Sunday, 26 July 2009

Unloved Cookbooks - The Best Part 2

The rediscovery of some of my loneliest cookbooks continues with the trial of two further recipes from The Best, the book from the series of the same name by Silvana Franco, Paul Merrett and Ben O'Donoghue.

Following on from last weeks post, where this project began, I selected two sweet recipes from the above book.

The first of these - Coffee and Pecan muffins from the "Best Sweet Breakfast" section - was, I'm afraid to say, not a great success. I'm well aware that some care needs to be taken when making muffins so that you don't overmix the batter and end up with stodgy muffins but I feel pretty sure that I mixed with due care and attention. Nevertheless these demonstrated the most unenthusiastic display of rising I've seen in a cake for some time.

And unenthusiastic pretty much sums up my feelings about the end result. On the first day they tasted OK I suppose - passably edible at any rate. Thereafter they just got progressively stodgier and I'm afraid to say the last few ended up in the bin (almost unheard of in this house). The coffee flavour was not particularly pronounced either. From a cooking perspective there really is nothing worse than a failed recipe is there? The waste of precious time and good ingredients is so infuriating! Ah well, onwards and upwards as they say. I will spare you the recipe - there are far better alternatives out there.

A couple of days later I had a go at the Peach and Raspberry Clafoutis from the "Best Summer Berry Dessert" section. This was definitely more successful, but not without it's problems. This was how is looked after the prescribed 10-12 minutes in the oven.

Pretty good you might think, however an investigative dig into the centre revealed that all bar the outside inch was still runny and most definitely not cooked.

So, I put in back in the oven and, after pacing the kitchen and peering in the oven for a further 10 or 15 minutes, I figured it was probably just about done and even if it wasn't I was jolly well going to eat it anyway.

Luckily it tasted delicious, particularly with a scoop of ice cream on the top. Not what I really expected though - I always thought that clafoutis was just a sweet sort of yorkshire pudding, but this was much lighter than that. A result, no doubt, of the 10 minutes of whisking given to the eggs. The recipe is as follows but be warned - don't turn off the oven until you're sure it's done!

Peach and Raspberry Clafoutis
(adapted from The Best as above)

4 eggs
140g/5oz caster sugar
300ml/10 fl oz double cream
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/2 tablespoon ground almonds
1 vanilla pod
2 peaches (peeled and chopped)
16 raspberries (I though 4 raspberries per person sounded a bit mean so added some more. In hindsight though I don't think this was necessary as the raspberries ended up overpowering the dish somewhat)

1) Whisk the eggs and caster sugar with an electric whisk until thick and the mixture holds its shape (this will take about 10 minutes and the mixture is now called a sabayon)

2) Lightly whip the cream and fold into the sabayon. Fold in the flour and ground almonds and carefully stir in the seeds of the vanilla pod.

3) Divide the peaches and raspberries between four individual oven-proof dishes. Pour over the clafoutis batter and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes (ha ha) at 180c/350f/gas 4 until golden.

I would tentatively call this recipe a success however I would like to try out a different clafoutis recipe at some point as a comparison.


  1. This looks interesting. Peaches and raspberries are a great combination. I would like to give it a try.

  2. Hi! This is a wonderful clafoutis, I love the mix of peaches and raspeberries in, it sounds so delicious for a summer dessert!

  3. I have this cook book too. I loved the series. I haven't tried either of these recipe.

    I have tried the cranberry and cheese toasts from your earlier post. So delicious!!! I can also highly recommend the roasted asparagus and spaghetti carbonara recipes.

  4. I have this book, and I;ve been trying pretty hard with the recipes. I like the oven fried chicken, and I did a review of the chinese barbecue belly pork here. although I think I called it something else and I didn't make the rice.