Last month I stumbled across Heston Blumenthal’s ‘Further Adventures in Search of Perfection’ in my local library. It’s a fascinating read, I was highly entertained. For those who aren’t familiar with Blumenthal, he’s an innovative chef who experiments with bringing together unusual textures & flavours, most famous for his Full English Breakfast Ice Cream and Snail Porridge. His restaurant The Fat Duck offer a tasting menu for about £100. I am currently saving £1 a week so that I will have enough money to eat there in 2 years time…but in the meantime I thought I’d tackle one of the recipes in his book. Each recipe has multiple parts & I can’t stop laughing at the crazy equipment requirments and the ridiculously lengthy preparation & cooking times.
I opted for the Trifle as I felt it to be the most do-able recipe. However, I decided not to make my own mini cement mixer for the caraway, fennel & coriander seed comfits. I also omitted a few of the elements and simplified the method somewhat as I didn’t have 8 hrs to spare. It took me about 2 hrs of active baking plus a few hours for chilling. I also used what was in my cupboard as I wasn’t going to trek around town searching for ingredients. So caraway biscuits turned into gluten-free cardamom biscuits, and I substituted orange blossom water for rose water in the strawberry jelly. I also used standard cooking sherry instead of Bodega Tradicion Palo Cortado sherry as specified in the book. I didn’t get round to making the olive puree but I wish I had as I felt my finished trifle was missing that contrasting salty edge. The recipe below is what I baked.
This trifle manages to incorporate a multitude of textures and I found the layers of smooth against hard really interesting, I’ve never experienced eating jelly with puff pastry or biscuit before. The flavours were also extremely subtle but melded together beautifully. It was an enjoyable baking adventure and for the first time in ages, I feel proud of myself.
The full recipe can be found on the bbc food website.
250g strawberries, hulled & quartered
1 tsp sherry
1 tsp rose water
1 tsp lemon juice
1 sachet gelatine
- Place the washed strawberries in a measuring jug. Add water until it reaches the 1 pint mark.
- Place the strawberries & water into a saucepan and add the sugar, sherry, rose water & lemon juice.
- Heat gently until boiling point; simmer for 20mins until the strawberries are soft.
- Sprinkle the gelatine over the strawberries & stir to dissolve. Continue to heat for a further 3-4mins.
- Turn the heat off & let it cool to room temperature, before half filling 8 ramekins.
50g whole milk
100g double cream
a pinch of saffron
2 egg yolks
20g caster sugar
1g leaf gelatine, soaked in cold water
- Put the milk, cream & saffron in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 4 mins. Remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a mixing bowl, then slowly whisk in the saffron cream. Return this mixture to the pan.
- Heat over a low temperature, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 75C/165F. Hold the mixture at this temperature for 2 mins.
- Stir in the gelatine and quickly cool over ice.
- Transfer to a bowl & cover with cling film. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
Puff Pastry Rounds
125g puff pastry
50g icing sugar, sifted
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6
- Dust a work surface with icing sugar and place the puff pastry on it.
- Scatter more of the icing sugar on top of the pastry and roll it out as thinly as possible while working the icing sugar into the dough.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment, then place the rolled-out pastry on it. Cover with another sheet of parchment and one or two baking sheets to weigh down the pastry and prevent it from rising.
- Place in the oven for 10mins. Check to make sure it has browned evenly.
- When done, remove from the oven and lift off the coverings. While the pastry is still warm, use an 8cm cutter to cut out 8 circles. I had to use a sharp knife to cut these circles as my plastic cookie cutter wasn’t sufficient enough. Leave to cool.
Cardamom Biscuits (gluten free)
70g unsalted butter
45g caster sugar
25g ground almonds
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
35g glutinous rice flour
20g gram flour
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg yolk
- Cream together the butter & sugar.
- Add all the dry ingredients & mix well.
- Add the egg yolk & vanilla until a dough forms.
- Remove the dough & wrap in cling film, then chill in the fridge for at least 1 hr.
- Cut out a piece of parchment the same size as your baking sheet and place on a work surface. Sit the dough on the parchment and cover with another sheet of parchment.
- Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1mm. place in the freezer until completely chilled through.
- preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2
- Remove the top sheet of parchment from the chilled dough and place in the oven for 10mins, or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and immediately cut out 8cm circles from the cooked dough. Allow to cool completely.
1 egg yolk
10g caster sugar
1tsp tapioca starch
70g mascarpone or quark
50ml whipping cream, whisked to soft peaks & chilled
- combine the egg yolks and sugar in a small mixing bowl using a hand-held blender.
- place the sherry & tapioca starch ina saucepan over a medium heat & whisk constantly for 2-3 mins.
- pour the sherry mixture into the yolks whilst mixing with the hand-held blender until fully incorporated.
- add the mascarpone (or quark) to the bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined.
- fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone, then cover & refrigerate for at least 2 hrs.
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
A pinch of salt
1 tsp sugar
- Place the seeds in a pan over a medium heat, stirring continuously until lightly roasted
- Sprinkle in the salt & sugar & stir constantly as they become a caramel and coat the seeds.
- Tip the seeds onto a baking sheet and cool to room temperature.
Assembling the finished trifles
- Remove the ramekins from the fridge & place a cardamom biscuit on top of the jelly
- Spoon in a layer of the saffron custard.
- Place a round of puff pastry on top of the custard, pressing down gently.
- Spoon a layer of mascarpone or quark cream.
- garnish the cream with candied seeds
- Serve the trifles & enjoy!