The way I wrote recipes pre-blog went something like this: a list of ingredients + maybe a baking temperature +/- possibly a baking time. Either on a sticky note (destined to be accidentally thrown out) or in an obscure word document that I would never find again.
It took some searching, but I did find one word document again while I looking for a genmaicha-infused chocolate caramel custard I had made back in high school. It was written, of course, in typical fashion: a list of ingredients (no baking temperature, no baking time). To be fair to my former self, since I was making quite a few puddings at the time, I likely had the procedure memorized.
I am often not a fan of bananas, but they take to caramel so naturally and really start to taste quite good while they’re at it too. So it’s no surprise that tarte tatin is deemed an acceptable receptacle for bananas in my book. (Banana bread is alright too, if we must!)
This particular tarte tatin was inspired by a flavour combination from one of Ottolenghi’s columns in the Guardian – caramelized bananas with miso and anise. I love the combination, which I’ve transferred over to a tarte tatin, made dark, bitter and salty.
How I will miss you citrus season! To express my undying adoration, here is one last ode to citrus for this winter, in the form of a chocolate roll cake filled with Thai basil-infused whipped ganache and whole mandarins.
These hot cross buns were inspired by Swedish Lucia buns (aka lussekatter, amongst other names) which are typically eaten during St. Lucia’s Day, a celebration of the patron saint of light around the darkest day of the year. Given the occasion, perhaps it’s no wonder that Lucia buns are made from such a sunny, saffron-infused dough. The buns are often formed into S-shaped curls and spotted with a couple of raisins. I find the story and tradition behind these buns rather fascinating – read more about it, and see a classic recipe, from the blog semiswede (and find out whether the buns also ward off dark spirits at Atlas Obscura).
In making these hot cross buns, I’ve transposed the saffron and raisins (but a lot more of them), paired along with cardamom and candied orange peel. I never really thought I liked hot cross buns all that much, but the deluge of hot cross buns that I noticed on Instagram last year sparked a new fascination. And once I started making my own hot cross buns, I loved the combination of soft bread, dried fruit and peel!
It was over a year ago (can you believe we’ve been in the pandemic for over a year now?) when I wrote about a resurgence in anti-Asian sentiments, driven by racist pandemic rhetoric but symptomatic of underlying currents of white supremacy that continue to persist. I thought I was taking it seriously then, but when I go back and read what I wrote, that “anti-Chinese racism[…] is alive and thriving in Canada, I didn’t doubt,” it rings weakly. At the time, I don’t think I really, really meant it. Not in a way that could imagine what happened in Atlanta was possible. Who would ever want to think such a thing could happen? – is my excuse.
I’ve been thinking more about why I kept harbouring hesitancy about the extent of anti-Asian racism, even when I’m a descendant of immigrants who paid an astronomical head tax, and other members of my extended family were interned. I think it’s because the model minority myth has been pervasive in my thinking – it posits that “Asians are pretty much white,” collapses the experiences of a diverse group into one, and suggests that the socioeconomic successes of some members means that structural barriers don’t exist. All of which are false. This is what I need to unlearn.
I don’t know whether there is a grapefruit rose soap, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the flavour combination subconsciously entered my head via a soap. I mean, it sounds pretty soapy – in a good way. (I always find myself wishing that displays of fancy handcrafted soaps were edible. Oatmeal, honey and goat’s milk soap? I’d eat that for breakfast any day. Especially if it wasn’t actually soap.)
These soap bars cakes are also actually grapefruit cakes. I’ve tried making “grapefruit” cakes a couple times before following a similar approach as I would with a lemon cake – throw in some zest – and always ended up with a very plain cake. Because I am very susceptible to the power of suggestion and have an active imagination, I could taste grapefruit if I waved my hands and thought hard enough about it… but that doesn’t help others taste the flavour.
I used to make these biscotti for my roommate and I to snack on – they’re the hard type perfect for dipping (or ferociously crunching!), and about one third solid almond. (They are also not too sweet and half whole-wheat, further cementing their value as a study snack/occasional meal replacement.) While I played with a few different flavour combinations, orange, almond and fennel seed was always our favourite.
This mousse cake is made of mango yoghurt mousse with an insert of mango jelly and caramelized white chocolate fennel cremeux over a fennel seed joconde. Ataulfo mango and fragrant fennel seed make for a refreshing combination!
Shrove Tuesday has passed, but semlor are still in season! Semlor are Swedish buns (though analogues exist in other Nordic countries) typically filled with torn crumbs of bread and sticky almond paste, creamed with a bit of milk into a soft filling. Topped with whipped cream and powdered sugar, they’re just the sort of comforting and Scandinavian (cardamom-perfumed of course!) baked good I came to love after pouring through the pages of the classic The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas.
I adore the classic filling of bread crumbs and almond paste, but in these ones I’ve combined the almond paste with spiced apples instead; it is just lovely – spiced and sweet and very moist and a bit less bread-y than the original. I actually first made these five years ago, but the recipe needed a bit of a spiff up. And perhaps more than that, I also just wanted to make apple semlor again!
The title summarizes it quite succinctly: this is a chestnut cheesecake crowned with a pile of caramelized fuyu persimmons. I loved this quite a bit – it has two of my favourite things and they do go together well!