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.

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Fig, Goats Cheese and Caramelised Red Onion Pizza

Cooking

Everyone loves pizza, and this one is a bit different and a little more refined than your regular tomato and pepperoni. Give it a try- it’s really moreish and the homemade dough is thin, crisp and delicious!

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For the dough (makes 2 large pizza bases), you will need: 10g fast action dried yeast, 1tsp caster sugar, 110ml warm water, 200g strong white flour, 1tbsp olive oil, 1tsp salt

Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a  bowl and quickly mix together. Add the olive oil and water in one go and mix together with a cutlery knife until it comes together. Form into a ball of soft but not sticky dough and knead for 10 minutes.

Oil the bowl and return the dough to it. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

For the topping, you will need: 6 figs, 1 small goats cheese log, thyme leaves, honey, 2 red onions, 1tsp brown sugar, 2tbsp basil pesto, sea salt, black pepper

While the dough is rising, prepare the toppings. For the onions, slice finely and sweat with oil on a low heat in a saucepan until soft and translucent. Once soft, up the heat, add the brown sugar and allow to caramelise, stirring occasionally to prevent catching. Set aside to cool.

Slice the figs thinly, crumble or slice the goats cheese and pick the thyme leaves. If you’d like to make your pesto check out my wild garlic variety here.

Assembling your pizzas: you will need some semolina and extra flour

Preheat the oven to 220c or the highest setting. Place 2  flat trays in the oven sprinkled in semolina.

Take your risen dough (it should doubled in size), knock back (by quickly knocking excess air out) and split in two. Roll out on a floured surface to about 5mm thick (don’t worry too much about the shapes, just make them as circular as you can- or make rectangular pizzas like mine!). Make sure the bases are moveable and not stuck to the surface at this stage.

Spread the pesto thinly on each pizza then add the caramelised onion, figs and goats cheese. Sprinkle over the thyme and drizzle on some honey. Finish with a sprinkling of sea salt and a crack of pepper.

Now comes the tricky bit; take a third flat baking tray and sprinkle with semolina. Very quickly slide it under the first topped pizza in one movement then transfer it to the preheated baking tray in the oven in another quick jolt. Repeat with the second pizza and bake for 8-10 minutes (this movement takes time to perfect but it produces well cooked dough with crisp bases!).

When the pizza is ready dress in some good quality olive oil and top with rocket.

Enjoy!

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!

Gluten Free Chocolate & Almond Cake

Cakes

This chocolate cake is rich, moist, easy to make and even gluten free! I’ve used ground almonds where I would usually reach for flour and olive oil instead of butter to create a fudgy texture and it really works. Try it yourself (you could even omit the topping to make it dairy free too!)…

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For this cake you will need: 175ml boiling water, 2tsp instant coffee granules, 80g cocoa powder, 225g ground almonds, 1tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1tsp salt, 300g golden caster sugar, 5 eggs, 225ml olive oil

And for the topping (which is optional- you could just dust with icing sugar or cocoa powder), you will need: 100g dark bittersweet chocolate, 100ml double cream, some white chocolate and a sprinkling of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 180c and grease a 20cm cake tin with butter. Place a disc of baking paper in the bottom and grease over that too.

Combine the almonds,bicarbonate of soda and salt in a small bowl.

Mix together the cocoa, coffee and boiling water in a jug and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and sugar until pale and thick. Add the cocoa mix and continue whisking until you have a fairly liquid cake batter with no streaks.

Add the almond mixture down the side of the bowl and fold in gently.

Pour into the prepped tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.

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While the cake is baking, make the topping (a simple ganache). Place the cream and chocolate in a bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water (ensuring the water doesn’t touch the bowl).

Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and remove from the heat. Leave to cool.

When the cake is cooked leave in the tin for 5 minutes then remove and cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, spread the ganache over the top then sprinkle with white chocolate scratchings and sea salt.

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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!

 

A Very Late Christmas Cake

Cakes

I have got to apologise for my lack of posts over the festive period. My intentions were to share lots of recipes with you, but I’ve been a huge let down on that front! It’s not that I haven’t been baking (I haven’t stopped as a matter of fact), I just haven’t had the time between working almost full time and getting all sorts of Christmas errands organised to take photographs and upload…

Now that I have a quiet week before I go back to being a manic crazy person again, I thought I would share my Christmas cake (better late than never!) which, ironically, I made over a month ago!

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The cake was created for a Christmas canapé party and is made in the traditional way- i.e. lots of booze, fruit, marzipan and icing ( I used Sailor Jerry spiced rum, as it’s my favourite!).

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The cake topper was my own creation, crafted from ready to roll white icing which I left to harden and then painted with food colourings. The icicles are made from melted mints.

Again, apologies for the belated post- maybe you could bookmark this and recreate this wintery sleeping fox cake as something a bit different next Christmas!

Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes

Cupcakes

As it’s now officially December ( ie. time to go Christmas mad) I thought I would share my recipe for gingerbread latte cupcakes! These treats are my baked take on the delicious Christmas drinks Costa and Starbucks are serving at this time of year, and are a great alternative to regular gingerbread or ginger biscuits. I’ve made little gingerbread stars to top my cakes, but you could make any shape you like, or sprinkle with glitter instead!

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To make the ginger cupcake mix, you will need (makes 12-15): 300g plain flour, 2tsp ginger, 1tsp cinnamon, 1tsp mixed spice, 2tsp baking powder, pinch salt, 220g caster sugar, 150g butter, 60g golden syrup, 2 eggs, 225ml milk.

Preheat the oven to 190c (fan) and line a cupcake tin with cases.

Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, spice, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter then whisk together with the syrup, eggs and milk in a jug. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mix. Stir until well combined and you are left with a fairly loose batter.

Fill each cupcake case 2/3 full and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Once baked, cool on a wire rack.

And to make the coffee frosting, you will need: 500g icing sugar, 140g softened butter, 3tsp very strong espresso

Using an electric whisk, combine the icing sugar, butter and espresso until very smooth. If thick, loosen with a little milk until it reaches a piping consistency.

Pile the buttercream into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe onto the cupcakes. Top with espresso powder and some gingerbread shapes.

Enjoy, and keep your eyes peeled for Christmas recipes!

Rhubarb and Custard Eclairs

Pastry

After catching up with last weeks Patisserie round on Bake Off, I decided to whip up my own eclairs using some rhubarb from the garden… What I came up with combines crisp choux pastry filled with stewed rhubarb and a delicious vanilla custard- what’s not to like?

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First, make the vanilla custard filling. For this you will need: 300ml milk, 2 egg yolks, 50g caster sugar, 1 vanilla pod, 4tsp plain flour, 4tsp cornflour, 300ml double cream (lightly whipped).

Mix together your egg yolks, caster sugar and the seeds from the vanilla pod in a bowl. After these are well combined gradually add the flours a little at a time, making sure you mix well between each addition.

Now heat your milk in a saucepan until just boiling. Add to the paste-like mix in the bowl and whisk, then return to the saucepan and heat for 3-5  minutes (or until well thickened). If it becomes lumpy, just whisk more vigorously.

Transfer to a bowl and cover with clingfilm to avoid a skin forming. After half an hour the custard will become almost set- now you need to stir to loosen then fold in the cream- your filling is now ready for piping!

Now prepare the rhubarb element of the filling; you will need: 3 sticks rhubarb, 3tbsp ginger syrup, 4tbsp caster sugar.

Heat the oven to 180c (fan).

Roughly chop the rhubarb and spread onto a baking tray. Drizzle over the ginger syrup and sprinkle on the caster sugar then cook for 15-20 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft.

Using the back of a fork squash the rhubarb and transfer to a bowl. It should be sticky and soft. Leave to cool.

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For the choux pastry, I followed Paul Hollywood’s basic recipe. You can find that here .

To assemble the eclairs, you will need: your choux buns, the vanilla custard, the roasted rhubarb, a sprinkling of ginger, 5tbsp icing sugar with a little water and food dye, and some crystallised ginger for decoration (optional).

Slice your choux buns in half horizontally. Take a piping bag and fill with the vanilla custard. Pipe little dots of the filling inside the bottom half of the bun until covered.

Now take your rhubarb and place on top of the custard layer (as pictured above). Close the lids on top.

Mix the icing sugar with a little water and food dye and drizzle over the tops of the buns for added sweetness, then place a piece of crystallised ginger at one end with a mint leaf as a final flourish.

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I hope you enjoy this latest recipe!

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