What is it?: A brownie, but not as we know it
Occasion: Baking Rota
As I have mentioned once before, my office has a baking rota. We all take it incredibly seriously and I have long suspected that the highlight of the week among my colleagues is when the Thursday afternoon email entitled ‘Cake’ drops into everybody’s inbox. We all take it in turns to bake, and this week it was my turn. Initially I felt quite inspired to attempt some of the more complicated recipes within Short and Sweet, but my week went from being almost empty to near-chaos in a matter of minutes. On Monday evening, Band of Bakers, the baking club that I co-run, appeared on Paul Hollywood’s Bread. We filmed it back in October and were very excited about seeing it, but almost as soon as it was aired, we had a huge number of tweets, Facebook messages and emails to respond to. Which took up a large part of my free time. So, with that in mind, I decided instead to go with that old bake-sale favourite, brownies. I made, and loved, the bourbon pecan brownies that I made for a Band of Bakers event last year, so these had to be just as good, right?
The first thing I noticed about this recipe was that it used rye flour in place of the usual plain flour which, according to Dan, gave the brownies quite a different flavour. I almost toyed with the idea of using a mixture of rye and spelt, having both in the house, but decided instead to be true to the recipe. What I love the most is that you can make the whole recipe, up to the point where you pour it into the baking tin, in a saucepan as I am a huge fan of anything that saves on the washing up. I also like the way that hazelnut oil is used to enhance the flavour of the whole hazelnuts that are studded through the brownies. Fighting the urge to add a handful of dried sour cherries was also a struggle as I felt that a fruity dimension would really add to the recipe but, again, I resisted.
I have been trying and failing to write this post for some time, simply because I didn’t really love the outcome all that much, and didn’t quite know how to describe why. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with this brownie – the inside was squidgy as a brownie should be, the nuts provided texture and the rye flour gave an interesting dimension as promised. I think the problem, at least for me, is that these brownies don’t seem to be very sweet. One of my colleagues actually preferred them above all other brownies for this very reason, but there just wasn’t enough of a sugary kick to satisfty my overly sweet palate – perhaps this is why I was tempted to add the sour cherries after tasting the batter – I just needed something more. If you have a friend that is not really into sweet things (we all seem to!), these are beyond perfect. If you are the kind of person that can easily clear out a jar of Nutella with a spoon, they might not be for you.
In other news:
This week was Band of Bakers 1st birthday and we celebrated with a party at The Herne in East Dulwich. We were lucky enough to receive a visit from the man himself, Mr Dan Lepard. There were a few bakes from Short and Sweet on the table, including my cheese-stuffed breadsticks, made with Dan’s pizza dough, so hopefully he was able to try them all.
What a fantastic year we’ve had! You can see the photos on our Facebook page!