Wednesday, June 21, 2017

BakedIn: Chocolate Eclairs

A couple months ago I shared my first BakedIn experience, a baking prep service that friends gave me for my birthday. The subscription service gives you the non-perishable ingredients, special equipment and instructions, you provide the things like eggs and milk. They also provided bonus salted caramel marshmallows which I promptly ate, two at a time.

I was intimidated to try making these eclairs after the fail-forward attempt at whoopie pies. This was a whopping 4 chef hats out of 5, an indication of difficulty, and required a multi-phase approach. Much more intimidating than the muffin mix still waiting to be baked.

So after the recent London Bridge attacks, I was at home thinking about how I didn't want to leave my home and how much time I spend in Borough Market and just generally feeling awful about the world. So these eclairs kept my frantic mind busy, following logical steps and let me escape the illogical world without answers for just a bit.

Apparently eclairs are made with choux pastry! It sounds fancy, it's also light and fluffy. Butter and milk are boiled together, flour is stirred in and the dough sticks together. If I could pipe these all over again, I would cut a bigger piece of the piping bag off and make big eclairs. As it were, I treated the piping bag like I was going to pipe icing and made a bunch of mini eclairs. Still delicious but much more time-consuming.

Tray by tray, these are baked. Once all the baking was done, I chilled while the eclairs chilled before making the cream filling. I love whipping cream because it's so dang satisfying to just go from cream, cream, cream, oh snap we have whipped stuff! Piping the cream into the eclairs was messy but doable. In theory, the eclair shell is fluffy and pretty hollow but it's easier to pipe into each end separately instead of hoping the filling makes its way through the whole thing.

And at long last, the decoration! At this point, I got lazy and decided to forgo the caramel topping and just melt the chocolate and ice the eclairs in their classic chocolate glory. And sprinkles because why not?!

I must say, I'm quite proud of myself for these and someone even told me I should actually quit my day job and become a baker. I'll take it! And a bunch of eclairs, please!

Eclairs (Choux Pastry)
  • 120ml milk
  • 120ml water
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 5g sugar
  • 3g salt
  • 150g plain flour
  • 5 eggs (4 for the dough, 1 for an egg wash)
Whipped Filling
  • 360ml double cream
  • 20g powdered sugar (icing sugar)
Chocolate Frosting
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 60ml double cream
  1. Put milk, water, butter, salt and sugar into a saucepan over low heat and heat until the butter is melted.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and then immediately remove from heat. Stir in the flour, all at once, and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. 
  3. Return the flour-butter mixture to heat and warm for about 1 minute until the mixture is slightly dryer. 
  4. Remove the pan from heat and pour into a large bowl.
  5. Add the eggs (just 4 of them), one at a time, to the dough and mix with a wooden spoon until the pastry is smooth.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200C (350F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. While the choux pastry (yup, you just made choux pastry!) is still warm, fill a piping bag (or a ziplock bag and you can cut a corner off) with teh dough. Clip the corner of the bag, narrow to make small eclairs and wide for larger ones.
  8. Pipe the pastry onto the baking sheet. You can do either mini eclairs or full size. These won't expand much, just puff up so you can put them about 1/2 inch apart.
  9. Make an egg wash by beating the last egg in a small bowl. Brush the tops of the piped eclairs with the wash to ensure a nice golden finish.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and golden.
  11. Place the eclair shells on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Repeat piping until all the choux pastry is finished.
  12. While the eclairs bake, combine the milk chocolate and 60ml of cream in a saucepan. Heat until the chocolate is melted and transfer to a bowl. Cool in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  13. Once the eclairs are cool, whip the double cream and powdered sugar together using an electric mixer. Whip until the cream is thick.
  14. Pour the whipped topping into a piping bag (or ziplock bag, see above tip!).
  15. Cut a small slit in the side of the eclairs. I found it best to make two slits, top and bottom. Pipe the cream into the eclairs being careful not to burst the pastry. Continue until all the eclairs are filled.
  16. Final step! Spoon the melted chocolate mixture over the eclairs to cover. You could drizzle white chocolate or sprinkles on top for extra pizzazz! 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Still May, still cold. This shift in cold weather has meant those pesky winter colds and coughs are back and I have fallen victim to the sore throat and chest cough that comes with it. As a result, all the tea and soup!

This recipe come from the Oh She Glows cookbook which I'm slowly but surely cooking my way through. I've previously made the curry and cauliflower stew and peanut vegetable stew which were amazing so was excited to try something new, especially when it's called 'on the mend soup'. Just what I need.

The onion and garlic are sauteed until translucent. Spices and all the peppers are added: cumin, cayenne, paprika and chilli powder. So much spice, it's great. Allow the spices to simmer a bit before adding the vegetable broth (you could use chicken broth too if you're not going veggie), diced tomatoes, red lentils, and carrots.

All the work is done now, allow the soup to come to a boil and then simmer until the lentils are cooked through. The final stage is adding some chopped kale or spinach while the soup is still hot. The leaves will wilt but not overcook.

While I hope you enjoy this soup, I think I hope more that you're already warm and enjoying iced coffee in the sun.


  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne peper
  • 5-6 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup of carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup red lentils, uncooked
  • 2 cup chopped spinach or kale
  1. In a large pot, heat the coconut oil. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the spices and celery. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, carrots and red lentils. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Cook until the carrots are soft and the lentils are cooked.
  5. Stir in the spinach (or kale) while the soup is still hot so it wilts but doesn't overcook. 
  6. Enjoy not on a warm spring day but only when it's grey and raining. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cabbage and Sausage Stew

I am not a cabbage fan. I never had a cabbage patch doll and I don't like cabbage stews. I'm a terrible Pole. But I'm coming around to it.

Over the holidays (yes, the Christmas holidays all those moons ago), my mom made a cabbage stew that actually wasn't the terrible soggy lettuce I expected from cabbage (not a reflection of my mom's cooking). I'm also not a huge leek fan, not sure of their purpose but let's give them a go. Browned sausage and root vegetables really made this a hearty and warming stew.

And even though it's MAY, it's freezing by British standards so yes, we're talking about stew. We start by browning the sausage in a soup pot with a little bit of oil to keep them from sticking to the pan. This is the basis of our flavoring.

Once the sausage is browned, remove from the pan and cut into bite-sized chunks. Return to the pan and add the broth along with chopped carrots. Carrots will take the longest to cook so we give them a head start. Next, add some great northern beans (drained) and the cabbage leaves and leeks, roughly chopped.

  • Olive oil
  • 6 chicken sausages (I used spicy ones but you can use plain if desired)
  • 1 small head of cabbage, chopped
  • 2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2 leak, chopped
  • 1 14 oz. can of white beans (cannellini or Great Northern)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  1. In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil. Brown the chicken sausages until all sides are light brown.
  2. Remove the chicken sausages and cut into bite-sized pieces. Return to the pan.
  3. Add the cabbage, carrots and leaks. Saute with the sausage for about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the broth. Stir in the seasonings and tomato paste.
  5. Stir in the beans.
  6. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer until the vegetables are soft (30-40 minutes).
  7. Eat with some hearty bread or you can freeze this soup for a rainy day!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Coffee Cake Muffins

Contrary to its name, coffee cake doesn't actually have coffee in it. My guess is it's named this way because you serve it with coffee. My Italian flatmate was very confused when I was explaining coffee cake didn't taste like coffee, she said they call tiramisu coffee cake. We just call tiramisu, tiramisu.

So here we have a cinnamon cake with almonds and thus coffee cake--muffins. This comes from Joy the Baker's new cookbook Overeasy. It's entirely devoted to brunch: baked goods, entrees, beverages, everything to throw a great brunch. It felt wrong to sit inside my flat, on my couch and flip through the pages of this cookbook. It felt like it's meant to be read in the quiet early morning hours out on a porch with a cup of coffee. All I wanted to do was live in a bungalow and throw a fancy brunch with friends. A dream for another day.

Crumble is pretty standard across the board: flour, sugar, cinnamon, cold butter. Mix together to make--crumbly.

We're using my favorite browned (nee melted) butter to make these muffins. No planning for softening required. Sour cream is also used instead of milk, giving an extra spongy and delicious texture to these muffins.

After browning the butter, it is whisked together with the sour cream, egg and egg yolk. If you have vanilla extract, now's the time to add that. I ran out and was going to skip it (scandalous!) but my flatmate had this combo vanilla-baking powder thing I tried instead.

In a separate bowl, mix together your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt) before adding to the butter mixture to form a nice, thick batter.

Now, some assembly is required: muffin batter followed by crumble topping followed by almonds. Easy peasy. Bake until golden brown and cooked through.

Enjoy on your perfect porch/patio/deck/fire escape with a cup of coffee and you're good to go!

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, cubed
  1. In a medium bowl, mix togethr the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  2. Cut in the cubed butter with a knife or pastry cutter. You can also use your hands to mix until it's crumbly. 
  3. Set aside for later.
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) browned butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup roasted almonds, chopped for topping
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin and set aside (in total, this made around 15 muffins).
  2. In a small sauce pan, brown the butter. Even once the butter is melted, continue to heat as it crackles and the water cooks out. Remove from heat once it's changed in color to a darker yellow, crackles less and smells nutty.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the sour cream (you could substitute for Greek yogurt if you prefer), egg, egg yolk, vanilla and browned butter (slightly cooled).
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. 
  5. Pour the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix until no flour is visible.
  6. Assembly time! Spoon the muffin mixture into your prepared pan, filling each cup about half way.
  7. Add a spoonful of crumble topping to each muffin cup. Use a knife to mix and swirl the crumble into the muffin.
  8. Lastly, top with the toasted almonds.
  9. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until set and browned on top. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

BakedIn: Whoopie Pies

Because my friends are awesome, they gifted me a subscription to BakedIn for my birthday last month. Similar to Blue Apron, it's a service that sends you all the ingredients to your door for a specific recipe. Everything is pre-measured and all you have to do is provide the perishable stuff like eggs and butter.

Having moved from Boston, it seemed especially fitting that the first recipe was for whoopie pies, a cream-filled cookie sandwich. I was also pretty excited by the butter ruler they included for easy butter measuring, my long-term struggle when baking in grams.

Ultimately, these didn't turn into whoppie pies but just cookies. The chocolate filling came out too thick to really be glue for a sandwich but was tasty nonetheless. So I shamelessly passed these off as cookies, no mistakes here! Until someone asked me for the recipe and I cracked under the pressure. So here's the recipe for the cookies but if you have a solid filling recipe in your arsenal, sandwich away!

BakedIn itself was amazing. The box is narrow so it will fit through a letter slot and having everything pre-measured made it all a lot simpler. Even so, they tell you the measurements of each ingredient so you can replicate without the pre-measured bags.

  •         110g soft butter
  •         50g caster sugar
  •         100g light brown sugar
  •         60g cocoa powder
  •         260g plain flour
  •         ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  •         ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  •         1/8 teaspoon salt
  •         ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  •         1 egg
  •         40mL of milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and caster sugar. Add the egg, vanilla, cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
  3. Add the milk and mix until the mixture becomes firm (you can add more milk if it’s too crumbly). You can use your hands to mix as well.
  4.  Roll the dough into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 20 minutes.
  5. Break the dough into small pieces and roll into munchkin-size balls. Place about one inch apart on the baking sheet (they don’t flatten out much so you can press them into discs for more cookie-like shapes).
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until set. Repeat for all dough.