At the Street Kitchen BurgerDog launch with co-founders Mark Jankel & Jun Tanaka.
After a whirlwind of activity I’m finally in a quieter phase. The weather has turned whilst we’re still only in August (big surprise, welcome to the UK) and with the grey skies come a slightly grey mood. It’s inevitable, really, the end of summer always lies heavy on my heart, but the quiet period I’m in at the moment definitely doesn’t help. I’m itching to get back into a kitchen, to keep learning, but for now I just have to wait.
Why the wait, you ask? Well, after two years of repeated visits to the hospital, I’m finally having a scan to prepare me for radio-iodine treatment. About bloody time, right? The upside is: no more fannying about with monthly visits to the hospital for blood tests or constant medication yo-yo-ing; the downside: I need to take about a month off because I’m going to be radioactive and am not allowed to work in close contact with, er, anything. I actually sent that sentence to a potential employer in an email recently, which is, to me, a big giant win.
So whilst I take a break from my mad dash around the UK Michelin restaurant scene (which I’m missing terribly at the moment), I guess I’ll just take some time to do some reading and baking, househunt (yes, again), practice rocher-ing and julienne/dice everything in sight. What else can I do?
In other, happier, news: my brother got married! It was a lovely ceremony, I was a bridesmaid and did a little reading from The Velveteen Rabbit which was super cute, then ate my weight in beef and boogied the night away. Congrats Brother Lee & new Sister Sylv!
We also attended the Street Kitchen BurgerDog launch down at the King’s Cross Disco Bistro, which was just delicious. “Better than a hot dog, not as good as a burger,” Mark told me with a grin, but I disagree: I think it was just as good, if not better, than a burger. We shared the Heinz 57 & R Mutt, the former of which was paired with pork belly (insert Homer Simpson-esque sounds) and topped with red cabbage, the latter being their take on a chilli cheese dog, with a delicious spicy chorizo relish. The rosemary skin-on chips also deserve an honourable mention for being so more-ish! Wholly delicious, catch ’em whilst you can – they’ll be doing another pop-up somewhere around London soon!
Mark and I have a little tradition of me bringing him delicious baked goods every time I see him, this time my offering was honey beurre noisette madeleines, a recipe we tried in a demonstration at Leiths and which has since become my very favourite madeleine recipe: the combination of the nutty beurre noisette and the sweet, sweet honey is just magical.
Essentially a genoise batter, madeleines are traditionally baked in a small shell shaped mould and have a distinctive hump on their reverse. Did you know madeleines can’t actually be called madeleines without said hump? This is achieved by allowing the batter to sit in the fridge for a few hours to set up, then piping/dolloping the mixture into the moulds and popping straight into a hot oven. As it is a genoise, the key to a madeleine’s lightness is in the whisking of the eggs and sugars – this is where the air is incorporated and a good, thick sabayon goes a long way to ensuring delicious madeleines, every time!
When I first started reading up about madeleines, I couldn’t understand how resting the batter in the fridge could make such a big difference, especially as I’d been taught that raising agents, once activated (usually with the addition of liquid), would start to lose their raising abilities – wouldn’t this mean flat sad madeleines? I then discovered that, actually, raising agents, particularly baking powder, are activated twice: once by liquid, then again by heat. Resting the batter in the fridge for a few hours and this double-activation really helps the madeleines to form their distinctive hump and so the purists amongst us (ie. me) are satisfied!
My top tips for perfect madeleines:
1. Invest in a couple of petit four sized silicone madeleine sheet mould: not only does it make turning out that much easier, these bite-sized madeleines work perfectly as an after-dinner treat with tea and coffee. Or for breakfast. Or lunch. Or tea. Or anytime you have a craving, seriously. Just buy them.
2. Use non-stick baking spray on your mould before filling with the batter – no need to butter and flour and so much easier! If you can’t find non-stick baking spray, I recommend Flora Sunflower Oil Spray (found in most UK supermarkets) – it has a pump action which means the diffusion is not as even as with an aerosol, but it does the job.
3. For easiest, most convenient madeleine making, put your batter in a disposable piping bag, tie a knot at the top (or if too full to knot the bag: twist closed then wrap a strip of clingfilm around the twist) and pop into the fridge.
4. Rest your batter for at least a couple of hours until set up, but ideally overnight. You can keep a batch for up to a week – if you have leftover batter pop a bit of clingfilm over the cut end of the piping bag to stop it from leaking all over your fridge.
5. These are not the kind of baked good you want sitting around for too long as they become dense when cold. Consume as quickly as you are able to handle once out of the oven – not that you’ll have too much trouble with this delicious recipe!
HONEY BEURRE NOISETTE MADELEINES
Makes 36 large/roughly 60 small (fills 2 large piping bags); adapted from a recipe by Shenley Clouston, courtesy of Leiths School of Food & Wine.
270 g butter
300 g demerera sugar
30 g honey
270 g plain flour
3 tsps baking powder
1. Make the beurre noisette: melt the butter in a saucepan and simmer gently until it reaches beurre noisette.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, sugar and honey together with electric beaters until pale and thick – the mixture should leave a ribbon trail when the beaters are lifted (this will take a bit of time, look for a 1 – 2 second ribbon).
3. Off the heat, add the flour to the beurre noisette, then return to the heat and cook out for 1 min. Allow to cool slightly.
4. Fold the beurre noisette mixture and baking powder into the egg mixture, transfer into piping bags, secure the tops and leave in the fridge to set up for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
5. When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C and spray the madeleine moulds lightly with non-stick spray – make sure the oven is up to temp before you put the madeleines or you’ll get bubbles on the surface and an inadequate rise!
6. Pipe a small blob of the batter into the base of the moulds (about 1 tsp for large moulds or 1/4 tsp for petit four moulds), then put straight into the hot oven and bake for 8 – 10 mins, or until risen, pale golden and springs back when pressed lightly.
7. Remove from the mould immediately, cool slightly on a wire rack and serve warm. Enjoy!
Until next time, happy madeleine-ing! Peace and love,