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Dreams, not as daft as they seem – Banana cream pie

banana cream pie

To me, the last hours of a year are always filled with expectations, excitement, and dreams.

As a matter of fact, I have been dreaming a lot lately. Possibly because my 9am/11pm day life is quite very busy with mise en place, desserts à l’assiette, afternoon teas, foams, and many more exciting things.

Thus, at night I dream that:
1. I spend a weekly day off with my boyfriend.
2. my hair is not that messy.
3. I become a better pâtissière.
4. I see more daylight.
5. I take the time to capture moments through photographs.
6. our Christmas tree lasts forever.
7. I make beautiful pastries at home.
8. Polaroid film hits the shops again.
9. I have leopard leggings in every possible colour.
10. I take the time to write in my new Moleskine diary.

Oh, and while I’m at it, I should admit that I dream of a puppy dog quite often too. I can’t tell you how happy I would be if only one of those dreams would come true during 2010.

Bring it on!

banana cream pie

As for today, I’m afraid it’s nothing near dreamy. But you have to remember that we basically have one wisk, a couple of baking sheets, and that-is-pretty-much-it in our tiny London kitchen.

I did my best to recreate the lovely banana cream pie I had in mind, and trust me, you wouldn’t have wanted to see the kitchen after two of those small tarts were made.

Pulling isomalt without a Silpat is hard. Smoothing whipped cream without a spatula is harder. Piping without a bag is the hardest.

At least, we had a good laugh and a satisfied tummy. Despite the evident lack of sophistication, this tart – or pie – is delicious.

The perfect end to our marathon Christmas lunch.

banana cream pie

Banana cream pie with a chocolate mousse quenelle
My secret to this flavourful banana cream pie is to roast the banana in its own skin before mashing it very slightly, and spreading it at the bottom of a crisp tart shell.

Then comes the confiture de lait. You can either make your own by boiling some milk and sugar together to a thick consistency and golden colour, or boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for hours, or even get the ready-made kind.
I must admit I went for a jar of dulce de leche found at Whole Foods since I didn’t really have the required motivation/energy to make it at home. Sometimes, the easy path feels the best.

Since confiture de lait is quite sweet, I prefer to use plain whipped cream to top my pie instead of chantilly.

Banana cream pie with a chocolate mousse quenelle

makes four 10cm tarts
for the tart shell
250g flour
pinch of sea salt
125g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
25g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
40ml ice-cold water

Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse oatmeal. Mix the egg yolk and water together and pour over the flour mixture. Gently knead until it all comes together. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line four 10cm tart tins. Roll the pastry and drape it over the prepared tin. Press it into the edges and sides of the tin and trim the excess pastry away from the rim. Prick the base with a fork and chill for another 20 minutes.
Bake the pastry blind for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

for the filling
3 bananas
250g confiture de lait or dulce de leche
200g double cream, whipped

Place the bananas – unpeeled – on a baking tray and roast for 15-20 minutes or until black and soft. Allow to cool before removing the flesh from the skin and mashing it slightly with a fork.
Spread into the baked tart shells. Top with confiture de lait and whipped cream. Devour.

And before I forget about it: HAPPY NEW YEAR. x

Joyeux Noël

clem

It all started this past Wednesday. My first day off in a while.

And quite coincidentally, the day before Christmas Eve.

And quite coincidentally, I didn’t realise this until I spotted the big 23 on my wall clock as I woke up seconds before noon.

Lunch on granola. Quickest shower. Legging, sweater and UGG boots on. Brisk walk to High Street Kensington through Holland Park. Whole Foods.

There I got everything we needed to celebrate Christmas in the most proper way.

Here is our menu for Christmas day:
– homemade blinis with crème fraiche and Scottish salmon
– honey and wholegrain mustard roast pork with crisp potatoes
– selection of French cheeses with homemade focaccia
– banana cream pie with a chocolate mousse quenelle

And, lots of Champagne!

We’re going to party like there is no tomorrow since it’s the first time – for the both of us – that we are away from our families during the holidays.

If things go well, expect to see a small banana cream pie around over the next few days.

Happy Christmas. All my love. x fanny.

Comme des miettes d’étoiles filantes – Petits gâteaux aux cranberries

[Like shooting-star crumbs – Small cranberry cakes]

cranberry cakes

Sometimes, things can’t wait. Not for a week, a day, an hour, a second, or even a minute. Things like… SNOW.

In fact, ever since I spotted the first snowflakes almost five hours ago, I’ve seemed to have a canon 400D glued to my right hand.

And damn, this is a useful new organ, acting as an extension of my eyes. I think beauty surgeon should consider reconversion as camera-stickers in the most serious way.

snow two

Silly stories apart, snowflakes make the prettiest things to photograph. So much that I actually jumped onto the bed to reach my laptop and tell you about this. Then, I second-thought, and realised that as lovely they might be, they are not considered pâtisserie.

Oh yes, I could have written a recipe for snow granita, which in my humble opinion taste best with a dash of lemon juice and some vodka (this is off records, right), but it didn’t quite fall in what I consider shareable.

Those petits gâteaux aux cranberries I made a couple of days ago do.

Well, let me check. Delicious: yes. Seasonal: yes. Moist: yes. Flavourful: yes. Pretty: not so much, but you have to realise we don’t even own a muffin pan yet, so they’re a little free-form.

Quite evidently, things couldn’t be as smooth. I could certainly post the recipe, but a picture? By night?

snow

Trust me, at this point I was more than desperate; not to mention exhausted from a never-ending sore-throat and looong hours of work at the Capital Hotel (yes, I know, this is – another – new thing in my life: two star restaurant!).
And then, I grabbed a binder, a cookbook, and a pastry chef jacket, and created this lightbox.

Please, close your eyes, unless you haven’t had a chance to get your advised dose of daily laughing; because, well, I’m sure THIS will make you giggle to the point when your cheek hurt and you start crying.

set up

Now take a deep breath, notice how sore your ribs are after this unexpected whoop, take a piece of paper and a pen, and write that recipe down for instant Christmasness.

Petits gâteaux aux cranberries
There is something comforting about those small cakes. It might be the wonderful smell that fills the house, setting everyone into a Christmas mood; or maybe it’s their light texture.

If – unlike me – you use a muffin pan, your cake will rose higher and might require a couple extra minutes of baking. Just insert a knife into the centre of the cakes and as soon as it comes out clean, it means they’re ready.
Simply make sure you don’t overbake them, in which case they would turn out slightly dry instead of theire usual moistness.

You should also make sure your milk and egg aren’t too cold when you add them so the butter doesn’t set when you mix them in. If it does, don’t worry, the cakes will be lovely, just perhaps a tad smaller.

Petits gâteaux aux cranberries

makes 12

for the cranberries
30g butter
150g fresh cranberries
100g sugar

In a pan set over medium heat, melt the butter, then throw in the cranberry and sugar, Mix from time to time until the cranberries are soft yet not mushy.
Allow to cool, while you get on with the cake batter.

for the orange cake
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
125g flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
zest from half an orange
120g milk, at room temperature
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 175°C.
In a bowl, cream the butter until smooth then mix in the sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and orange zest.
Mix in the milk and egg until you have a lump-free batter.
Fold in the cranberries and their cooking juices, and divide the batter amongst 12 muffin cases.
Bake for 25 minutes, or when the point of a knife inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.

Ouh la menteuse, elle est amoureuse – Granola aux noix de pécan, sirop d’érable et banane

[Oh the lier, she has a lover* – Pecan, maple syrup and banana chips granola]

granola

Do you remember when, a couple of days ago, I told you that 1) I had no recipe to share, and 2) Jamie’s chicken is the base of our food diet?

(I made sure to quote the two facts above so it’s really clear in your heads right now.)

Well, I have to confess that I lied. The evidence being the absolutely gorgeous maple, pecan and banana granola we eat daily with a good dollop of yoghurt for me, and a dash of milk for Guillaume.

I didn’t mean to hide this from you. In fact, I even took one picture with my favourite film camera (adequately called Pentax ME Super) thinking I would have time to take cleaner pictures with my digital Canon.

The jar containing our granola got a little emptier every day. But nobody in the house seemed to notice.

And then it happened.

One day, between the third and fourth of December, I woke up to an empty jar.

This means: 1) no pretty picture, and 2) that this granola is the best ever. I mean, one-plus kilogram of cereals, nuts and dried fruits; ten days, two people.

Yes, it’s evident that we had it for breakfast every single day, looking down on the usual favourite: fried bacon and toast.
And this comes from two people, who has much as they love pâtisserie, would rather eat a whole camembert than a chocolate bar.

* This is a French song children use to tease each others when they find out one of them is in love. It’s highly possible that this is now too 80s for those who are now seven-ish and already playing with iPhones (gosh, I do sound like an old lady, SCARY) though.

Pecan, maple, and banana granola
As with most granolas, this recipe is quite versatile. You can add more nuts, or some dried fruits; if your feeling decadent, fold in chopped chocolate in your cooled granola is always comforting. Or perhaps, switch the maple syrup for honey.

In fact, I must admit we also love a version made with sunflower seeds, honey, and dried apricots. The only thing is that we like to keep it simple. Three flavours: one type of nut, one type of liquid sweetening, and one type of dried fruit.
But really, make it your own by all means, and you’ll have a ready-to-eat breakfast for at least one week or two.

Regarding the process, things couldn’t get easier. You have the dried ingredients and the wet ones. Just combine everything. Bake until crisp, then mix in you dried fruits.

Pecan, maple, and banana granola

makes a little over one kg

300g jumbo oats
100g flaked wheat
40g puffed barley
320g pecan
75g light brown sugar
50g organic sunflower oil
200g organic maple syrup
400g banana chips

Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Place all the dried ingredients (bar the banana chips) into a large bowl, then pour the oil and maple syrup over. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
Put into a large baking sheet or two and bake for 40 minutes, making sure your give it a good stir every now and then since the edges tend to colour faster than the centre.
Allow to cool, then mix in the banana chips.
Keep in an airtight box and serve with cold milk or yoghurt.

Days replace days, things replace things – A guide to making your London life even better

journal

I should probably warn you straight away: I don’t know where to start. Today, I have no glorious recipe to share, no amusing anecdote to tell, and no sweet place to show you.

And yet, I felt the need to write in my sugar-coated journal; yes, right here on foodbeam.

One simple reason: I’m thankful. For having you as friends. For calling London home. For having the most adorable job ever. For the small flat Guillaume and I lovingly share. For London’s treasures. For the Christmas tree that sits in our living room.

hooome

In fact, I’m thankful for life.

And for Jamie Oliver’s perfect roast chicken and vegetables. It’s the primary component of our food diet at the moment. And this time, Guillaume isn’t complaining (yes, I thought it was necessary to bring this up yet again: he does NOT like pumpkin pie; and yes, I also stopped breathing as I typed this, just as you probably did when reading this dreadful sentence).

I could possibly give you the recipe, but since it’s written in perfect words over on Jamie’s website, I highly suggest you rush to the butcher before it closes, get yourself a plump organic chicken and roast it along some roughly chopped onions, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and mange-touts.

chicken

Or you could also gather all the polaroids you took and stick them on the wall behind your bed to form a lovely heart.

polaroid heart

Another suggestion for a happier life, would be to buy some blue leopard leggings from hache and emm, and go for a walk through Holland park.
Make sure you have some warm UGG at your feet though.

holland park

Now, I realise I might be a week late for this, but what are you thankful for? It always makes me happy to know what makes other people happy.

It’s now time for me to stop writing, I seem to have become way too random. I promise foodbeam is a blog about pastry and it will remain as such. I do, on the other hand, hope you liked this little glimpse into my new world. Love x fanny.