The Unicorn Cookbook is coming!

When I begun this online baking adventure 5 years ago, I always had a dream that one day in the future I’d get the opportunity to turn these online pages into my own cookbook. What I didn’t quite realise is that it would happen this soon.

My little notebook is full of creative ideas be it recipes, cookbook titles or baking business plans, but when the opportunity came knocking to partner with Urban Outfitters and create The Unicorn Cookbook I simply couldn’t say no. From that moment on it’s been nothing but a whirlwind of excitement, exhaustion and pure happiness. I can’t say it’s been an easy process but making a dream come true was never going to be, and looking back, the entire process has taught me so much. Moreover, I’m so proud to be able to flick through the pages and say that all the recipe ideas, styling, photography and the writing is ME, and believe me as my own worst critic it’s takes a lot for me to be proud of myself.

So with that I am absolutely delighted to announce that on 12th October The Unicorn Cookbook hits the shelves exclusively with Urban Outfitters.

What’s it about? Well in a nutshell…it brings to life the magical realm of mighty Unicorns. Brimming with sparkles and rainbows it features recipes such as The Magical Explosion show stopper cake to Dreams on Toast and is packed with more ideas perfect for parties and times when all you want to do is spread some joy and unleash your inner unicorn.

I’m so excited for you all to see it and really hope you love it as much as I do. Keep your eyes peeled for more announcements, teaser recipes and giveaways as the launch date approaches over on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages.

12.10.17 the countdown is on!! #TheUnicornCookbook

 

Behind the scenes at a Whole Foods Market & the best brownies I’ve ever made!


Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a Whole Foods Market. From freshly ground coffee, an array of savoury artisan breads and delicious sweet treats the bakeries have all the goods to make anyone’s day delightful and a few sunny weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting all the bakers in the High Street Kensington Branch to gain an insight into their world.

Whole Foods Market is well known for their organic approach in baking, only using eggs that are free-range and non GMO fed and only using flour that is unbleached and unbromated. You also won’t catch any artificial colours, flavours, sweetness or preservatives in any of the food they sell which means when you walk into theirs stores and smell the amazing aroma of freshly baked breads and cakes, you know that you’ll have a hard task finding anything better.

So what happened during my visit and where do the best brownies ever come into it? Take a read on and let’s find out.


08:30 – The introduction

I arrived at 8:30am sharp to the welcome of Madga, one of the Whole Foods Market bakers. As she stood equipped with chef whites and a net cap, it was clear the outfit I’d selected for the tour was not worth the anguish the night previous but needs must for food safety and as I adorned the chef whites and net cap i suddenly felt like part of the team. So with that off we went on the Whole Foods Market tour…first stop The Bakery.


08:45 – The Bakery

The bakery was possibly the most impressive part of my visit with their sour dough line up a particular highlight – I wish I could have bottled that smell and taken it with me, but instead I settled for tasting as many of the different flavours as I could.  That smell wouldnt have been possible without their starter who I was delighted to be introduced to. Aptly name “The Mother” she took pride of place in their tiny kitchen bubbling away waiting for her next feed. I’ve always been fascinated by bread and used to wonder why on earth people named their sour dough starters, but to see how alive “The Mother” was made it so clear that they deserve a title and she in particular deserves that name.

Their Kensington branch is of few stores who bake their bread daily, using the freshest ingredients including Shipton Mill Organic Flour. Whatever bread you’re after, you’ll find as they offer so much choice from sourdough, focaccia, bagels, ciabatta and crusty French sticks which I was able to see being both shaped and baked before being whisked away and taken up to the Patisserie kitchen.


09:15 – The Patisserie

Eventually Madga managed to get me out of the bakery and upstairs to the cool patisserie kitchen which was a warm welcome on that hot morning. I was visiting on a particularly quiet day but nevertheless the bakers were busy in their day getting all the delicious cakes and tarts ready for the shop floor. In one corner a baker was busy decorating the chocolate orange….while in the other corner another was bringing out freshly baked croissants and lining them onto trollies.

I was fascinated how much they had got prepared that early in the morning but Madga confirmed that they had lots of mix ready made in large batches which saves time. She took me into their cold store to show me and I was distracted by their mince pie filling.

“Have you already got mince pies in preparation” I asked

“Yes of course Christmas is in full swing,  we have to start preparing our flavours at least a year in advance” she replied ”

I was in awe of their organisation and loved watching all the bakers bustling in and out of the cold store, grabbing things here and there but smiling all the way. It was so clear they loved their jobs, and I’m not surprised.

As we left the cold store I was distracted again by their huge ovens to the left of me.

“Ohhh what’s in there?” I asked as I peeked into the window of their giant oven.

“Ahh those are our brownies” Magda replied, as one of the bakers opened the door to bring them out releasing what I can only describe as the smell of heaven.

“Oh wow okay so I’m going to need the recipe for these please” I begged

Madga laughed “Of course” as if that wasn’t the first time she’d been asked that question

 


09:45 – Shopping

After the tour and with my mind set on getting home and baking those brownies ASAP, it was time to buy some ingredients using some of Whole Foods finest.

First stop was of course Shipton Mill Organic Flour and I wanted to get as big a bag as I could carry on the train so opted for the 2.5k packet.

If I was making brownies I obviously needed chocolate so second stop was their chocolate aisle on the hunt for some unique and organic chocolate to use. I was determined to use something I’d never used or even seen before and found BlanxArt. This was the perfect choice as it was one of the creamiest dark chocolates I’ve ever tasted.

I also wanted to try some different sugar to the standard caster sugar which has been a staple in all my baking for all these years. I was keen to try something new and also as organic as I could find so opted for Equal Exchange Organic Raw Cane Sugar.

I could have easily spent longer browsing their aisles and filling my trolley with every wild and wonderful new ingredient I stumbled upon but my strength can only go so far so I had to stop there…next time I’ll be bring reinforcements.

For all ingredients visit your local Whole Foods Market of visit WholefoodsMarket.com.


WHOLEFOODS| THE BEST BROWNIES EVER


Makes|16 Brownies

Preparation time| 30 minutes

Baking time| 45 minutes


550g sugar

350g unsalted butter

6 eggs

400g good quality dark chocolate

350g flour

190g chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 3 and grease a 20cm x 20cm brownie tin.

In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the 400g chocolate until smooth.

Melt the butter slowly in a pan then pour over the smooth chocolate and whisk the two together until silky.

Leave the chocolate/butter mixture to cool for 5 minutes.

In another large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar together until combined, but try not to overwhisk as you don’t want to add in too much air.

Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the eggs and sugar mixture and combine well

Sift the flour into the mixture and add the chocolate chips then carefully fold it all together using a large metal spoon.

Pour the batter into your prepared brownie tin and bake in the centre of your oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour checking.

You want the centre to still be a little wobbly when you remove the brownie from the oven as this is what ensures you get the gooey brownies we all dream of.

Leave them to cool on a wire rack for a few hours or overnight (covered with a tea towel) then cut them into 16 equal squares and dust with some icing sugar.

Serve with strawberries and cream for the ultimate brownie dessert.

Alternative additions

300g chopped hazlenuts

300g chopped macadamia nuts

550g white chocolate chips

For more information on Whole Foods Market UK and any of the ingredients I’ve used for The Brownies please visit http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/kensington or pop into one of their many stores around the UK.

 

 

 

 

Bunny Macarons

A lot of things spring to mind when I think of Easter. Bunnies (obviously), chicks, daffodils, chocolate and of course Hot Cross Buns. Now I should mention that as much as I wish they were, these Easter Bunny Macarons are not my own creation. I stumbled across them a few years back during my daily Pinterest Parade and I simply couldn’t get over the cuteness.

Wishing I had thought of these myself however was an incredibly short-lived sorrow when I discovered just how amazing Raspberri Cupcakes blog really was. My new favourite in fact as I fell in love with almost every recipe she posted.

With hearts in my eyes, I decided to make the Bunny Macarons there and then. Then being 2015.

That would have been the last of this recipe, but when I transitioned to my new site in 2016 not all of my posts managed the tiresome journey. Sadly I couldn’t manage the manual transition of them all so some got left behind, this one included. However, in the spirit of Easter and resurrections I decided I had to bring this one back. Please bare with the less than average photography though, I wasn’t quite as “food style savvy” back then, christ I’m most certainly not 100% at it now, but never the less these are adorable and I wanted you all to see them.

These are super fun to make and impress a lot of people. The only downside is that they are too cute to eat, so cute that I couldn’t bring myself to eat any, except the one which lost an ear during a photography related accident.

Adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes, Easter Bunny Macarons


Makes | 8-10 macarons

Preparation time | 2 hours

Baking time | 15-18 minutes


2 large egg whites

50g caster sugar

70g flaked almonds

140g icing sugar

Pinch of baking powder

Claret Sugarflair paste

Raspberry Jam Buttercream

100g unsalted butter

100g icing sugar

2 tbsp raspberry jam


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and line two baking trays in parchment paper.

Put the flaked almonds, baking powder and icing sugar into a blender and blitz for one minute until fine.

Pass the almond mixture through a fine sieve and pour the remaining solids back into the blender to blitz and sieve again.

Add one egg white to your almond mixture and combine into a paste. Set this to one side

Whisk the second egg white and caster sugar by hand to combine then whisk (ideally with an electric whisk) for 5 minutes until you have stiff glossy peaks. Now you can add some colour. You want the shade to be a lot stronger than you’d like the end result as during baking it will fade.

Beat the colour in for a further minute then add the almond paste and fold it through with a spatula from the bottom of the bowl upwards until it’s all combined and flows like lava.

Pour the batter into a piping bag with a 3/8 inch round tip and dab some batter to the corner of the baking sheets so the parchments sticks.

With the piping tip ½ an inch above the sheet, on one sheet pipe out your bunny faces with the ears, ensuring you leave them about a space apart. Then on the second tray pipe the bottoms. Tap the sheets firmly against the kitchen surface to release any air bubbles then leave them to dry out for at least 20 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 150 degrees and bake them a tray at a time for 15-18 minutes, or until the tops are firm when tapped. Let them cool fully before piping on the buttercream and decorating.

Raspberry Buttercream

 Make a simple buttercream by combining the butter and icing sugar then add the tablespoons of raspberry jam until smooth and fluffy.

For the adorable bunny faces, use a black and white icing pen draw on your chosen design and on the circle shells draw out the white bunny tails. Leave all to dry fully before piping out the buttercream and sandwiching them together.

Store in an airtight container and eat within 3 days.