My chocolate and Pastry Experiences

Scottish part time chocolatier in London enjoying all things Chocolate and Pastry

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Birthday Cakes

So over the last month I’ve had a few birthday cakes to do so rather than post them all individually I’ll put them all in one post.

I have used 3 recipes for them all so I’ll split them by recipe.

Lemon Drizzle

Treasure Chest
Treasure Chest                                                                                           Bows & BalloonsBows & Balloons








First Roses







Steamed Sponge (though oven cooked)

 Football Cake

1420893156357142089338390514208986891181420989719768 Football Cake







This was probably the hardest cake I’ve ever done. First obstacle was the fact that I didn’t have a hemisphere cake tin. After spending a long long time on Google, I found out I could use a pyrex bowl. I elected to use a steam sponge recipe but still bake it in the oven. The next obstacle was how to cut the shapes and what size they should be. Following taking the picture on the right I have to unpick the whole cake and start again. I am no mathematician so the final cake looked very haphazard. I loved doing the grass and used a new piping nozzle to create the effect.

Ispahan – Rose & Lychee


This is my absolute favourite cake, I am so very proud of it. Inspired by the Pierre Hermes Ispahan macaron it’s a sponge soaked with a Rose Syrup, butter cream with a layer of lychee pulp and another Rose soaked sponge on top. The branches are brown icing and I also made a little owl to hold the candles. I thought to begin with it was too small in height, but as it was 2 x 9″ victoria sponge tins it was fairly big already. The feedback on this was that it was an amazingly grown up sponge, and I’ve already been asked for another 🙂



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Banana & Chocolate Mini Loaves


Every week I start with the same thought, I’m going to buy more fruit and eat some every day…then I read an article about how the Banana is the king fruit amongst fruits health wise so I bought a large bunch.  Needless to say by the time the weekend came, I’d half the bunch that had over ripened.

I decided that, rather than throw them out I’d make my version of Banana loaf and throw in some 64% dark chocolate chips, the chocolate works well with the sweetness of the ripe banana. I think that using a milk or white chocolate would make this too sweet… this recipe is a great on the do with children as it’s not too messy but there are lots for them to get involved with.

Banana & Chocolate Mini LoavesIngredients

250g Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking powder
125g unsalted butter
250g Caster sugar
4 Ripe Bananas mashed up
2 Eggs lightly beaten
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
175g Chocolate Chips


Set for the ovenLooking good!Method
Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl.
Cream the softened butter and sugar in a separate bowl and add the vanilla, eggs, chocolate chips and mashed up bananas
Gently fold in the sifted flour in 3 stages
Transfer to half lined loaf tins and bake at 180°c for 25-30 mins depending on your oven




I had friends visiting yesterday so it was nice to share something home-made to give them, although when your kitchen is 28°c I do not recommend putting your oven on!

Time to eat

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Tarte Tatin with Puff Pastry (Pâte feuilletée)

I have decided to enter the Galvin Brothers Tarte Tatin competition that is held during their week long food festival.

I thought that this would be relatively easy, and I remembered a French friend showing me how to make one about 5 years ago. Even at the time I didn’t take much in as they were a chef by profession and just went too fast for me.

The first decision to make was whether to use shortcrust or puff pastry (Pâte brisée or Pâte feuilletée).  Legendery Patisier and MOF Pierre Hermes, michelin starred chefs Thomas Keller of New York’s French Laundry and Raymond Blanc from Le Manoir favour shortcrust (or broken) pastry whilst Le Cordon Bleu cookery school and Pastry chef Claire Clark MBE favour puff pastry. The Galvin brothers use shortcrust in their book “Galvin” but I have decided to use puff pastry

Having decided that Puff was the way to go, I set about making it.

wellpasteset up openedbutterfirst turnfirstturn

Having never made puff pastry since first year in school over 20 something years ago, I scoured all my recipe books and Youtube videos for help. I found the best videos demonstrating the method to be Richard Bertinet’s video and Raiza Costa.

I then used Le Cordon Bleu Patissiere and Baking Foundations book for the Tarte Tatin itself, also using the video (in french) of Meileur du Chef to ensure my stages were going as they should do. I would recommend peeling an extra 2 apples as I ran out and had to use a different variety, which doesn’t look as good when the tarte is turned out. There are lots of different varieties of apple to use, DON’T USE COOKING APPLES. I used Granny Smith in this with the inner circle being Cox’s, there is a huge difference in consistency after all the cooking, the Granny Smith really held their shape whilst the Cox’s where much more mushy.  Braeburn’s seem to be the advised, so next time I will use them, and I will make sure I use enough of them.

tart ingredientscaramelbubblessnugasabug

After being in the oven for about 30mins, I removed the Tarte and immediately smashed the crust on the oven shelf by accident, ordinarily this would be a bad thing but as I was turning it over I wasn’t so upset.

tarte tatinP1030438 I’m not convinced that my pastry was as it should be, having smashed the top I could see some flakey layers but not as many as I’d have expected. I think that the butter went a little warm whilst making the pastry. I’m also not sure whether I flipped this over too early as the caramel was quite runny still and looked very oily.
Pate feuilleté (Puff Pastry)

500 g (1 lb) Flour
10 g (¾ tsp) Salt
225 mL (2½ fl oz) Water
75 g (7 oz) Melted butter
200 g (7 oz) Butter
1 Egg for egg wash


  1. Sift the flour and salt onto a cold work surface. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water and melted butter. Combine the ingredients using the fingertips.
  2. Using a pastry scraper, work the flour and butter mixture until loose crumbs form. If the dough is too dry, add a little more water, being careful not to use too much or it will become sticky.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball. This is the détrempe. Cut an “X” on top to prevent shrinkage. Wrap dough in floured baking paper. Chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Lightly flour a work surface. Flatten the détrempe and, leaving a mound in the centre, roll it out to form a cross. Place the butter in the centre of the cross.
  5. Fold over each section of dough, pulling it lightly to completely enclose the butter. This is the pâton. Lightly flour the work surface and the rolling pin, rolling it over the top of the dough to seal the edges.
  6. Wrap in baking paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll the dough into a long rectangle. Fold the bottom-third up towards the middle. Bring the top-third of the dough over the folded third and brush off any excess flour. The dough should be square, have three layers and the edges should align. This is the first “turn”. Give the square a quarter turn so that the exposed edge is on the right (as if the dough were a book). Gently press the edges to seal. Roll it out into a long rectangle and fold in thirds as previously described. This is the second “turn”. Mark the dough with a fingertip to indicate the number of turns. Chill for 30 minutes.
  7. Repeat, making a total of six “turns”. Chill for 30 minutes after each second turn.


Tarte Tatin
6 Apples
54g Butter
167g Caster Sugar
208g Puff Pastry
7.5″ Tarte Tatin Mould


  1. Preheat over to 170°c
  2. Peel and core the apples, rub with lemon to prevent them browning.
  3. Place Tarte Tatin mould over a medium heat and add butter. Once this has melted add the sugar and stir in well. Stirring regularly, cook the sugar until it begins to caramelise.  Once the sugar has turned a golden brown, begin to arrange the apples around the outer edge of the mould.  The apples should be tightly packed facing the same direction, add another circle inside in the opposite direction. Cook until the caramel darkens and bubbles and the apples begin to soften, approximately 20mins.
  4. Roll out puff pastry until it is slightly larger than the pan and about 1/8-in (3-mm) thick.  Remove the pan form the heat. Then roll the dough onto the rolling pin and quickly lay it over the apples. Working quickly ( the dough will begin to soften from the heat of the apples), tuck the edges of the dough inside the edges of the pan using the back of a spoon.
  5. Place the tarte in the oven and bake until the pastry is nicely browned and a knife can be easily inserted into the apple. Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Place the serving dish over the pan and quickly flip the pan over then gently lift the mould.


The tart can be left to cool in the mould. To unmould, gently heat the caramel before unmoulding. The cooled tart can he brushed with apricot glaze if desired.