Scone Eggs

Scone Eggs


Scotch Eggs are delicious, I think we can all agree that that is fact. Alas, they are also usually deep fried, and can thus be prone to being either overcooked or dry, or greasy or, heaven forfend, all three. Something needed to be done!

Behold  my new creation – The Scone Egg™!

Everything you love about scones and Scotch eggs in a single, warm, comforting bundle of deliciousness!

These are also a natural progression from some savoury scone variations I included in MY BOOK </subtle>. If you’ve got a copy[1], you will find the scone recipe on page 248. A couple of pages later, there are some suggestions for customising a basic scone recipe. The savoury scones are very popular with The Lads that look after my car, at my local garage[2].

What started out as an attempt to combine all the deliciousness from a Breakfast Sandwich into a scone, took a bit of a detour and here we are at Scone Eggs! Soft, crumbly scone, spicy sausage, an egg that is still runny in the middle[3],  and no deep frying!

These are ideal for brunch, either as is, or you could go completely over the top and combine them with all the fixin’s for Eggs Benedict. *dabs drool from keyboard*

To ensure a liquid center to your egg, they should be boiled for no longer than 5 minutes. This makes them a little tricky to peel, but if you follow the instructions below, you will be blessed with a much lower egg ruination rate. Alternatively, go for hardboiled eggs and make the whole process altogether less fiddly, and which would also make them more sturdy and therefore suitable for picnics, etc.

You will need some small individual pudding bowls to bake them in – I use foil ones like this – which can stand several uses with careful washing between bakes.

The key to baking a light scone is, as ever, the speed with which you can get them into the oven after adding the liquid to the dry ingredients, whilst avoiding being too rough with the dough. Have everything ready – eggs boiled and cooled, foil cases oiled – and your oven at temperature before stirring in the liquid and you should be able to have them in the oven in about 5 minutes.

Scone Eggs

Makes 4-6

I’ve specified more eggs, just in case there are cracks or breakages when removing the shell. In addition, depending on how thickly you wrap the scone mixture around the egg, you may get up to 6 Scone Eggs  from this recipe. Or not. But you will most definitely get four.

6-8 large eggs

1 x 400g pack of good-quality sausages[4]
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp coarse ground black pepper
½-1 tsp dried thyme
½-1 tsp dried oregano
½-1 tsp dried sage
¼ tsp celery seed
¼ tsp red pepper flakes

225g plain flour
30g unsalted butter
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp cream of tartar
1 large egg
½ tsp salt
80ml plain yogurt
80ml milk

1 large egg for glazing

  • Prepare the eggs.
  • Bring a pan of water to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer (this will help keep the eggs from cracking).
  • Add the eggs, gently lowering them into the water with a spoon. Allow them to cook for 5 minutes, then drain the water and cool them in cold water. The eggs will be easiest to peel once completely cold, so either add some ice or more cold water if necessary. For hardboiled eggs, cook for 10-12 minutes.
  • Once the eggs are completely cold, remove the shell. I won’t go into just how many eggs I went through in the development of this recipe, but let us just say it was substantial and resulted in the method outlined below:
    • Take a teaspoon and with the back of the spoon, tap around the ‘equator’ of the egg, making sure the shell breaks into small pieces.
    • Then use the back of the spoon to break the shell around each end of the egg.
    • With the point of a sharp knife, break away the shell from the ‘equator’ region, until you can peel both shell and skin away together, preferably still attached to one another. This is key in removing the shell smoothly and successfully. Sometimes bits of the shell will drop away leaving the skin intact. Use the point of the knife to break through until you can hold shell and skin together between your fingertips.
    • Once you can hold both skin and shell together, peel around the middle of the egg, then peel each end.
    • Lay the peeled egg carefully on a plate – its soft middle will mean it doesn’t hold its shape entirely, but enough until you’re ready to wrap the scone mixture around.
  • Prepare the sausage
    • Remove the skin from the sausages and put the meat into a frying pan over medium heat.
    • Sprinkle with pepper, salt, herbs and spice to taste.
    • Using a spatula, break up the sausage meat as it cooks.
    • Continue chopping and turning the meat until cooked through. Set aside to cool.
    • When cold, tip the cooked sausage into the bowl of a food processor and blitz very briefly to break up any large chunks. You don’t want it as fine as breadcrumbs, but at the same time no piece larger than about 1cm.
    • Set aside.
  • Make the scone mix.
    • Preheat the oven to 220°C, 200°C Fan.
    • Put the flour, butter, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar, salt and egg into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs.
    • Tip the mixture into a bowl.
    • Weigh out 200g of cooked sausage meat and add to the scone ingredients. Stir through.
    • Whisk the milk and yogurt together.
    • Check you’ve got everything to hand to get the scones into the oven, pudding tins greased, egg for glazing whisked, pastry brush handy, oven hot, etc.
    • Using a rounded knife, gradually add the milk mixture, stirring the dry ingredients as you go. You might not need all of the liquid, depending on the moisture in the sausage, so proceed cautiously – you can still bake an overly moist scone mixture, but it might slip off the egg before it is fully cooked.
    • When the mixture has come together, tip out onto a floured surface. With floured hands, roughly shape it into a circle, then divide it into quarters.
    • For each egg, do the following:
      • Take a piece of dough and place it in the palm of your left hand.
      • Use your thumb and fingers to shape a hole or pocket into the dough. Be careful not to press the dough too thin – it should be 1.5-2cm thick.
      • Take one boiled egg and place it into the pocket.
      • Mould the scone dough around the egg until it is smoothly covered. Pinch off any excess dough and put on one side. You will end up with sufficient dough to wrap another 1 or 2 eggs.
      • Decide which end of the scone is smoothest and then drop the moulded scone into a buttered pudding tin, smooth side uppermost.
      • Place on a baking sheet.
    • When all scones are formed, brush over the tops with the beaten egg.
    • Bake for 15 minutes, turning the baking sheet around after 10 minutes to ensure even colouring.
    • When fully cooked, allow to firm up for 5 minutes before gently easing them out of the tins. Run a knife around the edge first, in case the glaze has caused it to stick to the tin. Set onto a wire rack to cool.
    • Enjoy at once.

[1] You DO have a copy, don’t you!? No pressure…..

[2] I take a box of warm scones in whenever my car needs some TLC.

[3] Caveat: as long as you eat them within 30 minutes of baking – as they cool, the yolk will continue to cook and longer than half an hour and it will be solid.

[4] Should be at least 90% pork, certainly not less than 85%. My UK recommendations are

  • Black Farmer Premium Pork Sausages
  • Debbie & Andrew’s Harrogate Sausages
  • Sainsbury’s Ultimate Pork Sausages, Taste the Difference Range

This list is by no means exhaustive, they are just the brands I have tasted and can vouch for personally.

Apple Slice

Apple Slice with oat swirl pastryWotchers!

As a complete contrast to the glitz and glamour of the New Lemon Meringue Pies, the enjoyment in this recipe is the simplicity.

As we rush headlong through autumn, the apple harvest is in full force and I thought it appropriate to celebrate the abundance with a twist on the classic apple pie.

In the UK we’re blessed with the Bramley Apple, a gloriously sharp cooking apple that cooks to a cloud of apple froth. Unfortunately, this quality means that pies baked with Bramleys invariably end up somewhat hollow: the glorious mound of sliced apple that entered the oven emerging having deflated into a small pile of apple froth. Still delicious! But also a bit of a disappointment.

This recipe sidesteps using the classic Bramley in favour of apples of the dessert, or eating, variety, which are sweeter and hold their shape better. There are so many different British eating apples, you can ring the changes with this recipe merely by changing the type of apple you choose. Russet apples have a golden skin dotted with rough patches, and a rich, almost nutty flavour that goes exceptionally well with cheese (and nuts, obvs.). My daughter’s favourite is Worcester Pearmain, glorious red skin that blushes into dazzling white, juicy flesh, and a flavour reminiscent of lemons and strawberries. Whichever variety you choose, remember to sugar accordingly. The quantity given below is more of a general guideline – use less if you prefer a sharper taste, or if the apples you have are rather sweet.

The other twist in this recipe is the pastry, which I’ve crisped up with the addition of oats (my love of crunchy oats is well documented in the blog). I’ve also added a swirl effect by treating the pastry like cinnamon bun dough: brushing with butter, sprinkling with sugar and spices and then rolling up. Once chilled, the pastry roll is cut in half (one for the top, one for the bottom) and sliced into disks. The top and bottom pastry sheets are created with a patchwork of these swirls, placed close together and then rolled with a rolling pin until they form a continuous sheet of pastry. The pastry is fabulously crunchy and the swirl of sugar and spiced compliments the filling perfectly.

Simple. Autumnal. Perfick.

Apple Slice with Oat Swirl Pastry

300g plain flour
100g rolled oats
150g butter
2tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 large yolk
50ml-ish milk, creme fraiche, double or sour cream to mix

For the swirl
30g unsalted butter
100g sugar (any kind, I like demerera)
2tsp spice (a mixture of whatever takes your fancy: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, etc.)
2-3tbs apricot or plum jam, or marmalade

You can double the filling quantities for a positively towering appley  slice. The quantities below give were used to make the bake in the picture above.
1kg dessert apples (6 or 7)
100g sugar
2 rounded tablespoons cornflour
lemon juice (optional)

  • Put all the ingredients for the pastry except the milk/cream into the bowl of a food processor and blitz to crumbs. Gradually add the liquid and mix until the whole comes together.
  • Tip out onto a floured work surface and knead smooth.
  • Roll out thinly (3-5mm), keeping it in a neat rectangle (30cmx40cm-ish).
  • Melt the butter and paint over the surface, using a pastry brush.
  • Mix the spice with the sugar and sprinkle over the whole surface of the pastry.
  • Starting from one of the long sides. roll yp the pastry into a long sausage shape.
  • Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes. You might want to cut the roll in half now, for ease of storage.
  • Remove half of the pastry and slice the roll into ‘coins’ 1cm thick.
  • Line your traybake tin (Mine is a 25cmx35cm springform tin) with baking parchment, folding the sides to the exact size of the tin. Repeat with a second piece of parchment.
  • Using the folds as a guide, arrange the swirls of pastry over the bottom of one of the pieces of parchment
  • Cover with clingfilm and roll with a rolling pin, until the pastry spreads and joins together. Feel free to trim the sides and patch any holes with the trimmings.
  • Lay the parchment and the pastry into the bottom of your traybake tin. Brush with the jam/marmalade.
  • Repeat with the second half of the pastry, again, using the folded parchment as a guide. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Peel, core and grate the apples. A mandolin is perfect for achieving apple ‘matchsticks’. Toss in lemon juice if using.
  • Mix the cornflour with the sugar, and stir into the apples.
  • Once mixed, pour the apples into the traybake tin and press down firmly.
  • Slide the top pastry onto the apple filling and press firmly. Trim off any excess.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes, turning the tin around after 25 minutes to ensure even baking.
  • Allow to cool completely in the tin. The apple filling WILL settle as it cools, so keeping it in the tin will allow it to hold its shape.
  • When completely cold, cut into portions with a sharp knife.
  • Serve warm with a little cream, or enjoy cold in your packed lunches next week.

New Lemon Meringue Pie

Individual Lemon Meringue Pies reimagined


Despite the title, this post is actually about three recipes, which involve looking differently at something familiar to create something new, and how those recipes can also be combined to create something new. This all came about when I saw a competition to re-imagine a classic dessert. Ultimately, I was ineligible due to geographic location *shakes fist in exasperation*. Nevertheless, I’m more than just a little pleased with the end result. Go me.

ANYHOO…first up:

Swiss meringue

50g (2 large) egg-whites
75g caster sugar

Very much the least used of the meringues, and hardly ever in the context of actual meringues. Most recipes that call for Swiss meringue use it as a base for some kind of frosting, which is a real shame since it is actually probably the simplest of the meringues to make, and provided you have a stand mixer, definitely the easiest. It is also excellent at holding it’s shape when piped, making it ideal for creations that aspire beyond the blobby.

The sugar and egg-whites are placed in a metal bowl over simmering water and whisked lightly until the sugar is dissolved and the egg-whites reach a temperature of between 50°C and 71°C. The temperature is important depending on the use you intend your meringue, the higher temperature is for meringue that will not be cooked further (for use in buttercream, etc). Since that is not the intent here, I’m going to suggest whisking to a temperature of 60°C. This doesn’t take very long at all – 2-3 minutes at most. You can check that the sugar is dissolved by rubbing a little of the mixture between your finger and thumb: if you don’t feel any graininess, you’re good to go.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with a balloon whisk (I actually whisk the egg whites and sugar in the metal bowl of my Kenwood), and set the motor running. Whisk the mixture until it is cooled and firm – between 5-8 minutes. And that’s it. Fantastically firm meringue that holds its shape magnificently, ideal for all your fluted piping needs. Today, however, we have another use for it.

Steam Meringues

I chose the name for these from their cooking method, although it was a close call between these and 10-second Meringues, because that’s how long they take to cook. The only reason I didn’t go with this as a name was because in the recipe below, due to their shape, they actually take 15 seconds. Setting aside the why’s and wherefores of 5 seconds between friends, here’s how it works.

Pipe your meringue mixture into silicone moulds, ensuring they are filled completely, with no air bubbles. Smooth over the surfaces and then zap them in the microwave. Despite the short amount of time, the meringue cooks through and, most importantly for what I have planned for later, holds its shape. What you end up with is a cooked meringue that is borderline ethereal in texture, but which doesn’t subsequently collapse, making it ideal for enrobing in numerous flavoured glazes or coatings before combining with other ingredients into an infinite number of delicate desserts. It is like biting into a cloud, frozen in time.

You are only limited by the size and shape of your silicone moulds. I must confess, I ordered the barque-shaped mould used in the photo above, but you can play around with whatever shape you have – cupcake, mini muffin, hemisphere, etc. Loaf-shaped silicone moulds might work well for larger desserts. The possibilities are endless.

Crème Patissière

This is the third and final recipe revisit I have for you today. You might think crème patissière is pretty much one-dimensional, but not at the hands of Monsieur Philippe Conticini, whose recipe this is. I will confess to being a long-time admirer of Chef Conticini, and if you are unfamiliar with him or his illustrious career, I can recommend it as well worthy of a Google Search. He has great skill in re-imagining classics of French patisserie and I came across the result of him turning his attention to crème patissière on YouTube. It is not a huge departure from the classic recipe: more vanilla, fewer eggs, the use of gelatine – but the result is astonishing in both texture and flavour. Feel free to substitute your own favourite recipe if you prefer, but his is worthy of at least a trial, I assure you.

Here is the original recipe, with vanilla. I shall actually be using lemon as flavouring, but the method is the same. You can view the original video – in French – here.

250ml semi-skimmed milk (can also use whole)
6g vanilla seeds (3 pods)
2 large yolks
42g caster sugar
12g cornflour
10g plain flour
2 sheets gelatine
20g unsalted butter – diced and chilled

  • Put the milk and vanilla into a saucepan together with 1 tablespoon of caster sugar and cover with clingfilm.
  • Heat gently until bubbles are visible around the edge of the pan, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
  • After this time, carefully remove the clingfilm and make sure any condensation on the plastic falls back into the pan, to preserve as much flavour and aroma as possible.
  • Set the gelatine to bloom in cold water.
  • Put the yolks into a bowl with the remaining sugar and whisk to a light froth.
  • Mix the flours together then add to the egg mixture and whisk thoroughly.
  • Pour a little of the hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking thoroughly, then pour everything back into the pan.
  • Whisk over medium heat, until the custard has thickened – 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and whisk in the gelatine and cold butter.
  • Cover a plate with cling film and pour the custard onto it. Cover the surface completely with more cling film and chill in the fridge until cold and set – about an hour.
  • When ready to use, tip the chilled custard into a bowl and whisk briskly for about 2 minutes.

The result is so light, so delicate, silky-smooth with an almost intoxicating flavour. A real revelation.

New Lemon Meringue Pie

New Lemon Meringue Pie cross-section

So here is my re-imagining of the classic Lemon Meringue Pie. It is assembled, rather than baked whole, and employs steam meringues coated in a glaze of rich honey lemon curd, over a lemon custard in a sweet shortcrust pastry shell. To finish, the edge between the meringue and the custard is disguised with a string of freshly whipped cream ‘pearls’.

You will need:

  1. Sweet pastry shortcrust tart shells: I used this cornflour shortcrust, but you can use your own favourite. Fully blind bake your pastry shells in whatever shape you please and set aside to cool.
  2. Lemon-flavoured crème patissière, chilled and whisked: Use Chef Conticini’s recipe above, substituting the zest of 1 large lemon for the vanilla seeds.
  3. Steam Meringues: made with the Swiss meringue above and cooked in silicon moulds of your choosing in the microwave. Mini-muffin-sized hemispheres will need only 10 seconds, larger moulds will require longer. Practice first before filling the whole sheet with the meringue.
  4. Honey lemon curd: Using this recipe. For an exceptional variation, you can find make it with lemon-blossom honey from the Pyrenees.
  5. 300ml double cream – whipped.
  6. Strips of lemon zest, tied in a knot, as garnish

To Assemble

NB If you want to make these ahead of serving, consider painting a layer of melted white chocolate inside your pastry shells, to prevent them from becoming soggy from the crème patissière.

  • Fill the pastry shells with the lemon crème patissière. This is probably easiest done with a piping bag and a 1cm plain nozzle.
  • Arrange the cooked meringues onto a wire rack over a tray. Pour the honey curd evenly over the meringues until fully coated. This is easiest done when the curd is slightly warm and therefore flows a little more smoothly. The excess curd will drip through and onto the tray, from where it can be re-used if required.
  • Using a thin slice or small offset spatula, lift the coated meringues from the rack and lay them onto your filled tart shells.
  • Pipe a border of cream pearls around the edge of the meringues to cover the join.
  • Garnish with the lemon twists.

I have tried to introduce an elegance of presentation, whilst still retaining the essential elements of this classic dessert. Obviously, it can be varied by using different flavours of citrus fruit, or even stepping away from the tradition and using freeze-dried fruit powders to flavour the custards with fruits such as strawberries, blackberries and cherries, and different flavours of curd. I do hope you will have a go trying at least the steam meringues – I’d love to know how your experiments go!

Happy Baking! :D

Lime Meringue Pies

Lime-flavoured version with lime-blossom honey curd and lime custard filling.

Heaven and Hell Cake

Heaven and Hell Meringue Cake


This week’s recipe is a variation on a meringue cake, where sponge and meringue are baked at the same time, on top of one another, and then sandwiched together with any of a range of fillings.

The first meringue cake I ever saw was a glorious chocolate-hazelnut-raspberry flavoured one by Miranda Gore Brown on Season 1 of The Great British Bake Off.

I discovered this German version in a rather roundabout way, on a Croatian cooking site. Loving both the name (Himmel und Hölle Kuchen) and the striking appearance, I decided to try my hand at it, since there was suitable fruit in the freezer and I needed some space for this year’s harvest. It’s a cake of contrasts – my favourite kind of cake: sharp, red fruit in jelly, smooth sweetened cream, crunchy meringue and moist sponge. Delightful!

I didn’t actually get as far as the fruit, initially, because the sponge and the meringue required a bit of work: the original sponge was too dry and the meringue went soggy within an hour. So I opted for recipes that I have more faith in, viz: the cream cake recipe of a few weeks ago, and a French meringue recipe from a professional French patisserie site. One of these days I shall compile a chart of how various sugar and egg-white ratios perform with the different meringue methods but, as a famous Braavosi once said, not today.


With the cake and meringue sorted, I could turn my attention to the fillings. The name Heaven and Hell comes (I’m assuming) from the contrast between the red ‘hell’ of the fruit and the white ‘heaven’ of the cream. The red fruit is a mixture of raspberries and redcurrants and is set with gelatine. The white cream was originally a sweet Chantilly, but for the above cake design, I felt it needed something a little more robust, so I’ve substituted a variation I used to fill my mille feuilles in the GBBO.

Which reminds me – the above cake design – don’t. I decided to make the cake/meringue as a tray bake and then cut and constructed it in a rectangular, spring-form tin. It makes for an elegant slice, but, on reflection, it would have been much less complicated to use two sandwich tins and then construct in a regular spring-form tin. Additionally, you’d only have to pipe one layer of meringue ‘kisses’ for the top layer, and make the second layer just smooth meringue, thus allowing the cakes to get into the oven more quickly. So I highly recommend that course of action.

Although the red and the white form a great contrast, I think an equally great combination would be blackberries and blackcurrants – one which I shall be trying shortly – and this time in round tins!

Heaven and Hell Cake

There are four elements to this cake: sponge, meringue, fruit filling, cream filling. Once all four elements are ready, the cake can be constructed. The slightly tricky part is the meringue mixture and the cake mixture need to be ready at the same time. Whilst practicing, I made the cake first, then the meringue, but I think for future reference, making the meringue first might be the better way to go, hence the following recipe order.

French Meringue

150g egg whites
20 g caster sugar
125 g caster sugar
125 g icing sugar

  • Put the egg whites into a bowl and whisk until soft peaks.
  • Add the 20g caster sugar and whisk until firm.
  • Mix the remaining sugars together and gradually add to the egg-whites.
  • Whisk until firm, at least 5 minutes.
  • Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm plain tip.
  • Set aside while you mix the cake.

Vanilla Cream Cake

150g caster sugar
2 large eggs
125ml cream – double or clotted
150g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder

1tsp vanilla extract

  •  Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan.
  • Grease and line 2 sandwich tins with baking parchment – the size can be small – 20cm – for an impressively tall final cake, or up to 24cm for a lower-level affair.
  • Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the sugar. Beat with a balloon whisk (or by hand or stand mixer) until the eggs are frothy and the sugar dissolved – about 5 minutes.
  • Add the cream and vanilla and whisk in.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together and stir into the rest of the ingredients
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the baking tins. Smooth over.
  • Pipe meringue ‘kisses’ onto the top of the cake mixture in one tin, and pipe an even layer of meringue over the cake mixture in the other tin.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake is risen and cooked and the meringue lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Red Fruit Filling
150ml redcurrant juice [1]
450g fresh raspberries
sugar to taste
1 sachet powdered or 4 leaves gelatine

  • Put the juice and 300g of the raspberries into a pan and warm gently over a medium-low heat, mashing the raspberries into the juice.
  • Taste and add enough sugar to take the edge from the sharpness.
  • Soak the leaves of gelatine and then add to the pan, or sprinkle over the powdered gelatine and stir until dissolved. NB The quantities given normally set a whole pint of liquid, and you might therefore think it a bit excessive. The reason behind this is that gelatine isn’t overly fond of acidic mixtures, so a little extra concentration is helpful in encouraging it to set up properly.
  • Set aside to cool.

Cream Filling
200ml double cream
200g cream cheese
200g low-fat creme fraiche
1 tsp vanilla extract
icing sugar to taste

  • Put the creams, cheese and extract into a bowl and whisk together until firm.
  • Add icing sugar to sweeten. It won’t need much – 2-3 tablespoons is about right.
  • Set aside.

To assemble the cake

  • If available, line the spring-form tin you’re using to construct the cake with food-grade acetate around the edge. This will allow the fillings to form clearly defined layers and not smudge when you remove the cake from the tin for serving. Alternatively, use clingfilm, and cover the whole of the bottom/sides.
  • Lay the cake with the flattened meringue into the bottom. There are two options available: meringue up or meringue down. Meringue up makes it easier to move/serve, meringue down might be more aesthetically pleasing, being a mirror of the top meringue/cake layer. You also need to bear in mind the effect the fruit layer will have on either the meringue or the sponge.
  • Once the fruit mixture has cooled a little, it will start to thicken. Fold in the remaining raspberries, trying to keep them as whole as possible, then spread in an even layer over the bottom sponge/meringue layer.
  • Put the cream mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm plain nozzle and pipe a thick line of cream all around the edge of the cake tin, then fill in the middle. Strictly speaking, the piping bag isn’t compulsory, but I find it’s the best way of getting the filling nice and even around the edge.
  • Place the top layer of sponge and meringue on top of the cream and press gently.
  • Chill in the fridge until the gelatine has completely set.
  • When set, remove the cake from the tin and place onto your serving dish. Allow the cake to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then dust with icing sugar and serve.


[1] I thawed 400g of redcurrants and then sieved the softened berries. It doesn’t need to be all juice – a mixture of pulp and juice is fine, just so the gelatine has something to dissolve into.




Another holiday-ish inspired post – Brissants!

“Quoi!?” I hear you exclaim. Quite. Allow me to elaborate.

Picture the scene…



The sun is barely over the horizon and the first decision of the day is already upon you: Brioche? Or croissant? Even the soothing balm of fresh coffee fails to make this no less stressful a judgement.

Brioche: so rich, doughy, soft and comforting – but there’s no crunch!
Croissants: so flaky, buttery and crisp – but there’s no substance!

I’d be willing to bet even Solomon himself would have chewed his lip a bit over this dilemma – but no more!

For here lyeth the answer……*drumroll* Brissants!

A  name cleverly thought up by my daughter to describe this fabulous combination of buttery brioche dough and buttery, flaky croissant layers.

Buttery, buttery, buttery.


Flaky spirals

More substantial than a croissant, lighter, crispier, flakier than a brioche.

Confession: Apart from the name, there’s nothing new about this recipe. If you want to get all nit-picky, it’s proper name is “Brioche feuilletée au beurre”  but that isn’t very descriptive if your French is a bit rusty, and “Brioche made-all-layered-and-puffed-and-stuff with butter” is a bit long-winded. (I may have missed my calling as an international translator of unique repute.) Not sure who came up with the idea – I like to think whoever it was was working from an old baker’s book whose pages were stuck together: started off as a brioche, unwittingly ended up as a croissant method. Win!

Voila Brissants![1]

It’s the Cronut for 2015 without all that greasy deep-frying. *shudders*

They are made with fresh yeast. *waits until you’ve stopped running round shrieking a la Edvard Munch*


Oh no! Not fresh yeast!

Be not alarmed – it’s a ‘throw it all in the mixer’ method. No sponges, no Faff™.

The only downside, if any, is the rising time. Brioche, with it’s enrichment of butter and eggs, already takes longer-than-average to prove. Add to that the layers of butter and it rises (see what I did there? </subtle>).  You can’t – let me rephrase – you shouldn’t put it in a warm place to prove, because the interleaved butter will melt and run out and all your hard work will be for nothing. Best to accept it’ll be about 2 hours and plan accordingly.

These Brissants are unflavoured, apart from the richness of the eggs and butter, but as such are infinitely customisable.

  • Philippe Conticini adds a sprinkling of nibbed sugar in his recipe, before rolling up the dough.
  • Maple sugar is another option, as indeed are all the caramel, dark sugars such as Muscovado and Demerera.
  • If your butter tends towards the ordinary, try whipping in some citrus zest. NB If you try this, do it far enough ahead so that it has time to chill thoroughly to firmness before adding to the dough.
  • Flavouring the dough with orange-flower water, vanilla, cocoa (remember to remove an equivalent weight of flour), chocolate chips…. Have at it!


I use my stand mixer and a dough hook to mix, but you can also use a bread maker or do it by hand.

500g strong white bread flour 
60g caster sugar 
10g salt 
15g fresh yeast
75ml warm water
4 large eggs
100g butter, cut into cubes

For the lamination
150g butter

1 large egg to glaze

  • Put the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl and stir to mix. Crumble in the yeast and add the water and two of the eggs. Mix.
  • Add the rest of the eggs once the mixture has started to come together.
  • Knead thoroughly for 5 minutes.
  • With the mixer running, add the butter piece by piece. You don’t have to wait until it has been worked in before adding the next piece, just don’t dump it all in at once.
  • Knead until the butter is fully incorporated, about another 5 minutes.
  • Tip out onto a floured surface, shape roughly into a flat square and wrap in plastic.
  • Put into the freezer for 10 minutes. NB  No more than 10 – this is important – you want it chilled enough to match the consistency of the butter, but not so cold as to kill the yeast, so SET THE TIMER.
  • While the dough is chilling, prepare the butter. Flatten it roughly, then wrap it in an envelope of baking parchment, making a 15cm square. Make sure all the folds are underneath, then use a rolling pin to roll the butter out. The envelope will contain the butter very effectively, allowing you to spread it right to the edges to make a very neat square. Chill. The butter that is, not you. Unless you’re becoming a little frazzled making an enriched, laminated dough, in which case – Chill!
  • Remove the dough from the freezer and roll out to a square large enough to hold the butter.
Butter and dough placement

Butter and dough placement

  • Fold the corners in and pinch the edges to seal.
  • Roll out into a long rectangle and then make a book fold – that’s folding the edges into the middle (or preferably a little off-centre), and the folding them in again, like a book.
  • Turn 90 degrees so the fold is on the left and the edges on the right and repeat.
  • Wrap in plastic and chill in the freezer for another 10 minutes. Set the timer.
  • Prepare your tins – I used mini pudding cups like this, but you can also use individual foil cases. Brush with butter or spray liberally with cooking spray.
  • After chilling, roll out the dough to a rectangle 0.5mm thick. Roll up from the wide edge into a sausage, as you would cinnamon buns.
  • Cut into 12 thick slices and place end-up into your prepared tins, so the spiral is visible. The dough should half-fill your tins.
  • Set aside to rise for about 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C Fan.
  • Whisk the egg and lightly brush the top of the dough. Try not to get it dripping down the sides – it’ll glue your dough to the tin and impede the rise as it bakes.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes until risen and brown and glossy.
  • Cool on a wire rack and devour with gusto! Or a fresh coffee. Your call.

[1] Or Crioches,  as my far-too-clever-for-his-own-good friend Dr Dan suggested *shakes fist at his cleverness* ;)

Cream Cakes

Cream Cakes and strawberries


I spent a lot of our holiday in France prowling around patisseries and artisan boulangeries with eyes like saucers, admiring the delicate and stylish combinations of cream and fruit and chocolate and truffle and glaze and, and, and…. More of which will, no doubt, surface later on the blog as I shamelessly appropriate their ideas and flavour combinations for my own.

However, in order to get there, it is rather a mammoth road trip, so I generally make sure I’ve got a handful of recipe books with me in the car to while away the hours – eyes on the road at all times is SO overrated….

Yes, I’m kidding. I’m actually in charge of sitting up front and paying the tolls at the end of various motorway stretches, because all the machines are on the left-hand side.


With no other reading matter to hand, I find it’s a good way to make sure I actually READ some of the hundreds of books on my shelves and I invariably discover something I’ve overlooked before. Sure enough, this year, yet again, I have re-discovered a recipe in a dusty housewives’ pamphlet from umpty-plonk years ago that reveals itself to be a real gem and, despite my hopeless and complete admiration for the exotic and awe-inspiring patisserie creations of France, I am enchanted all over again by British simplicity.

The recipe for these cakes was so brief I almost passed it by, yet curiosity caused me to pause and read it over, wondering what ‘trick’ there was; surely the small paragraph didn’t contain making, baking AND decorating instructions?

Sure enough, it didn’t, because the recipe was for cakes MADE with cream. Specifically, substituting cream into the mix instead of butter.

So simple – flour, sugar, eggs, cream, baking powder. I just had to try them.

And they were delicious, and a complete breeze to make; no fretting over whether the butter is soft enough, or whether the sugar is dissolved sufficiently. They rose magnificently domed in the oven and are as light and tender of crumb as….. well, a very light and tender thing. Hey, I haven’t had any coffee yet today, gimme a break!

If I had just one niggle, it was that they were sweet. Tooth-achingly so. I couldn’t resist tweaking them a little. Even the sugar-pop posing as my daughter prefers this version. Of course she ate the sweet batch too, but she prefers these.

There’s no added flavouring – you could add some if you like, but I urge you to try the recipe just once, with farm-fresh eggs and rich double – or even clotted – cream.

The simplicity, lightness and flavour will be a delight.


Cream Cakes

The cakes in the photo are made in mini layer tins I bought in my local The Range, 4 x 10cm diameter pans for £2.50 (also fab for Yorkshire Puddings) and I put 100g of batter into each one, and made six. If you’re using large cupcake/muffin tins, I suggest just 50g of batter per ‘hole’, and thus twelve cakes. Cooking time is the same for both sizes.

150g caster sugar
2 large eggs
125ml cream – double or clotted
150g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder

  •  Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan.
  • Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the sugar. Beat with a balloon whisk (or by hand or stand mixer) until the eggs are frothy and the sugar dissolved – about 5 minutes.
  • Add the cream and whisk in.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together and stir into the rest of the ingredients – the balloon whisk/attachment is best for this, less washing up too!
  • Grease and line your tins, or use cupcake cases.
  • Spoon your mixture into your tins. Spread the batter to the sides, leaving a hollow in the middle. They will still dome up during cooking, but this way it should be a little more controlled.
  • Bake for 15 minutes until risen and golden brown.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
  • I think these are delicious served warm, lightly dusted with icing sugar and with a drizzle of cold cream poured over and a few fresh berries on the side. You can also split them and fill with whipped cream and berries or jam, or indeed any way that takes your fancy!

Baking Powder Bread

White Baking Powder Bread


Here’s a fun – and useful – project for you to play around with over the summer – Baking Powder Bread!

Similar to, but also different from Soda Bread, this loaf actually works out to be a little bit slower to make than Soda Bread, but the extra time is worth the wait because it is also lighter.

As a bonus, it doesn’t require buttermilk, using instead a 30 minute ‘lactic ferment’ (ooh, get me with all my bakey jargon!) of ordinary milk and plain flour to mix the ingredients together. Allowing the mixture to stand for 30 minutes stimulates the enzymes that help produce the lift in the finished loaf. And it has to be 30 minutes – no longer. And definitely don’t try and make it less because the results are immediately visible – and not that fun to eat!

One final tweak was to bake it under a pan. In a tin, but also under a pan. Much like the Overnight Bread and Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread, an enclosed baking space keeps in the steam, helps the rise and protects the crust from becoming overly dark. The results can be seen below.

side by side1

Side by side comparison of three different baking conditions.
Left: Mixed without the 30 minute wait. Middle: 30 minute ferment, baked uncovered in a tin.
Right: 30 minute ferment, baked in a tin covered by an inverted saucepan.

Here’s a closer look at the crumb of each loaf:

Loaf mixed without the 30 minute ferment

Loaf mixed without the 30 minute ferment
The loaf hasn’t risen much at all and consequently has retained a great deal of cragginess on the top.
The dough did not expand to fill the tin, causing rough and uneven sides.
The crumb is very dense and noticeably yellow in colour.


Baked Uncovered

Loaf mixed with 30 minute ferment, baked uncovered in a tin.
A dark crust, but well-risen and most of the cragginess has been smoothed by the rise.
Crumb fairly open, but loaf noticeably flat across the top.

White Baking Powder Bread

The most impressive result. Baked with the 30 minute ferment, in a tin, covered by an inverted saucepan.
The crust isn’t overly dark and the crumb nice and open.
The rise has allowed the top of the loaf to be pleasantly crusty and for the dough to fill the tin, as demonstrated by the smooth sides of the loaf.

Baking Powder Bread

Recipe adapted from MANNA by Walter T. Banfield, 1938.

For the ferment:

285ml cold whole milk
225g plain white flour

For the rest of the loaf
150g plain white flour + 40g (maybe)
12g cream of tartar + 6g of bicarbonate of soda OR 24g baking powder[1]
25g lard or butter
1/2 tsp salt
10g golden syrup, agave nectar or mild-flavoured honey

  • Whisk the milk and flour together and cover the bowl with plastic. I use the bowl of my stand mixer, so that I can use the machine to mix in the rest of the ingredients later.
  • Set aside for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 210°C, 190°C Fan.
  • Grease a deep, 20cm, loose-bottom cake tin or similar.
  • Put the remaining ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blitz to combine. Make sure the sugar syrup mixes in thoroughly and isn’t left stuck to the side of the bowl.
  • When the milk mixture has sat for 30 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. If the mixture seems a little too wet, add up to 40g more flour, until it is dry enough to handle.
  • Working quickly, knead the dough a few times to smooth it out, and shape it into a disk.
  • Drop the disk of dough into the prepared tin and put the tin onto a baking sheet.
  • Invert a large saucepan or casserole over the top of the tin to keep in the steam. Make sure the rim lies flat against the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the pan covering the loaf and bake for a further 10-15 minutes, until crisped and brown and sounding hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  • Cool completely on a wire rack before using.


You can use this basic method to make any number of different flavoured loaves, merely by mixing up the types of flour you use in both the ferment and the remaining ingredients: barley flour, oat flour, wholemeal, brown, etc.

Also consider adding interesting texture in the form of flax seeds, pinhead oatmeal, bran, wheatgerm etc.

The sugar syrup can also be varied by using treacle, maple syrup, malt, and so on.

Whatever changes you decide on, just make sure the overall quantity of flour remains constant.

Here are a couple of combinations to get you started. These loaves are slightly denser, so they have the enrichment of a little beaten egg to help lift the texture. I know half an egg is a ridiculous amount – sorry about that. Use a small egg if you can find them, or double the recipe and make 2 loaves (as long as you’ve got 2 large pots to cover them as they bake) or one giant loaf.

  • Wholemeal/Granary Bread
    • 285ml cold milk
    • 150g brown flour
    • 75g plain white flour
    • ——
    • 150g wholemeal or granary flour
    • 12g cream of tartar + 6g of bicarbonate of soda OR 24g baking powder
    • 25g lard or butter
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 10g treacle or molasses
    • ½ large egg – whisked
  • Oat Bread
    • 285ml cold milk
    • 150g brown flour
    • 75g plain white flour
    • ——
    • 150g oat flour
    • 12g cream of tartar + 6g of bicarbonate of soda OR 24g baking powder
    • 25g lard or butter
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 10g treacle or molasses
    • ½ large egg – whisked


Happy Baking! :D


[1] Commercial baking powder is usually 25% rice or corn flour, to keep the active ingredients from clumping. The cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda are the actual active ingredients, and therefore all you need to add. If, however, you’re using commerical baking powder, you’ll need to add 24g in order to get the above quantities of active ingredients.


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