Have you ever looked into a magazine or travel book and seen sparkling blue oceans, intricate ruins, or a bunch of old men with fantastic beards, in lederhosen, drinking litres of beer and thought “that seals it, I’m going.”?
When I looked into the London based Hummingbird Bakery cookbook I found, I had that very same thought. The book was full of cupcakes, muffins, cheesecakes, pies, and cookies. I picked out from the pictures what I was going to have when I got there: the raspberry cheesecake brownie. It was delicious. So delicious, I only got a picture of the box.
As for the baking using the book, we first took on vanilla cupcakes with a dulce de leche and chocolate filling – delicious, but the cupcakes sunk (probably the silicon forms/crappy oven). The blueberry muffins were tasty, but with more sugar than flour what do you expect? They were sticky within a few hours, moldy in a few days (also made double the recipe yield). I made a variation of the lemon loaf (variation being the addition of poppy seeds) – it was dense, not lemony enough, and all around unappealing. I was almost happy finding a massive spider on it so I could justify not eating it anymore.
James had the only success of the book:
Cookies, been there done that; muffins still working on that perfect crumb (silicone forms don’t seem to be helping), brownies… hmm not hankering for chocolate. Pies, never tried that before, oh and Key Lime Pie, oh yes, yes please, can we.
So limes, digestive biscuits and condensed milk in hand I was all set up to try out the Hummingbird Bakery’s Key Lime Pie. In my limited baking experience I tend to make a few oversights, when the recipe calls for 500g of digestive biscuits and you only bought 400g don’t eat two or three while you read the recipe. But how can you resist digestive biscuits. So a thinner crust was to be made, just lower the butter content and all problems solved. Well not really, not having made a biscuit crust before I was not sure what consistency I was looking for and used to much butter. After some troubleshooting I fixed the crust by baking for nearly 40 minutes, resetting the crust and removing the oilly parts of the crust while it baked.
Key limes pack a considerable stronger flavour than regular limes, if you don’t have access to them (as I didn’t) use more regular limes than the stated amount.
Recipe time, from the hummingbird bakery cookbook:
- 8 egg yolks
- 2 x 397-g tins condensed milk
- 5 limes – juice and zest (I used 6)
- 450 ml whipping cream
- 500 g digestive biscuits
- 200 g unsalted butter, melted
a 23-cm pie dish, greased
Preheat oven to 170 oC (325oF), Gas 3
For the crust: Roughly break up the digestive biscuits and put them in a food processor. Process until finely ground. Slowly pour the melted butter into the processor while the motor is running. Press this mixture into the base and neatly up the side of the prepared pie dish, using the ball of your hand or a tablespoong to flatten and compress it.
Bake in the preheated over for about 20 minutes, or until deep golden and firm. Set aside to cool completely.
Turn the oven down to 150oC (300oF) Gas 2.
Put the egg yolks, condensed milk and lime juice and zst in a glass bowl and mix gently with a balloon whisk until all the ingredients are very well incorporated. The mixture will thicken naturally.
Pour into the cold pie crust and bake in the preheated over for 20-3o minutes the filling should be firm to the touch but still very slightly soft in the centre (not wobbly!). Leave to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible.
When you are ready to serve the pie, whip the cream with a handheld electric whisk in a large bowl until soft peaks form, then spread over the pie and decorate with a little lime zest.
I added sugar and some homemade vanilla extract to the cream, and cinnamon into the pie. You could also use a meringue topping making it more like lemon meringue pie.
All in all, the hype around the Hummingbird Bakery isn’t flack – it is a tasty stop when you need a sweet treat in London. The cookbook, definitely some mistakes in the recipes: use for ideas, but look up other recipes of similar nature.