chocolate cherry & almond biscotti

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”

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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”

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.

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”

Ciabatta with a touch of rye

Although I am an unashamed bread addict, I will confess that until fairly recently I have never got excited by ciabatta; I have tried many ciabatta but have never really been blown away by the flavour – and particularly with bread, I like to be blown away! Continue reading “Ciabatta with a touch of rye”

Piccalilli & black pudding pork pie with a cider jelly

 

Using black pudding and piccalilli gives one of my favourite flavour combinations for a pork pie, resulting in a hearty but very easy-to-eat pie. The jelly is flavoured with cider and chicken stock which, in the absence of making a stock from pigs trotters, works so well in a pork pie. Continue reading “Piccalilli & black pudding pork pie with a cider jelly”

Quick & easy version of the “After Dark Gü-Zillionaires’ Puddings”

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””

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”

Bread: tips & ideas for the novice home baker and upwards!

This post, focusing on bread making, is part of my Baking tips page, along with tips for macarons, croissants, cake decorating ideas and pastry.

Continue reading “Bread: tips & ideas for the novice home baker and upwards!”

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”

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”

The quickest & easiest croissants: 20-minute lamination!

A batch of croissants, made traditionally, can take the best part of a weekend with all the resting and chilling in between the turns and at other stages.

Don’t get me wrong, making croissants the traditional way is one of the top baking pleasures for me, but there are certainly times when effective shortcuts are called for. And this shortcut is certainly effective in that it gives excellent results and is easier to achieve than traditional croissants. Continue reading “The quickest & easiest croissants: 20-minute lamination!”

Kouign-Amann pastries: shortcut method

This is my easy version of this wonderful Breton pastry, Kouign-Amann, roughly pronounced “queen ah-marn” which loosely translates as buttery cake. And these are indeed buttery and flaky, with terrific caramelisation. There is also very little hands-on time when it comes to making them. Continue reading “Kouign-Amann pastries: shortcut method”

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”

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”

Croissaladière (anchovies, olives, confit shallots on croissant dough)

The classic Pissaladière is true celebration of the simplest of ingredients that give the most impressive of flavours. A thin bread base with a topping of slightly sweet confit shallots, salty anchovies and juicy olives (green, black, stuffed or a mixture!). It makes for the most wonderful light meal. Continue reading “Croissaladière (anchovies, olives, confit shallots on croissant dough)”

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”

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”

Simple caraway & cumin flatbreads with baba ghanoush

These simple flatbreads are wonderful with a full-on dip to dunk into with gusto. My dip of choice here is baba ghanoush, a wonderfully smoky aubergine dip. Continue reading “Simple caraway & cumin flatbreads with baba ghanoush”

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”

St Émilion au Chocolat

A very simple and insanely good chocolate dessert, this is my variation of the inspirational Elizabeth David, whose books, many decades later, are never less than an joy to read. Essentially this is a top-notch chocolate mousse that is indulgent yet light textured; this might well be a retro dessert but, quite frankly, when something is this good it matters not one jot! Continue reading “St Émilion au Chocolat”

Crab Canapés

A very simple canapé: small discs of puff pastry, topped with crab meat that has been mixed with a little fresh mayonnaise, a spritz of lemon juice, some chopped chives and just a little grated Gruyère cheese. Continue reading “Crab Canapés”

Walnut & raisin sourdough

This is, I think, a very special bread, with a deep savoury flavour punctuated by bursts of juicy raisins amid the crunch of walnuts. I was given tasters of this bread at a local bakery the other day and immediately fell in love with it (although I was less in love with the price!), so I couldn’t wait to try to recreate this bread at home. Continue reading “Walnut & raisin sourdough”

Hobbit House Cake

This hobbit house comes complete with productive garden and lake. A bountiful feast of fruit and vegetables including radishes, turnips, watermelons, cabbages, cauliflower and carrots might keep the hobbit going for a couple of meals! Continue reading “Hobbit House Cake”

Poached Salmon & Asparagus Tart

I adore tarts: served warm with a good salad, perhaps with some cheese, a few pickles and some good bread they make for a satisfyingly light meal. Continue reading “Poached Salmon & Asparagus Tart”

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……..”

Pear, walnut & Gorgonzola sourdough

These full-flavoured loaves have been very much a firm favourite in our house for many years and while it is great as a non-sourdough bread, the sourdough version is seriously terrific. Of all the flavoured breads I make, this is one I make more than any other. Continue reading “Pear, walnut & Gorgonzola sourdough”

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”

Perfecting Baguettes

If you want shatteringly crisp baguettes with depth of flavour and an open crumb, this will tick all those boxes.  This is a real artisanal bread and is a joy because of its lack of fuss!  Continue reading “Perfecting Baguettes”

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”

Parmesan and ham tuiles

Insanely simple and quick to make, these are so addictive to eat just as they are or with a glass of wine. Continue reading “Parmesan and ham tuiles”

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”

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”

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!”

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”

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”

Croissants

A croissant 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 an open honeycombed interior structure with a buttery flavour and a lovely, almost nutty aroma. A joy!  Continue reading “Croissants”

Focaccia: higher hydration, no knead

This is my take on a standard focaccia, going for a higher water content than many recipes, handling the dough differently and letting the dough sit in the fridge overnight for its first prove (bulk fermentation) to really develop its flavour. Continue reading “Focaccia: higher hydration, no knead”

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”