It can only mean one thing – Cake à la banane rôtie

PâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , , Written on le Thursday 19 March 2015.

[Roasted banana cake]

banana cake polaroid

I once read that the universe didn’t need another banana cake. In that case, the universe and I might have to disagree.

We don’t disagree often though.
In fact, most of the time, we’re in a symbiotic agreement that all is in its place.

Let me tell you about a few nights ago.
It might have been Monday or Tuesday, I don’t know for sure, although I’d think it was Tuesday.

K. and I took a walk at dusk. With very diffuse clouds above our heads. And right after K. told me they might – perhaps – be northern lights not clouds, the sky turned into a beautiful firework of magnetic fields. Greens and purples. Right above. Reflecting in the snow around us.

And just like last week, when I saw norrsken for the very first time, I stayed there. Looking up until they melted back into the sky, leaving place to constellations and satellites.

On our way back, we could still see them in the distance. And as a truck drove past – carrying wood that would become something else – it smelled of walks in the forest. Those of the kind I cherish so much now that the snow is slowly melting, uncovering – everyday a bit more – grass and bushes. Yes, I never want to forget the snow.

bananas polaroid

I don’t want to forget this morning either. When I sat in the sun, with a cup of coffee and a slice of banana cake. I was wearing leggings and a thick sweater, oh, and the scarf my mum gave me right before we left France.
Because, you see, I had bananas on the kitchen counter – the one made of the somewhat retro plywood – ripe and spotted. And we all know it can only mean one thing: banana cake.

Yes, perhaps the universe doesn’t need another banana cake. But I did.

banana cake

Cake à la banane rôtie
This cake will keep for days, well wrapped in clingfilm. In fact, I think it’s even better a day or two after. In fact, it keeps so well, that I almost always make a double batch to have cake all week long.

Some of you might want to skip the roasted banana purée if you’re in a hurry, and although I love the combination of roasted and fresh bananas, it will work almost as well if you choose to use only mashed fresh bananas. In this case, simply use three large ones, around 300-320g.
You could also make a rum glaze or a mascarpone frosting, but I think banana cake is one of the many things that are better eaten naked.

A few notes on method, the honey, piped butter, and baking temperature:
I do not let the butter come at room temperature whenever I cream it, as it will soften as you work it. And especially, in this recipe, because we add the warm banana purée which makes the whole softening process much faster.

The honey in this recipe, because it is an invert sugar, is used to bind with the water contained in the bananas, and make sure the cake will keep moist but not soggy for almost ever.
The flavour of honey is fairly subtle and complements the banana well.

banana cake ingredients polaroid

As you now know, I’m very fond of this technique to get a neat crack on top of loaf cakes. I always pipe a thin line of soft butter on top of my unbaked loaf, using either a piping bag or even easier a paper cornet (remind me to show you how to fold one).
When the batter starts to rise, the butter will sink in, creating a neat crack.

When it comes to loaf cakes, I always like to bake them at high temperature and then reduce to finish the baking. I usually do 5 minutes at 180°C, 10 minutes at 170°C, and 25-30 minutes at 160°C.
For this banana cake, given how much moisture there is, I’ve found I get better results with 20 minutes at 180°C and then around 30 minutes at 160°C.

Cake à la banane rôtie

makes one large loaf cake

for the roasted banana purée
2 large bananas, with skin on
50 g caster sugar

for the caramelised roasted bananas
160 g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt

180 g butter
130 g light brown sugar
50 g creamy honey
200 g roasted banana purée
1 banana
, (approximately 100 g) mashed with a fork
3 eggs, at room temperature

10 g butter, at room temperature, to pipe on top of the cake

Start by making the roasted banana purée.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and place the bananas – skin-on – on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Prick a few holes into the fruits using a small paring knife and roast for 15 minutes, or until black with juices coming out. Allow to cold down until cold enough to handle.
In a small pan, cook the sugar over low heat to make a light caramel. While the sugar is cooking, peel the bananas, being careful not to burn your fingers.
When the caramel is just light brown. Take off the heat and add the bananas. Return to the stove, and cook slowly – stirring frequently to dissolve any bits of caramel that might have seized – until you can see the bottom of the pan as you stir, not unlike jam. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool down for 15-20 minutes.

In the meantime, butter and line a 1L loaf tin.
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Place the cubed butter, sugar and honey in a large bowl, and cream for around 3 minutes. Add the banana purée and the mashed banana, and mix for a further minute.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a minute after each addition.
Add the flour and mix until just smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf tin, pipe a line of soft butter on top of the cake.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 160°C and bake for another 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Unmould immediately, placing the cake on its side. Cool down completely.

The sound of icebergs – La tarte tropézienne

PâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , , , Written on le Monday 16 March 2015.

tropezienne slice

There is the sound of the icebergs bumping into each other with every wave, not unlike a distant thunderstorm. There is the forest that I’ve walked through so many times before, now covered in a thick blanket of snow. There are lakrits [liquorice] cookies in the oven. And lights by every window we see.

Yes, this is it. Sweden.

And really, it’s just as wonderful in the vinter [winter] as it’s ever been in the sommar [summer].

What’s up with the Swedish words? Well, I need to learn. And if I was ever able to speak English by writing about food back-back-back in the days. I’m hoping the same will – almost magically – happen with Swedish.
But I’ve found some amazing companions. Just yesterday, I saw Donal on television. Perfect accent and all. And today, I went to buy Linda’s beautiful baking books, which I’m utterly in love with.

sugar-sprinkle

In fact, I’ve been keeping an eye on every blueberry bush – how wonderful it is to walk surrounded by blåbär och lingon [blueberries and lingonberries] – waiting, very impatiently, for summer to make blåbärssylt [blueberry jam], blueberry crumble tartlets and Linda’s blåbärsrutor [literally, blueberry squares/boxes].

The tartes tropéziennes here have barely anything to do with it all. Perhaps that’s why it took me so long to tell you about them.
But when Karl ate one, he said they reminded him of semla. So there is that. And I might have to make some semla inspired tarte tropézienne very soon.

tarte tropezienne

La tarte tropézienne
Adapted from Paris Pastry Club.

When I wrote Paris Pastry Club, more than gimmicky or trendy recipes, I wanted to share my absolute favourite basics. Ones you can tweak endlessly, creating an amazing répertoire of recipes to call your own.
And when I see all your beautiful creations on instagram or on your blogs, I’m blown away. And so so so proud to inspire you – at least a little, with my words.

tarte tropezienne 2

These tartes tropéziennes are just this.
A tweak on two recipes from my book. The brioche, also known as the last brioche recipe you’ll ever need, and the crème mousseline, turned crème madame for the occasion, from the fraisier (and please, as soon as the strawberries will actually taste like they should, please, make one on a Saturday, and have it for Sunday lunch, trust me on that).

brioches sliced

A few notes on the brioche:
– I made half a batch in my stand mixer without problems, but it did take a little longer than the usual double batch. If I were you, I’d make a double batch, use half for tropézienne buns and shape the other half into a loaf, which you can then bake, slice and freeze for instant morning happiness.
– Here I’ve used T55 flour, but you could also use plain flour, although make sure the protein content of your flour is around 10-12g per 100g of flour.
The higher the protein content, the stronger the flour is, which means it has more gluten. I’ve found that for brioche, I like to use flours with eleven percents of proteins.
– When you knead the dough, I recommend doing the windowpane test after around ten minutes. It’s kneaded enough wuen you can stretch a walnut-sized piece into a very thin membrane without it tearing apart. This stage is called full gluten development, and for my brioche recipe, it’s usually reached after 10-12 minutes of kneading in the stand mixer on medium speed. If the dough tears when you try to stretch it, simply knead for a couple more minutes before testing it again.

brioche before after

– Balling the dough isn’t only done to shape it. It’s an essential step to even the distribution of gluten strands, creating a tension layer, and making sure that no large air bubbles are formed.
To ball the dough correctly, start by portioning your brioche in even piece (I like to weigh them out so that they will proof/bake evenly). Once you have divided your dough, dip the top side in flour and dust off any excess. Place the unfloured side down on a clean work surface and roll gently with the palm of your hand in a circular motion so that the outer layer of the dough stretches into a smooth ball.

A few notes on the crème madame:
– Crème madame is a crème pâtissière to which butter and whipped cream have been added. It should be firm and glossy, and will set into a rich cream.
Really, crème madame = crème mousseline + whipped cream = (crème pâtissière + butter) + whipped cream.
– I’ve been writing a post about basic pâtisserie creams which should be published very soon.
– For a detailed step-by-step how to make crème pâtissière, please check this article.
– When making crème mousseline, start by creaming the butter using the paddle attachment of your stand-mixer until light and fluffy. Then add the cold crème pâtissière in batches, beating well after each addition. If the butter has seized a little, simply place the bowl on top of a pan of simmering water for a few seconds before beating for a minute or two; or use a blowtorch to heat the sides of your bowl. Repeat until all the butter has disappeared and you’re left with a gorgeously thick crème mousseline.
If you overheat the mousseline, it will become somewhat runny. Place in the fridge for a couple of hours, then beat for five minutes using the whisk attachment of your stand-mixer.

La tarte tropézienne

makes 8 individual tropéziennes
for the brioche
275 g T55 flour
30 g vanilla sugar
one tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
3 eggs
30 g whole milk
one tbsp orange blossom water
160 g butter
, thinly sliced

one egg, beaten, for egg wash
200 g pearl sugar, to sprinkle

for the crème pâtissière
500 g whole milk
3 vanilla pods
4 egg yolks
150 g caster sugar
50 g cornflour
1 tsp orange blossom water

for the crème madame
600 g crème pâtissière (above)
150 g butter, at room temperature
100 g 35% cream, whipped to stiff peaks

for the syrup
100 g water
70 g caster sugar
one tbsp orange blossom water

Mix the milk and vanilla seeds in a small bowl and set aside.
If you have a stand-mixer, fit the dough hook and mix the flour, salt and sugar together on slow speed. Add the instant yeast. Then pour in the vanilla milk, the eggs and the orange blossom water.
Switch to medium speed and knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough can be stretched without breaking. Scrape the sides of the bowl every now and then to ensure everything is amalgamated.
Alternatively, mix the ingredients by hand then turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough can be stretched without breaking.
Now, add the butter, one piece at a time, and when almost all of it is in, increase the speed and knead until smooth (or knead by hand). The dough should stop sticking to the side of the bowl (or work surface) and should be silky and very smooth, although somewhat tacky.

Transfer the dough into a plastic container, clingfilm to the touch, and chill in the fridge overnight.

Make the crème pâtissière.
Bring the milk and vanilla pods and seeds to a rolling boil in a medium pan set over moderate heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar to prevent the egg yolks from clumping. Add the cornflour and mix well until combined. When the milk has boiled, remove from the heat and pour a third of it over the egg mixture, whisking as you do so. This step is key when making crème pâtissière as it loosens the egg yolks but also tempers them, avoiding any lumps .
Pour all of the egg mixture back into the pan, return to the heat and cook slowly, whisking at all times until it starts to thicken and boil.
Once it has bubbled for a few minutes, transfer to a plastic container and clingfilm to the touch to avoid the formation of a skin. Chill in the fridge for overnight.

Make the orange blossom syrup. Bring the sugar and water to the boil. Allow to cool down slightly, then add the orange blossom water. Reserve at room temperature overnight.

The next day, scrape the dough from the container onto a clean and lightly floured work surface, gently press to degaz, and divide in eight 75g squares.
Ball each square, then roll into a 1cm-high disk, roughly 8cmm wide.

Arrange the disks of brioche onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover loosely with a lightly oiled double layer of clingfilm; and proof until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Brush the brioche with the beaten egg, then generously sprinkle with the pearl sugar. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until golden brown.
Allow to cool down completely.

In the meantime, make the crème madame.
Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the crème pâtissière, one third at a time, beating well after each addition. Once all of the crème pâtissière has been added, beat for 5 minutes. The mousseline should be firm and glossy.
If the butter has seized a little, simply place the bowl on top of a pan of simmering water for a few seconds before beating for a minute or two; or use a blowtorch to heat the sides of your bowl. Repeat until all the butter has disappeared and you’re left with a gorgeously thick crème mousseline.
Finally, gently fold in the whipped cream.
Place this crème madame in the fridge to firm up slightly for an hour or so.

Once the brioches have cooled down, slice them in half with a large bread knife and generously brush the cut-side with syrup.

Transfer the crème madame into a piping bag fitted with a 10mm nozzle and pipe the cream around the rim of the bottom brioches, then pipe a large ball in the centre.
Top each brioches with their matching “hats”.

Keep in the fridge, loosely covered with clingfilm for at least 4 hours or overnight.

A treasure of some sorts – Easy everyday gluten-free crêpes

PâtisserieA story about , , , , , Written on le Friday 13 February 2015.

gluten free crepes

We finished packing everything today. An empty bedroom, and ten massive boxes that contain – what we consider as the most important things in – our life.

I have books, too many, and one entire boxeful of kitchen utensils. Wooden handles painted in pastel colours with chips that give away how old they actually are. The fifties, perhaps. A marble rolling pin. A croque-en-bouche cone that I will cherish for ever (merci Richard).

He has fly-tying material neatly packed in small containers. A treasure of some sorts. Feathers, and beads. Threads more colourful than rainbows, and hooks. His waders have been folded with the kind of impatience that only dissipates as the snow melts and the rivers grow strong.

And I think, by what we’ve been told, the snow-melt will be quite intense this year. And really, I cannot wait.
In a few weeks, I’ll see the land, that I’ve watched go by through a plane window during the summertime, white with ice.

In a few days, we’ll be in France. Sea and mountains. Walks through Nice markets. And road-trips to the gorges du Verdon. We have no plans. And perhaps, that is the best plan.

gluten free crepes-2

But I know for a fact that we will have crêpes. Because it’s an untold tradition.

In fact, last week, I had crêpes batter resting as a phone call to my mum turned into a monologue on how many padded jackets I must get to survive winter in the north. And it only stopped when she exclaimed she couldn’t speak anymore because my dad had dinner ready.
And really, she didn’t have to say more; I knew he’d made her crêpes. On a saturday night.
And really, we had too. The French know how to throw a good party.

Those crêpes are the get-real version of my beurre noisette crêpes. Just as wonderful, except I can turn them into a dinner: slices of ham, a generous handful of gruyère, and a fried egg; that combination will never ever get old.
Crêpes of the easy gluten-free everyday kind. Flours, a pinch of salt, a few eggs, milk and water just so, and melted butter. So easy I didn’t even think about posting the recipe here; but I wanted to have it somewhere. And remember the breakfast we had the day after. Crêpes and a sprinkle of sugar. Taking pictures in the middle of our room, surrounded by boxes waiting to be filled, and things chaotically organised on the floor.

gluten-free-crepes

Easy everyday gluten-free crêpes
Gluten-free or not, these crêpes can be made in seconds. You could even place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Or as I do: in a bowl with a handblender. For these, I used Dove’s Farm flours as it’s what I had in my cupboard, but feel free to replace with your own blend of gluten-free flours or even plain flour (you might need a little less liquid in that case).
If you’re using your own gluten-free flours, make sure they don’t have any xanthan gum as I find it doesn’t really work for crêpes.
For reference the flours I went for have: white rice, brown rice, potato, tapioca, corn, and buckwheat. But I have a feeling it would be quite delicious with oat flour too.

gluten free crepes-3

When it comes to fillings I’m partial to the complète: a slice of cooked ham, some grated gruyère cheese and a fried egg.
For breakfast, a dust of granulated sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice is a favourite, plain jam too really. I realise it must be some kind of reminiscence, but I can’t help to keep my crêpes simple.

What’s your favourite way to serve crêpes?

Easy everyday gluten-free crêpes

200g plain gluten-free flour
100g rice flour (a blend of white and brown)
a pinch of salt
3 eggs
75g melted butter
500g whole milk
200g water

Place all the ingredients, except for the water, in a large bowl and blitz using a handblender. Add the water. You might need more if you see your crêpes are too thick when you cook them. As a general rule, I’d recommend adding less and seeing how you go.

Leave the batter to sit at room temperature, covered with a clean kitchen cloth, for at least 30 minutes or, even better, for two hours or overnight (in which case, keep it in the fridge).
When you are ready to cook the crêpes, heat a lightly oiled non-stick frying pan over high heat, and mix the batter as it will separate slightly during the resting time.

When the pan starts to smoke, pour a laddle of batter onto the pan, using approximately one-third of a cup for each crêpe. Tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
Cook the crêpe for about 2 minutes, until the edges start to brown and curl slightly. Loosen with a palette knife, flip over and cook the other side for a minute. Serve hot.