The world of baking and food through the eyes of an American in London

Posts made in January, 2011

Hummus Bros Blogger Event

Posted by on Jan 31, 2011 in Yummy Places | 1 comment

Hummus Bros Blogger Event
You know you eat too much hummus when the co-owner of Hummus Bros recognizes you! The St. Paul’s branch is far too close to my office building and It’s a good thing hummus is healthy because I have an unhealthy obsession.

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I first visited the Wardour Street Branch in 2007 with my sister. I even have a photo of my first visit! I found it on my facebook with the caption “I’m smiling cause I like food”.
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Hummus Bros Blogger Event
I think this pretty much sums me up!
I saw on Twitter that Hummus Bros were having a bloggers event and I jumped at the chance. They were inviting bloggers to taste their current menu and get some feed back.
Hummus Bros Blogger Event
The event was on the mezzanine level of their Holborn branch
Hummus Bros Blogger Event
When I arrived I was offered a glass of champagne. I thought it was a nice touch as they don’t serve drinks in the restaurant.

Hummus Bros Blogger Event
Hot spiced apple juice – one of my new favorites

As people arrived Christian went to each table and explained the menu, offered suggestions and explained about Hummus Bros. They offer hummus with a variety of toppings and fresh pita bread for dipping.

They started Hummus Bros after college tired of endless sandwiches and pizza (the normal stuff most college kids live on!). They now have three locations in London and also operate a green business where possible.

They also cater for people with food intelerences. An interactive menu can be found online.

We could try any items on the menu that interested us. Nine times out of ten I always order the same thing when I go for lunch (guacamole topping) so I took this opportunity to try items I wouldn’t normally order. I shared a table with Shu from Hungry Female.
Hummus Bros Blogger Event
If I get a salad I usually get the Greek salad or the Tabouleh salad, they’re lovely and fresh. I got the falafel salad for something different this time. It is a massive salad! Definitely one to share with a friend. I’ve not had many falafals before but they tasted nice to me. The tzatziki on top is necessary as on it’s own it’s a bit dry. The three pieces of falafel sit on a salad of tomato and coriander salsa and cabbage.
I had a hot spiced apple juice for the first time. I loved this. It reminds me of the apple cider you get in the US during the fall. I can see this being added to my lunchtime routine!
Hummus Bros Blogger Event
I chose one of their new hummus toppings to try, Chicken Tikka Masala, I wasn’t that crazy about this topping. It was good for someone like me who doesn’t like spicy food, but Chicken Tikka Masala is supposed to be spicy. Unlike the chicken hummus the pieces of chicken in this were really small. I also thought it was a bit heavy, the topping with the hummus together.
Hummus Bros Blogger Event
I sampled the mushroom topping with caramelized onions. I enjoyed this topping. I enjoy the vegetables with the hummus a lot more than the toppings with meat. I sampled the aubergine salad from Shu’s plate. It had a very nice strong smokey flavor but the texture of the aubergine was a little too mushy for me.
Hummus Bros Blogger Event
If you’re a hummus virgin it’s best to start with a chicken hummus
Hummus Bros Blogger Event
Dessert at Hummus Bros is my favorite (surprise surprise!) A fresh mint tea is exactly what I needed after eating all of that hummus!
Hummus Bros Blogger Event
The flour less chocolate brownie is a treat. A soft dark chocolate delight. I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure I have memories of this being served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in visits past. It’s perfect on it’s own but this kind of brownie melts in your mouth when it’s warm.
Hummus Bros Blogger Event
I love baklava. I’m having dessert regret right now. I didn’t get a chance to have any and I really wish I had now.
Hummus Bros Blogger Event
The Malabi is a milk based dessert popular in The Middle East. I was so stuffed I didn’t get a chance to try it. I’m more of a chocolate gal anyway.
Hummus Bros Blogger Event
After
My favorite dishes at Hummus Bros are the ones that are the most simple. The salads and toppings that don’t have too much going on! The hummus is good enough on it’s own that pouring loads of chicken tikka on it isn’t necessary. The chicken hummus is in a simple tomato based sauce that doesn’t take away from the hummus.
Thanks to Hummus Bros and Christian for letting me come even though I’m a dessert blogger. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these guys!
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Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Posted by on Jan 29, 2011 in Holidays, Whoopie Pies | 7 comments

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

First recipe for Valentine’s Day this year! I found this Wilton heart shaped whoopie pie pan at Jane Asher and I’m afraid that any time I make whoopie pies now they’re all going to be heart shaped because I love this pan! I love that they look so cute and sleek but are still fun like whoopie pies should be.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

I decided to go with the classic red velvet cake and for the filling a vanilla mascarpone cream (mascarpone being my new favorite ingredient). They taste amazing (the cake is so soft when you bite into it) but turned out a little more brown than I would have liked. Nothing is better than a bright red cake. Next time I’ll use better food coloring. A small box of these would be so cute to give to a special someone on Valentine’s Day.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
I got this adorable heart shaped plate at Paperchase. I’m hoping they’re on sale after Valentine’s Day, I really want another one!
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
adapted from whoopie pies

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup crisco or trex

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

red gel paste (I was stupid and used liquid which made it a lame orange brown color)

1 cup buttermilk (I used 1 cup soy milk with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar)
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
1. Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease tin. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl.
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
2. In a large bowl beat together the butter, shortening and both sugars for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time until combined. Add the vanilla and red food coloring and beat.
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
3. Add half the flour and half the buttermilk and beat on low until incorporated add the remaining mixture and buttermilk and beat until fully combined.
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies 
4. Drop one tablespoon of batter on the baking sheet and space each pie about 2 inches apart (I used a piping bag for my pan this time to see if it would result in a smoother surface. It did seem to help a little bit but was a lot more messy and time consuming). Bake one tray at a time for 10 minutes or until cake springs back when touched.
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
My super 4 tier cooling rack from Lakeland is another story
5. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Vanilla Mascarpone Cream Filling
adapted from Martha Stewart
250g Mascarpone, chilled
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup double cream
1 tbs vanilla
1. Beat the double cream in a small bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir the mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla together until combined. Gently fold the double cream in to the mascarpone mixture. Refrigerate if not using straight away.
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
2. Pipe or spread approximately 1-2 tablespoons of filling on a the inside of one pie and sandwich with another pie. Store in an airtight container. I kept mine refrigerated and removed 20 minutes before eating.

You can also check it out here.

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Strawberry Joconde Entremet

Posted by on Jan 27, 2011 in Cake | 5 comments

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.
I was really excited to take part in my first challenge until I saw that it was some poncy French cake! As I read the print out I was terribly confused. I had to research for about three days until it finally made sense to me how this cake is put together.
It’s basically an almond cake wrapped around the sides and on the bottom. It’s then filled with whatever you can imagine! Mostly fruit and mousse and sometimes topped with a fruit coulis, compote or gelatine. In the end the hardest part ended up being making a dairy free mousse to go in mine.
My boss at work is French so I asked her what she thought of a Jaconde and in her opinion it’s something to be enjoyed more in the spring or summer time and should include plenty of fruit. Since it’s the dead of winter right now I thought a chocolate mousse layered with strawberries would be nice. My layers starting from the bottom are:
1. Cake
2. Chocolate Mousse
2. Sliced Strawberries
3. Cake
4. Chocolate Mousse
5. Sliced Strawberries
6. Fruit Gelatine
7. Whole Strawberries (for decoration)
This ended up taking me nearly ALL day for ONE cake! I would recommend that you make your mousse and chop any fruit the day before. Once the mousse has set you can spoon it into your cake.
The chocolate mousse I made doesn’t have any cream so it’s very light. It was difficult for it to retain it’s shape in the cake but tasted delicious. If you’re going to embark on this dessert make sure you read through the whole recipe first. This is definitely one of the hardest desserts I’ve made.
Chocolate Mouse
adapted from The Guardian
Ingredients
120g dark chocolate chopped
4 eggs
4 tsp sugar
1. In a small bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the sugar and set aside.
2. Over a double boiler melt the chocolate. Once melted quickly whisk in the egg yolks. Fold in the egg whites until combined. Refrigerate for 4 hours minimum until set. This mousse is quite thin so I didn’t pour it straight into the cake. A mousse made with whipping cream can be poured straight into the cake tin!
I made two 9 inch cake rounds to use as layers between my mousse. I used a white cake recipe from Joy of Baking. Once they were cooled enough I wrapped them in cling film and put them in the freezer. It’s easier to layer when the cake is firm.
If you only plan on using cake for your bottom layer then there should be more than enough trimmings from the Jaconde coming up to use on the bottom.
Joconde Sponge
from The Darking Kitchen
Ingredients
85g ground almonds
75g icing sugar
25g self rising flour
3 large eggs
3 egg whites
10g caster sugar
30g unsalted butter, melted.
1. In a small bowl whip the egg whites and granulated sugar until stiff peaks form.
2. Sift together the ground almonds, icing sugar, and cake flour.

3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition until smooth and light. Fold in one third of the whipped egg whites to lighten the batter. Fold in the remaining whipped egg whites. Add in the melted butter and put the batter aside for later.

Next to make is the paste that will make the pattern on the outside of the cake.
Patterned Joconde Decor Paste
Ingredients
200g unsalted butter at room temperature
200g icing sugar
7 large egg whites
220g cake flour (self rising flour in the UK)
Food coloring
1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, gradually add the egg whites and beat continuously. Fold in the sifted flour and tint to whatever color you fancy!
Now it’s time to put everything together. Start by taking a baking tray and placing a silicone mat on top. Make sure the mat is the wrong way around and the bottom is facing up. My mat is slightly bigger than my baking tray but it still worked out quite well.
Here is where you can get creative. You can do stripes, circles, swirls, writing. If you want split your paste in two parts and make 2 different shades. Once your finished place the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Luckily my baking tray was exactly the same size as my tiny English freezer. The flat I used to live in the freezer was the size of a shoe box!
Take the tray out of the freezer (make sure the paste is hard) and very gently pour the Joconde batter over top and spread evenly across the whole area. Bake at 240 C for 15 minutes.

The edges of mine were a bit burnt but it doesn’t matter because they’ll be trimmed off later. Let cool for a few minutes but no too long or it will stick and your design will be ruined.
Place a piece of parchment paper on the counter lightly dusted with icing sugar.
Flip the tray over

Peel away your silicone mat. I also cut away the crispy edges.
I cut my square of cake into three equal sized strips and tightly pack it around my cake pan. Really get the edges to come together tight so none of the filling will seep out. The Joconde is pretty flexible but be careful not to crack it.
Now you can start layering. I put my cake round on the bottom with strawberries on top. I stuffed the small gaps at the bottom with Joconde scraps.
Keep layering mouse, cake, strawberries, mousse. I then trimmed the top cake a little bit so it was a fraction higher than the mousse layer.
I had big plans to make my own strawberry gelatine topping but at this point I’d been in the kitchen for hours and couldn’t take any more. I caved and made some Jell-O. I mixed it up and poured a tiny bit on top of the mousse but it didn’t react well so I poured it into a lightly greased cake round that was the same size as the cake. Luckily after a few hours I was able to flip it on top of the mouse.
I put a few decorative strawberries on top (glued down with some leftover frosting I had) and trimmed the top layer to be level with the Jell-O.
There you have it. A finished fancy French cake! Make sure you keep it refrigerated and eat within 2-3 days or it will risk going soggy.
I had so much leftover paste that I made a second cake the following weekend! This time I drew (attempted to draw rather!) a heart pattern and filled it with homemade mango and raspberry mousse.
After I made each mousse I poured it straight into the cake tin lined with the Joconde and refrigerated over night.
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Peach Melba Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Posted by on Jan 24, 2011 in Cupcakes, Fruit | 0 comments

Peach Melba Cupcakes
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My friend sent me a Nordicware ice cream cone cupcake pan for Christmas. It’s amazing, they’re perfect for making cupcakes with a little surprise inside as there’s more space for filling than a normal cupcake.
Peach Melba Cupcakes
I used the Peach Melba recipe from the Love Bakery book. My last post was a review of my visit to the shop in Chelsea and I wondered if the cake in the book was just as good as what they sell. After making this I can say a firm yes. The cake was just as fluffy, moist and tasty as the cake in the Rhubarb and Custard cupcake. I would strongly recommend the book.
Peach Melba Cupcakes
I had a little batter left over to make a few cupcakes
I love this flavor combination. The fruit is lovely and tart which is a great contrast to the rich mascarpone frosting. Don’t skimp on the strawberries! They absolutely taste incredible with the frosting and give it a special decoration. I don’t think I’ll ever make cream cheese frosting again. I’ve never had mascarpone before but it’s a little more rich and easier to whip than cream cheese.
This would probably make a better summer cupcake. Peaches were £3.99 for 4 at Waitrose right now so I used canned peaches paired with fresh raspberries for the center.  The only thing I would change is to make more frosting about one and half to two times more than the single batch I made. It just wasn’t enough to pipe even 8 cakes.
Peach Melba Cupcakes
Peach Melba Cupcakes
adapted from Love Bakery (makes 6 cones or 12 cupcakes)
Ingredients
125g of unsalted butter at room temperature
150g caster/superfine sugar
2 tbs peach syrup (from a can of peaches)
2 eggs at room temperature
175g self rising flour, sifted
1/2 tbs baking powder
3 tbs milk
strawberries cut in half for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F and grease your pan with shortening and then sprinkle with flour. Cream together the butter, sugar and peach syrup on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating until each is incorporated.
Peach Melba Cupcakes
2. Add the flour, baking powder and milk and beat for two more minutes.
Peach Melba Cupcakes
3. Fill each cone two thirds full and bake for 20-24 minutes (for a cone or a cupcake). After a few minutes turn pan upside down and cones should fall out of the greased pan. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. I had trouble getting the cones to stand up but once I placed them in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes they stood up fine.
Peach Melba Cupcakes
Mascarpone Frosting
(consider doubling if you want to pipe swirls)
Ingredients
250g mascaropone
80g icing sugar
Peach Melba Cupcakes
1. In a large bowl whip together the mascarpone and the icing sugar until stiff peaks form. Chill until your ready to use.  
Peach Melba Cupcakes
Peach Melba Filling
1 can drained peaches
large handful raspberries
Peach Melba Cupcakes
1. Throw the peaches and raspberries into a food processor and pulse a few times. It should still be chunky not pureed.
Peach Melba Cupcakes
To assemble cut a cone shape in the middle of each cake fill with 2 teaspoons for filling. Cut off the long portion of the cone and place the top back over the filling. Frost and serve with a strawberry.
Peach Melba Cupcakes
I put my cupcakes in the refrigerator as I’m not sure if mascarpone needs to be kept chilled. Remove from fridge 20 minutes before serving.
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Love Bakery Review

Posted by on Jan 22, 2011 in Yummy Places | 3 comments

Love Bakery UK
I finally made it to Love Bakery on Kings Road. It’s been open for quite awhile but living in East London I never found myself over in Chelsea on a Saturday afternoon (Love Bakery is closed on Sunday).
Love Bakery UK
I already have the Love Bakery cookbook so I knew going in that the cupcakes would be good.
The shop itself is small (more than three people in the shop and it feels a little uncomfortable) so plan to take your cakes home. There are three stools against a small counter. We were lucky and they were free. It’s a shame there aren’t more tables. It felt so nice to sit down for a few minutes after walking up and down Kings Road.
Love Bakery also make custom made to order cakes. I got the impression that they make a lot of cakes for children’s parties. There are some cute Barbie cakes in the window you can see if you pass by. The bakery has a fun laid back nature about it which I really like.
Love Bakery UK
The chocolate cupcake was perfect. The frosting was spectacular. It had a deep rich chocolate flavor and was definitely made with a quality chocolate or cocoa powder.
Love Bakery UK
The Rhubarb and Custard Cupcake was lovely. I love the flavor combination. It’s one of the more innovative ones I’ve seen lately. A person can only eat so many Oreo and Lemon cupcakes.
Love Bakery UK
The cake was just the way I like it, fluffy and springy. It was a true American cake. I’ve only ever eaten rhubarb a handful of times and this did not disappoint. It was slightly tart and sweet at the same time (that green color looks a bit unpleasant though). This recipe is in their book as well.

Any cupcake with “goop” in the middle gets extra points in my book. It’s like an extra treat when you bite in and find it.

Love Bakery UK
Last is the Earl Grey Cupcake. I love tea so this was my favorite. It had a lovely aroma and the cake was similar in consistency to the Rhubarb and Custard but more moist due to the addition of the brewed tea.
The frosting was really sweet but I had eaten two whole cupcakes so I was feeling the sugar rush at this point.
Love Bakery UK
A small selection of hot drinks is available as well. Overall, I can see myself coming back here many times. If I was ever going to order a vanilla cupcake this would be the place. I’m usually more interested in the “extreme” flavors but the cake has a nice texture, is really tasteful and simple that it doesn’t necessarily need a lot of jazz or “love” as she calls it in the book. I’m interested in baking the vanilla cupcakes from the book to see how they compare to the ones in the shop.   
Cupcakes ranged from £1.65 – £2.50 and drinks were £1.00
319 King’s Rd
London SW3 5EP
020 7352 3191

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