5 Minutes with Bake Off Champion Nadiya Hussain

Cakes, Cooking, Reviews

Since winning the Great British Bake Off last year, mother of three Nadiya Hussain has ran with her mantra of ‘I can and I will’ by taking on numerous projects; from documentary making and recipe book writing to royal baking and countless television appearances, it seems Nadiya’s future in the food industry is bright. Last month, the reigning Bake Off champ kindly took 5 minutes out of her hectic schedule to chat food, the Queen and instant fame with myself and fellow food blogger Hannah Bond (A Bond Girl’s Food Diary  ) …right after she humoured us with some fan girl photos.

So, it’s been a year since Bake Off- what’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on since? It’s a tough one but I think I would have to choose baking the Queen’s 90th birthday cake- that’s a moment in history and I can’t believe I got to do it – I still have to pinch myself!

How did you manage to get that commission? I was on a shoot and my agent called and told me- I was sure she’d got it wrong- as if they’d want me and not a professional… when I realised it was true I was a bit like, can I say no?! Of course I didn’t but it was a lot of pressure at first- it’s a big deal!

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(Photo Credit: Telegraph Online)

You’ve spoken about struggling with confidence- do you think winning Bake Off helped you overcome that? Not the winning, but the process. Doing things I was unsure of or uncomfortable with on my own without my children or husband made me realise I don’t have to be a nervous or anxious person.

Were you prepared for the instant fame Bake Off gave you? No, I honestly thought I would fly under the radar and go back to normal life… being in the spotlight is a new world and it’s not something I have ever experienced- I try to just take it in my stride and enjoy it because you never know when it’s going to end.

Did Mary Berry give you any long lasting advice after Bake Off? She just told me to look after my family- she is such a family orientated person and I think we had that in common… she’s a bit like that Grandma you want to adopt!

Some less serious questions now… what is your desert island dish? Marmite! Marmite crisps.. I can eat six packets in one go.

Dream dinner party guest? David Attenborough. Every time.

Favourite cuisine? Vietnamese- it’s so fresh.

Two kitchen essentials? The perfect spatula and my stand mixer.

Mary or Paul? I’m not answering that!

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( Just fan-girling…)

Many thanks to Nadiya for chatting with us and sharing her thoughts on a very exciting year- look out for her BBC documentary series The Chronicles of Nadiya which traces her Bangladeshi roots and food heritage and pick up her book Nadiya’s Kitchen now.

Olive Oil Plated Dessert

Pastry

Last week I developed this recipe for a competition I & P Olive Oil Company are running at Leiths; the challenge was to create an Olive oil focused dessert so I just had to enter (anything sweet and I’m there). I came up with this pistachio, cardamom and olive oil tart served with yoghurt cream, powdered raspberries, baked figs and a honey and olive oil dressing… here’s to hoping they like it! Wish me luck!

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For the tart case you will need: 250g plain flour, 140g cold unsalted butter (cubed), pinch salt, 1tbsp caster sugar, 4 egg yolks mixed with 4tbsp cold water

And for the filling: 4 eggs, 180g caster sugar, 200ml olive oil, 8-10 cardamom pods, 100g ground almonds, 100g de-shelled pistachios, pinch salt, handful extra chopped pistachios 

PASTRY

Place your flour, salt, sugar and cold cubed butter in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles fine crumbs.
Tip into a bowl and add 2tbsp + 2tsp of the chilled egg/ water mixture. Vigorously mix with a cutlery knife to form large lumps of pastry. If it still looks dry, add some more liquid 1tsp at a time until you can bring it together completely (it is important to work quickly and efficiently so you do not overwork the pastry).
Once you have bought the pastry together, form a flat, round disc and wrap in clingfilm. Chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, very lightly grease a 20cm tart case with butter.
Once chilled, roll out your pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm thickness. Line your tart tin, pushing (but not stretching) the pastry into the corners. Once lined, chill again until firm.
Preheat the oven to 200c (fan). Line the tart case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the sides are set. Once set, remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until sandy and cooked through. Leave to cool.

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FILLING

Preheat the oven to 160c (fan).
Place the pistachios in a food processor and blitz until fine. Crush the cardamom pods and remove their seeds, then grind in a pestle and mortar until you have a course powder.
Whisk the eggs and sugar using electric beaters until pale and thick. Add the olive oil and whisk again until combined.
Tip in your ground almonds, blitzed pistachios, half the cardamom and the pinch salt. Whisk again to incorporate all the ingredients then taste- add more cardamom if it is too mild (I recommend doing this as too much cardamom can be overpowering).
Spoon the filling into the cooled tart case until almost full. Sprinkle on the spare chopped pistachios. Bake for 25-30 minutes until set and golden.
Leave to cool.

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For the yoghurt and vanilla cream you will need: 100ml double cream, 200g natural yoghurt, 1 vanilla pod

And for the baked figs: 6 figs, 2tbsp olive oil, 2tbsp honey, pinch cinnamon

The drizzle: 4tbsp honey, 4tbsp olive oil

Extras: 50g pistachios, 3tbsp freeze dried raspberries, edible flowers

ACCOMPANIMENTS

For the baked figs, preheat the oven to 180c. Quarter the figs and place on a baking tray. Drizzle over the olive oil and honey and sprinkle on the cinnamon. Bake for 10 minutes.

For the yoghurt and vanilla cream, very lightly whip the double cream with the seeds of the vanilla pod (until only slightly thickened). Add the yoghurt and stir until smooth. It should have a fairly loose consistency and should not be thick.
For the honey and olive oil drizzle, simply combine the honey and oil in a small bowl, then set aside.

For the last accompaniments, just roughly chop the pistachios (these add a pop of colour) and grind the freeze dried raspberries in a pestle and mortar until fine (these add a lovely sweetness).

TO SERVE

Cut the tart into your desired shape and spread some of the cream onto the plate. Place the tart and figs on top, sprinkle on some raspberry dust and chopped pistachios then drizzle with the olive/honey oil. Garnish with edible flowers, such as violas.

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I hope you like this recipe as much as my family do- I’ve shared 2 presentation ideas too (I couldn’t decide which one I preferred!).

Enjoy!

Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Cookies

Biscuits, Chocolate

Cookies are among my favourite things to eat, and they’re SO easy to make. My dark chocolate variety spiked with Cornish sea salt are a grown up alternative to the classic milk chocolate chip cookie and they have quickly become a firm favourite in my house…

To make the cookie dough you will need (makes 12 large cookies): 225g unsalted butter, 125g caster sugar, 175g dark brown soft sugar, 2 eggs, 1tsp bicarbonate of soda, 2tsp cornish sea salt, 300g plain flour, 400g dark chocolate

For the chocolate finish you will need: 200g dark chocolate, sprinkling of cornish sea salt

Chop the chocolate into smallish pieces.

Cream together your butter and sugars with an electric whisk (or stand mixer) until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat between each addition. To prevent curdling, add a little of the flour after each egg too.

Add the remaining flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda and whisk again until a thick dough has formed and all the ingredients are incorporated.

Add the chopped chocolate and mix well with a wooden spoon to evenly disperse.

Roll the dough into a sausage shape about 10cm in diameter and wrap in clingfilm. Chill for an hour.

Preheat your oven to 180c and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper (you will need to batch cook these cookies as they spread).

Take your firmed cookie dough from the fridge and chop into discs (around 2cm thick). Place three on the baking sheets at a time and bake for 12-15 minutes until they have a cracked appearance but are still soft in the middle (this means your cookies will be chewy!).

Repeat with the remaining cookie dough and once baked leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the finish, melt 200g dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Set aside and leave to cool slightly.

Once slightly cooled dip your cookies in the chocolate (over about 1/3 of the surface) and sprinkle with sea salt.

Leave to set (if you can!) and enjoy!