Still baking strong, even without Bakealong

baking

You didn’t think that after Bakeoff finished I’d just throw down my spatula in relief did you?

It was actually the opposite, after having a reason to challenge myself beyond the usual crowd-pleasers of brownies and chocolate cakes, I realised how much more you can do if I’d only just give it a go (although my 5 ingredient brownies are still a go to when I don’t have much time, just stick a few chopped up chocolate bars/ reese’s pb cups on top and everyone will think you’re the beez kneez).

Macarons- not so much.
Clear your schedule.
DO NOT make these under time constraints or you will end up panicking with bits of sticky meringue in your hair and icing sugar on the floor/every work surface.

I have tried and tested a fair few recipes, and although lots of people swear by the Italian meringue method of making a sugar syrup, I find that few of us actually have a sugar thermometer at home. So my current fave is this Sally’s Baking Addiction macaron recipe.

My top tips are;

-make sure you get your meringue mix thick and glossy before adding the ground almonds and icing sugar
-put the food colouring in at this stage to make sure it’s evenly mixed through
-add a small amount of the ground almonds to start off with, then incorporate the rest
-don’t be too scared of overmixing after you have put the almonds in, my biggest disasters have been from undermixing where I was left with huge lumps and airholes. Just make sure you stop once there are no more big lumpy almondy bits left, and the batter is smooth and shiny. It’s not like making an egg risen sponge, so don’t get too het up about knocking the air out of your meringue.
-Stick your parchment paper down to the baking sheet in the corners with a bit of macaron mixture to stop it sliding about as you pipe.
-Stop piping just shy of the circle you have drawn out, the mixture spreads a little
-hit the baking sheet off the counter a few times after you have piped them to bring the air bubbles to the surface- especially do this early in the morning, your flatmates will LOVE it.
-try out one macaron on a baking sheet in your oven first, everyone’s oven is different so no point in an entire batch being ruined because of your oven.
-most of all, don’t worry. Your macarons will sense your worry and will fall flat/crack/burn just to spite you

And bonus recipe- I had 3 egg yolks leftover from the macarons, and lots of unfilled frozen eclair cases in the freezer. An I’m allergic to waste. Even if it means going out and buying a pot of cream just to use up the leftovers. So I obviously had to make Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding Squares.

-Just get around 8 slices of stale bread (or defrosted choux pastry/ plaited enriched dough loaf) and chop into rough chunks. Arrange in a greased, ovenproof dish.
-Melt 150g dark chocolate, 75g butter and 100g dark brown sugar in a bowl placed over a pan of gently simmering water. Once everything is all melted, add 400ml (a pot) of double cream. Mix this well until it becomes a chocolatey sauce, it’ll look a big separated at the start but keep mixing until it comes together. Remove from the heat.
-Crack 1 whole egg in with your 3 leftover egg yolks.
-Add to this your chocolate mix, slowly, while whisking the whole time to give a thick and creamy custard. Add 1 tsp cinnamon.
-Pour this over the bread, pushing down any bits that try to float up, and making sure everything is fully submerged in chocolatey custard.
-Leave to soak for around 2 hours, longer if you can, to let the bread fully soak up the chocolatey mixture.
-Pop in the oven at 180C for 30-35 minutes until the custard is set but still wobbly, and the bread on top starts to go crispy.
-Allow to cool and slice into squares.

These are seriously rich and indulgent so try not to e.g. eat 4 in one sitting then be forced to lie on the sofa in a chocolate induced coma. But I won’t judge you if you do.

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