Sunday, 14 August 2011

3. Hazelnuts - Hazelnut Pizza Dough

After reading in The Flavour Thesaurus that hazelnutty tones can be detected in cheeses and that garlic and rosemary are complementary flavours, I thought I'd give something savoury a try. I also wanted to make Joe happy as he doesn't have a sweet tooth. I had wondered about incorporating ground hazelnuts into a bread dough and pizza seemed like an obvious choice. After a bit of Internet research I found a few recipes and here's the one I used.

Ingredients (for 2 pizzas)

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, plus a splash more for greasing
250ml warm water
7g (one sachet) fast action dried yeast
375g plain flour
55g ground roasted hazelnuts
1 teaspoon of sea salt


Take a mixing bowl and pour in the water followed by the yeast. The recipe online said to leave it until it went frothy but that never happened (but it didn't seem to have an adverse effect on the end result). Leave it for a few minutes and see what happens!

Stir in the oil. Sieve in the flour, add the hazelnuts (I couldn't find hazelnut meal so I whizzed some up in a food processor) and salt and mix together with your hands until the mixture comes together to form a soft dough.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth (this should take about 5 minutes).

Oil your mixing bowl (it doesn't matter if little bits of dough remain from your mixing) and turn the ball of dough around in it so it's coated in a light layer of oil. Leave the dough in the bowl, covered with a clean tea towel, in a warm draught free place for an hour. It should double in size.

Pre-heat your oven to 500F/250C i.e. HOT!

Divide the dough into two even pieces. If you happen to have some polenta, sprinkle some onto 2 baking sheets. This will give your pizzas a crunchy base. Alternatively, dust your baking sheets with flour. Pummel and stretch the dough to fit the baking sheets and then add your toppings. I made the mistake of rolling out the dough on the work surface and then adding toppings which made it very difficult to then get onto a baking tray so I highly recommend getting the dough on the baking sheet first.

I made my own tomato sauce using a splash of olive oil, a finely chopped onion, 4 finely chopped cloves of garlic and a tin of tomatoes. Heat up the olive oil over a medium heat, turn the heat down and then add the onions and garlic. You don't want them to brown but when the onions have turned soft and translucent, throw in the tomatoes. Bring up to a lively simmer then leave on a low heat for about an hour, by then it will become thick and rich.

Then it comes to adding your toppings. A couple of tablespoons of thick tomato sauce makes a good foundation, then you can add whatever takes your fancy. The idea is that the pizzas go into a really hot oven for a very short time so you don't want to pile it high with toppings. Joe and I made ours with a sprinkling of basil...

...chorizo, olives, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, mozzerella, chilli, finished with a sprinkling of parmesan.

Once topped with your favourite morsels, pop in the oven for about 6 minutes. This should be enough time to crisp up the base, melt the cheese and form a charred crust on slices of chorizo.

The photo of the finished article doesn't do it justice (I'm in need of some food photography lessons!) but please believe me when I say the hazelnuts really make a difference. The base was crisp on the outside and had a satisfying chewiness to it. The flavour was also really good, the base wasn't just a bland vehicle for all the toppings but its nutty notes could easily be identified amongst the other strong flavours. All in all, a success!

Monday, 6 June 2011

2. Hazelnuts - Apple & Hazelnut Cake #2 - Niki Seignit Version

After creating my own version of an apple and hazelnut cake I made a second one following the recipe in The Flavour Thesaurus exactly (apart from scaling it up to fit my tin). Here's how it goes...


This is for a 23cm round springform tin.

150g roasted, skinned and ground hazelnuts
185g plain flour
150g very soft butter
150g light brown soft sugar
3 tsp baking powder
2 large free range eggs
1 1/2 tbsp hazelnut oil
1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
4 medium Bramley apples

Line your cake tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan oven/gas mark 4.


Very simply, combine the hazelnuts, flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, eggs, oil and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl.

Peel, core and quarter the apples then halve each quarter and cut each of these pieces into 4.

Fold the apple chunks into the cake batter then spoon/pour/scrape the mix into your prepared cake tin.

Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes and transfer onto a wire rack once it is cool enough to handle.

I thought this cake was delicious and again the combination of apples and hazelnuts worked beautifully. The only problem I had with this cake was that I don't think it looked that great. It has such a high moisture content because of all the apples. In some ways that's what makes it taste so amazing and feel so luxurious on your tongue but I couldn't get the cake out of the tin in one piece, it ended up a bit of a mess. A tasty mess though.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Calling all London based bakers!

Any London based bakers out there need some help over the summer? I'm Streatham based and after some work experience in a kitchen environment baking bread/cakes etc. I'm particularly keen to develop my pastry skills but would welcome any experience in that environment. Please get in touch at

It's been a long time

Hello dearest readers. It's been an embarrassingly long time since I last posted anything and it's amazing how time flies. We moved house back in March and most of our time has been spent trying to make it into our home. Juggling work and house stuff has been exhausting hence a distinct lack of activity on the old blog. However, that's all about to change!

I've not neglected the baking, just publishing the recipes. Some recipes to look forward to are...Apple & Hazelnut Cake (part 2), Chocolate & Hazelnut Cupcakes, Mississippi Mud Pie and Hazelnut Pizza Dough.

As an incentive to watch this space...


Saturday, 19 February 2011

The (Beardy)man can bake!

This appears to be quite an old video but I've only just seen it. It's very impressive!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

1. Hazlenuts - Apple & Hazlenut Cake #1 - my version

I have neglected my blog lately. I think it's down to a combination of a rotten cold and a touch of the January blues. Now the weather is slightly warmer and night time doesn't begin at 4pm I feel alive again!!

I've made two versions of this cake. The first time I tried it I didn't have some of the ingredients for Niki Segnit's recipe so I used it as a base and then added my own touches. I then got all the proper ingredients and followed the recipe exactly (see next post).


I had a slightly bigger tin than the one in the recipe so I scaled it up by 50%. This is for a 23cm round springform tin.

150g roasted, skinned and ground hazelnuts
4 medium Bramley apples
Juice of half a lemon
150g very soft butter
150g light brown soft sugar
2 large free range eggs
3tsp baking powder
185g plain flour
50g dark chocolate

Line your cake tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan oven/gas mark 4.


I used a slightly different method from that in the book and it goes like this...

Grind up the hazelnuts in a food processor and set to one side. Make sure you take a good long sniff at this point - the rich and warm aromas of the nuts are released (especially if you've roasted them yourself) and smell wonderful.

Take a big bowl, fill it with water and add the lemon juice. Peel and core the apples. Cut into quarters. Halve each quarter and then cut each piece into 4. Place in the bowl and set aside.

Beat the sugar and butter together until fluffy. (I should say that I don't work for Kitchen Aid, it is my new toy that Joe got me for Christmas. Haven't done much baking without it since!).

With the beater still going, add the eggs one at a time making sure the first is fully incorporated before breaking in the second.

Sift together the baking powder and flour and add to the mixture. Keep beating until fully combined.

Next stir in the hazelnuts.

Next drain the apples and stir these into the mixture. It will seem like there is way too much apple for the amount of mixture but have faith! Keep stirring to get as much of an even distribution of apple/mixture as possible.

Spoon into the prepared baking tin, pop in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin for 15 to 20 minutes and then very carefully transfer to a cooling rack. With all the fruit it is a very moist cake so it breaks easily (note chunk missing at 7 o'clock!).

Put a few centimetres of water in a saucepan and bring to a very very gentle simmer. Break up the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl and suspend this over the saucepan. It's important that the chocolate melts slowly or it will seize and turn grainy so make sure the water doesn't boil and make sure the bowl isn't touching the water.

Once melted, drizzle the chocolate over the cake and leave to set.

When I drizzled on the chocolate I regretted adding so much and I thought its bitterness would overpower the other ingredients but when I tried a slice I was really surprised at how the apples, hazelnuts and chocolate complimented each other (just as Niki Segnit promised!).

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Ingredient 3 - Hazelnuts

Also known as filbert and cobnut (referring to cultivated rather than wild varieties) and chocolate's perfect partner, the hazelnut is ingredient number 3.

I've become a huge fan of Niki Segnit's beautifully written book The Flavour Thesaurus (thank you to Jo and Thom for my copy for Christmas). The chapter on hazelnuts made my mouth water and got my creative juices flowing with the thought of experimenting with hazelnut oil, liqueurs and hazelnut butter.

The book takes different ingredients (categorised into sections such as "Earthy", "Spicy", "Woodland") and matches them to their ideal partners. Some are expected e.g. hazelnut and chocolate, but some are more interesting e.g. pineapple and anchovy. It's packed with ideas and one thing that really interested me in the hazelnut chapter is the concept that it could be the finest flavour in the world. Segnit notes that the hazelnut's sweet, delicate, buttery flavours can be detected in, amongst other luxury foods, caviar, champagne, oysters, French farmhouse butter and Beaufort cheese. So I'm now convinced that some delicious hazelnut containing creations can come out of the kitchen.

It only seems right to try out one of Segnit's recipes first - Apple & Hazelnut Cake...