Et un jour en automne – Confiture de châtaignes

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , Written on le Sunday 23 November 2014.

[And a day in autumn – Chestnut jam]

chestnut collection

There is one story. Of the made-up kind. The one I started to tell you – more than – a couple of weeks ago. And really, some of it is true.

It was a perfect autumn day. The first we’d had this year. That morning, I woke up early and made breakfast. As I was waiting for the kettle to boil – ground coffee in the french press, eggs boiling without a timer, the pink jumper that never leaves me these days – I thought about the chestnuts one of my friends found in Greenwich park earlier that week.

peeling chestnuts

We had breakfast in bed. With our coffee cups not-so-safely resting on a book, and perhaps, a few English muffin crumbs in the duvet.

And as K. left for work. I packed a not-so-neatly folded plastic bag in my purse. Warm boots. And wind-induced pink cheeks. Rode a driverless train. And before I knew it, I was gazing methodically up and down.

Up for leaves I would recognise. Down for almost-fluo green spiky balls.

chestnuts

I found a tree. And by any means, I think the squirrels found it first. And the worms too. A few chestnuts playing hide and seek in the grass. In the mud too.

But then, I spotted this trail of fallen treasures. And followed it.

A few hours later – hours made of this magical feel that only gathering can bring – the wrinkly plastic bag was then full with chestnuts. And I very well knew I would be making jam as soon as I got back home.

But the truth is that I now remember why I only make it every five years or so.

squirrel

It’s a wonderland. Until you come home with that plastic-bag-full of chestnuts.

Yes, this is the other part of the story. The one that people-who-make-chestnut-jam never really tell you about.

The one in which you stand by the stove for hours. The one in which you burn your fingers and make your sink messy with chestnut skins. The one in which you pour the thick jam into glass jars that are too hot to touch.

But well, I can’t blame everyone else. Because once you get past the ultimate patience test and land three jar-ful of jam. You’ll be happy.

And forget about it all. Until the next time.

chestnut jam

Confiture de châtaignes
As I’ve just told you, making chesnut jam is messy. But damn, it’s amazing during those cold months, when nothing else but crêpes layered with it and a fat dollop of vanilla ice-cream will do.

If your chestnuts are anything like mine – home of little worms – a quick way to find out the intruders is to plunge the chestnuts in cold water. Any that floats is either empty or wormy (is that even a word?).
When it comes to cooking the jam, the amount of water you add needs to be enough to cook the chestnuts through. I don’t have a standard amount, and since you’ll be reducing the jam to 104°C, it doesn’t really matter as you’ll always be left with the same water content when you reach that teperature, regardless of whether 1 or 2L of water have been added (only the cooking time will be different – the more water, the longer).

Confiture de châtaignes

makes 3 x 300g jars

1 kg chestnuts, with the skin on

Start by scoring the chestnuts using a small knife. Then place under running cold water. Discard all the ones that float and place the rest in a large pan of boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat, and peel the hot chestnuts one by one.

750 g peeled chestnuts
3 vanilla pods
550 g granulated sugar

Place the peeled chestnuts in a large pan, along with the seeds from 3 vanilla pods. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chestnuts are soft. Add the caster sugar and handblend until smooth.

Cook this paste over low heat until it reaches 104°C.

Pour into sterilised jars and screw the lids back on. Turn the jars upside-down and allow to cool down completely before refrigerating.

What are your favourite recipes to make with chestnut jam? I was thinking of making a loak cake, replacing half the sugar by the chestnut jam. More to follow… In the meantime, dearest chestnuts, see you in five years ;)

bye

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The sound of the forest – Gluten-free chocolate fondant cake

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , Written on le Wednesday 13 August 2014.

asen2

gluten free chocolate cake bite

I wish you were here with me. Sat on the patio. There is a wooden table which I’ve slowly taken over: notes, drawings of mushrooms, a mug holding watercolour brushes, a mismatch of cameras, and a cup of coffee hotter than what I would normally fancy.

From where I sit, I can see the logs Karl brought from the little shelter down in the garden on the same wheelbarrow we used to collect the hay that his father – Svante – cut on the day we arrived. They’re neatly piled and possibly enough to keep the fire going for a good week.

gluten free chocolate cake

There is two pairs of rain boots – my new favourite, as they will take me anywhere.

And then, there is the forest. All around us.

This morning, we saw the same hare I fell in love with yesterday. Hopefully, he’ll stick around here a little longer. Svante told me he probably had his eyes on the apple tree that stands right in the middle of the garden.
But secretly, I think we’ve become some sort of wild friends.

Yes, right now, I wish you were here with me. Listening to the sound of the forest after a rainstorm.
It’s, perhaps, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. The lightest raindrops hitting the moss. The cracking branches. The birds’ songs, and the happy merry-go-round of bumblebees. The wind going through soaked leaves.

asen3

The house is quiet. Aside from an old timer ticking seconds like others tick boxes.

You see, I have a gluten-free chocolate cake in the oven – hopefully cold enough by the time the boys will come back from their fishing expedition. The kind where coffee gets boiled over a bonfire and knee-high neoprene boots make you belong to the river. The kind where, when Karl will be here, he’ll smell of burning wood and will have too many stories to share.

And just like the house smelled wonderful yesterday as I was baking kanelbullar. It now smells of chocolate. And rain.

gluten free chocolate cake slice

choc cake recipes

Now a few hours later, I went to pick – tiny – hallon [raspberries] by the pond. And all the times Karl told me to check for worms inside the berries finally made sense.

I cut myself a thick slice of the still-warm cake, fudgy around the rim and slighty gooey in the centre. And with a handful of my rather small bounty and a tall glass of filmjölk, it was just as delicious as I had hoped for.

asen

Gluten-free chocolate fondant cake

You could make this cake with ground almonds only, but I couldn’t resist to try the gluten-free oat flour I found at the supermarket a few days ago.
The process is very simple. Not unlike a classic fondant cake.

The eggs and sugar get whisked together for a few minutes, until the sugar has almost dissolved. Then the melted chocolate and butter get folded in. And finally the flours. A quick trip in the oven; and voilà!

Gluten-free chocolate fondant cake

200 g 70% dark chocolate
250 g unsalted butter
5 eggs
250 g caster sugar
50 g ground almonds
40 g GF self-raising oat flour
8 g sea salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C, and generously butter a 26cm cake tin.

In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate and butter; either in a microwave or over a pan of simmering water. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar for around 4 minutes, or until fluffy and almost doubled in size. You don’t want to overdo it, it’s just a matter of dissolving the sugar.

Fold in the chocolate mixture, mixing well. And finally add the ground almonds, oat flour and salt. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 24-28 minutes, until barely jiggling in the very centre of the cake.

Allow to cool down completely before slicing. Or scoop while warm, like I did.

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Pommes de terre

memoriesA story about , , Written on le Sunday 10 August 2014.

[Potatoes]

svante potatis

Tonight, we dug potatoes (but really, doesn’t their French name imply so much more: earth apples) from the ground.

They’re being boiled. And bacon and falukorv are being fried in a cast iron pan that has probably seen many and manier. Eggs are cooking.

And just like this pyttipanna will happen for dinner.

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And there are dragonflies

memoriesA story about , , , , Written on le Friday 08 August 2014.

summer house-2

We drove and drove. It seems roadtrips are always involved whenever we are in Sweden – and really, I’m not complaining.

And while I have so many things to tell you: that one drink Jessica made for us; the roadtrip we took to the mountains, fishing on a lake at three in the morning, under my first midnight-ish sun; the pictures I took with my film camera; the street lights; and the dala horses we’re about to see here in Dalarna.
Yes, while I have so many things to tell you, I’m making the most of modern magic (called 3G dongle, what an ugly word!) to show you where the roads have led us today. In Åsen.

I have a candle and the moon for only light. A wooden table in the garden as an office, with potatis and rabarber at my feet. There is a pond. And there are dragonflies. And really, I’d trade anything for this-right-here-right-now.

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summer house

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The August break #2 – Pattern

memoriesA story about , , Written on le Sunday 03 August 2014.

soft pastels

bubble tea

A list of patterns from today.
K’s eggs and bacon for breakfast.  The evening sun through the blinds, projecting shadows on our wall. The fact that no matter how many times I’ve done it, I’ll forever be the worst at packing. Anxiety attack included. Tickles down my neck. Matcha bubble tea for le goûter. The soft pastels we bought yesterday.  The midnight lattes.  The crystals I drew last night. Maybe I’ll show you a picture later. A night at the airport. Not unlike last year.

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Press pause

memories, wordsA story about , , , , Written on le Friday 01 August 2014.

Exactly three months ago, I told you this:

And that too:

But you see, today, I’m only here to tell you about the August break. Literally and metaphorically.

Today, we didn’t pack our bags. Instead, we walked through a sunny London under the rain. Hoping for rainbows. And thunderstorms too.
We went to an art shop and got way too many pencils and pens and brushes and paper. Although, I might argue that these are the kind of things you can never have too many of.

scribbles

Tomorrow, we’ll – most likely – spend the night at the airport. But I’ve learnt my lesson – airports get really cold at night – and instead of a summer dress, I’ll sure be wearing some sort of soft hoodie and thick wool socks.

#theaugustbreak2014. Day one: lunch.

Lunch. Or so they say. We had ours on some stairs made of stone by Charing Cross. A gluten-free avocado wrap for me and a little baguette with things inside for K. I didn’t take a picture. Of course. But I’ll remember those stairs. And most importantly, browsing through the alleys of the art shop. It’d been too long. More to come on that later hopefully. Cross your fingers for me. You see, dreams are – at times – not as daft as they seem.

And while we’re on the lunch subject, I’ve been super inspired by that book (which I haven’t bought, but I can’t help but love the idea). I’m thinking of starting a feed the chefs feature for those of you who are curious of the things I make whenever I’m on staff food duty!

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The gluten-free pastry chef – A story and a vanilla and raspberry baked Alaska

la pâtisserie, wordsA story about , , , , , , , , , Written on le Tuesday 10 June 2014.

gluten free baked alaska

We started our day with a breakfast made of baguette and butter – or was it butter and baguette? – and coffee, of course.
We drove to Antibes and sat on the clear plastic chairs facing the doctor.

And there, she said it: gluten-free.

I had read books on how gluten affects hypothyroidism. And I sort of knew that I shouldn’t eat wheat. But well, more than anything, I live for my work. And I shouldn’t say – let alone, think – it, but being a pastry chef defines who I am.

69500007

We left and went for a coffee. Somehow puzzled by the news. Fear in the future but also happy to know it will make me feel better.

Such a strange feeling, really. Somehow having to give up what makes you happy in order to be happier.

We walked to the beach. The port on our right. Boats bigger than life and the sun glistening on every wavelet, like stars behind clouds.

gluten free baked alaska

I removed my white dress. And barely sat in the sand before I ran to the water. It was colder than it’d ever been; but I couldn’t care less.

Two hours later, I went back to the shore.
And lay down on the hot towel.

We waited until we were dry and set off to the market.

69500006

You see I’d become a gluten-free pastry chef. An oxymoron of some sort.

But my only way to deal with it was to make something. Anything really. We’d picked up some raspberries at that little stand. The one that’s almost at the end of the alley. Lined with green wax-fabric. And we had vanilla ice-cream and strawberry ice-cream in the freezer.

One hour later, we also had a vanila and strawberry baked Alaska in there.

It wasn’t the prettiest by any mean, but we all had a slice for dinner. Some with an extra spoonful of Italian meringue, some with a fat scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

And I thought that no matter how little gluten there is, food will always be food. In every possible way.
And while we’re at it, I’ve created a new instagram account to document the things I eat. Get ready!

Vanilla and raspberry gluten-free baked Alaska

This baked Alaska or as we call it in French omelette norvégienne [literally, Norwegian omelette] is damn easy to make, and to eat too.
Of course, you could make the ice-cream and sorbet, and if you wish to do so, just drop me an email and I’ll send the recipes over.

The sponge I choose is a no-brainer almond and raspberry cake that my friend Eliot is obsessed with. And I guess that now I’m gluten-free, I will be too.

Vanilla and raspberry gluten-free baked Alaska

for the sponge
225g ground almonds
200g caster sugar
40g honey
20g cornflour
200g (around 4) eggs
60g (around 3) egg yolks
250g raspberries

for the ice-cream layers
500mL vanilla ice-cream
500mL raspberry sorbet

Both placed in the fridge for 30 minutes, before you’re ready to assemble the cake.

for the meringue
150g (around 5) egg whites
300g caster sugar
100g water

Line a 1L loaf tin with baking paper, slightly larger than the tin so you have some ‘handles’.
Place the tin in the freezer while you get on with the sponge.

Preheat the oven to 175°C and line a 30x40cm baking tray with baking paper.
Mix all the ingredients – aside from the raspberries – together until smooth. Pour into the prepared baking tray and spread into a rectangle, roughly 8mm thick. Sprinkle the raspberries on top of the batter.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden-brown and springy to the touch. Allow to cool down completely, then cut into 3 rectangles the size of your loaf tin.

Place a rectangle of sponge at the bottom of your frozen loaf tin and top with the vanilla ice-cream, smoothing it down using a maryse. Top with another piece of sponge and the raspberry sorbet. Finally, close the cake with the last piece of sponge and return to the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When the ice-creams are set, run the loaf tin under hot water to unmould the cake and place on a large serving plate. Return to the freezer while you make the meringue.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and start whisking at medium speed to soft-peaks.
Place the sugar and water into a small pan and cook to 118°C. Once the syrup reaches the correct temperature, reduce the speed of your mixer and pour the syrup down the side of the bowl. When all the syrup has been added, go back to medium speed, and keep on whisking until the meringue feels tepid to the touch.
Spread the cold meringue onto the ice-cream cake and burn using a blow-torch. You can keep the Alaska in the freezer for a few hours before serving, or slice right away using a hot knife (simply run the blade under hot water and wipe dry).

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I’ll be left with cinnamon croissants

la pâtisserie, memoriesA story about , , Written on le Sunday 20 April 2014.

rolling-croissant-dough

I guess like all good things, Sundays have to come to an end too.

Today was a good Sunday. We went to bed late enough to wake up mid-morning. Crumpets happened. I might have eaten two with homemade raspberry jam from last summer.

And we braved the rain – the mostest perfect excuse for a lazy day in – for a trip to the corner shop. In our basket: milk and butter, lots of. Yeast too. And strong flour. We also got a bottle of our favourite white wine and some salmon we knew we’d have for dinner tomorrow.

Croissants were to be made.

We moved the kitchen table by the window and took mostly blurry pictures. And in all measures, that’s more than fine by me. Since when did blog have to be so editorially perfect? Maybe, I miss the early days when it was more misses than hits.

So yes, I made dough for cinnamon bun croissants. Or is it cinnamon croissant buns? I wanted to do a step-by-step. With – of course – gifs as tokens of my love for the old-school.
It might happen. It might not.

In the meantime, cross your fingers for me tomorrow. I have a book coming out and I can’t quite believe it! And it case it was all just a dream, I’ll be left with cinnamon croissants. Life isn’t too bad at the moment.

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No other day than a Sunday – Clafoutis aux myrtilles, le Paris Pastry Club

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , Written on le Monday 14 April 2014.

[Blueberry clafoutis]

clafoutis blueberries paris pastry club

The recipes I make don’t come in printed words. They come in barely-readable letters that I’ve written too fast. Felt-tip pen codes, more often than not smudged with water, or butter, or as you’ve heard me say before, chocolate. Ingredients quantities are crossed out and forever adjusted. I keep those notes in identical notebooks; black leather and square-lined pages, at times blank or simply lined.

The older volumes are worn out to the point of – what common sense would call – no return. But I don’t care about the tears, the smudges, the missing pages, the words I sometimes have to make up since I can’t even read myself.

Those books are much more than a chef’s collection of recipes, they’re the very epitome of that dream I once had. Just like his lips on mine, this morning, before he left. And mine on his, tonight, when he’ll come home.

Dreams are made to happen. They will hit you in a way very few things do.

Yesterday was just that. I’d like to tell you it was early in the morning, but that wouldn’t make sense, and you know, it was a Sunday after all – we had a cup of coffee and scrambled eggs on – not toast but – crumpets; and this alone was a wonder in every possible way. But we had bought a newspaper, which by then, was sitting on the kitchen table.

I opened it, not unlike a Christmas present.

And I took flour and sugar out from the cupboard above the sink. We had a punnet of blueberries on the counter, and eggs, milk and butter in the fridge.

Yes, when the fridge is that full, it can be no other day than a Sunday.

OFM

And you see, I flipped the pages, and clafoutis happened. My own words. In neat printed letters. I needed no recipe for this cake (and really, can clafoutis be called as such, a cake?) that my grand-mère taught me how to make, most likely one summer of the early nineties, most likely with cherries we’d just picked from the garden, most likely we dusted it with a touch too much of icing sugar.

paris-pastry-club-clafoutis

I think – or rather, I know – I must miss grand-mère a whole lot at the moment because I can’t seem to write anything without telling you about her.

But if you knew her, the way I do. And if you loved her, the way I do. You wouldn’t be able to shut the eff up either.

And I guess that just like dreams, grand-mothers have to happen too. And clafoutis might as well come along.
Grand-mère, je t’aime.

clafoutis paris pastry club bite

Yes, I did not need a recipe to make clafoutis. But it was there and it was the most wonderful feeling ever.

The Observer Food Monthly ran a Paris Pastry Club extract, featuring a whole bundle of the simpler recipes I share in the book.
And I’m now beyond excited, counting days, hours, minutes and seconds until the 21st. It will be Easter Monday for most, but for me, it will be forever remembered as the day one of my dreams became true.

In the meantime, let’s make clafoutis become true.

clafoutis paris pastry club plate

Clafoutis aux myrtilles
A recipe from Paris Pastry Club, coming out April 21st.

I would usually make this with the very first cherries, or at the end of the summer, with plums or figs. But you see, this is London and we’re in Spring. No such things as ripe stone fruits in April! I settled for those blueberries we’d been nibbling on the night before after I came home from a busy service. That night we stayed up until five am, talking nonsense and no-nonsense. It was amazing.
I woke up to my phone flashing twitter notifications and too many emails for my sleepy eyes to understand.

We went to the corner shop and bought milk and crumpets, and the Observer. It was just as amazing. Not for the general reasons, but simply because a dream was not as such anymore and my passion was to be read by all of you who’ve encouraged me since the foodbeam days – almost ten years – in the comfort of your own home.

Welcome to my kitchen! A kitchen where dreams happen and cake too!

Since it was only two of us, I divided the recipe by three, but I’ll put the original ingredient list too in case you’re feeding a crowd.

Clafoutis aux myrtilles

serves 2-3
65g plain flour
40g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
one egg
25g unsalted butter
, melted
130g whole milk
100g blueberries
(see note above)
serves 10-12
200g plain flour
120g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
3 eggs
80g unsalted butter
, melted
400g whole milk
300g blueberries

Preheat the oven to 200°C and generously butter a 15cm dish (or a 30cm tart tin, if making the full recipe).

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the egg and mix in the melted butter. Then gradually add the milk, mixing well so no lumps form. If you’re not fully confident it is lump-free, strain the batter through a sieve.

Scatter the blueberries into the prepared dish and gently pour the batter over. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and quite firm. It can be slightly wobbly in the centre but a skewer inserted in the middle of the clafoutis should come out clean.
Allow to cool and serve in thick wedges with crème fraîche or yoghurt, or even maybe ice-cream.

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La rhubarbe

la pâtisserie, le marchéA story about , , , , Written on le Thursday 10 April 2014.

rhubarb

I remember the rhubarb my grand-père used to grow in the garden. It was thick and green; and would be turned into jar-after-jar of compote which my grand-mère always kept in that little cupboard in the garage. On top of my grand-père’s tools, always neatly organised.
One day, I’ll show you that garage.

We would eat the compote on top of yoghurt for breakfast. Or spoon it onto a tart case and cover it with a creamy custard before baking.

Compote de rhubarbe

Rhubarb compote is one of those staples you can never have enough of. Wash the stalks under cold water, then chop into 1cm pieces. Weight out the rhubarb in a large bowl and combine with 20% of caster sugar. So let’s say, for 1kg of rhubarb, add 200g caster sugar; and of course, the seeds and empty pod from a vanilla bean. Mix well, cover with cling film and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.
The next day or a few hours later (cheeky version), scrape the fruits into a large pan and cook over medium heat – stirring every now and then, more so often towards the end – until the rhubarb has broken down and the syrup has reduced.
If you’re canning, transfer to sterilised jars, close the lids and turn upside down before steaming for 30 minutes. Otherwise, just transfer to a plastic container and refrigerate until cold. You’ll have to use it within 5 days.



And then, I moved to London, where rhubarb is pink and only comes when the trees are snowing with blossoms. It’s my favourite time of the year really.
And my favourite colours too.

rhbflowerscolour palette spring

These days my favourite thing to do with rhubarb is to roast it in a vanilla syrup.

Rhubarbe rôtie

In a large pan, bring 300g of water and 300g of caster sugar to the boil, along with the seeds and pods from 3 vanilla beans.
In the meantime, wash and cut 500g of rhubarb stalks into 3cm pieces and place them into a large roasting tray. Cover with the syrup and bake at 200°C for around 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool down to room temperature.


I like to serve it on top of a cake. Perhaps with frosting, perhaps without.
But in all measures, it should look messy and naughty. Because that’s what cakes are for.

rhubarb cake

For the record – because I’m trying to learn Swedish, one food word at a time, and also because when we were there, I saw the biggest rhubarb bush I had ever seen before, in his dad’s garden, and also because it’s a good-mood word* – rhubarb in Swedish is:

Rabarbrar
Rabarber

* Please tell me I’m not the only one who falls in love with some words. For the way they sound or look.

What is your favourite way of using rhubarb? And any little stories we should all know about?

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Un peu comme les objets perdus – Le cake au chocolat de grand-mère

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , Written on le Monday 07 April 2014.

[Not unlike lost property – My grand-mother chocolate loaf cake]

chocolate cake

Last week I told you about that chocolate cake, of the lost objects kind. And the next day, this happened:

Yes, one phone call to my grand-mère later – me, describing a guessed ingredient list, and her, flicking through the pages of her stained notebook – she found the cake we’d made together five years ago. A cake she’s been making for ever. And a cake I plan on making for ever.

butter and chocolate

She told me how she reduced the quantity of sugar by half. And I did too.

However, the chocolate I used had a much higher percentage than the go-to French dark chocolate, so if you’re using 70% chocolate, I recommend increasing the sugar ever so slightly.

eggs

That day, I melted butter and chocolate together. And whipped egg whites. Egg yolks too, with caster sugar. And a little story was made on Steller.
Yes, it is my new favourite app. And probably yours too, soon.

making chocolate cake

That night, he took my hand. We put our shoes on. And left the house on our skateboards. He was wearing soft trousers and a hoodie, most likely than not. And I was all leggings and t-shirt.

I couldn’t help but remember those early winter nights, during which I was taught how to skate, late at night on tennis courts, somewhere in New Zealand.

And this time, it wasn’t any less dreamy. We could feel the magic that only comes with spring and empty streets.

We sat on that bench. With an empty square before our eyes. And a can of beer – that we’d bought with the only coins we left the house with – in our hands. One pound et des poussières [and a bit]. A few people were waiting for the night bus by the stop. And cars didn’t seem to be a thing.

On the way back home, I picked a cherry blossom, now left to dry in between two pieces of newspaper in Pictures by Tim Walker. My most loved book when it comes to dry flowers; when it comes to everything really!
Maybe one day, I’ll show you.

chocolate loaf cake

ingredients

We came home and had a coffee. Perhaps, a slice or two of chocolate cake. And lay on a bed made of pillows – a lot – and a mattress – a little. He said we couldn’t never have enough pillows. We might have fallen asleep to the sound of nothingness.

choc cake karl

Le cake au chocolat de grand-mère

I can’t believe I had forgotten about this cake. We’d been making it for years. Every summer spent in Fouras would mean chocolate cake for the week-ends, even thoigh at the time, every day was a week-end. Beach and bike rides. Early morning visits to le marché [the market] and oranges glacées for dessert. At times, we’d have mystère instead, a vanilla ice-cream sphere encasing meringue topped with pralin.

But you see, this cake is not one for dessert. It’s one you have for le goûter of the four o’clock kind. Or that morning cup of coffee. Or in our case, that past-midnight cup of coffee.
It’s understated. Dark with chocolate. Dense but somewhat magically light at the same time. Almost like a baked chocolate mousse. Perhaps, next time, I’ll try to substitute some of the flour for ground almonds. Or breadcrumbs.
In fact, did I ever tell you about my mom’s breadcrumb and chocolate cake? If not, please remind me to do so. It’s wonderful in every way too!

Just a quick note on the sugar: if you’re using 70% chocolate you might want to increase the sugar to 150g. However, if you go for the usual 55%, 100g of caster sugar will be more than enough.

200g dark chocolate
120g unsalted butter
6 egg yolks
100 to 150g caster sugar
(see note above)
70g plain flour
6 egg whites
a pinch of maldon sea salt
butter, at room temperature, to pipe on top of the loaf

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Generously butter a loaf tin and line with baking paper.

In a large heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate and butter. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until lighter in colour and fluffy; and gently fold into the melted chocolate. Add the flour and mix until just combined.

Finally, whisk the egg whites with the salt until they hold firm peaks. Add a third of the meringue and mix well to loosen the batter. Add the remaining meringue and gently fold in until they are no more streaks.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and pipe a thin line of softened butter accross the cake. This will get you a neat crack after baking! Bake for around 30 minutes, or until a small knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool slightly, then unmould.
It’s pretty beautiful, reheated briefly in the microwave, with a glass of ice-cold almond milk. Or toasted with a big fat spoonful of cherry compote in the morning.

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Oops #4 – Le cake au chocolat

la pâtisserieA story about , , Written on le Monday 31 March 2014.

cake-chocolat

I’ve been going through my pictures. There is this chocolate loaf cake. And really, it’s been haunting me. I made it at my grand-mère‘s house. Back on the twenty-third of march 2008, at 12:38, or so says the EXIF data.

Now if only it would tell me which recipe I used. Because no matter how good my memory for the kind of things that involve flour, sugar and chocolate usually is; this time, it’s failing me.

chocolate cake batter

The only hints I have come from another picture. Of the batter.
There is melted chocolate. A very dirty spoon. Some clearly over-whipped egg whites, which seem to have been whisked without any sugar at all. I can’t see any traces of flour into this otherwise messy bowl, so I’m assuming the dry ingredients were added after folding the egg whites.

So here comes the method, put together after careful observation of a single picture (yes, it does make me feel like a modern Sherlock Holmes, of the chef kind).
Butter and chocolate must have been melted together. Egg yolks and caster sugar beaten until fluffy, then gently folded into the chocolate. Egg whites whipped until too-stiff and lumpy (hehe, please do not try this at home). And finally flour, maybe cornflour or potato starch or ground almonds.

Yes, all it took for me to launch a quest for the perfect chocolate loaf cake was a picture. Soft and moussy. Perhaps even a little dense. In a way only some loaf cakes can be.

Any suggestions welcome!
Please do share your favourite chocolate loaf cake recipe with me. x

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Things that #3… I dream about

memoriesA story about , , , , , , Written on le Sunday 23 February 2014.

raspberry-summer

A for ever summer. Perhaps in Iceland. Yes an endless summer exploring the muddy roads of the island couldn’t sound better. Picking raspberries. And blueberries too. Maybe even cloudberries.
An illustration in chickpea magazine. And an article in kinfolk.
Making desserts after hours; one day when I’m not working too much. Always.
Days spent at my grand-mère‘s house. It’s been too long.
Taking more pictures, through the lens of my latest Canon Rebel G, you’ll hear about it soon. And writing more too.
A restaurant where it’s normal to work less than seventeen hours a day.
Exploring forests and lakes. Hearing salmons jump into the stream again. Gazing at the Milky Way and if we’re lucky, at northern lights too.

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Petit précis d’iPhone-me-crazy, prononcé iPhoneography

wordsA story about , , Written on le Friday 21 February 2014.

[iPhone-me-crazy 101, pronounced iPhoneography]

I have too many cameras.

A Canon DSLR, which I only use for this blog. Two pentax ME super, which I loved to pieces and used until they could no longer work. A polaroid SX70. I need to buy more film, for the record, as I’ve run out two years ago. A Fuji Instax mini. Again, more film needed. A Minolta Instant pro who is more stubborn than I am. A Diana F+, the prettiest of the lot, really, but damn, at the rate of one good picture per roll, I am not going anywhere. And the latest one – after I realised, I could not go without a film camera – a prime 90s Canon rebel G.

Oh and an iPhone too. Clearly my most used camera now that the pentax lives on my windowsill instead of in my bag (considerably lighter ever since, by the way).

The fact is that no matter how many cameras I have, the only one I always – always – have with me is that small phone. I won’t go back and forth about how our lives have changed and how our phones have taken so much space in them. Others have already done it.
I’m just here to show you which apps I use to edit my pictures and videos.
Pictures that will end up on Instagram (where my username is @fannycacahuete, see you there <3) – most of the time, on comme un lait fraise – sometimes, or in my camera roll – all the time.

The pictures

hipstamatic

Hipstamatic

I think it all started with Hipstamatic. Ages ago. I went through different phases, but mostly a Bettie XL phase, my favourite – ahem – lense ever, which I’ve been stuck in since the dawn of times. When snowflakes were the shape of star-stickers, and jellyfish haunted London’s shop windows.

bettie

Of course, I had to try the Loftus too. And many others. In fact, I pretty much ended up buying all of the lenses and films, and camera skins… Yes, it was that good.

Until I got slightly bored; of how random it all was, of how I couldn’t edit analready-taken picture, of how strong the filters were, of how I wish I had used a different lense. I guess as any relationship, the three-year point triggered something. Something dark. Perhaps, it was because Instagram came around.
Taking picture on a phone became easy and painless. The playground love got replaced by a new flavour. And ever since, the Hipstamatic icon still sits on my homepage. Not even inside a folder! Maybe, I hardly ever use it; but I won’t forget it either.

A first love of some kind, to return to when I miss the good old days.

editing

Snapseed

Snapseed used to be my go-to for everything. I would correct the white balance, adjust the exposure and contract, add my ever-favourite tilt-shift feature, at times even use one of its vintage filters.
Really, it’s that versatile.
I love the way the app is designed and how efficient it is. In fact, if I had to keep just one, it would possibly-maybe be the one.

These days I use it before Afterlight. Because I find it perfect to edit pictures and add depth of field (something that Afterlight clearly lacks, by choice perhaps – the fear of bad taste, ahem, something for me to think about).

Afterlight

Afterlight has been my biggest crush since last summer. I’m in love with its filters (so many to chose from), its light leaks (the polaroid collection is amazing, in my eyes at least) and I rather like the fact you can ‘cut-out’ your pictures to different shapes and latter. Anybody recalls the madness around circle pictures?

I couldn’t do without it. I don’t use it much for editing the picture itself as I find the interface somewhat complicated (as opposed to Snapseed), but more to add something to it.
My favourite filters are: frost, captain, forest, bloom, rain, goldfinch, sage, atlas, kus, idaho, and moon. Pretty names, prettiest filters.

Öggle

This is the Hipstamatic of my dreams. Instead of being able to only take in-app pictures, Öggle allows you to take a picture and edit it later when you’re stuck in the train for thirty minutes.

Of course, the filters are still as strong. And you loose the randomness that once made Hipstamatic a favourite. And it won’t work with every picture. But I kinda like it.
I barely use it. And really, I should use it more.

The process

Let’s take those cookies for example, because you should go and make them right now if you still haven’t!

It was quite dark outside when I took the picture. So I adjusted the white balance and brightness in Snapseed. I also added some depth of field.

snapseed

I then exported the picture. And opened it in Afterlight. An adjustable filter later here is the result.

afterlight

And finally, because I need more light leaks – and more animated gifs – in my life, I added some. Voilà!

light-leaks

The videos

As a little extra, I thought I’d tell you which app I use for videos. It’s called 8mm and it’s truly wonderful.
I usually take a video with the camera app and later open it in 8mm where I can choose from different film roll vibes (my absolute favourite is 70s) and effects.

I will then upload the video to Instagram or open it in photoshop to turn into into a gif. Oh gifs, you’ve stolen my heart!

8mm

If you’re interested, I will share my favourite ‘fun’ photo-editing apps, in which you can add cute graphics and amazing wording to pictures. Let me know!

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Maitriser la pâte brisée, pas à pas – Mastering shortcrust pastry, step by step

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , Written on le Thursday 13 February 2014.

Pâte brisée [shortcrust pastry] is a staple in every French home. For us, the recipe comes from my grand-mère, and of course, before I came around, it wasn’t much of a recipe. More like flour, butter, an egg yolk or two, and a little water.

So I proceeded to weigh everything out and there you have it: the best pâte brisée you could dream of. Yes, it cracks a little when you roll it, but it patches beautifully. It’s the flakiest, especially when you make it by hand and leave a few flakes of butter.

I had already shared the recipe. But as I made it for a quiche a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t help but do some animated gifs.
That night, for dinner, K. had his very first quiche. With bacon and mushroom and comté, and a lot of garlic. I served it with a baby gem sliced in half, and drizzled with a lot of crème fraiche and lemon dressing. Let’s just say that it was a pretty decent night; casual Sunday bottle of champagne aside.

pate-brisee

You will need only five ingredients for a plain pâte brisée (for a sweet one, simply add 40g of caster sugar to the flour, how easy! You could also use milk instead of water):
250 plain flour
one tsp flaky salt
125 cold unsalted butter
, diced
one egg yolk
40g cold water

Note that this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. Once the dough is made, simply divide it into two or three pâtons, which you can keep in the fridge for 4-5 days or in the freezer for up to two months.
As a rough guide, one of the above recipe, will make enough to line a 24cm-wide tart tin.

1. Place the flour, salt (and sugar if going for a sweet shortcrust), and diced butter in a large bowl. And using the tips of your fingers, rub the butter into the flour, until there are no more big pieces. Little flakes are more than fine, as they will give the pastry it’s flaky texture.

rub-butter

2. Add the egg yolk and water. And mix until barely combined. It should look like this!

add-liquids
shortcrust dough

3. Flatten the dough into a circle and clingfilm tightly. Chill for at least 1 hour before rolling out. Or freeze for later use.

clingfilm

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Love like a sunset

memoriesA story about , , , , Written on le Tuesday 11 February 2014.

swedenlove

There was an endless road to the north. Always. We drove over ponds and lakes; at times, even the sea. There were trees everywhere we looked.
And really I had never seen so many. Ever. Before.

We stopped for gas, perhaps an excuse for coffee. Many times. A latte. Perhaps a kanelbulle. And more often than not, a hot dog, of the French kind – or so said the signs plastered outside the gas stations.. Tack tack are the only words I would say.

I remember how I fell asleep in the car. And how I woke up to the sky turning pink as we crossed Storsjön. And it might not have been the real deal. And we might not have seen Storsjöodjuret [the great lake monster].

But it wasn’t any less magical.

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Where is home? – A lot of rye and a little milk chocolate kind of cookies

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , Written on le Wednesday 05 February 2014.

rye

That morning, I woke up early and very unusually rested. I think the last time I had felt like this was when I woke up next to him, with his back beautifully tattooed with the shadows of the blinds. Then, we were sleeping on a matter on the floor, in the house he grew up in. North-north of Sweden.

It’s a beautiful feeling. Serenity.
One that we often overlook, wanting for more, running for more, looking for more. When all this time, it was always right there, right then.
And like being tucked up to sleep in a fluffy feather duvet and whispered love words and forever tickles in your neck, it will always feel magical.

rye chocolate chip cookies

Perhaps it’s because I feel like I belong somewhere now. Perhaps it’s because I’ve found a home to return to every night.
He once asked me: “Where is home?” (which will always summon a beautiful Bloc Party song, maybe my very favourite), and I might – in a moment of bloody-mary-infused-mind – have answered: “Home is where you are.”
And well, no matter how silly it was, there was some truth in those words.

From then on, I’ve pledged allegiance to bloody maries.

And chocolate chip cookies. But you knew that already.

chocolate

It always starts with some good chocolate being chopped. I like milk chocolate in my cookies, please don’t be mad at me for it, because I come with a tip.
It won’t change your life, but it will definitely make chopping chocolate blocks easier. Use a bread knife. It’s less messy and so much faster.

And while I’m on the tip section, I should add one that makes portioning cookie dough easy. I used to love my cookies of the roll and slice kind. But that was before. Before I went back to rolling little balls that melt in the oven into crisp edges and chewy centres.

I’ve seen some people using scoops. But you see, I like to keep my dough cold before I bake it. And scooping cold dough doesn’t come first on my achievement list. Instead, I roll it into a rectangle so it chills quicker and more evenly. And then, I just cut it into 24 little squares. A quick trip in my hand and there you have cookie dough balls. One for you, one for me.

cookies

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve felt so in phase with the world. And I wish you the same. One cookie at a time. One kiss at a time. One morning coffee at a time.

rye and chocolate chip cookies pola

A lot of rye and a little milk chocolate kind of cookies
Adapted from my old trusted favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe, and inspired by Yossy and Alanna.

I had told you I’d make rye and chocolate chip cookies. Of course I got slightly distracted.
You see it started off hen I first saw Yossy’s beautiful cookies. I’ve always loved rye in anything baked, and I thought they would probably taste amazing. And then, a reader suggested that I try Alanna’s; she said she’d made them and everyone loved them.

So instead of using her recipe, I tweaked mine slightly, and decided – why not? – to go for melted butter as Alanna’s words couldn’t leave my mind. And really, it took me longer to scout the shops of the little high-street, which is more of a street than anything else, looking for rye flour, than it did to make those cookies.
I melted butter in the microwave, added the sugars and vanilla (will I ever one day, make something without vanilla?). And then in another bowl, the flours got mixed, along some rye flakes, a good amount of chopped milk chocolate, and of course, more than a sprinkle of flingsalt [flaky salt], which I brought back from Sweden too long ago.
And well, just as I had anticipated, I welcomed the slight nuttiness of rye into my biscuits. Into my kitchen. And perhaps, most importantly, into my mouth.

A lot of rye and a little milk chocolate kind of cookies

makes 24

100g butter
120g light brown sugar
40g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract/paste
one egg
90g rye flour
90g plain flour
120g milk chocolate
, chopped into chunks
30g rye flakes
one tsp flaky seasalt
, crushed
1/2 tsp baking powder

In a large heatproof bowl, melt the butter. Add the sugars and vanilla and mix well. When it’s cooled down a bit, whisk in the egg.
In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, and add them to the butter mixture. Stir until it forms a dough.
Scrape it onto a large piece of clingfilm and pat into a 2cm thick rectangle. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least an hour or up to 3 days.
Cut into 24 squares, roughly the same size. Now you can either bake the cookies straight away or freeze the dough for later use. In that case, simply let it thaw in the fridge for a couple of hours before proceeding to the rest.
Roll the little squares of dough into balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, making sure to space them quite a bit, around 8cm apart.
Bake at 170°C for 10-12 minutes, until the edges start to brown. Allow to cool down slightly.

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Bonjour février

la pâtisserie, memories, wordsA story about , , , Written on le Monday 03 February 2014.

[Hello February]

baking

I’ve been catching up on blogs lately. A thing I hadn’t done in a while, and a thing I’ve missed doing. I’ve found some new treasures that will forever remain in my rss feeds. And I’ve read through old favourites, not unlike love letters from my early teen.

Aside from that, well, it’s been raining. Sometimes with a reason, most of the times, without. I’ve seen the sun rise over a cascade of shadowed roofs, and I never got to see it set. I can’t help but imagine all the pretty colours. I hope I will see them soon. Before it’s dark enough for us to search for the grande Ourse [Great Bear].
I’ve run a lot to catch the last train, to a place I might call home soon. I’ve had dreams made of Sweden and Iceland. We’ll see which one comes first. I got to hold the very first copy of my book. I cried a little. I’ve realised some people are worth much less than the image we have of them.

More than anything, I’ve missed blogging. Yes, I get to do what I love – bake, make, cake – everyday. And it’s pretty amazing.
But damn, I so wish I could have more time to share recipes – little or not – here too. So I’ve decided to make a schedule, something I’ve always run away from when it comes to blogging, but at times, good things come from confronting your fears. Cross your fingers for me!

ten-things-I-want-to-bake

1. Rye and chocolate cookies.
2. A pumpkin pie swirl brioche.
3. Pear and hazelnut muffins. Oh yes, please.
4. A pink pizza.
5. Salted caramel swirl marshmallows.
6. Roasted banana cake. Perhaps, with milk chocolate too. And a confiture de lait [milk jam] frosting.
7. Bake bagels, preferably with some homemade cured salmon.
8. Relive my childhood with a tourteau fromager.
9. Salted liquorish fudge cake. Enough said.
10. Crêpes dentelles.

What’s on your to-bake list?

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