This is the cake I made for the 4th birthday meeting of the Clandestine Cake Club group I attend (the fabulous Fleet, Farnham & Farnborough group), the theme for this evening being Alice in Wonderland. Continue reading “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Cake: chocolate cake with Earl Grey tea buttercream”
Shortbread is the first thing I ever made as a young boy and I love coming back to it, either making a very traditional shortbread (what can beat that?) or a flavoured variation. Continue reading “Simple roasted coffee shortbread – with no rolling out”
A dacquoise is a wonderful dessert in its own right. I made this one for my partner’s birthday cake as a more dessert-type feel was wanted. Continue reading “Strawberry & lemon dacquoise: with a cheat’s version!”
Updated: Oct 2018 (new photos)
Cupcakes need two key things to work, in my opinion: a light and nicely flavoured sponge and a very well-flavoured, not-too-sweet icing that melts in the mouth. Continue reading “Earl Grey Tea cupcakes: cupcakes with attitude!”
For my second assignment with the Secret Recipe Club, I was allocated Erin’s wonderful The Spiffy Cookie blog from which to choose a recipe. Continue reading “Cocoa brownies with browned butter & walnuts”
England and France unite in this English breakfast variation on pains au chocolat, with the addition of a bitter orange kick from a little marmalade inside the pastries, as well as being used to glaze them. Continue reading “Easy bitter orange pains au chocolat”
I have such a weakness for chocolate: mass-produced chocolate often hits the spot but the exquisite ones you can buy in artisan chocolate shops are always a treat. Continue reading “Tangy blackcurrant chocolates”
Inspired by a passion fruit pannacotta I had a few months ago, these are very simple tarts that I made for a friend’s birthday: the tarts have a full-on passion fruit flavour, a kick of rum-soaked peaches and the richness of white chocolate. Continue reading “Passion fruit & peach tarts (lower-fat!)”
I love making use of left-overs and these simple chocolates hit the spot perfectly! Continue reading “Simple raspberry chocolates”
This is my chocolate and cherry version of a brioche: very rich, with a buttery interior that is actually very light to eat and practically melts in the mouth. Continue reading “Chocolate & cherry brioches”
At the risk of tumbling shamelessly into the world of the melodramatic, I would go so far as saying that these particular macarons are to die for. Continue reading “Smoked salted caramel & bitter chocolate macarons”
This is a very simple and quite speedy cake that can made and iced within an hour. Continue reading “quick and easy galangal & lime cake (gluten-free)”
This is a return to the classic Battenberg, a cake that is right up there in my list of top 5 cakes. Continue reading “Salted mocha & walnut battenberg cake”
My first real “drip cake”, this was made for recent Clandestine Cake Club meeting, with the theme being a cake with a take on Oscar-winning films……. Continue reading “Oscars-themed drip cake: “death by Chocolat””
A rocky road is a very guilty pleasure of mine – one of many, admittedly! It is very rich (and rightly so) but moreish. It is also one of the easiest things to make and can be varied in so many ways. Continue reading “Salted caramel pretzel rocky road”
With baking I am a firm believer that simplicity, done well, can often give the best results. And while I occasionally go for over-the-top-looking creation with cakes, for me it really is flavour that is has to be at the heart of the cake: after all, once a cake has been cut into and has lost some of the visual appeal, you want the flavour to carry on the joy. Continue reading “Raspberry cascade cake”
Although I make macarons frequently, it is a first for me to do a macaron shape that is anything other than circular, so having seen meringue versions of snowmen in a shop recently I felt I had to make some as macarons….well, why not?! Continue reading “Ginger snowmen macarons”
Salted caramel and chocolate éclairs: nothing too extreme flavour-wise, but two flavours that are nonetheless stunning together. A white chocolate crème pâtissière and a little salted caramel make a lovely filling here but you can, of course, use whipped cream. Continue reading “Chocolate & salted caramel éclairs”
Another version of my favourite over-the-top dessert cake; although I am well aware I have blogged about a few Black Forest Gateaux I have made, with little tweaks to the recipes here and there! I still argue, though, that a good Black Forest Gateau is a joy to eat in all of its retro kitsch-ness! Continue reading “Black forest gateau with caramel glazed cherries”
I adore a good biscotti, but have never been a fan of the (ridiculously expensive!) ones you can buy in coffee shops and the like that can be little more than an expensive work-out for the jaw! Continue reading “Cranberry, orange & fennel seed biscotti”
A bourbon biscuit is one of my favourite biscuits, but I had never made them before. Until now! Continue reading “My take on Bourbon biscuits – with mocha ganache & caramelised sugar”
This is one of my favourite cakes in terms of flavour (luscious chocolate and sharp raspberry- wonderful). Continue reading “Raspberry & dark chocolate cake”
Made for the Macmillan Coffee Morning, this cake is a chocolate Victoria Sandwich cake that had been flavoured with grated orange zest. Continue reading “Dark chocolate & orange gateau”
This is my take on the divine Angel food cake, a cake that is like eating sweet bites of airy cloud! Continue reading “Mocha & salted caramel Angel food cake”
One of the great joys for me when having Afternoon Tea, in addition to eating the most delectable sweet and savoury treats, is the inspiration I get. I shared one of these entremets as part of an Afternoon Tea a while ago and was blown away by it, not least by the raspberry explosion inside! Continue reading “Raspberry & dark chocolate mousse domes”
This sweet sourdough loaf is stuffed with juicy dried cranberries that have been soaked in orange juice, and chunks of dark chocolate. While the aroma of the dough as you work with it is wonderful, the smells wafting through the house as it bakes is out of this world! Continue reading “Chocolate, cranberry & orange sourdough”
When I make a Battenberg cake I usually I go for a coffee and walnut one: my favourite cake flavours! This time, though, I’ve gone for orange and dark chocolate. Continue reading “Chocolate & Orange Battenberg Cake”
A challenging but rewarding bake, this is a taste of summer in each mouthful: these macarons are sandwiched together with a Pimms ganache and small pieces of a sweetened cucumber and mint jelly: you really can’t have Pimms without the cucumber! Continue reading “Pimms macarons with Pimms ganache & minted cucumber jelly”
At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I would claim these to be among the best brownies you can eat. I would be be so proud to serve these to anyone….if I don’t eat them first! Continue reading “Very easy cherry & chocolate brownies”
I made a savoury version of these deep-fried choux pastry doughnuts a while ago (recipe here) but this time I felt like going down the sweet route. I always have jars of dried cherries, some macerating in Amaretto and some in other liqueurs, and there is always chocolate to be found around the kitchen(!!), so a chocolate-cherry version was called for. Continue reading “Chouxnuts 2: chocolate & cherry flavour”
My current version of Black Forest Gateau, or “cake in drag” as Victoria Wood so deliciously put it, is way over-the-top for sure in terms of the adult flavours…..but I make no apologies for that, as it is an adult dessert cake! Continue reading “Black Forest Gateau with chocolate cherry mirror glaze (Gluten-free)”
I ate a stunning Dacquoise in a pâtisserie in France very recently and I couldn’t wait to put my spin on it when recreating it back home. Crisp toasted hazelnut meringue layers are sandwiched together with a truly melt-in-the-mouth coffee buttercream, and it is topped with a very simple shiny chocolate glaze. Continue reading “Coffee Dacquoise with caramelised hazelnuts”
Further to posting my version of a large Fraisier a few weeks ago, I decided to make another large one for this month’s Clandestine Cake Club – this time going for a gluten-free version. And with left over elements, I also went for mini Fraisiers. Continue reading “Mini Gluten-free Pistachio Fraisiers using left-overs!”
After using orange, cranberry and white chocolate as the key flavours in a dessert cake I was making, I found I had a fair bit of ganache left over….so macarons were called for! Continue reading “Orange & cranberry macarons”
These very easy Danish pastries, using quick croissant dough, are an excellent approximation to Danish pastries that are made with traditional croissant dough. Continue reading “Easy orange & rhubarb Danish pastries”
This Fraisier is a slight variation on the classic recipe, using a pistachio joconde sponge, sprinkled liberally with Amaretto, and a thin layer of pistachio ganache. A fragrant crème mousseline, subtly flavoured with lemon, envelops the strawberries, and the cake is topped with a thin layer of a tangy strawberry jelly glaze. Continue reading “Pistachio & lemon Fraisier cake”
I adore a well flavoured biscotti but have never been a fan of the ones you can buy in coffee shops and the like that can be little more than an expensive work-out for the jaw! Continue reading “chocolate cherry & almond biscotti”
This is a special chocolate cake made for a dear friend who was celebrating the arrival of her pen friend of several decades who had flown over from USA to meet for the very first time. A lovely and moving occasion. Continue reading “Celebratory chocolate cake extravaganza!”
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)
- 140g plain flour
- 50g pistachios, ground very finely
- 95g vanilla caster sugar
- 140g unsalted butter, softened
- generous pinch of salt
- juice from 12 passion fruit
- 140g caster sugar
- 120g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 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.
(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.
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”
I was eager to make another batch of croissant dough; two weeks or so since I made the last batch is a long time for me! The process of making croissants never fails to put a smile on my face from as soon as I weigh out the ingredients to when I get to taste them. Continue reading “Viennoiserie: lemon frangipane croissants & Amaretto cherry pains au chocolat.”
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”
Updated with further troubleshooting and general tips
Updated Jan 2014: a few more tips & troubleshooting; clearer pictures for shaping pains au chocolat.
Sections in this post:
- Recipe for a laminated yeasted dough
- A few tips
- Proving: a cooler environment
- Shaping the dough for croissants and pains au chocolat
- A rough timescale for making croissants
- Quicker croissants
- A slightly different approach
There really is something quite magical when you get the lightest croissant, pain au chocolat or savoury variation – all with the crispiest flakes and a rich, buttery flavour. The photos in this post are of various batches of croissants I have made.
Rather than just a light, cresent-shaped, bready concoction with not much flavour – ie) your typical mass-produced croissant – I like a croissant to have a crisp outer shell as you bite into it, with bits of the flaky exterior falling off; a honeycombed interior structure; a rich, buttery flavour and…
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A very indulgent chocolate cake, which is great either eaten as a dessert or at any time! Continue reading “Chocolate praline dessert cake”
This is my fairly quick, but certainly very easy version of the gorgeous After Dark Gü-Zillionaires’ Puddings: chocolatey biscuit base with layers of luscious cheesecake with a hint of treacle, salted caramel and finished with a soft dark chocolate ganache. A very naughty, but once-in-a-while treat! Continue reading “Quick & easy version of the “After Dark Gü-Zillionaires’ Puddings””
These are Christmassy truffles, albeit rather loosely, although chocolate truffles are, quite frankly, for any time of the year in my book! Continue reading “Raspberry & Spiced Port Chocolate Truffles”
A somewhat grotesque cake for a Halloween event at school: light chocolate Genoise sponge, sandwiched together with a light, moussey chocolate Italian buttercream and a few fresh raspberries. The cake is surrounded by a thin, crisp tempered chocolate “cobweb”. Continue reading “Chocolate & raspberry Halloween eyeball cake!!”
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”
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”