Friday, 24 August 2012

A food journey down memory lane...

It was one of those days when I was stumped for something exciting and fun to cook. I wanted something to recapture the magic of baking in the kitchen, and also for it to be something I longed to eat! I'm always not he search for new recipes that I've never tried before, and even better when they are things I've never even considered making!
So on this one particular day, I had a request for a cherry tart. Jackie, a friend of mine begged me for something with cherries in it. "Its my favourite! Please! You don't understand, cherries are just my favourite thing. Please make me a cherry tart!"
Cherry tart? I wasn't sure how to go about this. I didn't want raw cherries on a blind baked pastry case. No amount of silky vanilla creme patisserie would make that the best possible cherry tart.
Then I remembered. Kirschstreusel! That was it. We have a winner.
When I was a young girl, my family and I lived in Berlin for a few years, and for some of those years, above a bakery. Naturally I would visit, once or twice (a day), work my way through the goodies. Poppy seed cakes, delicious bread rolls for 15 pfennig, but my absolute favourite was Kirschstreusel. A sour cherry cake, with a soft chewy base, more like a chewy cake, a layer of tart cherry jammy goodness, and a sweet crispy crumble-like topping. Divine.
It had never occurred to me to try and recreate this before, a new recipe was exactly what I was craving. And of course, the inevitable tasting...

Kirschstreuselkuchen, or Cherry Streusel Cake

The secret to the authentic sour yeasty taste in this cake is the sweet bread dough base. That gave the cake the authentic bakery flavour I remember from all those years ago.

Recipe: makes one 9" tart. Use a springform pan or tart tin with a removable base.

Bread dough base:
225g plain flour
15g fresh yeast, or 7g dried yeast, or 3.5g fast-action dried yeast
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 pinch salt
100ml milk
2 tbsp butter

450g pitted sour cherries (I only had sweet English cherries, which worked fine, but did mean the tart lacked its addictive tart quality that I love!)

110g butter, cold, chopped
110g caster sugar
75g plain flour


Grease your springform pan with butter and preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. 
Make the bread dough: I use a classic bread dough technique: scald the milk in a saucepan, then add the butter to the hot milk to melt the butter, and simultaneously cool the milk. Sift the flour and salt together into a medium sized bowl.
Add the sugar to the warm milk and butter mixture, then when the liquid is blood temperature (warmer than lukewarm), add 1 tbsp to the yeast to dissolve it, then add the remaining liquid and mix well.
Make a soft bread dough by adding the liquid to the flour in one go, mix well then bring to a dough in your hands. Knead the dough lightly for a few minutes until you have a soft smooth ball, then allow to rise for 30-60 minutes in a warm place until it has doubled in size.

Meanwhile wash and pit your cherries. A serious labour of love if you don't have a cherry stoner. You can also prepare your topping: mix then sugar and flour together, then add the cold chopped butter and crumble together. This will warm up quickly and get sticky to do this as quickly as possible, and if it gets too warm, put in the freezer for a few minutes to cool down again.

When your bread dough is ready, knead it again slightly then roll it out into a circle big enough to cover the base of the tin. Press into the tin, and press up the sides of the tin slightly to create a slight edge to the tart. Cover and leave for 15 minutes for the dough to prove slightly.
When your dough has risen slightly, cover with the fresh cherries, you can press them down into the dough slightly. Then sprinkle with your crumbly topping, and its ready to hit the oven!

Bake at 180 degrees C for 30-45 minutes, until the cherries are bubbling and the topping is golden brown. The doughy base will also remain slightly chewy and undercooked, don't fret about this, it is part of the cake's charm. Just make sure that the underneath is lightly golden and crisp (you'll just have to cut into it and try it to do this, chef's perks!).

Sprinkle with caster sugar or icing sugar, and enjoy...probably with vanilla or almond ice cream. I like it best cold, but that's just because its how the bakery always served it...

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

My first newsletter from the Petit Four kitchen...

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send something unique this mother's dayWelcome to the very first newsletter from the Mon Petit Four kitchen!

Since our last update before Christmas there have been  some brilliant new developments - you can now order petit fours from our brand new online shop, as well as buy the beautiful gift boxes from a range of delis in and around London!

So why not take the pressure out of Mother's day this year by ordering a gift online - we'll send direct to anywhere in the UK.

Boxes are available from only £15 (size shown above) or a family size for only £22.50 with free postage and packagingfor the month of March!

Alternatively check out the stockists below to find a supplier near you.

At Mon Petit Four you can be sure that we are looking after the planet just as much as your sugary needs, using recycled packaging, seasonal flavours and ethically sourced ingredients.

Angela Malik Cook School and Deli
6 Churchfield Road, Acton, London W3 6EG

The De Beauvoir Deli
98 Southgate Road  London, Hackney N1 3JD

Gog Magog Hills Farm Shop
Heath Farm  Shelford Bottom, Cambridge CB22 3AD
from the kitchen...
Blood oranges are the flavour of the month right now, and my absolute favourite fruit to cook with.

Why not treat your mum this year with a delicious handmade gift of blookd orange and passionfruit curd? Seek out a special jar, and spruce it up with some pretty lace or ribbon for a gift truly made with love.

Blood orange & Passionfruit Curd

zest and juice 2 blood oranges
juice 2 ripe passionfruit
85g butter
225g granulated sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Place all the ingredients into a heavy based saucepan and heat gently, stirring continuously until the mixture is thick. Pass through a sieve and spoon into warmed sterilised jars.
This will keep for 3 weeks in the fridge.

Note: the acid in the fruit should prevent the eggs from scrambling if the mixture is boiled.

For more recipes check out my blog

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Monday, 5 March 2012

Brazilian-inspired pineapple & passionfruit cake with fluffy coconut meringue

So its probably about time I actually wrote down some more recipes! I'm starting off with this tropical pick-me-up, my current favourite cake to make and eat, perfect for dreary march mornings.

I was first asked to make this cake for a Brazilian friend, who asked me if I knew about Brazilian pineapple cakes, which I didn't, so what better place to start?
I spent some time on Google researching, and it seemed that what she was looking for was a vanilla sponge, with a creamy coconut custard filling and fresh pineapple then piled with whipped cream. A good start, but me being me, I had to meddle.

The first time I made this cake, I followed the recipe I found online: the filling was made with condensed milk added to normal cow's milk or coconut milk, which was then cooked out with extra cornflour and egg yolks to make a nice thick filling. This was then sandwiched between a light vanilla sponge with fresh pineapple to make almost a dessert-style layer cake.

The result was nice, but I'm not a fan of the flavour of condensed milk, so this was the first thing I wanted to change. Secondly, the whipped cream topping was a non-starter. The cream that you buy in the states whips up to a much lighter and fluffier consistency, and isn't too heavy when piled on top of pies and cakes, but its not the same with our heavy (yet delicious) British cream.

After a few experiments, I changed the filling to a traditional thick english custard made with coconut cream, and instead of the whipped cream topping I made a coconut-flecked soft meringue topping, which turned out to be the best bit!

So here goes:

Brazilian Pineapple and Coconut Cake

Sponge - this is a very light sponge recipe, as it only uses egg whites.
The original recipe, made with condensed milk,
gave a slightly sloppy filling consistency!

400g plain flour
400g golden caster sugar
227g softened butter
5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

180g egg whites
327g coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract or Malibu!

Prepare 2 x 9" sandwich tins with butter and greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

Whisk the egg whites, 200ml coconut milk with the vanilla and coconut extract.
In a stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients on low speed for 30 seconds. This minimises the need to sift the dry ingredients and ensures the are well combined.

Add the softened butter and the remaining coconut milk and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Remember to scrape the sides of the bowl down, then beat on high for 45 seconds.

Slowly add the remaining wet ingredients and beat well. until smooth. Divide the batter between the two sandwich tins and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Allow the cakes to cool slightly (they will shrink away from the sides of the tins) then cool completely on wire racks.


200ml coconut milk
90ml whole milk
2 egg yolks
55g golden caster sugar
15g plain flour
15g cornflour
1/2 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
1 tsp coconut extract or malibu
1 fresh pineapple, chopped into slices

Infuse the milks with the vanilla pod in a saucepan by bringing them to a simmer then remove from the heat. Mix the yolks with the sugar and flours and a few tablespoons of milk. Pour the hot milk over the yolk mix and combine well.
Pour the mixture into a clean saucepan and cook over a medium heat until very thick and boiling gently (stir all the time). Remove from the heat and add the coconut extract or malibu.
Allow to cool slightly before sandwiching the sponges together with the fresh pineapple.
Variation: the second time I made this I replaced the milk with fresh passionfruit juice and included some fresh rambutans along with the pineapple, total winner!

Topping - make this just before you use it:

200g egg whites (from 6-7 eggs)
320g white caster sugar
75ml water

Combine all ingredients in a metal bowl and whisk for 5-7 minutes over a pan of boiling water until stiff peaks form. Whisk off the heat for a few minutes until the mixture is cool, then quickly which in 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Spoon on top of the assembled cake and decorate as you please! Finish with some fresh grated coconut.

WARNING - please do not under any creative circumstances be tempted to add any coconut, fresh or otherwise, before the meringue is completely stiff. The fats in the coconut will deflate your meringue and you will be left with a beautifully delicately flavoured coconut dribble.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Petit Fours - now available to order online!

Check out my new website where you can take a look at this month's collection, as well as bespoke celebration and wedding cakes. You can even order online, with free delivery when you order more than one box.
Perfect for a sweet pick-me-up anytime of day.