A new Ottolenghi book is always reason for a little celebration and this definitely goes for his just published cookbook Sweet. A book about celebrating the sweet things in life – from perfectly light sponge cakes to crumbly sugar-dusted cookies that come straight out of the oven – because they raise the spirits and create pure joy.
In Sweet, Yotam shows once again how he truly inspires and isn’t interested in food hypes. While pretty much half the world has a sugar phobia, Ottolenghi doesn’t hold the sugar back. According to Yotam, it’s all about ‘what you see is what you get’: people will make responsible choices about what and how much to eat as long as they are not consuming things without realizing it (i.e. hidden sugars). And that there is certainly nothing wrong with treats, as long as we know what they are and enjoy them as such. I personally couldn’t agree more.
For Sweet, Yotam joined forces with pastry chef Helen Goh, who is just as precise and as much an perfectionist as Ottolenghi himself. According to the both of them, there is no upper limit when it comes to the number of times you can test a cake and you can easily discuss the minutiae of a recipe as if the fate of the entire universe rests on it. This clearly means that all recipes in this book are tested countless times, sources of inspiration are always credited (Helen even bought tons of Australian Women’s Weekly magazines, so she could finally credit the original recipe that inspired her cheesecake with figs and mascarpone) and you will be offered many useful baking tips (like this one: a vitamin C tablet will make sure the red color of beetroot will be preserved in a cake. I’m pretty sure you didn’t know that one yet).
It’s an absolute delight when there’s been clearly put so much effort in a book and how amazing is this end result. All recipes in Sweet are original, very accurate and precise and they almost all have a fairly simple styled, but lovely picture attached. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re going to crave the brownies with tahini and halva, the cheesecakes with lime meringue and a rhubarb & berry galette while browsing this book and that you probably can’t wait to make the feathery powder puffs with raspberries or a chocolate glaze.
I began with the saffron, orange and honey madeleines. According to Yotam and Helen, madeleines become airy and feathery light by whisking the eggs and sugar. And as it turns out, if you do this with a food processor (instead of by hand), it works out just as well and the little cakes won’t dry out as quickly. Perfect for a new mom like myself.
I was pleasantly surprised by these madeleines. They taste buttery and airy at the same time, with a subtle orange hint and are just as good with saffron as without. All madeleines were gone in one day, that probably tells you all you need to know. Highly recommended!
for 22 madeleines
6 tbsp + 1 tsp (90 g) unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
2 tsp +3 tbsp honey
¼ teaspoon saffron threads (optional)
¼ vanilla bean
2 large eggs
⅓ cup plus 1 tsp (75 g) sugar
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp baking powder
⅛ tsp kosher salt
½ cup + 1 tbsp + 1½ tsp (90 g) flour, plus more for dusting
2½ tbsp (20 g) shelled pistachios, finely chopped
extra: food processor + madeleine baking pans
Cook the butter, 2 tsp honey and saffron threads in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted. Let this cool to room temperature.
Scrape the vanilla seeds into a food processor and discard the pod. Add eggs, sugar, and orange zest and process until smooth and combined.
Sift the baking powder, salt, and flour into a small bowl, then add this to the egg mixture. Pulse a few times just to combine.
Add the honey mixture. Process once more and then pour the batter into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 400F (180C). If you’re using metal madeleine pans, brush the molds with melted butter and dust liberally with flour. Silicone pans should not need any greasing or flouring, but you could lightly brush these with a little melted butter.
Spoon a heaping teaspoon of batter into each mold; it should rise two-thirds of the way up the sides of the molds. If you only have one madeleine pan, chill the remaining batter.
Bake the madeleines until they start beginning to brown around the edges and spring back when tapped lightly in the center, 9–10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let sit one minute before releasing the madeleines.
Pile the pistachios onto a plate in a straight line. Melt the remaining honey in a small saucepan or in a microwave until very runny. Brush lightly over shell-patterned side of one madeleine. With the shell side facing down toward nuts, roll the narrower end of a madeleine along the pile of pistachios so you have a straight strip of pistachios at the base of the madeleine. Repeat with the remaining madeleines.