Passion Fruit Souffles

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I had wanted my first attempt of soufflés to be visually stunning and faultless. These Passion Fruit Soufflés don’t quite reach my expectations but they are a lovely, light, flavoursome dessert nonetheless. (As an aside, they are incredibly difficult to photograph – they start to deflate as soon as they come out the oven!)

I have only ever enjoyed soufflés when dining out and ordinarily pick them as I know they are tricky to recreate at home. No more! Now I have tried them I have the insight not to shy away from making them in my own kitchen.

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If you follow my blog, you will know that I am a lover of fresh fruit and more often than not try to incorporate them into my bakes. I have wanted to use passion fruit for a while and I think it’s tartness compliments the lovely, light soufflé. As well as including passion fruit juice in the soufflé mixture, I have placed fresh passion fruit at the bottom of the ramekin as the combination of the light, warm, sweet soufflé compliments the tart ‘crunch’ of the passion fruit seeds.

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passionfruitsouffle1So having made these delightful soufflés, here are my thoughts. They are an impressive grown-up dessert, perfect for dinner parties. (That said, my kids got to enjoy these experimental ones as a mid week ‘pudding’). I would advise doing all the preparation ahead to time up to the point of whisking the egg whites, combining with the cooled ‘custard’ and subsequent baking. Even in the best restaurants you always need to wait for a soufflé. Worth every moment in my eyes.

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Where did I go wrong in not achieving my picture perfect soufflé? I was very happy with the flavour, the consistency and accuracy of the bake time however, I wanted to achieve a perfectly symmetrical ‘rise’ of the soufflé i.e. for it not to get stuck on the ramekin. In preparing the ramekin for the bake, you must brush it with melted butter and coat with sugar. Once filled, you must wipe the top of the ramekin carefully so the soufflé does not get stuck and restricted in the rise – I think mine must have got ‘stuck’ on some of the sugar coating. I have learnt something any way!

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Would I make these again? Yes. Definitely worth the effort. Also, the potential for variation is huge…

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Passion Fruit Souffles

Makes 4 souffles (8cm diameter ramekins)

Ingredients

  • melted butter, for brushing ramekins
  • 6 fresh passion fruit
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 6 tbsp. golden caster sugar, plus extra for dusting ramekins
  • 3 teaspoons cornflour
  • 1 tbsp. plain flour
  • 90ml double cream
  • 110ml whole milk
  • icing sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Prepare the ramekins by brushing with melted butter, dusting with golden caster sugar (tipping the excess out) and chilling in the fridge.
  2. In a sieve, held over a bowl, cut two passion fruit. Scoop out the fruit and push the pulp and juice through the sieve, separating and discarding the seeds. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, add the golden caster sugar to the egg yolks and mix.
  4. In another bowl, combine the cornflour, plain flour and double cream to form a paste.
  5. Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat until it nearly comes to the boil. Pour a small amount of warm milk into the flour paste mixture and whisk. Add the remaining milk and whisk further, ensuring there are no lumps.
  6. Pour the entire milk mixture back into the pan, over the heat and continually mix (I do this with a whisk) until the mixture thickens. Add the passion fruit juice/pulp and mix.
  7. Return to the heat and add the egg yolk and sugar mixture, again continually whisking to ensure there are no lumps, that the mixture becomes smooth and custard-like. Once it begins to bubble, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  8. All of the above can be prepared ahead of time. When you are ready to serve, follow the method below
  9. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4. Remove the ramekins from the fridge. Cut the four remaining passion fruit and one by one, scoop out the pulp and seeds, carefully place in the bottom of a prepared ramekin - one fruit per ramekin.
  10. Whisk the egg whites until light and fluffy and peaks form. Spoon a heaped amount of egg into the cooled custard mixture and whisk. Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the custard until combined. Spoon equal quantities of the soufflé mixture into each ramekin, levelling it with a knife. With your finger tip, go around the edge of the top of the ramekin so separating the mixture from the ramekin. This ensures that there is nothing stopping it from rising.
  11. Bake on a baking tray for approximately 15 minutes until it is well risen and slightly golden on top. Serve immediately and dust with icing sugar.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/passion-fruit-souffles/

Source: Slighted adapted from BBC FOOD Recipes by Mary Berry

 

Homemade Puff Pastry Fig Tartlets

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I knew I wanted to have a go at making at puff pastry for the first time and I could not resist these beautifully fresh, purple-hued figs, so I put them together to form these Puff Pastry Fig Tartlets. I am really delighted with how they turned out.

Okay, I know that fundamentally anything that contains butter, sugar and fresh fruit has the potential to be totally delicious but these little tarts took me by surprise.

Puff Pastry aside, they are very simple and quick to make; basically squares of pastry, brushed in egg wash, top with fresh figs, sprinkled with golden caster and baked. The pastry dough puffs up to give a light, buttery, crispy pastry. The figs are softened and their juice, baked with the sprinkled sugar, gives a wonderful, fig flavoured syrup. Totally delicious. These could be served with afternoon tea, as a dessert served with a little mascarpone and drizzled honey on the side, or even for breakfast with a coffee.

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So now I have managed to convince you that these little gems are worth a try, can I persuade you to consider a little homemade puff pastry experimentation?…

Why bother, I hear you mutter, when you can just buy it? This is true, but let me tell you, once you have made this pastry once, you will never feel that the shop-bought variety comes anywhere close to this.

I am not quite sure why I have never got around to it making it before now. The closest thing I have done to this is making croissant dough – another laminated dough. (Again, shop bought croissants are just a poor imitation to homemade ones). I suppose I have wavered because I know it can be a bit of a long winded process. Anyway, this being my first attempt, I have done a bit of research.

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So where to look for a reliable recipe?

I referred to a number of my recipe books and all four had different recipes and different chilling times. My trusted ‘The Silver Palate Cookbook’ recipe consisted of nothing more than flour, salt, ice water and butter. Thomas Keller’s ‘Bouchon Bakery’ consists of the same but with the addition of white wine vinegar. Martha Stewart’s recipe is also similar but with the addition of a little sugar. Paul Hollywood’s recipe omits the white wine vinegar but includes eggs. So which way to go?

The actual work time in the kitchen is minimal but some recipes allow for resting and chilling for up to two nights. This is even too long for me!

I have come up with a combination of methods, chilling times and recipe ingredients that work for me and seem practical.figtartscombo1I have used the traditional ingredients: flour, salt, water, white wine vinegar and butter. I have used a combination of strong white bread flour and cake flour, although you could use just plain instead of the cake flour. I have used white wine vinegar as this acts as a tenderiser (you learn something new every day) and makes the pastry more flaky.

The key to a successful puff pastry is to keep everything as chilled as possible and to be as neat as possible in the rolling in order to form the layers. Mine is by no means perfect, indeed, an expert may say that some areas are a bit ‘rough puff’ but I guess success comes with practise.

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Just a point about the chill times. Whilst the recipe may repeatedly say ‘chill for 1 hour’, please do not be constrained by this. If you are out the house and a few hours go by, don’t worry. There is no need to rush. Indeed, a couple of my sources suggest leaving the final chilling over night or 7 hours for a second time. Just go with what works for you. You friends will think you are going a little crazy if you leave a gathering to go and ‘turn’ your pastry!

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The great thing about puff pastry is that it can be used for sweet and savoury bakes and freezes very well (wrapped in food wrap, then a plastic bag). Maybe if you go to the trouble of making this, you could double the batch and freeze half of it?

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In my eyes, this puff pastry is worth the effort. I will not buy shop-bought again. This is too delicious.

Homemade Puff Pastry Fig Tartlets

Makes 9 tarlets (10cm x 10cm)

Ingredients

  • 150g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 150g cake flour, or plain flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 180ml cold water
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 250g unsalted, French butter, chilled
  • 7 fresh figs
  • Egg wash, 1 egg beaten and strained through a sieve
  • 50g golden caster sugar, for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, or a freestanding mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix together the flours, salt, white wine vinegar and water. When the dough comes together, tip onto a floured work surface and knead for approximately 5-10 minutes. Form into a ball shape. In a lightly greased large bowl, place the ball of dough and score the top of it, using a sharp knife, with a cross (this helps in the resting of the dough). Cover the bowl with food wrap and chill in the fridge for 7 hours.
  2. Layer the chilled butter, top and bottom in some food wrap, and with a rolling pin, batter and roll it down into a rectangle approximately 20 cm x 40cm. Put on a baking sheet and place in the fridge for it to chill and harden again.
  3. After 7 hours of chilling, lightly dust the work surface and roll the dough out to approximately 20cm x 60cm rectangle. Place the chilled butter on the bottom two thirds of the dough, removing the food wrap as you go. Ensure that the butter comes to the edges and the more neat the position, the better result you will receive with your pastry. Trim any excess or ragged edges if need be.
  4. Fold the top third (unbuttered part) of the dough down onto the butter and bring the bottom third of the dough and butter combination up and over it. Push it down and pinch the edges together to neaten it and ensure no butter is exposed. You now have a three layers of dough and two of butter. In a lightly floured dusted plastic bag, place the dough into it and return to the fridge, ensuring it is flat. Chill for a least one hour.
  5. On your floured work surface, remove the dough from the bag and again roll the dough out to a rectangle 20 cm x 60cm again, with the short end towards you. This time the pastry will be folded as a Book Turn. Fold the bottom quarter up to the half way point of the dough and the top quarter down to the middle until the dough meets. Fold the dough along the centre line. Chill for a further one hour.
  6. Repeat with the single turn rolling and folding process - roll to 20cm x 60cm again and fold into thirds again as in the first rolling/folding process. Chill for a one hour.
  7. Repeat this single turn process one final time.
  8. Whilst the dough is chilling for a final time, prepare the figs by gently washing them and drying them gently with a soft cloth, or kitchen paper. Remove the tough stems and slice each fig into eighths.
  9. Prepare the egg wash by beating a egg and passing it through a sieve.
  10. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4.
  11. Roll the chilled dough onto a lightly floured work surface, aiming to achieve a square approximately 30cm x 30cm. With a sharp knife, score and cut the dough into equal squares, approximately 10cm x 10cm. Place each square onto a parchment lined baking tray. Carefully brush the pastry with the egg wash, being careful not to let it spill down the sides otherwise the pastry will not 'puff'.
  12. Arrange six of the fig eighths onto each piece of pastry. Sprinkle generously with the golden caster sugar. Bake for approximately 25 minutes on the top shelf of your oven. (If you do not want to bake all the tartlets at once, they can be stored in the fridge for up to two days prior to baking).
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  14. Serve.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/homemade-puff-pastry-fig-tartlets/

Source: Methods and Recipe adapted from a combination of Paul Hollywood’s ‘How To Bake’, Martha Stewarts’ ‘Baking Handbook’ and Thomas Keller’s ‘Bouchon Bakery’. Researched also from Rosso & Lukins’ ‘The Silver Palate Cookbook’

 

Swiss Roll

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This Swiss Roll is super easy, quick and impressively delicious.

I have adapted this fat-less sponge recipe from one of Jo Wheatley’s, the lovely GBBO winner of 2011. She now has two baking books published but at the moment I only have ‘A Passion for Baking’. It truly is one of my favourites books. I cannot turn a page without thinking that I want to give each and every recipe a try.

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Basically I have adapted the filling. I was hoping to achieve a traditional Swiss Roll with a buttercream type filling, with jam. My buttercream also has double cream in it so I see no reason why this can’t be served as cake for afternoon tea, or as an after dinner dessert. The scope for adaption is huge. Add cocoa powder for a chocolate version or try a fresh fruit, cream and coulis filling to the plain vanilla sponge.

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Please don’t be put off by the technicality of rolling the sponge, it is quite straight forward and really don’t worry if it is not visually perfect, it will taste great.

I was delighted with the speed of this bake and trust me, you won’t be disappointed with the flavour.

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Swiss Roll

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 100g caster sugar, plus additional 5 tbsp. for sprinkling
  • 80g self-raising flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • For the filling
  • 80g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 40g icing sugar, sieved
  • 300ml double cream
  • Zest of 1 small orange
  • 110g good quality raspberry jam

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or Gas Mark 4.
  2. Prepare a tin measuring 23 x 33cm by greasing and lining with baking parchment and further greasing the top of the parchment (to ensure easy release).
  3. Whisk together, with an electric or free standing mixer, the eggs and sugar until very pale in colour and light and fluffy.
  4. In a separate bowl, sieve together the flour and cornflour. Fold the flour mixture in with the eggs and sugar, a little at a time until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 10 minutes until pale golden in colour.
  5. Whilst the sponge baking, lay a sheet of baking parchment/greaseproof paper on the work surface and sprinkle 4 tbsp. of caster sugar into it, ensuring that it will cover the full area of the inverted sponge.
  6. Once baked, turn the sponge out of the pan onto the sugared parchment. Trim the edges of the cake and from a shorter end, carefully roll the sponge away from you, with the aid of the baking parchment. Wrap the parchment wrapped roll in a damp tea towel and leave to cool completely.
  7. For the filling
  8. Put the butter into a bowl and sieve the icing sugar onto it. With a fork gently fork the sugar through the butter so it is a little combined. With an electric whisk, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the double cream and continue to beat. Fold in the orange zest.
  9. Once cooled, un-roll the sponge and spread the creamy filling all over the rectangular sponge. Spoon the jam, in diagonal lines, across the cream filling, ensuring you reach the ends and the jam is equally distributed throughout.
  10. Take a short end and carefully roll the sponge with the filling.
  11. Sprinkle with the final tablespoon of caster sugar to finish and serve immediately.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/swiss-roll/

Source: Adapted from Jo Wheatley’s ‘A Passion For Baking’

 

 

 

Mini Blackberry Pavlovas with Limoncello Cream

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I hadn’t really intented to post these mini pavlovas. I had made them for a friend’s ‘girly’ get together and just took a couple of impromptu photos before I left the house, laden with food, to join my friends. To be honest, they were quite a success and too nice to overlook completely, hence a change of heart.

They actually taste delightful. A perfect, sweet, literally bite-sized portion of crunchy pavlova, limoncello loaded whipped cream and a fresh, juicy blackberry.

To be honest, you need to be in a ‘piping bag patient’ sort of mood when you embark on these. But once the piping is done, it is all pretty plain sailing and quick from there. Once baked, I brushed the inside of the pavlovas with melted white chocolate to seal the meringue and prevent them from going soggy once the cream was added. I would suggest piping the whipped limoncello cream as close to serving as possible. For ease and speed, I used a sandwich bag and snipped the end, to pipe the cream. Complete with a blackberry and sieve a little icing sugar, or sprinkle with lemon zest, to finish.

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These make about 40-50 mini pavlovas and are great if you have a large, informal gathering. They sound fiddly, but are really not.

Your guests will be really impressed.

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Mini Blackberry Pavlovas with Limoncello Cream

Makes 40-50 Bite Size Pavlovas

Ingredients

  • 2 Egg whites
  • 110g Caster sugar
  • 80g White chocolate
  • 300ml Whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. Icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tbsp. Limóncello
  • 150g Blackberries
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C, or Gas Mark 1.
  2. In a free standing mixer, beat the egg whites until light and fluffy. Add the caster sugar slowly, a large spoonful at a time, whilst the mixer is still mixing. Continue until the meringue comes together and peaks form.
  3. Line two baking trays with baking parchment. Fill a piping bag with a 5mm holed nozzle. Pipe a small circular disc of meringue, approximately 3cm in diameter. Continue to pipe around the edge, so forming a small nest. Repeat for the rest of the meringue mixture, allowing space for the meringues to spread slightly.
  4. Place the trays in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 125 degrees, or Gas Mark 1/2. Bake for 25 minutes and switch off the oven, leaving the meringues in the oven until it is completely cooled so that the meringue can continue to dry out.
  5. When the meringues are completely cooled. Break the white chocolate into chunks into a clean sandwich bag and place into a cup of hot water so that the chocolate can melt. Once melted, snip a small hole in the bag. Taking one meringue at a time, squeeze a small amount of chocolate into the meringue and with a pastry brush, brush the chocolate around the inside of the meringue nest so forming a lining to stop the filling from softening the meringue. Repeat with all the meringues.
  6. Whip the cream with a mixer and add the icing sugar through a sieve. Add the limoncello and mix further so the cream is light or fluffy.
  7. Pour the cream into a piping bag and pipe into each meringue nest until full. Add a blackberry to each pavlova and finish with a sprinkling of icing sugar and perhaps some lemon zest.
  8. Serve immediately.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/mini-blackberry-pavlovas-with-limoncello-cream/

Source: The Contented Baker

 

Panna Cotta with summer berries

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The intent of my blog is working.

Again, I am trying something I haven’t made before. This time a dessert. To be honest, I don’t make desserts too often. They can look too fiddly, or there are too many instructions and long wait times.

For sure, that is why I have probably avoided making panna cotta. Whilst the desserts look delightful, perfectly moulded with inviting toppings, the thought of unmoulding little desserts has put me off. That I why I encourage you to try this method – one large panna cotta for slicing.

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pannacotta-1-3Yes, unmoulding is a nerve racking business and admittedly the stakes are higher if you get this one unmoulding wrong (i.e. you lose the whole dessert) but if you lightly grease the pan, dip the base of the tin into a shallow dish with an inch of boiling water for 8 seconds ONLY, turn onto a flat plate, you will be rewarded with a stunning dessert.

So if you happen to be entertaining this Bank Holiday, want a dessert that is simple to make, delicious and can be made a day or so ahead, why not give this a go?

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Note: Contains Pork

Panna Cotta with summer berries

Serves 8 - 10

Ingredients

    For the Panna Cotta
  • 1 litre double cream
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 6 leaves of fine gelatine*
  • Cold water for soaking gelatine
  • For the topping/sauce
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175ml water
  • 350g fresh berries

Instructions

    For the Panna Cotta
  1. Heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Add the vanilla pod, split length ways and remove from the heat. Allow to infuse for 30 minutes.
  2. Lightly oil a 9inch baking tin (or 8 individual cups) with a light oil.
  3. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water until softened. Place the leaves in the bowl one at a time so that they do not stick together. Allow leaves to soften.
  4. Return the saucepan to a low heat, remove the vanilla pods. Add the gelatine, to the pan, having squeezed the excess water.
  5. Stir the pan mixing in the gelatine.
  6. Pour the mixture into the greased ban (or individual cups). Allow to cool and then refrigerate until completely set.
  7. For the sauce
  8. Place the water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved.
  9. Add half the berries and then put in a blender and mix. Pass the sauce through a sieve and return to the pan. Simmer further until reduced to a thicker sauce/compote. Stir in the remaining berries and leave to cool.
  10. To Serve
  11. Run a sharp knife around the tin of the panna cotta. Dip the base of the tin into a larger pan/dish that has an inch of boiling water at the bottom. Dip for only 8 seconds and turn upside down onto a flat serving plate immediately. Refrigerate a little further if need be. Spoon over the berries initially and then some sauce. Any excess sauce, place in a jug and add when serving.

Notes

* For a pork free panna cotta, substitute the gelatine leaves for two packets of gelatine powder (contains beef) and 90ml of cold water. Sprinkle the gelatine over the cold water in a bowl and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the warm panna cotta over the gelatine and stir until completely dissolved. Place the mixture into the prepared tin/cups.

http://thecontentedbaker.com/panna-cotta-with-summer-berries/

Source:  Panna Cotta from David Lebovitz.com (original source ‘Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen’ by Judy Witts), sauce adapted from Simon Rimmer’s BBC Food Recipes ‘Something For The Weekend’