“The books that I love best are dog-eared and splattered and look well used,” says Jeni Iannetta, 50. “I’d love this one to end up like that too”.
Iannetta is the owner of the four-year-old Muir of Ord business, Bad Girl Bakery, which she runs with her husband, Douglas Hardie. She’s about to release her first cookbook, titled Bad Girl Bakery, out November 2.
“It was always something I’d dreamed of doing, but in a ‘that will never happen’ kind of way”, she says. “Kitchen Press have published so many of my food heroes’ books, including The Parlour Cafe, Seafood Shack and Mountain Cafe”.
Chapters include Cake for Breakfast, with recipes such as the sticky bun recipe below, and Leftover Cake, and there are five variations on millionaire’s shortbread, including a gingerbread latte version. For those of us who reserve it as a once-a-week treat, the Everyday Cake section might make us re-assess that rule. It’s all about spoiling yourself. Even the name is a jokey dig at those who might draw attention to a spot of self-indulgence.
“You know, the people who tut and say, ‘Oh, you bad girl,’ when you reach for a treat”, says Iannetta.
Some of the 100 or so recipes are the bakery’s regular crowd-pleasers. However, the book involved a lot of experimentation and a couple of baking fails.
“Since none of the bakery team are formally trained, there was a lot of ‘let’s see what happens when…’. I’ll never forget the chocolate cookie that tasted like hot mayo,” says Iannetta. “The team should get medals for not rolling their eyes every time I suggested a change”.
Despite this, her first cookbook writing experience was a positive one.
“It was incredibly rewarding”, she says. “Everything you bake is gone in a day so it’s amazing to have something tangible that we’ll be able to show our grandchildren one day”.
Being an author is especially exciting for Iannetta, who was self taught and started her business from a shed at the bottom of the garden. Now, she inspires queues and supplies the National Trust for Scotland, among others.
“I’m not formally trained and came to a career in food later in life, so most of what I’d learned came from books, TV and blogs and on the job”, she says. “I hope this book inspires people to try out the recipes we’ve developed over the years”.
Bad Girl Bakery by Jeni Iannetta, £20, Kitchen Press
Cardamon & White Chocolate Sticky Buns
Sticky buns are a big hit in the bakery, and we often have customers queuing for them in the mornings. These sticky buns are soft and squidgy, perfect for a special breakfast or Sunday brunch. They are lightly spiced, sweet with white chocolate and finished with a vanilla milk glaze. If you’ve never made yeasted dough before, this is a simple place to start; the beauty of the recipe is that everything is done the day before.
MAKES 8 LARGE BUNS
35 x 24cm traybake tin, lined
For the dough:
500g strong white bread flour
75g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
75g unsalted butter, cubed
1 tsp sea salt
2 x 7g sachets fast action yeast
275ml whole milk
2 medium eggs, beaten
For the filling:
100g caster sugar
50g light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cardamom
100g unsalted butter, very soft
150g white chocolate chips or chunks
For the glaze:
300g icing sugar
4–5 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Put the flour, sugar and cardamom in a large bowl, then rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the salt on one side of the bowl, the yeast on the other and make a well in the middle. Pour in the milk and the beaten eggs and stir with a butter knife until you have a rough ball of sticky dough. You can do this in a stand mixer if you like.
Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface and knead the dough until it is soft and smooth and can stretch easily. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes by hand, or half that time if using a mixer.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave somewhere warm until it doubles in size. How long it takes to rise will vary depending on how warm your kitchen is.
While that’s rising, make your filling. Mix the caster and light brown sugars with the cardamom. Once the dough has risen, give it a punch to knock the air out, then roll it on a lightly floured counter into a rectangle about 50 x 25cm with the long edge closest to you.
Spread the soft butter over the dough using your fingers, then scatter over the sugar mixture followed by a layer of white chocolate chips. Starting from the long edge in front of you, roll the dough up tightly so you end up with a long, fat sausage and use your hands to even it out.
Cut off the ragged ends, then slice into eight even pieces. For each one, take the very edge of the dough and pull it under the bun to stop all the filling running out.
Place the buns in your lined tin so they have room to rise and ease open the layers a little. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge overnight.
Next morning, take out of the fridge and put in a warm place until the buns double in size and fill the tray.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the buns are dark and a skewer comes out clean. Let them sit for 10 minutes while you whisk the icing sugar, milk and vanilla together to form a thick glaze, then drizzle it over the buns just before you serve them.