Tag Archives: great british bake off

Tart Tuesday: Chocolate and Coffee Ganache with Roasted Hazelnuts

Guess who’s back… back again… Tart Tuesday’s back… ok so it doesn’t really work. Anyway, the point is that it was a particularly emotionally draining week on The Great British Bake Off with both Paul and Mary seeming to have woken up on the wrong side of bed that morning (separate beds hopefully) and all of the fantastic bakers took a verbal hammering. To counteract the distressing nature of this viewing we made our most indulgent mini tarts to date! These little artery-cloggers are filled with a ganache made with both dark and milk chocolate, coffee liqueur and then topped with chopped, roasted hazelnuts.

Once again we used the same pastry as featured in all of our Tart Tuesday posts but as this is a fridge set tart the pastry was rolled out to pretty thin (around 5mm) and then placed in the same loose-bottomed tart cases that we’ve used throughout (thanks Nanny Bird for those!). The base of it was then pricked with a fork and a piece of greaseproof paper placed in each, filled with baking beans and then baked blind for just under 10 minutes at 180°C, then the beans and greaseproof paper were removed and it was baked for a further 10 minutes or so until lightly golden and firm. Leave these to cool fully while you make the ganache.

Chopped Chocolate

We used a mixture of half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate to give a semi-sweet filling as no sugar is added. Finely chop 100g of your desired chocolate and place in a jug for easy filling of the tarts. Place 65ml of double cream in a small pan over the lowest heat and slowly heat until it begins to steam, at this stage tip in about 1 tbsp of liqueur. If you wanted to miss this step and make them non alcoholic just used 75-80 ml of cream instead. We used a coffee liqueur but orange, raspberry, almond, hazelnut or probably many others would be delicious too.

Once you have added the liqueur to the cream watch it closely and once it starts bubbling slightly pour it over the chopped chocolate immediately. Let this mixture stand for 30 seconds to 1 minute to let the hot cream do it’s work, and then using a whisk bring the ganache together. You will end up with a much better, glossier ganache if you try not to introduce much air at this stage so don’t whisk properly, just gently use the whisk to mix until you have a rich, glossy mixture. Pour this into the cold pastry cases and then put in the fridge to chill – ours chilled for about an hour and a half and had a beautiful truffle-y texture. You can leave it just simple like this or top with it anything you like, we used chopped roasted hazelnuts made by roasting a small handful of whole hazelnuts at 180°C for 5 minutes, chopping once cool and sprinkling on top.

Chocolate Tarts

Enjoy… Who do you hope wins Bake Off?

Tart Tuesday: Egg Custard Tarts

Hmm….. bit of an epic fail this one really! Some combination of warm filling, raw and very thin pastry and loose bottomed tart tins resulted in all of our carefully crafted custard being spread over the baking tray (thank GOODNESS we put them on a baking tray!) within approximately 3 seconds of the tarts going in the oven. We didn’t even manage to close the oven door before they sprung a leak – probably a very good thing in hindsight! Wish we’d taken a photo, it was so comically tragic but we were too busy having a strop (Bird) and rescuing what was left of the precious custard (Fats).

However our evening was not lost, in what can only be described as fate (not a word we use lightly) Tesco had our favourite biscuit/cookie type affair (these bad boys) on offer for £1 and there was only 1 packet left. See? Fate.

When Bird returned triumphantly clutching the cookies Fats had rescued and cooked a good amount of the custard which was cooling in the fridge. So, during The Great British Bake Off although we missed our tarts, an Extremely Chocolatey Cookie dunked in cold custard wasn’t the worst thing in the world…..

You may turn your nose up but try it.... it's like milk and cookies amplified!
You may turn your nose up but try it…. it’s like milk and cookies amplified!

Tart Tuesday: Tarte au Citron

Just a mini post tonight, it was of course Great British Bake Off night (how amazing was Christine’s Bavarian clock??) so it was time for another Tart Tuesday! Because we had some simple grilled plaice for dinner we plumped for a lemon tart for dessert. Bird has made a tarte au citron before but it was with a shop bought pastry case and it was a large one – miniature ones made from scratch were untrodden ground!

We used one of the portions of sweet shortcrust pastry that we made last week and froze, you can find the recipe on our Nectarine Frangipane post. Take it out of the freezer 24 hours before you want to use it and put it in the fridge to defrost, then just take it out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before you want to use it – easy! So the same as before, roll out the pastry, place it in mini loose-bottomed tart cases (we greased with butter and then coated in a little flour) and chill it in the fridge for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Prick the pastry with a fork, fill the tart cases with baking beans after lining with foil or greaseproof paper and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or so until firm, then remove the baking beans and bake for 3-5 minutes more until dry and pale gold in colour.

So here’s where this one differs a little from last weeks – the pastry has to be cool before you add the filling. We blind baked our cases before dinner, ate dinner and then filled them afterwards so there wasn’t any unnecessary hanging around. Once they’ve cooled make up the filling.

Ingredients (for 2 mini tarts plus some extra)

  • 2 eggs
  • 50ml double cream
  • 90g caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 and a half lemons

Heat the oven to 150°C. Simply whisk the eggs for a few minutes and then stir in the other ingredients, it’s as easy as that! Pour the mixture into your cooled pastry, the easiest way to do this is to place the tart cases on a tray, fill them most of the way up, carry the tray carefully to the oven and slide it in and then fill them up the rest of the way while they’re in the oven. These need to bake for around 15 minutes but keep an eye on them, we turned the oven down to 100°C as they had coloured on top and were still very wobbly! They’re cooked when they have a very, very slight wobble.

Now what you should do is leave them to cool for at least half an hour, release them from the tins, then chill them down more (partly in the fridge) for another couple of hours so they are set firm with a lovely soft texture. We did not do this. There was Bake Off to be watched, Bird had a blood test earlier, Fats had a hard bike ride home – we were in need of a treat and sharp! So ours were a little… gooeyer (it’s a word!) than they were intended to be but they tasted ah-may-zing. What will we make next week? Dare we attempt a custard tart?

Lemon tart

Tart Tuesday: Nectarine and Frangipane

In light of the new-found pastry confidence we’re going to attempt to bring you a mini tart recipe every Tuesday because, if you’re anything like us, you’ll understand the need for a tasty treat while watching Great British Bake Off. So after work tonight Bird knocked up a batch of sweet shortcrust pastry using the recipe below which is taken from a Jamie Oliver recipe. This will make far too much for two little tart cases so we will be freezing it in mini tart case sized portions and then defrosting it on a Monday every week ready to fill and bake on a Tuesday! For tonight’s Tart Tuesday the filling is frangipane and fresh nectarine. We have some nectarines which are on the turn (ooh-err!) and thought they would be perfect nestled in a bed of almond-y goodness.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 125g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • a splash of milk

Sift the flour and the icing sugar together into a large bowl, and then rub the butter in until the mixture is pale gold with a fine breadcrumb texture. Throw in the beaten egg and 1-2 tsp of milk and start to bring together, adding more milk if needed until it just comes together. Make sure not to add too much milk at the beginning because it barely needs any and you can always add but you can’t take away. Bring it together with the minimal work required so it doesn’t become tough and then wrap the ball of dough in cling film and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour before you want to use it.

From this point on you can do what you like, this is the point you would freeze it, you could use it to make a large tart, a medium pie, or as we’re going to  – mini tarts. We divided the pastry into 4 and froze 3 of these. Just remember to blind bake it first to avoid the dreaded soggy bottom!


Frangipane Filling (this makes a bit too much for 2 mini tarts, but who can be bothered splitting eggs? I’m sure you’ll find some other clever use for it)

  • 65g unsalted butter
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 65g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tbsp plain flour

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well until it becomes smooth and pale. Using a metal spoon fold in the ground almonds and flour, mix well and it’s ready to use, or you can refrigerate it until you need it.

So, to put these beauties together, roll out the pastry to around 0.5 cm thick and place in a greased tart case. Place this in the fridge for at least 10 minutes before baking. Prick the base with a fork and then blind bake them in an oven preheated to 190°C for 10 minutes, remove the baking beans and allow to colour in the oven for a further two minutes. Scoop in lots of the gorgeous frangipane mixture, try and spread it out but don’t worry – it will even as it bakes. Top with some slices of fruit. We used nectarines as we had them in, but some other lovely options would be peach, apricot, fig (very seasonal), pear – basically any soft fruit you can think of! Drizzle with a little honey, these tarts are very sweet but they’re dinky so it doesn’t get too sickly. If you were serving them at a dinner party rather than sat in front of the tv like us then a dollop of crème fraîche would be perfect.


Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until fluffed up and golden on top. Leave to cool in their cases for as long as you can bear and then release them and tuck in, preferably when they’re still slightly warm!


We absolutely loved these, they were sweet and soft inside with a really crisp pastry shell and then a burst of fresh flavour from the nectarines. We’ll get thinking about next week’s flavour… maybe lemon tarts? Or pear and chocolate? Any suggestions will be gratefully received!


Paul Hollywood’s Bacon and Stilton Bread

Well it’s official – we’re obsessed with Bake Off! It has its detractors (masonry my arse – did you see that peacock?? Magnificent!) but we love it and we can’t wait to see what they bake up next. We’re celebrating bread week with something that’s definitely not one of our recipes – Paul Hollywood’s Bacon and Stilton bread, taken from his book Bread.

This book is packed with doughy pictures. And some bread.
This book is packed with doughy pictures. And some bread.

We love our own recipe for bread, and make it all the time – we rarely buy bread any more – but sometimes it’s nice to try something new. Bird received Paul Hollywood’s book as a present earlier this year (if anyone’s reading – more recipe books please!) and it’s great! We’ve been working our way through it and the recipes usually work a treat (although some of them are more challenging than others) and the meal ideas that accompany the breads are all delicious. We’re working up to trying some of the enriched doughs with our new food mixer – thanks nanny Bird! – and broadening our doughy horizons.

Paul’s recipe for Bacon and Stilton bread is super easy. It’s pretty similar to our recipe done with pure strong white flour, butter rather than oil, 2 or 3 rashers of bacon, and a lump of Stilton – we used about 40 grams. The only things to remember are that because of the salty bacon and Stilton, we used a bit less salt than we usually would, and because of the fatty cheese and butter (Mmm fatty – Fats) you should use flour to cover the surface where you’ll be working it instead of oil, since oil is a bit fatty itself.

We made half the amount suggested (by halving all the ingredients) and found that it made a really stiff dough, but this was easily remedied by adding a bit more water than suggested. The dough came together really nicely in the end – I think we’re really getting to know our breads!

Our bread looks a little craggy next to Hollywood's rolling hills...
Our bread looks a little craggy next to Hollywood’s rolling hills…

You’ll see from the pictures that we have a lot to learn when it comes to shaping bread! Not to worry though, it tasted absolutely delicious, and I think the man himself would be proud of our “regular crumb structure” and a complete absence of soggy bottoms! We ate it with the celery soup as suggested in the book, which was another winner. Although I think Paul’s food processor must be a bit better than ours as we struggled to put it through a sieve afterwards to achieve the silky texture – I think next time we’ll be going straight for the hand blender.

The soup was creamy and delicious! Definitely not as healthy as the name would suggest, no negative calories here...
The soup was creamy and delicious! Definitely not as healthy as the name would suggest, no negative calories here…

You can find some of Paul Hollywood’s actual recipes on his BBC page, and in our experience they’re pretty good. We’ll keep your posted on our adventures into enriched dough land… In the mean time, we’re looking forward to next week’s floating islands and wizard hats!

Baked Plums with Vanilla Cream

We’ve been pretty crazy for desserts recently, and in celebration of the return to our televisions of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry (yes, we’re Bake Off nerds – are you surprised?) we thought we’d post another sweet recipe. This recipe for baked plums is criminally easy, quick and absolutely delicious.

Start off by preheating the oven to 170°C.  Halve your plums and take out the stones then place them on a baking sheet, flat side up.  Pile them up with a small knob of butter and heaped teaspoon of brown sugar.  Once the oven has heated up, put them in – they should take about 10 minutes.

Pile it up! It's still a portion of fruit, right?
Pile it up! It’s still a portion of fruit, right?

You’ll just have time to softly whip some double cream (about 100 ml for two people) to serve it with.  Once whipped, fold in 1 tsp icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Not exactly a healthy lunchbox snack anymore!
Not exactly a healthy lunchbox snack anymore!

Serve the warm plums with the cream on top – it will start to melt straight away so eat it quickly!  We had some meringues lying around which we crushed over the top, but a great alternative would be ginger biscuits.

We hope you enjoy this one! Hopefully it will get you through the long week’s wait before the next installment of the Great British Bake Off. Do you have a favourite yet?

Our Sweet Weekend

It’s been a busy weekend for us, but most of our activities seemed to involve eating and drinking! We just thought we’d post a few photos of our creations and discoveries.

In a fit of excitement over the return of The Great British Bake Off (10 more sleeps!), we baked some delicious blueberry muffins from a classic Mary Berry recipe.  Bezza never disappoints, and these muffins were a doddle to knock up and absolutely delicious.  Traditionally served for breakfast but perfect any time with a good cup of tea (we made Irish Breakfast – a bit stronger than English Breakfast.  Thanks Ireland!).

More muffins

Blueberry Muffins

Bristol has some amazing green spaces, and it’s great to see some covered in wild flowers – perfect for bees and butterflies!  This photo was taken in Castle Park in central Bristol.


I went for a bike ride down to Chew Valley reservoir on Sunday morning and when I got back this delicious macaron was waiting for me!  Bird had picked it up after ballet from Crumpet Cakes at the Tobacco Factory Market.  This one was espresso flavoured, we also had lemon and a stunning raspberry and white chocolate.


Finally it would be a crime to forget about the Bristol Balloon Fiesta.  It’s been on since Thursday and twice a day we have had a multitude of balloons flying over our house.  Here’s a snap of our favourite!


Hope everyone had a great weekend!