General how to's & recipes, Journal, Patisserie / Pastry, Photo Series, Popular Posts

The journey of a tart (or basil, cherry tomato, potato & corn quiche)

Our Quiche starts off as a layer of short pastry (Prepare a batch of short pastry – see covered by 4 chopped onions and a handful of basil...
It is then further layered with 3 medium sized cooked & sliced potatoes, crumbled feta and a generous few handfuls of grated cheddar...
And finished off with fresh corn (from 2-3 cobs) and cherry tomatoes before it is filled with savoury custard (double the recipe at and baked at 180 degrees until cooked & golden brown...
The Quiche rests in the garden until it is cool enough...
To be summonsed into the house...
By the Chief Taster...
Who finds the cherry tomatoes highly commendable...
And gathers further tasters...
The Quiche is approved of and sent to the table...
But then quite suddenly disappears and is never seen again...
Popular Posts

There’s a cockroach in the kitchen! (A poem by Lana)


By Lana D.

The first time I saw it

it was wriggling from side to side

like a fish moth,

quite out of character,

snuggling under my glass bread board

going about its business


of me

watching over it,

my soft bare feet growing wings

as white as the tiles

on the kitchen floor.


In the following mornings

I felt that cockroach’s

beady black eyes

watching me

from the shadows

of my toaster,

its new shiny chrome home –

there’d be no more

marmalade on toast

for breakfast

with tea

for me.


Imagine my surprise

to find that cockroach

investigating what I was making for dinner tonight,

come to visit,

my favourite pet,

sauntering along the edge of the stove

as if it was

my honoured guest.

Brave, yet oblivious

of that age-old law:

To be a curious cockroach

is a fatal flaw

: |

General how to's & recipes, Patisserie / Pastry, Popular Posts

Vegetarian Cherry Tomato Quiche (or Tart)


Quiches are so convenient for brunches or lunches.  You can prepare them ahead of time and most people seem to enjoy them.  Here is the recipe for a cherry tomato quiche I baked a few weeks ago, since I’ve been ordered to whip one up for our family get-together tomorrow (‘You HAVE to make that tomato quiche again!’ said my sister Gablicious).  It’s in the oven as I write (oh, the smells coming from the kitchen at this late hour!). 

What’s great about quiches is that once you know how to make a pastry base and savoury custard, you can play with different fillings, experiment.  

For a large tart:  

  • Prepare a batch of short pastry – see
  • Prepare your savoury custard (add salt to taste & remember to use less if you’re going to be adding other salty ingredients like feta or smoked salmon) – double the recipe at
  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius
  • Chop 3 onions, 2 cloves of garlic (or more), some chilli (enough to give it some zip, depending on your taste), 1 red pepper (if available), grate a block of cheddar cheese & break up a chunk of feta cheese
  • Grease your tart tin & roll out your pastry (this is the hardest part – sprinkle your work surface with flour as you go to prevent the pastry from sticking & be sure to work in a cool environment)
  • Line your tart tin (allow it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes)

Remove air bubbles as you ease the pastry into the edges of the tart tin

  • Fill your tart

Sprinkle your dry ingredients onto the pastry

Pour in your savoury custard

Decorate with cherry tomatoes

  • Bake at 180 degrees celsius until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked (the filling should be cooked by the time the pastry is golden but check by touching the top of the mix with your fingers or inserting a knife – bake for a little longer if there is still liquid in the mix)
  • Spray or dab the top with olive oil for shine

Serve with a crisp green salad and enjoy!

Cakes, Desserts, General how to's & recipes, Patisserie / Pastry, Popular Posts

Excellent baked cheesecake recipe

I have used this baked cheesecake recipe for several functions, including my own birthday party.

It ALWAYS goes down well with everybody!  You can use your imagination for the toppings – I love using whole fresh strawberries on top (dusted with icing sugar).  You could also serve it plain, why not?!



  • Mix the cream cheese, condensed milk & cream together (until smooth)
  • Mix in all the other ingredients
  • Grease a tart tin and then line it with your sweet pastry
  • Pour the mix into the pastry tin
  • Bake at 110 degrees celsius until the pastry is golden brown and the cheesecake has set (test for readiness by prodding gently with your finger  – it should have a firm consistency)
  • Apologies but I don’t have a baking time for you – we were not taught to work with TIMES.  Chef Tim taught us to be in touch with what we were baking – the golden rule was this: ‘It’s ready when it’s ready!’  It was frustrating for us patisserie-chefs-in-training in the beginning but it has proved to be a wonderful way of working.

Allow your cheesecake to cool before serving.

Cakes, Chocolate, General how to's & recipes, Patisserie / Pastry, Popular Posts

How to make chocolate porcupine quills – as demonstrated by Tim Woodford

Melt your milk chocolate and pour it onto a cool flat surface

Begin the process of tempering your chocolate...

Note that this same process will apply to your 'white' chocolate ...

Tim Woodford in action...

Secure four rows of masking tape onto your surface, allowing for same-sized gaps between the rows

Pour white chocolate onto your surface and...

Spread your chocolate across the surface with a palette knife

Remove the masking tape...

Pour out your milk chocolate

Roll out your milk chocolate

Use a sharp knife to cut along the edge of the chocolate and the porcupine quill will reveal itself!

Chef Tim is an expert at this!

Chef Tim's Porcupine Quill Cake

Bread, Popular Posts

How to make baguettes – using an easy white dough recipe

Ohhhhhh, baguettes… a reminder of the simple life… with the best French wine and cheese, of course! If you’re new to baking bread, please do refer to my comprehensive explanation (step by step with photos) here.


  • 500 g white bread four
  • 10 g yeast (use 25% less for dried yeast)
  • 10 g salt
  • 350 g warm water


  • First measure out your ingredients else you’ll have dough all over the show
  • Sift flour and mix in yeast (if live then break the yeast into small pieces and rub into the flour with your fingertips)
  • Add the warm water and mix (I always use my hands – VERY scrumptious but VERY messy, so use a spoon if you prefer)
  • Add the salt (once the flour, yeast and water have combined)
  • Knead the dough (by pulling it away and up towards you and then SLAPPING it down again onto the surface …until such time as it becomes less sticky and gains a silky texture)… be patient… carry on working it… it WILL change from sticky to smooth!
  • HOT TIP: Trap as much air as you can as you fold the dough over and back into itself
  • Once the dough is smooth, pat the dough into a ball-shape and place it in a bowl in a warm place (cover with a cloth or plastic but be sure to allow space for the rising of the dough) until it doubles in size


  • Once the dough has doubled in size, it’s ready to be shaped!
  • Help the dough drop out of the bowl by scraping from its underside (be gentle)
  • Roll the dough into itself (feed the outside into the inside) to make it TIGHTER and stronger
  • Roll it into a tight sausage roll shape
  • Slice the roll into two pieces (or whatever size you wish but if dividing then weigh out same-size pieces – so as to allow for even baking) and roll each piece into a tight sausage roll shape
  • Work & roll the ends of each ‘sausage roll’ under your palms so that they become thinner – leave the centre section so that it remains wider


  • Slash the top of the bread with a blade or a knife & dust with flour (the slashes allow the bread to release tension as it bakes)
  • Place in the oven to prove (rise again) on 50 degrees celsius with a bowl of water at the bottom of the oven OR simply cover the bread and place in a warm, sheltered place… until it has expanded in size (30 to 45 minutes)
  • Preheat the oven to 180-200 degrees celsius (I prefer to go HOT so that I get a good crust) and spray with water before adding the baguettes… keep an eye on them… they will be ready as soon as they are brown… test for readiness by tapping on the underside.. . if there is a hollow sound, they are ready

PS. This bread is also great with nothing more than butter and honey. In which case forget the wine and have a cup of tea!

Cakes, Christmas, General how to's & recipes, Journal, Patisserie / Pastry, Popular Posts

Chef Snowman Christmas Cake

I thought I’d make a friendly dinasaur cake for my showpiece (part of the requirements for the Patisserie exam) but my grandmother suggested I work on a Christmas theme instead (we’d just made a Christmas cake together).  The idea of a snowman cake popped into my head, based on the fact that plastic icing is as ‘white as snow’ as it is. 

Having no particular detail in mind and no references at hand,  it sure turned out to be a bit of an adventure!  I started with a couple of blobs of plastic icing and one thing led to another so that the snowman evolved into snowmen with snow cake & snow candle on snow blanket on snow cake (ENOUGH!!) … 

If you’d like to make a similar cake, start with a Christmas other) cake base and cover it with marzipan

Cover your cake with marzipan


Roll out your plastic icing (no need to colour) and place over the cake (mine turned out to look like an ice table cloth)


Handwork your plastic icing into bodies and heads (I coloured my icing with a touch of blue to create an ice effect) - it doesn't matter what size as long as it is to scale or works for you!


Colour some plastic icing for your scarves, eyes, buttons, hats and carrot noses


Mould your ice cake (3 rounded layers one on top of the other) and your candle (add a touch of orange on the tip) and then mark the faces to position eyes/noses etc


Position the various elements - if moist, the plastic icing pieces will naturally glue together, otherwise use royal icing or edible glue from a baking supplier


Colour some more plastic icing, roll and place freely on top of the cake so that it resembles a blanket before placing the rest of the pieces in position


Place noses (it's easier if the plastic icing is hard) and whatever else you may think of... don't forget the snowballs!


Merry Christmas!

Bread, Christmas, General how to's & recipes, Popular Posts

Stollen Bread

Stollen is a most satisfying Christmas bread made of  sweet dough, marzipan and mixed fruit and nuts.   It makes a fabulous Christmas gift.

The bread will last for a good few months if wrapped in a sealed plastic bag (not cling-wrap) so you can make it ahead of time.  Adding rum or whiskey will give extra flavour as well as extend the shelf life.

The dough is rolled into a rectangular shape.  The marzipan is rolled out and placed on top of the dough (cut to the same size).  It is then sprinkled with mixed fruit and nuts etc.  The bread is then rolled into the traditional Stollen shape and left to prove before it is baked and sprinkled with a generous amount of icing sugar. 



  • 250 grams warm milk
  • 15 grams live yeast
  • 500 grams sifted bread flour
  • 60 grams butter at room temperature
  • 40 grams castor sugar
  • 10 grams salt
  • 2 eggs


  • Work the yeast into the flour with your fingertips
  • Add the rest of the dry ingredients and make a well in the centre
  • Add the butter into the well and work into the dry ingredients
  • Add the eggs and milk into the centre of the well and work into the mix
  • Knead and bang away until the dough becomes silky smooth
  • Place the dough in a bowl, cover and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size


Search ‘how to make marzipan’ on my blog


Combine the following ingredients in a bowl:

  • 2 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 2 tablespoons flaked almonds (feel free to include other nuts like cashews if you wish to)
  • 4 tablespoons orange peel (or according to taste)
  • 4 tablespoons currents
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cardamon (don’t over grind as the flavour will be too strong)
  • 1 teaspoon of fine orange and lemon rind
  • A drop of vanilla paste/extract


  • Pre-heat oven to 50 degrees Celsius (to prove your bread once you have prepared the stollen)
  • Prep the bread dough and roll into a rectangular shape (once it has doubled in size)
  • Roll the marzipan into a thin sheet and cut to same size as bread dough
  • Place the marzipan on top of the bread dough
  • Cover the marzipan with the fruit and nut mix
  • Roll the ends of the dough towards the centre of the dough, allowing for a gap (the same size as the roll on each side of it) in the centre or two thirds of the way across
  • Extend the one roll over the gap and place it directly on top of the other roll (use the rolling pin to create an indentation on the underlying roll first)
  • Press down on the outside edges of the dough (about 5 to 10 mm from the outer edge)
  • Place in the oven until the dough has expanded in size (around double in size – look out for a ‘puffiness’)
  • Remove carefully, place in a warm place and set oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  • When the oven is ready, spray the Stollen with water as well as the base of the oven
  • Place on a baking sheet on a baking tray in the centre of the oven
  • Bake until golden brown
  • Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter
  • Sprinkle liberally with icing sugar over the melted butter
  • Repeat – give the bread another coating of butter and sprinkle with more icing sugar

Wrap in transparent plastic (once cool) and seal with sticky tape before placing in another transparent bag (or whatever packaging you prefer)…  finish with ribbons and a home-made card for a personal Christmas gift that looks, smells and tastes a treat!