Parmesan, basil & toasted pine nut canelés

A savoury variation of my lemongrass and ginger canelés,  these are essentially pesto canelés, and are fantastic as light canapés when served warm. They have a thin exterior crust with a soft interior, bursting with flavour.

Continue reading “Parmesan, basil & toasted pine nut canelés”

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Pistachio & passionfruit shortbreads

Mini pistachio shortbreads, topped them with fresh passion fruit curd and coated in white chocolate. Passionfruit and white chocolate go so well together that these are really not difficult to eat!

A gluten-free version:

I have also made these by replacing the plain flour in the recipe with gluten-free bread flour. I tend to use Dove’s plain flour.

The biscuits are very melt-in-the-mouth and, as should be the case with gluten-free bakes, you really shouldn’t be able to tell that they are gluten-free.

Other fruit curds:

For other curds (lemon, orange, strawberry, raspberry are other favourites of mine) replace the passion fruit juice with the juice of the fruit you want: puréed and strained in the case of raspberries and strawberries.

As a guideline I would use about 4 lemons or 3 oranges in the recipe below. Or 200g raspberries or strawberries. But add extra if you prefer.

Pistachio shortbreads with passionfruit & white chocolate (makes about 50 mini shortbreads)

Pistachio shortbread:

  • 140g plain flour
  • 50g pistachios, ground very finely
  • 95g vanilla caster sugar
  • 140g unsalted butter, softened
  • generous pinch of salt

Passionfruit curd

  • juice from 12 passion fruit
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 120g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks

To finish:

  • 200g white chocolate
  • 50g dark chocolate

Make the passionfruit curd:

(1) Strain the passionfruit juice into a jug or bowl, getting as much of the juice as you can.

(2) Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and the sugar together lightly and whisk in the passionfruit juice until everything is amalgamated.

(3) Melt the butter over a low heat in a small pan and pour in the rest of the ingredients. Keep stirring over a low heat until the mixture has thickened. Leave to cool, pour into a couple of clean jars and refrigerate until needed. It will keep for a couple of weeks.

Make the shortbread:

(4) Mix the flour, sugar, salt and pistachios in a bowl. Add the butter and rub in just until it comes together to form a soft ball. Cover with clingfilm and chill for at least half an hour.

(5) Roll out the dough to about the thickness of a pound coin: it is easiest rolling it out between two sheets of baking parchment. Cut out small circles of dough using a cutter and transfer to baking sheets lined with baking parchment. Prick each with a fork and chill while you preheat the oven to 160C(fan).

(6) Bake for 8-10 minutes until between pale and light golden. Leave for a few minutes on the baking tray and then transfer carefully to a wire rack to cool.

Assemble:

(7) Spoon or pipe a little of the curd onto the centre of each shortbread. Dip in the white chocolate and place back on the wire rack, chocolate-side up. This can be easier if you freeze the curd-topped shortbreads for about 30 minutes first.

(8) Drizzle over some melted dark or milk chocolate.

Lemongrass & ginger canelés

Canelés have somehow escaped my foodie radar; the first time I ate one – a traditional vanilla flavour – was just a few weeks ago, served with an Afternoon Tea. However, I was so taken by them that I couldn’t wait to make a batch, and have since made several batches of differing flavours! Continue reading “Lemongrass & ginger canelés”

Valentine’s cake

I made this cake to take to my first visit to my local group of the Clandestine Cake Club, the theme for this event being “He loves me, he loves me not”. Continue reading “Valentine’s cake”

Fruit Punnet Madeira Cake

The “fruit punnet cake” or fruit basket cake has freshly picked fruit covering it as well as spilling over the top: whenever I pick fruit from the allotment I always end up putting far too much into the punnets, often with fruit to be found rolling around in the boot of the car, so these cakes are very much me! Continue reading “Fruit Punnet Madeira Cake”

Passion fruit & raspberry swiss roll with passion fruit ganache

When I make patterned Swiss Rolls and other sponges there has to be flavour in the colours and patterns. For patterns, I tend to go for simplicity: usually spots or stripes, but occasionally I go for fancy shapes or lettering across the Swiss Roll. However, stripes are certainly my most common choice. Continue reading “Passion fruit & raspberry swiss roll with passion fruit ganache”

Brioche Stollen with a citrus marzipan

I have gone for more of a spiced brioche-type dough here, resulting in a stollen that leans more towards a cake in terms of texture than a bread, which I prefer here. For me a stollen does need a buttery, rich flavour that crumbles away and melts in the mouth, which is precisly what this brioche-style dough achieves. Continue reading “Brioche Stollen with a citrus marzipan”

Orange & cardamom drizzle cakes

 

These simple mini drizzle cakes are very light and moist, with a rich orange flavour and just a hint of cardamom. The marmaladey orange zest on top, combined with the slightly soured cream, results in what I think is a very more-ish cake. This cake is great cut small to be served as petits fours or made more substantial as a cake to be served with tea. Continue reading “Orange & cardamom drizzle cakes”

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”

Wild mushroom tart (gluten-free)

A mixture of rehydrated dried mushrooms and fresh wild mushrooms, cooked down slowly for intensity of flavour, makes a wonderful tart/quiche. Second only to a cheese and onion quiche for me, this is great served warm for so many occasions when good comfort food is the prder of the day. Continue reading “Wild mushroom tart (gluten-free)”

Passionfruit & strawberry custard slices (gluten-free)

Custard slices are one of my favourite teatime sweet treats, even though I don’t have a very sweet tooth! I love the crispness of the pastry, the richness of the crème pâtissière and the stickyness of the fondant topping. Continue reading “Passionfruit & strawberry custard slices (gluten-free)”

Mango and lime “egg cup” desserts

Post updated April 2017: recipe slightly tweaked and re-photographed.

I have seen this sort of sweet dessert with sponge and various goodies such as mousse inside an egg shell, although often it is served in the actual egg shell. However, I wanted the whole thing to be edible so I decided to make a light dessert in a crisp white chocolate shell. Continue reading “Mango and lime “egg cup” desserts”

Quick & easy gluten-free sausage rolls

I have a great love of sausage rolls: as long as the pastry is light, crisp and buttery and, most crucially, the filling is generously packed with flavour then I am beyond happy! Continue reading “Quick & easy gluten-free sausage rolls”

Tips for making & decorating cakes

Cake should be eaten without any hint of guilt whatsover. Even when wanting 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”

Gluten-free choux pastry: mini BLT éclairs

These are great gluten-free mini bakes that highlight the fact that gluten-free food need not have the texture and flavour of cardboard or be at all boring! And these were quick to make, with a batch ready to be eaten within 1 hour. Continue reading “Gluten-free choux pastry: mini BLT éclairs”

Coffee, pecan & salted caramel truffle torte

This incredibly indulgent treat is my take on a marvellous cake I ate at a patisserie on holiday ages ago and as soon as I got home I set out to try to recreate its flavours and textures. Continue reading “Coffee, pecan & salted caramel truffle torte”

Opera Gateau: coffee, chocolate & rum flavour

The last time I made an Opera Gateau I went for layers of sponge brushed with lime syrup and rum, ginger & lemongrass buttercream and passionfruit with white chocolate ganache: this time I went for the more classic Opera Gateau using layers of coffee & rum soaked sponge, coffee buttercream and dark chocolate ganache. Continue reading “Opera Gateau: coffee, chocolate & rum flavour”

Roast beef & horseradish canapés

Amazingly easy and ridiculously more-ish, this is a great way to use left over roast beef, not to mention Yorkshire pudding batter if you have any left, although to be honest the batter can be made up in moments! I have also given ideas for some of my favourite savoury and sweet variations. Continue reading “Roast beef & horseradish canapés”

Blackcurrant & white chocolate mousse entremets

These mini dessert cakes were created as a different way to use some of the blackcurrants from the allotment, as well as any excuse to have a play in the kitchen. It was also a nice surprise for these to feature during an episode of The Great British Bake Off: Extra Slice after submitting them. Continue reading “Blackcurrant & white chocolate mousse entremets”

Blackcurrant marshmallow macarons (& “wagarons”!)

I am such a fan of Wagon Wheels but they have become noticeably smaller over the years so I felt I might as well jump on their band wagon(!) and go even smaller, using macarons: after all, miniature things are among the most exciting thing for me to both bake and eat. Continue reading “Blackcurrant marshmallow macarons (& “wagarons”!)”

Joconde Imprime Fruit Mousse Entremets

Although I have made joconde sponge before, I had never made a joconde imprime (a sponge design baked into a sponge) so this was an exciting first for me. Continue reading “Joconde Imprime Fruit Mousse Entremets”

Sun-dried tomato & basil bread

I am such a bread addict and I am always playing around with flavours that excite me for breads that I make. High summer in each mouthful, this is a very full-flavoured bread that is seriously easy to eat! Continue reading “Sun-dried tomato & basil bread”

Mini Victoria Sandwich Cakes

These are small-scale versions of possibly THE most classic cake. I love to serve them as part of an Afternoon Tea or just as they are, devouring them while watching television! Continue reading “Mini Victoria Sandwich Cakes”

Canapé selection: mushroom; smoked aubergine

I adore nibbly food and am always trying out ideas and flavours to ring the changes. These two different canapés use a very light and crumbly shortcrust pastry, made with just a little Parmesan cheese. I filled half of the cooked pastry shells with a rich, smokey aubergine filling (baba ghanoush) and the rest with an intensely flavoured mushroom filling (recipe below). Continue reading “Canapé selection: mushroom; smoked aubergine”

Traditional scones

Scones are fabulous on their own on a sunny day with a pot of tea, or can brighten up the drearist day with ease, but they are, of course, an important component of Afternoon Tea whether sweet or savoury.
Continue reading “Traditional scones”

Vegan raspberry macarons

I need little excuse to make macarons, but this time I was asked if I could make some for a friend who was investigating more of a vegan lifestyle and wanted to be convinced that she could still enjoy indulgent things: which of course she could…and should! Continue reading “Vegan raspberry macarons”

Gluten-free orange and rhubarb cupcakes

Carrying on with one of my baking challenges on a gluten-free theme: a theme in which I am aiming for bakes that you would not otherwise know are gluten-free and can stand up against their non-gluten-free counterparts. This time, cupcakes. Continue reading “Gluten-free orange and rhubarb cupcakes”

Macaroons (as opposed to macarons!!)

A few years ago I made what was apparently a significant social faux pas in a restaurant while being served petits fours: when I referred to what I thought were macaroons the waiter, bristling with petulant superciliousness, exclaimed “they are macarons, sir”. All done with a pronunciation that could well have been from an episode of ‘Allo, ‘Allo with an accompanying roll of the eyes! Now, I am not the tallest of people to begin with but at that point I felt positively Lilliputian! Continue reading “Macaroons (as opposed to macarons!!)”

Sour cherry & white chocolate pastries

These are very light pastries with the wonderful combination of both sweet and sharp flavours. The sour cherries, having been steeped overnight in rum or Amaretto, pack a lovely punch; the fragrant sharpness of a passion fruit crème pâtissière, enriched with a little white chocolate, offers an indulgently soft filling for the crisp, buttery pastry. Continue reading “Sour cherry & white chocolate pastries”

The very best sausage rolls……..

At the risk of sounding as though I have fallen straight out of a Carry On film I will state categorically that I absolutely love a good sausage roll. One bite and everything is well with the world! Continue reading “The very best sausage rolls……..”

Mango & Passionfruit cheesecakes domes

A slight twist on the cheesecake, inspired by one of the goodies served to us when having Afternoon Tea recently. I often get inspiration while eating out and it was fun trying to recreate the feel of this sweet at home. Continue reading “Mango & Passionfruit cheesecakes domes”

Cream Horns

A teatime classic from decades past, the cream horn is still a great sweet to eat and is easy to make. The flavour and the texture you get as the caster sugar caramelises on the outside of the buttery pastry are wonderful, especially with the richness of the cream. Continue reading “Cream Horns”

Smoked Haddock Tarts – my nod to kedgeree

These are very special tarts: crisp, melt-in-the-mouth and gently spiced pastry cases filled with buttery leeks, and flakes of smoked haddock in a just-set and subtly flavoured curried egg custard.
Continue reading “Smoked Haddock Tarts – my nod to kedgeree”

Tomato & Pesto Canapés

Home-grown tomatoes with freshly made pesto make for one of my favourite flavour combinations and I have been making simple tarts using these two ingredients for many years. Continue reading “Tomato & Pesto Canapés”

Nut-free Macarons

While I often vary the nuts I use for my macarons, I had never made a macaron that was totally nut-free. As I was to give my students a baking lesson in macarons, being a nut-free school this could have posed something of a challenge…but I thrive on a culinary challenge! Continue reading “Nut-free Macarons”

Savoury Macarons

Although I often go for macarons filled with a fruit ganache, this time I’ve gone for savoury macarons. The light sweetness of the shell is a perfect foil for each of the savoury fillings I have used, with the gentle saltiness coming from the fillings creating a flavour contrast that is, quite simply, divine. Continue reading “Savoury Macarons”

Jam Doughnuts

This is my first foray in many years into the somewhat guilt-inducing world of the doughnut. But given they are such a rare treat, the guilt simply vanishes: it has to! Continue reading “Jam Doughnuts”

Thai prawn bites in a coriander & sesame seed pastry

Juicy marinaded prawns in a coriander and sesame seed pastry make wonderful nibbles and are very easy to make. They are excellent served hot or cold. Continue reading “Thai prawn bites in a coriander & sesame seed pastry”

Raspberry and white chocolate Wedding Cake

I had already made and posted a “trial run” of the main cake for my recent Civil Partnership when I had a go at it back in the summer but why stop at one main feature when there could be two? So a macaron tower HAD to be included…… Continue reading “Raspberry and white chocolate Wedding Cake”

Gougères & other fabulous savoury choux bites

A crunchy exterior giving way to the lightest, most delicate pillows of cheesy indulgence, gougères make fabulous little nibbles/canapés. They are lovely just as they come, ideally served warm, but they are wonderful filled with all manner of goodies (see below). Continue reading “Gougères & other fabulous savoury choux bites”

Pain de Campagne

A gorgeous bread, with real flavour, this is a few notches above the supermarket artisinal breads – and it can be made for a fraction of the cost. Great just as it is with butter and jam but wonderful toasted for breakfast. The simplest of life’s pleasures! Continue reading “Pain de Campagne”

Walnut & Mocha Fancies

These are not quite those wonderful fancies using fondant icing (although fondant icing does work well here) but my take using a ganache coating and a little coffee glaze for richness, an additional coffee hit and a shiny finish. Continue reading “Walnut & Mocha Fancies”

Cupcakes: a contemporary camp classic!

As with macarons, there is nothing butch about a cupcake, but it revels in its campery – and rightly so! They flounced onto the baking scene with great style several years ago, demanding to be noticed, and all of a sudden the shops started featuring them and everyone started making them. Continue reading “Cupcakes: a contemporary camp classic!”

Lime & Passion Fruit Drizzle Cake

I love the combination of limes and passion fruit: they are two of my favourite flavours for a drizzle cake, complementing each other beautifully, with each flavour able to stand up to the other. Continue reading “Lime & Passion Fruit Drizzle Cake”

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”

Lemon & vanilla Victoria sandwich

A classic for a reason, a Victoria sandwich cake is a simple yet satisfying treat at any time. And it is a great example of simplicity at its very best. Continue reading “Lemon & vanilla Victoria sandwich”

Perfecting macarons – the queen of confections

If you have ever wanted a fool-proof recipe for making terrific macarons, this is the place to be! Continue reading “Perfecting macarons – the queen of confections”