middle eastern cooking

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Pure Magic: Saffron Swiss Roll with Fantastic Fig Filling

Published November 24, 2013 by The Feminist

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Are you a Disney fan, dear reader? If you are, I’m sure you will remember that famous scene from Aladdin in which Aladdin’s best friend, the monkey Abu, sees this gigantic red gemstone. Although he knows he cannot touch anything, the gem is just to alluring to leave behind.

Basically, Abu went nuts.

abu eyes

And that’s exactly how I felt after a morning of industrious baking. This Saffron Swiss Roll surpassed all my expectations. I was so proud of myself I actually considered texting my best friend to tell her how amazing I am.

abu huh

I didn’t. I just gave myself a pat on the bag instead.

abu boastful

So after the obligatory two hours of waiting- to let the cake cool down completely (I swear, these were the longest hours in my life!)- I treated myself to a gigantic slice of heavenly bliss. It was pure magic. The aromatic saffron flavour of the sponge gives the Swiss roll a luxurious touch and the rose-scented dried fig filling transports you all the way to the Middle East, to the beauty of Agrabah. Add to that the wonderful mélange of nuts to give extra crunch and texture and you’ll be floating on a hallucinatory magic carpet, singing “A whole new world” out of utter oblivion.

Yes, it was that good.

Needless to say that I found it incredibly hard to share this cake with my family.

abu share

This Abu doesn’t share food.

Trust me, after you’ve baked this Swiss roll, you won’t want to either.

Saffron Swiss Roll with Dried Fig filling

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Ingredients:
• 4 eggs, separated
• 180gr caster sugar
• 120gr plain flour
• ¾ tsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp salt
• ½ tsp saffron powder
• Icing sugar for dusting

For the filling:
• 150gr of dried figs
• 200ml water
• ½ tsp rose water
• 2 tbsp orange marmalade
• 150gr chopped nuts

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
2. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and set aside.
3. In another bowl, mix the egg yolks on high speed until pale. Gradually add the caster sugar.
4. Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and saffron. Fold it in until combined.
5. Gently fold in the egg whites.
6. Pour the batter onto the baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
7. Dust a clean sheet of baking parchment with icing sugar. Once your cake is out of the oven, immediately transfer the cake onto the dusted baking parchment.
8. Roll the sponge and the dusted parchment up together. Let it cool, seam side down, for 15 minutes.
9. Meanwhile make the filling by heating the dried figs with the water and rose water. Let it simmer for 5 minutes until the figs are soft. Mix the figs in a blender until you get smooth paste. Stir in the orange marmalade and chopped nuts.
10. Once the sponge has cooled, remove the paper and spread the fig filling over the inside of the roll. Re-roll the sponge without the dusted baking parchment and dust with extra icing sugar before serving.

The Jewel in my Kitchen Desert: Saffron and almond cake with an apricot and rose glaze

Published July 1, 2013 by The Feminist

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There is something truly magical about saffron. Its almost hallucinatory aromatic scent sweeps me away in an Arabian daydream and that vibrant yellow-orange colour almost seems like edible gold.

Every time I cook with this mysterious spice, it feels as if I’m preparing food for the Gods. I know this sounds silly (really really silly) but I can’t help but feel bewitched by its mystical background and utterly gorgeous perfume. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I honestly believe that every foodie on this planet is nodding in complete agreement right now.

jamie oliver

See?

All of us foodies know that –since we’re all so very accomplished  in the kitchen- saffron is not only a brilliant spice to cook with, it is unfortunately (ridiculously) expensive. Saffron is like the Ferrari of spice, turning all other aromas into drab Volvos.( No offence to all Volvo drivers out there, though 😉 )

So what better way to honour saffron’s star status than by adding it to a super luscious cake batter? I think it goes without saying that I treasured this saffron cake like they were a new pair of Manolo Blahniks. A cake that even surpasses the magic of a “regular” saffron cake (although one could never call saffron regular) by oomphing up the recipe with the hypnotising aroma of rose water. This cake is not just a dessert, it’s an entire collection of Arabian fairy tales, all baked into one beautifully decadent expression of mind-wandering hysteria.

So be prepared, because this cake will cast a spell over you and you will never be able to lift it off (But you won’t want to, I promise!)

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Saffron and almond cake with apricot and rose glaze

Ingredients

For the cake:
• 100gr butter
• 150gr caster sugar
• 125gr ground almonds
• 2 eggs
• 50gr plain flour
• Pinch of salt
• ¼ tsp saffron powder
• 50gr chopped dried apricots

For the glaze:
• 50gr apricot jam
• 1 tsp rose water
• Almond flakes

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease a bundt-cake tin.
2. Mix together the sugar, butter and saffron on a low speed.
3. Add the eggs and mix through. (Try not to overwork the mixture. The best part of this recipe is that you simply have to throw it all together without much of a fuss. 😉 )
4. Sift in the almonds, flour and salt and mix until the mixture is completely smooth.
5. Stir through the chopped apricots.
6. Pour the batter into your cake tin and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
7. Leave the cake to cool down completely in the tin before you remove it.
8. While the cake is cooling, add the jam and rose water together in a small saucepan and heat on a low heat. Spread the mixture generously on top of the cake and garnish with almond flakes.