Saturday, 20 June 2009


So i've been baking like crazy over the last couple of weeks as I got a call for an audition on masterchef. I had to make one dish that could be eaten cold as I would have to bring it up to london from Bournemouth and the studio didn't have reheating facilities. I knew straight away that I was going to make a dessert as i figured that's probably one of the most impressive things to serve cold and I would be able to incorporate lots of skills and it would look pretty - the most important thing.

I took out my recipe folder from Ashburton cookery school that has 'expert' details on how to make pastry. Pastry's impressive... only thing is i hadn't made it since the course - having been a complete pastry phobe before going. Luckily i have cold hands and I started with the nectarine and pistachio frangipane tart that i saw on cannelle et vanille's blog. I fluked it - my pastry was really thin, crisp and delicate but it had shrunk down the side of the tart case. The tarts tasted gorgeous but I wanted to try some others before making my decision.

Next I tried Pioneer Woman's chocolate pie which was delicious and incredibly rich although my parents got a bit funny about the raw eggs in it and refused to have more than a 'finger'. Oh well, their loss - if salmonella comes a'knocking at least it came in a tasty outfit! My pastry so thin again - I was literally euphoric.

I decided, however, that i ought to go for something really summery and fresh though so next I made zenman's apricot and almond tarts.

Now normally i can't stand apricots but baked in this tart they took on the most amazing tang and just screamed out summeriness. I made it in a larger dish though and it just wouldn't cook through! I gave it nearly an hour and took it out of the oven deciding it 'felt ready'. 20 minutes later the apricots had sunk down into the tart and broken away from the frangipane. I still had hope though! until i cut it open and it was still slushy. My boyfriend and I hungrilly chomped down the delicious uncooked parts and, in a desperate attempt to cook it further i bunged it in the microwave for a bit. BAD IDEA! The whole tart fell apart and the pastry turned chewy. I do not advise microwaving tarts. ever! After reshaping the tart a bit and ignoring the pastry, it was really yummy. seriously pigs bum!

My last attempt was La Tartine Gurmand's chocolate passion fruit tarts. Oh my goodness these were probably one of the most glorious things i've ever put in my mouth! It was like eating sunshine. The cream was so rich, fresh and fruity and the pastry was dark and intensely good although thicker than before. The mint leaves gave it a real zing too! My family loved them and i set about making the recipe 'my own'. I had already altered the pastry recipe and i began to brainstorm aditions. I made candied lime and orange zest covered in dark chocolate, chocolate infused with fresh mint (to decorate), i did tarts with passion fruit sponge under the cream and tarts with mango arranged in different styles on top, I made chocolate dipped mint leaves and a mint syrup to glaze the tart.

After making 5 different designs I gave my parents taste and appearance charts to mark each one against. It was a tough call, the sponge added an extra texture and filled the tarts higher, the lime chocolate and the orange chocolate were incredible but the fresh mint chocolate was truly divine and worked perfectly to highlight the mint in the syrup that glazed the mango on top of the final tart.

This was the chosen tart, but it also had a triangular shard of fresh mint chocolate placed in the centre.

The interviewers loved the tart, the rest of the interview I'm less confident about - I talked too much and made several jokes (a mistake as my jokes are notoriously un-funny). Oh well, fingers crossed!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Lemon Chiffon cake and a new blog

Hi guys
So this is my first blog post... Do I begin with an introduction? or just launch right in? maybe start with a joke? or a rant? Do I get all romantic and give you a poem? Maybe fit it all together...
See, my name's Yvette, I'm 19 and I'm a student at Bath University. The last 2 years have seen me catapult into the world of food. The beauty of delicately crafted cuisine, the smell and fascinating produce of the market, the sheer joy of baking or cooking something which turns out as a SUCCESS and the pride at having it complimented, the multitude of flavours available to my pallate and the enticing ingredient combinations found around the world, the pleasure of learning.
However, (and here comes the rant), despite the fact that I cook every night for my family when I'm on holiday and for my boyfriend when I'm at Uni, despite the fact that I can bake scrummy desserts 'til my hearts content. Despite the fact that i've regularly laid on feasts for the 11 members of my extended family and that I have this incredible passion for food, nobody will give me a job. In the culinary industry, that is, they won't even ask me for an interview because I have no professional experience. Well, how am i supposed to get professional experience if everywhere professional thinks I ought to already have it???
Oh by the way,
I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time." So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance
Alright it's not funny and I copied it from someone else but c'mon it's about food...
Anyway a few of my girlfriends are coming over tonight and I decided to make a chiffon cake because they always look so enticing and fluffy when i see them on tastespotting. I chose a lemon flavour from a Martha Stewart cook book and added a raspberry coulis which was just delicious, the tartness really accentuated the lemon of the cake and mellowed the sweetness too. Look how beautifully bright it is!

Lemon Chiffon Cake
Makes one 7″ cake
From Martha Stewart Living

90g self raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
150g plus 1 tbsp caster sugar, divided
3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp grated lemon zest (about 4 lemons)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.
In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the three egg yolks, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, and water. Stir in the dry ingredients.
In an electric mixer, beat the three egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on high until soft peaks form, 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the tablespoon of sugar, beating on high for about 3 minutes until stiff peaks form.
Stir 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the batter, then use a rubber spatula to gently fold the remaining 2/3 into the batter. Pour into an ungreased 7″ springform pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Bake 45 minutes or until a skewer poked into the cake comes out clean and the top is golden.
Cool the cake upside down by inverting the pan onto a bottle. Let cool to room temperature, at least 2 hours, before running a knife between cake and pan and inverting onto a plate.
Raspberry coulis
200g fresh raspberries
1/2 a lemon (juice)
1 tbsp icing sugar (add more if you prefer it sweet)
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and gently heat, pressing down on the raspberries with a fork until they begin to simmer. Strain through a sieve and serve chilled with the cake.
Gorgeous on those hot summer days!

As for the poem...

Lemons so bitter

They make your face pucker

But nothing tastes better

Than lemons with sugar

...Clearly not talented on the poetry front!