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Yotam Ottolenghi's Raspberry Meringue Roulade


I realize this is verrrry last-minute, but perhaps there are a few among you who have not yet decided on your Christmas dessert or who are still planning your New Year's Eve dinner or just plain want to have your socks knocked off by a dessert. Yes? Yes?

Getting right down to brass tacks, because none of us have any time at all right now (amirite?): Yotam Ottolenghi's meringue roulade from his latest book Plenty More. Imagine: a base of vanilla-flavored meringue - with cornstarch and vinegar mixed into so that it stays marshmallowy and rollable after baking instead of crisp and crackling - spread with whipped cream and fruit, then rolled up and topped with more whipped cream and fruit plus powdered sugar to make it look all festive and wintry and perfect.


To put it bluntly: It's so good that it literally rendered an entire table of people at our Christmas Eve dinner last night entirely speechless.


The original version has you flavor the whipped cream with rose water and top the roulade with chopped pistachios in addition to raspberries, but I don't like rose water, so I left it out and then left out the pistachios too and it was still divine. (The whipped cream is mixed with mascarpone for some extra flavor and ballast.) You could do any number of combinations - I keep thinking that pomegranate seeds would be fantastic in it.

The roulade is just the right thing after a heavy holiday meal - all sweetness and light with little pops of fruit here and there and the cooling smoothness of cold cream. (Though the next time I make it, I will reduce the sugar just a touch. The recipe below reflects that change.)

Have a wonderful, delicious and peaceful holiday season, darling readers. I am, as ever, so grateful to have you all in my life.

Yotam Ottolenghi's Raspberry Meringue Roulade
Adapted from Plenty MoreServes 8-10

4 egg whites
1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3.5 ounces/100 grams mascarpone
1 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 3/4 cups/400 ml whipping cream
5 ounces/150 grams fresh raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/320ºF.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer until they begin to firm up. Add the granulated sugar to the whisking whites in spoonfuls or tip into the bowl in a slow stream. Continue whisking until you achieve a firm, glossy meringue. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in the vanilla extract, vinegar and cornstarch. Spread the mixture evenly onto the parchment paper, making a 13x9.5-inch/33x24-cm rectangle.

3. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until a crust forms and the meringue is cooked through (it will still feel soft to the touch). Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan.

4. Unmold the cooled meringue on a fresh piece of parchment paper. Carefully peel off the first piece of parchment.

5. Place the mascarpone in a large mixing bowl along with the confectioners' sugar. Whisk to combine, then add the whipping cream. Whisk just until the cream starts to hold its shape. Don't overmix - you want a relatively loose whipped cream. Spread most of the mascarpone cream on top of the meringue, reserving a few tablespoons. Leave a small border around the edge of the meringue. Scatter most of the raspberries all over the cream

6. Use the paper to assist you in rolling up the meringue along its long edge, until you get a perfect log shape. Carefully transfer the log on to a serving dish. Use the remaining cream to create a rough wavy strip along the top of the log. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

7. When ready to serve, dust the log with confectioners' sugar and dot with the remaining raspberries.

Alice Medrich's Buckwheat Squash Loaf with Cranberries

Buckwheat squash slice

Good morning, everyone! Ooh, this week is starting off well. The sun is shining, I'm about to turn a pound of butter and an equal amount of raisins into Stollen for the book, and I have a cake discovery for you, a wondrous, light, delicious cake discovery. I am so, so excited for you!

Friday evening was the first time in ages that I'd some time to myself in the kitchen. Hugo was asleep, Max was out with a friend, and I was finally - finally!!! - all on my own with nothing to do. I roasted a squash, I boiled broccoli rabe, I cooked fish for dinner. It was quiet, it was heaven. And when the squash was roasted and beaten to a purée, I set to making this cake. This wonderful, tender darling of a cake that I plan to make again today and then again mid-week, since that seems to be about the pace that we are consuming it at. (It is marvelous for breakfast.)

Alice Medrich's Buckwheat Squash Loaf

I first spotted the recipe on Megan's blog in early November. She got the recipe from Alice Medrich's newest book, Flavor Flours, a baking book that happens to be gluten-free but is really more focused on the tastes and textures that different flours bring to the table. The original recipe is made with buckwheat and rice flour, regular sugar, pumpkin purée and raisins (or currants). But when Megan made it, she swapped in dark brown sugar for the regular sugar, added chocolate chips instead of raisins and topped the loaf with pumpkin seeds. And when I saw the recipe, I knew instantly I'd fold in frozen cranberries instead of raisins or chocolate, use butternut squash purée instead of pumpkin, and leave off the pumpkin seeds, but keep Megan's brilliant muscovado sugar swap.

Without further ado, I'd like to present to you the newly-christened Buckwheat Squash Loaf with Cranberries.

(NB: No matter what it's called, I LOVE IT SO MUCH I CAN'T WRITE THIS POST FAST ENOUGH.)

Buckwheat squash loaf

If you are a fan of buckwheat flour - and you know who you are - then I practically guarantee that you'll love this cake. Its strange and stony flavor is one of my very favorites. I used a medium-grind buckwheat flour that I had in the pantry, which resulted in a cake that crunched ever-so-subtly in my mouth. But the cake crumb is so velvety and fine that it practically quivers. It's quite something. I pulled the cake out of the oven right before bedtime and let it cool in the pan overnight. Early Saturday morning, the first fat slices I cut for myself were just on the right side of damp. The dark brown sugar brings moisture and depth to the cake and those sour, brilliantly pink pockets of cranberry against the velvety, spicy crumb were exactly right.

I know these kinds of superlatives can be so annoying, but I just scrolled through all my posts from 2014 and must tell you that it is my favorite cake of the year. I love this cake. I love it so much. I hope you do too!

Buckwheat Squash Loaf with Cranberries
Makes one 9-inch loaf
Adapted from Alice Medrich's Flavor Flours

8 tablespoons (1 stick/115g) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup (190g) muscovado (dark brown) sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (120g) white rice flour
1/3 cup (40g) buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (170g) squash puree
1/2 cup (55g) fresh cranberries

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

2. Combine the butter, sugar, and eggs in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment until lighter in color, about 2 minutes. Alternatively, use a handheld mixer and beat for 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the rice and buckwheat flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pumpkin puree and beat on low speed until smooth. Fold in the cranberries.

4. Bake the loaf for 45 -50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the loaf in the pan for 30 minutes before using the parchment as a sling to unmold the cake and let cool completely on a rack. The cake keeps for several days on the counter, wrapped loosely in parchment or plastic wrap.

Thoughts and Gifts and Music, Too.

I will be real honest with you: I am glad to see the end of 2014. It's actually been a pretty good year personally - there's been lots of fun and challenging work, we finally (after four years of hunting!) bought our first apartment and our little kook of a child is thriving and happy - but I can't shake this awful, dark feeling of dread that has crept in. Mostly because of the state of the world? Feel free to roll your eyes at me. I probably deserve it. And yet I can't quite shake it off. It's been such a bad year for humanity and a lot of the badness is stuff that zips right past my almost nonexistant filter and lodges itself in a spot where it harasses me almost daily. Add that to the whole life-is-fleeting epiphany that happens when you have a kid and you get a sense of how loony I've been feeling. Gah.

Work is doing a pretty good job of distracting me, for which I am grateful, and when things get too bad, I try to focus on beautiful things, like this song that we sang with hundreds of our neighbors on St. Martin's Day at the beginning of November, gathered together on Charlottenburg's palace square with flickering torches lighting our faces in the darkness.

Or the 100-year-old tiles in the kitchen of our new apartment. Aren't they neat? The rest of the kitchen is empty and dingy and we don't have much money left, but I hope we manage to make something nice out of it. As soon as we have keys, I will take lots more pictures and share here. And if any of you are IKEA kitchen experts or have strong opinions about kitchen renovations, feel free to comment away!


I filmed a whole bunch of cooking videos for the German recipe website Chefkoch over the past six weeks. The first ones are up today and I find them difficult to watch (sort of how you hate hearing the sound of your voice?) - I look so serious! - but there will be more to come in the next few months in which I loosen up considerably. And Hugo is in them! He totally steals the show, my darling blue-eyed boy. Here's a snapshot of the sweet makeup artist doing her magic the other day. (She used to work for the ex-girlfriend of a famous movie star whose name rhymes with Forge Rooney, eee!)


And now, some thoughts on gifts:


Diana Henry's A Change of Appetite was one of my favorite cookbooks of the year. I haven't had a chance to write about it yet, but I keep it by my bedside and leaf through it all the time. It's so handsome visually, but also beautiful in tone and spirit, as all Diana's books are. Plus, most importantly, the recipes are just exactly what I (and I suspect you?) want to cook and eat right now.


I read a lot of good books this year, but Kate Atkinson's excellent Life After Life stood out (so did Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being, which stretched my brain indescribably). I'll be giving it to at least three dear women in my life this Christmas. If you haven't yet read it, DO.


Are you as allergic to appliances as I am? I love the old-fashioned feel of this stovetop Belgian waffle maker.


Hedwig Bollhagen is a household name here, a Bauhaus-inspired ceramicist who founded her workshop in 1934 and created everyday objects with indelible style, but she's less well-known in the US. From starkly graphic vases to homey blue-and-white tea sets, Bollhagen pieces are endlessly covetable (and relatively affordable).

Elsewhere, Catherine's gift guide is perfection (I want every single thing on it) and Lottie + Doof's is as great as it is every year.

And finally, if any of you are local, the wonderful kitchenware store Kochtail on Invalidenstraße is selling signed copies of my book (both the US and German editions). If you want a personalized copy, stop in the store before Christmas to order it. (Kochtail is owned by my friend Joe, also a former Bostonian-New Yorker, who has excellent taste in kitchenware. If I could, I would do all my Christmas shopping in his shop alone.)