Cannelés de Bordeaux

image1Since I have been spending a lot of time in Paris for work, I have become a lunch enthusiast.  When I’m in Brussels I hardly ever find time for lunch and when I do you’ll find me chewing on some sad sandwich in front of my computer.  My new found fondness for the lunch hour ‘might’ have something to do with the fact that French people drink wine at lunch (bonus!) and always have dessert (double bonus!).  During one of these lunches I was introduced to Cannelés de Bordeaux and ever since I have been obsessed with them.  I’ve tortured my French accountant to give me her recipe (merci Sophie!) and I must say … they are delicious.

A cannelé is a little cake which is crispy on the outside and has a pancake consistency on the inside (European style pancake, not the US style ones).   There is one thing you’ll love about this recipe and one thing you’ll hate.  You’ll love the fact that you have to eat them the day you make them because they lose their crispiness after a couple of hours.  So no excuses, the whole batch needs to be devoured!  Trust me, I have tried everything to keep them crispy and nothing seems to work.  One of my colleagues, who is from the Bordeaux region assured me that even patisseries over there make them fresh every day because of this very reason.  Now for the thing you won’t like: you need to plan. Whenever you feel a cannelé craving coming along you can’t just make them.  The batter needs to rest for at least 12 hours (24 hours or 36 hours is even better).  The cannelé batter is similar to pancake batter and the longer you let it rest the better it gets.  It has something to do with air bubbles and gluten, all things that I don’t understand but I have tested it and it’s true: you need to wait at least 12 hours.  There are eggs in this so I wouldn’t go beyond 36 hours of resting time.  Don’t be surprised at the fact that the batter is very liquid, this is normal.

In the version below I add brown rum, this is the traditional way of making them.  If you like a change or you don’t want to put alcohol in them you can add orange flower essence (same amount as the rhum in the recipe below).

You can find the molds to make cannelés in any basic cooking shop.  People will tell you that it is a sin to use silicone molds and that the only way to go is using copper molds.  However, these are crazy expensive and silicone works as well.  Next to the normal size molds, there are also molds for mini cannelé, I prefer these just because they are bite size.  For the mini versions, you just need to take into account that the cooking time is slightly reduced (otherwise you’ll end up with little black rocks instead of sweet crispy cannelés).

The recipe below will make 12 normal size cannelés and 24 mini cannelés.


  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoons of brown rhum
  • 1/2 liter of full fat or semi skimmed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100 grams of flower
  • 250 grams of powdered sugar (you can use normal caster sugar as well, powdered sugar is easier to mix in)
  • 50 grams of butter
  • a pinch of salt


  • Put the butter and vanilla essence in the milk and gently heat up the milk so that the butter melts.
  • Once the butter is melted and the milk is hot, turn off the heat so the mixture can cool down somewhat (we’ll mix eggs into this and if the mixture is too hot you obtain scrambled eggs).
  • Put the eggs, egg yolks and powdered sugar in a bowl and with a wisk mix them together until the mixture slightly turns white.
  • Add the flower and salt to the egg mixture and mix well.
  • Now, whilst stirring the egg/sugar/flower/salt batter add the hot milk mixture, keep stirring until there are no more lumps.
  • Poor the batter in a containers and let it rest in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
  • When you are ready to bake preheat your oven for 15 minutes on 250°C.  Poor the batter into the molds and bake them for 20 minutes on 250°C.  This will ensure the cannelés are crispy.  Then turn the heat down to 180°C and leave them for another 40 minutes in the oven.
  • After this take them out and leave them in the silicone molds to FULLY cool.
  • Once cooled down you will be able to pop them out of the molds easily … AND EAT THEM!

I hope you enjoy them!

Let’s eat!



Wonderful Welsh cakes

Welsh  Cakes I don’t know what the weather has been like in your neck of the woods but after a glorious week of sunshine, it rained most of the weekend. Ideal weather for some baking (and eating)!  I keep a box in which I throw recipes I come across that are interesting and that I might want to try.  The other day I was rummaging through it and I found a handwritten recipe for Welsh cakes which was handed down to me by one of my former work colleagues.  She is Welsh and whenever she used to go to Wales for a visit her mother would make a batch of these babies for the office and that is how I discovered them.  Surprisingly I had never tried to make them so this weekend I got the flour, sugar and butter out and I gave it a go, much to the delight of my husband.

The best way to describe Welsh cakes is to say that they are the size of a cookie, but thicker and consistency wise they are in between a pancake and a scone.  Traditionally they contain spice (cinnamon or mixed spice) and raisins.  It is a very simple dough to make but what takes some time is baking them: they are cooked on a griddle (or in a pan if you don’t have a griddle).  They are not overly sweet; it is the powdered sugar at the end that gives them a sweet touch.

The recipe below makes 30 to 40 of them (depending on their size) and they keep a couple of days in an airtight container.


  • 500 grams of self raising flour
  • 80 grams of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (you can also use mixed spice)
  • 300 grams of butter
  • 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt
  • 150 grams of raisins
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of milk (any kind – full fat, semi skimmed or skimmed)
  • 2 tablespoons of normal flour


Welsh Cakes

  • Mix the self raising flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon together.
  • Cut 250 grams of butter into 1-2 cm squares.
  • Add the butter to the dry ingredients and use your hands to rub the flour and butter together until you get small crumbs. This is the same technique that is used to make crumble topping, but here you need to ensure that the crumbs are quite small.
  • Add the raisins and mix.
  • Crack open the egg in a small bowl and beat it slightly till the yolk and white is combined and then incorporate the egg into the dough.  At this point you will already notice that the dough will come together but it will need some additional moisture.
  • Of the two tablespoons of milk add one and work the dough some more, if the dough is still a bit too dry or not all the flour is incorporated, add the second tablespoon of milk.  At this point you’ll obtain a cookie like dough, which is slightly dry and will crack easily: don’t worry this is the way it should be.  Once the dough has come together, it is not necessary to knead it any further.
  • To make the roll out process easier, cut the dough in three equal parts.
  • Put some of the normal flour on a clean kitchen surface and put some on your rolling pin.  Roll out the dough until it is about 1 cm thick.
  • Take a cookie cutter and cut out shapes.  Repeat this until you have used all the dough.
  • Put a pan on medium heat and let a little bit of butter melt in the pan (like maybe 15 grams of butter).  Don’t use too much butter, the goal is merely to grease the pan and add some flavor to the cakes.
  • Once the butter is melted you put in a batch of Welsh cakes and fry/cook/bake them for 3 minutes each side.  You will see that after 3 minutes they will have a nice brown crust and then you flip them over.  Don’t be tempted to cook them longer as they will burn and turn out dry.  Ideally they should still be a bit moist in the center.  If you want to do a test run, you start out with one cake and see how it goes.
  • Let them cool down and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I hope you enjoy these cakes as much as we did.

Let’s eat!


Crunchy apple tartelettes

Processed with MoldivI don’t think there is an original recipe for apple tart.  Everyone’s recipe is slightly different and has often been handed down to them by their mother or grandmother.  Depending on the choice of apple, the pastry and the flavorings (cinnamon, vanilla extract, lemon zest, hazelnut cream) the end result will vary.

I love to use puff pastry because of its crunch and when it comes to the apples I choose the sweetest variety on hand.  Making the pastry yourself is an option, but it is such a pain that I always use the store-bought version which works perfectly.  I love making small, almost cookie size, apple tartelettes as it accentuates the crunch of the pasty against its sweet filing.


For the compote:

  • 2 apples
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water

For the tartelettes (makes about 10 tartelettes):

  • 2 sheets of store-bought puff pastry (about 230 grams per sheet, ready rolled out)
  • 4 sweet apples (I use Jona Gold apples)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar per tartelette
  • 1 tablespoon of apricot jam
  • 1 teaspoon of water
  • 1 egg



  • Peel, core and finely dice the two apples.
  • Take a large saucepan and add the apples, sugar, water and cinnamon.
  • Stir to combine all ingredients.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn it down to medium heat, let simmer for approximately 15 minutes, during this time the apples will soften and the liquid will thicken to a syrup like consistency.
  • Let the mixture cool down.
  • Blend the mixture till smooth.


  • Peel the apples. Cut them in half and take out the core.  Then slice the apples (medium thickness) into half moon shapes.  If you notice that they are too big in comparison to the circles you’ve cut (see further) you can half them.  Take into account that as the apples will bake in the oven the slices will shrink slightly.
  • Take a sheet of puff pastry. Leave the second sheet in the fridge; it is easier to work with the pastry when it is cold.  Only take it out when you are going to make the tartelettes.
  • From each sheet of pastry, cut out 5 circles of 12 cm. I have a cookie cutter of this shape, if you don’t, you can use a small plate and cut around the plate.  The size might be a bit different, so you might not end up with 10 tartelettes.
  • On each circle of pastry spread out 1 tablespoon of compote, leave about a cm between the compote and the edge.
  • On top of this arrange the apple slices in a circle.
  • Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar on the apples.
  • Roll up the edge of the pastry to ‘close up’ the apple tart to ensure it holds the filling. If you feel like it you can pinch the pastry all around so you get a nice shape.
  • Put the egg in a bowl and whisk it. With a small brush put some egg wash all around the edges of the folded puff pastry, this will ensure the pastry turns a nice golden color when it bakes.  For decorative purposes you can sprinkle some sugar on the egg wash (and even some toasted almond flakes for extra crunch).
  • Put them in a preheated oven of 150°C for about 45 minutes. It is important to bake the tartelettes slow so the apples cook all the way through.
  • Once the tartelettes are ready, take them out of the oven and let them cool down.
  • Mix the apricot jam and the water and brush a thin layer of this paste all over the tartelette (over the filling and the edges).  This will give it a nice shine.

If you prefer making the pie-size version of this apple tart, which takes less time and is as delicious, you just need one sheet of puff pastry and fill it with the compote and apples as per the instructions above.

Let’s eat!


Sunshine in a ramekin …

crème brûlée I have not met anyone yet that does not like crème brûlée (and I probably don’t really want to).  The only struggle I have when making this dessert is the blowtorch part just before serving.  Not because it is difficult, but because I am the owner of a rubbish blowtorch which always results in a lot of swearing and a couple of burnt fingers.

There are lots of variations on this dessert, people seem to love to put all kinds of stuff in the cream (fruit, chocolate, I have even seen versions with chilly and ginger) however I like the classic version the best.

A lot of recipes require baking these babies in the oven in some kind of bath consisting out of a roasting tin filled with water.  Given my inert clumsiness I don’t follow this rule – it’s too complicated and I’ll either short-circuit my apartment building when the tin tips over in my oven or get loads of water in the crème brûlée.  I just put the ramekins in the oven at a very low temperature for about 1h30 and they turn out perfect every time.


  • 50 cl of cream
  • 75 grams of powdered sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 100 gr of sugar


  • Cut the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the vanilla seeds.
  • Pour half of the cream into a saucepan, add the vanilla seeds and the pod and heat up gently.  I use a heavy bottomed sauce pan to avoid the cream from heating up too quickly and burning.  Whatever you use, keep an eye on it and stir often!
  • Whisk together the powdered sugar and egg yolks until the mixture goes from yellow to a soft yellow, almost white-ish color.
  • Incorporate the cold cream into the sugar-egg mixture.
  • In the meantime the cream in the sauce pan should be hot, take it off the heat and let it cool down for 2 to 3 minutes.  The reason for the cool down is that if you would pour the hot cream directly into egg mixture this might result into curdling (= scrambled eggs).
  • Whilst whisking vigorously, pour the hot cream into the cold sugar, egg and cream mixture.
  • Now put the mixture in the fridge in order for it to cool down (about 2 hours).
  • Pour the liquid into ramekins, depending on the size this will make 4 to 6 portions.
  • Put them in a pre-heated oven of 100°C for 1h15 to 1h30 minutes.  They are done when the cream has set.
  • Transfer the ramekins to the fridge so they can cool down.
  • Just before serving sprinkle some sugar on top of the cream and with a blowtorch caramelize the sugar.  If you do not have a blowtorch you can use your oven grill.

I hope you enjoy it!

Let’s eat!


Lemon blueberry loaf/cake


I am not a huge cake fan – any kind of dessert involving cake or sponge does not really get me very excited.  I especially don’t like tier cakes, they look beautiful (well at least the ones other people make, mine tend to look like a toddler’s craft project) but the combo of cake and then very rich icing is too much of a good thing for me.

After having said all that, I did come across a recipe that looked interesting.  I was browsing through Julia’s blog (great blog by the way … have a look for yourself: and saw she made a lemon and blueberry loaf.  My husband being a lemon-o-holic at home, I was sure he was going to like it.  You can find Julia’s recipe here.

I used frozen berries which worked perfectly – I defrosted them quickly in the microwave (just defrost them, don’t leave them too long in the microwave or they will turn to mush) and added them to the batter.  The other thing I changed was I doubled the lemon glaze quantity because I did two rounds of drizzling to make sure there was a nice thick layer of glaze on top of it – I like sugar, what can I say?

The cake/loaf has the consistency of a muffin, which for a cake hater like me is great.  I was really delicious.



  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Lemon glaze:
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup powdered sugar



  • Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.
  • Butter an 8×4 inch loaf pan, line the bottom and two sides of the pan with the parchment paper.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, 1 cup sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk.
  • In the same bowl where you combined flour, add blueberries and toss them in 2 tablespoons of flour. This will help prevent blueberries from sinking.
  • Fold in lemon zest, and blueberries into the batter. Do it carefully and fast. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake in preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in pan for 40 minutes on a wire rack. Release the bread from the pan.

Lemon glaze

  • Combine freshly squeezed lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and beat, using electrical mixer, until smooth glaze forms .
  • Drizzle the top of the bread (after it’s been completely cooled) with the glaze. Some of the glaze will go down the sides of the bread.

Let’s eat!


Chocolate strawberries

I don’t like fruit … unless it is covered in sugar or cream.

A couple of weeks ago I saw these strawberries on Pinterest with a chocolate base and some kind of cream filling which immediately sent my fat genes into crazy mode.  I attempted to recreate them, using white chocolate mousse for the filling.  They are so good and look very pretty!  The additional bonus is that you have the impression you’re only being semi-naughty because there is actually fruit involved and this will count for one of your five a day.


To make 10 of these babies you will need:

– 10 firm large strawberries (slightly under-ripe)

– 120 gr of good milk chocolate

– 100 gr of cheap white chocolate (cheap variety seems to work the best)

– 100 gr of double cream

– 1/2 the egg white of 1 egg

Cut off the top and the bottom of the strawberry  (just enough so the strawberry can stand).

Empty out a bit of the inside of the strawberry with a spoon or a knife.  If like me you have two left hands, you can just leave it like it is, it will still be delicious.

Melt the milk chocolate either in the microwave or by putting the chocolate in a bowl on top of a pan with boiling water (in fancy cookery this would be “au bain marie”).  Poor the melted chocolate into a small cup or bowl big enough to dip in the bottom of your strawberry (I used a teacup). Let the chocolate drip off the strawberry and then put them on parchment or baking paper to cool down.

Then sit down, you’ve deserved a little break, take a spoon and lap up whatever is left of the melted milk chocolate.

For the chocolate mousse start by adding the egg white to the cream and whip it up.  Melt the white chocolate, let it cool down a bit and then fold it into the cream.  If you would add the hot chocolate into the cream mixture it might curdle.  Put the mousse into a piping bag and put it in the fridge for a good two hours to firm up.  Finally pipe white chocolate rosettes on top of the strawberries and that’s it, they are ready to be devoured!

Then you can either eat them all immediately (like I did, bravo for me and my waist line) or you put them back in the fridge were they’ll keep at least for a day or so.




Lemon Meringue Pie

I am not much of a cake maker – don’t get me wrong – I love desserts, I have a larger then average waistline to show for it, but I have discovered that any dessert involving cake or sponge is not something I can pull of.  My cake attempts often resemble a toddlers craft project and taste like old shoes covered in icing.

A couple of weeks ago I had a lemon pie from our local bakery and it was so delicious that it got me browsing for some ‘lemony’ desserts.  I ended up on the website where the boys showed how to make a lemon meringue.  It might not sound possible, but I found their version a bit to rich and sweet, it involved a digestive biscuit base and an unbaked meringue topping, all loaded with sugar.  Too much of a good thing.

lemon meringue pie

I finally ended up on the Good Food website of the BBC and tried the ‘ultimate’ meringue pie recipe, the name did not disappoint.   Baked meringue that through the use of corn starch remains chewy on the inside, and lemon curd with a balanced tang as part orange juice is used to take the edge of.  Definitely worth a try!  Check out the recipe on the BBC Good Food website: