The ‘Great British Chefs’ website is a fine place to go for recipe ideas and for great advice from those who mostly cook for a living. So you are liable to be ‘working’ with people who like to get things right.
They also have a Facebook group with a more focused approach, involving the exploration of and cooking from a monthly changing book. I am a keen follower but can only be considered a sporadic contributor compared to some of the crazily committed and talented cooks who share their efforts there so regularly.
Richard Bertinet’s book, ‘Crumb’ is this month’s soon to be replaced volume.
I’m just reviving and revving up my kitchen forays after being told that I can cook food AND chew it! My extensive dental procedures appear to be heading to a successful conclusion.
Into the kitchen to see if there are any remnants of cooking skills which I might lightly flex.
This recipe for ‘Pain d'épices’ from the Bertinet book will see us through a few of the meals which I am planning to make for family and friends. Bertinet presents it as a ‘classic’ but I have known it from another recipe as a store cupboard standby.
You have a link to the recipe. I’ll simply clarify the modifications I made and the uses to which I intend putting the results.
The spice mix for my loaf had some finely chopped candied orange peel added. Instead of star anise I used ground green aniseed.
This is a fairly undemanding recipe and much more forgiving than those which involve yeast, dough work and proving. A good return for relatively little work.
The baking forced mix over the edges of the tin. It’s already cleared from the tray underneath in my picture but it was ready to join other ‘offcuts’ for crumbing. Any rise here is from the fizz of baking powder rather than more air-inducing yeast. The texture is a lovely combination of dense lightness… if that makes sense.
There is little likelihood that the slices will be offered for eating as they are. They are already being cut and shaped for garnish and as elements of more developed dishes. The trimmed sheets below are candidates for underpinning some pressed, caramelised apples. Maybe an orange jelly and robe of chocolate for a ‘Jaffa’ jive vibe.
The cubes have possibilities for savoury or dessert. I serve scallops with ras el hanout. I don’t see why the spices here can’t do a similar flavour profile job. A crisp in oil before serving to achieve crouton crunch.
Staying savoury - why not fry in richer duck fat. I’m sure the spices here will give enough balance. Could be served as a cheeky canapé with a plum gel atop… and no need to buy a duck!
These batons will be treated in the same way as some ‘petits fours’ which we enjoyed at the Banks family’s Black Swan at Oldstead. They will need to be dowsed in egg yolk and fried in butter. It does occur to me that a gentle soak in brandy or rum would do no real harm. Or put the booze element in a blob of cream on the side.
Those lumpy bits have been put to good use and zizzed into a crumb. Once again these would serve sweet or savoury needs. Back with scallops again, why not fry the crumb in chorizo oil and offer as an alternative to black pudding. Adding to stuffing for partridge or quail also comes to mind.
Pretty sure that rhubarb would be a good companion to the spice notes here. Many fruity sorbets and ice creams would sit well over a layer of the contrasting crumb texture.
Not too much tasting (greedily hoovering up!) of those knobbly outside bits went on and I now have the majority of this bake cut, shaped and frozen. I know it will keep well in an airtight container for a while but it will be great to ease the burden of preparation for meals planned further in the future and be able to grab today’s efforts all ready to go.
I’ve cooked all the way through my ‘tooth trials’ but much has had to be liquified or mushed. This is the first time that I’ve given serious renewed thought to planning something a bit fancier to share with family and friends.
It’s good to be back.