Top With Cinnamon | Flexitarian & Baking Recipes from Londoner, Izy Hossack
Hi, Im Izy! A 19 year old Londoner who studies Food Science & Nutrition at the University of Leeds. Here on my blog, youll encounter my experiments of making a multitude of culinary delights mostly sweet ranging from the indulgent to the wholesome and hearty.
After having Korean fried chicken in a restaurant a while ago, *that* spicy gochujang sauce stuck in my mind. It’s like a grown up version of the sauce on sweet & sour chicken. I made it at home, using it to coat crispy tofu (coated in cornstarch and pan fried) to stuff into pillowy soft bao buns.
I actually made these a while ago but never got round to posting the recipe! Now that I’ve been going a bit bao crazy I thought I would get this one up on the blog at the same time so there are some filling options for people to look at. We used this sauce last night for coating katsu seitan and it was epic – we had it with pickled radish/red onion and carrot ribbons which was a great combo. I think the sauce would work well on katsu sweet potato for an easy option.
These are a bit ‘involved’ since you do need to do the whole tofu pressing, coating & frying situation. I also roasted some butternut squash to go in the buns but you can leave it out if you want (or use something seasonal like roasted carrots instead). However, once you’ve done the prep it’s easy to keep the components warm or reheat them, making the whole thing perfect for when you have a few friends round.
Cut the butternut squash into pieces about 5mm (1/4 inch) thick. Toss with the vegetable oil on a baking tray. Roast for 30-40 minutes, flipping halfway through roasting, until starting to turn brown around the edges.
For the sauce:
Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. Add a bit of water if needed to thin it out so it's drizzleable.
For the tofu:
Press the tofu: drain the tofu, wrap in 2 layers of kitchen towel and place on a cutting board. Top with another cutting board and place something heavy (like a few cookbooks) on top. Let sit for 30 minutes to drain.
Unwrap the tofu. Cut into 12 planks.
Place the corn flour in a wide, shallow bowl. Toss the tofu in it to coat well, shaking off excess.
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the coated tofu in a single layer and fry on both sides until crisp.
Remove to a dish lined with paper towel to drain. Repeat the frying with the remaining tofu, adding more oil to the pan if needed.
Once you've fried all of it, toss the tofu into the bowl of sauce and stir to coat. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
Keep warm in an oven at 100°C (215°F) until serving.
Warm the bao:
Place the bao into a steamer and cover with the lid. Fill a wide saucepan with a ~1 inch depth of water and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Turn the heat down to low then place the steamer into the pan.
Steam for 5-6 minutes if they were frozen, or 2-3 minutes if they're fresh.
Take the warm bao and fill with a leaf of gem lettuce, some of the warm crispy tofu and a piece of butternut squash.
Gochujang is a spicy, Korean fermented chilli paste. It can be found in many Korean or Chinese grocers and even in larger supermarkets in the 'world food' aisle.
Although sometimes I like a bao filling which takes a bit more time to prep, these asparagus bao are super fast to make. I keep frozen unfilled bao on hand which only take 5 minutes to heat up so this is a good one for weeknights if you do the same.
Since asparagus is in season at the moment I’ve been going absolutely crazy for it. It’s probably one of my favourite vegetables – so delicious and SO quick to cook. I made these for lunch a couple of weeks ago for a friend who came to visit and we sat on the sunny balcony eating them.
They were so quick to make (plus I had so many buns) that I ended up having them again for dinner too that week! I think the grilled vegetable vibe is definitely going to be big for me this year, especially when I can chuck them into a bao and have dinner all done and dusted.
Peel the tough ends of the asparagus and trim off the very base. If you have quite thick asparagus spears, cut them in half down their length. Place in a roasting dish, drizzle with the oil and toss to coat.
Mix the black bean sauce, miso/doenjang, chilli sauce, rice vinegar, tomato ketchup and mushroom ketchup in a small bowl until smooth.
Heat a grill pan on the highest heat on the stove (or you can use a barbecue). Place the asparagus spears into the pan and grill, until blackened on one side. Flip and grill the other side.
Once that side is blackened, brush the asparagus spears with some of the glaze and turn so you can coat the other side too. Grill for 1 minutes then remove from the pan.
Repeat with any remaining asparagus.
Warm the bao:
Place the bao into a steamer. Fill a wide saucepan with a ~1 inch depth of water and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Turn the heat down to low then place the steamer into the pan.
Steam for 5-6 minutes if they were frozen, or 2-3 minutes if they're fresh.
Fill the warm bao with the asparagus, some kimchi and carrot ribbons. Eat immediately.
I love the vegan kimchi made by The Cultured Collective in the UK
Black bean sauce is also known as black bean garlic sauce. You can get it from supermarkets in the 'world food' aisle or from Chinese grocers.
If you're not veggie/vegan you can use Oyster sauce instead of the black bean sauce and standard Worcestershire sauce instead of the mushroom ketchup.
Mushroom ketchup is a common veggie alternative to Worcestershire sauce, found in most large supermarkets.
If you don't have a grill pan/BBQ, a cast iron pan will also work. You can also just roast the asparagus on a baking tray in the oven at 180C (350F) for 10 minutes with the oil, then brush with the glaze and roast for 5 minutes more.
Over the past few years there has been an explosion of bao restaurants in London. These soft and fluffy steamed buns are incredibly delicious and usually not too pricey. BUT you can make them at home which can be a fun weekend ‘project’ to do (and you can freeze extras for weeknight dinners!). The idea of steaming bread can seem daunting so I’ve gone in deep here with as much detail as I can muster! I’ve made them quite a few times at home now so, although I’m definitely not an expert, I may have some tips to help you!
What is a bao bun?
Really, calling these bao buns is incorrect (bao means bun, so it’s like saying ‘bun bun’). They’re usually called gua bao but are also sometimes known as Taiwanese hamburgers. However their popularity in the West has spread with the name bao buns, so here we are! The usual filling is glazed pork belly but you can basically fill them with whatever you want.
I think a good formula for vegetarian fillings is: grilled/deep fried vegetables (or tofu/seitan) + something crunchy (lettuce, carrot ribbons, shredded cabbage) + sauce + pickles (kimchi, red onion/radish, kraut).
Where can I buy bao buns?
I have to say, as much as I love making things from scratch, sometimes I just want a super easy dinner and frozen bao buns are a godsend for that. I buy packs of frozen Bao from the big chest freezers in my local Chinese food shop. They have a variety of names I’ve come across: ‘gua bao’, ‘double slice bun’, ‘Hirata bun’ or ‘Taiwan burger bun’. If you want to make them yourself though, read on!
Can I make vegan bao buns?
Yes! This recipe below is vegan (with non-vegan adaptations you can make if you’d like). I just use all water and vegetable oil so it really is an easy recipe to make. Plus they come out just as fluffy and soft as the ones containing milk.
I have a 2-layer bamboo steamer I got from a Korean supermarket when I lived in Leeds! You can get them online or usually at larger Korean/Chinese/Japanese food shops. If you don’t have a bamboo steamer you can use a metal one, you just can’t fit as many buns into them as you can with a bamboo one (as they are stackable). If you don’t have a steamer you can hack one by placing a large metal colander into a large pot with a bit of water at the bottom of the pot, then cover with a large pot lid/plate/foil.
For bamboo steamers: place the steamer into a wide saucepan or pot that it can fit snugly in. Pour water into the pan, I usually do a ~1-inch depth and top up the water as needed while steaming so it doesn’t run dry. The most important thing is that the water level doesn’t rise above the base of the steamer as you don’t want the water to come into direct contact with whatever is in the steamer. Bring the water to a boil over a medium heat, fill the steamer with your buns (they expand quite a bit when steaming so leave some room around them) then cover with the lid. Place into the pan of water and turn the heat down so the water is simmering. Let the buns steam for 5-6 minutes – do not remove the lid during this time as the trapped steam inside is cooking the buns!
I use a pair of kitchen tongs to remove each layer of the bamboo steamer from the pan so I don’t get burnt by the steam.
Can you freeze bao buns and can you reheat frozen ones?
When I make bao I usually make a large batch so I can freeze most of them for easy dinners later on. To do this, steam all of the bao as instructed. Then line them up on a baking tray – I like to leave the little parchment square on the bottom of each bun so I can use it when I reheat them later. Freeze the buns for 1-2 hours on the tray then tip them into a resealable bag. Label and date them for future reference! You can reheat the bao straight from frozen, just pop a few into your steamer and steam for 5-8 minutes until hot in the middle.
How do you keep steamed buns warm?
Keep them in the bamboo steamer with lid closed. They should stay warm like this for ~10 minutes. When having them for dinner, I usually actually cook all the bao ahead of time and then re-heat a couple at a time by steaming for 1-2 minutes before eating. That way you always have hot ones to eat.
Why are my bao buns not white?
The addition of baking powder/bicarbonate of soda can cause a yellowing of the dough after steaming. You may notice that if you don’t knead the baking powder into the dough thoroughly, there will be little yellow spots on the buns (this is just an aesthetic issue, they’ll still taste fine). The yellowy tinge can also come from the flour – if your flour is unbleached, as most is in the UK, the buns will not be super white. You can buy bleached white flour from some Chinese supermarkets if you’re really after that snowy white look.
Can I make wholewheat bao?
Yes! Just replace 1/3 of the flour in the recipe below with wholemeal (wholewheat) bread flour. They’ll be a little bit denser/ chewier but still delicious. I wouldn’t recommend doing 50% or 100% wholemeal flour as it’ll make the buns too dense and they won’t be fluffy.
How to make Steamed Bao Buns (Gua Bao)
1 hour 30 minutes
420g (3 1/2 cups) plain white flour (all-purpose flour), plus more for kneading
2 1/4 tsp (1/4 oz or 7g) easy bake yeast (instant yeast)
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
250g (1 cup) warm water
2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for the bowl + brushing
1 tsp baking powder
Make the dough & first rise:
Place the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Stir together to combine.
Add the warm water and vegetable oil to the bowl and stir together to form a rough dough. Tip the contents of the bowl out onto a work surface and knead together, dusting lightly with extra flour as needed to prevent it sticking to the surface (just try to add as little extra flour as possible). Knead for about 10 minutes - the dough will be slightly sticky and quite soft but should be stretchy and smooth. You can also use a stand mixer with the dough hook fitted to knead it if you'd like.
Pour a little extra vegetable oil into the bowl you were using. Place the dough in and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave somewhere warm for 1 hour to rise until doubled in volume (I place it in my oven, turned off, with a baking tray full of boiling water on the rack below - it makes the perfect warm, steamy environment for the dough to rise in).
Once the dough has risen, tip it out onto your work surface and pat out into a large rectangle. Sprinkle the baking powder all over the surface of the dough, roll it up, and then knead for 5 more minutes so the baking powder is incorporated.
Shape the buns & second rise:
Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces. Shape each of these into little balls, dusting with more flour as needed to stop them sticking to the work surface.
Cut 20 squares of baking paper, each roughly 3.5 inches (9 cm) wide.
Take each ball of dough and roll it out into an oval about 3.5 by 4.5 inches (9 x 12 cm). Brush the surface of each oval with a light coating of vegetable oil. Fold each oval in half to get a half-moon shape. Place onto the individual squares of baking paper.
Set aside to rise for 20 minutes on your counter so they get a bit puffy.
Steam the buns:
Gently place a few of the risen buns into your bamboo steamer - I can fit 3 buns in each layer of mine so a total of 6 buns. Make sure when you do this you don't squish the buns, so lower them in by grasping the corners of the baking paper square. You also want to leave room for expansion as the buns will rise even more when they are steamed - try to make sure they're not touching each other/ the edges of the steamer or they'll stick.
Put the remaining risen buns on a baking tray in the fridge to stop them overproofing as the first batch steams.
Fill a wide saucepan with ~1 inch (3 cm) of water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat then lower the bamboo steamer in, covering it with its lid. Turn the heat down so the water is simmering and let the buns steam for 6 minutes.
Let cool slightly then remove from the steamer so you can steam the next batch, you may need to top up the water to prevent it running dry (you can take the dough straight from the fridge, no need to let it come to room temperature).
Eat the buns warm! If they cool off, you can reheat them once more by steaming again for ~2 minutes.
Steam all of the buns as directed above. Allow to cool to room temperature then place on a baking sheet (with the baking paper squares still attached). Freeze on the tray for 1-2 hours until solid. Tip the frozen buns into a resealable bag which is labelled and dated. Keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To reheat, place frozen buns into a steamer. Steam for 5-8 minutes until piping hot inside.
you can use melted butter or lard in place of the vegetable oil if desired
you can replace half of the water with warm milk in the dough for a slightly softer result
if you don't have easy bake/instant yeast: first mix the yeast with the warm water in a jug and set aside to bubble up for 5 minutes before pouring into the bowl of flour/salt/sugar/oil.
When I was writing the proposal for my second cookbook, one of the first recipes I’d made for it was a Thai green pea soup. This recipe is kind of a riff on that but instead has broccoli soup as its base with lots of extras thrown in. The peas and broccoli take so little time to cook, this is a definite weeknight-friendly dinner to make.
The flavour is gentle here, with coconut milk and coriander (cilantro to those in the US) plus a bit of ginger for a slight ‘curry’ flavour. I used miso for the salty savouryness but it isn’t strong. I added frozen peas in here too which are a) super easy for adding bulk to a meal and b) naturally sweet so lift up the flavour of the whole broccoli soup.
When it comes to soup, I’m ALLL about the extras on top (…as you may have noticed by this broccoli soup recipe). Here I baked some smoked tofu with soy sauce for a salty, smoky hit, almost like bacon, to sprinkle on. I added crispy onions too (inspired by this Donna Hay recipe) which are SO delicious here – they’re sweet and crispy and definitely worth the effort of making them. You should also be able to find big bags of crispy shallots/onions in Asian supermarkets which make things even easier.
What should I do with leftover broccoli soup?
When I’ve made this for our dinner, we usually have enough soup leftover for lunch or dinner the next day. If you feel like freshening up those leftovers, the soup works great as a base for a Thai green curry – fry off some Thai green curry paste in a pot, stir in the leftover soup, add some veg (carrot coins, pepper chunks, sugar snap peas etc) and simmer covered until soft. Then just serve it up with rice for a delicious dinner!
Broccoli Soup with Coconut, Coriander & Noodles
For the soup:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large white onion, roughly diced
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
500g (1 lb) broccoli
1 (400ml / 14 ounce) can coconut milk
250ml (1 cup) water
260g (2 cups) frozen peas
30g coriander (cilantro), leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
2 tbsp dark miso (or soy sauce)
For the tofu:
225g (8 ounces) firm tofu (I like smoked tofu here)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
300g dried udon noodles
a handful of storebought crispy fried onions (or see recipe below for homemade crispy onions)
1 lime, quartered, to serve
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often until softened and starting to brown.
Add the ginger to the pot and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.
Finely chop the broccoli and add to the pot along with the coconut milk and water. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat down to low and cover the pot with a lid. Let the broccoli cook for 5-6 minutes until completely soft.
Add the peas to the pan and stir through until defrosted.
Remove from the heat and add the coriander and miso. Blend the soup until smooth - either using a hand blender straight in the pot, or by pouring the contents of the pot into a free standing blender. If needed, thin with a little more water and season with salt to taste (the miso added enough salt for my taste)
For the tofu:
Drain the water from tofu packet and wrap the tofu in a couple of layers of paper towel. Set on a cutting board with another board on top. Place something heavy on top (I usually use a stack of cookbooks!). Leave to drain for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan / 350°F). Cut the tofu into ~1 cm chunks. Toss onto a baking tray with the vegetable oil and soy sauce to coat.
Bake for 15 minutes until crisp around the edges.
Cook the noodles according to the package, then drain, rinse with cold water and set aside in a bowl of cold water until needed.
Ladle the warm soup into 4 bowls. Divide the noodles between the bowls and top with the crispy onions and tofu. Serve with a lime wedge for squeezing over.
If your blender isn't that powerful I'd advise that you peel your broccoli stalk and cut off the very base of it. Otherwise you may end up with stringy bits of broccoli in your soup!
If you have Thai green curry paste sitting in your fridge/freezer, feel free to throw a tablespoon or two of that into the pot as you cook the ginger at the start. It'll add a good punch of flavour!
You can also serve this without the noodles/tofu if you want a lighter meal. It's nice to sprinkle a few defrosted peas on top of the soup for added texture if you do this.
1 white onion, peeled, thinly sliced (I use a mandoline)
1 tbsp white rice flour or plain flour
4 tbsp vegetable oil
Toss the thinly sliced onion with the flour in a bowl until all coated.
Heat the vegetable oil in a small pot or frying pan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the sliced onion - you will probably have to work in batches so you don't overfill the pot.
Leave to fry, stirring occasionally - the oil will bubble up, the bubbles will recede and the onions will start to turn brown. Once they are all mostly brown, remove from the oil with kitchen tongs to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.
Repeat to fry all the onions.
Store excess, cooled, fried onions in a lidded container in the freezer.
I’ve been teasing everyone with my sourdough brownie trials on instagram lately. I got a big box of Guittard chocolate, kindly gifted by them, and I wanted to bake something super chocolatey with it! When I put the question on my stories, everyone was intrigued by the idea of sourdough brownies (as I had mentioned wanting to make them) so I decided to go ahead and do it!
You might wonder what the point of making sourdough brownies is. Regular brownies are EXCELLENT, why add sourdough into the mix? For me, it’s another delicious way to use up the sourdough discard that comes along with feeding a sourdough starter. You end up with a lot of sourdough going in the bin (as the nature of feeding it means you discard some every day). I’ve been trying to come up with easy, everyday recipes to use this discard instead of chucking it in the bin.
Previously I’ve made waffles and crumpets using the discard. They’re both really easy to make but not ‘everyday’ recipes. Brownies, on the other hand, are something I bake quite often. They’re probably one of my favourite homemade bakes, even though I weirdly have very few recipes for them on here! So, if I can chuck some starter into my regular batch of brownies, it’s a win-win. My brownies get a bit of tangy sourdough magic, and I use up my discard!
These brownies are my favourite kind. They have a very fudgy middle yet aren’t dense or dry. The top has a fine layer of crisp meringue – made by whipping the sugar with the eggs before folding in the rest of the ingredients. They’re crackly and sticky and delicious (especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some sliced strawberries). You can freeze them in an airtight container if you need to. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have!
150g (5.3 ounces) dark chocolate (65-70% cocoa solids)
50g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
60g (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
2 eggs + 1 egg white (if you're in Europe use size 'large'. If you're in the US use size 'extra large')
1/2 tsp salt
150g (2/3 cup) caster sugar or granulated sugar
110g (1/2 cup, packed) light brown sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
120g sourdough starter (100% hydration) (see notes)
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan / 350°F). Line a 7.5 x 9.75-inch (9 x 25 cm) rectangular or 9-inch (23cm) square brownie pan with baking paper.
Break the chocolate up into chunks. Place into a medium pot with the butter and vegetable oil. Set over a low heat on the stove and stir often (to prevent it burning), until the chocolate is almost fully melted. Remove from the heat and set aside so the remaining chocolate can melt from the residual heat.
This next step can be done in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with electric beaters: Place the eggs, egg white, salt and both kinds of sugar into a large bowl (or the bowl of the stand mixer) and whisk until pale and very fluffy. Add the water and vanilla then continue to whisk until the sugar has mostly dissolved - you can tell when this has happened by rubbing some of the mixture between your fingertips, if it feels very grainy, you need to keep whisking. This will take about 10-15 minutes.
Mix the cocoa powder and sourdough starter into the melted chocolate mixture until completely combined.
Add this mixture to the bowl of whipped egg mixture and fold together until just combined.
Pour into the prepared brownie tin and bake for 30-35 minutes. The top should look dry and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the brownies should come out with some batter still stuck to it, but not LOADS.
Let the brownies cool completely before slicing into 16 before serving.
My sourdough starter is 100% hydration and I feed it with 50% white flour and 50% dark rye flour. This recipe should work with a 50:50 wholewheat + white sourdough starter as well.
These worked either using discard from that day's feed OR using discard that I had collected in the fridge over a period of a week.
Caster sugar is preferred for making these as the fine sugar crystals aid in getting that meringue-like top on the brownies. However granulated sugar will work just fine, you may need to whip the mixture for slightly longer.
You can double all of the ingredients to make a larger batch - just bake in a 9 x 13-inch rectangular tray. The baking time should be 35-40 minutes.
It doesn’t properly feel like Spring until the scent of a toasting hot cross bun is wafting through the kitchen. These sourdough hot cross buns are my spin this year, previously having done bagel, loaf and Chelsea versions of the delicious HCB.
Although sourdough can be something that sounds incredibly intimidating to use (and can be very hard to master!) this dough is handled pretty much just like a standard bun dough. It’s not super wet so it isn’t a nightmare to shape. And you just give it a good knead at the start – no hours of intermittent folding involved either.
The main thing is that the sourdough nature of this recipe means that it requires a much longer rise (8-12 hours) as the yeast isn’t as powerful as commercial stuff. That’s okay though, just let it rise overnight and you can bake the buns off the next day! Perfect for a weekend baking project for Easter.
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns
50g (1/4 cup) water
2 tbsp plain flour
170g (2/3 cup + 1 tbsp) water
60g (1/4 cup) vegetable oil, plus extra for the bowl
50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
2 tbsp mixed spice (see notes)
90g sourdough starter (100% hydration)
200g (1 2/3 cup) wholewheat bread flour
250g (2 cups) white bread flour, plus extra for kneading
1 tsp salt
150g mixed dried fruit (see notes)
75g plain flour
15g vegetable oil
Egg wash (see notes for vegan version):
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup maple syrup
Make the paste:
In a small pot combine the 50g water and 2 tbsp flour. Stir together then set over a medium heat on the stove. Cook, stirring constantly, until you get a thick paste. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Make the dough:
Place the cooled paste into a large bowl. Add the water, oil, sugar, mixed spice and sourdough. Stir together briefly to combine, mashing the paste up slightly as you do this.
Add the flours and salt to the dough. Stir together until you get a shaggy dough.
Tip out onto a clean work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, dusting with extra white bread flour as needed to prevent it sticking, until smooth and elastic.
Pat out into a circle then sprinkle over the mixed dried fruit. Roll the dough up into a log, like a Swiss roll, then coil up into a ball.
Drizzle a bit of extra vegetable oil into the bowl you were using earlier. Add the dough to the bowl and turn it to coat with the vegetable oil.
Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel (or a shower cap). Leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours or until the dough has doubled in volume (I usually leave it overnight).
If you find the dough hasn't doubled in volume in that time, place somewhere warm (e.g. an oven switched onto the lowest heat for 2 minutes then turned off) for an hour or two to help things along.
Tip the risen dough out onto a clean work surface. Pat out into a circle.
Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll into balls - don't worry if some of the dried fruit comes out when you do this. You can try to poke some of it back into the ball.
Place the balls of dough onto a lined baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Leave somewhere warm for 2-3 hours until the balls are almost doubled in volume.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan / 350°F).
Brush the risen buns with the beaten egg using a pastry brush.
Mix the 'cross' ingredients in a small bowl to get a smooth paste. Place into a piping bag (or sandwich bag with the corner snipped off) and cut off the very tip. Pipe the mixture over the buns in cross shapes.
Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes until the buns are dark golden.
Heat the maple syrup in a small pot until reduced by about half. Whilst this is still hot, brush it over the warm buns and leave to cool.
Mixed spice is a standard ingredient to buy in the UK. You can DIY it by mixing: of 2 tbsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp ground allspice, 2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1 tsp ground clove, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground coriander seed
Mixed dried fruit a standard ingredient you can buy in the UK. It is made up of mostly sultanas, raisins and currants with a bit of candied orange/lemon peel mixed in.
For a vegan glaze: mix 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) with 60ml water until thin and smooth. Brush this on the buns instead of an egg glaze.
Filo tarts were a mainstay in my house at uni. Along with curry nights, filo pie was a favourite to cook together and share. I’m definitely more of a savoury tart/pie person (weirdly) and filo is a great pastry for dinner time since it’s so easy to work with.
My favourite thing to do with it is rip up shreds of the pastry, crumple them up, and lay those over a bed of veg. The crumpling of the pastry increases the surface area so you get LOADS of crispy, crunchy bits – the besssst.
This tart is a prettier version but still has the maximum crunch possible – I reserve a couple of pastry sheets to make crumples which I dot around the exposed edges. The outcome is a lovely springy tart, super quick to make (so weeknight friendly) with the crunchiest, sesame seeded edges. Yum.
a (220g / 8 oz) packet filo pastry (phyllo pastry)
250g (9 oz) ricotta cheese
2 heaped tbsp pesto (I used wild garlic pesto or basil pesto)
1 lemon, zested
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
1 medium egg
350g (12.5 oz) tenderstem broccoli
60g (2 oz) feta cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan / 350°F).
Take a 9 x 13-inch rimmed baking sheet and brush it with a bit of the olive oil.
Lay a sheet of filo onto the top half of the baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Place a second sheet of filo over the bottom half of the baking sheet, there should be some overlap in the middle. Brush with more olive oil.
Coninue with the layering until you have 2 sheets of pastry left. Rip them into random pieces about 3 inches wide and set aside.
Mix the ricotta with the pesto, lemon zest and thyme in a medium bowl. Stir in the egg until smooth. Spread this over the pastry, leaving 1 inch slight border of pastry uncovered around the edge.
Lay the broccoli over the ricotta in an even layer. Top with the crumbled feta and fold in the edges of the pastry.
Take the random shredded pieces of filo and crumple them up, place around the border of the tart.
Brush the whole tart with any remaining olive oil and sprinkle the edges with the sesame seeds.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until browned around the edges and the broccoli is starting to colour.
Remove from the oven and cut into 8 pieces. Serve hot.
We’ve had our first proper days of Spring sunshine and nothing signifies that more to me than the fact that we were able to go foraging for wild garlic last weekend. To say goodbye to the Winter season, a blood orange poppy seed cake seems perfect! A bright glaze and zingy flavour, just what we want!
I’ve gone through a definite phase when I was younger of *hating* fruity desserts whilst becoming completely obsessed with lemon cake. I baked lemon muffins, cupcakes, layer cakes, loaf cakes – all of them. I found one of my favourite lemon cakes on Saveur the ‘Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake‘ which I’ve tweaked over time to make it even more to my taste. What I really like about it is the ground almonds in the batter which really help the crumb stay extra buttery.
I used that recipe as a base for this cake, swapping all the lemon for blood orange and swirling in a good amount of poppy seeds (which always make citrus cakes more delicious, right!?). Usually the cake is brushed with a syrup post-bake but I opted for a blood orange glaze for the pale pink colour to shine. Plus I made it as a bundt which *always* look better with a drippy glaze on top!
125ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk (see notes for substitutions)
180g ( 1 1/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
50g (1/2 cup) ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
For the glaze:
120g (3/4 cup) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1-2 tbsp blood orange juice
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan/ 350°F).
Pour 2 tbsp of the melted butter into a bundt tin - I used a 12-cup bundt tin but you can use a 6-cup bundt tin if you have one. Use a pastry brush to coat the whole inside of the tin with the butter, getting into all the crevices. Add a little bit of the flour then tap & tilt the pan around to coat the bundt tin as well as possible, tapping out excess flour into a large bowl.
Pour the remaining melted butter into that large bowl along with the sugar and eggs. Beat together until smooth. Add the orange zest, poppy seeds, salt and buttermilk. Mix until smooth.
Add the flour, ground almonds and baking powder, then fold in gently until just mixed. Pour into the prepared bundt tin.
Bake for 25-35 minutes (baking time will depend on the bundt tin used), until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven, let cool in the tin for 10 minutes before tipping out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Mix the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl, adding enough juice to get a thick but pourable glaze. Pour it over the cooled cake. Decorate with flaked almonds/dried flowers if desired.
If you don't have buttermilk, you can either use some plain yoghurt thinned to the texture of buttermilk (basically the same thickness as double cream). Or you can use a mixture of 1 tsp blood orange juice with 125ml (1/2 cup) of milk.
If you don't have a bundt tin, you can use a 2lb loaf tin instead. You'll need to bake the cake for 45-55 minutes.
These rhubarb baked doughnuts are a properly Homer Simpson-esque affair. Bright pink glaze with a shimmery sheen, lots of sprinkles, perfectly shaped. Just the kind of thing we need to bring some brightness into these rainy February days!
Simple ingredients here make a really quick batter. We melt some butter then mix in all the other batter ingredients. Easy as that! The magic happens from baking it in a doughnut pan which takes these cakes from cute to cutest. They’re definitely not meant to be replacement for a proper fried doughnut, more like doughnut-shaped cupcakes. BUT the shape does really make them look great.
If you don’t have a doughnut pan, you can always bake the batter up in a mini muffin or fairy cake pan. They’ll still be delicious and pretty!
My cousin’s family came round and as soon as the kids saw these doughnuts waiting on a plate, they would NOT stop staring at them. It’s allll about that pink glaze! The glaze itself is literally just rhubarb, cooked down until super mushy and blended into a puree then mixed with icing sugar. Very rhubarb-y with that sweet-sour tang.