Michelle Darmody on adding zing to your baking

Michelle Darmody on adding zing to your baking

Zest is always a good trick to have up your baking sleeve. The colourful layer that is a part of the skin, and sits above the pith, mirrors the taste of the fruit beneath; lime zest is more piquant than orange zest for example.

Although it does reflect the taste of the fruit it has a uniqueness which captures the essence of the flavour and magnifies it.

Zest adds zing to cakes and desserts, livening them up and helping to enhance the other flavours in the recipe.

Like herbs or spices the flavour of zest permeates, so a teaspoon or two will be enough to add the desired taste.

If you do not have a grater or microplane you can use a peeler and then finely chop the slivers of peel.

This method particularly works for condiments such as marmalades or lime pickles. If you are using both the juice and the zest of the same fruit make sure to zest it before you juice it.

When zesting it is best not to venture too far down into the white pith as it will add bitterness.

For best results I use a microplane as it is easier and sharper than a more traditional grater.

It is desirable to use unwaxed fruit but if you cannot find them soak the fruit you have in warm water for a minute or so and then vigorously rub the skin with a clean tea towel.

The lemon biscotti stores well for up to a month and can be frozen in the logs or pre-sliced, you will just need to do the final half-hour bake once they defrost.

You can play around with the flavourings by adding different nuts or some orange zest in place of the lemon.

Marmalade loaf

  • 225g of soft butter
  • 215g of golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 225g of self raising flour
  • The zest of 1 medium orange and half of the juice
  • 1 tbsp of thick cut marmalade

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a 2 lb loaf tin with parchment.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg in, slowly alternating with a spoon of the flour. Stir in the remaining flour. Add in zest, juice and marmalade, combine everything well.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Once cool enough to handle place on a wire rack to cool.

Lime zest truffles

Michelle Darmody on adding zing to your baking

  • 250 mls of cream
  • ½ tbsp of soft butter
  • 300g of dark chocolate broken into small even sized pieces
  • The zest of 4 limes
  • A very small pinch of sea salt
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

Heat the cream over a low heat in a heavy-based saucepan.

Once it begins to shiver, before it boils, take it off the heat. Stir in the chocolate pieces until they melt. Stir in the butter, zest and salt until completely combined.

Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until it is the consistency of cold butter.

Roll balls of the mixture between your palms then roll them in the cocoa powder.

Lemon and almond biscotti

Michelle Darmody on adding zing to your baking

  • 350g of plain flour
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 240g of golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • the zest of 3 lemons
  • 100g of blanched almonds

Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees and line two flat baking trays with parchment.

Sieve your flour and baking powder into a large bowl and make sure they are completely combined.

Add in the eggs and the zest and knead until a soft dough is formed. Add in the almonds and combine them with the dough.

Divide the dough into three sections and roll each section into a log of about 40 centimetres in length.

Bake the logs on a baking tray for about 25 minutes until risen and firm to touch.

Once cool enough to handle slice the logs into biscuits of about 1 centimetre in thickness.

Turn your oven down to 140 degrees.

Place the biscotti onto the prepared baking trays and bake for 15 minutes, turn the biscuits over and bake for another 15 minutes on the other side. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

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