Afternoon Tea

My Traditional Afternoon Tea...

My Traditional Afternoon Tea...

Sweet & Savoury Scones   

 Scone Recipe

225g self-raising flour 

a pinch of baking powder 

a pinch of salt 

25g caster sugar 

55g chilled butter, diced 

1/2 egg lightly beaten 

50g double cream – soured if available

75g milk (you may need a little more) 

1/2 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water to glaze

Preheat the oven to 180C

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Using your fingertips, lightly work in the butter until the mixture resembles dry breadcrumbs. Add the egg, cream and enough milk to moisten. Mix well until it has a soft, doughy texture - but it shouldn't be too moist. 

Divide the dough into 3 equal parts.

Gather the first portion of dough into a ball and turn it out on to a floured surface, then roll lightly with a rolling pin to 2.5cm/1 inch thick. Cut out with a round cutter, transfer to a greased baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg glaze. Dip the scones in brown sugar to crust them slightly.


Raspberry & Blackberry Jam

100g Fruit

50g Sugar

¼ Teaspoon Agar Agar

1/2 Lemon – Juice & Rind

Mix the Fruit and Sugar and leave overnight.

In the morning, bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the Lemon juice and rind and the Agar Agar…boil for a further three minutes. Pour into prepared Jar and leave to set.


Cherry Bakewell Scones

1-2 drops almond essence

Handful of Dried Cherries (Not glace cherries)

2 Tablespoons Amaretto

Slivered Almonds to Sprinkle

50g Marscapone Cheese

20g Double Cream

25g Icing Sugar

Glace Cherries to Decorate


To the second batch of dough, add a drop of almond essence and roll in the dried cherries and sprinkle the tops with slivered almonds after egg washing.  Serve with the almond sugar glaze and a glace cherry on top…


Macerated Cherries

50g Fresh Cherries Pitted and Halved

15g Castor Sugar

Squeeze of Orange Juice

¼ Teaspoon of Vanilla Paste

Mix the Fruit, orange Juice and Sugar and leave overnight.

In the morning, warm the mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour on to a serving dish.


Chorizo & Pesto Scones

25g Skinless Chorizo minced in a food processor

Black Pepper

½ Tsp Smoked Paprika

¼ Tsp Garlic Salt

Large Spoon of Fresh Green Pesto

Bunch fresh basil, parsley

Tsp Lemon Juice

Parmesan cheese grated

Salt & Pepper


To the last portion of dough, add the minced chorizo, black pepper, smoked paprika and garlic salt. Turn out and cut your scones brushing the tops with egg wash and dipping in grated parmesan.

Bake for 15- 20 minutes or until well browned.


Serve the plain scone with berry  jam and clotted cream


Serve the Cherry Bakewells with the Whipped Ammaretto, Marscapone Cheese, Icing Sugar and Double Cream


Serve the Savoury scone with a herb butter - whipped butter, basil, parsley, lemon juice and parmesan grated finely.

 Tracy’s Mini-Sandwiches

Crusty White Loaf

(1/2 Original Recipe – Small Loaf Tin)

 35g Course Wholemeal Flour

1/2 Teaspoon Runny Honey

4 Sachet Fast Acting Yeast

1/2 Egg

113g Warm Water

1 Tablespoons Olive Oil

170g Strong White Flour

1/2 Teaspoon Maldon Salt

1/2 Egg to Wash

Sesame Seeds to Sprinkle

 Preheat the oven to 220C

Add the salt and yeast to the flours and mix to disperse. Then add the liquid ingredients and bring together in a stand mixer with a dough hook. The dough will be pretty wet looking but let it run for about 8-9 minutes and it will come together into a soft sticky dough. Pop this into an oiled bowl and cover until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile make your chicken stuffing starting with the chillies, garlic, onion and spices in a sauté pan over medium heat until soft and fragrant. Add the cooked chicken and tomatoes stirring through – this will cool your stuffing down quickly ready for the dough.

Take the dough from the bowl knocking the air from it and turn out onto a floured workspace. Roll it gently into a rectangular shape and lay the chicken mix on top spreading on one half of the dough sheet. Fold it over on itself encasing the filling being careful not to tear the dough. Allow to rise again for a further 40 minutes Egg wash the top and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 220C for 12 minutes, turning down the heat at that point to 190C for a further 25 minutes.

 Little Brioche Rolls

(1/2 Original Recipe – Individual Buns)

22g warm milk

125ml Water

4g Fast Action Yeast

18g sugar

1 large eggs

200g bread flour

23g all-purpose flour

4g  salt

18g butter, softened

Sesame or poppy seeds (optional)

 Preheat oven to 200C

In a glass measuring cup, combine warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, beat one egg.

In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt. Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Using a large spoon, stir in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. You can either transfer the dough to a clean surface for this or knead it right in the bowl. It’s a touch sticky, but resist the urge to add more flour.

 Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in the fridge. This long proofing time will make a nicer flavour and also make it easier to shape while cold.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange two to three inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated in nonstick spray and let buns rise in a warm place for one to two hours, until they almost double in size.

Set a large shallow pan of water on oven floor. Beat remaining egg with one tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. If desired, sprinkle with seeds. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 17-18 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.


Paddy’s Brown Bread

(1/3 Original Recipe – Small Loaf Tin, Wrapped)

40g Plain Flour

2/3 Tsp Bread Soda

1/3 Tsp Salt

113g Wholemeal Flour

20g Bran

20g Pinhead Oatmeal

20g Wheatgerm

1 Tsp Brown Sugar

20g Chopped Walnuts

200g Buttermilk

1 Egg

 Preheat the oven to 150C

Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the milk and eggs mixing through so there are no dry spots. Pour into a greased 2lb tin and bake for about 1 hour 25mins or until the base of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.


Sandwich Fillings

 Basil Pesto

22g pine nuts

1 cups fresh basil leaves

1 small garlic cloves

30g grated parmesan

37g tablespoons olive oil

Salt & Pepper

 Using a pestle & mortar, or a food processor, blitz all the ingredients together and check seasoning and consistency.


Open Crab Brulee

150g Cream

One Egg Separated – Use the yolk and 1/3 of the white

50g Flaked White Crab Meat

8g Grated Pickled Ginger

Grating of Garlic (1/3 Clove)

Salt & Pepper

50g Powdered Parmesan

15g White Wine Vinegar

½ small cucumber

10g caster sugar

Parmesan Crisp

Sprinkle powdered parmesan onto a baking tray in 2 inch diameter and bake for 7 minutes or until crisp.


Cucumber Salad

Finely slice cucumber and macerate in white wine vinegar and sugar for a few minutes.

Mix all the ingredients together allowing to infuse for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 160. Transfer the mixture to shallow ramekins and bake in a bain marie for 20 mins or until wobbly in the middle. Allow to cool and spoon the mixture onto the soda bread topping with a parmesan crisp.

Serve with lemon cheeks on the side and cucumber salad.


Cucumber Sandwich

1/2 small cucumber, thinly sliced

Handful of Cress

100g Light Philadelphia Soft Cheese

Small bunch mint, finely chopped

Small bunch chives, snipped

Sliver of Goats Cheese

¼ Teaspoon of Sumac

Salt & Pepper

Lay the cucumber slices on kitchen paper to dry. Whizz the cheese, mint and some seasoning in a small food processor or with a hand blender. Stir in most of the chives, then spread the cheese mixture over bread. Reserve some slices of cucumber for decoration, and arrange the rest over the cheese.

Layer up 2 slices of cucumber-topped bread, then top with a plain slice. Repeat this twice more.

Top each mini sandwich with another cucumber slice and a sliver of goats cheese – brulee the cheese with a torch. Sprinkle with the remaining chives to serve.


Creamy Pesto Chicken

1 Fillet of Steamed or Roast Chicken, Whole

1 Tablespoon Pesto

Sliver of Combozola Soft Blue Cheese

Handful of Baby Rocket Leaves

Semi Sun Dried Tomatoes

Red Onion Finely Diced

Teaspoon Aged Modena Balsamic

Black Pepper

Finely dice the onion, tomato and leaves and toss in the balsamic and season with black pepper. Spread the brioche bun with the pesto and mayonnaise on either half. Layer in the sliced chicken and fill with the dressed salad.


Additional Ingredients for the Amuse Bouche - Red Pepper & Cheery Tomato Soup

Two Red Peppers

Handful of Cherry Tomatoes

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

100g Cream Cheese

Fennel Seeds

100g Gruyere

Grating of Nutmeg

Salt & Pepper


Cake Slices

Tiramisu Slice

120g unsalted butter (softened)

100g caster sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)

grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

2 small eggs

105g self-raising flour

45g plain flour

 120g Marscapone Cheese

25g Icing Sugar

25g Double Cream, Whipped

1/4 tsp pure vanilla paste

1 Strong Espresso

2 Tablespoons Khalua or Tia Maria

1 dark chocolate bar, grated

4 Strawberries Sliced 

Preheat the oven to 170ºC

Cream the butter and sugar, and add the lemon zest.

Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of the flour for each.

Then gently mix in the rest of the flour and, finally, the lemon juice.

Sprinkle with caster sugar (about 2 tablespoons should do it) as it goes into the oven, and bake for 30 mins or until a cake-tester comes out clean.

Remove to a wire rack, and let cool in the tin before turning out.

When cool, slice the cake horizontally once or twice, depending on height, and brush the layers with the coffee/liquor mix. Spread the creamy filling and sandwich together firmly. Repeat with further layers. Wrap the loaf tightly in cling film and refrigerate to firm up.  Mix any remaining cream and liquor to serve with the slice.

Spread the top with the remaining cream…sprinkle with cocoa powder and slice.


Lime & Pistachio Loaf Cake

113g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

38g ground almonds

50g caster sugar

1 medium eggs

25g runny honey

125g natural yoghurt, unsweetened

75g sunflower oil

Finely grated zest of 1/2 lime

For the syrup

75ml water

50g caster sugar

20g Pistachios Toasted

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tbsp rosewater

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line the base and sides of the cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add ground almonds and caster sugar and mix.

Mix the eggs, honey, yoghurt, sunflower oil and lime zest together well in a medium-sized bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the wet ingredients, bringing them together with a whisk until they are just combined. Add some chopped pistachios to the mixture if you wish, or retain for decorating. Pour this mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, boil the water and sugar for about 5 minutes until it is reduced by half. Add the lime juice and boil for a further 2 minutes, then cool and add the rosewater according to your taste.

With a skewer, make holes on top of the warm cake and, with a tablespoon, spoon the syrup all over the top. Leave to settle for 1 hour. Serve with natural yoghurt and chopped roasted pistachios.


Individual Pastries

Sable a Choux

38g brown sugar

38g butter

43g plain flour

Red colour

Crushed blanched whole almonds

Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and mix to soften slightly.

Add the flour and red colour and mix until incorporated.

Cover in cling film and refrigerate until firm.

Remove from the fridge and roll to a thickness of 3mm.

Cut out 50mm discs and place on top of the choux dough


Pate a Choux


50g unsalted butter

5g sugar

120g water

2g salt

70g strong flour

95g egg

 Place the butter, water, milk, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil.

Add the plain flour and using a wooden spoon stir until a paste forms, cook for a few minutes to cook out the flour.

Place the choux in an electric mixer with a beater attachment and beat until 60% of the heat is released.

Slowly add the eggs one at a time beating well between each addition. Continue beating until the choux is smooth and glossy.

Pipe 60mm balls onto a greased baking tray.

Place a 50mm disc of red sable a choux on top of the uncooked choux ball and sprinkle with crushed blanched whole almonds and bake at 180°C until cooked.


Baileys Chocolate Mousse

78g cream

40g milk chocolate

17g Baileys Liqueur

1g gelatine leaves

Snip the gelatine into small pieces and sponge in water for ten minutes.

Place the cream and milk chocolate in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Stir in the gelatine and Baileys.

Place the mousse in the freezer to cool rapidly.

Whip the mousse until it is firm enough to hold. Pipe with a star tip.


Assembling the Buns

Cut the choux bun in half, dust the top of the choux bun lightly with icing sugar.

Fill the base of the choux bun with mousse.

Place the top of the choux bun on the base and press down gently.

Garnish each choux bun with 4/5 raspberries, gently pressing each one into the Chantilly.


Gateaux Diane

1 Egg Whites

Pinch of Salt

56g Castor Sugar

62g Milk Chocolate

25g Hot Water

125g Double Cream

Handful of Blueberries

Pre-heat the oven to 100C

Whisk the egg whites with the pinch of salt and whisk in the sugar bit by bit until it is all absorbed.

Line baking tray with silpat and draw circles to measure 2 inches.

Bake these in the oven for 1 hours. If you have time, Turn off the oven after the allotted time and allow the discs to cool in the oven.

Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl with the water. Place this over a pan on simmering water until the chocolate has melted into a smooth shiny sauce. Allow this to cool completely.

When cool, transfer to the bowl of your stand mixed, add the cream and whisk until thick.

Stack the meringues with a good layer of chocolate cream in between each, and add blueberries both between the layers and on top of the gateaux.

Grate some chocolate on top to decorate.

Tarts Aux Fruit

Sweet Almond Pastry

50g plain flour

45g ground almonds

45g golden caster sugar

50g cold butter, diced

Teaspoon of egg yolk

Make the pastry by tipping all the ingredients, except the yolk, into a food processor and pulsing to the texture of breadcrumbs. Add the yolk, then pulse until it all comes together to form a soft pastry. Rest in the fridge and roll into tart tins as required. Prick the base of the pastry to prevent rising and fill with baking beans.

Blind Bake for 8-10 minutes, then glaze the base with egg wash and return to oven for 2-3 minutes to seal. Paint with chocolate before filling with crème patisserie.


Passion Fruit Puree

2 Passion Fruits

20g Caster Sugar

100g Water

2g Agar Agar

Drops of Yellow Food Colour

Dissolve the sugar in the water for 3-4 minutes. Add the agar agar and food colour and boil for a futher 3-4 minutes. Then add the passion fruit and strain and chill. Blitz before using in the crème patisserie.


Crème Patisserie

48g Double Cream

40g Passion Fruit Puree

27g Castor Sugar

1 Egg Yolks

7g Cornflour

24g Milk, Scalded

In a saucepan bring the cream, milk, passion fruit and half the sugar to a boil.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks, cornflour and the rest of the sugar until smooth. Dribble the cream mixture onto the egg yolk mixture whisk rapidly, returning to the heat until thickened. Cover the crème with plastic food film and place in an ice bath to quickly cool the passion fruit cream.


Fruit Filling

Handful raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and a kiwi.

2 Tbls Redcurrant Jelly

Gold Leaf

Dark Chocolate

Trim and slice fruit and arrange in the tart.

Melt and temper the chocolate and pipe onto silpat to form chocolate swirls or flowers.

Glaze with a redcurrant jelly heated with a little warm water.

Dress with gold leaf and a chocolate swirl.


White Chocolate & Summer Fruits Alaskan Bombe

My Candy Crush Bombe...

My Candy Crush Bombe...

Summer Fruits Ice Cream

180g whole milk

113 g white sugar

1 Tsp vanilla bean paste

1 g salt

4 egg yolks

170 g white chocolate chips

355g Double cream

255 g frozen summer fruits

Dry Ice Pellets to freeze

Heat milk and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until warm, about 5 minutes.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar and mix with milk to make a custard. Continue to cook and stir until custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir white chocolate chips into custard until melted. Pour custard into a large bowl and stir in heavy cream and vanilla paste. Transfer to the bowl of your stand mixer and begin mixing, adding dry ice until a thick scoop icecream has formed.

Blitz raspberries in a stick mixer until raspberries pureed.

Gently swirl raspberries into the soft ice cream creating ribbons of raspberries. Transfer ice cream to a cling wrapped bowl and freeze.

Raspberry Sorbet

500g summer fruits fresh or frozen

Squeeze of Lemon Juice

30g Icing Sugar

Blitz all the ingredients in a stick mixer and transfer to a sauce pan under the fruit is soft and simmering. Strain this mixture to remove some of the crunchy pips and seeds to your taste. Transfer this mix to the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the K hook, or paddle attachment, add the dry ice to create a stiff sorbet before transferring to the freezer to harden further.


5 egg yolks

110g (1 cup) caster sugar

3 egg whites

38g (1/2 cup) plain flour, sifted

20g cornflour, sifted

40g butter, melted, cooled

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease an 18cm springform pan with butter line with baking paper. Using an electric mixer, whisk egg yolks and 55g sugar until thick and pale.

Separately, whisk egg whites and a pinch of salt to soft peaks. Add remaining 55g sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, whisking after each addition until combined, to stiff peaks. Using a metal spoon, fold in one-third of the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture, then gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Fold in flours, then the butter.

Pour into the lined pan and spread the remainder into the tray. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and centre springs back when pressed with your fingertip. Cool in the pan and tray, then turn out sponge onto a wire rack.

Italian Meringue

330g caster sugar

4 egg whites

Pinch of salt

To make Italian meringue, combine sugar and 60g water in a saucepan over low–medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Brush down the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals forming. Increase heat to medium and cook, without stirring, for 4 minutes or until syrup reaches 115C on a sugar thermometer.

Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and a pinch of salt to soft peaks. With mixer on low speed, gradually add syrup in a slow, steady stream, then increase speed to high and whisk for 10 minutes or until stiff and glossy.

Invert pudding basin onto a plate. To remove basin, wipe a hot tea towel over, then lift the basin. Working quickly, spoon the meringue over the bombe, then using an off-set spatula or palette knife, spread evenly in a swirl pattern. To make spikes, using your fingertips, lightly and quickly pull the meringue all over. Using a kitchen blowtorch, caramelise meringue evenly, then serve the bombe Alaska immediately or return to freezer if serving later.

Surprise Inside Cake...


Most of the dramatic cakes I make are for birthdays of my own children and we have enough birthdays and special holidays between us to keep me busy without courting orders from friends and family! It has been known to happen (but not by many!) that I have found myself under so much pressure to produce a cake (or two if it is May!) that I have slipped a block of my mother’s floral oasis under the ornate and intricate novelty fondant to save time and hit the deadline…thankfully, no one ever used a knife on one of these or they really would have gotten A Surprise Inside !!

At the risk of being accused of 'missing the brief' on this challenge, I decided to avoid the classic Surprise Inside hidden picture madeira cake since it can be quite boring to eat, despite being pretty to look I decided to replicate a gift box and make the cake inside the box the real surprise...

 This cake was inspired by a chat I had with my then 7 year old daughter who had just gotten her first Tiffany’s Locket from her Granny who had won it in a golf competition. It came beautifully wrapped in bag, box and ribbon and I explained to her that Tiffany’s was one of the oldest jewellers in the world and even had a movie made about it, which of course she had to then see and absolutely thinks of herself as Audrey Hepburn! It seems to me that the palpable excitement that comes at the mere sight of that little blue box deserved a cake of it’s own...

And of course I wouldn't be me if I didn't overkill the surprise so I hid the Tiffany's cake inside a box made of white chocolate decorated with ribbons of love heart adorned tempered white chocolate..!

Suffice to say that after this challenge was completed, I was the Queen of Tempered Chocolate in the Bake Off tent...I had finally mastered the technique!



For the Cake

675g All Purpose Flour

24g Baking Powder

Pinch Salt

340g Butter Softened

675g Caster Sugar

6 Eggs Separated

300g Milk

Rind & Juice of Two Lemons


Preheat the oven to 180C and place the shelf in the middle of the oven.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside for a moment.

Using a stand mixer beat the butter until soft and smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and smooth. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition for a minute or so ensuring to incorporate any unmixed batter at the sides.

Alternately add the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in the rose water.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Stir a good spoonful of whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining whites in several additions. Divide the mixture roughly in two and add the teal food colouring to one half of the mix – stir through to get a uniform colour.

Spoon into the cake tins alternating white and blue . Smooth the batter level, then using a skewer, drag the colours into each other to create a marbled effect. Use a wet towel wrapped around the tin to even the baking process.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or just until the tops are springy or a cake tester comes out clean covering the top if browning too quickly when the middle is not fully baked.

Cool the cakes in their pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto racks.


For The Buttercream Icing

375g White Chocolate, Melted

500g Cream Cheese

255g Unsalted Butter, Softened

32g Lemon Juice

Icing Sugar to Taste

Two Punnets Raspberries

 Beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the melted chocolate. Beat in the butter and lemon juice and set aside until required.


For the Fondant Covering & Gumpaste Decorations

2k White Fondant

500g Gumpaste

Shortening to Roll

Tylose Powder

Teal Blue Food Colouring

 Use the fondant for the cake covering and the gumpaste to make smaller decorations such as the ribbon and pearls. Make according to how you would like to decorate your cake.

For the ribbons, dye an amout teal for the outside of the box and use the white undyed gumpaste for the inner box. Repeat the process for each –

Use a ball of paste about the size of a large marble for each loop. Roll it into a long sausage and using a rolling pin roll as thinly as you can. Cut two lengths the same, these will form the loops,  the length of them depends on the size of your bow, but if you want to make a 10 cm bow then each loop will end up about 4 cms when made, so the length of the flat paste should be double that plus a bit so about 10cms.  Use a stitching wheel and mark the edges to give them a fabric effect, using a ruler to keep the edge very straight. Dust the pieces with luster dust at this stage.

Turn the piece over and pinch the end, then fold over the other edge and pinch that in the same manner and pinch the two ends together.  Adjust the length until you are happy.                                                                                      

Repeat the process with the other “loop” piece and put them aside with a little crumpled up baking paper inside to plump them up while they dry. Roll out the tails the same way as you did the bows, but cut the pieces with a 45 degree angle at one end and mark the edges with the stitching wheel, luster dust them and pinch the straight edges. 

Make the centre from another piece rolled out the same manner but the centre knot only needs to be about half the length of the tails, edge it, luster dust it and then pinch both ends to make it look creased.

Put the bow together in this order, a tail, a loop the other loop, the other tail and then the centre knot.

Follow the tail detail again for the box side and top ribbons.


For the Gemstones

Isomalt Sticks or, Foxes Glacier Fruits and Mints which also work

Food Colours – Red, Blue, Teal, Green, Yellow, Pink


For the Gemstones

Use a small silicon dish or spare mould to melt and colour your isomalt sticks as the quantities required are tiny for each gem. Melt the required amount in the microwave taking care not to burn it and add colour as required using a skewer or tip of a spoon. Pour the molten sugar into the gem mould. If you see tiny surface bubbles, use a caramelizing torch to gently ease them out.


For the Chocolate Exterior

2kg White Tempering Chocolate Drops


For the Chocolate Decoration

Temper and Melt 2/3 of the white chocolate drops over a bain marie to a temperature of 43C, drop into the bowl the remaining 1/3 of the chocolate which helps cool the melted chocolate quickly, and is itself already in temper. When you get to a temperature of 27-28C.

Pour this chocolate into your mould shapes and spread quickly as it is quite cool and will tighten quickly.

Once set, you can work the pieces from their moulds and build a box in which to hide the cake above.



Once your cakes are cooled and sliced as you need for layering, build the cake into a square shape icing between layers with the chocolate buttercream. Place a layer of Raspberries in the middle layer and pipe a wall of Buttercream around to hold them inside. Complete the layering, saving the last layer to the side. Cut a square well in the centre of the cake about 4cm deep. Buttercream the cake and chill for a few minutes to make it easier to work with.

Line the top hollow with white quilted fondant. Line the underside of the spare layer with white quilted fondant also. Complete the cake by covering the sides with teal fondant, also cover the sides and top of the extra layer with teal fondant – this will be the lid of your box.

Before placing the lid on the box, pour the Isomalt gems and the string pearls into the hollowed our box.

Position the lid, ribbons and bow on the cake carefully.

 Place the White Chocolate box over the cake and decorate with the ribbons.



Indian Street Rolls with Cucumber Mango Salsa & Creamy Coconut Dipping Sauce

I tend to aim for the lowest common denominator when baking and cooking for the kids so that everybody eats together, and since the kids out number the adults in my house 3 to 1, my cunning plan has always been to raise the lowest common denominator by introducing lots of flavour and new food experiences in simple tasty foods that kids are drawn to – it works mostly so I still get to eat wonderful foods from a myriad of places J

 This bread encompasses flavours that we love and was inspired by Indonesian street foods I tasted when holidaying there.

 We usually make these in little hand held parcels like a Roti flat bread which is how I first experienced it, but this works well as a centre piece if we are having company and I don’t want to be standing by the oven for the evening fishing little individual stuffed breads out!

 These tasty little pockets make a regular appearance in lunchboxes, picnic boxes and for grab and run snacks between football matches at the weeks – they do equally well hot or cold.

Hiding inside this loaf is the most amazing flavour burst...NomNom!

Hiding inside this loaf is the most amazing flavour burst...NomNom!

Bread Dough

70g Course Wholemeal Flour

1 Teaspoon Runny Honey

1 Sachet Fast Acting Yeast

1 Egg

225g Warm Water

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

340g Strong White Flour

1 Teaspoon Maldon Salt

1 Egg to Wash

Sesame Seeds to Sprinkle

Chicken Stuffing

2 Fresh Green Chillies Deseeded and Finely Chopped

3 Cloves Garlic Minced or Grated

2 Onions Grated

1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger

250g Shredded Cooked Chicken

1 Tomato Finely Chopped

Vegetable Oil

Add the salt and yeast to the flours and mix to disperse. Then add the liquid ingredients and bring together in a stand mixer with a dough hook. The dough will be pretty wet looking but let it run for about 8-9 minutes and it will come together into a soft sticky dough. Pop this into an oiled bowl and cover until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile make your chicken stuffing starting with the chillies, garlic, onion and spices in a sauté pan over medium heat until soft and fragrant. Add the cooked chicken and tomatoes stirring through – this will cool your stuffing down quickly ready for the dough.

Take the dough from the bowl knocking the air from it and turn out onto a floured workspace. Roll it gently into a rectangular shape and lay the chicken mix on top spreading on one half of the dough sheet. Fold it over on itself encasing the filling being careful not to tear the dough. Allow to rise again for a further 40 minutes Egg wash the top and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 220C for 12 minutes, turning down the heat at that point to 190C for a further 25 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and serve solo or with some tasty condiments like these;

Cooling Cucumber Mango Salsa

1 Cucumber, Peeled, Seeded and Diced
1 Mango, Peeled and Diced into Small Cubes
½ Red Onion, Diced
The Juice of a Lime
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/2  Green Chilli, Chopped

Mix all the ingredients together and allow the flavours to meld together for a few minutes before serving.

Creamy Coconut Dipping Sauce

2 Garlic Cloves

2 Red Chillies, deseeded

2cm Piece of Fresh Ginger

5 Macadamia Nuts

4 Spring Onions

½ Tablespoon Corriander Seeds

1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds

½ Teaspoon Fennel Seeds

1 ½ cm Piece of Cinnamon Quill

Pinch Freshly Ground Nutmeg

½ Teaspoon Ground Turmeric

Splash of Vegetable Oil

200g Coconut Cream

Splash of Lemon Juice

Maldon Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Toast the spices for a few minutes in a dry pan careful not to burn them. Grind finely and Set aside. In a food processor, blitz all the other ingredients except the lemon, coconut cream and seasonings.

Heat some vegetable oil in a pan and add the paste cooking it through for about 3-4 minutes. Add the spices and continue cooking for a further 3 or four minutes. Add the coconut and simmer over a medium low heat for 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened somewhat. Season with the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe was inspired by Tom Kime who's Pratha provided the filling for my bread...this is a brilliant book for people who like to eat little tasty bites...

This recipe was inspired by Tom Kime who's Pratha provided the filling for my bread...this is a brilliant book for people who like to eat little tasty bites...

Craft Beer & Banana Bread

Banana Bread, Banana Buns, Banana Milkshakes, Banana French Toast, Banana Bread and Butter Pudding, Banana Waffles – we eat a lot of bananas in our house! Because we have bananas in our porridge every morning, and one in each lunchbox, we buy them pretty much in bulk…and this means that more often than not, we spend the weekend using the ones that aren’t so pretty anymore and so we have a raft of banana recipes that need those ugly black ones with the best flavour!

 Beer is something I don’t much care for, unless it’s adding a depth to a good recipe but the beer in this bread gives a soft delicate crumb and soft crust. Because I buy so little beer, I like to buy local hand crafted beers which supports the traditional skills and the local economy, while also being a great conversation piece when sharing food with family & friends!

 The beer in this recipe comes from The West Kerry Brewery, a microbrewery west of Dingle in Ballyferriter and while it isn’t widely available, it’s worth seeking out if you get the chance. Of course if you’re not from Kerry then seek out your own local craft beer and give it a run in this recipe…it will still be a tasty treat!

 (My kids have a ‘health eating policy’ in school which I found myself on the wrong side of a couple of times during the practice for the GIBO…you can imagine how it went down when Max announced that ‘today he was having bread with Chocolate and Beer in it'…never thought to mention the healthy bananas the little bugger!)

Banana and Craft Beer Loaf.jpg

Crafty Beer & Banana Bread


Bread Dough

250g Craft Beer

40g Soft Brown Sugar

45g Softened Butter

450g Strong Flour

2 Ripe Bananas, Chopped

1 Eggs

½ Teaspoons Cinnamon

Good Pinch of Freshly Grated Nutmeg

40g Malt Extract

1 Sachet Fast Action Yeast

½ Teaspoon Salt

100g Chopped Walnuts

250g Dark Chocolate Chips

Splash Vegetable Oil

Egg for Brushing

Honey for Glazing

Preheat the oven to 180C


For the Bread Dough


Melt the butter and warm the beer slightly in the microwave and add the yeast. Pour this mixture into the bowl of you stand mixer with the bananas, the eggs, malt, and flour and salt. Mix through scraping dry bits from the bowl if necessary. Using the dough hook, knead to dough until it becomes smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl – about 8-9 minutes. Mix through the walnuts at this point. Pop this into an oiled bowl and cover until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.

Turn dough out onto lightly flour work surface rolling into roughly a rectangle not being too rough with it. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the dough and then, starting from the long edge, roll it tightly over on itself encasing the chocolate chips but being careful not to tear the dough.

Allow to rise again for a further 40 minutes. Egg wash the top and transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes until cooked through.

Allow to cool on a wire rack and brush with some warm honey while still warm to glaze the loaf.

The West Kerry Brewery Craft Beer

The West Kerry Brewery Craft Beer

Choux Construction - Fruit Basket with Creme Filled Fruits

Preheat the oven to 185C


Sable Pastry

100 Chilled Butter Chopped

50g Icing Sugar

Pinch Salt

125g All Purpose Flour

1 Egg Yolk

Food Colours – Green, Yellow, Orange and Red

Make the Sable by creaming the butter and sugar together. Add the flour and mix then adding the egg yolk to bring the dough together. Add colours as required. Knead till smooth and flatten to a 2cm disc and wrap in film. Chill for 20 minutes.

Once chilled, roll the dough to about 1mm think and cut 6cm / 2.5” rounds for apples, bananas & oranges, and banana shapes, as needed.


3 x Choux Pastry

300g Water

Pinch Salt

100g Butter Chopped

120g Plain Flour

5g Caster Sugar

4 Eggs

I suggest making the choux pastry in lots for this recipes as there is a lot going on with the various elements and you want to keep it all even. At a minimum make it in two lots, one for the basket and two for the fruits.

Make the choux pastry by bringing the water and butter to the boil in a pan and shooting in the sifted flour and sugar. Stir this until it forma a ball and comes easily away from the sides of the pan. Reduce the heat and cook for another 3-4 minutes until smooth and glossy. Allow to cool or beat in a stand mixer until cooled somewhat and add the eggs slowly one by one. Transfer to a piping bag.

For the Basket – Pipe the pate a choux onto the outside of a silicon mould creating the shape you would like – I like to keep the work light here rather than having a heavy looking basket as there will be several elements added which you don’t want overpowered by a pastry heavy basket at this stage.

Pipe the Choux into rounds of 6cm / 2.5 inches, leaving sufficient room between them to allow them puff up. Sit a sable disc on each mound of choux without pressing it down. Bake for 25 minutes before turning the heat down to 120C and baking for a further 6-8 minutes – ensure they are cooked through and crispy on the outside before removing from the oven as the size of choux buns varies. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Pear Puree

4-5 Pears Peeled and Cored, in chunks

1 Tablespoon Caster Sugar

1 Tablespoon Water

Put all the ingredients in a pan and cover. Leave on a medium heat to soften the pears, Once softened, use a hand blender to puree the mixture and set aside to cool.


Apple Vanilla Crème Patisserie:

300g Apple juice

1.5 Teaspoons vanilla bean paste

6 Egg Yolks

75g Cornflour

112g Caster Sugar

30g Softened Butter, Diced

Place the pear puree, apple juice and vanilla in a saucepan until it just comes to the boil, remove from heat.

Combine egg yolks, cornflour and sugar in a large bowl, whisk until combined and smooth.

Gradually whisk hot puree mixture into egg mixture. Return mixture to saucepan, and whisk continuously over medium-high heat until the custard is very thick and flour is cooked out.

Transfer custard to a shallow tray or dish, cover closely with cling film to prevent a skin forming and place freezer for 10 minutes. Remove from freezer and gradually whisk in butter. Cover closely with cling film and refrigerate until later.


Apple Crème

200g Apple Vanilla Crème Patisserie

25ml Apple Juice (more depending on consistency)

150g Double Cream, Whipped

Fold all of the ingredients together and place in a piping bag refrigerating until required.


For the Pear Mousse

100g Pear Puree

60g Double Cream

200g Apple Crème Patisserie

100g Mascarpone

Whip cream until soft peaks. Place crème patisserie, pear puree and mascarpone in a bowl of electric mixer and beat until combined. Fold the whipped cream into crème patisserie mixture. Spoon into a piping bag and refrigerate until ready to use.


Salted Caramel & Banana Mousse

2 Large Very Ripe Bananas
225g Sugar
120g Water
15g Butter
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
Few Flakes of Maldon Salt

2 Gelatine Leaves
180g Double Cream

 Puree the bananas with a hand blender and soak the gelatine in some cold water. Whip the cream to a soft peak and reserve in the fridge.
Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan. Continue boiling until the sugar starts to turn a medium amber colour. Pull off the heat and let it continue to darken a bit more. Once it reaches a medium dark caramel, carefully pour in the pureed bananas which will slow the cooking process. Beat with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. If there are any lumps of caramel, return to low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and add butter, vanilla and Maldon salt to taste.
Drain the water from the gelatine and liquefy it by placing the bottom of the bowl in a pan of simmering water. Add it to the banana caramel whisk it through. Once cooled, fold whipped cream gently into the banana caramel and spoon into a piping bag.


Orange Marshmallow

6 Egg Whites

300g Caster Sugar

80g Golden Syrup

1 Teaspoon Salt

¼ Teaspoon Orange Blossom Water

Grated Rind of 1 Orange

For the marshmallow, place all of the ingredients except the orange flavouring in a large bowl set over a pan of simmering and whisk for 6-8 minutes until the mixture is smooth, silky and doubled in volume. Make sure it is very stiff continuing to whisk as the mixture is taken off the heat and cools down like an Italian meringue. Whisk in the orange flavouring and spoon the marshmallow mixture into a piping bag. Refrigerate until ready.


Caramel glaze

50g Sugar
10ml Water
30g Glucose
100ml Cream, Warmed
10g Butter

Place the sugar, water and glucose in a pan and bring to the boil slowly ensuring the sugar is dissolved before it boils. Continue to golden brown colour then add in the warmed cream to the caramel and stir through.

Turn off the heat and add the butter to give a glossy finish.


Hard Crack Glaze

200g Golden Caster Sugar

½ Teaspoon Vinegar

2 Tablespoon Golden Syrup

Red Food Colouring

Place all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil slowly ensuring that the sugar is fully dissolved before reaching boiling point. Using a sugar thermometer aim for 145C – hard crack stage. Remove from the heat and quickly coat your apple choux buns before the toffee sets too hard.


Spun Sugar

500g Caster Sugar

450g Water

Fill the sink or a large basin with cold water and line the worktop with parchment to collect the sugar strands you make.

Place the sugar and water in a pan over medium-high heat, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to occasionally brush down the sides of the pan to prevent crystallisation. Bring the mixture to 150C using a sugar thermometer. The sugar will cook very quickly towards the end, so watch closely to ensure it doesn’t burn.

As soon as the sugar reaches temperature, remove the saucepan from the heat and plunge it into the cold water. Allow the mixture to stand for a minute or two, to thicken slightly.

Hold the pan in one hand and a fork in the other. Dip the fork in the sugar syrup and stir. Remove the fork from the heat and hold it 5-6 inches above the prepared countertop. Rapidly flick the fork back and forth over parchment. The sugar syrup should create very fine strands of sugar that drape. If the syrup doesn’t create any strands, or the strands have a lot of “beads,” allow the syrup to cool for another minute. If the strands are very lumpy and difficult to form, re-heat the syrup very briefly.

To Assemble, place the pastry basket on a solid presentation surface and fill with spun sugar straw. Now arrange your fruits. Pipe the apples with the apple crème patisserie and glaze with the hard crack glaze to make toffee apples.

Pipe the bananas with the salted caramel mousse and glaze with the caramel glaze.

Pipe the oranges with the orange blossom crème patisserie.

Pipe the pears with the pear mousse.



"Not Caffrey's" Chocolate Mallow Tea Cakes...

Caffrey’s Mallow Teacakes have been a long established favourite in my house, both with the older generation, and the younger generation. Every Easter my Mum had a box in the treat cupboard and as with everything in our family, the tradition continues and my own children can sniff them out at 100 paces once the Chocolate season arrives..!

The teacakes’ chocolate dome is so perfect as to be almost impossible to recreate in a domestic kitchen…but of course put like that it sounds like a challenge… so we decided to give it a go… My Dad isn’t much for sugary sweet things, preferring instead traditional tarts and cakes, however it was his stamp of approval that launched our own mallow teacakes onto the ‘Must Make Again List’..!

Looking for novel ways to present my bakes, I used my Grandad's walking stick for these by threading it through with some of the pretty odd plates from my Gran's dresser...


Preheat the oven to 185C

Sable Pastry

300g Chilled Butter Chopped

180g Icing Sugar

4g Salt

500g All Purpose Flour

60g Ground Almonds

2 Eggs

Make the Sable by creaming the butter and sugar together. Add the flour, salt and ground almonds  mixing to breadcrumbs stage then adding the eggs to bring the dough together. Knead till smooth and flatten to a 2cm disc then wrap in film. Chill for 20 minutes.

Once chilled, roll the dough and cut 7.5cm / 3” rounds – you’ll need 12 so give yourself some leeway.

Bake these biscuits on a tray for about 10-12 minutes but bake well as they will be supporting the chocolate and the marshmallow tops and cannot be soft.

Set aside.


Raspberry Jam

Handful of Fresh Raspberries

1 Teaspoon of Caster Sugar

½ Leaf Gelatine

Sponge the gelatine and place the raspberries in a small bowl to microwave or in a very small pan and simmer. Crush the raspberries into a jam like texture. Add to gelatine and mix well. Either strain or leave the seeds in the jam according to your preference. Set aside to cool.



6 Egg Whites

300g Caster Sugar

80g Golden Syrup

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Vanilla Pod, Seeds Only

For the marshmallow, place all of the ingredients in a large bowl set over a pan of simmering and whisk for 6-8 minutes until the mixture is smooth, silky and doubled in volume. Make sure it is very stiff continuing to whisk as the mixture is taken off the heat and cools down like an Italian meringue.

Spoon the marshmallow mixture into a piping bag.


Chocolate Shells

Shiny Shells...

Shiny Shells...

900g Good Quality Chocolate about 55%

Melt 2/3 of the chocolate in a bowl set over a simmering pan of water. Leave aside to cool slightly as thicker chocolate will better line the moulds and ensure that the top of the biscuit is not too thick and the sides too thin. Carefully line the hemispheres and let to one side.

Dip the cooled biscuits in the melted chocolate, covering them on one side and the edges by either dipping or spreading. Place the coated biscuits onto parchment paper.



Re-melt the remaining chocolate, and place into a piping bag with a sealed end. Set aside to cool and stiffen up a bit. Spoon a tiny amount of jam onto each biscuit based, biscuit side up.

Pipe the marshmallow into each chocolate-lined mould just up to the top.

Snip the end off the chocolate piping bag and pipe some chocolate on the marshmallow and a rim of chocolate around the biscuit base and swiftly place the biscuit on top of the marshmallow filled dome.

Leave the teacakes to set until completely cool and sealed together and then de-mould the finished teacake.

Popcorn Crackers, Salmon Pate and Caramelised Pear, Blue Cheese & Basalmic Glaze

These little melt in the mouth biscuits came about by accident when I was playing with recipes for a sweet biscuit…I like to use a coarse wholemeal flour and am a big fan of Donal Creedon in Macroom who is the last man standing hand milling his own flour in Ireland as far as I know. Donal always warns me to cut his flour with white for bread and I duly ignore him and work with it as it is for the most part, however, using it in a fine sweet biscuit brought me to me knees one Saturday afternoon and I parked the dough in the fridge and started again. The following day however, I decided to bake off the abandoned dough and see what it tasted like and to be honest we loved it as it was, but thought it might be better with a seedier, saltier spin. We seeded, and we salted and Max announced that it was our Popcorn Cracker which is what it tasted like to him...

Biscuit Dough

180g Wholemeal Flour

420g Plain Flour

3 Teaspoon Maldon Salt Flakes

3 Teaspoon Baking Powder

75g Caster Sugar

225g Butter

3 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds

3 Tablespoon Poppy Seeds

2 Tablespoon Linseeds

6 Tablespoon Milk or more if required

A Little Melted Butter to Glaze

Preheat the oven to 170C


To make the biscuits, put the flours, salt, baking powder and sugar into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips. Add the milk and mix everything together to form a smooth ball.

On a floured surface roll out the dough to about 5mm thick. Cut out 12 rounds with a 7.5cm/3in fluted cutter.

Place the rounds on baking tray chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Make sure the biscuits are well chilled, to prevent them from spreading or shrinking when baked.

Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes or until well baked and cool on a wire rack.

As my savoury biscuits were presented to Biddy & Paul on biscuit Week...

As my savoury biscuits were presented to Biddy & Paul on biscuit Week...

Rustic Smoked Salmon Pate

150g Smoked Salmon

200g Extra Light Philidelphia

2 Heaped Teaspoon of Crème Fraiche

Good Squeeze of Lemon Juice

2 Tablespoons Chopped Dill

Ground Black Pepper


Pop all the ingredients except the dill into a food processor and pulse to a rough texture. Stir through the dill and serve with a savoury biscuit.



2 Ripe Pears

Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

300g of Blue Cheese

Couple Sprigs of Thyme

Drizzle of Runny Honey

Ground Black Pepper to Taste


These biscuits are delicious on their own or as part of a cheese plate with pear or fig crumbled with blue cheese, where the little sweetness balances the saltiness of the cheese, but the seeds lend a robustness to make them the hero of any snack. Saute the pears gently in the balsamic vinegar if you have time.

The Picnic Pie - Chicken & Ham with Cranberry, Apricot & Roasted Pistachios

My childhood memories are filled with picnics – on beaches, in parks, in our own garden and abroad on holidays everywhere we went we brought a picnic, and my parents still do. It was a tradition I loved and so I have carried it forward to my children who love a good picnic wherever it happens!

The avoidance of sand or grass filled sandwiches is always key to a good picnic and a one handed snack works brilliantly. I usually make this in the form of a Cornish Pasty for the kids and a Pie like this one if there are adults too as it lends a little sophistication! I love the way it looks particularly as the ingredients change depending on what’s in the fridge on any given day and it always draws Ooohs and Ahhs when it turns up in the lunchboxes at school!

The hot water pastry is a little unusual to work with given that pastry typically likes to be cool and not warm, but I love how forgiving it is when you are packing it with moisture releasing raw meats because that little pre-cook it gets from the hot water helps prevent a soggy bottom and lets the meat juices soak into the pastry giving it a great savoury flavour.

Size Matters..!

Size Matters..!

For the Pastry

·        375g plain white flour

·        375g strong white flour

·        2 Teaspoons Salt

·        200g Hot Water

·        140g Butter

·        175g Lard

·        1 Egg


1.      Butter & line a deep, 20cm round springform or loose-bottomed tin.

2.      Melt the butter and lard into a small pan with 200ml water bring to a simmer. Meanwhile combine the flours and 2 teaspoons of salt in a food processor.

3.      When the water and butter is just bubbling, pour into the food processor while pulsing until you see the dough coming together – this might need some help by hand.

4.      Empty onto your work surface and knead until it comes together in a workable pastry. Cut away a third for the pie lid wrapping in a tea towel to keep warm and pliable.

5.      Work quickly to roll the remaining dough into a circle large enough to line the tin with a little overhanging.

6.      Ease the circle into the tin, pressing evenly into the corners and side carefully.

7.      Place half the sliced ham, followed by half the chicken breasts and half the mince mixture, pressing firmly to pack. Repeat with the remaining ham and chicken, then a rounded dome of mince. Put a pie funnel, if you have one, on the top.

8.      Roll the remaining 1/3 of the dough to a circle large enough to cover the pie, cutting out a hole to let the steam out.

9.      Brush the edge of the pie with some beaten egg and top with the pastry lid. Press to seal the edges before trimming the excess. Crimp the edges between your thumb and forefinger to seal thoroughly, then make a small hole in the middle to let steam escape (if not using a pie funnel). Brush the top of the pie with more beaten egg.

10.   Heat oven to 180C and bake the pie for 60 minutes. After this time, carefully remove the pie from its tin, brush the top and side with more egg and bake for another 30 minutes until browned and crisp.

11.   Leave to cool completely on a wire tray before packing in a picnic basket, but we quite like this warm too if we are enjoying it at home.


Chicken and Ham Filling

·   1 Yellow Onion, Finely Chopped

·   1 Tablespoon Sunflower  or Vegetable oil

·   1 Tablespoon chopped sage

·   1 teaspoon Ground Mace or Chopped Marjoram if you don’t have Mace

·   3 Tablespoons Chopped Parsley

·   300g (3/4) Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs

·   1kg Lean Cooked Ham, Sliced

·   2 Large Carrots Grated

·   50g Shelled Roasted Pistachios

·   50g Dried Cranberries

·   50g Dried Apricots Chopped

·   ¼ Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg

·   700g Skinless Chicken Breasts Beaten Flat

·   1 Egg

·   Salt & Ground Black Pepper to Season


12.   Soften the onion in the butter with the sage and mace/marjoram and set to cool. Using a food processor, pulse the chicken thighs and about a third of the ham until you have a minced texture. Stir through the onion, nuts, fruit, grated carrot and the parsley. Season with nutmeg, black pepper and salt.

Eastern Rhubarb & Frangipane Tart with Ginger Crumb and Star Anise Syrup

When I was a little girl my Mother, who had exceptionally green fingers, grew a lot of our fruit and salad vegetables. Like most kids, fruit and vegetable weren’t some of my favourites and there are two standouts from those Good Life days…Rhubarb and Blackcurrants. Each seemed to grow with absolute abandon regardless of the weather or neglect, kids or footballs tramping through them…this of course to my growing distaste as I had come to abhor the seemingly ever-presence of both equally..! As time passed however, I have become a fan again of Rhubarb, and it espouses happy memories of those sunny summers J Blackcurrants, however, have never regained favour and to this day a pot of blackcurrant jam has never darkened my door! The dedication on this bake is an absolute awe of what my Mother managed to do with very little to ensure that each of us grew us with an appreciation of home grown, home made, home baked and home cooked.

I have given this old favourite an Eastern twist using spices and fruits from Iran and the Middle East…Almonds, Pomegranates, Cinnamon, Star Anise and Ginger are brilliant flavours combinations with Rhubarb…

Note: I usually bake this tart in a rectangular fluted pan as described because the rhubarb looks so pretty lined up like little soldiers, however, it then requires to be sliced to serve…I’m going to use individual tart tins to overcome this although it will result in a little less beauty, a little more pastry and a little less pillowey frangipane, but sure you can always eat two to double up on the good stuff!

This was how my station looked when the time ran out on Pastry Week

This was how my station looked when the time ran out on Pastry Week

Sweet Short Crust Pastry

·             225g Plain Flour

·             150g Cold Butter Chopped

·             40g Icing Sugar

·             1 Large Egg & 1 Egg Yolk

1.Preheat the oven to 180ºC and have either 35cm x 7cm tart tin or individual fluted tart tins ready.

2.Cream the butter, sugar and flour in the food processor until they resemble breadcrumbs. Add the eggs and the extra yolk and blitz until the dough comes together in a ball.

3.Briefly knead this into a round smooth shape, wrap and rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

4.Roll your pastry to about 3mm thick and carefully line your tart tin(s) moulding the fluted edges of the tin with the pastry. Return the pastry to the fridge for a further resting period of about 30 minutes. Line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking beans.

5.Bake for 15 minutes, removing the ceramic beans at this point and continuing to bake for a further 5-10 minutes until golden.

6.Set aside to cool completely.


Poached Rhubarb / Jam

·             10-12 Stalks Pink Rhubarb

·             50g Golden Caster Sugar

·             Rind and Juice of One Orange

·             1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

·             2 Star Anise

·             1 Cinnamon Stick

·             2 Pieces Stem Ginger Chopped

·             2 Tablespoons Stem Ginger Syrup

1.Place all the ingredients in a good size saucepan and bring to a simmer.

2.Add the trimmed rhubarb and simmer. Remove 12-16 pieces for decorating when still al dente and continue with the rest for a total of about 10-12 minutes until tender – this will depend on how thick your stalks are. Reserve a little of the poaching liquid or your jam will be too runny.

3.Cool the jam on a shallow tray and reserve to the side.

4.When the jam is completely cool, spread a thin layer in the bottom of your baked pastry case.


Frangipane Cream

·             150g Butter softened

·             150g Caster Sugar

·             150g Ground Almonds

·             Few Drops of Almond Essence

·             3 Eggs

1. Whisk the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

2. Add the eggs one by one giving a full minute to mix before making the next addition.

3. Add the almond essence and ground almonds and mix well.

4. Spoon this mixture into the cold tart shell and spread to the edges up to ¾ full as it will rise somewhat because of the eggs.

5. Top the tarts with your reserved rhubarb and bake for 30 minutes at 170C or until golden and cooked through.

6. Glaze the tarts with the reserved poaching syrup while still warm from the oven and leave to cool.


Ginger Crumb

·            50g Butter

·            65g All Purpose Flour

·            25g Golden Caster Sugar

·            ¼ Teaspoon Ground Ginger, or to Taste

1.     Mix the ingredients together in a bowl with your fingers until you have a fine crumb.

2.     Refrigerate this mixture until you need to bake it.

3.     In a 200C oven bake the crumb on a baking tray watching carefully until it’s golden brown. Remove and set aside.

Star Anise Syrup

·            75g caster sugar

·            Juice of ½ lime

·            2 star anise

·            150ml water

Pomegranate Molasses to Taste


1.Place the sugar, lime juice, star anise and water into a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat slightly and boil for 7-8 minutes until thickened to a light syrup. Check tartness and add the molasses a drop at a time depending on taste. Take off the heat and leave to cool completely. Strain into a squeeze bottle.


Cinnamon Crème Anglaise

·            400g Milk

·            1 Vanilla Pod, Seeds Scraped

·            I Cinnamon Quill

·            4 Egg Yolks

·            1 Teaspoon of Cornflour

·            32g Caster Sugar

 1.     Scald the milk, cinnamon quill and vanilla pod over a medium heat.

2.     Meanwhile whisk the eggs, cornflour and sugar until pale and creamy to the ribbon stage.

3.     Pour the hot milk over the eggs whisking constantly until it thickens.

Crème Fraiche and Pomegranate Seeds to Serve 

Serve your tart simply, sitting on a squiggle of star anise syrup beside a little mound of ginger crumb. Gently sit a quenelle of crème fraiche on top. Sprinkle the plate with pomegranate seeds.


Tracy's Chocolate Orange Cake

Tracy’s Chocolate Orange

When my sisters and I were little we learned early that Terry's Chocolate Orange was our Dad's favourite treat and so it happened that instead of socks or aftershave, every birthday, Christmas and Father's Day brought a wave of chocolate Oranges. When my own children were savvy enough to figure out that Granda Sean seemed to get an inordinate number of Chocolate Oranges each year they asked about it and immediately bought into his affiliation for Chocolate Oranges, not least because they are suckers for family genes and traditions, not to mention chocolate treats!

Years ago when I was making my first cakes I came across Nigella's Clementine Cake and found it an easy starter cake. As my confidence grew, we morphed Nigella's cake with the Chocolate Orange tradition to create a special Easter Cake - Tracy's Chocolate Orange. Of course the presence of the beautifully moistening fresh fruit in this creation allows us to count a big slice of this as one of our Five a Day!

As is ever the case with baking, and kitchen stuff generally, I have made a few changes here to suit the challenge so the Chocolate Orange continues to morph!

Plan ahead when making the orange layer of this cake either as part of this layer cake, or as a stand alone cake which is equally gorgeous...simmer your oranges the evening before and let them cool in the pan overnight. I sometimes double or triple the amount of oranges required for this recipe and store the extras in a Kilner Jar for the next time. With the poaching liquid and maybe a drop of Cointreau they will keep for months.


Orange Cake

* 375g Fresh Mandarins (4-5)

* 6 Large Eggs

* 225g Caster Sugar

* 250g Ground Almonds

* 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Butter and line a 9" cake tin.

2. Put the mandarins in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours. If time is an issue use a pressure cooker but if you think ahead, you could do this the evening before. Drain and allow to cool a little. Cut each clementine in half to remove the pips. Blitz the whole fruit in a food processor.

3. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, and add the wet ingredients including the puréed fruit and the food colouring if using. Mix to fully incorporate but don't over mix.

4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for one hour, checking after 40 minutes or so to ensure the top is not browning too quickly. Cover if necessary. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

No Egg Chocolate Orange Mousse

* 150g Mini Marshmallows

* 50g Soft Butter

* 250g Terry's Chocolate Orange Broken into Pieces

* 60g Hot Water

* 284g Double Cream

* 1 Leaves of Gelatine

1. Sponge the gelatine in a little cold water.

2. Line a 9" cake tin with acetate, bottom and sides.

3. Melt the marshmallows, butter, chocolate and water in bowl over a pan of boiling water, or very carefully in a microwave oven.

4. Meanwhile, whip the cream until thick, and then fold into the cooling chocolate mixture until you have a smooth, cohesive mixture. Stir in the gelatine until completely dissolved.

5. Pour into the acetate lined tin and leave to set in the fridge, or if under time pressure, in the freezer.

Chocolate Cake

* 310g Self Raising Flour

* 250g Golden Caster Sugar

* 135g Dark Muscovado Sugar

* 2 ½ Teaspoons Baking Powder

* ¾ Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda

* 150g Cocoa Powder

* Pinch of Salt

* 335g Soft Butter

* 5 Eggs

* Couple of Drops of Pure Orange Oil

* 335g Sour Cream

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 180°C, butter and line a 9" cake tin.

2. Sift your dry ingredients in a bowl.

3. Cream the butter until fluffy and gradually add the sugars creaming continuously for about 5 minutes. Add the orange oil. Add the eggs one by one and incorporate well between additions.

4. Add half the flour folding carefully, add half the sour cream and repeat until you have used all the ingredients.

5. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes or a little longer but checking regularly.

6. Cool on a wire rack.

Crystallised Oranges for Decoration

* 2 Large Oranges

* 250g Caster Sugar

* 500g Water

* Extra Caster Sugar for Sprinkling

1. Slice the oranges very finely following the equator line, discarding the ends – use a mondoline if you have one to get perfectly thin slices.

2. Bring the water and sugar to the boil and reduce the heat to simmer.

3. Add the sliced oranges to the pan and simmer for two hours – the poaching liquid will have reduced to about a third of the starting volume.

4. Reserve the poaching liquid to apply between the orange and mousse layers on the cake.

5. Place the orange slices on a baking sheet or silpat having coated them in caster sugar and bake for an hour in a very low oven, about 90 degrees.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

* 420g (15) Egg Whites

* 1000g Soft Butter

* 850g Caster Sugar

* 240g Dark Chocolate

* 2 ½ Tablespoons of Cointreau or a Few Drops of Orange Oil

(This might seem like a shocking amount of buttercream but it’ll give you loads of options for decoration!)

1. Put egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl and stand over a pan of hot water on the stove.

2. Whisk this mixture constantly until sugar is completely dissolved – use a sugar thermometer a remove when the temperature reaches 60C

3. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl of your stand mixer

4. Mix on medium-high with the whisk attachment until frothy and doubled in volume.

5. Reduce speed and slowly add one piece of butter at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding another.

6. Once half of the butter is added you can increase mixing speed and add the rest more quickly.

7. Increase speed and mix on high for 5 minutes.

8. Add in the Cointreau or Orange Oil.

9. Then change to the paddle attachment and mix slowly to remove air bubbles and until icing reaches desired consistency.

10. Divide the mixture into two bowls – one will be orange and one will be chocolate

11. Into one portion, fold the melted chocolate until combined and into the other fold a few drops of orange food colouring until uniform colour is achieved.

12. If your icing it too soft, pop it in the fridge but don’t leave it too long or it will be too hard to use.

13. Use a piping bag to decorate your cake as you like.

Building the cake

This cake can be layered in any order, although the mousse layer doesn’t usually do so well at the bottom! Choose a cake for the base layer and paint it with the reserved poaching liquid from the orange slices and a good dollop of the meringue butter cream. Carefully flip the mousse layer onto the base layer having removed it from its acetate mould.  The mousse will get squeezed a little at this point but if it’s set you should be fine…use your palette knife to smooth the excess and straighten your sides. Top with the chocolate cake layer. These layers can be reversed depending on your preference and the density of the finished cakes. If you choose to be artistic you could split one or both sponges and have a four or five layer cake – chocolate at the bottom, then orange, mousse, orange & chocolate again on top…stripy!

Use the buttercream as a crumb finish on the cake before you attempt to pipe and chill at this point if you have time. Pipe decorations on the top and/or side of your cake and decorate simply with the crystallised orange slices which will give a beautiful contrast to the chocolate palette on the cake.

I styled the presentation of this cake very simply without any fuss…on a cake plate with some ivory handled knives of my Grandmothers and a pot of floral tea for an Old Fashioned feel...I also added a few slices of Terry’s Chocolate Orange for old times sake..!