You know about me and brioche by now, we’re involved and it’s serious. I would normally be telling you to add absolutely nothing to the buttery perfection of a good brioche dough, why would you? But for those days when you feel like embracing a more is more attitude, give these babies a try. Crunchy pistachios and sweet tangy apricots manage to hold their own against the richness of the brioche, and they’re even better torn in half, smothered in jam and served as breakfast in bed.
If you own a madeleine tin then, chances are, it’s your favourite tin to bake with. Maybe you get a little misty-eyed each time you butter-up those pretty shells thinking about the tiny Parisian store you brought it in on a sunny August day that seems all too long ago now; or maybe you’re just after a sexy little cake to nibble on with your morning coffee – either way, these nutty little guys are for you.
This delicate little tower of puff pastry represents the meeting of two very different, very beautiful things – French ostentation and crisp English cool – and it’s all thanks to gin. With a juniper-infused pastry cream and lemon slices candied in Tanqueray, this mille-feuille recipe has a lightness and subtlety to it that I love. It’s a taste of France, laced with an English summer’s night, which is pretty much my idea of heaven.
This week I finish my course at Le Cordon Bleu and just between us, I’m crushed. I knew I’d love it, but I hadn’t expected to feel quite so heartbroken to be saying adieu. For the past 12 weeks my life has revolved around becoming better at the thing I love, and the thought of that delicious baking bubble bursting, well quite frankly, it blows. That said, I’m really excited to take what I’ve learnt and create some seriously kick ass recipes, which I will of course be sharing with you all on here in the coming weeks and months. Turns out Picasso was right – “inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” – I’ve never really understood him until now. For now though, here are the last of my Cordon Bleu creations, loving made with the dulcet tones of French chefs ringing in my ears.
Is there anything better than butter? Really. Think about it. It’s the melt in all of those truly wonderful melt-in-the-mouth moments of indulgence, the crumble in well made biscuits and the flakiness in only the very best pastries. We’re involved, me and butter, which is why I’m a sucker for a tart, especially a pretty, individually sized tartlet filled with almond cream and raspberries. These beauties are such a treat, and a real celebration of all that butter does best.
I can’t quite believe it but I am already four weeks into my pâtisserie course at Le Cordon Bleu – I seem to have somehow lost July in a sea of pastry cream! The weeks have flown by and I now spend my days trussed up in my chef’s whites, learning the very best French techniques and tips from a team of wonderful chefs. I’ve also made a fabulous bunch of friends, collectively known as the Bad Ass Bakers, and one of our intrepid group, Erin, is blogging about these wonderfully crazy weeks at school – take a look at here blog here. I thought I’d put together a gallery of all of my fabulously French creations as a record of what I’m learning and so that you guys can take a look, so, voila, hope you like them!
In an attempt to prove that I don’t live on cake alone, I thought I’d give artisanal French bread a whirl for a change. The Fougasse flat loaf is a traditional French bread that is often shaped and slashed to resemble a fern leaf and left hanging elegantly in the windows of French bakeries. Well, fern leaf might be pushing it this time around, but fresh out of the oven, torn into pieces and slathered with good butter, I quickly forgot about my artistic failings. You will too.