Citrus Tart


So citrus season is upon us and I was tempted by some red grapefruits at the supermarket. [Read more…]

Rhubarb and Coconut Tart


We had such a glorious, hot, summer this year that most pick-your-own fruits came into season earlier than normal and I totally missed out. Yep, I missed the blackcurrants (I had great plans for these), the redcurrants, the gooseberries, the raspberries and even the fail-safe English strawberries. [Read more…]

Cherry Pie

cherrypie-1-3So cherries are not in season here right now, but when I saw them on offer in the local market, I simply couldn’t resist…

Extortionately priced in the supermarkets, these cherries were such a bargain, I bought a couple of kilos. So what does one do with a large quantity of cherries – why bake a pie, of course?

Besides, my ‘Sweet Tarts and Pies’ section of the blog looks decidedly lacking, so this was definitely one to try.

cherrypie-1-4 [Read more…]

Mince Pies with Gingerbread Crust Pastry


I am so late with this post. I seriously can’t expect anyone to give these a try this side of Christmas 2013 (maybe Pin it for next year?)…

That said, when I was in the supermarket yesterday, stocking up on my last minute baking provisions for the next few days, I noticed they were totally sold out of ready-to-roll pastry.  There is a lot of mince pie production going on locally, I think.

If you are at all organised and have the time and inclination to give these a try, you won’t be disappointed.mincepie2

So what makes these pies special? The pastry.

I recently found this pastry recipe in a new book purchase, ‘Pie’ by Dean Brettschneider.  Oh, there are so many great recipes in here! (Expect plenty of pastry-inspired recipes in the New Year…my ‘Tarts and Pie’ sections on the blog are looking rather lacking).

As I had made some homemade mincemeat, this was the perfect opportunity to try out this gingerbread pastry – with a mince pie. I allowed my pastry to rest over night in the fridge but you really don’t have to rest it that long. It is important that it is chilled when you start to roll as it warms quickly and becomes a little sticky. As usual, I roll on a lightly floured piece of baking parchment and have some food wrap between the pastry and the rolling pin, to reduce sticking, assist rolling and minimise handling.

This pastry was very light and fragrantly spiced without being overwhelming ginger-flavoured.


As my mincemeat is heavy on the orange flavour (infused with orange juice and Cointreau), you can imagine the smells evoked in my kitchen whilst these were baking – a fruity, citrus aroma with spicy gingerbread – for me, the ultimate seasonal smell.

At this late stage, feel free to use a shop-bought mincemeat but avoid the shop bought pies – these are so much nicer.mincepie1

So soften the butter, preheat the oven, crank up your Christmas music of choice (mine is Michael Buble) and get baking these seasonal pies.

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2014 to one and all, near and far! x

Mince Pies with Gingerbread Crust Pastry

Makes 12 Pies


    For the Filling
  • 350-400g* Homemade Mincemeat (see separate post), or shop-bought mincemeat
  • For the Pastry
  • 170g unsalted butter, softened
  • 85g light soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 250g spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • To Finish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp. whole milk
  • Caster sugar, for sprinkling


  1. Prepare the filling ahead if you are making 'Homemade Mincemeat'.
  2. Sift into a bowl the flour and all the spices. Set aside. In the bowl of a freestanding mixture, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and continue to mix until incorporated. Add the flour to the mixture and beat until it comes together. Do not over mix.
  3. Tip the pastry mixture onto a piece of food wrap. Wrap and mould into a flattened ball. Chill for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
  4. Once rested, pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C, or Gas Mark 3.
  5. Place the pastry onto a lightly floured piece of baking parchment. With a piece of food wrap between the pastry and the rolling pin, roll the pastry until it is about 2-3mm thick. With a cutter, cut 24 rounds. (All of mine were the same size as I used a Madeleine pan, but if you are using a regular cupcake pan, cut 12 of one size and 12 slightly smaller rounds, to form lids). You will need to gather the pastry scraps and re-roll in order to achieve this number.
  6. Place the larger of the rounds into a 12 cup muffin/cupcake pan, gently pushing the pastry into the edges. Fill each round with mincemeat.
  7. With the egg wash - beaten egg and whole milk - brush the edge of the pastry. Top the pies with the smaller round. Brush all 12 pies lids with egg wash. Make two cuts in the pastry with a sharp knife.
  8. Bake for 15-17 minutes, turning the tray half way through. Sprinkle with caster as soon as the pies come out of the oven. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
  9. Store in an airtight container.


* I have put a range for the quantity of mincemeat to be used as it can vary dependant on the depth of your cupcake pan. I used a Madeleine pan which meant mine were more shallow. Typically, a shop bought jar of mincemeat weighs 450g, or 1lb.

Source: Pastry adapted from Dean Brettschneider’s ‘Pie’


Asparagus Quiche


Until a few months ago, I would shy away from recipes with pastry. Making pastry was one challenge too far for me. In my mind, the potential for things to go wrong were too numerous; unsuccessfully rolling the dough, over handling, lifting the pastry into the pan cleanly, ensuring it is not too thick, or too thin, under baking, over baking…you get the idea.

Equally, I am not overly comfortable buying a ready-made pastry case or ready-to-roll pastry. It seems like too easy an option. So I decided, for me to expand my baking repertoire I really had to get to grips with a pastry making technique.


So for this bake, I have used Paul Hollywood’s Shortcrust Pastry recipe. I have adapted the technique slightly for preparing the pastry case for one that works for me, in my kitchen and gives a successful result (see my method below).

So for this quiche, I wanted to make something savoury and seasonal. I couldn’t let the asparagus season go by without including this fabulous fresh green. I have also included a local cheese in this quiche . We went to our local agriculture show at the weekend and I bought a couple of cheeses from Surrey’s only cheese maker, Norbury Park Farm. I used Dirty Vicar in this dish which is described as ‘like a camembert on the outside and a crumbly Caerphilly on the inside’. It worked really well with the asparagus but you could use a camembert, brie or any hard cheese that you have in the fridge.



If you try this quiche I think you will be satisfied on two counts; firstly for producing an ascetically pleasing dish and secondly, for enjoying a very flavoursome, seasonal lunch.


Here are my tips for preparing the pastry case:-

1. Tip the dough straight from bowl straight onto a piece of plastic food wrap/cling film. Mould into a ball and flatten slightly with your hands. Wrap the dough in the plastic and chill for a minimum of 3 hours. Alternatively, you could place in a plastic bag and freeze it at this point.

2. Once the pastry has been chilled, remove from the fridge. Lightly dust the work surface with flour. Unwrap the dough onto the floured work surface and open up the wrap fully. Tear off a second piece of wrap and place on top of the dough.

3. With the rolling pin, gently roll the plastic wrap with the pastry underneath. ie. the rolling pin does not directly touch the dough. The least the pastry is handled, the better.  If the dough cracks at the sides whilst rolling, just tap the crack back with the end of the rolling pin.

4. Roll the dough to the required thickness. Don’t worry if the pastry rolls beyond the two layers of food wrap, the lightly floured work surface will prevent it from sticking.


5. Check the size of the pastry against your baking tin, ensuring you have enough to fill the edges of the tin, plus a little overhang.

asparagusquiche-1-96. Now to lift the pastry into the tin. I roll the pastry over my rolling pin, leaving the base coat food wrap on the surface. Be careful that the pastry does slip on the rolling pin. Carefully place the pastry into the tin and manipulate as need be.

asparagusquiche-1-107. Gently push the pastry into all the corners and edges. You will be doing this with the top layer of food wrap in place. This way, you are still not directly touching the pastry. When you are happy everything is in place, remove the food wrap.

asparagusquiche-1-118. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and cover the base with some baking parchment. Be sure to really scrunch up the paper before you put it on the pastry. The more pliable the parchment, the less crease marks you will get on the pastry. Fill with baking/ceramic beans, ready for baking.


Asparagus Quiche

Serving Size: Serves 8


  • 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • Pinch of salt
  • 125g unsalted butter, chilled
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 50ml of water
  • 1 beaten egg, for egg wash
  • For the filling
  • 275g fresh asparagus (typically a regular size bunch)
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 200ml double cream
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 100g cheese or your choice


  1. Put the flour and salt into the bowl of a free standing mixer and combine. Add the butter and mix with a paddle attachment until the ingredients have a sandy/breadcrumb-like consistency.
  2. Add the egg yolks and mix. Then follow with the water. Mix until the dough comes together.
  3. Tip the dough onto a square of food wrap/cling film, on a work surface. Mould into a ball and flatten. Wrap in the plastic and put in the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  5. Remove from the fridge and unwrap onto a lightly floured work surface, opening the wrap completely. Add a second layer of wrap on top of the dough.
  6. With a rolling pin, roll the wrapped dough gently until the desired size and thickness. Do not worry if the dough creeps out of the sides of the food wrap. The floured surface will prevent it from sticking.
  7. Carefully roll the dough over the rolling pin, leaving the bottom layer of wrap on the work surface. Carefully place the dough into the tin (9 inch diameter, 9 x 9 inch square) and manipulate into position. With the top layer of wrap still on the pastry, mould the pastry into the edges and corners of the tin, allow for a little overhang.
  8. With a fork, prick the base of the pastry case. Scrunch some baking parchment very tightly to make it as pliable as possible and overlay it on the pastry. Fill with baking/ceramic beads.
  9. Blind bake for approximately 10 minutes. Remove the beans and the parchment and brush the base of the pastry case with a beaten egg.
  10. Return to the oven and bake for another 8 minutes, until the base of the pastry case is dry.
  11. Remove from the oven and trim the edges of the pastry case with a sharp knife before it becomes too cool.
  12. Adjust oven setting to 180 degrees C whilst you prepare the filling.
  13. For the filling
  14. Prepare the asparagus by washing and cutting off an inch or so, off the bottom to get rid of the 'woody' pieces. Cut the tops of the asparagus and then slice the asparagus stalks at diagonal angles.
  15. Heat the butter in a pan and add the asparagus. Stir over the heat for a few minutes until the asparagus becomes slightly softened and the colour has become more vibrant. Season to taste and then take off the heat.
  16. Pour the asparagus into the prepared pastry case, evenly distributing the stems and tips.
  17. Beat together the eggs and double cream and season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture carefully over the asparagus into the pastry case, taking care to get an even mixture throughout.
  18. Add your cheese of choice, either sliced or grated.
  19. Place the quiche in the oven at 180 degrees C and cook for approximately 35 minutes. Check frequently as all ovens vary. The quiche should be cooked once the middle feels firm when touched with a finger.
  20. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little in the pan before taking out (it is fiddly to remove when the pan is so hot).
  21. Serve warm.

Source: Paul Hollywood’s Shortcrust Pastry in ‘How to Bake’. Method adapted.