Sablés bretons – Breton shortbread biscuits

The sablé breton – literally “Breton sand biscuit” in reference to its short, crumbly, sand-like texture – is an old traditional biscuit from the French Brittany/Normandy region: the glorious land of salted butter! History teaches us that in 1341, King Philip VI of France introduced a national tax on salt, the “Gabelle of salt”, that suddenly made salt very expensive throughout the country. If salt remained used to conserve fresh ingredients, salted butter became a luxurious product that peasants could not longer afford to make… Brittany however was not only exempt from this tax, it was also a region producing its own salt. Quickly, salted butter became a regional speciality, sought after and sold in the rest of the country. Up until now, Breton salted butter is the best you can buy (along with Guerande sea-salted butter: with its natural sea salt flakes, I could eat the whole thing on fresh baguette in one seating).

The sablé breton  (also known as galette bretonne) is a simple and rustic biscuit that goes wonderfully well with a cup of tea or afternoon coffee. The salted butter balances the sugar, making the biscuit light but also very moorish – you’ve been warned!

This was my first attempt at making them and I must say I was very pleased with the finished product. They were delicious and their texture was perfect. *Patting myself on the back for resisting the temptation to keep kneading the dough past the stage where it forms a ball*. The only thing I might change in the future is the thickness: as they cooked, the biscuits expanded a little bit, which made them thinner than I would have wished. I might also try and be a little bit more creative with the top of the biscuit in the future: a criss-cross pattern would look good and rustic. Well, any good excuse to make them again!


Recipe for +/- 30 biscuits
  • 320 gr. flour
  • 120 gr. caster sugar
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • 2 free range egg yolks
  • 200 gr. melted salted butter (ideally French or even Breton but I might be purist)
  • Optional: a lemon zest
  • Egg wash: 1 egg yolk + 1 tsp water
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  1. Pre-heat a fan oven oven to 150 C. Line a large flat baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients (flour and caster sugar) in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Make a well in the centre and add the 2 egg yolks, the melted butter, the vanilla extract (and, if using, the lemon zest).
  4. Knead and form a ball. This is where you want to be extra careful not to overwork the dough: just gather it into a ball and put it down.
  5. Cover with clean cling film and place in the fridge to rest for an hour.
  6. Roll the cold dough between two sheets of baking paper to a thickness of about 3-5 mm. I did 5mm and it was a bit too thin to my taste, so I will probably go up to 6-8mm next time.
  7. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter (diam. 7 cm) and place on a baking tray, leaving enough room for the biscuits to expand a little bit.
  8. Brush the biscuits with the egg wash. Sprinkle iced sugar using a sieve.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes. You don’t want too much colour on these, sablés bretons are a very light golden colour.

IMG_9111 IMG_9110


Blueberry muffins

Great news: our very dear friends Claire and Alex moved to our neighbourhood. Their (awesome) flat is literally 12 minutes from us. I’m very excited about them living so close and all that implies, especially impromptu get-togethers, unplanned weekend lunches, surprise afterwork drinks, etc! Chipmuncher is excited about having his best friend around and they have already organised a Saturday of football watching and crisps munching at our place… Sigh!

On the day they moved to the neighbourhood, Chipmuncher lent his strong arms and helped carry and install pieces of furniture, while I offered to meet everyone a little bit later and bring sweets to the brave. To each their strength, right? Everybody loves blueberry muffins, so I was certain not to go wrong with this one.

I think that most muffin recipes use buttermilk, but not this one. It’s still very soft and scrumptious though so give it a try!

Blueberry muffin2

INGREDIENTS (for about 12 muffins)

  • 110 grams of butter (for a modern twist: try salted butter!)
  • 250 grams of plain flour
  • 250 grams of caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 ml of milk
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt (not if you are using salted butter)
  • 225 grams of fresh blueberries


  • Pre-heat oven to 180 C (gas 4) and line a muffin tin with paper cases.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and salt (if using any) together in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and beat until smooth, then the milk.
  • Add the flour mixture to your wet mix, little by little to avoid any lumps and beat well until all combined.
  • Stir in three quarters of the blueberries, taking care not to break them.
  • Fill your muffin tins 2/3 full (if you overfill them, the muffins won’t rise).
  • Place 2 of the remaining blueberries on top of the mix without pushing them in.
  • Bake at 180 C / gas 4 for 25-35 minutes depending on your oven.
  • When they are golden and a inserted skewer comes out clean, they’re ready! (even if the bottom feels a bit soft, it will all settle when cooled down).

Blueberry muffin4 Blueberry muffin5

Carrot cupcakes with lemon soft cheese icing

Come here…

Come closer, shhhhhhh, no one can hear us, I’m going to tell you a secret… I’m going to tell you how I make the softest moistest most delicious carrot cupcakes. It’s a secret, you must keep it to yourself. I’m going to tell you everything but you must promise not to repeat it to anyone, it will be our secret. Shhhhhhhhh…..




For 12 cupcakes

  • 175 grams of brown muscovado sugar
  • 100 grams of wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 100 grams of self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp of mixed spice
  • the zest of 1 orange
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 150 ml of sunflower oil
  • 200 grams of carrots, grated
  • sprinkles, etc. to decorate to taste
  • 50-100 grams of ground almonds (not powdered; and chunky rather than fine)
  • 50-80 grams of chopped pecans

For the icing

  • 50 grams of butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
  • 150 grams of full-fat soft cheese
  • 50 grams of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • the zest of 1/2 lemon




  • Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 5 (190C). Line a cupcake baking tin with paper cases.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, and orange zest.
  • Add the eggs and sunflower oil and mix well until all combined.
  • Grate your carrots and squeeze out most of the juices (90%), then add to the bowl. Mix well and leave to rest for 5 minutes, allow the carrots to release all their moisture.
  • Finally, add the chopped nuts, adjusting the quantity depending on the texture and wetness of your mix. You want it to be rather wet but thick enough so that it sticks on the back of a spoon.
  • Pour the mix into the baking tin, up to 2 third up the paper case (Note: don’t over-fill the cases, or the cupcakes will not rise)
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out dry. 
  • When baked, take the cupcakes out of the baking tin (or they will keep cooking) and leave on a cooling rack.
  • In the meantime, place the butter cubes in a clean mixing bowl and, using a sharp knife, shred it into pieces as small as possible.
  • Add the soft cheese to the butter and whisk until smooth. You can pour a little bit of the soft cheese water if it helps with the whisking.
  • Add the icing sugar, lemon zest and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth and creamy.
  • Once they’re completely cooled down, ice your cupcakes. I like the icing to be thick and generous, as it balances well against the spices of the cake.
  • If there is any icing left, stick your finger in that bowl and eat it before someone else does.

There you have it. Guaranteed to please everyone; and not too long nor messy as cupcakes can sometimes be. Hope you enjoy it and, remember, this is just between you and me…


Pecans and raisins bread and butter pudding

Some weeks ago, I enrolled a course to become an independent art curator (exciting!). It’s keeping me very busy, with classes all Saturdays and research and homework during the week. I’m loving it. And, bizarrely (or not), because I have less free time, I organise it way better! As a result, I have been cooking and baking much more than previously.

Last Sunday, for example, our dear friends visited us one last time before moving out of London and down to the seaside. These two like their food so we wanted to make something extra special for them. Special but unfussy – some honest, homemade, no-nonsense winter comfort food. So I made my pecan and raisins bread & butter pudding!

Now, I say *MY* bread & butter pudding and this is not entirely true. I actually based it on a recipe from Lucy’s Food recipe book and adapted it to our taste. The original recipe has dried apricot and an apricot coulis, but I like my bread & butter pudding a little bit more traditional.



  • 12 slices of brioche
  • 60 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature (spreading cold butter on brioche proved nearly impossible and extremely frustrating for short-tempered me 🙂 )
  • 60 grams of pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 60 grams of raisins
  • 150 ml of double cream
  • 150 ml of semi-skimmed milk
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 30 grams of caster sugar
  • 30 grams of cane sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • fresh nutmeg, or cinnamon, or cardamon to taste.


  • Pre-heat oven to 190C (gas mark 5).
  • Spread the brioche slices with butter.
  • Layer into an ovenproof dish with the pecans and raisins.
  • In a bowl, mix the cream, milk, eggs, caster sugar and grate a little fresh nutmeg. Depending on the mood and season, you can also add a little cinnamon and cardamon to the eggy cream mixture.
  • Pour the mixture over the brioche.
  • Sprinkle evenly with the cane sugar.
  • Bake in the oven for 40-45 min, or until the pudding has puffed up and the eggs are cooked through (you can check with a knife)

Serve warm with a little double cream.





Yes, it’s that easy and that tasty!

I like this recipe because I find the brioche makes it a little bit less stodgy than regular bread and butter pudding, and the crunchy pecans give the pudding a nice contrast of textures. I wouldn’t go as far as to pretend it is a light pudding, but definitely lighter than bread and butter puddings I have had before! 😀

Pumpkin blondies

I have been off the web for months now, can’t believe it’s gone by so quickly! Let me explain: I went on holiday for 2 weeks in the South of France (had amazing food there, especially in a lovely Bed&Breakfast in Nice where we were served 100% homemade breakfast every morning: from yoghurt, to jam, bread, croissants, everything! An amazing place I will probably write about at some point because I couldn’t recommend it enough). Then I moved houses right when we returned from holiday, before having the most manic of times at work at the end of October… To be honest I barely had time to bake / cook at all, let alone write about it! It’s crazy to think it’s November now and I haven’t written a thing since August.

But we are  finally all settled down in the new house. It’s gorgeous and I’m getting to know our new oven little by little. Isn’t it weird that it always takes weeks to get used to a new oven? This one is a gas one, like before, but fan assisted which my old one wasn’t; I am still working around it and trying to adapt cooking times from recipes… I had a few catastrophes with a cranberry frangipane tart that I burnt; and a bread a butter pudding that the boyfriend just managed to save (by scraping the black bits off the top!).

The Pumpkin blondies are ready

The Pumpkin blondies are ready

Last weekend, I decided to try my luck again and somehow celebrate the halloween season with some pumpkin blondies. I used a recipe from Table for Two and adapted it to the ingredients I could find. It was the first time ever I used (and even came across) pumpkin puree. Obviously, before putting it in anything I was going to bake, I tasted the pumpkin puree on its own and out of the can. Errrrrr can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed it, it tasted of something somewhere between baby food and overcooked mash. I know you are not supposed to eat it out of the can; and once baked I did enjoy it, but I thought you should know my feelings about it 🙂


  • 320 grams of plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon powder
  • 225g of unsalted butter, melted
  • 220g of dark brown sugar
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree (Table for Two says not to use pumpkin pie filling, but in the UK I could only find a single sort of pumpkin puree anyway – Libby’s – so decided to worry about the subtlety)
  • 100 grams of fudge chunks
  • 100 grams of white chocolate, roughly cut into chunks
  • 100 grams of unsalted toasted peanuts, chopped roughly



Preheat oven to gaz 4 (around 175c) and line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon powder and salt. You can sift it if you’re a sifter (I’m not!).

In a separate bowl, combine the butter (cooled down to room temperature) and both types of sugar and whisk until smooth. Add the egg, vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Stir until well combined.

Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated and your mix is thick and smooth.

Finally, fold in the fudge and white chocolate chunks and the chopped peanuts.

Pour the preparation into your lined baking tray and bake for 55-60 minutes (the original recipe said 40-45 minutes, but I had to put it back for an extra 15 minutes). It is actually a bit difficult to check the cooking of this brownie with a skewer as the fudge chunks and chocolate chips make it look wet. Trust your guts and remember it is better to take it out too early and put it back in for a while; rather than risk overcooking it!

When you take it out of the oven, leave to cool fully in the baking tray (as it will be soft before that and you’d risk breaking it if you handling it too much).



Once cooled down completely, cut it into (generously big) square; pour yourself a cuppa coffee and eat as many as you can before the rest of your household’s inhabitants storm into the kitchen.




Spinach and cheese tart

In France, spinach and goat’s cheese is a classical combination. The “chèvre-épinards” can be declined in tarts, lasagne, layered savoury pastries (“feuilletés”), flans, muffins and much more. The combination is tested and widely approved.

But I  know that in the UK some people find the taste of goat’s cheese too strong (not me, I once ate a whole goat’s cheese log on my own and without a piece of bread. I know, I’m not proud of myself either), therefore I thought that using mozzarella instead would be a safe option, one that everyone would enjoy. And it is delicious indeed.

Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the goat’s cheese out… So I opted for a tart that is half topped with mozzarella and half with goat’s cheese. Genius, now people can chose what cheese they want!


Spinach tart topped with goats cheese / mozzarella6

As usual, the recipe is very easy, hence perfect for a weekday dinner. It’s also ideal for picnics, barbecues, summer lunch, whenever.


  • Puff pastry
  • 400 grams of fresh spinach
  • 70 grams of grated cheese (my mum would have used gruyère, but cheddar is just as good)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tbsp of crème fraîche
  • For the topping: mozzarella and goat’s cheese (if you want to make it 50/50 like I did: 90 grams of goat’s cheese; 1 ball of mozzarella)
  • Salt and pepper


Ok, I’ll admit, I bought ready-made puff pastry because, as mentioned before, this was on a school night and I just didn’t have the time – nor will – to make pastry. Also, puff pastry is SO difficult that I don’t really bother, and the ones you buy are good so I don’t even feel bad about it. But if you want to make yours, here’s a good recipe!

Roll your pastry onto a lined tart/quiche/flan baking dish, pick with a fork, cover with baking paper and ceramic balls and blind bake for 10 minutes on the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven (210C). After 5 minutes, remove the ceramic balls and top paper and put back in the oven until slightly golden and the pastry is almost fully cooked. Leave out to cool while you make the filling.

The reason we blind-bake the pastry fully is that spinach is a very wet vegetable, and if we were to put straight onto raw pastry, there’s a chance that the pastry wouldn’t cook thoroughly.



Cook your spinach covered in a large saucepan (no oil, no water) on very low heat. When raw, 400 grams looks like it’s loads. But by the time it’s cooked, you’ll think it’s a joke, there’s just enough left to cover the base of the tart. Once cooked, put the spinach in a colander and press it down to get as much water out as possible. If you don’t get the water out, the bottom of your tart will be soggy. And we don’t like soggy bottoms (Mary Berry, if you read this!)

Next, in a bowl, mix the creme fraîche, eggs, grated cheese, salt, pepper and whisk until all blended. Don’t hesitate to taste and season, and remember that the spinach have not been seasoned, so feel free to add a little more salt to the mix.

Spinach base


In the pastry case, place all the spinach making sure it’s spread everywhere. Pour the eggy mixture on top, then top with thick slices of goat’s cheese and/or mozzarella.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden and the cheese has melted.

Serve warm with a salad on the side. Bon appétit!

Spinach tart topped with goats cheese / mozzarella3

Slice of Spinach tart topped with goats cheese / mozzarella

Classic lasagne

Sometimes, when it’s just the two of us, we just don’t feel like making any effort for Sunday dinner. This is when lasagne happens: easy to make, comforting, delicious… and even tastier the next day which can brighten a gloomy Monday! I know it’s oven-baked but in my books lasagne is just as good for cold winter nights as it is for summer late dinners.

I like to keep my lasagne simple and unfussy and let the white cheesy sauce speak for itself, this recipe is therefore very straight-forward. I like to think that it’s not too far from the original Italian recipe, but to be honest I have no idea: I’m just making it the way I saw my mum French-born-from-a-Spanish-mother do it… Let’s call it Mediterranean lasagne to be on the safe side and not offend any Italian friends 🙂

Oh… and I don’t make my own pasta. I never have, but it’s something I’ve had at the back of my mind for a while and will probably try some time soon.

Piping hot lasagne

For 6 servings, I use the below ingredients

  • Sheets of pre-cooked lasagne pasta (the exact number of sheets changes from a dish to another, but it’s roughly 6-8)


  • 375 grams of minced beef
  • 1 big white onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp of tomato puree
  • 1 glass (30ml) of red wine
  • oregano
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper


  • 50 grams of flour
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 600 ml of milk
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground pepper
  • 60 grams of cheese, grated (I mix cheddar and parmesan, but I’m pretty sure my maman would have used grated gruyere and the Italians use only parmesan, so: to taste)

Golden brown lasagne

Pre-heat your oven to 200C. In the meantime, heat a little bit of olive oil in a hot and deep enough pan and cook the onion and garlic until soft and translucent. Place the mince in the pan and break it up completely. Season with a pinch of dried oregano (or/and bay leaf, rosemary, basil…) and the tomato puree. When the meat has started to brown, add the wine and tinned tomatoes and leave to simmer on a very gentle fire for 15-20 minutes.

You can then move on to making the white sauce. It is nothing more than a béchamel sauce with grated cheese (I love béchamel  if I had no shame I’d probably eat it with a spoon straight out of the pan).

Start by making a roux: melt the butter in a pan then add the flour and stir to create a paste. On gentle heat pour the milk little by little on that paste, always stirring to prevent lumps. Once the mix is smooth, you can add a little bit more milk and so on. When your sauce has reached the wanted consistency (thick, creamy, smooth), season with freshly ground nutmeg and pepper (I love looooads of pepper in my béchamel), then add the grated cheese off the heat.

Now you can mount your lasagne: spoon half of the meat mix at the bottom of a buttered oven-proof dish, then place a layer of pasta on top (careful not to overlap your sheets or you pasta will be thick and tough – break into them if needed) and pour in half of the white sauce. Start again for the 2nd layer: meat, pasta, white sauce. Grate some more parmesan on top of it all and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

NB: sometimes, instead of grated parmesan, I like to place thin layers of mozzarella di buffala on top of the lasagne before baking. The added creaminess is to die for.

Peach crumble

I don’t know about you, but when I go food shopping, I tend to buy tons of fruit because it’s so colourful and appetising I can’t resist (also it’s good for you so why resist anyway?) Then I end up with more fruit than we can eat and I have to make an emergency fruit salad before it goes bad. Thank God, in the summer in the UK, we also have Pimms to use fruit… 😉

Last time we went shopping I bought a crate of peaches, they were so soft and fragrant, there was just no way I could have walked past without picking them up and put them in my trolley. I normally buy nectarines rather than peaches because chipmuncher has this weird silly thing where he cannot stand the furry skin of peaches, ah ah, but this time the amazing smell meant I had no choice really: it had to be peaches, nothing else.

And, of course and unsurprisingly, I ended with 6 peaches that needed using quickly because they were going over-ripe. And that’s when I saw this post by So Hungry I Could Blog.  Now, it’s pretty strange that I got excited by the idea of making crumble because I personally don’t like it. I love the fruit filling, but not really the ‘crumble’ texture… Shameful. But, hey, at least it doesn’t stop me from making it for others who do enjoy it! That was all the inspiration I needed: the very same night, I went home and made a lush peach and cinnamon crumble.

I wish I could describe the smell in the house when it was in the oven. It was something like: a buttery Christmas biscuit running through orchards with a necklace of orange flowers at dawn. I know, it doesn’t make any sense, just picture the image and smell the idea.

Bubbling crumble2

Beware, the below quantities are for a rather small crumble (max. 4 servings).

Pre-heat the oven to 250C.

For the crumble:

  • 60 grams of flour
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 45 grams of cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1.5 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp of caster sugar

Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, add the cubes of butter and rub it gently into the flour using the tip of your fingers only, until your mix is crumbly. Stir in the sugars and leave to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Peaches and butter 2

For the filling:

  • 6 peaches, peeled and sliced
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 15 grams of flour
  • 65 grams of brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of ground nutmeg

In a bowl, place the peaches and lemon juice and toss. Add the dry ingredients and combine well. Pour the filling into a pie dish and dot with small bits of butter.

Cover with the crumble mixture and bake for 30 minutes, or when the filling is bubbling through the crumble and the top is of a golden colour. Leave to rest for at least 15 minutes before eating (with cream, a scoop of ice-cream, or Greek yoghurt).


Sarah’s white chocolate mousse cake

I love summer. I know, that’s all I’ve said for the past weeks, but I really do. It’s rocked my world for about a month now, and I don’t want it to end. Ever.

I love summer for a whole lot of good reasons – many of which are related to food one way or another. But I have found an issue with it: it is so hot in our house that I cannot bring myself to bake or cook anything that requires standing by the oven for too long. So last weekend, when my friend Sarah offered to bake a cake as dessert of our BBW, you better believe I did not refuse! And how clever of me: she made the most amazing white chocolate mousse cake.

It is a layered cake composed of 2 layers of (incredibly light and bouncy) sponge, with a layer of white chocolate mousse in the middle, and a delicious frosting of white chocolate mousse topped with fresh raspberries and strawberries. I might just have to steal her recipe and try make it myself as soon as the weather allows…

Sarah's white chocolate mousse cake

Sarah’s white chocolate mousse cake

White chocolate mousse cake, topped with fresh summer fruit

White chocolate mousse cake, topped with fresh summer fruit


Edit: If you want to make this cake, turns out the recipe comes from the book ‘Gorgeous cakes’ by Annie Bell. 

Annie Bell  "Gorgeous cakes"

Annie Bell
“Gorgeous cakes”

Tomato Basil Bread Pudding with Mozzarella

I recently discovered Lattes and Leggings and it has quickly become one of my favourite food blogs. Please check it out and enjoy 1) the amazingly inventive heathy recipes 2) the great photographs.

In particular, I had come across Jen’s ‘Tomato Basil Bread Pudding With Mozzarella‘ and thought it sounded like a perfect recipe for a lazy Sunday evening. This weekend’s high temperatures meant we spent most of our time sunbathing, gardening and wishing we had a swimming pool in the small garden of our Victorian conversion flat and I didn’t  feel like standing by a hot stove and oven for too long. It was therefore the perfect time for me to try it.

I am not going to re-write the recipe here, because Jen’s is just perfect. I did adapt it a little bit to our tastes and ingredients (like, I believe, you should never hesitate to do with other people’s recipes):

  • I used ‘regular’ tomatoes instead of grape tomatoes because that’s what I had in the kitchen; and since they were ripe and very tasty I don’t think it made much difference. Obviously, I cut them in 4 instead of halves.
  • I used white loaf instead of sourdough bread, because it was stale and I find there’s nothing better than stale bread to soak up yummy tomato juices and olive oil.
  • Finally, because I’m not familiar with American cups, and because I was too lazy to convert them, I did it all “au pif et a l’oeil” – which in French means “with my nose and eye”, I’m sure you know what I mean. The recipe is so simple and instinctive that with basic judgement it worked perfectly well.

Verdict: Delicious, easy, lazy, summery recipe. Highly recommended. Served with a fresh salad, it’s just the perfect combination of simple and tasty.

Tomato Basil Bread Pudding with Mozzarella

Tomato basil mozzarella bread pudding

Summer lights in London

Sit back and enjoy the summer farniente.