THE Bay Area around San Francisco is a good >barometer for what the next food trend will be. Often what is served there, or in New York, filters across the globe and influences chefs, bakers and consumers worldwide.
Presently there are a number of young American food lovers, with entrepreneurial spirit, setting up bakeries that fuse their Asian roots with a more traditional American style of baking.
Much of the sweet desserts I came across in Asia had a very different texture to what we are used to in Western countries but this new trend combines more familiar ways of baking with flavours such as matcha, black sesame, lemongrass, jasmine or coconut milk.
I am always interested in trying flavours and ingredients in new ways so have been experimenting.
Matcha is a vivid green powder that is derived from green tea leaves. The leaves are grown in the shade. This method of cultivation produces high levels of chlorophyll which causes that dazzling green colour. The powder has a slightly astringent taste which balances the sweetness of the white chocolate.
Lemongrass is an ingredient I have often used in savoury cooking. It can be tough and woody so it is important to choose the stalks well and look for ones that have a perfumery, sweet, and lemony scent.
Most of the flavour is in the thicker end of the stalk where the bulb is.
Its aromatic character makes it a pleasing addition to sweet cakes and desserts.
Matcha and white chocolate tray bake
- 200g of white chocolate, broken into small even pieces
- 140g of soft butter
- 180g of golden caster sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 120g of plain flour
- 1 tbsp of matcha powder
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tin with parchment. I use an8-inch square tray that has about an inch-high side.
Melt the butter over a low heat with half the chocolate. Stir in the sugar and once it has cooled slightly stir in the eggs until completely combined.
Sieve the matcha and flour together and fold it into the mixture.
Stir in the rest of the white chocolate and scoop the mixture into the prepared tray. Smooth it out and bake for about 25 minutes until cracking on top.
Allow to cool in the tin before slicing.
Sprinkle some extramatcha powder on top if you wish.
Coconut cake witha hint of lemongrass
- 200g of golden caster sugar
- 4 stalks of lemongrass
- 200g of soft butter
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 125g of plain flour
- 2 tbsp of baking powder
- 125g of desiccated coconut
For the icing
- 200 mls of thick coconut milk; if you open a tin discard the running part and scoop out the solid white
- 70g of icing sugar
- 50g of desiccated coconut
Preheat your oven to 170degrees and line an 8 inch round cake tin withparchment.
Place the caster sugar into a liquidiser. Remove the outside layer of the lemongrass and top and tail each stalk. Discard these bits and slice the remaining stalk into about ten slices. Place these into theliquidiser with the sugar. Blitz until there are nolonger lumps of lemongrass.
Place the lemongrass sugar and butter into a large bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and combine with a wooden spoon.
Sieve the flour and baking powder together and add this to the mixture along with the coconut. Stir until combined and a smooth batter is formed. Scoop into the prepared tray and place into the oven.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes then transfer onto a wire rack.
To make the icing whisk the thick coconut milk with the icing sugar and desiccated coconut. Spread this on top of the cooled cake and decorate as you wish.
Jasmine tea infused buns
- 150mls of milk
- 4 jasmine green tea, tea bags
- 150g of soft butter
- 120g of golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 155g of self raising flour, sieved
For the icing
- The infused milk from above
- 250g of icing sugar
- 140g of soft butter
Place the tea bags into the milk and bring to a light boil over a low heat. Allow to simmer gently for about ten minutes with a lid on. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for about half an hour.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and place 12 paper cases into a bun tin.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and turning pale. Incorporate the eggs one at a time with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add in the flour, scraping around the edges of the bowl as you do so. Add four tablespoon of the infused milk and stir until completely combined, scraping the mixture from the edges and making sure it is well mixed.
Scoop the mixture into the twelve cases. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes than transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the icing by whisking three tablespoons of the infused milk with the icing sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Once the buns are completely cool, pipe the icing on top. You can decorate with toasted coconut if you wish.