Know your ingredients. When creating beautiful and delicious bakes it always helps to know the little secrets and tricks of the trade when it comes to your ingredients. We’re giving you a few useful tips with regards to berries, fresh cream, honey and limes.
- Select bright red and plump berries with their caps intact.
- Smaller berries are usually sweeter and have more flavour.
- Avoid berries that are soft, mouldy and shrivelled.
- Wash berries in a colander, drain and dry with paper towel.
- It is best to store berries in the fridge on a plate lined with paper towel and wrapped with plastic wrap.
- To have berries all year round freeze soft berries spaced out on a tray lined with baking paper. Freeze for a few hours, then transfer into a plastic freezing bag and return to the freezer. Firmer berries can be placed directly into bags and frozen.
- Cream: Has a high butterfat content, so it will float easily on soups and coffees. It traps air when beaten and increases in volume. It can also split into butter and whey when overbeaten. It is great for cake decorating, desserts, in custards and ice-creams.
- Whipping cream: Not as rich and creamy as conventional cream but will double in volume once beaten. The colder the cream and the utensils that you use the more volume you will get. Do not overwhip as it will separate. Used for piping decorations, in mousses and as a pouring cream.
- Reduced fat cream: The low fat content is not suitable for whipping. Pour over desserts and fresh fruit, add to coffee instead of milk and enrich your soups just before serving.
- In ancient times honey was regarded as the food of the gods. It was also used a a food sweetener before the introduction of sugar.
- The colour, flavour and the aroma of the honey depends on what kind of flower the bees have taken the nectar from.
- Honey can be used in sweet and savoury dishes and is a key ingredient in gingerbread. In North Africa, it is used in savoury dishes such as tagines, couscous and roast lamb.
- Honey is a natural invert sugar, meaning that if you add a little to sugar syrup it will prevent it from crystallising.
- Limes are green only because they are harvested unripe. If left to ripen they will turn yellow.
- Limes can be used instead of lemons when cooking or baking, but be sure to use fewer as they are more acidic.
- Limes are often used in South America to cook food such as fish in the popular dish civiche.
- Pickled limes are used in North Africa with meat and fish dishes.
- Just like lemons, limes can be warmed in the microwave for a few seconds before squeezing so that you can extract more juice from them.