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Pete Fred

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    Yorkshire, UK

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  1. Stella Parks' Pumpkin Skillet 'Thing'. Underwhelming. It took much longer than indicated (internal temp 96°C) which accounts for the overcooked edges. The streusel topping was dry and powdery. I used Ovaltine for the malted milk powder, so it's darker than her version. Several commenters had similar problems so I'm not sure what to make of it. Even if the texture would've been better, the flavour was decidedly 'meh'. It just seemed an expensive way to waste some quality white chocolate. I enjoy reading Ms Parks' articles and have picked up some valuable tips but this isn't the first time I've been disappointed with the results, whether technical or taste. So no hard feelings - no doubt operator error is partly to blame - but her bakes are seemingly not for me.
  2. Another take on Flan Parisien. I've only ever made ones containing eggs (whole or just yolks) so I was intrigued to see it done without them. Not quite as smooth and creamy as my regular recipe but still a superior tart. Should Arm-egg-eddon wipe out the world's chickens, it's comforting to know there will still be flan.
  3. Coffee Cake from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery book. It's an excellent cake, flavoured with vanilla, cocoa and cinnamon. The almond streusel topping has a nice texture. The crumb is a little less airy than I would like, but that's down to using a hand mixer rather than the brute force of a stand mixer for the creaming.
  4. Beetroot, Ginger and Soured Cream Cake from Ottolenghi 'Sweet'. Here it is before and after icing... It contains beetroot, walnuts and stem ginger (preserved ginger). The topping is cream cheese and double (heavy) cream. Ottolenghi uses a vitamin C tablet to preserve and 'set' the colour of the beetroot, resulting in quite a striking visual when sliced... This was a very good cake.
  5. Pistachio and Rose Water Semolina Cake from Ottolenghi 'Sweet'. A bit of a curious one, this. I had high expectations that, sadly, didn't quite deliver. I think I may have contributed to my own disappointment by roasting the almonds (with skins, my choice) and pistachios that went into the cake batter. They were then blitzed in the food processor but not as finely as commercial ground nuts. This meant their flavour and texture was a little more "wholemeal" in the finished cake. Even the generous amount of soaking syrup (lemon, rose water, sugar) didn't really brighten things up much. I was hoping the accompanying cream (Greek yoghurt, crème fraîche, rose water) would come to the rescue but that turned out to be surprisingly anodyne. Not sure I'll be revisiting this one any time soon.
  6. Another day, another bit of brown; this time in the form of the Courgette (Zucchini) & Pistachio (Pistachio) Cake from Honey & Co. I didn't have any olive oil so subbed in regular vegetable oil (rapeseed). Next time I'll chuck in another handful of (roasted) nuts. I enjoyed this. It was a fine cake.
  7. After the unrestrained hedonism of pink icing and glacé cherries, it's back to boring brown cakes for me. This is parkin, a traditional cake from the north of England. It's kind of a dense gingerbread made with black treacle (molasses) and oats. This is the Yorkshire type of parkin and bakes quite dry. But it's so hygroscopic from the ridiculous amount of sugar that, after a few weeks in a cupboard, it softens nicely and turns pleasingly sticky. It's a popular treat at this time of year with Halloween and Bonfire Night just around the corner.
  8. Today's nostalgic treat was a Bakewell Tart. And, obviously, if you're gonna go full retro with the feathering, might as well stick a cherry on top!
  9. Yup. I'm not particularly well versed in filo but have had decent results in the past. I'm still blaming the method (well that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Should I revisit filo strudel, @Kim Shook has given me a few pointers that would likely solve my issues. But at the moment I think I'm just gonna glance wistfully in the rear view mirror and chalk it up to experience. To stave off the blues after a baking fail, I reached for my current go-to, Ottolenghi 'Sweet', and alighted on the Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake. I must have angered the baking Gods of late because this is the first one from the book that I've been less than happy with. It was perfectly fine but the batter didn't really come together as described in the recipe, and the finished cake looks a little different to his, texture-wise. So I made another two (!) which are currently cooling. Sadly, I doubt I'll be troubling the board with tales of redemption. Nothing much seemed to change. The losing streak continues.
  10. It was ok. My woes lie entirely with the filo. Dry and papery on top, tough underneath. If I'd done a better job with the cooking I'm still not sure it would be to my taste. I'm looking for something lighter. The method involved layering multiple sheets of filo and rolling into a log. I think I might prefer it made with a single, very thin sheet of strudel dough rolled around the filling. This appears to be the traditional way as opposed to the more modern filo 'hack'. Although filo and strudel dough are similar-ish, the number of 'purists' saying filo is inferior has made me curious.
  11. Thought I'd have a go at making apple strudel. It was a bit of a letdown, the filo disappointingly dry and heavy. That may be due to operator error - it could just be overcooked - but I'm gonna point the finger of blame at the shop-bought pastry being of not great quality (there were similar complaints on the supermarket website). Subsequent research suggests that filo will always be a little dry and papery compared to proper homemade strudel dough, but whether I can be bothered having a go at making my own is a different matter entirely. I might just call it quits.
  12. I feel the need to 'fess up to being inordinately annoyed that my almond cake sunk somewhat in the middle. I figured it might be down to using the wrong cake tin (20 cm/8 inch in diameter and 7.5 cm/3 inch deep). So obviously I had to make it again. 🙄 <cue bakers everywhere groaning sympathetically in acknowledgement> This time I used a 4.5 cm/2 inch high tart ring and it worked out much better. The edge rose to the top of the ring and set, with the middle continuing to rise a little further before settling back level. Rejoice!! Lesson learned. 🤔
  13. Continuing to plough my way through Ottolenghi 'Sweet'. This is the Almond Butter Cake with Cardamon. Simple but delightful... Conscious of the fact that I've been on a run of quite plain cakes recently, I made his accompaniment of baked plums. Here it is plated... The plums are baked with wine and spice. Sadly, they were a bit 'meh'. The curse of commodity plums strikes again; will I ever learn?!
  14. I guess there's no time like the present when it comes to cake, so Gateau Breton made with buckwheat flour... The crumb was a little tighter compared to regular flour, and the nuttiness was ok. Overall I preferred yesterday's version; it had a better texture and the butter flavour was cleaner.
  15. Gateau Breton (Brittany Butter Cake)... Not much of a looker, admittedly. If you've never heard of it, the texture is somewhere between shortbread and cake. Given it's made with so few ingredients, it all comes down to the quality of the butter used; in this instance, raw-cream salted butter from Isigny, so it tasted great. I keep meaning to make this with the traditional buckwheat flour; it'd be interesting to see what the nuttiness brings to the party.