Tag Archives: pastry

Pumpkin Pie

I have a brand new favourite when it comes to autumnal dessert and it’s an American classic, pumpkin pie. You can forget apple pie, pecan pie and even Mississippi mud pie my new love is pumpkin. Actually scratch that I don’t think I could choose a favourite, how about we just say I love pie! Now first off I must say this recipe isn’t groundbreaking, it doesn’t use any weird ingredients. In fact the recipe comes from the back of a can, the Libbys pumpkin purée can to be exact. Yes I really am posting what must be the most commonly used pumpkin pie recipe around, the pastry recipe is one of mine though and hopefully it might encourage other Brits to try this American classic. Continue reading

My Week at Le Manoir

Well what a week this has been, and rather apt too it being National Baking Week and all. I spent the week at Le Manoir, Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin starred restaurant in Oxfordshire, baking in the pastry kitchen. The first thing you should know about the restaurant is that it is beautiful, probably the most attractive setting for a restaurant I have seen in this country. It is set in a beautiful building surround by large perfectly managed gardens, including a large vegetable garden. I have to admit that the first day or so were fairly nervous for me. This was the first professional kitchen I have ever worked in and I guess I just felt a little out of place. This was also whilst I was working in the service side of the kitchen. The pastry kitchen doesn’t just serve the restaurant it also makes things for the hotels breakfast and afternoon tea as well as all the bread for the whole operation. The service side of the pastry kitchen deals with the restaurants desserts and because there is a very fast turnaround it gets very busy during service and a little stressed meaning I sometimes felt a little lost with everyone running around me.

I started the week making ice cream and sorbet bases including a wonderful pear and anise sorbet. Because a lot of this kitchen is prep work before service I peeled a lot of apples and segmented loads of grapefruit, which according to Monsieur Blanc I wasn’t doing as perfectly as I should have been. He actually seems like a very nice guy and came across very well the two times I met him. The second section I worked in is called the tour kitchen and is responsible for all the breads, cakes, and afternoon tea. I loved working this section, I got to make so any different things from start to finish including large batches of their famous lemon cake, huge batches of bread, masses of petit four and many many other things. I was so impressed with the output of the kitchen. The desserts look completely stunning and everything I tried was great. The breads were also amazing, I especially loved the sourdough. The chefs were all very welcoming and gracious with there knowledge and helped make the experience as inspiring as it was. I came away tired (12 hour shifts starting at 5.30 will do that to you) but with loads of ideas.

Nanaimo Bars

I seem to have formed many of my childhood memories around food, for example I remember being shocked as a six year old being served a whole fish, head and eyes included, on holiday in France, or ordering  “dos of them please” pointing at doughnuts in spain when I was seven and not knowing a word of the language. Sometimes the food in those memories sticks with me for years. One of those memories is Nanaimo Bars. When I was eighteen I spent a month travelling across Canada from Calgary over to Vancouver Island, travelling across the Rockies and visiting family in Vancouver. It was one of the best holidays I have ever had and the memories will stick with me for a very long time. The two foods that I often crave from the trip is Tiger Ice Cream and Nanaimo Bars. Tiger Ice Cream is so different and wondeful, its licorice ice cream swirled with orange ice cream and trust me the stuff is seriously good. Nanaimo Bars come from a town in western Canada and they are a stupidly simple, no-bake recipe. They are rich and indulgent so of course I love them. This recipe was given to me by Jane of http://www.virtuousbread.com/ (on twitter as @virtuousbread) and its really good. Continue reading

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I have noticed a lot of internet searches looking for my oatmeal raisin cookie from episode two of The Great British Bake Off so I thought I would do a post with the recipe I used on the show. If you want to know the backstory of the recipe you can read this. The recipe is simple and easy to make, the only thing that is a little different is the use of milk powder and very finely chopped white chocolate to add a milky/creaminess to the cookie. I have changed it slightly from the published recipe, if you want a thicker slighty cakier version use the one in the this months BBC Good Food Magazine. Continue reading

Pate-a-Choux

In my continuous attempt to become a better baker, so that one day I can do what I love professionally, I thought it would be a good idea to get some sort of reference book that covers all the bases from different doughs and pastries to cakes, muffins, tarts and cookies and so on. I had thought of going with the Bo Friberg book but in the end I settled on the new book from the French Culinary Institute, which I have always dreamed of attending. The book is impressive in its 500+ pages with lots of colour pictures. I’ve only just scratched the surface of the book but I think it will be a good reference to have.  As anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time will know I like to experiment, in the last year and a half I have cooked over 80 different recipes, and next on my list to tackle was Pate-a-Choux. Continue reading