On Wednesday, our friendly bakers were back and I was seriously impressed! They are such a likeable bunch this year and I’m already developing favourites: Richard the builder, with his cheeky, caricature-like-accessory pencil tucked behind the ear; Chetna, and the Bombay flavours she’s bringing to the tent’s table (she also favourited my tweet, so, slightly biased there); and Norman, because he is such an endearing character who keeps things simple and delicious (though I do admit, as impressive as his loose-bottomed cupcake tray was, he needs to step up the mark in terms of creativity in his bakes…come on, Norman. I have faith in you!)
Mary’s technical challenge this week was florentines. Now I’ve made Ottolgenghi’s almond and orange florentines before (pictured below) and thought they were super simple yet deliciously crunchy and moreish. So, I was surprised by the amount of problems the bakers were having this week and thought I’d give it a shot. I mean, I couldn’t match their 3D efforts with such little time on my hands, and I’ve always gone for sweet over savoury, so the crackers were out and these were the logical choice.
I’ve deviated a little from Mary’s recipe here, namely because I was using things I had in the store cupboard, and also because I didn’t want to detract from the delicious nutty flavours with a load of chocolate. But, please do experiment as you wish, this is a really basic recipe from which you can deviate at will to make it your very own. This week I have channeled last year’s Big Baker, Glenn, as my florentine’s are not the dainty circles that lined the baker’s plates, but rather small saucer-sized delights that will satisfy anyone with a hungry sweet tooth!
Looking forward to bread week on Wednesday where Paul can release the fire behind his steely-blue eyes and bring some proper kneading to the table. Very excited to fill the house with that freshly-baked-bread aroma. Salivating at the thought…
For now, enjoy these (large) lacy numbers. Perfect little treat for afternoon tea with friends – as Perks can attest!
- 225 hazelnuts, roughly chopped (I would be tempted to try pistachios next time)
- 105g unsalted butter
- 175g caster sugar
- 270ml double cream
- 300g flaked almonds
- 150g assorted dried fruit (I used figs, glacé cherries and sultanas)
- 15g plain flour
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Line two large baking trays with baking parchment (I found I had to do two separate batches so if you have a big oven and four trays you could prepare all at once!)
- Put butter, sugar and cream in a pan and bring to the boil.
- Remove from the heat
- Add the chopped hazelnuts, flaked almonds, fruit and sift the flour into the mix
- Combine the ingredients together using a wooden spoon – not so vigorous that you break all the flaked almonds, but thoroughly enough so that everything has been coated with the buttery, sugar cream mix
- Spoon your mix onto the baking trays. It’s up to you how big you want them – I had put a heaped tablespoon and spread it out a bit and they ended up pretty big. If you’d prefer a smaller set, maybe use a heaped teaspoon or flat tablespoon amount instead
- Don’t worry if there are gaps in the mix – when it’s in the oven, it will spread so they’ll fill up and create that desired lacy effect
- Bake for approximately 10-11 minutes until a rich golden colour at the edges and a paler gold at the centre
- Remove from the oven to call and then carefully transfer onto a rack to fully cool
- Hopefully they are nice and crispy – enjoy!