Monday, 18 August 2014

salted caramel custard ice cream - a random recipe

...this weekend was the local village show and even though I have great fun taking part, it still gets me every time quite how aggressively competitive the natives are.  One imagines a sea of grey-haired dears hand-beating scones and gently offering them up for the judging but it's more like an apron-wearing army of baking bad-ass ninja warriors intent on proving that they're better at baking than me... and some of these women are my friends!  It was a mixed bag this year for me... I won the 'small bread loaf' category but came third in the 'Party Cake' category when my chocolate cherry cake, which was initially placed first, was marked down because one of the judges thought it was burnt... which upon cutting and sharing out, turned out not to be the case... my scones and victoria sponge didn't even get a look-in this year.  I really should know better and not put myself through this misery but something tells me I won't heed my own advice and the scone wars will continue anew next year...

salted caramel custard ice cream - a random recipe
as many of you will know, this month I'm sharing random recipes with my blog-sister Kavey from Kavey Eats who hosts her bloggers challenge Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream, so it's all about random ice cream recipes although you are free to submit any ice or frozen based recipe such as frozen yoghurt or home-made ice lollies... it is funny though how we've had such an incredible run of hot weather this summer and then the moment we hit August we've kind of slipped into an autumnal dip so ice cream has not really been on anyones radar.  Saying that, i'm more than happy to scoff the stuff all year round, so do join in if you can, we'd love to have you on board...

... I found my recipe by randomly opening the brilliant Desert Island Dishes which is a book introduced by the inimitable Jay Rayner and contains recipes from the world's top chefs celebrating 130 years of the incredible Maldon sea salt... and there on page 166 is a recipe for salted caramel ice cream... I really cheated here as I used the new Rodda's clotted cream custard instead of making my own but I did make my own caramel sauce with some gorgeous Rodda's clotted cream so I feel slightly vindicated, anyway, it was the random recipe which inspired me...

you don't need an ice-cream maker for this, you can simply freeze the vanilla custard but I used my basic ice cream maker and it does of course speed things up... as long as you remember to put it into the freezer 24 hours before you need it.

for the custard
200ml egg yolks - roughly six eggs
200g caster sugar
500ml double cream
500ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

... or you can cheat and use two pots of ready-made, good quality custard

for the salted clotted cream caramel sauce
200g sugar
80g salted butter
100g clotted cream
60ml double cream
2 tsp sea salt flakes

start with the caramel sauce by gently heating the sugar in a large pan (choose a pan larger than you would imagine you need) and stir it constantly until it melts completely and begins to turn a caramel colour

next add the butter and the clotted cream and stir - be careful at this point as the butter will make the sugar bubble up the pan... stir until the butter and cream have melted then slowly pour in the double cream and stir all the time

allow the caramel to come to a boil for one minute or so and then remove from the heat and stir in the salt - set aside to cool

to make the custard, beat the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl, until there are no lumps - then set aside

boil the cream, milk and vanilla, then pour half the hot mixture over the the sugary egg yolks and whisk quickly to incorporate, then pour the whole lot into the remaining hot milk and cream and gently heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens... if you do this gently and stir constantly it shouldn't split - once nice and thick, take it off the heat and pour it into your ice cream maker (if using) or into a tuppaware container and into the freezer...

once the ice cream begins to harden, pour in the runny (but cooled) caramel sauce and stir it in, then place it back in the freezer to fully set

the left-over caramel sauce will keep for two weeks in a sterilised jar in the fridge.

don't forget you have until the 28th of the month to enter random recipes bloggers scream for ice cream

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

slow roast duck with fennel and plum slaw

... I was working at an event this week when my client and now dear friend H took me to one side to accuse me of sugar-abuse.  She explained that she was trying to detoxify and had done pretty well, eliminating wine and caffeine, cutting back on fatty food and carbs but every day, as she scrolls through my facebook feed she's been finding herself drooling at my pictures of cakes and scones... the thing is, she explains, is that she had never considered herself a sugar person, in fact cakes had always pretty much passed her by but she realised that being such a huge wine lover and wine being very high in sugar, she had now cut a massive intake of the glorious golden sweet stuff out of her life and my baking was setting her teeth on edge...  I love this... it really makes me giggle and I had ti agree that I have been doing a lot of sweet baking of late... so this duck is for you H...

slow roast duck with fennel and plum slaw
i've always wanted to make duck ragu.  Other than the fact that it sounds gorgeous I really have no idea why... it's not as though i've ever eaten it, it's just one of those things that to me, sounds gorgeous.  of course to make duck ragu I need some succulent shredded duck so this recipe for slow roast duck is perfect to get the meat I need.  I'm really not much of a duck cook, in fact I can't quite recall the last time I cooked with duck so when the remarkable duck people at Gressingham asked me if i'd like to try some of their gorgeous duck and develop some recipes for them I was of course delighted but also a little nervous, so this slow roast duck is also a great way to ease ones self into duck cooking and the most simplest of levels and now that i've cracked this I can turn my skills to something a little more adventurous... the plum and fennel slaw is, in my opinion, the perfect bed-fellow for this meal as the tartness of the raw plums cuts through the rich, sweetness of the duck and the fennel adds a glorious aniseed top note that I adore...

1 large whole Gressingham duck
2 large tablespoons of smoked maldon sea salt flakes
4 or 5 twigs of thyme or lemon thyme if you can get it
1 large carrot - roughly chopped

for the slaw
1 large fennel bulb
2 large victoria plums
1 teaspoon cidre vinegar
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
freshly ground pepper
the juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon almond slithers

pre-heat the oven to 180C

place the carrots and the duck gibblets into the bottom of a large oven-proof roasting tin and lay the duck, breast-side up, on top

rub half the salt onto the breast skin and stuff the inside with the thyme, then turn the duck over and rub the underside with salt

place in the oven, breast-side down for one hour, then carefully turn the duck over and roast for a second hour until gorgeously dark golden brown - set aside uncovered for 10 minutes whilst you make the slaw

thinly slice the the fennel bulb and the plums and place them in the bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix together before serving

shred the duck using two forks to serve

oh and this is perfect for those of us who are a little bored with our Sunday lunches and fancy trying something a teeny bit left of centre.

I have some more duck recipes to come and i'll be featured on the Gressingham website and in their newsletter soon but if you've ever wondered about the best way to cook duck breast they have a fantastic easy to follow video on their site.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 11 August 2014

popcorn marshmallow clouds

... I love long lazy Sunday's... long lazy mornings in the kitchen cooking a long, slow Sunday roast followed by a meandering walk on the beach that may end up at the pub for a pint or two, before slipping back to the house for some left-overs and a snooze... but some Sunday's are even lazier than others... this past Sunday for instance the UK was experiencing the tail-end of hurricane Bertha so there were whole hours where rain was pelting against the windows and strong winds we throwing plants around the garden and this meant that even leaving the house was out of the question... we were quite literally forced to do nothing but sit in front of the TV and eat...

... these treats are for the very laziest of us as it involves very little stove-top cooking and no baking at all but if you cut out the pop-corn making you're basically talking about the laziest of all treats... just don't eat it all in one go unless you're planning not to eat again for a week...

popcorn marshmallow clouds
when I saw these gorgeous chocolate marshmallow crispies on Choclette's blog I knew I had to make them.  Even though they're so simple to make they took me right back to my childhood and I physically wanted to reach into the screen and grab one.  Of course I couldn't just go ahead and make the same thing and i'd been thinking about popcorn and marshmallow for a long time, so this was the ideal chance for me to combine the two... I wanted to make my own marshmallow but I simply don't have a lot of time on my hands now and being in London I simply don't have all my own equipment, plus most of the recipes I'd found used gelatine and I really wanted to try and get a vegetarian marshmallow.  In the end I went for some classic Durkee Marshmallow Fluff which is unbelievably sinfull but the whole dish is basically a cardiac arrest waiting to happen so what the hell eh?

i've called these marshmallow clouds because basically they were too fiddly to cut into squares but you get the idea...

1 tub of marshmallow fluff
150g butter
100g white chocolate
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
200g pop corn kernels (or if you're really lazy then one packet of microwave popcorn would work just as well

line a shallow baking tin with foil and then liberally grease with butter

heat the oil in a large pan, add the pop corn kernels, place a lid on and leave until all the kernels have popped - set aside

melt the butter, white chocolate and marshmallow fluff gently over a low heat until fully melted - stir continuously throughout to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan

place the popped corn into a bowl, drizzle the marshmallow gloop all over and stir around until all the marshmallow if thoroughly coated

pour the whole lot into your prepped baking tray and press down really hard till the top is flat, place in the fridge for at least 4 hours and then cut into slices and consume...

i'm entering this recipe into two bloggers challenges... firstly it's going over to Caroline from Caroline Makes and Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker who host the brilliant AlphaBakes challenge, who's random letter this month is P (you see girls I can do it properly on occasion..) and it's also going over to Choclette from the Chocolate Log Blog who founded the We Should Cocoa challenge and which is hosted this month by Rebecca from BakeNQuilt who chose the theme of marshmallow...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 9 August 2014


... yes folks, it's that time of year again - next weekend it's the annual Aby Village Show when the good folk of Aby, Belleau and the surrounding villages get together to try their hand at our little version of the Great British Bake-Off.  It's the time when years of close friendship flies straight out the window - if you don't believe me just read this recent litany of abuse from my 'friends' on facebook and old, deep-rooted rivalries creep out of the woodwork... it's the time when the little old ladies from the WI descend on their broomsticks with their measuring rods and tweezers and judge us all into oblivion.  There are many categories in this years show, from the classic Victoria Sponge to the more avant-garde Celebration Cake and as you know i've had my hits and my misses in the past but there's one category that stands out amongst all others as the challenge to really separate the housewife from the food blogger and that, my good friends, is the humble scone...

L to R - Paul Hollywood, Delia Smith, Mary Berry

... now, as you know there are a billion scone recipes out there in the world and everyone has their own little secrets to achieving the best results... some use buttermilk, some insist on plain flour with added baking powder whilst some rely on self-raising... some add a grate of lemon rind and others add egg but no sugar although others insist on sugar but no egg... so this year i've decided to try out three scone recipes that i've heard whisper are fail-safe and achieve outstanding results.  Im baking from the London flat as I have to stay down in the big city this weekend, so it's a very basic oven and also I have no scone cutter and am using the rim of a glass so in fairness I am baking all three recipes using the same equipment just to see how it all turns out... and yes Janice, i'll try not to twist...

scone one
my first recipe is from the current king of baking, Mr Paul Hollywood... to me it seems to be quite a complicated recipe including a process called scone dough 'chaffing' which if you ask me seems like quite a bit of old guff... you can read all about it here if you must but the basic recipe is as follows...

500g strong white flour plus extra for rolling
80g softened butter
80g caster sugar
2 free-range eggs (size not specified but I used large)
5 tsp baking powder
250ml milk
1 free-range egg - beaten with a little salt for glazing

pre-heat the oven to 200C (fan) and line a baking tray with parchment paper

place 450g of the flour into the bowl and rub in the butter until you have a breadcrumb-like mixture

add the sugar, eggs and baking powder and using a wooden spoon mix together, being careful the incorporate all the mixture... add half the mil and combine with the spoon, the add the remaining milk a little at a time and bring it all together to form a very soft and quite wet dough... you may not need all the milk.

sprinkle the remaining flour onto your work surface and tip the dough out onto the flour and work it quickly and lightly into the flour (this is the chaffing bit..) flatten out the dough a little (I think it should be quite thick)

using a pastry cutter, cut out as many scones, in which ever size you desire and re-shape the dough until you've used it all up... then brush just the top with beaten egg

bake for 15 mins until golden and risen

scone two
this second recipe is the classic Delia Smith recipe which is my 'go-to' scone recipe except I hae slightly adjusted it by using half milk, half buttermilk... I have also added some grated lemon rind to it too, which i think makes them lighter than the average scone... also, I have found that if you pop the raw, cut scones into the fridge and then turn on the oven,  only once the oven is up to heat do you take the scones direct from the fridge to the oven, it does something to the butter and helps them rise higher...

450g self-raising flour (freshly opened)
50g soft butter
3 tablespoons golden caster sugar
the grated rind of one lemon
pinch of salt
110ml milk
110ml buttercream

preheat the oven to 220C and line a baking tray with parchment paper

put the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the butter and rub-in to create breadcrumbs... stir in the sugar and salt

slowly stir the milk into the flour ... I use a knife to do this as it cuts through the dough... once the dough starts to form into a solid ball bring together with your hands

pop out onto a floured board and pat out to a thickness of about 2cm, using a pastry cutter, cut out as many scones, in which ever size you desire and re-shape the dough until you've used it all up... then dust the top with a little flour

bake for 15 mins until golden and risen

scone three
this final scone is by Mary Berry, the current grand dame of British baking... I actually find her style a little stuffy now but classics are classics and if you can't master these then you don't deserve to call yourself a baker... again, her tip is much like Delia's... make these quickly and handle them with the lightest of touches...

450g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
75g butter
50g caster sugar
2 large free-range eggs
225ml milk

pre-heat the oven to 220C and line a baking tray with parchment

put the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the butter and rub-in to create breadcrumbs... stir in the sugar

beat the eggs together and add these to the milk, stir together and then mix this into the flour (leaving just a small amount aside to glaze with later)... I use a knife to do this as it cuts through the dough... once the dough starts to form into a solid ball bring together with your hands

pop out onto a floured board and pat out to a thickness of about 2cm, using a pastry cutter, cut out as many scones, in which ever size you desire and re-shape the dough until you've used it all up... then brush just the top with the remaining beaten egg / milk mix

bake for 15 mins until golden and risen

so which scone was the winner..? Well if i'm entirely honest i don't think any of them are good enough for the WI and I can hear Janice now tutting and my lop-sided baking... plus (and this is a big PLUS...) when it comes to the show I will be making considerably smaller scones... the Paul Hollywood scones are the most classic scone-like in consistency and slightly heavier than the other two... the Delia ones are lighter and I think tastier and the Mary Berry ones, in my humble opinion, are perfectly fine but nothing special or wow...

... of course these scones are perfect to take on a picnic... imagine eating them spread out on a gorgeous grassy hillside or perhaps hidden in the sand-dunes of a windswept beach.  A pot of cornish clotted cream and a jar of your favourite jam... which is why i'm entering them into this months picnic themed Tea Time Treats bloggers challenge hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage and Jane from The Hedgecombers

ea and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

olive oil veggie toad-in-the-hole

... last Sunday The Viking was craving a traditional roast and whilst we have a lovely selection restaurants and pubs around here, sometimes he feels a little awkward having to ask to make sure that not only the plate is meat-free but that the roast potatoes aren't cooked in goose-fat or that they don't use beef dripping for their yorkshire puds... it's a pain and then we always feel guilty asking so unless they specify we tend to eat Sunday lunch at home.  I don't mind - you know I love to cook - but when the sun is blindingly bright and the house is already like an oven, the last thing I really fancy is standing in-front of a roasting tin, so I was quite surprised by myself that I agreed to cook... but I'm bloody glad I did... these were some of the best and to be honest, most simple toads in the hole i've made for an age and I think the fact that I used Quorn vegetarian sausages and some glorious Spanish extra virgin olive oil made the whole thing lighter and less fatty and heavy that your average Sunday roast.  Which is exactly why I wanted to share this classic with you today...

... my tip for perfect yorkshires actually comes from my client who shared with me recently her secret to perfect yorkshires.  There's actually very little to it, she simply uses the same Delia Smith recipe that I have always uses except she always adds a second egg... it gives the pudding some extra puddingness and of course really helps with the lift!

olive oil veggie toad in the hole
I am a huge fan of olive oil and use it nearly all the time, partly out of laziness and partly out of the fact that I really love the taste.  I tend to cook and roast with regular olive oil although I do love using extra virgin on my roast potatoes as I think it adds such a wonderful nuttiness to them and of course all my salad dressings are made with extra virgin... of course the real secret to a good rise to yorkshire pudding is a very hot oven and very hot oil and if you know anything about EVOO then you know that it doesn't like to get too hot so I also add a dash of plain vegetable oil to the pan and this seems to really help.

for the yorkshire pudding batter
150g plain flour
3 large, free-range eggs
150ml semi-skimmed milk
110ml cold water
salt and pepper

at least 5 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

6 vegetarian sausages - Quorn sausages are good as they're a great consistency and hold together well during the roasting

you will need a large roasting dish.  I use a ceramic oven-proof dish but an enamel or metal tray would work just as well.

sift the flour into a large bowl, break the eggs into the flour and begin the beat them with a large balloon whisk, pour in the milk and water mix slowly, in a steady stream, beating as you pour until you have a batter the consistency of double cream - season and set aside

place the veggie sausages into the roasting tin, drizzle with a little olive oil to start and pop them into an oven on 180C for 15 mins - once they start to turn a little golden add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, turn the oven up to 200C and let the oil heat up for 5 minutes, then when the oil is smoking hot pour the batter over and around the sausages

roast for 20 mins until the batter is risen and golden

n.b. toad-in-the-hole can also be eaten on a thursday...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 4 August 2014

3 cakes to commemorate a centenary

... with all the dreadful mess that the world is in at the moment it seems easy to forget that very sadly, we've been here before... 2014 marks the 100th year since the start of the First World War.  This was the war that shaped the 20th Century and whilst there are none alive today that were in the war itself there are still those of us with parents or grandparents who were directly effected by the terrors of the conflict.  I consider myself a pacifist and a humanitarian but of course it's precisely because of our lack of humanity that war happens, which is why we must never forget our terrible past, nor the fallen heroes who gave their lives for our freedoms...

... yesterday in our beautiful village church we held a small exhibition in tribute to the men from Aby and Belleau who were sent to France to fight in the war.  It was a rather beautiful and very poignant day and I was asked to bake some cakes for the event to raise money for the local parish.  I wanted to bake cakes that had a very British and traditional feel to them without being stuffy or too old-fashioned and a trip to the local market which was full to bursting with locally grown summer fruits and berries was the inspiration behind the ingredients in these three beauties...

black cherry and chocolate cake with a whipped chocolate ganache
i'm sure all my British friends will agree that 2014 has been a very good year for local cherries... the rain and then all the sunshine has given us a bumper crop and so this cake is packed to the top with both fresh and preserved cherries... it's one of those old-fashion 'all-in-one' cakes and it works phenomenally well plus the ground almonds really bring out that special cherry taste.

for the cake
250g self raising flour
100g ground almonds
240g butter
240g sugar
4 eggs
2 tablespoons hot water
2 dessert spoons (4oz) black cherry jam
10 - 15 black cherries - halved and stoned

for the chocolate ganache icing
150g dark chocolate - I used Green & Blacks Organic
300ml double cream
extra chocolate for melting and decorating

for the cake batter I simply threw everything into a bowl and whisked it up with my hand held blender whisk thingy, then poured it into two medium loaf tins that I had greased and lined with parchment.

bake for 45 minutes on 170c but watch it after 40 mins as it will turn golden quickly - set aside to cool

to make the ganache, break the chocolate up into a large bowl.   Heat the cream in a large pan until nearly boiling and then pour it over the chocolate and gently stir until the chocolate has completely melted and mixed together - then whisk frantically until the cream begins to thicken (it will never clot as theres too much chocolate in it) at which point you should pop it in the fridge for about 30 mins until it reaches a thickened state

to decorate the cake simply go wild... I poured on the ganache and then some melted chocolate and cherry halves as well as a few shards of chocolate

strawberries and cream, banana bundt
I think strawberries and cream really conjours up everything that is classically British, it reminds me of those long summer days as a kid, picking fresh strawberries on holidays to Cornwall, picnics on the beach and of course watching Wimbledon. I've used a little banana in the cake too as I think strawberries and bananas are a fabulous and much underrated combination, plus the bananas add a thickness to the cake and adds the 'creaminess' too...

for the cake
4 large free range eggs
250g butter
250g sugar
250g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
10 large strawberries - cut into small chunks
2 very ripe bananas - mashed with a fork

for the icing
100g butter - at room temp
200g icing sugar
2 tablespoons strawberry jam

grease your bundt tin very well (i use margarine) and pre-heat the oven to 170C

in a large bowl beat the sugar and butter until very pale and fluffy then add 2 of the eggs and beat in until blended well, then add half the flour and beat in again.

scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla the other two eggs and beat until smooth, then add the remainder of the flour and beat until no flour is left showing

add the jam, the bananas and the strawberries and fold in with a metal spoon

pour the cake batter into the bundt and bake for 30 - 40mins until golden, remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 15 mins before turning out but leave the tin on the turned-over cake till cool

to make the icing simply beat the sugar into the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the jam

once the cake is cool generously smother the top in icing and fresh fruit

carrot cake
this is a classic carrot cake recipe into which i've thrown what I had laying about such as the desiccated coconut and toasted almond slithers which adds a lovely texture and takes the cake just a foot or more into heaven than your regular common or garden carrot cake...

for the cake
200g self raising flour (or plain flour plus 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
150g dark muscovado sugar
200ml vegetable oil
3 medium eggs
225g finely grated carrot
50g desiccated coconut
50g toasted flaked almonds
50g sultanas

for the icing
175g cream cheese
125g icing sugar
the finely grated rind of one orange
the juice of one orange

pre-heat the oven to 150C and lightly spray your cake tin

sift the flour, spices and if using baking powder and bicarb together into a large bowl

stir in the sugar and mix together well

lightly whisk the eggs and the oil and then pour this into the flour/sugar mix and stir well together

add the carrots, coconut and oats and stir in well

pour into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour or until light and spongy and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean

remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely

to make the icing, combine all the ingredients into a smooth paste, and go wild with decorating

indulge and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

crushed almond honey girelle

... I always find it's funny when you get back from a holiday and even though you've only been away for a week it seems like it was forever, yet somehow you step back into your regular life almost without taking a breath and then another week rushes by, maybe two and that's it, the holiday has gone, ceased to be, entirely... everyone you meet kindly asks you how your holiday was and you say all the right phrases but you rarely take the time to fully appreciate quite how spectacularly different to your everyday life that last week was... and of course now with the advent of the digital age many of your friends and family will have been living the holiday with you via the pictures you've been posting to facebook and twitter so in a way you don't even need to tell them how beautiful the landscape was as they've already seen it.  I guess theres nothing wrong with this, it just seems to be the new way that we all live these days but what I really appreciate about having a blog is being able to take the time to document some of the special moments in my life through my love for food.  It seems to slow everything down just a little to make me stop and think about those little moments where perhaps I stroked a buffalo's nose...

... I made these girelle last Saturday, the morning after I got back from Italy and I spend a very lazy and long morning making them... they were beyond a doubt the most delicious bread-cake items I have made in a very long time and I think it was because I had the time and the memory of the holiday in my mind and the heat of the Italian sun still warming my back...

crushed almond honey girelle
the girelle we ate at the buffalo mozzarella ranch last week in Italy were beyond incredible... made with buffalo butter and buffalo milk they were rich and creamy yet light and fluffy.  The chef shared his recipe with me but it was pretty basic as he told me to make a rich brioche dough and then gave me instructions as to how to roll it into the famous girelle shape, so I was kind of left on my own here and I don't mind admitting that my first dough attempt was pretty disastrous.  This is a classic brioche recipe but the almonds in honey is my own addition.  I bought the almonds in honey in Italy but to be honest they are quite literally almonds in honey which you could make on the day you make the girelle.

if you want to be truly authentic you can find buffalo milk and butter from Laverstoke Park

you can do this by hand but a mixer with a dough hook is best... I used my kenwood hand-held mixer with it's dough-hook attachment

for the brioche dough
500g strong plain flour
70g caster sugar
2 teaspoons fast action yeast
2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
120ml milk - I used skimmed but any milk will work here
230g butter cut into small pieces

for the almonds in honey
1 small jar of runny honey
150g almonds

prep a large cake tin by greasing and lining with butter and parchment

start by bashing or crushing your almonds - you want them in nice crunchy pieces so do this however you like - I covered them in cling-film and bashed them with a rolling pin but if you have one of those natty nut blenders then use that - set aside

using your largest ceramic bowl and your electric mixer with the dough hook attached, mix the flour, sugar, yeast and salt until well combined, then add the eggs and the milk and continue to mix on a low speed until the mixture starts to come together, then increase the speed a little and knead for 4 minutes.  I found the dough to be quite wet and very sticky but I turned the bowl as I mixed and it worked well.  You may need to stop mixing for a moment to scrape the bowl and scrape down the dough hook so keep a silicone spatula or dough scraper handy.

with the mixer on a medium speed, add half the butter a few pieces at a time then remove the dough hook and knead the dough by hand in the bowl bringing the butter into the dough and folding it in on itself a few times.

then go back in with the dough hook, add the remaining butter and mix the dough on medium for another 4 minutes... then scrape down the bowl once more, increase the speed of the mixer and knead again for another 4 minutes... you're looking for a glossy, smooth finish to the dough and you should start to hear the dough slap against the side of the bowl a little.

generously flour your work surface and then scrape the dough onto the floured surface, it may still feel very sticky and wet but this is ok, just remember to have a light touch when handling the dough...

dust your hands and knead the dough a few times forming it into a bal by folding the sides up into the centre and turning it over to repeat.  Once you have a neat ball, place this back into your bowl, cover with cling film and let it rise gently in a warming place for at least an hour or until it has doubled in size... after this time, knock the dough back, scrape it out of the bowl, knead gently again for a moment and place back into the bowl, covered in film, to rise for a second time - again about an hour.

pre-heat your oven to 180C

now you're ready to form your girelle

again, generously flour your work surface and tip the dough out onto this.  dust a rolling pin and roll the dough out into a large thin sheet - go as thin as you dare without it becoming translucent

sprinkle your crushed nuts over the bottom half of the dough nearest you and then drizzle over your honey, then fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half and pat down with your hands

to form the girelle, cut long strips in the dough roughly half an inch wide and then gently roll them up into a snail shape or spiral...  the dough is very loose and floppy so you have to work fast... then place each girelle into the prepped cake tin, forming a flower shape with one central girelle surrounded by 6 others - I had enough dough to fill a large cake tin and some left over to form into a mini loaf - cover loosely in film and set aside for 25 mins

bake on 180C for 25 mins, then remove from the tin, place on the oven shelf and bake for a further 10 minutes - set aside on a wire rack to cook and as it's cooling brush the top and sides with a little honey

eat and of course, enjoy!



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