Old Fashioned Gingerbread

Christmas means plenty of gingerbread – gingerbread men, gingerbread house… I’ve always wanted to make a gingerbread cake, as I like the flavours in there more so than Christmas pudding, and wanted a scrumptious gingerbread-like dessert to wrap up Christmas dinner.

This year, I found the favourite old fashioned gingerbread recipe and decided to adapt it by reducing the sweetness and doubling the spice, and also adding a layer of mascarpone cream icing on top. The result? Delicious! The cream and gingerbread taste worked really well together! Continue reading “Old Fashioned Gingerbread”

(The) Christmas Recipe – Panettone

Christmas is around the corner and I couldn’t avoid to get carried away with a Christmassy baking challenge: this year it’s traditional Italian Panettone. The original recipe for this sweet bread is usually made with sourdough starter or beer yeast and usually has long proving times. Keeping the ingredients as per the original recipe, I decided to use a slightly easier method that only requires dried yeast and overnight chilling so that the proving time is reduced to once only for three hours. The ingredient amounts would have required an 18cm panettone tin, but mine were 15.5cm, so I made two – perfect for a last minute Christmas present! Continue reading “(The) Christmas Recipe – Panettone”


Mince Pies and Hazelnut Ale – Eric Lanlard Launches Meantime’s Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale

Nothing sets off the festive spirit and signals the approach of Christmas quite like mince pies, and that’s what we learned to make with Master Pâtissier Eric Lanlard at Cake Boy in order to celebrate the launch of Meantime‘s latest limited edition beer in The Pilot Series: Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale.


We found Eric Lanlard’s boutique patisserie by the river near Wandsworth Town on an evening in December, which, in London, means that it had been pitch black for several hours already. A step into the patisserie brought us into a different world, where the sofas were as colourful as the macarons. We sipped a glass of Meantime’s Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale as we stared at the mini Christmas trees and chocolate baubles on the counter. Fairy lights twinkled in the background – yes, it’s Christmas.

The nutty and smooth dark ale was created with Christmas in mind. But more than that, it is the spirit of experimentation that led Meantime’s Brewmaster Ciaran Giblin to incorporate hazelnut, an ingredient from baking and festive desserts, into an ale. The desire to create something exciting, different and unexpected sits at the heart of Meantime’s Pilot Series: 26 limited edition beers of which Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale is the latest addition.

It is, again, the spirit of experimentation that led Eric to incorporate the ale into these special mince pies. We soon donned aprons with the pink Cake Boy logo to find out how to make them. We gleamed a few top tips from the Master Pâtissier throughout the evening.

5 tips from Eric Lanlard – how to bake (and eat) the perfect mince pie Continue reading “Mince Pies and Hazelnut Ale – Eric Lanlard Launches Meantime’s Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale”


Straight to the heart: Chocolate Salami (salame di cioccolato)

Chocolate salami (salame di cioccolato) is the easiest Christmas dessert there is to make. There isn’t much work involved; even the oven can stay turned off. I usually use the same recipe you can find on Giallo Zafferano, but this time I mixed it up a little with a recipe from the book At Elizabeth David’s Table, where she calls it torrone molle (lit. soft nougat). All you need is 20 minutes of your time and patience, as it is a lot more delicious if made a day before you want to serve it. Despite being so simple, it is always a huge success, and I constantly get guests asking me to have a piece to take home. Consider it if you are out of ideas or time for a dessert for your NYE party, but also keep it in mind for any occasion.

David’s recipe uses the same amount for all the solid ingredients, but I have used a bit less sugar because I don’t like it when chocolate desserts are too sweet. Also, she uses cocoa, and while I much prefer a good dark chocolate bar to melt, it still gives a soft texture.

For up to eight people.

175g butter
175g dark chocolate
175g ground almonds
100g sugar
175g plain biscuits such as Petit Beurre or Rich Tea (broken into almond-sized pieces)
1 whole egg and 1 yolk

Continue reading “Straight to the heart: Chocolate Salami (salame di cioccolato)”

First time making: spiced apple juice

It’s finally the festive season, and this year, I needed a non-alcoholic mulled wine or cider alternative (after all, Christmas is all about minced pies and mulled wine). I’ve looked through the Jamie Oliver incredible mulled cider recipe and the Nigella mulled cider recipe, and have taken the spices I like best out of the two for this spiced apple juice recipe. Oh, and of course, as there’s already plenty of sugar in the juice, there’s hardly any need to add sugar in there.

I’ve always loved mulled wine and ciders with bits of fruit in the pan, so I’ve included chunks and apple and clementines as well.

This takes about 5 minutes to prep and will serve however many people who will be able to drink a litre of spiced apple juice. As this is made from juice, it’s perfect for children and your designated driver.


1 litre of apple juice
1/2 apple
2 clementines
1 stick of cinnamon
3 cloves
2 fresh bay leaves (optional)
2 tbsps of honey

Continue reading “First time making: spiced apple juice”