All posts tagged: patisserie

Dulce by Helen Vass

If you are a fan of the Glasgow food scene, then you may know Helen Vass. She is pastry chef at 2AA Rosette restaurant, Number 16, in the West End of the city. You may also know her from being part of the winning team of professional pastry chefs, along with Samantha Rain, winner of UK Junior Chocolate Master in 2014, and Mark Tilling, established chocolatier and UK Chocolate Master, teacher and pastry chef, who competed in Bake Off: Crème de la Crème earlier this year. Ever since her success in Bake Off, Helen has been in demand to share her desserts and expertise. And one of the routes that she has taken to reach this demand is to host dessert pop-up events in her home town of Glasgow. How she has manages to fit the preparation for such events into her schedule as a restaurant pastry chef is quite remarkable. I was fortunate to buy a ticket for her most recent pop-up, held in Studio 93 is Glasgow: a beautiful venue, tucked away beside …

Biscoff Macarons Heaven

Put your hands up if you like Lotus Biscoff spread? That Speculoos flavoured spread that only found its way in to our supermarkets a couple of years ago. Maybe you have only tried the Lotus biscuits: a sweet and caramelised crunch that dunks very easily in to a cup of tea or coffee. My daughter likes the biscuits, but *loves* the spread. It’s probably her all time favourite thing. She laughs in the face of Nutella but would give away her last colouring pencil for a spoon of “my favourite spread”. Last week I made 250 macarons. You would think I would have had enough of the things. In fact, I thought I had had enough of them. But, as the task of producing this massive order was coming to an end, I had this idea of making Biscoff flavoured macarons after seeing an online tutorial to make Oreo macarons. It didn’t take long to work out how I was going to fill them. Last winter, BBC Good Food printed a recipe for a Gingerbread Cake that …

Macathon

A few months ago I was asked by a friend of a friend to make some macarons for the evening reception of their wedding. I took on the task, not realising I’d be making 250 of the little blighters, in five different flavours. It also turned out to be the most humid and hot week of the year so far. It was quite the challenge and a macarons marathon. She chose four flavours that I was familiar with: White chocolate; Pistachio; Chocolate; and Lemon. However, she asked for one I hadn’t made before: Mojito. So, I did my research and tried out a couple of filling ideas. I had wanted to make a sugar syrup with real rum, mint and lime, but it just didn’t work. I reduced it to a sticky mess and the rum flavour just wasn’t coming through. In hindsight, I think I should have used a dark rum for a more rounded flavour. In the end, I used a rum flavouring. This is not the route I wanted to go down, …

Bread makes the world go round.

I don’t know where I found first read about Semlor but I am pretty sure it was early last year. These Swedish sweet buns are a seasonal treat originally designed to be eaten at the start of Lent (like pancakes are on Shrove Tuesday in the UK) as a last indulgence before Lenten abstinence. However, I believe at some point Lenten abstinence was discouraged as religious practices shifted, and they are now enjoyed in the period between New Year and Easter these days, much like the Hot Cross Bun. And, like the Hot Cross Bun, people in Sweden bemoan how early the Semla arrives in their bakeries each year, as we in the UK grumble at the sight of Hot Cross Buns and Easter themed chocolate goodies in our supermarkets on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas day). I started to think about bread and how integral it is to so many cultures and their feasts and festivities. Bread is about sharing. Bread can be about celebration. Bread can also be about survival. It is …

Feeling Festive

Over the last few years it has become a tradition for me to make a Gingerbread House for my kids to decorate. Only two out of the three really like the taste of Gingerbread. But you see, it’s not about the Gingerbread: it’s about the sweets and icing; the edible glitter; and the fun and mess that we (they) make when decorating it. I use a BBC Good Food recipe (link at the bottom), that bakes into a tasty yet sturdy building, able to withstand a heavy handed toddler. Just remember to let the royal icing “cement” dry overnight. On a few occasions I’ve made a house, covered it in sweets, and donated it to my kids’ nursery or school. Money is easily raised by folk paying to guess how many sweets are on it. Yes, I do count them and yes, it’s a lot. If you plan to cover your Gingerbread House entirely in sweets, then make sure you buy lots of them. They probably won’t all make it on to the house. 😉 …

…and then you add some more butter.

  Do you like Brioche? Do you like its buttery, rich yet light, texture in your mouth? Is it possible to improve upon Brioche? Yes, it is! And the answer is to add more butter. It doesn’t seem possible. What is more, it seems unlikely that by adding even more butter to this already rich *and* enriched dough you can make it lighter. The trick is doing it in layers, or laminating. Brioche Feuilletée is made using the same method as croissant or Danish pastry dough, or puff pastry: the dough is rolled out, folded, then chilled several times, until many layers, sheets, leaves or feuilles of alternating thin dough and butter are created. I made Brioche Feuilletée last weekend for the first time and I decided to document the process in several photographs that I would like to share with you now. Having used Michel Roux’s Brioche recipe before, and been very happy with the results, I decided to start there. This recipe makes 1.2kg (actually more than I needed) and I made it the …

Blondes do have more fun.

I think it was a few weeks ago when I first heard about Valrhona’s Blond Dulcey chocolate. Somebody on Instagram was talking about it; raving about its deep and sweet caramel notes. Having used Valrhona’s Caramelia chocolate in a few bakes (and nibbled a few morsels along the way) I was intrigued. Like all Valrhona chocolate, it does not come cheap, and I kept putting off ordering it and trying it out. Then I saw a couple of stunning creations on Instagram that were made with Dulcey and illustrated the rich colour of this confection. The images screamed “eat me!” So I bit the bullet and ordered a 250g bar. I knew what I wanted to make with this caramelised white chocolate in order to test its taste and its qualities in a simple form, and that was to make a ganache. And not in or on a cake but between two macarons. Macarons are the perfect carriage for ganache, creams and sweet butters. I was expecting the ganache to be very sweet (and I …

Hello world!

Well, I have finally done it! Welcome to my sparkly new blog and my first blog post. I confess to being a little nervous. I am used to firing up posts on my Facebook page about my latest bakes and feel this should be far more considered. But I don’t want to change who I am and hope to be the same old Frances here as I am on FB, Twitter and Instagram. I hope you enjoy my bakes and words. Frances 🙂