How sweet it is

By Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

In their new book, Yotam Ottolenghi (chef patron of the iconic delis) and pastry chef Helen Goh celebrate the shamelessly sugary side of life .

Lemon and poppy seed cake

 

 

This light lemon cake is the one co-author Helen says she’d take with her to a desert island. It’s much simpler than many of her favourites, but it’s the cake she returns to again and again. There’s something reassuring about it – as traditional and comforting as the cake you might have in a National Trust café.

 

MAKES 1 X 900G LOAF OR 9 MINIS

 

75g unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing

3 large eggs

225g caster sugar

120ml double cream

10g poppy seeds

finely grated zest of 3 lemons (1 tbsp)

170g plain flour

1¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

 

GLAZE

 

100g icing

sugar, sifted

2 tbsp lemon juice

 

-You can make this in a regular 900g loaf tin, as we do here, or, if you have them, nine mini-loaf tins (9cm x 6cm x 4cm) also work well. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease the loaf tin and line with baking parchment, then set aside.

 

– Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on a medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until pale and frothy. Add the cream and continue to whisk for about 2 minutes, until the mixture has combined, thickened a little and turned pale.

 

– In the meantime, melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat, add the poppy seeds and lemon zest and set aside.

 

– Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl, then use a rubber spatula to fold this into the egg mixture before folding through the butter, poppy seeds and zest.

 

– Spoon the mixture into the cake tin so that it rises three-quarters of the way up the sides. Place the tin on a baking tray and cook for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. If you are making mini loaves, reduce the time to 25 minutes.

 

– Make the glaze by whisking the icing sugar with the lemon juice in a bowl. Pour this over the top of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, spreading it over the top so that it sinks in and creates a nice glaze. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the tin. Leave to come to room temperature before serving. This will keep for 3 days in an airtight container.

 

Our gingerbread, two ways

 

 

This can be served on its own at room temperature with a cup of tea or warm, as a dessert, with crème fraîche and sautéed brandy apples (as pictured).

 

SERVES 8-12

 

220g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing

300g black treacle (or blackstrap molasses)

100g soft light brown sugar

120g caster sugar

3 large eggs

finely grated zest of 1 orange (1½ tsp)

400g plain flour

1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tbsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp salt

300ml just-boiled water

100g stem ginger, roughly chopped into 5mm pieces

 

– This is best made in a high-sided (9cm-10cm high), 20cm square springform tin, but if you don’t have one then use a high-sided 20cm round springform tin instead. If you go for the round option, you’ll make 8 large slices or 12 regular slices. It also looks great made in a 23cm bundt tin, as in the photograph.

 

– Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6. Grease a 20cm square (or round) springform tin and line with baking parchment, leaving an overhang at the sides to help you remove the cake from the tin later on.

 

– Place the butter, treacle, brown sugar, caster sugar, eggs and orange zest in a medium bowl and whisk together by hand or using a handheld electric whisk until combined.

 

– Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt together into a separate, larger bowl, then pour over the treacle mixture. Stir to combine and add the just-boiled water, whisking immediately to combine. Stir through the stem ginger, then pour the mixture into the cake tin. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a serving platter.

– The cake can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept at room temperature in an airtight container.

 

TO SERVE WARM AS A DESSERT WITH BRANDY APPLES Peel and core five Golden Delicious or Pink Lady apples (about 700g) and cut into 1–1.5cm slices. Pare strips of peel from 1 whole unwaxed lemon. Place a large non-stick sauté pan over a high heat and, once hot, add about a third or half of the apples (depending on the size of your pan: you don’t want them to be overcrowded as this will prevent them becoming golden). Sear for 2 minutes, turning regularly, until they are a nice golden colour. Remove from the pan, wipe clean and repeat with the remaining apples. Add these to the first batch and return the pan to a medium heat. Place 50g unsalted butter in the pan and, once melted, add 120g caster sugar, ½ vanilla pod (sliced open lengthways) and the strips of lemon peel. Return the apples to the pan, stir well to coat and cook for 5 minutes, until the apples are soft but still holding their shape. Pour over 50ml brandy, 50ml lemon juice and 1/8 tsp salt and reduce for 3 minutes over a medium-high heat, until the sauce is thick but not caramelized. Spoon some of the warmed apples on top of each portion of gingerbread and add a spoonful of crème fraîche alongside. The apples are best made on the day of serving.

 

Blackberry and star anise friands

 

 

These look splendid when iced, as in the picture – but also work beautifully un-iced, stored in the biscuit tin, for grabbing on a whim. Blueberries or raspberries can be used instead of blackberries. Don’t use strawberries, though: they are too watery.

 

MAKES 12

 

180g unsalted butter, plus an extra 10g, melted, for brushing

60g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

200g icing sugar

120g ground almonds

1½ tsp ground star anise (or 3 whole star anise, blitzed in a spice grinder and passed through a fine mesh sieve)

⅛ tsp salt

150g egg whites (from 4 large eggs)

finely grated zest of 1 small orange (1 tsp)

18 whole blackberries (about 120g), cut in half lengthways

 

– We use a regular muffin tin for these, but all sorts of moulds work: large muffin tins, mini-muffin tins, rectangular or oval (friand) moulds, as shown in the photo.

 

– Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Brush the 12 holes of a regular muffin tin with the melted butter and sprinkle all over with flour. Tap the tray gently to ensure an even coating of the flour, then turn upside down to remove the excess. Place in the fridge to chill while you make the batter.

 

– To brown the butter, place it in a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat until melted. Continue to cook until the butter is foaming, gently swirling the pan from time to time to allow the solids to brown more evenly. You will see dark brown sediment begin to form on the sides and bottom of the pan. Continue to allow the butter to bubble away until it turns a rich golden brown and smells of toasted nuts and caramel. Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes to allow the burnt solids to collect at the bottom of the pan.

 

– Strain through a fine-mesh (or muslin-lined) sieve, discarding the solids. Allow the browned butter to cool slightly before using. It should still be warm when folding it into the mix later: if it is too hot, it will ‘cook’ the egg whites; if it is too cool, it will be difficult to incorporate into the mix.

 

– While the butter is cooling, sift the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds, star anise and salt into a bowl. Place the egg whites in a small bowl and use a whisk or fork to froth them up for a few seconds – you do not need to whisk them completely. Pour the egg whites into the sifted dry ingredients and stir until they are incorporated. Add the orange zest and browned butter and mix until the batter is smooth.

 

– Remove the muffin tin from the fridge and fill the moulds just over two-thirds of the way up the sides. Place three halved blackberries on top, cut-side down, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 210C/190C fan/gas 6 (starting with a high oven temperature and then bringing it down is the way to achieve the lovely brown crust you want), turn the tray around in the oven for even cooking and continue to bake for another 8 minutes, until the edges of the friands are golden brown and the centres have a slight peak and spring back when gently prodded. Set aside to cool before removing them from their moulds: you might need to use a small knife to help you release the sides.

 

– Un-iced, these will keep for up to 4 days. If the weather is warm, store them in the fridge and zap them in the microwave for a few seconds to restore their buttery moisture. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months, then thawed in the fridge and warmed through in a 170C/150C fan/gas 3 oven for 5 minutes; this will restore their crisp edges as well.

 

IF YOU ARE ICING THE FRIANDS Place 60g (about 8) blackberries in a small bowl with ¾ (three-quarters) tbsp water and 1 tsp lemon juice. Use a fork to mash them together, then pass the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to extract as much fruit juice as possible: you should get about 60ml. Sift 165g icing sugar into a medium bowl, pour in the blackberry juice and combine to make a light purple runny icing: it should just be thick enough to form a thin glaze on the tops of the cakes. Spoon the icing over the cakes, spreading it to the edges so that it runs down the sides. Do this on a rack, if you can, as icing them on a plate or sheet of paper means that the icing will pool at the bottom. Place 2 small blackberries on each friand, set aside for 20 or 30 minutes to set, then serve. Once iced, these are best eaten on the same day.

 

Coconut, almond and blueberry cake

 

 

Take the word ‘cake’ out of the title and this pretty much reads like a list of superfoods. This cake is simple, wonderfully moist and also versatile, as good warm for dessert with double cream as it is at room temperature when it’s time for tea.

 

SERVES 10-12

 

200g unsalted butter, melted, then set aside to come to room temperature, plus extra for greasing

180g ground almonds

60g desiccated coconut

250g caster sugar

70g self-raising flour

¼ tsp salt

4 large eggs

1½ tsp vanilla extract

finely grated zest of 2 lemons (2 tsp)

200g fresh blueberries

20g flaked almonds

 

– Grease and line a 23cm round cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

 

– Place the almonds, coconut, sugar, flour and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk to aerate and remove the lumps.

 

– Place the eggs in a separate medium bowl and whisk lightly. Add the melted butter, vanilla extract and lemon zest and whisk again until well combined. Pour this into the dry mix and whisk to combine. Fold in 150g of the blueberries, then pour the mixture into the tin. Sprinkle the last of the blueberries on top along with the flaked almonds and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Keep a close eye on it towards the end of cooking: the large number of eggs in the mix means that it can go from still being a little bit liquid in the centre to being well cooked in just a few minutes.

 

– Set aside for 30 minutes before inverting out of the tin, removing the baking parchment and placing the cake the right way up on a serving plate. It can either be served warm with cream or set aside until cool.

–  This will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container or wrapped in aluminium foil. It also freezes well for up to a month.

 

Blackberry and star anise friands

 

These look splendid when iced, as in the picture – but also work beautifully un-iced, stored in the biscuit tin, for grabbing on a whim. Blueberries or raspberries can be used instead of blackberries. Don’t use strawberries, though: they are too watery.

 

MAKES 12

 

180g unsalted butter, plus an extra 10g, melted, for brushing

60g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

200g icing sugar

120g ground almonds

1½ tsp ground star anise (or 3 whole star anise, blitzed in a spice grinder and passed through a fine mesh sieve)

⅛ tsp salt

150g egg whites (from 4 large eggs)

finely grated zest of 1 small orange (1 tsp)

18 whole blackberries (about 120g), cut in half lengthways

 

– We use a regular muffin tin for these, but all sorts of moulds work: large muffin tins, mini-muffin tins, rectangular or oval (friand) moulds, as shown in the photo.

 

– Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Brush the 12 holes of a regular muffin tin with the melted butter and sprinkle all over with flour. Tap the tray gently to ensure an even coating of the flour, then turn upside down to remove the excess. Place in the fridge to chill while you make the batter.

 

– To brown the butter, place it in a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat until melted. Continue to cook until the butter is foaming, gently swirling the pan from time to time to allow the solids to brown more evenly. You will see dark brown sediment begin to form on the sides and bottom of the pan. Continue to allow the butter to bubble away until it turns a rich golden brown and smells of toasted nuts and caramel. Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes to allow the burnt solids to collect at the bottom of the pan.

 

– Strain through a fine-mesh (or muslin-lined) sieve, discarding the solids. Allow the browned butter to cool slightly before using. It should still be warm when folding it into the mix later: if it is too hot, it will ‘cook’ the egg whites; if it is too cool, it will be difficult to incorporate into the mix.

 

– While the butter is cooling, sift the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds, star anise and salt into a bowl. Place the egg whites in a small bowl and use a whisk or fork to froth them up for a few seconds – you do not need to whisk them completely. Pour the egg whites into the sifted dry ingredients and stir until they are incorporated. Add the orange zest and browned butter and mix until the batter is smooth.

 

– Remove the muffin tin from the fridge and fill the moulds just over two-thirds of the way up the sides. Place three halved blackberries on top, cut-side down, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 210C/190C fan/gas 6 (starting with a high oven temperature and then bringing it down is the way to achieve the lovely brown crust you want), turn the tray around in the oven for even cooking and continue to bake for another 8 minutes, until the edges of the friands are golden brown and the centres have a slight peak and spring back when gently prodded. Set aside to cool before removing them from their moulds: you might need to use a small knife to help you release the sides.

 

– Un-iced, these will keep for up to 4 days. If the weather is warm, store them in the fridge and zap them in the microwave for a few seconds to restore their buttery moisture. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months, then thawed in the fridge and warmed through in a 170C/150C fan/gas 3 oven for 5 minutes; this will restore their crisp edges as well.

 

IF YOU ARE ICING THE FRIANDS Place 60g (about 8) blackberries in a small bowl with ¾ (three-quarters) tbsp water and 1 tsp lemon juice. Use a fork to mash them together, then pass the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to extract as much fruit juice as possible: you should get about 60ml. Sift 165g icing sugar into a medium bowl, pour in the blackberry juice and combine to make a light purple runny icing: it should just be thick enough to form a thin glaze on the tops of the cakes. Spoon the icing over the cakes, spreading it to the edges so that it runs down the sides. Do this on a rack, if you can, as icing them on a plate or sheet of paper means that the icing will pool at the bottom. Place 2 small blackberries on each friand, set aside for 20 or 30 minutes to set, then serve. Once iced, these are best eaten on the same day.

 

Pistachio and rose water semolina cake

 

A labour of love! In the book we go all-out with our own crystallised rose petals but if you want to save time you can do without these or use shop-bought dried rose petals: the cake and cream are both special enough.

 

SERVES 10-12

 

300g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed, plus extra for greasing

3 cardamom pods

150g shelled pistachio kernels, plus an extra 20g, finely chopped

100g ground almonds

170g fine semolina

1¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

330g caster sugar

4 large eggs, lightly whisked

finely grated zest of 1 lemon (1 tsp), plus

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp rose water (not rose essence)

½ tsp vanilla extract

 

CREAM

 

200g Greek yoghurt

200g crème fraîche

1 tbsp icing sugar

1 tbsp rose water

SYRUP AND TO FINISH

100ml lemon juice

80ml rose water

100g caster sugar

crystallised rose petals for the top (optional)

 

–  Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and grease a 23cm springform cake tin and line with baking parchment.

 

–  Use the flat side of a large knife to crush the cardamom pods and place the seeds in the small bowl of a food processor: you’ll have just under ¼ teaspoon of seeds. The pods can be discarded. Add the whole pistachios and blitz until the nuts are finely ground – the black cardamom seeds won’t really grind down – then transfer to a bowl. Add the ground almonds, semolina, baking powder and salt. Mix together and set aside.

 

–  Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on a medium-high speed until fully combined, but take care not to overwork: you don’t want to incorporate a lot of air into the mix. With the machine still running, slowly add the eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times and making sure that each batch is fully incorporated before adding the next. The mix will curdle once the eggs are added, but don’t worry, this will not affect the end result.

 

–  Remove the bowl from the machine and add the dry ingredients, folding them in by hand and, again, taking care not to over-mix. Next fold in the lemon zest, juice, rose water and vanilla extract, and scrape the batter into the tin. Level with a palette knife and bake for about 55-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean but oily.

 

–  Make the cream while the cake is in the oven. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a handheld whisk to whip everything together for about 2 minutes, until thick. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

 

–  Start to make the syrup about 10 minutes before the cake comes out of the oven: you want it to be warm when the cake is ready. Place all the ingredients for the syrup in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, stirring so that the sugar dissolves, then remove from the heat: don’t worry that the consistency is thinner than you might expect, this is how it should be.

 

–  As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, drizzle all the syrup over the top. It is a lot of syrup, but don’t lose your nerve: the cake can take it! Sprinkle over the finely chopped pistachios and set the cake aside in its tin to come to room temperature. Remove from the tin and scatter the rose petals over the cake. Serve with a generous spoonful of the cream alongside. The cake keeps well for up to 5 days in an airtight container. If not serving on the day, the rose petals should be sprinkled over just before serving.

Chocolate, banana and pecan cookies

 

The secret here is to slightly under-bake the cookies, which keeps them soft and fudgy and at their best on the day of making. Walnuts can be used instead pecans here, if you prefer.

 

MAKES ABOUT 24

 

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed

110g caster sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

125g plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

20g Dutch-processed or ‘alkalized’ cocoa powder (see note)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

100g chocolate chips (70 per cent cocoa solids), or 100g dark cooking chocolate, cut into 5mm pieces

50g mashed banana (about ½ small banana)

170g pecan halves, finely chopped

100g icing sugar, for dusting

 

– Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on a medium-high speed until light and fluffy, then gradually add the egg and continue to beat until incorporated. Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt into a bowl, then add to the butter and sugar. Mix on a low speed for about 15 seconds, then add the chocolate and banana. Beat until combined, then transfer to the fridge for 2 hours to firm up.

– When firm, use your hands to form the dough into 3cm round balls, about 20g each: you might need to wash your hands once or twice when making them, if they get too sticky. Place the pecans in a medium bowl and drop the balls into the nuts as you form them, rolling them around so that they are completely coated and pressing the nuts in so that they stick.

 

– Line a baking tray with baking parchment, place the cookies on the tray – there is no need to space them apart at this stage – and transfer to the fridge for at least an hour.

– When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.

 

– Place the icing sugar in a bowl and roll the cookies in the icing sugar, pressing it in as you go so that it sticks well. Place on the lined baking trays, spaced 2–3cm apart, and flatten the cookies to 1cm thick.

 

– Bake for 10 minutes. They will be soft to the touch when they come out of the oven, so allow them to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before gently transferring to a wire rack. These can be served warm, when they will be a little gooey in the centre, or set aside until completely cool.

 

COOK’S TIP Once the unbaked dough has been rolled into balls, they can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. You can also bake them from frozen: you’ll just need to add an extra minute of cooking time.

 

STORAGE TIP As mentioned above, we advise that these are best eaten within a day of being made.

 

COCOA NOTE We use ‘Dutch-processed’ or ‘alkalized’ cocoa powder in our recipes as opposed to ‘raw’ or ‘natural’. Dutch-processed cocoa has been treated to reduce the natural acidity of the cocoa, creating a smoother, milder flavour. Several good-quality mainstream brands fit the bill: check out your favourite on the label or online.

 


SAVE 25 PER CENT ON YOTAM’S NEW BOOK

 

Today’s recipes are from Sweet by Yogtam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, published by Ebury Press, price £27. As well as baker’s tips and glossary, chapters include cookies and biscuits, mini-cakes, cheesecakes, tarts and pies, desserts and confectionery.

 

To order a copy for £20.25 (a 25 per cent discount) until 1 October, visit you-bookshop.co.uk or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15.