Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Battling My Sweet-Yeasted-Dough Demons: Paul Hollywood's Brioche

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For some reason, every time I decide to make something sweet that's yeast-based, whether it's challah or gooey butter cake, the elements contrive to work against me and the thing turns out to be a huge flop.  I end up nervously hovering over my dough, waiting for it to double while I curse the rain and wish I had ever seen what doubled dough should look like so I could be sure I'd recognize it when it happened.  And usually I give up and bung it in the oven after waiting an hour past the recommended time, and usually that ends up being a mistake and I can only guess that my dough was under-proved... I don't have this problem with savory breads (but maybe it's just that it's less noticeable when they're a bit under-proved, and they're just a bit denser which isn't such a big deal in my book), but the sweet doughs always seem to elude me.

So I'm not sure why, when Bloomsbury asked me to test a recipe from Paul Hollywood's new book, How to Bake, I chose brioche.  It's everything I'm crap at: a sweet dough, with more ingredients than your average bread, and a recipe that requires planning, patience, and 2 days to babysit your kitchen.  And yet, somehow, once I saw the photo of that fluffy, gorgeous, golden crown of deliciousness, I just couldn't get it out of my head.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Easy Friendships and Easier Dessert: Pistachio and Blueberry Biscotti

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I have a great girlfriend in London who is that wonderful combination of nice (without being too nice), hilarious (without being too catty), and understanding (without letting me get away with too much moaning), and best of all, she gets along famously with the BF.  Instead of glazing over the way I do when he talks about medicine too much or tells a story for a little too long, she is always rapt and encouraging – is it any wonder he loves her almost as much as I do?

Given how awesome this friend of mine is, of course she has a standing invitation to our flat for dinner, and when she moved a mere 20 minute walk down the road the invitation was reiterated with even more vehemence.  Now, unfortunately, she's a very busy gal, so we don't have her over as much as we'd like, but she does come round relatively often, and when she does I always make sure we finish the meal with something sweet and satisfying, and preferably something that packs well so I can send her home with a doggie bag.