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Coloured mirror glazes

As its name suggests, a mirror glaze is a very shiny covering for a cake or dessert that is so reflective you should be able to see your face quite clearly in it. There are several recipes for mirror glazes but I make what I think is one of the simplest – and it always gives me great results. Continue reading “Coloured mirror glazes”

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Rough-puff pastry & other laminated pastries

I have been excited by laminated pastries ever since I was a boy, watching my gran make up batches. I love the process of achieving those buttery, light layers that melt in the mouth, especially with rough-puff pastry, a much simpler cousin to puff pastry. In this post I give the recipe for a fool-proof rough-puff pastry, along with recipe ideas for using the pastry. Continue reading “Rough-puff pastry & other laminated pastries”

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Shortcrust pastry & fool-proof blind-baking

It might be easy to feel daunted when it comes to making pastry, but I hope this post will go some way towards facing any doubts you might have when it comes to shortcrust pastry. I have also included what I think is the most fool-proof way to blind-bake the pastry, giving perfectly cooked pastry and a neat finish. Continue reading “Shortcrust pastry & fool-proof blind-baking”

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Tips for making & decorating cakes

Cake should never be eaten with any hint of guilt whatsover. Even when it comes to deciding that you want another slice…..

This post gives key tips for making several types of cake successfully, along with recipes for cakes and icings, troubleshooting and general ideas for decorating. I have also given the quantities needed to make a Victoria Sandwich cake for different sized tins. Continue reading “Tips for making & decorating cakes”

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Making Sourdough bread

A sourdough loaf really is a thing of great beauty: chewy, crusty, an open crumb with layers of flavour that is much more than even the joyous standard home-made bread. Heavenly! And perhaps there is also something of a fingers up at those ridiculously expensive sourdoughs that can be bought…… Continue reading “Making Sourdough bread”

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The joys of Afternoon Tea

A marvellous institution in itself, you do not need a reason to justify taking Afternoon Tea: wonderfully indulgent, it is one of the most pleasurable ways to spend what should be several unrushed hours, allowing gasps of excitement to escape out as both sweet and savoury goodies are presented. Continue reading “The joys of Afternoon Tea”

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Croissants & related pastries

A croissant is a food of utter joy and for me it is one of the greatest things both to bake and to eat. A crisp outer shell that rains flakes as you bite into it, revealing a honeycombed interior structure with a buttery flavour and a lovely, almost nutty aroma. In this post I offer top tips and a recipe I have fine-tuned during my quest to master croissants. Continue reading “Croissants & related pastries”

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Perfecting macarons – the queen of confections

If you have ever wanted a fool-proof, yet accessible recipe for making macarons, this is the place to be! Whether you are a newcomer to these delighful treats, or if you have battled with perfecting macarons or you just want some ideas for macaron flavours, I am sure my tips and the recipe will help you make terrific macarons. Continue reading “Perfecting macarons – the queen of confections”

Blackberry and apple friands

Mini almond sponge cakes, with the rich flavour of browned butter and the wonderful bedfellows brought by the blackberry and the apple, these friands are a seriously delicious treat. There is something even more special using blackberries picked from the hedgerows and apples straight from the tree! Continue reading “Blackberry and apple friands”

Quick and easy spiced rhubarb & white chocolate ripple ice cream

This is a very simple and speedy (in terms of preparation) white chocolate ice cream, with a spiced rhubarb ripple running through it.

I use stem ginger for that wonderful heat it brings, as well as a little star anise for a spicy aniseed punch. Continue reading “Quick and easy spiced rhubarb & white chocolate ripple ice cream”

Chocolate and cherry pastries

 

Kirsch-soaked Morello cherries and dark chocolate encased in a crisp, buttery croissant pastry – what is not to love? Continue reading “Chocolate and cherry pastries”

Focaccia bicolore

This two-coloured flavoured focaccia is the result of an idea that came to me after making the bicoloured croissants a while ago. The result is a plain focaccia dough mixed with a tomato and red onion focaccia dough. After all, why not have focaccia with different and clearly defined flavours within? Continue reading “Focaccia bicolore”

Sourdough croissants

While I make croissants using commercial yeast fairly often and sourdough bread frequently, I am fairly new to making sourdough croissants. But boy have I been missing out: not only is the flavour even better than using commercial yeast, you get even crispier croissants that truly shatter as you break into them. Continue reading “Sourdough croissants”

Choux buns with blackcurrant craquelin & blackcurrant and white chocolate cream

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Who doesn’t love a choux bun or éclair? Crisp pastry, creamy filling and a sticky topping…..such a treat! And they are so simple to make, yet look deceptively difficult.

Continue reading “Choux buns with blackcurrant craquelin & blackcurrant and white chocolate cream”

Neapolitan gateau

This is a cake version of my partner’s favourite ice cream from childhood: a Neapolitan (or Harlequin), an ice cream block with layers of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream.

Continue reading “Neapolitan gateau”

Orange and pistachio madeleines

Sweet, buttery and melt-in-the-mouth, madeleines are a treat for any occasion. I have gone for madeleines that are flavoured with ground pistachios and orange zest.

Continue reading “Orange and pistachio madeleines”

Salted caramel pistachio brittle

This very easy pistachio caramel is not only a great sweet to eat as it is, it so versatile for adorning all manner of cakes and sweet desserts: you just snap off pieces, put them in place and away you go.

Continue reading “Salted caramel pistachio brittle”

Home-made Mascarpone cheese

Using just two ingredients, Mascarpone cheese is so simple to make and tastes better than commercial Mascarpone. And it only costs about one third of the price compared to buying it.

Continue reading “Home-made Mascarpone cheese”

Pistachio and lemon macarons

When it comes to macarons, I have a penchant for fruity ones: the sharpness of a punchy filling with the sweetness of the shell hits the spot for me every time.

Continue reading “Pistachio and lemon macarons”

Panzanella: arguably one of the finest salads in the world!

Great food does not need to be at all complicated or time-consuming. Sometimes the combination of humble ingredients can become something quite majestic.

Continue reading “Panzanella: arguably one of the finest salads in the world!”

“Death by chocolate” drip cake

 

Moist chocolate sponge, white chocolate & vanilla buttercream and dark chocolate ganache combine to give a somewhat naughty chocolate cake: but then a chocolate cake that is not naughty is rarely worth having!

Continue reading ““Death by chocolate” drip cake”

Chocolate & orange bi-coloured viennoiserie

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Bi-coloured croissants and the like have been doing the rounds for a few years and has been on my “to make” list for some time, especially as they can look striking. In essence, you have a croissant dough with a second, coloured dough running through it.

Continue reading “Chocolate & orange bi-coloured viennoiserie”

Gorgonzola, pear & walnut cheesecake (savoury)

Whilst a sweet cheesecake can be a thing of great joy, a savoury one is often even more special for me. The flavours of Gorgonzola, pears and walnuts make a great match at any time and here the sweet juicyness of the pears with the sharp kick of balsamic vinegar work well with the rich tangyness of the cheesecake. Continue reading “Gorgonzola, pear & walnut cheesecake (savoury)”

Spiced crunchy chickpeas

This is a seriously great snack and is particularly ideal to eat on its own, with drinks or to add to salads in place of croutons. These chickpeas are ridiculously moreish: I can eat a whole batch of these quite happily! Continue reading “Spiced crunchy chickpeas”

Blackcurrant and mint fondant fancies

Blackcurrant and mint make a truly wonderful combination, and used together here you have a particularly vibrant and refreshing cake. Continue reading “Blackcurrant and mint fondant fancies”

Easy chocolate & ginger viennoiserie

If you have ever been daunted by pastry, particularly for croissants and the like, these rich chocolate and ginger pastries are actually quite easy to make. Certainly compared to making croissant dough the traditional way. Continue reading “Easy chocolate & ginger viennoiserie”

Cappuccino chocolates

There is always something intensely satisfying about making chocolates, not least because you can have whatever flavours, fillings and adornments you want – and at a fraction of the cost from those you buy from the artisan chocolate shops. Continue reading “Cappuccino chocolates”

Lemon sherbet cruffins (quirky viennoiserie!)

 

This is my take on cruffins: rich, buttery croissant pastries baked in muffin tins. For this batch I have gone for a tangy lemon filling, dusted with a lemon sherbet-esque caster sugar. For added zing, I have topped these cruffins with lemon icing and a few dried raspberry pieces. Continue reading “Lemon sherbet cruffins (quirky viennoiserie!)”

Tomato and basil English muffins

This my savoury twist on classic English breakfast muffins: these are wonderful toasted and liberally buttered: the butter has to be liberal, and low-fat spreads and the like do not do justice to these muffins! Continue reading “Tomato and basil English muffins”

Tips for making, flavouring & decorating cakes

Cake making tips post updated with further tips and links to my favourite cake recipes

Baking Fanatic

Updated April 2017

Sections in this post:

    • Less is often more!
    • Flavour must come first
    • The amount of ingredients needed for different sized tins (Victoria sponge)
    • About cupcake sponges
    • Flavouring a cake mixture
    • Preparing the tins
    • Baking the cakes
    • Flavouring a baked cake
    • Different types of icing: glacé, buttercreams; adding flavours to buttercreams; crumb-coating a cake in buttercream; fondant icings; ganache; mirror glaze
    • Top tips for covering a cake in ganache or glaze
    • The finishing touches to a cake (including piping, tempering chocolate and simple chocolate work)
    • Recipes for standard cakes(cupcake sponge; Victoria sandwich sponge; whisked sponge; genoise sponge; Madeira cake. Click link to jump to this section
    • Recipes for icings and fillings(salted caramel; standard ganache; quick fruity ganache; the silkiest buttercream; mirror glaze; drizzle cake topping). Click link to jump to this section
    • My top 5 tips Click link to jump to this section
    • Some of…

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6 Baking Mistakes – And How to Fix Them: guest post

I am delighted to publish a guest post from Joe at Village Bakery. focusing on key baking mistakes that can happen, particularly for someone who is new to baking. Continue reading “6 Baking Mistakes – And How to Fix Them: guest post”

Chocolate and orange surprise cake!

Ok, the surprise might not be up there with the denoument of a great murder mystery story, but this cake always evokes “oohs” and “ahhs” when cut into.  Granted, you might not have fallen off your chair with this reveal, but I can live with that! Continue reading “Chocolate and orange surprise cake!”

Sourdough baguettes

Shatteringly crisp baguettes, full of flavour and with wonderfully open crumb structure: surely the epitome of baking simplicity! Don’t get me wrong, I love throwing in goodies such as olives, roasted garlic, fresh herbs and the like in with doughs, but the refreshing lack of embellishments here absolutely hit the spot. Continue reading “Sourdough baguettes”

Quick & very easy pear chutney

Made in about 20 minutes, this simple and delicious chutney is a terrific complement for all manner of savoury dishes: quiche, cold meats, cheese…… Continue reading “Quick & very easy pear chutney”

Pina colada fondant fancies

These miniature cakes are my homage to the classic pina colada – my favourite cocktail. Seriously, I never tire of this cocktail! Continue reading “Pina colada fondant fancies”

Blueberry and raspberry macarons

Raspberries are one of my favourite fruits and I need little excuse to use these in sweet bakes: fresh, dried, curd…..any or all work for me! I was rather late to the blueberry party, though: only really taking to their sweet-acidic flavour in the past year or so, but now I adore them. Continue reading “Blueberry and raspberry macarons”

The effect of different oven temperatures in baking

While baking is one of the most rewarding aspects of cookery, it can, nonetheless, be frustrating – especially when things do not work. Now things not working can occur when trying out a new recipe for the first time, error with the techniques or even when baking a reliable favourite that has never yet failed……..and then it does! Continue reading “The effect of different oven temperatures in baking”

Easy beetroot, goats’ cheese & walnut tart

This is a very simple tart that is great eaten either hot or cold and is, for me, tart that can be enjoyed at any time of the year, although it is one of my “go to” summer bakes. It can be assembled in minutes so that is is merely a matter of baking the tart. Continue reading “Easy beetroot, goats’ cheese & walnut tart”

Orange and passionfruit fondant fancies

A shop-bought fondant fancy is very much a guilty pleasure of mine, but they are fun to make. And of course when making them you can go for whatever flavour you want, going for flavours that are not sold in the shops! Continue reading “Orange and passionfruit fondant fancies”

20-minute sourdough flatbreads

These flatbreads are so easy, so quick and so good with whatever dip or cheese is to hand. You can make a batch within about 20 minutes, including the baking, even going at a fairly sedate pace. Continue reading “20-minute sourdough flatbreads”

Crispy gingerbread cake bites

If you ever have left-over cake (“why would I?”, you might ask!), or have cake that is starting to go stale, these very easy bites will use up the cake for a delicious sweet treat. Continue reading “Crispy gingerbread cake bites”

1-minute smoked mackerel pâté!

This is an incredibly quick but insanely good smoked mackerel pâté, and one I have been making for many many years. It helps to buy the smoked mackerel already boned, but you literally just mix it all together to give the most delicious pâté. Continue reading “1-minute smoked mackerel pâté!”

Salted caramel shortbreads

This is my take on Millionaire’s Shortbread, but slightly jazzed up: a real excuse for indulgence – but is an excuse ever needed? Continue reading “Salted caramel shortbreads”

Re-visiting croissants & climbing back on the baking horse!

This post is a somewhat cathartic reflection on dusting oneself down following a knock-back and “getting back on the horse”. Continue reading “Re-visiting croissants & climbing back on the baking horse!”

Rhubarb & ginger Battenberg cake

The power of baking in evoking happy memories of childhood is one of the many reasons baking is such an addiction for me; a Battenberg cake never fails to transport me back to being a child again, when slices of Battenberg were handed out as a real teatime treat. Continue reading “Rhubarb & ginger Battenberg cake”

Pork, apple & apricot pie: a left-overs feast!

This thrifty pie, made with a simple mustard-flavoured hot watercrust pastry, is packed with pork, stuffing, juicy apricots, sharp apple, a few pickled vegetables and roasted onions: left-overs from a roast dinner and store-cupboard ingredients. Continue reading “Pork, apple & apricot pie: a left-overs feast!”

Spiced lime & poppy seed bundt drizzle cake

This very easy cake has bags of flavour. In my view, a bundt cake, as indeed any cake, should not be at all apathetic – no matter how ornate it looks: it absolutely needs to have the “wow” factor in the flavour, too. Continue reading “Spiced lime & poppy seed bundt drizzle cake”

Cashew nut & cocoa nib snaps

These biscuits, which are a cross between brandy snaps and florentines, are incredibly easy and quick to make, with a batch made and ready to eat in under 30 minutes. Continue reading “Cashew nut & cocoa nib snaps”

Pea and ham filo bites

This is a such a simple bake, and is ideal using left-over ham at Christmas and bits and bobs lurking around: frozen peas, a dollop of chutney and mustard…… Continue reading “Pea and ham filo bites”

Whole ham with chilli, marmalade and rum glaze

I adore glazed hams, not just around Christmas and the New Year, but at any time of the year. Continue reading “Whole ham with chilli, marmalade and rum glaze”

Cake of Christmas Present!

While I sometimes love going “all out” when it comes to decorating cakes, when it comes to Christmas cakes, I tend to go for the simplest of approaches. Continue reading “Cake of Christmas Present!”

No-fuss sticky gingerbread cake

This is an incredibly simple gingerbread cake with a mixture that is made up in seconds: it is very moist, with jewels of stem ginger throughout and the underlying heat of spice from the ground ginger. The icing has a ginger kick with a nice lime zing to it – two flavours that are made for each other. Continue reading “No-fuss sticky gingerbread cake”

Quick & easy Cherry, walnut & maple syrup pastries

These are very quick and easy treats: small sweet pastries that are crisp, buttery and wonderfully sticky: quite fabulous served with coffee or tea! Continue reading “Quick & easy Cherry, walnut & maple syrup pastries”

Christmas cake bites

This is just a simple variation on a Christmas cake, going for individual bites of cake rather than making a large cake. Inspired by Nigella Lawson’s puddinis (such a fabulous name!), which use left-over Christmas pudding, these instead use some of the Christmas cake mixture I made for this year’s Christmas cake – ok, I made a little extra mixture but why not? Continue reading “Christmas cake bites”

Smoked salted honeycomb

This is my take on honeycomb, playing up to my absolute love of salted caramel by incorporating a little smoked sea salt – an ingredient that is now readily available in supermarkets here in the UK. But made with standard sea salt, and you still have a marvellous sweet treat. Continue reading “Smoked salted honeycomb”

Sfogliatella pastries with a honey, orange & pistachio filling

This is my first attempt at these rather challenging Italian pastries – pastries I had never heard of until I tried one very recently and was immediately smitten. It goes without saying that I had to have a go at making these. Continue reading “Sfogliatella pastries with a honey, orange & pistachio filling”

Luxury orange shortbread mince pies with a macaroon topping

I usually prefer to make mince pies using shortbread dough rather than pastry: it makes them more special than a standard pastry mince pie and it is really no harder to make. Besides, Christmas would not be Christmas without shortbread! And whenever I have made these mince pies, they have gone very quickly. Continue reading “Luxury orange shortbread mince pies with a macaroon topping”