Great British Bakes


As you may know, my book Great British Bakes: Forgotten Treasures for Modern Bakers was published on November 7th.

I spent a long time researching, baking and photographing the recipes, and not all of the pictures could be squeezed into the book itself, so I thought I’d display some the ones that didn’t make the cut here on the blog. Enjoy!

Creamy Apple Crunch Pie

Creamy Apple Crunch Pie


Things are getting a little busy round here, with the publication of the book only days away, but I’ve already skipped a week without posting,and my conscience wouldn’t let me do it a second week. So here is something short on intro, long on recipe. This tart is perfect for these early autumn days, creamy like a summer cheesecake, autumnal with apple, crunchy with oats. Have at it, my pretties!

Creamy Apple Crunch Pie

120g plain flour
30g cornflour
75g butter
ice cold water to mix

1 large egg – beaten

  • Put the flours and butter into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • With the machine running, gradually add the cold water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together in a ball.
  • Tip the mixture onto a floured surface, knead smooth, then roll out thinly.
  • Grease a 20cm tart tin.
  • Line the tart tin with the pastry. Leave the excess pastry hanging over the sides as it will help prevent the pastry from shrinking.
  • Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom of the tart to let the steam out.
  • Cover the pastry lightly with cling film and return to the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Remove the tart from the fridge and discard the cling film.
  • Cover the pastry with baking parchment and weigh it down with baking beads, rice or dry beans.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the parchment and the weights and bake the pastry for a further 5 minutes.
  • Whisk the egg and paint a layer of beaten egg over the partially cooked pastry and return the tin to the oven for 3 minutes. This will help keep the pastry crisp and avoid a ‘soggy bottom’.
  • Remove the tin from the oven and set aside.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 175°C, 150°C Fan.

2tbs plain flour
75g caster sugar
A pinch of salt
3-4 medium cooking apples
1 large egg – use the rest of the egg left over from glazing from the pastry.
1tsp vanilla extract
125ml reduced fat crème fraiche

  • Mix the flour, caster sugar and salt together and tip into a large plastic bag.
  • Peel, core and chop the apples into roughly 2cm pieces.
  • Add the apples to the sugar/flour mixture and toss to coat the fruit pieces.
  • Tip the mixture into a bowl.
  • Mix the remainder of the egg, vanilla and crème fraiche together and pour over the apples.
  • Mix thoroughly.
  • Pour the apple mixture into the partially baked pastry and smooth the top.
  • Return the tart to the oven for 45 minutes.
  • While the tart is baking, prepare the topping.

Crunch Topping
20g butter
20g lard
Pinch of salt
60g plain flour
40g rolled oats
20g Demerara sugar
1/2-1tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

  • Put the butter, lard, and flour into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, or rub it in by hand.
  • Tip the mixture into a bowl and stir in the oats, sugar and spice, if using.
  • After the tart has baked for 45 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle over the topping evenly
  • Return to the oven for a final 15 minutes.
  • Let the pie cool for 30 minutes before serving, or cool completely and then chill in the fridge for something that resembles cheesecake but without the guilt!

Russian Company Cake

Russian Company Cake


Week 5 of The Great British Bake Off and it’s Traybakes and Biscuits. Specifically, a traybake for the Signature Dish, Tuiles for the Technical Challenge and a Biscuit Tower for the Showstopper.

Yes. My eyebrow quirked at that particular delight, too. Surely in Britain, when it comes to biscuits, we’re a nation of dunkers, not architects. Has anyone, in all honesty, ever looked at a plate of biscuits and had as their first thought: Hey, I could slap a few hundred of them together and make something really spectacular!?


So moving on, I’ve chosen as this week’s themed recipe, a traybake. But as you have probably guessed, it’s not going to be your run of the mill traybake. I found this particular delight on a Russian blog ( ), with the story that her grandmother had managed to wheedle it out of some relatives. Well as you may know (or not), I do love a recipe that has been begged for – it gives it a real pedigree in terms of the deliciousness of the result – in my mind anyways.

I’ve changed it a bit from the original -not least because Google Translate service had a shocker of a time with the weights and measures – good job I always double check, is all I can say. I used dried cranberries (because they needed using up) instead of apricots (because I didn’t have any to hand), and used a mixture of both cooking and eating apples to make a puree instead of laying them on the base raw, but I consider these minor and that the recipe still retains it’s origins. This version is also just 2/3 of the original quantities, but scaling up to 3 eggs etc. is quite straightforward (also increase cooking time to 40-45 minutes).

Finally, it’s also a little different to the ‘bakewells, banoffees and brownies’ that the Radio Times tells us is headed our way on Tuesday, which makes for a nice change.

The mixture of apples is refreshing without being too tart, and the cranberries give a zing of sharpness as well as being a great splash of colour. The pastry is crumbly like shortbread, but neither cloying nor overly-rich. The meringue and biscuit topping are light and delicately textured, and the overall taste is indulgent but without the guilt – delish!

Russian Company Cake

Makes 10 slices

2 medium cooking apples (I used Bramley)
2 crisp eating apples (I used Jazz)
60ml water
140g unsalted butter
265g plain flour
3/4tsp baking powder
2 large eggs – separated
35g caster sugar + 100g-ish more for the meringue
150g dried cranberries

  • Grease and line a rectangular bake tin (20cm x 30cm) with baking parchment.
  • Peel, core and quarter the apples.
  • Cut the quarters in half again, and then slice crossways into chunks approx. 2cm square.
  • Put the apple chunks and the water into a small saucepan.
  • Cover and put on a medium-low heat until the apples have softened. The cooking apples will break down into a fluff and the dessert apples will hold their shape, which makes for softened apple pieces in a soft puree. This gives a nice not-too-wet texture for the traybake.
  • Remove the lid and continue heating until there’s no liquid visible. Set the apples aside to cool.
  • Blitz the butter, flour, baking powder and the 35g of caster sugar in the bowl of a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Add the egg yolks and blitz again until the mixture comes together in a soft dough.
  • Knead the dough smooth.
  • Divide the dough into 2 uneven pieces.
  • Shape 1/3 into a cylinder and wrap in cling film and place into the freezer to firm up – 15-20 minutes.
  • Either just press the remaining dough into the baking tin, or roll it out first then transfer it across. It is a very forgiving pastry, so if cracks or holes appear, just patch it with other pieces.
  • Spread the cooled apples over the pastry.
  • Sprinkle the dried cranberries over the apples.
  • Weigh the egg-whites and measure out an equal weight of caster sugar.
  • Whisk the egg-whites to soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar until they become stiff peaks.
  • Spread the meringue over the cranberries and apple.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Remove the cylinder of dough from the freezer and, using a coarse grater, grate the remaining dough over the top of the meringue. There should be just enough for a light covering.
  • Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 20 minutes, then turn the bake around and move to the bottom shelf for a further 15 minutes.
  • If the top looks like it is browning too much, cover lightly with either baking foil or parchment.
  • Set aside to cool in the tin.

No Knead Pizza Bases

No Knead Pizza Bases


This week we have a re-visit of a recipe I posted when I started blogging – Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread.

A few years after word got out about Jim’s fabulous no-knead bread, he opened a pizza restaurant. The whole theme of the restaurant was to be bread, from the name Co. – pronounced ‘Company’, from the Latin com- “with” + panis “bread”  – down through his menu. From his website:

Co. celebrates the communal dining experience with bread as the centerpiece of the meal. Our menu features a variety of toasts, soup, salads, artisanal meat and cheese selections – and, of course, pizza.

So here is my suggestion for adapting Jim’s bread recipe to make delicious, airy pizza bases that you can have on hand whenever you like.

The same quantities that make one large loaf, will make eight, adult-sized pizza bases. You can add toppings to the dough and bake it immediately or, as I’ve found works well, make eight ‘blank’ pizza bases, freeze them and then top and bake from frozen – giving you the luxury of never being more than 20 minutes away from delicious artisan pizza.

I shall shamelessly copy/paste from my previous post, to save you having to flip between the two.

No Knead Pizza Bases

820g plain or bread flour, plus more for dusting
0.5 teaspoon rapid-action yeast
2.5 teaspoons salt
700ml warm water
Semolina, polenta or cornmeal as needed.

  • In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 700ml water, and stir until blended; the dough will be very wet and sticky.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it to rest for at least 12 hours, preferably 18, at room temperature. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.
  • Sprinkle flour over a work surface and scrape the dough from the bowl onto it. Sprinkle with more flour and fold each side towards the middle. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
  • Using a long knife or dough scraper, divide the dough into eight roughly even pieces and shape into balls.
  • Set aside onto a floured surface to prove for one hour or until doubled in size.
  • After 30 minutes, preheat your oven to it’s highest possible setting.
  • Line 2 or 3 large baking sheets with parchment. Alternatively, grease the sheets themselves and scatter with semolina, polenta or cornmeal.
  • When the dough has doubled in size, it’s time to shape it into pizza bases.
  • For each piece of dough:
    • Pick it up and, holding the edge lightly between your fingers, work them around the edge of the dough in, as Terry Pratchett put so well “the famous Ai-Senor-Mexican-Bandits-Have-Raided-Our-Village position”
    • The weight of the dough will stretch it downwards as you hang on to the edge, so you need to keep shuffling round with your hands to allow the dough to fall evenly. Don’t let it get too thin in the middle.
    • When you’re happy with both the shape and the thickness, lay your shaped dough onto one of the baking sheets.
    • Alternatively, you could put the risen dough straight onto the baking sheet and tease it out by hand.
    • If the dough seems a little too thick in places once it is on the baking sheet, ‘dock’ it by poking your fingertips down into it, as you would do with foccaccia.
  • When all the dough has been shaped, sprinkle with flour and bake for 12-18 minutes until cooked through. You want them to be on the pale side, because of the second baking they will get with the toppings.
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack, then wrap and freeze.

To serve

  • Remove from freezer and add your favourite pizza sauce and toppings.
  • Place in the oven and turn the heat to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Pizza will be warmed through and bubbling after 10-15 minutes.


BBC Good Food Show Summer Ticket Giveaway

BBC Good Food Show poster


BBC Good Food Show Summer

The BBC Good Food Show Summer is running from 12–16 June at the NEC in Birmingham and to celebrate the organisers are offering this fantastic prize!

Win one of 3 pairs of general admission tickets to enjoy a day at the Show.

The Show is packed full of celebrity chefs including Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry, James Martin, John Torode and Gregg Wallace demonstrating live on the Supertheatre sponsored by Tesco Real Food. Plus see your favourite TV programmes brought to life including The Great British Bake Off, MasterChef and Saturday Kitchen.

Shop till you drop from over 200 food stands. Visit the Producers’ Village and the Good Food Champions area to find small and artisan produce that you won’t see on the high street and Don’t forget your ticket also gets you free entry to BBC Gardeners’ World Live where you can learn how to grow your own from some of the nation’s top gardening experts!

Not a winner? To book tickets and for more information on the BBC Good Food Show Summer please visit or call 0844 581 1341

To enter please leave a comment below with a valid email address as I will need to email the winners to arrange ticket delivery.

Your email address will not be used for any other purpose.

Entries close at midnight Friday May 31st, 2013

Winners will be selected using

Terms and conditions for tickets and giveaways for BBC Haymarket Exhibitions

All tickets are general admission weekday only.

Tickets are non refundable and non-exchangeable. Ticket terms and conditions apply.

Tickets will be mailed out directly to the competition holder (me!) by BBC Haymarket Exhibitions. I will forward tickets to the winners.

Tickets do not include a seat in the supertheatre.

Cheese and Potato Pies

Cheese and Potato Pies


I love this recipe for lots of reasons: it’s Deja Food, it’s comfort food, is simple, cheap, quick to put together and it’s deliciously tasty.

I’ve included a couple of twists in this seemingly simple recipe that elevates it into something really special.

The pastry is a new version of shortcrust that I have adapted from a Victorian bakers’ book. It includes cornflour, which makes the pastry extra crispy, which isn’t always easy with an all-butter pastry, and it has a really smooth, dry feel which makes it very easy to handle. I’ve thrown in some rosemary to pump up the flavour in the pastry, and the filling is simplicity itself – just diced, cooked potatoes and cheese – but with a secret ingredient that makes these pies completely awesome.

I like chutney. I’ve always liked the sharpness from the vinegar, the spiciness, the touch of sweetness – and I’ve made my fair share of them too. The secret to a good chutney is time – leaving it for two to three months after it’s made so that the flavours can develop and the throat-catching harshness of the vinegar can mellow. Taste it too soon and everything is much too strong. Which brings me to the secret ingredient: Sainsbury’s Basics Tomato Chutney. Now, you know I love you, Sainsbury’s, but you’re just not aging your Basics chutney, are you? Pop that jar open and whoosh! The whiff of vinegar and spice is mighty powerful. However, if you bake a little of this chutney into these pies something magic happens: all the harshness of the vinegar disappears and just add a piquancy that breaks up the pastry/cheese/potato combo. Don’t worry if you don’t live near a Sainsbury’s – Basics Tomato Chutney seems to be a staple in most of the major supermarkets.

These pies are great for packed lunches and picnics or just a quick and comforting lunch at home.

Cheese and Potato Pies – makes 6-8 individual pies

225g plain flour
60g cornflour or rice flour
140g butter
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
ice cold water

4-5 medium cold boiled potatoes
strong cheddar cheese – grated
Basics tomato chutney

1 large egg, whisked

Individual foil pie dishes

  • Put the flours, rosemary and butter into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • With the machine running, gradually add the cold water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together in a ball.
  • Tip the mixture onto a floured surface, knead smooth then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Cut the potatoes into centimetre  cubes and put into a bowl.
  • Add grated cheese to your taste and season with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180ºC Fan.
  • Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut off two thirds.
  • Roll this piece out thinly to a thickness of 3-4mm and line your greased pie dishes, making sure there is enough pastry over the sides of the dishes to allow for joining the lid.
  • Put a layer of cheese and potato into the bottom of each pie shell.
  • Add 2-3 teaspoons of tomato chutney and spread into a thin layer.
  • Fill the pies with the remaining cheese and potato mixture
  • Roll out the pastry for the lids. Wet the undersides with a pastry brush dipped in waterand press them onto the tops of the pies firmly.
  • Trim off the excess pastry with the back of a knife.
  • Crimp the pastry edges by pressing into them with the tines of a fork.
  • Wash over the tops of the pies with beaten egg and cut a small hole in the pastry lids to let out steam.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on the size and shape of your pies, until the pastry is crisp and golden.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

Christmas Jam

Christmas Jam


Got a fab recipe for Christmas this week – for gifts, to scoff yourself, whatever takes your fancy – delish!

Bit like mincemeat, but without the suet – and can be enjoyed in a whole range of different ways – on scones, over ice-cream, Christmas tart (spoon into blind-baked cases) or spooned straight from the jar *guilty look* What? What???

Anyhoo – It’s also going to provide the opportunity to illustrate creativity, because the preserve I ended up with was not the one I intended to make, but is still absolutely delicious.

This recipe began life in the kitchen of Mme Christine Ferber, the undisputed QUEEN of preserves. She lives in Niedermorschwihr, the little Alsacian village of the borderlands with Germany and is the go-to woman for the likes of Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse, Pierre Herme and anyone else who demands nothing but the best. Her preserves are made from local, seasonal produce and she presides over every batch. Never working with more than 4kg of fruit at a time, she marries flavours and textures beautifully, and has created over 800 flavour combinations.

So I found this recipe on a French magazine website almost a year ago and have been dying to make it all year. When I managed to snag the last 4 quince at the local farm shop, I thought I was all set, but the further I got into the recipe, the more I found out that I lacked some of the ingredients, so I just had to improvise like a BOSS. Now don’t start flapping about not having quince, because I didn’t have enough either – so I improvised with apples. Then I couldn’t find any dried pears, so I used dried pineapple instead. And so it went on.

So what I have for you here, and in the picture above, is the recipe I made, rather than the recipe I followed. It makes about 8-9 jars – plenty for gifts and a couple to keep. For anyone who is interested, the original Christine Ferber recipe is here.

Christmas Jam

2 kg of fresh quince or Bramley apples or a mixture of both
2 litres of water
1 kg granulated sugar
200 g dried pineapple
200g dried figs
100g dates
100 g dried prunes
200g dried apricots
100g raisins [1]
50 g candied lemon peel, cut into thin strips
50 g candied orange peel cut into thin strips
50 g dried cranberries
zest and juice of 1 orange
zest and juice of 1 lemon
150g walnuts pieces
150g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 ground star anise

  • Wipe the quince/apples with a cloth and rinse in cold water.
  • Cut into quarters and place in a preserving pan and cover with 2 liters of water.
  • Bring the pan to a boil, turn the heat down and let it simmer gently for one hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Strain the juice through a colander and then strain it again through a piece of muslin to clear it of most of the pulp.
  • Discard the fruit pulp.
  • Measure out 1300ml of the hot liquid  and pour over the dried pineapple. Leave it to soak for 3-4 hours. You can leave it longer – overnight if you like, but I was in the mood to make this jam NOW! Today! 😉
  • Wash your jars and lids and put into the oven on a baking tray at 100°C, 80°C Fan. Always err on the side of caution and have more jars than you think you’ll need.
  • Cut the figs, prunes and apricots into strips 3mm wide. NB DO NOT get the ‘ready to eat’ dried fruit – it’ll just break down into a mush. Make sure you get the old-fashioned ‘tough’ dried fruit.
  • Slit the dates and remove pits. Slice into 3mm strips
  • Pour the apple liquid and the pineapple into a preserving pan with the sugar, figs, dates, prunes, apricots, raisins, lemon and orange peel, cranberries, lemon zest and juice, orange zest and juice, and the spices.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
  • Skim any scum from the surface.
  • Keep cooking on high heat for five to ten minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Skim again if necessary.
  • When the temperature reaches 100°C, add the walnuts and almonds.
  • Bring the mixture to 104°C and test that the setting point has been reached by spooning a little of the syrup onto a cold plate and placing in the freezer for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat while you check. If the surface if the jelly wrinkles when you push your finger through it, then setting point has been reached. NB This is really just to double-check – if it reaches 104°C, you’re fine. This is not a solid-set jam, it’s more ‘fruit suspended in spiced apple jelly’.
  • Ladle into the warm jars and seal whilst hot.
  • Wipe jars and label when cooled.

[1] I used Sainsbury’s snack raisins, which is a mixture of golden, flame, crimson and green raisins. Beautiful!