Milk Bread

White Milk Bread
Wotchers!

Every now and then I’ll come across a recipe about which a lot of people have raved and I’ve somehow completely missed the memo.

This week’s post is just such a recipe.

Back in 2015, bonappetite published a recipe for the milk bread served as a starter at Kindred restaurant, in Davidson, North Carolina.

It seems to have caused quite a stir, with tales of diners making pilgrimages there. A couple of months later Food52 also published the recipe, and again in 2017, this time complete with gushing text and tempting photographs to emphasize the delectability of the bread.

My interest piqued, I decided to give it a try, and not wanting to make a gigantic batch (if it turned out to be all hype), I set about scaling down the original recipe – something I can recommend to all when trying something new.

A quick glance down the ingredients revealed the use of 3 eggs, so I decided on this basis to scale the recipe down to just one-third of the original.

Confession: In my haste, I had only skimmed the method at this point, so it was only when I was mid-way through that I noticed only two eggs were used in the dough itself, and the third was for the glaze. The proportions I had used would therefore make a slightly richer dough than the original, but rather than start over, I decided to bake it anyway. It turned out to be fantastic. The bread of angels. Lighter than a feather and so airy and of such a beautiful flavour, it was gone in an instant.

The method is a variation of the TangZhong, or water-roux, process of dough making. Of Japanese origin, but popularised in the 1990s through the publication of Yvonne Chen’s The 65° Bread Doctor, it involves making a roux of some of the flour and water, before mixing with the other ingredients, which has the effect of making the resultant bread incredibly light and airy as well as improving the keeping qualities to several days.

It was so astonishingly good I decided to see if it would improve bread made with flour other than the white specified in the original recipe.

And it does. Jaw-droppingly so. I tried with everything I had in the house and each one was immeasurably better using this method. The two most successful versions – by which I mean that the method was exactly the same with almost no need for any adjustments – were made with stoneground wholemeal flour and oat flour (fine oatmeal sieved).

Wholewheat Bread

This is the wholemeal version. Now I’m a big fan of dense, textured wholemeal bread (cf The Grant Loaf), but this method, with exactly the same flour, produced bread of such lightness and delicacy, it had me double-checking the bag of flour to make sure I hadn’t accidentally used a lighter grade.

Oat Bread

This is the Oat Bread. A little firmer than the wholemeal, but spongy and light, with a delicate, crumbly crumb. Made with 100% oat flour, it is a world away from the usually brick-like offering one gets using this flour and the traditional bread-making method.

The other flours I tried included 100% rye and 100% barley. Both will need further refining, as I fine-tune the ratio of liquid to flour, but the initial test batches had wonderful flavours and textures. I only stopped because I ran out of yeast – buckwheat and spelt will have to wait until the current bread mountain has diminished.

The following recipe quantities, from my initial slap-dash conversion (hey, if it aint broke, don’t fix it!) can be used to make a reasonably-sized batch to last a couple of days. Feel free to scale it up if everyone in your house are bread fans, or even use the original recipe by following the links. I’ve omitted the garnish of salt flakes on top, as they proved to be a bit much, but have at it if you’re so inclined.

Milk Bread

300g flour – plain, stoneground wholemeal or oat
180ml water
30ml/2 tbs honey
80ml double cream
1 large egg
1 sachet fast-action yeast
1tsp table salt
10g dried milk powder
20g butter, diced & softened

1 egg for glazing

  • Take 50g of the flour and put it into a saucepan with the water.
  • Whisk over medium head until thickened. It will look like wallpaper glue.
  • Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream and honey.
  • Cool slightly, then whisk in the egg until smooth.
  • Pour into a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Add the remaining flour, salt, yeast and milk powder and mix on the lowest possible speed for 10 minutes. NB If using oat flour, the mixture might require a little additional water. The appearance/texture for oat flour dough should be similar to hummus.
  • After 10 minutes, increase the speed to high for two minutes. This should help bring the dough together into a ball, leaving the ides of the bowl clean. N/A for oat flour.
  • Reduce speed to low again and gradually add in the butter and knead until fully incorporated.
  • cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise until doubled in size. Depending on the temperature in your kitchen, this will be between 60 and 90 minutes due to the enriched dough.
  • Once risen, gently tip out the dough and pat to deflate slightly. No need to squish it into a pancake, just a gentle deflate is fine.
  • For the pictures above, I divided the dough into 30g-ish pieces (eyeball satsuma-sized pieces) and dropped them into well-greased tins (mine are 10cm square, and 12cm mini loaf tins) for tear-apart servings. You can also use regular loaf tins, bundt tins, whatever is handy.
  • Cover lightly with plastic and allow to rise for 45-60 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 190°C, 170°C Fan.
  • Whisk the remaining egg until frothy and brush lightly over the risen dough.
  • Bake for 20 minutes (white) 25 minutes (wholemeal), 30 minutes (oat), turning the tins around half way though baking. NB Don’t be tempted to take it out too soon – the enrichment of the dough, together with the egg glaze will make for a much richer colour than regular bread, and it needs the extra time to bake thoroughly.
  • Allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, before removing and cooling on a wire rack.
  • Enjoy fresh, or wrap well in plastic/ziplock bag to keep fresh for a few days.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Wotchers!

Why, yes! What the world needs now IS another chocolate chip cookie recipe!

I realise there’s already a delicious dairy and gluten-free version on the blog, but my daughter doesn’t care for them much, on the grounds that they are TOO CHOCOLATEY! *eyeroll*

Her main objection is the use of dark chocolate chips and she remains deaf to my efforts to persuade her that the strong dark flavour is a nice contrast to the sweet of the biscuit, and I stubbornly resist using milk-chocolate chips on the grounds that their one-note, sweet-on-sweetness does not offer a very enjoyable biscuit experience.

Which is how we ended up at this attempt to satisfy all tastes and preferences in one, ultimate cookie. I’ve managed to gloss over the inclusion of dark chocolate chips by employing the distraction of CHUNKS of milk chocolate, as well as a few additional flavourings.

These biscuits are nuanced up the wazoo, with flavours complex enough for even the most demanding connoisseur, yet still being acceptable for inclusion in the school lunch box.

Here we have nutty browned butter, rich caramel notes from the brown sugars, a touch of espresso, dark chocolate chips, creamy milk chocolate chunks, all rounded off with just a suspicion of a salty finish.

It’s a combination tweaked within an inch of its life and I defy anyone not to adore them! *throws gauntlet*

This recipe makes about 40 cookies, which means multiple trays (or one tray multiple times, obvs), so even the texture can be varied to suit personal taste. Just remove the tray at a time that suits the texture preferences of your family: 11-12 minutes for chewiness, 14-16 minutes for crispness.

Or ‘accidentally’ leave them in until they’re all crisp, because that’s how you like them.

*poker face* Not that I’d ever do that.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

250g unsalted butter
200g dark muscovado sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp espresso powder
1 large egg
1 large yolk
280g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
80g dark chocolate chips
100g good quality milk chocolate, chopped

  • Have a bowl handy to pour the browned butter into. Put the butter into a saucepan over a medium heat and allow to melt. Continue heating the butter and it will start to foam. Use a spatula to keep the milk solids from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the solids have turned a light brown, remove from the heat and pour into your handy bowl. Why? The pan will be very hot and the butter will keep browning unless you pour it from the pan. Don’t wait until it is dark brown, because by the time you get it out of the pan it will be burnt.
  • Set butter aside to cool. This will take at least 30 minutes, and possibly up to an hour.
  • Put the sugars, vanilla and espresso powder into a bowl
  • When the butter has cooled to room temperature, but is still liquid, add it to the sugar mixture and whisk together until light and fluffy (5-10 minutes).
  • Add the egg and yolk and whisk in.
  • Sift together the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Add the flour mixture to the sugar and egg mixture in three stages, stirring well after each addition to combine.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped milk chocolate.
  • Divide the dough into balls the size of a walnut (in its shell). A small ice-cream scoop is ideal, as the mixture is very light and soft, otherwise, use teaspoons to shape.
  • Put the dough balls/scoops onto a baking tray, cover with plastic film and chill for at least 1 hour and as much as overnight – whatever is most convenient for you.
  • When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Arrange the cookie dough on baking sheets lined with parchment or silpat mats. The dough will spread quite a bit during baking, so if you like your cookies to be round and evenly shaped, don’t crowd too many onto the sheets at once, otherwise they might run together and make odd shapes. 10-12 per tray is ideal.
  • Bake for 12-16 minutes, according to your own personal taste, turning the sheets around half-way through baking, to ensure even baking.
  • Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Molehill Cake

Molehill Cakes
Wotchers!

It’s been a while since I posted a cake recipe, so I thought I’d cheer up the chilly weather with a cakey treat.

And it’s fabulous!

I was initially a little conflicted about this cake: on the one hand it tastes amazing, but then it also falls into the category of my pet hate of ‘food looking like something that isn’t food’, even though it is achieved almost by accident. In the end the ease of baking/construction, coupled with the amazing flavours persuaded me to bend my own rules and I hope you’ll be as delighted with the result as I am.

It’s very straightforward, based on a chocolate sponge, and takes almost zero skill to put together. Huzzah!

I found it on a Romanian version of Pinterest, and it appears to be something Romanians can create from a Dr Oetker box cake mix.

However, there’s no need to resort to box cake mixes, no matter how convenient they might be. Hands up anyone who has eaten one and thought “Oh my! This tastes so convenient!”.

Quite.

So this is a hand-made version, which is only marginally less convenient but with added fresh, natural ingredients. I call it the very best kind of clean eating. I might start a food trend…..

ANYHOO….

Requiring just 2 bowls – one if you rinse it out after mixing the cake – it also requires practically zero washing up! Bonus!

The cake is my go-to, one-bowl chocolate yogurt cake, so easy you could mix it with just a spoon – although I recommend a balloon whisk. Once baked and cooled, the cake is hollowed out and the bottom filled with whole (or as whole as possible) bananas, then a creamy filling mounded on top. The cake that was hollowed out, plus any excess you cut off to level the top, are blitzed to crumbs and patted onto the mound of cream and voila! Something that resembles a molehill but with a much more appetising taste!

You can make one large cake, or, as I managed, one large and several small, individually-sized versions.

The filling can be as simple as sweetened, whipped cream, a custardy diplomat cream (crème patissière + gelatine + whipped cream) or, my favourite, a combination of cream cheese, crème fraiche and double cream, whipped to firmness with a little vanilla paste and icing sugar.

Also optional is whether or not to include some chocolate in your creamy filling. My daughter voted for chocolate chips in an earlier version (she also preferred diplomat cream), however I went for hand-chopped chocolate. Other options might be pure chocolate sprinkles or indeed none at all.

The comforting combination of the richness of the chocolate sponge, the freshness and sweetness of the banana, the creamy topping and the novelty of the overall appearance have immediately shot this cake into my top five list. In fact, the only downside of this cake is the time spent waiting for the cooked cake to cool down before you can fill it!

Mini Molehill Cakes

Molehill Cake

Chocolate Sponge Cake

150ml vegetable oil
150ml plain yoghurt
60ml golden syrup
170g caster sugar
3 large eggs
225g plain flour
50g cocoa
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C, 140°C Fan.
  • Line the bottom and sides of a deep 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.
  • Put oil, yoghurt, syrup, caster sugar and eggs in a bowl and whisk together until well mixed.
  • Sift flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into the bowl. Mix well.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
  • Bake in the oven for 60-75 minutes, until the cake has shrunk away from the sides, no bubbling sounds can be heard and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Yes, it does seem a long time, but the low temperature means it really needs the full allowance. The result is a beautifully-textured cake that actually improves on keeping, if you want to make it ahead. Additionally, the low-and-slow cooking means it is invariably gently and perfectly rounded on top and without any cracks.
  • Cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Filling

300g cream cheese at room temperature
300ml low-fat creme fraîche
1-2tsp vanilla paste
2-3tbs icing sugar
300ml double cream
100g good quality chocolate – white, milk or plain – chopped fine

  • Mix the cream cheese, vanilla paste and creme fraîche thoroughly.
  • Add icing sugar to taste.
  • Add the double cream and whisk until firm.
  • Stir through the chopped chocolate.
  • Cover with plastic and chill until required.

To Assemble

cooled cake
4-5 bananas
cream filling

  • Cut the cake horizontally at a height of 4cm. If the cake has risen a lot, you might be able to cut it in half and make 2 large molehill cakes. Alternatively, you can cut out circles of sponge from either one or both halves using a baking ring to make individual-sized portions.
  • Cut a circle 2cm deep around the edge of the cake, 2cm from the edge.
  • Hollow out the middle of the cake so that the remaining sponge resembles a tart case. Be careful not to cut through the bottom of the cake. Reserve the cake scraps.
  • Lay whole bananas in the hollow, making sure they cover the whole of the bottom of the cake.
  • Pile the cream filling on top, using a palette knife to shape it into a tall mound.
  • Blitz the cake scraps to crumb and press lightly onto the sides of the cream until completely covered.
  • You can serve the cake immediately, but it does benefit from being wrapped in foil and thoroughly chilled in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Overnight is ideal.
  • Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

Valentine Hearts

Heart Pies
Wotchers!

If you fancy making a romantic effort for your nearest and dearest, you could spoil them with a fancy-schmancy, gourmet meal, and spend the next three days shopping/chopping/baking/caking/slaving.

Or you could buy a roll of puff pastry and check out some other Valentines Breakfast or dessert ideas from a few years ago.

Or you could make these pastry hearts, using a recipe you already know and love, and a filling you know s/he loves. They are neither complicated nor elaborate, but last time I checked, stress in the kitchen was not an aphrodisiac.

The pastry is a regular sweet shortcrust, with a little food colouring added to the iced water used to mix it together – a shade a little lighter than red wine in the water makes for this lovely pastel pink once mixed. If inclined, you could even make 2 or 3 batches, each of a different shade of red/pink for an eye-catching jumble of hearts.

I chose a filling of vanilla pastry cream, made with real vanilla bean and firmed up with a little gelatin for ease of piping. If your loved one has a favourite sandwich filling then go with that – Nutella, peanut butter, banana, Banoffi-pie caramel, slices of apple, all of the above….

Don’t limit it to sweet flavours. If your Valentine has a savoury tooth,  fill his/her hearts with sausage, cheese, omelette, bacon, all of the above…

Pastry Hearts

1 x batch of shortcrust pastry, sweet or savoury, mixed with red-coloured water, chilled for 1 hour – here, or for unsweetened here or for savoury, here
suitable fillings, sweet or savoury

  • Divide the chilled pastry in half. Roll out each half thinly (2-3mm) and cut into twice as many squares as you require of around 10cm in size.
  • Turn half of the squares so that one corner is pointing toward you and pipe/arrange your filling in heart shapes onto the pastry. Be sure to pile up the filling quite well, in order to give substance to your ‘hearts’.
  • Using a pastry brush and water, dampen the edges of the pastry around the filling.
  • Lay a second piece of pastry over the top and smooth it down and around your filling, making sure its fully enclosed. Try to make sure there’s no air trapped inside, as this may cause your pastry to burst during cooking.
  • Using a sharp knife, trim the excess pastry, leaving a border of 1cm around each heart.
  • Transfer the pastry hearts to a baking sheet lined with parchment. I didn’t poke holes in the pastry, but I did get a bit of the filling oozing out on one or two. To avoid this, you could poke some vent holes in the tops in a decorative pattern.
  • Chill in the fridge while the oven heats up.
  • Heat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Add a glaze if liked – milk and caster sugar for sweet, egg-white for savoury. I did experiment with both of these, but decided the unglazed puffs were more visually striking.
  • Bake for 11-12 minutes, turning the baking sheet around half-way through.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
  • If sweet, dust lightly with icing sugar to serve.

Lace Biscuits

lace biscuits

Wotchers!

As you will no doubt have noticed, it is Seville orange season, and whilst I am an ardent marmalade maker, I’m also aware that not everyone else is so here is a recipe you can still enjoy their bitter-sweet flavours in less demanding ways.

These lace biscuits are fantastically light and delicate and make a great ‘barely there’ treat. They can also, whilst still warm from the oven, be manipulated into various three-dimensional shapes and forms, which they will hold once cooled. This makes them great for garnishes and flourishes to finish off a special cake or dessert. You can bake circle of batter and make regular, circle-shaped biscuits, or you can pipe/spread the mixture into more organic shapes. They can be draped over rolling pins, crumpled foil, or handles of wooden spoons; pressed into mini muffin tins or over the outsides of cupcake tins to form cups or baskets. You can see a few suggestions in the photograph below.

Lace Biscuit Shapes

You can, of course, make these with other citrus fruits apart from Seville oranges.

You can mix and bake this recipe immediately, but for ease of piping, it is better to chill it in the fridge overnight.

For best results you will need a Silpat silicon mat or similar.

These biscuits will lose their crispness if left uncovered, so be sure to store them in an airtight container.

Lace Biscuits

115g caster sugar
45g plain flour
zest and juice of 1 Seville orange
56g unsalted butter

  • Mix the sugar and flour.
  • Melt the butter, then mix with the orange juice and zest.
  • Pour the butter mixture into the flour and sugar and whisk together until smooth.
  • Cover and chill overnight in the fridge.

When ready to bake:

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Spoon the mixture into a piping bag.
  • Pipe the mixture onto your Silpat mat. Make a test batch first, in order to see how much the mixture spreads. As a general rule, a blob of mixture the size of a 10p piece (2cm) should spread to about 5cm in the oven. If your mixture doesn’t spread as much, or isn’t as lacy as you’d like, you can smooth the batter out a little with the back of a spoon.
  • I recommend baking no more than 6 biscuits at a time, which will mean there’s no rush once baked to get them all moulded/folded before they cool.
  • Have ready any utensils/moulds you wish to use to shape the biscuits when they come out of the oven.  If you’re making flat biscuits, they can cool on the mat until firm enough to move to a wire rack.
  • Bake each batch until the edges have turned brown and the middles have just started to colour, as per the above photograph. Allow your test batch to cool to check they crisp up to your satisfaction. If the middles are too pale, then they won’t be crisp once cooled. As a guide, I found that 6 minutes was ideal for my oven/batter. If your orange was either very juicy, or not very juicy, your batter might need a little longer/less.
  • When baked, allow to cool on the mat for about 30 seconds before trying to move them. Too soon and you run the risk of them tearing.
  • When cooled, store in an airtight container.

In case you missed it:

This week on DejaFood.uk: Award-winning marmalade!


Snow Crisp

Snow Crisp

Snow Crisp – dusted with milk powder(L), showing the jewel-like sides of each portion (R)

Wotchers!

Something a little different today, with a recipe that is simple, quick, delicious and easily made gluten-free.

I came across it whilst browsing Chinese language food blogs (see the lengths I go to, to bring you the cutting edge of fashionable recipes??). Anyhoo – this recipe seems to be riding a sizeable wave of popularity, which is understandable for all of the reasons I started with, plus the ease with which it can be customised. I’ve ‘interpreted’ the Chinese name to the most suitable translation, the variations I came across whilst researching being many and varied, e.g. Snowflake Cakes, Snow Puff Pastry, Snow Q Cake, Snowflake Crisp, Dry Snow Cake and my favourites – Reticulated Red Snowflake Pastry, Swept Eat Snowflake Crisp Circle & Delicious Non-Stick Tooth Nougat Failure.

Mmm.

It is like a cross between Chocolate Salami and nougat –  fruit and nuts are mixed into melted marshmallows, with the addition of crisp biscuit pieces for added texture. The biscuits also ‘lighten the bite’ and prevent it from being either too sweet or too cloying. Once formed into a slab, it is dusted with dried milk powder to give it a wintery effect.

I would recommend having some latex gloves on hand, no pun intended, to help with shaping the warm mass, but it is also possible to make-do without.

When your block has set firmly, you can slice it into serving portions and dust all cut surfaces with milk powder if liked, but I must confess to preferring to see the contrast between the powdery top/bottom and the crisp and sharply delineated sides showing the embedded jewels of fruit and nut. You can even omit the milk powder altogether, or substitute with desiccated coconut, but I would recommend at least trying it to begin with – maybe cut off a slice or two and just dust those.

Chocolate Snow Crisp

Chocolate Snow Crisp – dusted with cocoa

In terms of variations, the most popular I have found are chocolate (cocoa) and matcha. Being in powder form, they are easy both to add to the melted marshmallows and use for dusting – although changing the overall colour means you do lose the whole ‘snow’ theme somewhat. That said, it does allow you to use non-white marshmallow, if packs of all-white are difficult to find.

Fruits and nuts are entirely to your taste, but bright colours and whole nuts make for attractive shapes when cut through. If you make your own candied peel – and as readers of this blog you all do, obvs (no pressure 😉 ) – it can be substituted for some or all of the dried fruit, and a mix of seeds can replace the nuts.

The quantities given are sufficient for a block of about 20cm square – you can, of course, shape it however you prefer. They are also easy to remember, as I have made them proportional, and thus fairly straightforward to scale up or down, as required.

The biscuits you require should be crisp and dry. In the UK, Rich Tea biscuits or Arrowroot are ideal (regular or gluten-free), although you will have to break them into quarters for ease of shaping. If you’re a fan of the pairing of salty and sweet, you could even substitute Ritz crackers – the mini ones being perfectly sized to leave whole. Crisp and salty pretzels are a further option.

Snow Crisp

50g unsalted butter
200g white marshmallows
50g dried milk powder
50g dried fruit – cranberries & orange peel/blueberries/apricots
50g mixed nuts – pistachios & walnuts/almonds/cashews
200g crisp biscuits – Rich Tea/Arrowroot/gluren-free/Ritz, broken into quarters if large

Extra milk powder for dusting

  • Put the fruit, nuts and biscuits in a pile on a silicone mat.
  • Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over a very low heat.
  • Add the marshmallows and stir gently while they melt. This will take some time. Do not be tempted to turn the heat up, as they will quickly start to turn brown and caramelise.
  • When the marshmallows have melted, add the milk powder and stir until fully combined.
  • Pour the marshmallow mixture onto the fruits and biscuits.
  • Put on your plastic gloves and thoroughly mix everything together. Use a series  of gentle lifting and folding motions. You want the marshmallow to coat everything and hold together, without crushing the biscuits into dust.
  • Once the mixture is holding together in a mass, you can use a non-stick tin to help mould it into a rectangle. Press the mass into a corner of the tin to help form two square edges, then turn it around and repeat, pressing it gently by firmly into the sides.
  • When you’re happy with the dimensions of your slab, wrap it in plastic and put into the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.
  • When the slab has firmed up, dust with more of the milk powder, making sure the whole surface is covered. Turn the slab over and repeat.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the slab into serving sized pieces – about the size of a matchbox is good – it’s allows the edges to be seen and admired, and cn be eaten in just 2 bites.
  • Store in an airtight box.

Variations

  • Chocolate: Add 15-20g cocoa to the pan together with the milk powder, dust with cocoa.
  • Matcha: Add 15-20g matcha powder to the pan together with the milk powder, dust with a mixture of matcha and milk powder, or just matcha.
  • Fruit variations: Add 15-20g freeze-dried fruit powders (available here) to the pan together with the milk powder, use whole dried fruit in the filling and dust with extra fruit powder.
  • Coffee: Add 15-20g espresso coffee powder to the pan together with the milk powder, dust with a mixture of coffee & milk powder.
  • Oats: Replace half of the biscuits with toasted, rolled oats.

Leek and Potato Soup

Leek & Potato Soup
Wotchers!

Who doesn’t love soup? Especially during the colder months. Sure, some of them, thick and hearty after hours of gentle simmering, can be a meal in a bowl.

But not all of them need take such extended preparation. Leek and potato soup is wonderfully comforting on a cold day, and only takes about 30 minutes to make from scratch, using simple ingredients that take little time to prepare. This one recipe can also be served in a variety of ways depending on whether you want a quick warming mug for lunch, or serve a striking and surprisingly economical special occasion starter.

Variations

Texture: Use of floury potatoes means this soup will puree to a wonderfully smooth and velvety texture. Nevertheless, I do like to have a little texture for visual as well as gustatory variety, so I hold back some of the cooked, cubed potato to add as a garnish.

Flavour: The soup is only simmered for a brief 20 minutes and this mellows the flavour of the leek. To lift the flavour, I like to briefly cook a little chopped leek in sme butter and then either stir into the whole just before serving, or just spoon over the top of the cubed potatoes.

Visual Appeal: The photographs don’t really reflect it, but this soup is a beautifully pale green colour. It really makes the buttered leeks (if you’re using them) pop. If you aren’t inclined to ‘faff’ buttering some leeks, you could always snip a few dark green chives into the bowls to serve.

Garnish: Grated cheese and/or bacon bits are especially fine.

My daughter recently declared this her favourite soup, even ahead of tomato soup. She likes it best with a melty cheese toastie cut into fingers to dip in. This is her helpfully holding a spoonful of delicious soup garnished with potato cubes and buttered leeks. Unfortunately, what she’s not so keen on is any of the things I thought added so much to the presentation, i.e. the aforementioned buttered leeks and potato cubes. So after this picture was taken, I just put everything back into the blender and whizzed it smooth and she was happy. The buttered leeks still add their pop of flavour, just with none of that pesky texture.

Leek and Potato Soup

2 tbs butter
1 large leek or 2 medium
450g potatoes – floury type (Maris Piper or similar)
350ml milk
350ml water
4 level tsp vegetable bouillon powder
salt and ground white pepper to taste

2tbs butter for buttered leeks, if using

  • Peel and dice potatoes into cubes – about 1.5cm.
  • Remove the outer leaves of the leek and shred finely using a mandolin or with a sharp knife. If you’re going to butter some of the leeeks, set aside 4-5 spoonfuls.
  • Melt the first lot of butter in saucepan and add the potato cubes and leek.
  • Stir over medium heat until the until leeks soften.
  • Add the milk, water and bouillon.
  • Cover and simmer gently until the potatoes are cooked (20 mins-ish).
  • While the soup is cooking, melt the remaining butter in a pan and cook the remaining leeks.
  • When the potatoes are cooked, remove about a cupful and keep warm. Puree the remainder, either using a stick blender or liquidiser.
  • Return to the pan and taste. Season using ground white pepper and salt.
  • Heat well before serving, but don’t let it boil.
  • NB You may need to thin the pureed soup if the potatoes are especially starchy. It should have the consistency of double cream/custard.
  • Add the potato cubes and buttered leeks to serve.