Lemon meringue pie recipe - the cheffy way

Tuesday, February 19, 2019
120 individual lemon meringue pies with raspberry mojito sorbet in a gazebo in a field in the middle of nowhere? Why sure, no problem.
When you're catering on a larger scale rather than at home, you break down the components of each dish into more easily manageable steps.

Lemon meringue pie breaks down into:

  1. Tart cases
  2. Lemon filling
  3. Meringue. 

When you make a single lemon meringue pie at home you probably make your tart case, bake it blind, then remove the baking beans or flour parcel add the filling, bake that, then add the meringue on top and bake that.

When you're catering you have to transport everything from your kitchen to a venue which could be up to an hour and a half/ two hours away and involve motorways down to windy single track country lanes before finally going off road, so things have to be done a little bit differently. There's just no way of transporting the delicate meringue topping if you still want everything served to perfection, so you just make it there on the field, and have the lemon tart mix and tart cases ready to go.

Another difference with catering is you have to think of food safety - you don't want to give 120 people food poisoning from uncooked eggs (meringue doesn't get the eggs to a safe temperature) so we use pasteurised egg whites, which these days you can find in larger supermarkets normally near the ambient pastry and margarine.

Smaller sized lemon meringue pies for a dinner party trio of desserts
Different types of meringue
I tended to make two types of meringue - French and Italian.

  • French - Uncooked, the one you're most familiar with. You whip the egg whites, then slowly add the sugar, then critically, leave it beating for a further 5 minutes. Then you bake it. 
  • Italian - You heat sugar and water to 116 oC. Whip the egg whites and once they're up to soft peak, gently add the hot sugar syrup. If the egg whites were at room temperature, the hot syrup cooks the whites. Then carry on whipping to firm peak. This is cooked and stable meringue and can be refrigerated.  

Wedding Catering Pressure for Fresher
Anyway, with 120 lemon meringue pies at this wedding, I was making Italian meringue and needed to make it in batches. Time was getting on. I'd made the first batch fine.

With these particular lemon meringue pies in the catering gazebo in a field in Wales, I was having egg white nightmares. I'd taken my Kenwood mixing machine to make the meringue (you always have a generator on hand for power), but making meringue from liquid egg whites rather than fresh is slightly different. Maybe the bowl wasn't 100% grease free, maybe the egg whites were too cold (they mix best from room temperature). But the second batch of meringue would not whip properly - kept collapsing. No stability. Ahhhhh!

The guests were almost sitting for their starter. I'd wanted to get all the lemon meringue pies made before the starter, because once that main course goes, it's a race to get the kitchen cleared and the dessert plates up and ready. But there was just no way that was going to happen.

As soon as the starter had been sent out I was whipping up the second batch of meringue and had them piped just in time to get the main course in to the oven and get it out on to plates. Then the minute we'd plated the last one I was back on the third batch of meringue. 

The waiting staff, meanwhile, were putting out all the dessert plates and the other chefs were adding the other elements. As they started sending the desserts out I was just glazing the lemon meringue pies from the fourth and final meringue batch with the blow torch. Phew. Made it. Just. If you could see behind the scenes sometimes.......

Lemon tarts (no meringue) at another wedding back in 2010
The pastry recipe comes from My Home Recipes and the filling comes from the New Cranks 
Recipe Book (now not so new). 

Pastry Case Recipe 

This is the shortcrust pastry recipe that changed my pastry making - it just works so well and consistently.

Makes 2 x 8" tarts. Just, or 8 Individual fluted

2 cups plain flour (220 g)
1tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
85g butter
85g lard
90 ml water

To do

Mix together everything but the water with your fingers till it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add water and mix together to make a dough. Lightly flour the work surface and knead the dough briefly till it get a smooth even consistency. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 20 mins. 

When you roll out your pastry roll it out slightly larger than your pastry case as shown here. Blind bake the cases with the flour parcels as shown on that link, or baking beans for c. 20 mins till golden. Then remove flour parcels and brush the bases and side with beaten egg sealing up any holes as shown here. This also strengthens the sides of the tart case and replace back in the oven at 180 oC for 6 minutes.
Now holding in an oven cloth, you can trim the edges of the pastry so the pastry is flush to the top of the tart case, and remove it to a cooling rack. 

You can make the bases up to a week in advance and keep on a tray covered with clingfilm or an airtight container (but be careful not to move them too much as they can be fragile). Place them somewhere they are not going to get damaged with them either falling off a shelf, or something heavier falling on top of them and crushing them into a million pieces. I found the front of the van was a great place for storage of the pastry cases - the one safe place.

Lemon Tart Filling Recipe (Same for Lemon Meringue Pie)

250ml double cream
Zest and juice of 5 lemons
285g / 10 oz caster sugar
9 medium eggs

Mix it up all in one mixing bowl - that's the easy part. 

There's 2 ways you can cook it:

  • You can pour this mixture in your tart cases and bake them at 160 oC till set (20 - 25 mins for small ones, c. 1 hour for large ones) 
  • You can pour the filling mixture into oven proof casserole dish and bake in a bain marie like a creme brulee till set (c. 30 - 40 mins). 

The second option is ideal for making in advance - a day or two before and keep it cool in the fridge.

To cook, put the mix into a deep tray, then put that into another larger deep tray and top up the second tray with water so it comes 1/2 way up the lemon tart mix tray. This ensures even cooking and stops it burning around the edges of the tray. Cover the top of the tray with tin foil. Bake in the oven for 45 - 60 minutes at 160 oC till set. Take out the oven carefully to avoid spilling, or getting water in the lemon tart mix. Leave to cool before covering and refrigerating till use. 

Italian Meringue Recipe
Another recipe seared onto the memory - it came back while driving to work. It was an American recipe, so in cup measurements (1 cup being 250ml).

  • If you're using pasteurised egg white, most cartons have measurements for the number of egg whites on the side, otherwise it's useful to know that one egg white is 30g.
  • If your egg white is coming straight out of the fridge I found you can blast it in the microwave on defrost for 30 seconds. Might need another 30 seconds. Test with a temperature probe. You want it to be around 20 oC before you start whipping for optimum meringue. Also if it's too cold all the heat goes out of the sugar and it doesn't cook the whites, so then the meringue collapses after a while. Tried and tested that one. 

1 Cup caster sugar (225g)
1/3 Cup Water (80ml)
5 Egg whites (150g) at room temperature 
1/4 tsp Cream Tartar

How 2
  1. Heat the caster sugar and water in a pan. Brush down the sides occasionally with water to stop it crystallising. Heat to 116 oC which you can test with a thermometer.
  2. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites in your electric mixer with the whisk blade till you reach soft peak stage. 
  3. Keep the egg whites whisking. Once the sugar syrup reaches 116 oC pour very slowly into the whites as the machine is still whisking. Add the cream of tartar. 
  4. Keep beating for 5 minutes till thick and glossy. 
  5. Now it's ready to use, or refrigerate. 

Lemon Tart and Meringue Pie Assembly
When it's time to serve your lemon tart / meringue pie spoon the cooked lemon tart mixture into the tart cases and level off with a palette knife.

If you are making lemon meringue pie you pipe the meringue on top now and glaze it quickly with a blow torch. If you are using the Italian meringue recipe above the meringue is cooked already so you're good to go. 

If you are making lemon tart, sprinkle with demerara sugar and glaze the top with a blow torch so you have a crème brûlée like crunchy topping. This will last about 1 hour. Do not try and put in the fridge once glazed as the moisture in the fridge softens the glaze to a syrup and the tarts go soft, and your wonderful dessert is no longer so wonderful.

Raspberry Mojito Sorbet
See recipe link here.

1001 Kitchen Tips #72 - How to make halloumi not stick to the grill pan + awesome halloumi marinade recipe

Friday, February 15, 2019
The flavour in grilled halloumi comes from those bar marks. Kind of annoying when the halloumi sticks to the grill pan and the bar mark layer is left on the pan though, isn't it?

I've tried flouring it, which can also be done with gluten free flour. But after a few rounds your grill pan is clogged up with excess flour, and you might not want an extra flour coating anyway.

Why does halloumi stick to the grill pan?

Try this method instead!

A piece of greaseproof paper directly on to the grill pan. You don't even need to oil it. If the greaseproof paper burns too much after a few rounds of halloumi you can just replace it for a new sheet.

How stress free this makes your life.

Awesome Halloumi Marinade 

2 tbsp Veg oil
2 tbsp Thai style sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp Light soy sauce
1/2 tsp Lemon grass, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Lemon curd
1 tsp Lemon juice
1 tsp Sherry vinegar
1 tsp Ketchup
1/2 tsp Ginger
1/2 tsp Sriracha

Mix all these ingredients together in a mix bowl. Whisk to combine.
Cut halloumi into slices. Place in a new food safe plastic bag - the marinade gets more contact using a bag. Place haloumi in the bag and the marinade over both sides. Tie it closed carefully - don't want it to leak or damage the slices of halloumi.
Place on a tray in the fridge for as long as you can so the halloumi soaks up maximum flavour. It will keep for 3 days.

Deep Fried Cajun Spiced Halloumi Snax

Cut the halloumi in to chip shapes.
Mix some dried mixed herbs and cajun spice into plain flour.
Dredge the halloumi in the spiced flour and shake off any excess.
Fry at 180 oC for a minute or two till crispy.

Papas Arrugadas

Papas Arrugadas or Canary Potatoes as we also know them. Cooked in so much salt they have a salty crust on them. Originally they would have used sea water, but these days you use tap water with tons of salt.
The pic here on my ipod doesn't quite do them justice - they were really crusted all over with salt. 
My grandparents found Tenerife back in the early 80's. Back then you played cards in the library, dressed up for dinner and repaired to the drawing for brandy or liqueurs. Going back twice a year (November and the whole of February) they met up with a social scene of fellow English holidaymakers of the same age who kept going back to - a home from home.

Every night it would be a different restaurant - there were lots to choose from, many of which now have sadly closed as the younger generations tastes have moved on, and the owners of the restaurants have retired. Most of the restaurateurs knew their regular customers, even though they came out only twice a year - that's how to keep people coming back!

One of the must have accompaniments for every main course was the papas arrugadas served with mojo sauce which comes as either green or red, based on green or red chilli peppers. We've always tried to reprocate the sauce, but never quite got it as nice. A work in progress. Green seems to go better with fish, red with meat.

Up to last year I had also never quite ventured into trying those potatoes, but they were the ideal accompaniment for whatever Spanish theme menu I was doing that night.
Image result for canary potatoes

You say Papas, I say Patatas

The Spanish word for potatoes is Patatas as you know from patatas bravas. Papas is the word they use in Latin America. It was the Incas who brought potatoes over from Latin America in the 1500's, at first as a plant, nobody really wanted to eat them.
In truth we don't have quite the right potatoes in this country. In Tenerife it's Papa Negra. The nearest I could find was Jersey Royals because of the hard earthy skin.

This is more salt than you can think is humanly possible, but hang in there- they're going to be amazing potatoes!


750g Jersey Royal Potatoes (if out of season small King Edwards might work well)
150g Sea salt
Water to cover

How to

Put the Potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add the salt. Bring to the boil and boil for about 20 minutes till soft. Drain the water and put the potatoes back in the pan on a low heat to boil dry. This is what makes the dry salt crust on the outside.

If you're cooking these in advance I found you could reheat them in the oven on a tray with foil over for about 15 minutes @ 180 oC.

Potato Roses Recipe

Beware making something nice for a wedding tasting - you might have to reprocate it on the wedding day itself!
And so it proved with these potato roses.

Your wedding is your special day. There's no second take, so you have to try everything possible to make it the best you can. I certainly tried to push out all the stops for the weddings we catered for and often made things nobody else would do because they're just too time consuming and which increase the pressure in the kitchen on the day. But I always loved the challenge. 
We were making these late in to the night prior to the wedding day, kind of wishing I'd never had the idea. Then they chill overnight and you can reheat them through the oven just before serving. 
You need to start with Maris Piper potatoes - they are fail safe crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. There's a great video here which shows how they're done. That recipe uses bacon as well - what a great idea!  

8 large Maris Piper Potatoes - look for a more oven tubular shape, peeled
100g Butter, melted (might need slightly more - depending on how you go)
Fresh thyme, taken off the stalk as individual leaves
Fresh garlic, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper. You could try using smoked salt.
Image result for potato roses
How to lay out potatoes
It's a good idea to make sure the potatoes are at room temperature. I kept mine in the fridge to keep them fresh, or outside in the winter, so when I was making these potato roses I left the potatoes out in the kitchen to come up to temperature.
If the potatoes are too cold when you mix the melted butter through, the butter solidifies before you have time to lay them out. 
However, if the butter does set you can nuke them in the microwave for a minute or so just to melt the butter again and you're good to go.

  1. Before starting, lightly butter a muffin tin. 
  2. Slice the potatoes thinly on the mandolin. Discard the end pieces (you can bake these separately as crisp snacks with some olive oil & salt). You just want nice big potato slices. 
  3. Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl with the melted butter, garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Mix together very well, trying to separate out each slice of potato. 
  4. Lay out the potato slices on your kitchen work surface as above. Start with one slice, then overlap with another and so on in a line. I found 16 - 20 slices made a decent portion. 1 line makes one portion. 
  5. When you have laid them all out, roll them tight like a cigar from the bottom to the top. Then place in the muffin tin as seen above and unfurl slightly into a rose shape. They spread out more as they cook - as you see below. 
  6. To bake I found the best way was at 160 oC for about 45 minutes, then turn the oven temperature up to 180 oC for further 10 - 15 minutes to crisp them up. Test them with a knife - the centre should be soft like chips. If they are not cooked in the middle but golden on the edges cover in tin foil to stop them browning and allow them to carry on cooking.  
  7. Lift out of the muffin case with a mini palette knife. 
  8. If you are cooking these in advance, halt them at the 45 minute point where they are still just soft in the middle, but not fully crisped up, like the ones at the top of this page. At this point you can cool them, cover them and refrigerate them till you want to use. They should last 3 days in the fridge. 
  9. Then, when you want to finish them off, place in a preheated oven at 180 oC for 10 - 15 minutes till hot, crisp and golden.

Fish Finger and Cheese Sandwich

Ask a chef their favourite food they like to eat in their downtime and it's likely to be something 1. easy to heat and 2. easy to eat. Beans on toast, noodles or fish finger sandwiches. That's if they actually get downtime. It's like we regress to childhood when it comes to comfort food.

Chef Ross likes to take fish finger sandwiches to the next level and puts sliced cheddar on top and puts them under the grill to melt the cheese. He put them on the menu at the pub he had and they flew out of the door at lunchtimes. What's not to love?

This particular sandwich refuelled us on Christmas Eve 2017 before the Christmas Day rush.

Don't use fancy bread here - it just wouldn't be right, we're trying to summon greasy spoon caf here. Dirty sandwiches.
Image result for fish fingers
Kids favourite
4 Slices of sliced white bread
Salted butter
10 Fish fingers
Cheddar cheese sliced - enough to cover 2 slices of the bread
Ketchup (optional)
Tartare sauce (optional)

Grill the fish fingers. When hot arrange cheese on top and put back under the grill to melt.
Butter bread. Slide cheesy fish fingers on top. Spread to ketchup or tartare sauce if you like. Eat like you haven't eaten all day. If you're working in a kitchen it's quite possible you haven't.

Pom Rum - Pomegranate Rum Recipe

Pomegranates are a fruit, so you can drink pomegranate rum and lemonade safe in the knowledge you're getting 1 of your 5 a day!

I became obsessed with pomegranate seeds after falling in love with the Ottolenghi Jerusalem book. On salads, on slow cooked shoulder of lamb, mixed through cous cous, in kachumber, made into a salsa, scattered over starters.

What's not to love about pomegranates? They're full of vitamin A, C and E, Iron and anti oxidants. They're healthy living, taste great, make a great garnish and they're also helping Afghan farmers to switch from growing opium poppies as the demand for pomegranates is getting a great price for farmers.
Image result for pomegranates
This pomegranate rum came about on a Monday - after clearing up weekend returns from dinner parties. What to do with the leftover pomegranate seeds? That is before I could found out you can freeze pomegranate seeds.

After my raspberry whisky, blackberry vodka and blueberry gin this seemed like a good combination. There was always rum lying around in the store from making raspberry mojito sorbet.

This mixes very well with lemonade as a long drink with a little ice - refreshing on a summer's night. Crunch the seeds as you drink.

Pomegranate Rum Recipe

750ml Rum - spiced
200g Pomegranate seeds (see how to remove in the cordial recipe below)
100g White caster sugar

Put these 3 things in a large enough jar or plastic container. Seal the top well, then shake to combine the sugar. Place in the fridge and shake again every day. After 7 days it should be ready.
You need to keep this in the fridge as the pomegranate seeds will start to ferment otherwise (as I once found out). Will last in the fridge for months, theoretically, but it's so nice there's not much chance of that.
Careful how much you drink! This is the morning after the night before at a charity ball - looks like someone took the tablecloth with them!
Another guest at the same event as above had clearly had a few and modified a napkin into a hat. 
For a non alcoholic version you can make a pomegranate cordial by dropping the pomegranate seeds in hot sugar syrup.

Non Alcoholic Pommegranate Cordial 

After trying the soft Korean drinks which have bits of rice or jelly in, I'm a fan of drinks with bits. That's what I was going for with the pomegranate cordial below - you crunch the seeds as you drink. You probably want ice in there too (didn't have any that day - the freezer was full of food instead).
Non alcoholic pomegranate cordial
Pomegranate Cordial Recipe

250ml Water
250ml White sugar - caster or granulated
2 Pomegranates
  1. Pummel your pomegranates and cut them in half. Bash the base with a large metal cooking spoon and the seeds drop out. Wear an apron, unless you want to wear some pomegranate juice. 
  2. Remove pith from the seeds. 
  3. Place the sugar and water in a pan with the pomegranate seeds. Heat gently till the sugar dissolves. Keep on a low simmer for 10 minutes. The water should reduce slightly and some of the pomegranate seeds should burst to release their juice. 
  4. You need to keep this in the fridge as the pomegranate seeds will start to ferment otherwise (as I once found out). Will last in the fridge for 2 weeks, theoretically, but it's so nice there's not much chance of that.
  5. To serve dilute like squash with water, sparkling water, lemonade or tonic water

Crème brûlée

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Crème brûlée - everyone's all time favourite dessert!

Assiette of desserts with creme brulee, Prosecco and berry jelly, chocolate coated strawberry, eton mess and sticky toffee pudding
Luckily for chefs it's also one of the easiest in terms of making and serving, and it's also pretty cost effective too. 

It's also one of those recipes that is imprinted on the brain. AND I've got a super quick way of preparing it - cut the faffing around!

Crème Brûlée Recipe
Makes 4 x 150ml ramekins 

500ml Double Cream
6 - 7 egg yolks (depends on how hard you would like them set & also the size of your eggs)
100g Caster Sugar
About 1/4 tsp Vanilla paste (I used an intense one full of vanilla seeds. If you use a cheaper one you may need more - taste and see!)
Demerara sugar to serve

  1. Preheat oven to 140 oC.
  2. Mix all these ingredients together in a mixing bowl with a whisk till well combined. 
  3. Place ramekins in a deep baking tray.
  4. Mix the brûlée mix up once again to make sure it's evenly mixed before pouring. 
  5. Pour into the ramekins from a jug up to 1 cm from the top of the ramekin. 
  6. Pour water in the baking tray to come 1/2 way up the ramekins. This ensures even cooking and they don't burn on the edges. 
  7. They will take about 45 minutes in the oven.
  8. Take out of the oven carefully and check they're done - they should feel set when gently shaken. You can poke a skewer into the middle - the custard should be solid, not runny. Note - they firm up as they cool down. 
  9. Allow to cool and refrigerate till needed. 
  10. To serve sprinkle a generous layer of demerara sugar on top and glaze with a blow torch till the sugar caramelises evenly. The topping stays crunchy for about 45 minutes so you want to be doing this just before serving. Also nice to serve with homemade shortbread. 
To make the mini brûlée you can scale the recipe to the amount you need to make. The pots I had were 30ml, so you can get 20 of those from this mix. 

Assiette of desserts with creme brulee, chocolate torte, eton mess, lemon tart and mini bread and butter pudding

  • Add raspberries to the ramekin before you pour on the brûlée mix. You'll need slightly less brûlée. Or add poached peaches as well for a peach melba brûlée
  • Orange brulee - add some orange segements and slightly reduce the cream mix and replace it with Grand Manier or Cointreau - 25ml or so.
  • For cinnamon fans out there try a festive cinnamon and honey brulee. You can infuse the cream with a cinnamon stick.
  • Lemon grass crème brûlée - infuse the cream with 2 sticks of chopped up lemongrass. Nice after a thai meal or curry. 
  • Lavender - infuse the cream with lavender. You have to check with your guests they like lavender - it's lovely, but not to everyone's taste sadly. 

Why is my crème brûlée runny?

Either not cooked long enough or not enough egg yolk to cream ratio. For years I used to make the above recipe with 5 egg yolks to 500ml cream. It makes a nice soft set. But it takes longer to set  in the oven and if you are transporting them to a venue as I was, you really want a firmer set so I increased it to 6 or 7 yolks per 500ml of cream depending on the size of the eggs. 

Should crème brûlée be hot or cold?

One guest complained once that they're crème brûlée was served cold. At home, a lot of people put them under the grill to glaze the sugar. The only problem with this is it heats up the custard too. With a blow torch it just glazes the top without heating the underneath. Nice, if you're used to it that way. 

Can you freeze crème brûlée?

Actually yes - you can! When they're cooked and cooled pop them in the freezer. Then they just need defrosting for a few hours, or overnight in the fridge prior to glazing and serving. You can't tell they've been frozen. 

How long does crème brûlée last in the fridge?

4 - 5 days at the most. 

Organic Cotswold Brie Brioche

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
These Brioche Parisienne buns make for an interesting cheese course!

For my tasting menus I used to try and introduce people to all the amazing ingredients you can find in the Cotswolds. Once, in between dropping off frozen meals around Stow-on-the-Wold I stopped by Kirkham Farm near Upper Slaughter where they make Simon Weaver's range of cheeses. One of the workers stopped production to serve me. Interesting to see how it's made, and the volumes!

That's the great thing about the Cotswolds - you can pick ingredients up straight from the farm - always interesting to hear production stories first hand.

Here they are in action!

Brie Brioche Recipe 
You can make these plain, without the cheese. Or change the brie for chocolate chips or date & walnut. You can use fresh yeast, but I found Doves Farm instant dried yeast very easy to use and easy to keep on hand.
I got the brioche tins from a charity shop back in 2006 - charity shops are great places to find kitchen equipment bargains.
The recipe I use is from the Bread book by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno which I have modified slightly to make in my trusty Kenwood Mixer rather than making by hand. I started off making bread by hand, but then I was making so much I couldn't keep up and turned to the mixing machine for help.
375g Strong bread flour - try Shipton Mill
2 1/2 tsp Dried yeast
2 tbsp Caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp Salt
5 eggs, beaten up
175g Unsalted butter, softened + extra to brush the brioche tins
Eggwash - either whole egg and a drop of water, or just the egg yolk with a dash of water
Organic Cotswold Brie, cut into pieces - judge the size by the size of the brioche tins


  1. If you're using a mixing machine with dough hook, add the flour to the bowl with the dried yeast , sugar and salt. Add the beaten eggs and mix on the slowest setting for 10 minutes to knead till the dough is soft and elastic.
  2. Cover with a tea towel and leave for 1 - 1 1/2 hours till risen and doubled in size. Knock back, then leave for 10 minutes. 
  3. Add the softened butter and mix in on slow speed. Once the butter is incorporated keep going on slow speed for 5 minutes for a second kneading, then rest for another 5 minutes. 
  4. Grease 10 brioche tins (8cm diameter, 5cm deep) with the extra softened butter. 
  5. Divide the dough in to 10 pieces with a pastry scraper. We're making these into cottage style buns, so then cut each of those 10 pieces into 2 so you have one large piece for the base and 1 small piece for the top - roughly 3/4 and 1/4. 
  6. Roll the brioche base in your hands till round and smooth. Place in the greased brioche tin.
  7. Place a piece of brie on top as the picture above and press down slightly so it stays in position. 
  8. Roll the smaller brioche dough ball and sit it on top of the brie. Press down slightly so it sticks to the base. Make sure the piece of brie is covered by dough. 
  9. Allow to prove for 30 minutes-ish. This depends on the heat of room the dough is in - if it's cold it takes longer, if it's a hot summer's day it will be faster. They should double in size.
  10. Brush the tops with egg glaze. Place on a baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 oC until glossy and golden. Turn out and leave on a wire rack.

Note:  Oven temperature may vary depending on your oven. The original recipe says 220 oC. I found 200 oC worked well in my Blue Seal Turbofan oven.

For the brie brioche buns above I served them with an extra slice of brie so you've got the contrast to the baked one in the brioche. Then garnished with caramelised orange, pickled fig, pickled cherry, walnut and dried barberries (from the Turkish shop).

Nutella Delice for World Nutella Day

Tuesday, February 05, 2019
This year's humble offering (better late than never) is based on a idea from visiting Pasteleria Kruss in Cartagena. It's about layers. Nutella sponge, creme patisserie, Nutella chocolate ganache and hazelnut buttercream finished with hazelnut praline on top.

Here's an interesting thing - Ferrero use 25% of the world's supply of hazelnuts. There was that time a few years ago when the hazelnut harvest went down due to the frost. A little fluctuation in the price of hazelnuts must cost multi millions. It made the stock of Nutella go down for sure - that's never a good thing!  

If you can't find ground hazelnuts for the sponge you can grind your own in the Vitamix like I did - comes out with a great texture! 
This would ideally be fridged for a few hours to set before slicing. I gave up waiting - it's been a long day, so the creme pat was a bit soft. Patience eh?

Hazelnut sponge
3 Egg whites
150g Icing sugar
3 eggs
150g Ground hazelnuts 
50g Plain flour
25g Unsalted butter

  • Whisk the egg whites and 50g icing sugar to stiff peaks. 
  • In a separate bowl mix 100g icing sugar and 3 eggs till thick and creamy
  • Fold in ground hazelnuts, flour and butter
  • Fold the hazelnut flour mix and egg white mix together. 
I forgot and added all the icing sugar to the egg whites, then whisked the whole eggs on their own. Still turned out fine. 

Line a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Spread the sponge mix on to the paper lined tray so it is a thin layer. I made 2 baking trays worth.
Bake at 160 oC for about 6 - 8  minutes till just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.   

Chocolate and Nutella Ganache
50g Plain chocolate
125ml Double cream
75g Nutella

Heat cream and chocolate, then pour over nutella and blend together. 

Vanilla Creme Patisserie

250ml Milk
3 Egg yolks
50g Sugar
1 1/2 tbsp Plain flour

Heat the milk till just off the boil. 
In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks, flour, vanilla and sugar. 
Add a little of the milk to the egg yolk and sugar mix and whisk in.
Return to the pan and allow to thicken, stirring frequently. 
Place a greaseproof cartouche on top of the creme pat to stop a skin forming. Allow to cool. 

Hazelnut Cream

75g Unsalted butter, softened
150g Icing sugar
50g Nutella
50g Hazelnuts blitzed down to a paste

Cream the softened butter and icing sugar till thick. Fold in the hazelnut paste and Nutella. You may need a little warm water to loosen it. 

Candied hazelnuts - whole/ praline and pulled sugar spikes

The candied hazelnuts really finish this off well.

150g Caster sugar
2 tbsp Water

Hard core chefs just use sugar, no water. I like to make life easy and add water.

  1. Caramel likes medium heat. Brush around the edges of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water every so often - this stops the sugar crystallising. Caramel doesn't like being stirred - that makes it crystallise too. Sugar needs a bit of respect.
  2. When you're at caramel colour drop the hazelnuts in. Make sure they are evenly coated. Keep them moving in the caramel for 1 minute, then take them out with a fork on to a tray with greaseproof paper to cool. 
  3. Now take the caramel pan off the heat and dip it in cold water to stop it cooking. Wait till it cools and thickens just enough so it's like the consistency of golden syrup. 
  4. Make a clear piece of work surface where you can hang the hazelnuts. Put newspaper or tin foil on the floor below so the caramel drips on to that rather than the floor. Then you can fold it up afterwards and bin it - nice easy clear up. 
  5. Stick the hazelnuts onto cocktail sticks, through the side, not the middle or they fall apart. Dip into the caramel and hang over the edge of the work surface using jars, tins or mugs as weights to hold the skewer in place.
  6. If it cools down too much you can put the caramel back on the heat, then go back to stage 3. 
Once they are set they are delicate and best left in position until needed.

Layering up

Line a 1 lb/ 500g loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Now have fun layering them up!
Trim the sponge using a ruler so it fits the size of the loaf tin. Divide the hazelnut cream, creme pat and ganache in half. Make 2 layers of each with a layer of sponge in between each. A spoon dipped in hot water is most useful in smoothing the hazelnut cream, creme pat and ganache layers. 

Alternatively, you could consider making it a single layer of each so it's more of a tea cake style thing.  

Cover and refrigerate to help set it before slicing. 
Best served at room temperature. I let it set, then sliced it, then let it come up to room temperature. 

Previous Nutella Day recipes: