Easy chocolate brownie, intense and fudgy but unbelievably quick to make. My best to date recipe for brownie is quite intricate, with beating eggs to a fluff and then folding and folding.
Easy Danish dough, homemade apple and raspberry filling. So what you are supposed to do is simply mix the butter a bit with yeasty flour and some liquid, leave it in the fridge and then roll out once or twice.
Easy kouign amann, butter pastry from Brittany. My recipe is a cheat’s kouign amann, easier to make and not quite as calorific as the traditional Breton pastry
Posh restaurant-style muffins with blueberries and tender, moist crumb. This is a recipe out of Professional Chef. It’s good, it’s cheffy, the muffins stay fresh several days and they are not really muffins but more cakey things that you see in fancy restaurants for petit fours.
Quick bread, ready within two hours from mixing to baking. There is quite a lot of yeast to speed up the rise and the tricks to make it taste like a longer-proving loaf are adding raw potatoes, vinegar and a bit of fat.
Flower rolls with caraway and onion seeds, baked in a cloche. Very crusty, golden in colour, tear-apart rolls sprinkled with seeds taste much better than an ordinary loaf baked in a tin.
Sage and parmesan flutes are beautiful breads, probably the tastiest I’ve made. All that parmesan doesn’t go in there for nothing. They make a mean cheese sandwich, excellent toasted and they will keep surprisingly well – if you let them, which is doubtful.
Fougasse au Roquefort - flat bread with blue cheese, quite like focaccia. Fougasse can be salé or sucré,with lardons, olives, both, Roquefort – or covered with a thick layer of crisp, almost caramelised sugar. All strictly Provençal.
Pain the campagne, sourdough bread made with wheat starter. Sourdough starter I find fickle – I know it can live for ever, only refreshed every now and then, but my best results have been with fresh, four days old leaven so that’s the approach I suggest here. Veteran sourdough makers though – please use whatever wheat starter you have on the go.
Fruity, nut free mince pies made from scratch: the best shortcrust pastry and delicious fruit filling. I never used to like mince pies until I made them at home. The fact is that all shop-bought pies, even the posh, fancy, Hestonised and overpriced numbers taste mainly of too much orange peel and too much booze. As much as I’m the last person to complain about too much booze, I like to keep it separate from cakes. And orange peel is usually nasty, unless you make it yourself (I don’t) or spend quite a bit more money than even Waitrose Cook’s Ingredients charge.
Scones are tricky. Scones are a thing of beauty if you get them right. I have had several goes at them before Dan Lepard came to rescue with his recipe from Short & Sweet – The Best of Home Baking.
Christmas fruit cake - lighter in colour and in taste but still rich and full of raisins, berries, apricots, figs and almonds. It keeps very well but needn’t be made weeks ahead of Christmas – tastes best when it had been standing for a couple of days.
Galette des rois, an elegant treat for the night of Epiphany, or any other time during the twelve days of Christmas. There are some lovely traditions associated with the galette: a ‘fève’ is hidden inside the cake - a tiny china figurine or an almond - and the lucky person to find it (and not choke on it) is crowned a king or queen for the carnival.
Gâteau Basque, the traditional butter pastry from the Basque region. The pastry is awfully rich, buttery and heavy, like a posh relative to shortcrust. Easy to put together, especially that, unlike shortcrust, it doesn’t need chilling in the fridge
Gateau Breton, Breton butter cake is unlike any other cake I’ve tried, the crunchy crust quite short and dense but not as crumbly as shortcrust. It melts in your mouth and has a lovely flavour from all those egg yolks and butter. It can be filled with jam...
This is a genoise sponge cake with mascarpone and blueberry filling. Before my last birthday (oh yes, I make my own birthday cake in this house, no respite for the wicked) I thought I’d make something restrained. Elegant.
Ginger cake with candied ginger pieces, jam filling and maple syrup icing. I always thought ‘gingerbread’ referred only to cookies until I saw the cranberry gingerbread cake in NYTimes Cooking.
Soft and chewy double ginger cookies. Ginger is quite amazing in its versatility, a bit like lemons, you can add it to both sweet and savoury dishes and if in sensible quantities, it’ll improve them.
Golden Gate bridge rolls - white sourdough bread rolls, crusty and chewy. Now since approximately 2005 I have not bought a loaf of bread in the shop unless in high emergency or to measure up competition. But I saw and fancied some perfectly square and smooth, pale golden bread rolls they had there and of course: ‘I wonder how they are made?’
Gooey butter bars with raisins and almonds, made from scratch on an Italian pasta frolla shortcrust base. Bars, slices, squares, whatever you call them, are almost like a bride who needs something old, new, borrowed and blue.
St. Louis gooey butter cake made from scratch, with the best gooey buttery topping. The gooey butter is sold as breakfast pastry and there are two variants, fiercely defended by the respective factions. One: ready cake mix and a cream cheese topping sounds lovely and easy but the yeast base and buttery sugary goo on top appeals to me with the force of the original.
Focaccia with olive oil, fresh grapes and crumbled blue cheese. I am not quite sure why grapes are not popular as cake ingredients. All summer berries, cherries, stone fruit and apples get to play, jumping into soft sponge, orderly marching onto tarts, drowning in runny clafoutis and sweating gently underneath crumbles
Little ham and cheese pastries made in the shape of crescents. These little pastries are enormously moreish, originally meant for breakfast or brunch but I see them disappear from the tray at all times of day.
Hamantaschen - cute triangular biscuits with poppy seed or fruit filling, made traditionally for Purim. Eaten at Purim, the Jewish holiday commemorating the defeat of evil vizier Haman in ancient Persia, who planned on killing all the Jews in the Persian Empire. His plans came to naught thanks to the hero Mordecai helped by the Queen Esther. Haman hung from the gallows, having allegedly had his ears cut off.
Hazelnut ricotta cake, with poppy seeds and an apricot jam and grated chocolate topping. A grownup cake - none of that bish bash mix-everything-together nonsense: you have to separate the eggs...
Hokkaido milk bread made using the tangzhong method. Hokkaido milk bread is also the basis for the best breadcrumbs in the world, panko.
Cinnamon honey buns glazed with butter and honey, made from sourdough. Sure enough, honey buns recipes galore out there. And the most interesting fact about them is that they seem to be much valued prison currency and I’m not using any slang here.
The best hot cross buns with proper piped crosses and honey glaze. I start baking them in March, regardless when this movable feast will fall on, and I probably bake up to 50 in a season! Because there’s nothing better for breakfast in early spring than a hot cross bun.
Hot cross buns with raisins, dried apricots and citrus peel. Try this – by all means. It’s still a good bun and none you can buy in the shops are a patch on it. They keep rather well and only on the third day had to be toasted a little.
Hungarian flourless hazelnut cake with buttercream filling. This is a fantastically nice cake that incidentally happens to be flourless, just so, and anyone will completely love it, gluten-shy or not.
Ice cream sandwiches in choux pastry buns, with ice cream flavour of choice, homemade or your favourite brand. I first made choux pastry at the age of about 11, in my technology lesson at school.
Island buttermilk cake: no eggs, no butter, just fresh berries and the magic ingredient - buttermilk. The cake originates from Cranberry Island Bakery in Maine which sadly is no more. Huge shame as their defunct Facebook page also shows some divine whoopies.
Italian ricotta cookies, soft and tender lemon biscuits made with ricotta cheese and butter. Soft and pillowy, the icing is optional and the sprinkles even more so.
Italian yoghurt cake, or torta allo yogurt, or torta 7 vasetti. Also known as gâteau au yaourt in France. Lovely and moist, fragrant with lemon zest.
Japanese milk bread rolls made with tangzhong: a starter cooked like roux, with flour and milk. The roux, or tangzhong, is then mixed with the rest of more ordinary ingredients; proved, shaped and baked in rolls or loaves, whose heel, incidentally, is made into panko.
Joululimppu - Finnish Christmas bread with buttermilk, black treacle and caraway and fennel seeds. What a lovely bread this is! Unlike any other loaf. Goes beautifully with a little smoked salmon on Christmas morning.
Julekake, Norwegian Christmas bread with raisins, citrus peel and cardamom flavour. Now this is what I call Christmas Day breakfast - and even better on Boxing Day, toasted and thickly buttered. Better than a brioche - firmer and more substantial, and not so rich.
Festive Krantz cake with chocolate and walnut filling - quite unusual. No idea what its name means and no, it’s not the same as Kranz – creamy ‘crown’ cake. I found my recipe in ‘Baking with Passion’ by Dan Lepard and Richard Whittington.
Lazy bread: no kneading, no shaping but still a good flavour. It’s a good option when you’re feeling particularly lazy, that’s why I called it lazy bread.
Lebkuchen - soft, honeyed cookies, similar to gingerbreads. Lebkuchen are of German provenance, invented by Franciscan monks in the 13th century.
Lemon drizzle cake with poppy seeds. The kind of cake that can make you hum when eating it. It’s the one-slice-is-never-enough cake. It’s the how-come-there’s-none-left? kind of cake. And it’s easy, easy-peasy, even my nephew could whip it up.
Lemon and pistachio bars with nutty lemon topping on shortcrust base. It was the pistachios that attracted me in this recipe, featured in NY Times Cooking.
Lemon butter cake, soft and spongy, made with condensed milk and flavoured with lemon zest. I love this recipe: it calls for 125g condensed milk which is about two thirds of a tin. And what with the remaining milk, you don’t want to waste it, do you? And the cake is quite nice too.
Pound cake with lemon syrup drizzle and light icing glaze. This was a super-disappearing cake – only a few crumbs were left by Sunday afternoon.
Lemon, polenta and almond cake, moist and crunchy. It’s also gluten free and while that’s incidental in my books, it could be a top asset in others’.
Lemon ricotta cake Italian style. This is a very good baked cheesecake, not overly cheesy and not too sweet. I’ll say whack in even more lemon – it doesn’t come through that much.
Light rye bread with linseed, sunflower and pumpkin. Rye bread is a totally different story than wheat. Where wheat bread is fluffy, rye is stodgy. While white loaf is crusty, rye is practically all crumb. Wheat best fresh, rye has to stand overnight in order to even slice it.
Lime marble cake with lime syrup drizzle. Limes both smell and taste gorgeous. The best bit in making this cake was grating the lime zest. Well – almost the best bit. Eating it isn’t bad either.
Cookies and privacy.
We welcome your feedback and suggestions.