For those of you that have followed this blog for a while, you’ll know me and pistachios, we’re involved. There’s something delicate yet striking about them, all jade green and flecked with pink, so it was to my favourite nut I turned, when creating a birthday cake for my mum last week. The result was a light, moist, pistachio sponge laced with rose water, filled and covered with a pistachio French buttercream. I’ve never attempted a tiered cake before either but I was chuffed with how it turned out; chic, a little extravagant and completely delicious.
Apparently, there are those that walk among us who don’t like mince pies. I know, Kanye cray, right? I love them, they are Christmas as far as I’m concerned – fruity, fragrant, flaky little friends that turn up every December, spreading festive cheer. That said, on top of my usual batch this year, I thought I’d try something altogether more French in an attempt to convert the haters. Inspired by a mince pie truffle that I devoured the other week, my chocolate mince pies are made with an orange sweet pastry, a traditional mincemeat filling and topped with swirls of milk chocolate ganache. Ooh la la!
For those of you looking to French-up your Christmas baking this year, why not give these beauties a go? Not only do they taste great, and look fantastic piled high on a cake stand, but they also give you the chance to utter the words,”chouquette anyone?” which may just be the chicest thing you can say at a Christmas party. Rolled in spiced candied peel and dried cranberries, these little choux pastry bites are beautiful, simple to make and ridiculously moreish. I wrote the recipe for the www.allaboutyou.com so to grab it simply click here. You might also like my cranberry and cheese party bites or maybe the Christmas puff pastry twists too, hooray for Christmas pastries!
I like a moose. While reindeer prance, I get the sense that a moose struts, so there’s that, that and the noses, the noses kill me. This will explain me using my Christmas ginger biscuit recipe as an excuse to play with a giant moose cookie cutter – we’re talking 12cm tall here people, another thing I like about moose, height. The recipe is a heady mix of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange wrapped in a sweet, sticky cuddle of soft brown sugar and maple syrup, guaranteed to give you that first whiff of Christmas in the run up to the big day.
Apologies for the radio silence these past few weeks, I was deep in revision mode for my final exams at Le Cordon Bleu which I’m pleased to say all went well. I am now the proud owner of an Intermediate Patisserie certificate and could not be happier. Graduation is in a few days time so I thought I would share with you all my final LCB bake, the Charlie Brown Christmas cake. We made the cakes at the start of term back in September, and the chefs have fed them with rum each week, so, hello drunk! Our last couple of classes were then dedicated to decorating the cakes and voila, Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Woodstock on a glitter-strewn, snowy cake. Hooray!
So, in the run up to Christmas I’ll be posting festive recipes with added oh la la, starting with some sublime ginger moose biscuits on Friday (moose are cooler than reindeer, there I said it), and then the New Year will see me heading out on my own, making and selling my baked goodies, writing recipes, applying for pastry jobs, and generally surrounding myself with cake. The blog won’t miss a single step of this crazy ass journey so please do keep checking back, commenting and being brilliant.
I was quite happy to call this cake The Tequila Smash but, my entry-level piping skills aside, the cake turned out to be a little too sophisticated for a comedy moniker in the end. Like any truly great cocktail, a cocktail cake is all about your ratios, so keep the hit of alcohol to either the sponge or the icing, never both. On this occasion, I went for a zesty lime sponge topped with margarita-infused, two-toned iced roses. I say roses, although swirls might be a more accurate description, but the thought was there and more importantly, so was the taste.
As far as birthday cakes go, this is a bit of a stunner. Pillowy meringues sit on top of layers of light, fluffy sponge, filled and iced with lemony mascarpone. The decoration is based entirely on a recipe and design from Fiona Cairn’s The Birthday Cake Book, but rather than risking a brand new recipe for my sister’s birthday centrepiece, I called upon some old favourites. I often take this Avengers Assemble approach for special occasion bakes and this time it was Hugh’s (Fearnley-Whittingstall) meringues and Jane’s (Asher) sponge that had my back.