Cranberry gingerbread cake, sweet and tart, spiced and festive. Totally perfect for those freaks like me who detest Christmas pudding and fruit cake.
Croissants made with overnight proving dough laminated with butter. If you’re lucky enough to be living in France you get them from your boulangerie, but actually there's nothing like the homemade thing in terms of flavour. Is it difficult?
Croquants aux amandes, French almond cookies. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure if these cookies should be crunchy or gooey. ‘Croquant’ suggests the former, meaning precisely that, but I found the ones baked a bit less nicer.
Crunchy, melting in the mouth biscuits, a bit like Fox’s Crunch and Creams only better. Crunchy is good when it melts in your mouth and tastes of butter and sugar - which is basically what the biscuit is made of.
Cupcakes with smashed blueberries and lemon zest. Whatever you call these, and I decided in the end to rechristen them ‘cupcakes’, they are damn nice.
Dabo - Ethiopian honey and milk bread. Delicious fresh from the oven, but it makes great toast as well. You can shape it into a plain round loaf or plait it like challah.
Danish bagel wheels, savoury pastry pinwheels with sesame, poppy and almonds. A savoury twist on raisin wheels, these pastries are made the easy way: the laminating process, usually so troublesome, is shortened here by maturing the dough in the fridge for a couple of days.
Danish pastries with jam and raisin wheels - brushed with lemon icing. Just about the best thing ever – laminated dough. On average I bet people don’t realise that it’s actually simple bread dough enriched with butter.
Shortbread bars with date, orange and cinnamon filling. Sadly - this won't be about All Bar One, speed dating or trendy wine places. Shame, I know, but then I don't know much about speed dating, in fact haven't dated much at all recently.
Deli bread - slices beautifully, moist and flavoursome thanks to the addition of onions and mashed potatoes. This is a perfect loaf for salt beef or pastrami sandwiches. Chop up some gherkin on top and mazel tov!
Deli style rye bread with caraway seeds, great for sandwiches and excellent for toasting. Leave out caraway if you don’t like it!
Dome cake made with genoise sponge filled with raspberry mousse and buttercream. A lot of faff, admittedly, but it definitely delivers the ‘wow’ factor.
An old fashioned Bundt cake that tastes just like a giant doughnut. It smells like a homely doughnut not a Dunkin’, which is a good thing.
Bun-e-ttone, a combination of panettone dough and hot cross bun flavouring, the best possible bake for Easter. I thought it would be nice to make one large and 11 small bunettones, after the Simnel cake fashion of featuring 12 or 11 marzipan balls
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.
Financier cakes, French almond biscuits made with brown butter are deliciously moist, light and tender, quite similar to madeleines and really easy to make.
Orange and ginger flavoured flapjack, soft and chewy, buttery and slightly sticky. Make it plain as it is, or add a handful of dried fruit or coconut flakes.
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.
Flourless sponge cake with ground walnuts and a layer of apricot jam with grated dark chocolate topping: exquisite, elegant, delicious and gluten free.
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.
Flutes, similar to baguettes but not as crusty and a bit heavier are made of soft and chewy dough generously flavoured with sage and Parmesan.
Fougasse with grated Emmental cheese, chewy and crispy French flatbread, the cousin of Italian focaccia. Make it with sourdough starter or bakers’ yeast – equally delicious and not at all difficult.
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.
Old fashioned molasses cake? Think again – this one has fresh grated ginger added for the zing, and you don’t even need an electric mixer to make it.
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.
Homemade garlic bread with dough made from scratch. You don’t have to. You can buy your French stick. But just think how many calories you’ll burn doing all the kneading?
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.
Soft molasses and ginger cookies coated in coarse sugar are a cross between gingerbreads and ginger nut biscuits. And yes, you can substitute black treacle for molasses.
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.
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