Semi-Sweet Semi-Finals

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My submission was a triple-layered rose water and vanilla bean sponge, with buttercream and homemade fondant flowers 

Over the last few months I have been pouring my heart into an application for a scholarship for the Cordon Bleu London. I spent weeks baking and icing and taste-testing and photographing, and by some magical stroke of luck I made it to the semi-finals.

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Little French Tart

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This little French tart is a staple at boulangeries throughout Paris, and though undeniably faffy to make, it really is easier than it seems and so, so worth the trouble. It’s perfect for a goûter, the afternoon snack that’s so critical to French culture. One of many reasons I love this country.

This recipe comes from the, frankly bloody amazing ‘Grand Manuel du Patisserie’, which is the best book I have ever seen on the subject. But bear in mind the book is in French.

I used their recipe for the Tarte aux Fraises – but I made a tarte aux framboises, because raspberries are everywhere at the moment and I love them. The quantities below are for my little tart tin on account of my teeny-tiny oven, which happily serves six people. I basically halved the recipe from the book for my six-inch tart tin, so it’s simple to just double it.

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Doing my best Nigella

My darling housemate (AKA Wifey-Pooh), helped me out with some photography this Saturday morning. I rearranged our little apartment and took it as a great excuse to buy far too many flowers, because we know I love them, and hardly need an excuse.

The recipe for the Tarte aux Framboise shown in the pictures will be up on the blog soon. For now I’m off to buy Wifey-Pooh a great big glass of liquid thank you.

xx

 

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Just going to squeeze this one
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Spiced Wine Poached Pears

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I was introduced to making poached pears for my girlfriend’s birthday. Turns out she’s partial to a poached pear and chocolate tart, and I’m partial to demanding I be the one to make all my friends’ birthday desserts. I sent some photos through to my Nan as well, she said it’s something she’s loved for a long time so it will have to be on the menu next time I see her. This recipe is absurdly easy, it’s basically cooking pears in mulled wine. If you’re interested, it’s rather low fat; unless, like me, you want to enjoy it properly with lots of cream of ice cream. Delicious. I used Concorde Pears, but as long as they’re firm, and not bruised, they’ll work.

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Impossible Things for Breakfast

 

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Madeleine Kamman’s France, as she describes in the dog-eared book I’ve carried with me from Australia through Canada, Germany and finally to my own French home, in her words, has disappeared. Kamman retells golden cornfields and wild hares – a world apart from my own, adopted Paris. But this book, When French Women Cook is somewhat of a bible to me. Recipes sandwiched between anecdotes, I dream of one day writing something like this from my own travels. And though it’s not the French countryside of sprawling olive trees and cows in fields that I live in, I savour just as much the city here. I spent what felt like my whole life dreaming of coming to Paris. And now at (nearly) 27, spending my days taking the metro, and walking through old streets I believe, as she says, that you really can smell the essence of a place that you call home.

I grew up in countryside Australia. Not quite red dirt outback, but rolling hills of yellow canola, enormous horizons and cicadas singing in blazing-blue summers. Thinking of childhood there reminds me of my mother’s Damper, a rustic bread that we’d eat slathered in melted butter, or collecting eggs from our traditionally named, but very grumpy chickens (hello, Sally Henny Penny).

Here the bread is just as memorable, and (stereotypes be damned) a genuinely intrinsic element of the food culture. Boulangeries here, like in Germany, are more common and easier to find than banks – and far more fun. And for me, the windows of sparkling patisseries have become a new dream of mine. Certainly not an easy one, but one day I hope to be a true Parisienne Pâtissière myself.

However there are quite a few steps between here and there, and in the meanwhile, Kamman’s book – as well as my new favourite, “Le Grand Manuel du Pâtisserie” are helping me learn a few tricks. Wish me luck, I’ll keep you posted.

X


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Strawberry, Rose and Vanilla Jam

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Ok I know that you can buy jam for like three euros in 2 minutes. BUT there’s some Martha-Stewart-is-my-Spirit-Animal type magic about making your own, and the freedom to mix some incredible, unique flavours (French Brandy and Orange Marmalade, anyone?). I am obsessed with Turkish rose water in everything from cakes to face spritzer, strawberries are super abundant right now and sometimes I just want to spend a damn afternoon making jam.

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