Book Review: Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh + Recipe Extracts *Win a Copy*
Ottolenghi is a name that has become synonymous with Middle Eastern cuisine. From the original deli in Notting Hill, that brought these unique flavours to Londoners, to author of a range of cookbooks that have developed a cult following – everything Ottolenghi seems to touch turns to gold. He lifted the lid on this style of cuisine and championed vegetables and pulses, giving them a contemporary and accessible feel that no-one has been able to quite as successfully since.
A Return to his roots – Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh
It may come as a surprise then that his latest book focuses on sweets and bakes but if you know anything about Yotam Ottolenghi, you’ll know that this is essentially him returning to his roots. Ottolenghi started off his career as a pastry chef at some of London’s top restaurants, so this book, with his collaborator and patisserie whizz, Helen Goh, is him coming full circle.
A dessert and baked goods book brings a new dimension to his recipe book collection and fans will love the rich, beautiful photography and accessible recipes.
The Book Itself – Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh
From the moment I took the book out of its packaging, I had the urge to swipe my finger through the front cover. What looks like meringue mix (an Ottolenghi trademark) with a berry swirl of some sort is what graces it and the simplicity and lusciousness of it speak volumes about the content inside.
What also really struck a chord is Yotam’s introduction; written in a way that sounds completely conversational, as if he’s standing in your kitchen speaking to you.
It draws you in and makes you excited about what’s to come. It’s also very honest about sugar and makes no apologies about that. He acknowledges sugar’s current ‘bad boy status’ and speaks of making smart choices and it feels somewhat empowering. Yes, this is a book all about sugar but yes, I’m an adult, I can exercise some self-control and I deserve a treat every now and again.
The Recipes – Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh
The book is almost 400 pages long and each recipe has been tested extensively. You won’t find garish unicorn cakes and fly-by-night trends, this is a book that celebrates simplicity (don’t mistake that for meaning the recipes are all simple) they are instead solid, dependable recipes that you will make again and again.
Another really great addition to the book is a unique code that you will find at the back, this gives the reader access to a digital portal of the recipes, so you can access them wherever you are. What an inspired idea.
The book has taken three years to put together and the dedication and commitment to creating a really treasured keepsake is evident.
This is not a book to be bought to decorate a shelf; it will instead become a family treasure that will bring you together around a shared love of food. And that, essentially, is what Ottolenghi and his team are all about.
Recipe Extracts from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh
Blackberry and Star Anise Friands
Extracted from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh (Ebury Press, R520) | Photography by Peden + Munk
These look splendid when iced – destined for top ranking on any tiered cake stand – but also work un-iced, in the cookie tin, for grabbing on a whim.
They’ll lose their slightly chewy edge after the first day or so, but still taste great. Blueberries or raspberries can be used instead of the blackberries. Don’t use strawberries, though: they are too watery.
use a regular muffin tin here, but all sorts of moulds work: large muffin tins, mini-muffin tins, rectangular or oval moulds (as shown in the photo).
Un-iced, these will keep for up to 4 days. If the weather is warm, store them in the fridge and zap them in the microwave for a few seconds (literally 3 seconds!) to restore their buttery moisture. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months, then thawed in the fridge and warmed through in a 170°C/150°C Fan/Gas Mark 3 oven for 5 minutes; this will restore their crisp edges, as well. Once iced, they’re best eaten on the same day.
180g unsalted butter, plus an extra 10g, melted, for brushing
60g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
200g icing sugar
120g ground almonds
1½ tsp ground star anise (or 3 whole star anise, blitzed in a spice grinder and passed through a fine-mesh sieve)
⅛ tsp salt
150g egg whites (from 4 large eggs)
finely grated zest of 1 small orange (1 tsp)
18 whole blackberries (about 120g), cut in half lengthways
60g blackberries (about 8), plus an extra 24 small blackberries, to garnish
¾ tbsp water
1 tsp lemon juice
165g icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/Gas Mark 7. Brush the 12 holes of a regular muffin tin with the melted butter and sprinkle all over with flour. Tap the tray gently to ensure an even coating of the flour, then turn upside down to remove the excess. Place in the fridge to chill while you make the batter.
To brown the butter, place in a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat until melted. Continue to cook until the butter is foaming, gently swirling the pan from time to time, to allow the solids to brown more evenly. You will see dark brown sediments begin to form on the sides and bottom of the pan. Continue to allow the butter to bubble away until it turns a rich golden brown and smells of toasted nuts and caramel. Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes, to allow the burnt solids to collect at the bottom of the pan. Strain through a fine-mesh (or muslin-lined) sieve, discarding the solids. Allow the browned butter to cool slightly before using. It should still be warm when folding into the mix later: if it is too hot, it will ‘cook’ the egg whites; if it is too cool, it will be difficult to incorporate into the mix.
While the butter is cooling, sift the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds, star anise and salt into a bowl. Place the egg whites in a small bowl and use a whisk or fork to froth them up for a few seconds – you do not need to whisk them completely. Pour the egg whites into the sifted dry ingredients and stir until they are incorporated. Add the orange zest and browned butter and mix until the batter is smooth.
Remove the muffin tin from the fridge and fill the moulds just over two-thirds of the way up the sides. Place three halved blackberries on top, cut side down, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 210°C/190°C Fan/Gas Mark 6 – starting with a high oven temperature and then bringing it down is the way to achieve the lovely brown crust you want – turn the tray around in the oven for even cooking, and continue to cook for another 8 minutes, until the edges of the friands are golden brown and the centres have a slight peak and spring back when gently prodded. Set aside to cool before removing them from their moulds: you might need to use a small knife to help you release the sides.
If you are icing the cakes, place 60g of blackberries in a small bowl with the water and lemon juice. Use a fork to mash them together, then pass the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to extract as much fruit juice as possible: you should get about 60ml. Sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl, pour in the blackberry juice and combine to make a light purple runny icing: it should just be thick enough to form a thin glaze on the tops of the cakes. Spoon the icing over the cakes, spreading it to the edges so that it runs down the sides. Do this on a rack, if you can, as icing them on a plate or sheet of paper means that the icing will pool at the bottom. Place 2 small blackberries on each friand, set aside for 20 or 30 minutes to set, then serve.
Mont Blanc Tarts
Extracted from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh (Ebury Press, R520) | Photography by Peden + Munk
Named after the snowy mountain they resemble, Mont Blanc tarts – with their white meringue, whipped cream and tan-coloured chestnut purée – can often taste more fabulous than they look, with all that beige and white. We wanted to see if we could improve their visual appeal – bring in some more contrast by playing around with the colours, for example – but after various experiments (dark chocolate pastry, a lighter-coloured purée) we were beginning to think that the tried-and-tested route up this particular mountain was the only winning one.
It was a moment of pure synchronicity, then, that at one of our weekly pastry meetings there were various things lying around which came together in a flash: some empty tart shells, candied pecans, an open can of chestnut spread.
At the same time, Helen and Yotam both grabbed an empty shell, filled it with the chestnut spread, spooned over smooth whipped cream and added the element that had been missing – the candied pecans – which brought the crunch and the look needed. There’s a metaphor in there, we’re sure, about climbing mountains, and not giving up, and things tasting all the sweeter when you’ve had to work just that little bit harder to earn them.
You will need eight mini-fluted tins, about 8–9cm wide and 2–3cm deep. Alternatively, you can make this in one large fluted tart tin, around 25cm wide and 3cm deep.
The pastry can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept in the fridge (wrapped in cling film) until ready to roll. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months.The candied pecans can be made up to 5 days in advance and kept in an airtight container. Once assembled, the tarts are best eaten on the day they are baked.
200g plain flour
120g unsalted butter, fridge-cold, cut into 1cm dice
30g caster sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp ice-cold water
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp liquid glucose
1 tbsp caster sugar
120g pecan halves
1/8 tsp flaky sea salt
60g dark cooking chocolate(70% cocoa solids)
320g sweetened chestnut spread (we use Clement Faugier; whichever brand you use, just make sure that it is not the unsweetened variety)
vanilla whipped cream
300ml double cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp brandy
For the pastry, place the flour, butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Blitz a few times, until it is the consistency of fine breadcrumbs, then add the vinegar and water. Continue to work for a few seconds, then transfer to your work surface. Shape into a ball and flatten into a disc, wrap in cling film and set aside in the fridge for at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).
Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6.
To line the tart cases, allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes (if it has been in the fridge for more than a few hours) and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough to about 3mm thick and cut out eight circles, 14cm wide. Re-roll the dough, if necessary, to get eight circles. Transfer one circle at a time to the 8–9cm wide and 2–3cm deep fluted tins and gently press the pastry into the corners of the tart tin: you want it to fit snugly and for there to be a decent amount of pastry hanging over the edge of the tart case, as the pastry can shrink a little when baked. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
To blind bake the tart cases, line the pastry bases with baking parchment or paper liners and fill with baking beans. Bake for 18 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown at the edges. Remove the beans and paper and cook for another 8 minutes, or until the base is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely in the tray. Once cool, trim the pastry (so that it can be removed from the tray) and set aside until ready to fill.
Increase the oven temperature to 210°C/190°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Line a baking tray (with a lipped edge) with baking parchment and set aside.
To make the candied pecans, put the maple syrup, glucose and sugar into a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Stir gently until the sugar has melted, then add the pecans and salt. Stir so that the nuts are coated in syrup, then tip the nuts on to the lined baking tray. Place in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until the syrup is bubbling around the nuts. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside until completely cooled. When the nuts are cooled, the glaze should be completely crisp; if not, return them to the oven for a few more minutes. Once cooled, break or roughly chop the nuts into 0.5cm pieces and set aside until ready to use.
Make the filling when you are ready to assemble. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted, then use a pastry brush to line the inside of each case with the chocolate. Set aside for about 30 minutes, to set, then fill with enough chestnut spread so that it rises about halfway up the sides of the tart cases.
For the vanilla whipped cream, pour the cream into the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Add the icing sugar, vanilla extract and brandy and whisk on a high speed for 1 minute, or until medium-soft peaks form.
Divide the whipped cream between the tarts, so that it is slightly domed on top of the chestnut spread. Sprinkle the candied pecans generously on top – you might have a tablespoon or two left over, but these can be saved to munch on, to sprinkle over your next bowl of breakfast granola or porridge, or to use in the Knickerbocker Glory (see page 293) – and serve.
Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh | ISBN 978-1-785-03114-4 | Ebury Press, R520
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