So many column inches have been devoted to the cronut in New York, but did you know you can get a cronut knockoff in London?
I’ve just discovered that Greggs Bakery, of all places, has launched this half croissant, half donut hybrid in its London stores and christened it the “greggsnut.” It’s available in berry and caramel-pecan.
(I should add that I have never had a cronut, but have tried the DIY hack version, using Pillsbury crescent rolls. I didn’t attempt the filling, only topped it with chocolate frosting but I won’t lie. It was sublime.)
I’ve spent a few Thanksgivings in the U.K. and at the time, there weren’t many places where you could go to celebrate (apart from calling on other Americans and planning a meal together). But things are progressing.
About.com has compiled a good list of places throughout the U.K. offering Thanksgiving menus this week (and not just the usual turkey and stuffing, but some variations on the theme like Cornish crab macaroni and cheese and pumpkin and ricotta ravioli!) Yum!
My husband’s birthday is this month and I surprised him by making his favorite cake – a coffee and walnut cake. I first tried a recipe for this time last year and this year, I went back to it. If it’s not broken, why fix it, right?
Nigella Lawson’s recipe (from her “Nigella Kitchen” cookbook) proved again to be such a winning, no-nonsense recipe that I vowed to make it my go-to cake (which is exactly what I said last year). My husband adored it. My kids licked their plates clean and begged for more. And really – it is the easiest recipe. The problem, I fear, is that “coffee and walnut cake” still conjures up some mental images of slaving in the kitchen, crushing walnuts with my bear hands, agonizing over brewed espresso, and so forth and so on, that I’m actually immobilized when I think of making it, even when I rationally know it was easy enough to do the last time around.
I will let this blog post be a little pep talk to my future self. Self, make this cake again! It tastes amazing and is really shockingly fool-proof! Oh yes, and as a general buttercream frosting phobe, I must add that the espresso-ed up buttercream frosting is ridiculously delicious and would make anyone a believer.
Here’s the recipe again!
COFFEE AND WALNUT LAYER CAKE
For the sponge
1/2 cup walnuts (pieces)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (soft (plus some for greasing))
1 1/3 cups plain flour
4 teaspoon(s) instant espresso powder
2.5 teaspoon(s) baking powder
½ teaspoon(s) baking soda
4 medium egg(s)
2 tablespoon(s) milk
For the buttercream frosting
3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
2.5 teaspoon(s) instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
approximately 10 walnut halves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the 2 8-inch round cake pans and line the base of each with parchment paper.
Put the walnut pieces and sugar into a food processor and blitz to a fine nutty powder.
Add the 2 sticks of butter, flour, 4 teaspoons espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and eggs and process to a smooth batter.
Add the milk, pouring it down the funnel with the motor still running, or just pulsing, to loosen the cake mixture: it should be a soft, dropping consistency, so add more milk if you need to. (If you are making this by hand, bash the nuts to a rubbly powder with a rolling pin and mix with the dry ingredients; then cream the butter and sugar together, and beat in some dry ingredients and eggs alternately and, finally, the milk.)
Divide the mixture between the 2 cake pans and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the sponge has risen and feels springy to the touch.
Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, before turning them out onto the rack and peeling off the parchment paper.
When the sponges are cool, you can make the buttercream.
To make the frosting:
Pulse the powdered sugar in the food processor until it is lump free, then add the butter and process to make a smooth icing.
Dissolve the instant espresso powder in 1 tablespoon boiling water and add it while still hot to the processor, pulsing to blend into the buttercream.
If you are doing this by hand, sieve the icing sugar and beat it into the butter with a wooden spoon. Then beat in the hot coffee liquid.
Place 1 sponge upside down on your cake stand or serving plate.
Spread with about half the icing; then place on it the second sponge, right side up (i.e. so the 2 flat sides of the sponges meet in the middle) and cover the top with the remaining icing in a ramshackle swirly pattern.
This cake is all about old-fashioned, rustic charm, so don’t worry unduly: however the frosting goes on is fine. similarly, don’t fret about some buttercream oozing out around the middle: that’s what makes it look so inviting.
Gently press the walnut halves into the top of the icing all around the edge of the circle about 1/2 inch apart.
Cuts into 8 generous slices.
Today marks the beginning of a yummy week – National Curry Week! Check out TripAdvisor.com’s roundup of best curry restaurants in the U.K.
Personally, the best curry I ever had was in Bradford, England over 15 years ago! It was a little spot called The Kashmir, but remember it being a revelation of the tastebuds (and it was cheap as chips)!
What’s the best curry you’ve ever had?
A few months ago, we got “The Little Paris Kitchen” cookbook by Rachel Khoo and after a long summer of not feeling terribly interested in spending time in the kitchen, I’ve finally gotten around to cooking from it – Cauliflower bake with hazelnut crunch crust.
I like the simplicity of her recipes and the French flair (Khoo is a Brit who now lives in Paris and adds some Britishness to her French dishes). It’s seasonal, fresh and easy and the results speak for themselves – my cauliflower bake was gone in a day and it was a great recipe to get the kids to eat their veggies.
If you haven’t seen Khoo’s show before, it’s currently on the Cooking Channel in the states, showing every Friday at 12:30 p.m. EST.
Cauliflower bake with hazelnut crunch crust
3 lbs heads cauliflower, trimmed and separated into florets
1/3 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped
1 slice of extra crunchy toast, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, slightly warmed
1/4 onion, skin removed
1 bay leaf
1 pinch salt and pepper
1 pinch nutmeg
7 ounces gruyere cheese, grated (can also use Comte or Parmesan)
To begin with, steam the cauliflower in a colander fitted inside a pan. Steam for around 15 minutes so the cauliflower still has some bite left in it.
For the sauce, melt the butter in a medium sized pan. Add the flour and stir hard until a smooth paste is achieved. Take off the heat and leave for a couple of minutes. Slowly add the milk, mixing all the time. Place it back on the heat and add the clove, bay leaf and leek. Simmer for 10 minutes, constantly stirring. Remove the leek, bay leaf and clove. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the cheese into the warm sauce, saving a bit to sprinkle on top. Mix the cauliflower into the sauce and give it a good stir. Pour into a baking tin.
Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and top with the crushed hazelnuts and broken up pieces of toast. Bake for 20 minutes and then place under the broiler for a few minutes to get a golden and bubbling crust.
We dug in so quickly after I took it out of the oven that I later realized that I had forgotten to take a photo of this golden brown and bubbling goodness! Trust me when I say it looked and tasted divine!
Wow! In 2012, almost 115,000 tonnes of French cheese were exported to the UK, according to this recent article in The Guardian. Of that, just under 2,995 tonnes were “pressed cooked” cheese, which includes abondance, comté, beaufort and emmental – up from 1,631 tonnes in 2000. Quelle surprise!
In honor of National Afternoon Tea Week this week, check out The Independent’s 50 best tea rooms! I’m sad to say I haven’t been to any of these (I’ve only ever been to the Ritz Hotel in London for tea!) but will add them to my list for a future visit!
Ever been to any of these? What’s your favorite British tea room?
Have you seen this?
I’ll admit I might be getting a visit shortly. I find that American toast is a sad sort of substitute for the kind of perfect British bread that had served as the every day vehicle for Marmite spread on our visit to the U.K. this spring.
Is your Marmite well kept or does it need to be freed?
Thanks to Lillie for the email!
Maybe it was hearing this story on NPR’s “Fresh Air” last week, but I’ve had “America’s Test Kitchen” on the brain and wanted to test drive one of their recipes.
This weekend, I decided to try a new current scone recipe and why not see WWATKD (What Would America’s Test Kitchen Do?)
Their cream scone with currants recipe proved to be ridiculously amazing and even better than the Epicurious recipe that has been my go-to scone recipe for the past year. Scone agnostics need to check this out.
The secret ingredient? Cream. I know. It’s not very British. But tasting is believing!
Cream Scones with Currants
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the counter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and chilled
1/2 cup currants
1 cup heavy cream
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a food processor to combine, about 6 pulses. Scatter the butter evenly over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few slightly larger butter lumps, about 12 pulses.
2. Add the currants and quickly pulse once to combine. Transfer the dough to a large bowl. Stir in the cream with a rubber spatula until the dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.
3. Turn the dough and any floury bits out onto a floured counter and knead until it forms a rough, slightly sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Press the dough into a 9-inch pan. Unmold the dough and cut into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on an ungreased baking sheet.
4. Bake until the scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.