Category: Tips & Hints

How to: Swiss meringue

I didn’t get nervous about the Swiss meringue until I saw the polyester sleeve of my mother’s dressing gown dangling perilously close to the flame flying out of the blowtorch.

Let me start at the beginning. When we decided to make cakes for my mother’s birthday, I went with my usual method of imagining something and deciding to leap in without being fully sure of my method. It sounds like a reckless process when I write it down like that, but “Eh, I’ll learn by trying” has served me pretty well so far.

What I didn’t realise when I pictured a cake topped with fluffy meringue, piped tips torched golden, is that Swiss meringue is notoriously finicky. Thanks to reactions between proteins that I don’t completely understand and definitely can’t pronounce, Swiss meringue can be both unstable and less fluffy than you’d hope. It can weep. It can collapse. If I’d known this, I might have been nervous earlier than when I had visions of my hand flying off to the left and setting the kitchen on fire.

Thankfully, using this method, the meringue – and I – did not weep or collapse. Instead, it came out glossier than a show horse, and once I’d moved that pesky sleeve out of the way, turned the most glorious golden colour after being kissed by a blowtorch.

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The definitive guide to making perfect poached eggs

That’s right, perfect poached eggs. It’s time, I think, to pull together *dramatic movie dun-dun-DUUHNN* a definitive guide to poaching eggs, beyond the pods.

Since I started writing this blog, through its evolution from pure baking to a more rounded focus, one thing has been a constant. The typefaces have changed, my home has changed, and the URL has changed, but this one thing has, for almost three years, remained the same.

I have consistently been haunted by poach pods.

A little how-to on silicone poach pods has been my most popular post for a long time, and by a huge margin. They’re there 11 months of the year, hanging out at the top of blog stats. Tripping me up when I’m looking at actual recipes. Because, let’s face it, we can do better.

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A Guide to London’s (many, many) coffee shops

I

made the mistake a couple of months back of impulse buying a book while on a Sunday mooch around the city. I do this quite a lot, but it’s rarely a mistake (I said rarely. Looking at you, Cloud Atlas). But, having wandered into Angel after a visit to the Ray Stitch haberdashery, the lures of Waterstones and coffee were too strong and I ended up walking out with the London Coffee Guide*.

Coffee

You  know what’s in the London Coffee Guide? Recommendations, broken down by area.

You know what’s abundant on the internet for free? Recommendations, broken down by area, with loads of photos and personal notes.

As much as it kills me to admit that a book might have been made a touch redundant by the wealth of information online, it’s true in this case. So, here’s a few of my favourite ways to find out about London’s best coffee shops. Bring on the flat whites, chilled out music, and cosy nooks. Read More

Tips & Hints – Chocolate!

N

ovelty chocolate klaxon! You know those foods that are so odd, for the first 30 seconds of eating them your mouth doesn’t quite know what to do? When your tastebuds are totally confused as each bit of your tongue is hit with a new flavour? This fig & pink pepper dark chocolate is one of those, but unlike the time my oldest brother tricked me into eating wasabi Lindt, when your tongue finally settles down you’ll be reaching for another piece.

Betty & Walter have teamed up with Creighton’s, the geniuses behind bacon chocolate, to create a limited edition range of quirky chocolate bars. Check out the four new flavours here.*

Bonus link – here’s a little love letter to lunchboxes. Who doesn’t love a compartmentalised airtight box?

Tip of the Week – chopping chocolate

Keeping on theme here, there’s one super easy tip that’ll stop chunks of chocolate flying everywhere when you chop it  – it’s not just me, right?

Instead of using a straight knife, use a bread knife, particularly when cutting through large blocks. The serrated edge reduces resistance, making the cut less jerky and difficult. Keep the tip of the knife on your chopping board using your spare hand as you cut down. No more three-second-rule-floor chocolate. (Sorry. Ew.)

See also: how to rescue “seized” chocolate.

*For disclosure’s sake, I was sent this bar of chocolate, with no obligation to write about it. I also really enjoyed watching people eat it – they pulled some amazing faces.

Tips & Hints – Iced coffees and margaritas

TipoftheweekAs a natural ginger, I often find summer kind of tough – I’ve got skin that burns quicker than a slice of toast if I’m not careful, and would rather be caught in autumn drizzle than stuck in the stifling heat of midday sun bouncing off buildings. This used to mean a) browsing in supermarket frozen aisles for a long time, and b) clutching a Starbucks frappucino more frequently than anyone’s bank balance can really take.

Homemade iced coffees just weren’t the same, with the drink getting weaker with every drop of melted cube. Enter coffee ice cubes. Made with coffee stronger than what you’d actually drink, they stop your drink from losing its power. They do tend to be a little sticky – you can encourage them out of the tray by running the back of it under the tap before popping them out. Happy bank balance, happy inner thermostat.

250514_Strawberry_MargaritasPick of the Week

Now Wimbledon is over, it’s time to break away from plain old strawberries and cream. You could go with a cake, or cookies, sure, but Kathryn at London Bakes has gone a step further to make these phenomenal balsamic-roasted strawberry margaritas. Balsamic strawberries, tequila, and lime – yeah, I’m gonna need a few of these.

Image used with permission.