As I whisked the egg white to stiff peaks, my batter puffed up in its bowl and then I added the egg whites in 2 stages, stirring through with a metal spoon. We're almost ready to make the pancakes but first need to melt some butter for your pan.
The process moves pretty quickly now, especially if you have different measuring spoons trying to get everything into the pan in order. First of all, you pop 1/2 tsp melted butter into each pan cavity and wait for it to bubble. Then add 1 tbsp batter, top it with 1/2 tsp lemon cream and then finally cover it with another 1 tbsp batter. This is all quite fiddly and I had the heat up too high for the first batch so trying to get all of these different elements into the pan before I needed to flip each ball was all very hectic.
I abandoned the spoons for the second batch and popped the batter and lemon cream into two separate piping bags. Much simpler! I also turned the heat down to low so the whole process felt much calmer :) After you've added your two lots of batter and cream to each cavity, after 3-4 minutes the balls should be ready to flip. When we make regular pancakes, we always wait for the first few bubbles to appear on the surface so we know we're ready to flip them and these little balls were the same. They're also pretty easy to slide around and check how well cooked they are underneath. I spun them round with the aid of two teaspoons but you can use cocktail sticks if you prefer.
They come out of the pan very easily and after you transfer them to a plate, liberally sprinkle them with icing sugar to make them look really pretty.
I read up on whether you need to invest in one of these pans to make the pancake balls and the unfortunate answer is that you do if you want the ball shape which after all, makes them pretty cute. Although you probably won't be making lots of different creations with this pan, the flavour combos are endless and I'm already dreaming up both sweet and savoury ideas for them :)
I squirrelled away a few of them for hubby tonight and just thought I'd check out whether they're still good cold and I am very pleased to confirm that they absolutely are -- think doughnut texture and super yummy!
My boys and I have already come up with our next few flavour combos - stay tuned ;-)
Lemon & Mascarpone Pancakes
adapted from Williams Sonoma's Lemon-Mascarpone Filled Pancakes
Makes around 20 pancake balls
- 80G MASCARPONE
- 80G LEMON CURD
- 250G PLAIN FLOUR
- 3/4 TSP BICARBONATE OF SODA
- 1 TSP BAKING POWDER
- 1.5 TBSP CASTER SUGAR
- 1/2 TSP SALT
- 1/2 LEMON, ZEST ONLY
- 3 EGGS, SEPARATED
- 420ML BUTTERMILK
- 100G MELTED BUTTER
- ICING SUGAR, TO DECORATE
- To make the Lemon & Mascarpone Cream, put the mascarpone and lemon curd into the bowl of a freestanding mixer and beat for around 3 minutes until smooth
- Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to make the pancakes
- Place all the dry ingredients (flour, bicarb, baking powder, caster sugar, salt and lemon zest) into a bowl and stir to combine
- Put the egg yolks in a separate bowl and whisk lightly
- Add the buttermilk and again whisk lightly until combined
- Whisk the egg and buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until combined - you will have a thick and lumpy mixture at this stage
- Whisk the egg whites to stiff peak
- Gently fold the egg whites into the batter in two additions and ensure that the mixture is all combined
- Place the batter and the lemon cream into two separate piping bags
- Melt the butter
- Place the pan on a low heat and add a teaspoon of butter to each cavity
- When the butter is bubbling gently, add around 1 tbsp batter into each cavity
- Then insert the tip of the lemon cream bag gently into the top of the batter and add 1/2 teaspoon cream
- Cover this with another tablespoon of batter
- When little bubbles start to appear on the surface of the batter, it's time to flip them gently using 2 teaspoons to help rotate them
- Cook the other side for around another 3 minutes
- It's easy to rotate the pancake balls in their cavity so you can check that you're happy they're cooked all around
- When cooked, gently remove them from the pan and transfer to a plate
- Sprinkle them with icing sugar
- They are best eaten warm but are also yummy cold so be sure to make up a whole batch and you can eat them later for a sweet snack :)
Although our winter has been pretty mild, there's a biting wind and we tend to get torrential rain one minute (usually just before the school run is about to start!) and glorious sunshine the next. I'm definitely in need of a little bit of comfort and so it'a been a biscuit sort of week in our house.
I went to wholesale earlier in the week and came back with a big box of beautiful lemons. They are the sign that spring is on its way and are brightening up my kitchen daily. I have dinner plans for the weekend with them, but I had a biscuit plan today.
My quest for dairy free alternatives is ever on my mind and I wanted to have a go at dairy free shortbread -- and why not make it gluten free too? I'm always a huge fan of lemon so my shortbread biscuits were to be lemon and I decided to pair them with earl grey tea. Now I'm not an earl grey tea drinker but I thought it would be interesting to try.
The dairy free alternative I used was Dairy Free Pure Sunflower which was an experiment as I found it at the supermarket and hadn't used it before. The flour was Gluten Free Plain Flour and I also added in some Corn Flour too. The dough is easy to make. The butter, vanilla essence, earl grey, lemon zest and sugar are creamed together in a bowl for around 5 minutes. Then the flour and cornflour are stirred in and mixed gently to form a dough. This is a sticky dough. I popped it in the freezer overnight and it came out of freezer soft the next day so don't worry if yours has this consistency.
The surface should be well-floured and a little more flour sprinkled on top of your dough before rolling it. I found it easier to pat down the dough with my hand until it was the thickness I was looking for (0.5cm) and then a quick roll with rolling pin just to smooth the surface. Once you have used your cutter to great effect (I used a 6cm cutter), gently move each cookie to a lined baking tray. They don't spread much during baking so you don't need to leave too much space between each biscuit.
Then bake them at 170 degrees (fan) for 15 minutes. They don't change much in colour or go golden brown like other biscuits might. You should remove them from the oven and gently move each one on to a cooling tray with a spatula and allow to cool.
Using tea in these biscuits might not be to your taste. You don't have to put it in. I loved the speckled texture but it does add a floral note to the final biscuit. They would work beautifully with just lemon -- maybe with the zest of two lemons since it's your only flavour.
I love these little shortbread biscuits. They are light, have a beautiful snap and are perfect with a cup of tea. I have eaten almost the entire batch on my own!
Lemon & Earl Grey Shortbread (Vegan and Gluten Free)
adapted from Wallflower Girl's Vegan Chamomile & Lemon Shortbread
- 200G DAIRY FREE PURE SUNFLOWER (or an alternative dairy-free butter)
- 1 TSP VANILLA PASTE OR EXTRACT
- 1 TBSP EARL GREY (loose tea)
- ZEST OF 1 LEMON
- 100G CASTER SUGAR
- 300G GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR
- 1 TBSP CORN FLOUR
- Make the dough the day before you want to bake your biscuits
- Place your butter, vanilla, earl grey, lemon and sugar in a bowl and cream together -- around 5 minutes
- Stir in the gluten free flour and corn flour and gently mix until a dough is formed -- it will be a sticky dough
- Wrap in clingfilm and place in the freezer overnight
- When you're ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 170 degrees (fan) and line a baking tray with parchment
- Flour your surface well and place the dough on top, sprinkling the top of the dough with more flour
- Using your hands, pat the dough until it's around 0.5cm thick
- Flour your rolling pin and gently roll the surface just to make it smooth
- Using a cutter, cut out your shapes and gently move them to the baking tray
- Bake for 15 minutes
- Remove from the oven and gently transfer your biscuits from the baking tray to a cooling rack
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then enjoy :)
Lollipops are so much fun. I stumbled across a great blog recently called Dessert First and there was a very pretty picture of Rose Saffron Lollipops for National Lollipop Day. These were in Anita Chu's book Lollipop Love which I bought in a heartbeat, if only for the stunning photography!
I decided to give her simple lollipops a go today and make the Rainbow Swirl Lollipops. I plan to experiment further but I chose the simplest recipe to try as it needed very few ingredients - water, sugar, glucose, lemon flavouring and some food colouring - plus a candy thermometer. I already had the lollipop mold and some sticks (my lollipop mold has 7 x 4cm cavities).
The process moves at a fast pace and you want to have everything lined up ready to go. And it's not the kind of recipe you want to be working on with little children around your feet. The temperature of the sugar mixture needs to reach 149 degrees celcius so it's hot hot hot - and my little thermometer lit up red to show just how hot it really was. The biggest learning from making these was that the mold cavities need to be extremely well greased - I started off lightly as the recipe suggested but struggled to get my lollipops out and most of the first ones cracked.
At the point when it comes off the stove, I decided to flavour mine with lemon extract. When pouring the hot liquid into the mold, the recipe calls for a candy funnel or a jug with a spout (and I can see how a little funnel would really help here) but I just used my jug. I used a lollipop mold that has 7 cavities and the sugar solution does start to set before you get to the last cavity making it a little more tricky to fill. Then I also wanted to swirl colour through the lollies so you need to work super-fast. I used Sugarflair Spectral Paste to colour my lollipops which give a vibrant colour but I found when the lollipops set the gel colour would rub off on my fingers so I need to experiment a little more with these.
There's so much fun to be had with these. I've just dipped my toe into the Lollipop world today and it's sort of addictive. You can make them in a relatively short space in time, exercise a little creativity and create lovely unique lollipops that would make lovely gifts with cellophane and ribbon - or just bring a smile to a child's face.
Watch this space for more lollipop creations!
Rainbow Swirl Lollipops Makes 7 x 4cm lollipops (from Anita Chu's Lollipop Love)
- 100G SUGAR
- 60ML WATER
- 30ML LIGHT CORN SYRUP (GLUCOSE)
- 1 TSP LEMON EXTRACT
- FOOD COLOURING (I used Sugarflair Spectral Colour Paste)
- Ensure that the lollipop cavities are well greased with non-stick cooking spray and pop the sticks into the mold
- Combine the sugar, water and glucose in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat
- Continue cooking until the temperature reaches 149 degrees celcius on a candy thermometer and immediately remove from the heat
- Stir through your chosen flavouring
- Put the mixture into a heatproof jug with a spout and moving quickly before it sets, fill each of the cavities
- Again working fast, mix a little food colouring into each lollipop, swirling the colour with a toothpick
- Allow the lollipops to cool and harden for 15 minutes and then remove from the molds
- Store them wrapped in cellophane bags in a cool place for up to a month
I discovered last week that I have a slight addiction to lavender shortbread. A slight addiction being that I can demolish most of a packet in around 10 minutes. You really don't want to know the calory count of each biscuit. I thought I was pretty safe that this weird craving would be reserved for me - I mean my fussy boys would never eat these biscuits once they knew they had FLOWERS in them - and believe me, I was quick to emphasise that the purple speckles were FLOWERS. Wrong! They loved them as much as me *sighs with disappointment*.
I adore shortbread still warm from the oven. Freshly baked shortbread is just one of my absolute favourites. Whenever we go to anywhere with lovely little cafes (like National Trust venues) that sell fresh cakes and biscuits, I immediately make a beeline for the domed glass lidded cake stands in the middle and check out their shortbread offering, tailoring my meal to this little treat at the end. Although I love classic shortbread, the addition of lavender and lemon just adds a certain lift to the biscuit - it's just a hint of flavour - and the few people that have tried some of these home-baked biscuits said they were really moreish.
I posted a while back after my vain attempts to find dried lavender in shops that I could bake with. I struggled and so I decided that I'd grow my own lavender after this and my parents grow it in abundance in their garden. The lavender for these biscuits came from their crop and it is really lovely to be cooking with something you've grown yourself, even if it's only a small part of the overall bake.
This is a simple classic shortbread recipe. I like using rice flour in my shortbread as it gives an added crunch to the texture so this recipe uses a blend of plain flour and rice flour. The main thing to remember is not to overwork the dough. I also find that chilling the dough for 30 minutes or so (you don't want to leave it in the fridge for too long as it turns too hard and then you have to soften it again before using) really helps it keep shape before you roll it and use your cutters. I decided to use heart cutters as the biscuits I became so addicted to were heart-shaped but they would be great as any shape.
If you love shortbread as much as me, there's really nothing better than eating freshly baked. The dough can also be frozen (use your cutters to cut them into shapes and then freeze them at this point between layers of baking parchment) and defrost at room temperature for an hour. Super useful for any unexpected guests! You can also take this further and decorate them with royal icing although I like the simplicity of my biscuits so you can see the purple and yellow flecks throughout the biscuits. Or even change the flavour combinations like vanilla or orange.
Very happy I made enough to stash some in the freezer. They might just stay there until the summer holidays are over and school starts again. Party for one at my house!
Lavender & Lemon Shortbread Makes around 30 biscuits
- 250G SOFTENED BUTTER
- 100G GOLDEN CASTER SUGAR
- 250G PLAIN FLOUR
- 125G RICE FLOUR
- 2 TSP LAVENDER FLOWERS
- ZEST OF 1 LEMON
- Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl
- Add the lavender and lemon and mix until combined (I added mine after the flour but it would have been better the combine them before this addition)
- Sift the flour and cornfour into a separate bowl
- Add the flours in 3 additions, mixing the dough briefly each time
- Gently knead the dough until it's smooth but be careful not to over-work it
- Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan)
- Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough until it's around ½cm thick
- Stamp out your shapes with your chosen cutters - I used hearts but circle or fluted edged cutters would work well or anything you really fancy
- Place the biscuits on 2 baking trays lined with baking paper, leaving a little space between each biscuit as they will swell slightly
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sugar
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack
The sun is shining. I mean, really shining. Summer is here just as the school holidays are about to descend upon us for the next nine weeks. It's been a crazy month where I took on a little too much, really testing my limits. I learned a lot but it's been a pretty exhausting time and I have a few weeks now to kick back and enjoy some time with my best boys. I've been cooking and baking and my patient family haven't even had a taste of most of my creations. So today is all about a sociable cake just for us!Read More
I haven't had a lemon meringue tart in ages. So long, in fact, that I can't actually remember the last time I had one. Which is kind of strange since it's one of my favourite desserts. A while back I posted about Swedish Cinnamon Buns and said that I'd never had much success making dough. I hold pastry up on the same level. I think sometime - long, long ago - I made pastry and maybe it didn't turn out so well and it put me off making it again. But this week I wanted a lemon meringue tart so decided that I would make a Pâte Sabléebase for my tartlets.Read More
Although it's technically springtime and we've seen some signs of sunshine in recent days, today it's grey and windy here in south-west London and we need to bring a little bit of sunshine into our home! A couple of friends recommended I try Nigella's Lemon Polenta Cake - although to date on the blog I've been keen to work through different bakers (and have already featured a Nigella recipe) but am making an exception here as both waxed lyrical about this one. And then yesterday Nigella posted a Regram of this very same cake but suggesting that the butter could be replaced with olive oil to make a completely gluten-free and dairy-free which sealed the fate of this bake and here it is.
It's a very light cake and the real magic is the infusion of lemon syrup which soaks into the cake post-baking. The original recipe I looked at contained 200g butter, but as I mentioned, Nigella yesterday posted on Instagram suggesting that this could be replaced with 150ml light olive oil so I thought I'd make this switch. Although Nigella suggests baking for 40 mins, I checked mine after 35 mins and it was very much done by then so I'd keep an eye on it from 30 mins onwards.
I also read a few comments from people that their cake tended to drop in the middle when it comes out of the oven and this is to be expected due to the lack of gluten. However I found that mine didn't drop and kept good form - until I decided that I couldn't wait for it to be completely cool before removing it from the tin and then I put it on a non-flat plate and it did drop a little! But I can assure you it didn't affect the taste :) I love the yellow sun-shine colour of the inside and it's super-moist from all of the lemon syrup, but remains lovely and light, whilst the polenta adds a slight grittiness which gives it some added texture. This would be a great cake for afternoon tea or lunch with friends.
Lemon Polenta Cake
- 150ML LIGHT OLIVE OIL (YOU CAN USE 200G UNSALTED BUTTER AT ROOM TEMP IF YOU PREFER)
- 200G CASTER SUGAR
- 200G GROUND ALMONDS
- 100G POLENTA
- 1 ½ TSP BAKING POWDER (GLUTEN-FREE IF REQUIRED)
- 3 LARGE EGGS
- 2 LEMONS (ZEST FOR CAKE BATTER & JUICE FOR SYRUP)
- 125G ICING SUGAR
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees
- Line the base of an 8 inch spring form cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides with butter
- Put the olive oil and sugar into a mixer and beat together until light brown
- In a separate bowl, mix the almonds, polenta and baking powder
- Add a third of this to the mixer and beat until well-mixed then add 1 egg
- Repeat twice, ending with the final egg
- Add the lemon zest and beat until well-mixed
- Scrape the batter into the prepared baking tin
- Cook in the oven for around 35 mins until a skewer comes out clean-ish and the edges have shrunk away from the sides of the tin. My cake was well set when it came out of the oven but the middle may wobble slightly and that's okay. Leave the cake to cool on the side whilst you make the syrup
- Boil the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small saucepan until the icing sugar has dissolved
- Make little holes across the top of the cake with a cocktail stick and then pour the syrup all over the top - you may need to do this in bursts waiting for the syrup to sink in before you add more
- Leave to cool before taking it out of its tin. And enjoy!
I love lemons. I love freshly squeezed lemonade, lemon cakes, limoncello (especially as a syrup soaked into cakes!), Absolut Citron, lemon curd...everything about lemons! When I'm baking I often reach for short cuts, especially when I have two little boys at my ankles, but when I have some extra time, it's much more rewarding to make things from scratch. I was hosting a clothes shopping coffee morning and needed some baked goodies to feed everyone and decided to make this lovely Madeleine recipe but no short cuts on the lemon curd - homemade all the way this time!
This is my absolute favourite Madeleine recipe and it's from Rachel Khoo's Little Paris Kitchen. I remember seeing her make these years ago when she had the Saturday morning show and it has been a firm favourite of mine ever since - but I'll confess that I usually reach for the store-bought lemon curd to save on time. Madeleines are always best served straight from the oven, but what I love about this recipe is that after you make the batter, you then refrigerate it and can leave it there overnight. And to make the process even easier, I store it in a piping bag, ready to pipe straight into the Madeleine tins the morning of baking. It does take a bit of concentration to bake them (and I can be easily distracted by kitchen chat with my friends!) so I make sure I religiously use timers to keep me focused.
Once made, the lemon curd is kept in the fridge overnight to set but it was really simple to make - and there's nothing better than the scent of freshly squeezed lemons bubbling away on the stove. I made double the quantity of this as my little boy has requested a special sweet treat for his birthday at the weekend and lemon is his favourite flavour too :)
Raspberry & Lemon Curd Madeleines (from Rachel Khoo's Little Paris Kitchen)
Lemon Curd Ingredients
- 1 UNWAXED LEMON (JUICE AND FINELY GRATED ZEST ONLY)
- PINCH OF SALT
- 40G SUGAR
- 45G BUTTER
- 2 FREE-RANGE EGG YOLKS
Lemon Curd Method
- Place the lemon zest and juice, salt, sugar and butter into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar and butter have melted. Remove from the heat.
- Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, then add to the pan and whisk vigorously. Return the pan to a low heat and whisk constantly as the curd starts to thicken. Keep whisking until one or two bubbles start to appear and the curd coats the back of a metal spoon.
- Pass the curd through a sieve into a bowl, cover with clingfilm (preferably so that the clingfilm is in direct contact with the surface of the curd) and put into the refrigerator overnight.
- 2 FREE-RANGE EGGS
- 130G SUGAR
- 200G PLAIN FLOUR
- 10G BAKING POWDER
- 1 UNWAXED LEMON (FINELY GRATED ZEST ONLY)
- 20G HONEY
- 4TSBP MILK
- 200G BUTTER (MELTED & COOLED)
- PUNNET OF RASPBERRIES (OR AT LEAST 24 RASPBERRIES)
- ICING SUGAR (FOR DUSTING)
- Heat the oven to 190 degrees.
- Melt the butter and put aside to cool down.
- Beat the eggs with the sugar until pale and frothy. Put the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl and add the lemon zest.
- Mix the honey and milk with the cooled butter, then add to the eggs and stir through. In two batches, fold in the flour. Cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight - I store it in a piping bag so I'm ready to go when it's time to bake.
- When you're ready to bake them, butter and flour two 12-shell Madeleine tins and put around 1 heaped tablespoon of batter into each shell. Then place a raspberry deep into each Madeleine.
- Bake for 5 minutes and turn the oven off for 1 minute. Then turn the oven back on to 160 degrees for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, ease the Madeleines gently out of their tin and cool on a cooling rack for a few minutes.
- Place a little lemon curd in a piping bag and squirt a little into each Madeleine.
- Then try not to eat the whole batch in one go!