Tuesday, 25 August 2009


I was pondering what to blog about next and I got to thinking about what appealed to me about blogs in the first place. I've always loved baking - my Mum's a fantastic baker - and whenever I was on school holidays I used to spend days in the kitchen baking up treats. I'm sure it was a nightmare for my Mum to clear up after the whim took me to make fudge! Something I still have yet to master. Anyway, when I moved into my own house, I cooked more and more. Not just baking but savory too which I'd never been that strong on before.

Wanting to develop beyond Victoria sponges and cupcakes, I wanted to find out how the pros did it. How were those patisseries created? How did they make the super thin jelly layer atop the elegant layers of mousse and sponge? How was the sponge made that thin without drying out? What made the perfect chocolate chip cookie? In search of answers, I researched cookery courses but there was a dramatic gap between the courses teaching you how to bake a sponge or make a tart and the year long diplomas that covered the trickier techniques. But nothing in between! And then I discovered blogs. Professional pastry chefs describing how to recreate some of those signature dishes in a domestic kitchen! Admittedly, sometimes the instructions are all too brief to fully cover the method for achieving the professional look (I'm guessing some things need to remain a secret!) but they get you a good 90% of the way there. So far, I've been really chuffed with some of the things I've produced. Yes, I can't yet master macarons but I blame that on my rubbish oven and lack of a decent food processor! But some things, such as mousses, have been a great success. Through such experimenting, it's also possible to identify what the basis of the recipe is and how it can be modified to your own ends, then allowing ultimate freedom to experiment.
One of the things I've longed to make for a while now (since investing in a sugar thermometer) is marshmallows. When homemade, they're a far cry from the synthetic foam available in the shops. They're more like fluffy, sugary vanilla clouds. Totally addictive!

So here's how to make them. They really are very straightforward - people often get scared when it comes to boiling sugar but use a thermometer and it's easy as anything. Have a go and see! So many things can be created from a base of sugar syrup. Now that I've gotten the hang of the basic recipe, my mind is whirring with possible flavour combinations! Marshmallows

320g sugar
12g glucose syrup
130g water

40g powdered gelatine (3 sachets)
130g water

45g egg whites (1 large egg’s white)
pinch of cream of tartar
20g sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

Line a square tin (I used a 10” square loose bottom tin) with clingfilm and lightly grease with flavourless oil (such as vegetable or sunflower).

In a small saucepan with tall sides, combine the sugar, glucose syrup and 130g water. Cook to 126C.

In the meantime, whisk the powdered gelatine and 130 grams of water together and let the gelatine bloom.

Place the egg whites and the cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer and start whipping in medium speed. When the egg whites are almost fully whipped, add the 20 grams sugar and continue whipping in slow to medium speed depending on how far the sugar syrup is from reaching the desired temperature.

When the sugar syrup reaches 126C, turn the heat off and add the bloomed gelatine (will be a solid mass) to the saucepan. It will bubble up so be careful. Whisk until the gelatine dissolves completely in the syrup.

Add the syrup with the gelatine into the whipped egg whites while whipping in low speed. When all has been added, turn the speed up to high and let it whip until ribbons start to form. Add any flavouring and/or food colouring at this point. We don't want the marshmallow to cool completely because we want to be able to spread it. Remove from mixer and pour into the lined tin. Let it set at room temperature (a couple of hours).

Mix together half icing sugar and half cornflour (about 50-75g of each is sufficient). Sift onto a chopping board and turn out the marshmallows onto the board. Peel off the clingfilm and sift over more icing sugar/cornflour mix. Cut into squares, or whatever shape floats your boat, using a sharp, wet knife and toss in the icing sugar/cornflour mix.

These will keep well in a ziplock bag and freeze beautifully.

Rosy x


  1. I made marshmallows a while back too, they are so surprisingly easy! And you're right, they are a world away from the ones you get in the shops.

  2. I was watching an old ep of River Cottage on Virgin On Demand last night and Hugh made marshmallows. I'm dying to try it out! Where did you get your thermometer? I can't seem to find a good one.

    Katie xox

  3. Hi Jenny! Just popped over to your blog and it looks sooooo good. I used to go to Edinburgh Uni so great to catch up on the 'burgh goings on. Makes me miss it soooooo much though... Growing up's rubbish. Well, not rubbish in the financial sense, but rubbish in the not-getting-drunk-on-a-monday-night sense.

    Katie - I've emailed you about the thermometer as I was waffling too much in my comment response! xx