In days yonder, buttermilk was the liquid left over when butter was churned. (You can get the same thing by running cream in a food processor until the butter solids separates from liquid a.k.a. buttermilk.) These days, the buttermilk you buy in the grocery store is made by treating milk with lactic acid to ferment it. Essentially, buttermilk is spoilt milk.
Buttermilk is actually a pretty common ingredient in baking. It has a low PH (read: acidic), so it tenderises confections like muffins and cakes.
I don’t know about you, but I have no other use for buttermilk except for baking, so it’s not always readily available in my kitchen.
So, my quick fix is to add 1 tablespoon of an acid like lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk and let it stand and thicken up for about 10-15 minutes. And voilà, a very serviceable buttermilk.
(Or, just use yoghurt in place of buttermilk like I so often do.)
A croquembouche is a tower of profiteroles served at special occasions. It looks spectacular, but at its basis, it’s nothing more than cream puffs stuck to a cone.
So that’s pretty much what I did.
I made one batch of my profiterole recipe, and stuck the puffs to a small cardboard cone I’d bought from an arts supply store. (Or you could just as easily make one.)
For glue, a traditional croquembouche uses hot caramel that cools and hardens. (That’s why croquembouche translates into “crunch in the mouth.”) However, dipping each puff into hot, napalm-like molten sugar can be pretty dangerous. My safer solution was to use one recipe of my salted caramel buttercream icing to stick the puffs to the cone. I then just piped flowers to cover up the gaps.
Easy-peasy. It’s definitely more of a construction job than baking, but the results are pretty spectacular.
When I was a kid, a large round blue tin of Danish butter biscuits was a really common present to get at Christmas or on your birthday. You could always tell what it was under the wrapping just by its shape.
I loved those Danish biscuits. They were sweet, buttery and crumbly, and came in a myriad of shapes. My most favourite one was the star-shaped biscuits because I’d eat each one segment by segment. (Even as a kid I had OCD.)
Fortunately, these biscuits are the easiest ones to make, especially if you’re a beginning baker. And with a little bit of piping work, they can look really fancy too.
Waffles hold a lot of childhood memories for me. They remind me of special family weekend breakfasts at A&W. Those waffles were always hot and delightfully crispy, topped with ice cream and syrup.
These days, I find it really hard, even next to impossible to buy waffles that are beautifully crisp, while light and fluffy on the inside. More often than not, the waffles I come across are spongy and limp. Thankfully, making waffles at home is not difficult at all.
Got milk? Well, there are those who believe that cow’s milk isn’t quite the stuff of healthy children and strong bones. In fact, there seem to be plenty of reasons to remove dairy from our diet. My reasons for eliminating cow’s milk and most other dairy goods include a certain degree of lactose intolerance and acne.
But cow’s milk is everywhere, hidden in other foods right under our noses. That’s the reason why this chocolate ice cream is only almost dairy-free. See, even dark chocolate contains some quantities of dairy product. If you’re fortunate enough to access dairy-free dark chocolate, then use that instead for a truly dairy-free ice cream.
Otherwise, I guarantee that this ice cream will not make you miss dairy in the slightest. In fact, it’s a whole lot richer and creamier than traditional dairy-laden ice creams.