Spelt Choux Paste (Pâte à Choux)

Gavin WrenBaking, Basic Ingredients, Recipes, Spelt & ancient grains

Spelt choux paste (otherwise known as Pâte à Choux) is an amazing pastry which puffs up when cooked, leaving hollow buns or pastries which can be stuffed, filled and topped however you desire! Whether it's eclairs, profiteroles or a croquembouche which you want to bake this weekend, you can extend your patisserie skills with this amazing spelt pastry.
Suddenly, inspiration hit me. I want to make a croquembouche, a spelt croquembouche and it needs to be a massive one made up with loads and loads of little spelt choux (pronounced 'shoe') balls.

Croquembouche is one of the most spectacularly decadent culinary creations in existence. It's a celebratory sweet used in French cuisine at special occasions, comprising choux pastry balls into the hundreds, stuffed with cream then piled high in a cone shape and bound together with large splurges of caramel. It's the kind of recipe that should have The Samaritans' phone number attached, especially if you're making it to a deadline, or for the first time, because I could easily induce some kind of nervous breakdown.

As the saying goes, there's no use trying to run before I can walk. The first step in this adventure is to make, and become comfortable with choux pastry. Also known as...come and read more...

Dairy Free Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)

Gavin WrenBaking, Basic Ingredients, Dairy free baking, Recipes, Sauces

Dairy Free Pastry Cream, otherwise known as Crème Pâtissière is a sticky sweet custard filling for eclairs, profiteroles, doughnuts, cakes and any other patisserie or bake you care to make! It's made with just eggs, dairy free milk, sugar and flour, which gives a lusciously silky sweet sauce to create a sweet treat or dessert for your friends and family.
I'm tackling a patisserie basic today, luscious crème pâtissière, that thick, sweet, yellow cream found in the most amazing patisseries treats and tarts. This version here has undergone a lactose free tweak, making a dairy free pastry cream that everyone can enjoy.

"Krem pat"
Don't worry, I've not adopted a peculiar language or speaking in tongues. It's how I first heard crème pâtissière referred to during a croissant making workshop. The instructor was demonstrating other uses for the lovely, flaky, layered, enriched dough, working through pain au chocolat, before mentioning we could make pain au raisin.

He suddenly shouted across the kitchen to his assistant "Can I use some of your krem pat?". She said "sure! It's in the walk-in". As I blankly wondered what the hell this krem pat was, he went on to explain crème pâtissière, or pastry cream as it's also known.

I love...come and read more...

Instagram Composition Guidelines from Style’s Top Ten

Gavin WrenBlogging

Instagram Composition secrets of the top ten personal style bloggers
Have you ever wondered what the key to Instagram success is? What exactly do the big league social media influencers at the top of the game do, which makes them so popular?

This post is a chance to learn from the best, as I delve into an academic study from 2016 which analysed the most common Instagram composition styles and themes from the world's top ten most influential personal style bloggers.

Instagram Facts.
51% of Instagram's users are men and 49% women, compared to Pinterest which is 85% female. Instagram also has the most active users, 61% will 'like' at least one image every day. 73% of it's users are between 15 and 35. Some sectors are more imporatant to users than others with fashion sits at the top of the pile, followed by beauty and home decor.

Popular Instagram users can become 'opinion leaders', people... come and read more...

Smoked Paprika Avocado Salad

Gavin WrenRecipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

A healthy chickpea salad dressed with sweet white balsamic and smoked paprika, diced avocado and aromatic coriander is a beautiful lunchtime treat that's bursting with mexican and middle eastern flavours. It's vegetarian and vegan to boot, a meatfree treat to have for lunch or dinner and tastes even better if you make it in advance!
Most of the writing on my blog is not about food, but life in general and how I cope with it or not, in some cases. On occasion I veer onto a food-related social or political bent, but it's rare for me to write lovingly about the flavours and story behind a recipe. Today, I've been staring at my screen for 53 minutes and have only written the preceding sentence. The first 51 minutes and 13 seconds were spent typing then deleting, typing then deleting as I attempted to coax a story about smoked paprika onto the page.

Constructive Procrastination.
I also checked out the bulk price of Kalamata olives (c.£20 for 2kg on eBay, £16 on Amazon fresh) and appraised which size Really Useful Boxes I need for my cupboards (none, they're not quite the right size), to round up the disparate bags of half... come and read more...

Stop Fighting Obesity – The War on Weightloss is Useless

Gavin WrenFood Education, Food Opinion Pieces, The World of Food

fighting obesity
The bathroom scales have petrified me for weeks. I feel fear in the depths of my stomach when I see them, because I’m worried that I’ve eaten too much food recently. Adamant that my slender figure was consigned to history, I felt doomed to life in the third circle of hell with the gluttons. If you need me before I die, I’ll be in a branch of Chicken Cottage.

What’s the big problem? The problem is being overweight. 10 years ago my jeans required nearly eight inches more fabric around the waist and I nudged my trusty bathroom scales to nearly thirty kilograms more than this morning’s reading. I’m proud of having fought hard to remove that excess weight and I’ll be damned if it’s going to creep back into my life.

Losing that mass uncovered neurosis around food, which endures today in paranoia and hypervigilance about my weight. It... come and read more...

Spelt Cinnamon Bun Cake

Gavin WrenBaking, Recipes, Spelt & ancient grains

It's said that our sense of smell invokes profound feelings and emotions within us. Baking this spelt cinnamon bun cake put that to the test and confirmed that a tantalising aroma can put my brain into sensory overload. This recipe is loaded with cinnamon and cardamom infused with soy milk to make a sweet bake which is a traditional Scandinavian treat and for good reason, because it's utterly irresistable!
It's said that our sense of smell invokes profound feelings and emotions within us. Baking this spelt cinnamon bun cake put that to the test and confirmed that a tantalising aroma can put my brain into sensory overload.

The Road Less Travelled.
When talking of food, it's easy to lapse into trite, oft-repeated phrases, loaded with food-friendly adjectives. An author's job is to track down the scent of unique expression, rather than propping up the bar with descriptions that we've all heard before. Originality provokes interest, I often ponder over how to construct the description of a recipe, without resorting to the usual suspects of 'simple', 'rich', 'tasty', 'easy', 'quick'. Rich brevity is the key to success.

It takes a deeper analysis of the food, a bear-hug of emotional connection with it and an expansive relationship with the English language to venture beyond the obvious... come and read more...