‘Sweet’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh – Review

It is safe to say I didn’t need another cookery book. There are seven bookshelves full in my kitchen, more in my bedroom, piles down the side of the bed – the list goes on. I gave up counting my family collection long ago. We are avid collectors and the amount is constantly growing. There are lots of charity shop finds – classics collected along the way to fill gaps in the collection. Nigel Slater, Diana Henry and Rachel Allen all have a dominant presence. Certain favourites show the test of time – the batter-covered brownie page from Nigella’s How to Eat, the Leiths Cookery Bible without a spine. Despite the already overflowing shelves, there was one new release that I have been anticipating ever since it was announced: Sweet, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. 

Ottolenghi Sweet - madeleines

I’ve always found it interesting how Ottolenghi is so renowned for his savoury cooking. For me, when I think of Ottolenghi I think of his shop windows. The displays are always stunning – cake stands groaning with blackberry financiers, passion fruit tarts, new cheesecakes, huge pink meringues. Sweet is those windows transformed into a beautiful book. As the name suggests, it focuses on all things baking and dessert. It contains the familiar window favourites along with brand new ideas and twists on classics. The recipes are extremely precise and detailed, but in a way that makes you simply feel confident the recipes will work rather than daunted by an overload of information.

I’ve only had this book a few weeks but it has already dominated what’s been going into my oven – as you can see by the pictures here! So far I have made the banana bundts with salted caramel, coffee and walnut financiers and honey and orange madeleines. Needless to say, they all turned out perfectly and vanished quickly. The list of things I still want to make grows every time I open it up – the orange flower amaretti and mini chocolate tarts are particularly calling my name. The recipes range in complexity and style (although ground almonds are a dominant presence!) but all are visually stunning. I defy you to read it without wanting to turn the oven on immediately! Ottolenghi’s previous books all currently sit proudly on the crowded bookcase but his newest release is by far my new favourite and well worthy of its place.

Ottolenghi Sweet - coffee and walnut cakes

Rhubarb crumble ice cream

Surely the highlight of summer holidays has to be the opportunity for great ice cream every day. I remember all my recent holidays by the standard of the ice cream I had. In Malaga at Christmas I discovered the most perfect unadulterated raspberry sorbet. I returned so regularly for it throughout the week that I am sure the server started to recognise me. In April, I went to Florence with my best friend for just three days. Despite initial plans to try as many ice cream parlours and flavours as possible, one little ice cream shop opposite the Pitti Palace captured our hearts with it’s amazing caramel and white chocolate flavour. I know, it sounds sickly sweet, but I promise you it was balanced perfectly – smooth white chocolate ice cream, dark and salty caramel, a thick layer of dark chocolate fudge on top. A bold tangerine flavour discovered on an evening stroll was also deliciously memorable. I am headed to Rhodes and Symi in August and I’m already excited for more ice cream discoveries.

Rhubarb crumble ice cream

Perfect ice cream is too good to be restricted to holidays. Returning from travelling, I wanted to make a classic English flavour and considering my well documented rhubarb obsession, this seemed like a good place to start. I always make ice cream using the no-churn method – it is super easy and doesn’t require an ice cream maker, but still achieves really creamy and smooth results so you’d never know there wasn’t a custard base. Cooking the rhubarb and crumble adds a few more steps so having the ice cream base come together really quickly is extra helpful. The end result is the perfect treat on an English summer afternoon – tart swirls of pretty pink rhubarb, crunch from the crumble and extra flavour from the oats. Enjoy!

Rhubarb crumble ice cream

  • 400g rhubarb
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 140g plain flour
  • 10g butter
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • handful of rolled oats
  • 300ml double cream
  • 175ml condensed milk

Begin with the rhubarb. Preheat the oven to 180’C. Chop the rhubarb into 5cm lengths and place in a single layer on a baking tray. Sprinkle with the caster sugar. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the rhubarb is tender when pierced with a fork.

For the crumble, rub together the flour, butter and light brown sugar until just past breadcrumbs and beginning to form small lumps. Add the oats and stir through. Scatter in a single layer on a baking tray and bake above the rhubarb for 10-15 minutes, until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Remove the rhubarb from the oven and tip into a food processor or blender, including all the juices. Blend to a smooth puree.

Next, whisk the double cream and condensed milk together until forming soft peaks. Stir through 2/3 of the rhubarb puree and 2/3 of the cooled crumble chunks. Scrape half the mixture into a Tupperware container. Spoon over half the remaining rhubarb puree, and half the remaining crumble. Swirl using the end of a spoon to create a ripple effect. Top with the rest of the ice cream mixture, puree and crumble. Finally, freeze for four hours or overnight until solid.

Peach Cobbler

Sometimes I miss baking in the summer. Baking lends itself perfectly to winter – all warming crumbles, lashings of custard, rib-sticking golden syrup sponges and Christmas puddings set on fire. In summer, meanwhile, for Londoners already struggling with the occasional heatwave the thought of adding more heat by switching on an oven seems insufferable. Magazines suggest simple fruit-swirled fools, ice lollies and jazzy fruit salad combinations for dessert instead. But sometimes, these just don’t cut it.

Peach cobbler

A crumble is a classic in my house, but this time I wanted to make a cobbler to try something a little bit different. I thought it turned out looking so sweet with the little dumplings sitting in neat rows on top of the peaches. It’s definitely heartier than a crumble – a higher ratio of topping to fruit – but it gives that same satisfying texture change between the crunchy demerara top of the dumplings and the fruit juice soaked layer of the underneath. I may have had the leftovers for breakfast. Shh.

Peach Cobbler

Serves 2

  • 210g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 70g cold butter, cubed
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 50-80ml milk
  • 2 tins of sliced peaches
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • demerara sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 180’C.

Sift the plain flour and baking powder together. Add the cold butter and rub together with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Make a well in the middle, and pour in 50ml of the milk. Mix with a knife to a soft dough, adding more milk if necessary. Pat out into a flat disc 1.5cm thick and use a 5cm cookie cutter to stamp out circles. Set aside.

Drain the sliced peaches and tip into a small pie dish. Sprinkle the vanilla essence over the peaches. Arrange the dough discs on top of the peaches, brush with milk and sprinkle generously with demerara sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the biscuits are golden and crisp on top. Serve warm with plenty of cream or custard.

Apricot frangipane tart

Cookery school was a year where I learnt the true art of pastry. Quiches lined with buttery shortcrust, proudly freestanding hot water crust pork pies, summer tarts edged with towering layers of rough puff, afternoons spent stretching homemade filo across entire tables – we did it all. For the majority of the year we also did everything by hand, the true Leiths way, in order to get a proper feel for the doughs we worked with. Since I finished Leiths and went to Cambridge, the proportion of my time spent perfecting pastry in this way has sadly largely declined. A situation that needed to be rectified immediately – with this frangipane tart!

Frangipane Tart

I didn’t start making this until about 6pm one evening, which made me think visions of eating freshly baked frangipane for dinner that evening might be overly ambitious. However, this came together in a cinch. As much as I enjoy occasionally labouring over the perfect crisp-bottomed quiche, it was joyous not to have any blind baking involved in this recipe. The jam, frangipane and fruit are all layered on the raw pastry and everything all baked together at once. You can pop it in the oven and forget all about it until the timer beeps 40 minutes later, with no baking beans in sight. The perfect way to get back into pastry making. When raw, the frangipane layer seemed perilously thin but it puffs up perfectly in the oven so do not fear! You can vary the flavours to suit seasonality and the jam you have to hand – the combinations are endless. I based my tart on this Mary Berry recipe (who better to use to avoid a soggy bottom?) with a few adaptations: I snuck a layer of jam in between the pastry and frangipane, used fresh apricots and skipped the icing layer as the jam gave that extra hit of sweetness instead. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Galette

I got an unusual message from my friend the other day. ‘Babe, you’re a bit obsessed with rhubarb on Instagram’. A quick check of my most recent likes showed that they were indeed skewed towards all things pink and long stemmed. Rhubarb vodka, cakes, just pictures of people’s bright fruit hauls ready to be turned into something delicious. In particular, my likes kept showing me lots of highly elaborate rhubarb tarts – with delicately fragranced custard fillings, carefully latticed pie lids or neat fruit arrangements in long rectangular tins. Whilst I desperately wanted to try all of these, my limited space and equipment at university meant that (for now) I had to go with something a little bit more rustic to turn my evident rhubarb insta-favouritism into something real.

Rhubarb galette

I used to make a plum and marzipan galette that was absolutely delicious and I wanted to recreate some of that magic galette simplicity with this. The brown sugar pastry gave a lovely extra flavour to the biscuity pastry and a generous slice, served with an equally generous pour of custard, proved the perfect afternoon treat.

Rhubarb galette

  • 200g plain flour
  • 140g cold butter
  • 85g brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 300g rhubarb
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 5tbsp caster sugar
  • 2tbsps ground almonds
  • 1tbsp demerara sugar

Rub the butter into the flour until resembling fine breadcrumbs. Stir through the sugar. Mix the egg yolk with 1tbsp of water, and pour into the flour mixture. Use a knife to stir together and bring into a dough. Shape into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill for an hour.

Cut the rhubarb into 5cm sticks. Stir together with the orange zest and sugar.

Preheat the oven to 180’C. Roll the pastry into a large disc, 3mm thick. Lift onto a lined baking tray. Sprinkle the ground almonds over the pastry. Pile the rhubarb into the centre of the disc, leaving a 5cm border of pastry. Fold the pastry border over the edges of the fruit. Sprinkle the demerara sugar over the edge of the pastry.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp. Serve with plenty of custard.

Rhubarb, orange and almond cake

I look forward to rhubarb season every year. There is something so cheery about getting through the grey bleakness of January with a little help from these long bright pink stems, quite unlike anything else in season at this time of year. Those long stems may look a little bit ridiculous poking out of my bag as I walk through Cambridge, squeezed in amongst my dissertation draft and books on the Enlightenment, but it’s worth it for this cake.

Rhubarb, orange and almond cake

I initially really wanted to make a rhubarb galette with my stash, but as I’ve cooked a lot with pastry in the last week or so I have put this on hold for now. After searching through my rhubarb recipes and discounting elaborate tarts, delicate jellies and creams I settled on this cake – thinking that a generous slice warm from the oven, with a big dollop of crème fraiche alongside it, would be the perfect change from the baking trays of shortbread and cookies my oven has been churning out so far this term. Even my chocolate-dedicated friends enjoyed this and I didn’t face the predicament of having this languishing in a tin for days (admittedly not that miserable a prospect) as it was all gone in two days between three of us.

Rhubarb, orange and almond cake

  • 170g soft butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • zest 2 oranges
  • 150g almonds
  • 40g plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 stick of rhubarb

Preheat the oven to 180’C. Line the base of a 21cm tin with greaseproof paper.

Slice the rhubarb into lengths around 7cm long. Cut each one into quarters lengthways to create thinner batons. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the eggs, beating well in between the addition of each egg. Add the orange zest and dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated.

Scrape the cake mixture into the prepared tin. Top with the rhubarb sticks in a clock pattern. Bake for 30-35 mins until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Apple crumble

Apple crumble is pure nostalgia. The world could do with a little comfort food right now, and crumble is the dish to do this. For my family, crumble is what we miss whenever any of us go away. Whether it is me at university, my Dad for work, my sister since she’s moved out or my Mum going travelling – I think crumble symbolises home for all of us.

Apple crumble

Whether we’re going fancy with an amaretti laced plum version, or simple like this, you just can’t really go wrong with crumble. Tinned fruit work equally well if you’re in a pinch, but for my version I went as classic as you can get because I had some apples languishing in my cupboard that were beginning to get a bit tired and in desperate need of a covering of sugar and cream. I had such good intentions to share this, but somehow it was all gone within 24 hours…

Apple crumble

  • 75g plain flour
  • 20g brown sugar
  • 20g caster sugar, plus 1tbsp
  • 50g butter
  • 3 small apples

Preheat the oven to 180’C. Mix the flour and sugars (saving the extra 1tbsp of caster sugar) together. Cut the butter into small cubes, and rub it into the flour and sugar mixture until fully incorporated and sandy textured. I like to go a tiny bit further to get some larger chunks as well.

Peel, core and chop the apples into 2cm dice. Tip into the crumble dish and scatter with the reserved tbsp. of caster sugar. Scatter the crumble mixture evenly over the top.

Bake for 20-25mins until the crumble is golden and crisp. Serve with custard or extra thick double cream.

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

I mean. Recipes with titles like that don’t need much explaining, do they? Those five words should get you scrambling to the kitchen with very little persuasion from me. But I’ll go ahead anyway, in case by some miracle of resistance you are still here.

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Want cookies but don’t have time to be scooping and rolling and swapping endless trays in and out of the oven? Love the crispy edge and gooey middle of a perfect cookie but never manage to bake it quite right? Are you cooking for others and need to provide dessert that’s fractionally fancier than a pile of biscuits in the middle of the table? This cookie pie solves all these conundrums.

I’ve written before about the issue of having to eat something for days on end when you’re cooking for one. This is entirely not an issue with this bake because not only would I be happy to eat just this for eternity, as soon as I posted this on Instagram I had multiple friends in college commenting enthusiastically. My message of ‘wanna chill and help me eat cookie pie?’ could not have been answered faster. Make this. I promise you won’t forget it.

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

I adapted this from this Nigella recipe for chocolate cookie pots, which she makes in ramekins. Ramekin servings would up the adorable factor, whilst one big one feels extra decadent and ensures plenty of gooey centre – the choice is yours! I baked mine in an 18cm dish which serves up to 4 people (it’s very rich) but this would also be easily doubled up to suit bigger tins and bigger crowds.

  • 110g soft butter
  • 90g soft light brown sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 150g plain flour
  • big pinch of baking powder
  • 100g chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180’C. Cream the butter and sugar together until soft. Add the vanilla and egg and stir until combined. Fold in the flour, baking powder and chocolate chips.

Spread the cookie dough into an 18cm pie dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden round the edge but still a little soft in the middle (the joy is the melting centre so better to under than over bake here). Serve warm with plenty of ice cream or crème fraiche. Enjoy!

Lemon Meringue Pie Ice Cream

‘What do you feed a horse?’ is not a question I expected to be asked in a one-on-one class with my Cambridge history lecturer. Somehow a conversation on Medieval economics and agriculture had led to me revealing my extreme lack of farming knowledge. ‘Grass?’ I offered hesitantly, after much thought. ‘Well done!’ my lecturer grinned, and I felt like I was back in primary school. ‘Anything else?’ ‘Crops?’ ‘Yes! Whereas an ox eats…?’ ‘Just grass?’ ‘Yes, well done!’ It was the simplest conversation ever but there is something about sitting in a room with an extremely clever Cambridge professor that makes you doubt everything you know. ‘And other than farming, what else can you use a horse for?’ ‘You can like.. ride it?’ ‘Yes!’

‘I can tell you are not from a farming background’, my lecturer laughed politely. ‘Neither am I,’ he continued, ‘but I do know what a horse eats.’ My London heritage has never been so obvious. Next week, I am doing an essay on towns: much more my forte. After an hour of struggling through farming chat, I was definitely in need of a post-supervision treat. Luckily, I had stores of this super simple ice cream waiting in my freezer.

lemon meringue pie ice cream

As June is now here, I felt it was time for a properly summery ice cream. I’ve been making a lot of rich, chocolatey ones recently (of which more soon!) but, much to the despair of my chocoholic friend, I was craving something more refreshing and light. Lemon meringue pie was one of the first desserts I ever made and it seemed like it would make a great ice cream. This one is a little more complicated than previous versions of my no-churn ice cream, but only because it has a few more additions – the base is exactly the same and it still takes less than 10 minutes to make. Particularly if you have a few friends on hand to form an ice cream team like I did! I think this turned out to be my favourite ice cream so far – zesty, light, tangy with lemon curd but sweet with meringues. It was definitely a challenge having this in my freezer and having to resist it, but luckily it was popular with my friends too and it did not last long.

No Churn Lemon Meringue Pie Ice Cream

  • 300ml double cream
  • 1/2 tin of condensed milk
  • zest of 2 lemons, the juice of one
  • 4 shop-bought meringues
  • 100g shortcake biscuits
  • 100g lemon curd

Whisk together the double cream, condensed milk and lemon zest until soft peaks form. Crush the meringues and biscuits together into bitesize small chunks. Stir into the cream along with the lemon juice.

Scoop half the mixture into a Tupperware box and dollop over half the lemon curd. Swirl the lemon curd into the ice cream with the end of a spoon to create long ripples. Top with the remaining mixture and lemon curd and repeat the ripple process. Freeze for 6 hours or overnight.