Category Archives: Tarts

What we ate in May (Sugar! Bacon!)

EDIT: I’m sorry I didn’t include recipe for the scones with BACON and cheese and chives that Lisa made. Here it is (*slides recipe under the door as placating gesture)

Bakers this way“Wanna know how many bacon things I ate?” Rylee said, her wide eyes daring me to ask the question.

“How many?”


“That is a lot of bacon.”


Now, there is no way that Rylee managed to eat that many mini bacon-infused scones, but her enthusiasm certainly is a wonderful tribute to one of our fine country’s favourite foods.

Here is a short recap of our amazing adventures at Kim’s house for our Garden Party theme:

  • We learned that weddings are made more memorable when Granddad gets drunk off vodka-soaked gummy bears.
  • Rylee has lost her two front teeth and looks like a champion.
  • We met a baby with awesome hair.
  • A good dollop of whipping cream can compliment most everything
  • Vodka-soaked gummies are pretty much the best thing ever.
  • Except maybe bacon.
  • Homemade marzipan is something you do only once.
  • Chantelle can single handedly make you love Martha Stewart again.
  • Our cake to vegetable ratio is sometimes extremely skewed. I don’t need to tell you in what direction.
  • More recipes should call for high quantities of jam.
  • Kim is officially Queen of Hats. Obviously we’re leaving it to her to make her own crown, because it’s certain to be better than anything we come up with.
  • That is one big tomato.

Kim with tomato

A huge thank you to Kim for hosting us, and for everyone for bringing their amazing creations. Here are a collection of said goodies. Scroll to the bottom for details of our next meetup and also some ideas for future themes!

Berry and Lemon Tarts

Tracy’s Berry and Lemon Tarts. Look at how cute they are. They’re barely even there. You could eat four and hardly notice.

Rhubarb Sour cream Cookies

Lory’s Rhubarb Sour cream Cookies. She tried to dub them “rustic,” but these cookies were soft and fresh and decadent, and would be brilliant with a nice cup of Earl Grey tea.

Battenburg Cake

Who makes homemade Battenburg Cake, carving wedges of sponge into submission? Kim does. With her OWN MARZIPAN. I also discovered that Battenburg makes an excellent breakfast cake.

Blueberry Tart

I took so many photos of Evelyn’s Blueberry Tart, but this is my favourite because I tell myself it is a sea of blueberries atop custard and pastry, going on forever. Sigh.

Bocconcini Salad

Charlie alone made certain we didn’t collectively fall prey to scurvy, with her beautiful, delicious and healthy! Bocconcini Salad.

Potted Chocolate Puddings

How cute are these!? Inspired by Ms Martha, Chantelle created Potted Chocolate Puddings that are a luscious treat for a garden party. Or second breakfast.

Scones with Bacon, Chives and Cheese.

Before: Scones à la Lisa, with Bacon, Chives and Cheese.

We ate all the scones. Because BACON.

After: We ate all the scones. Because BACON.

Orange Chiffon Cake.

Janice’s Orange Chiffon Cake. You know when a cake is perfectly fluffy and you can tell that the whole “beat the egg whites to that magic vague texture that will make everything awesome” part of the cake making process must have gone really well? This cake was like that.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

So many of Jean’s bakes are so pretty, they look like they belong at a rather posh high tea, and her Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake was no different. I mean look at it – it’s daring you with its decadence.

Vodka Soaked Gummies

Here they are – Evelyn and Charlie’s Vodka Soaked Gummies. They were sooo good, I have thought about them everyday since our meetup. And they count as a serving of fruit, right?

Blackberry Trifle

What you are seeing here is the base of Sharry’s Black Berry Trifle. What you don’t see is the bowl filled with a mountain of whipped cream, and a charming bowl of roasted slivered almond to top they whole thing off. And she made HOMEMADE CUSTARD!

Lemon Cupcakes with lemon buttercream

Sophia’s Lemon Cupcakes with lemon buttercream. I had meant to make angel food cake, but somehow misplaced the whisk attachment for my kitchenaid. How does that happen? Evil Kitchenaid Attachment Fairies?

Raspberry Cream Cheese Tarts

Denise made her dreamy little Raspberry Cream Cheese Tarts in two different pastry shells, because she’s fabulous like that.

Kim's Garden

Some of our clan got to have a tour of Kim’s garden, which is swoon-worthy and offers a rather grand view over Summerland and Okanagan Lake.


  • Thursday, June 23 at Wendy’s! Thank you Wendy for hosting us! If you are attending, please email me for directions.
  • Theme – “Free From 2.0” Many people have asked for another opportunity to experiment with gluten free/sugar free recipes, so here’s your chance!
  • Time: 6.30pm-ish
  • PLEASE RSVP – I like to give our host some idea of how many will be attending. If you’re coming along to this month’s gathering, please email me to let me know you’ll be there.


I recently met a man who told me of a supper club he and his wife used to belong to. Like our little group they would have a theme every month, and one month their theme was “Food from around the world.” In order to decide who got what area, the month previous they had thrown darts at a huge map of the world. Not only could you land on a country, but you could land on a specific city in that country. Imagine getting Chicago or Milan, or Timbuktu. If people are interested I am happy to acquire a map and some darts, or devise some other internet-based, spin-the-wheel option.


After our May gathering, Kim and I enjoyed a concentrated discussion that had nothing to do with baking club meet ups but a lot to do with the apocalypse preparedness, both emotionally and in practical terms (it was a hell of a 15 minute conversation), and we thought it would be fun to indulge in an apocalypse-inspired recipe theme. I’m thinking this could be an entertaining one for the winter months. You could choose to inspired one of two ways with regard to recipe choice.

  • Bunker Basics- practical dishes for subsistence living.
  • Last Meal Merengue: The comet is coming and I’ll be damned if I’m eating Kraft Dinner.

What do you think? It’s our eating club and we can be as silly as we like! Leave a comment below or ship me an email.


Filed under Fruit, garden party, meetups, scones, Tarts

June recipes – a collection of deliciousness

Greetings, fearless bakers!

I hope you all managed to take Gerri’s Terribly Difficult Wine Quiz. Here are the answers:
1. C – Pinot Noir
2. C – Spain
3. C – Thomas Jefferson
4. A – The year the wine was bottled
5. C – Primativo
6. D – All of these
7. B – Dean Martin
8. B – Richard Nixon
9. B – In Mexico
10. C – Cinsault
11. B – Podkum
12. B – Viognier
13. A – the indentation in the bottom of some wine bottles
14. B – an Italian white wine
15. C – Grenache
16. D – Chateauneuf du Pape

How did you do? Post your results/despair/bragging rights in the comments!

Now for the food from our June meetup! I don’t have the recipes for all of them, so you may just have to be inspired and experiment.

We’ll start with dessert, because that’s how I roll. Can we take a moment to admire Gerri’s Rhubarb Sorbet with dotted strawberries and accompanying chocolate biscuit? It was so delightfully refreshing. I don’t have the recipe but there are a swath of them online, and it’s a perfect time of year to experiment with ice cream and sorbets. Nom!

rhubarb sorbet

Next is Gerri’s Caramelized Onion, Feta and Olive Tart. I don’t know about the rest of you but my track record for successful onion caramelization is 0 for 5 attempts. I know the rule of “low and slow,” but somehow this has never translated into anything but slimy worm-like things for me. Gerri’s tart was gorgeous, proving once again that Feta cheese and olives are the perfect marriage.

caramelized onion tart

Next have Laura’s Cheese Pastry Swirls of goodness, which are simple to make and super Moorish. Roll out puff pastry, spread grated cheese and some herbs and then spread some thinly sliced meats on top. Roll up and slice. Bake 450 for about 10 min. Ta-da!

chese swirls

Vanora says her husband tried to forbid her from taking her Sausage Cheese Balls along, but I’m glad she brought them. They turned out more scone-like and less moist than she had desired, but I found them quite lovely, and my Scotsman happily hoovered up the leftovers when I got home.

cheese sausage ballsDirections:

Heat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease bottom and sides of baking pan(s).
1. Lightly fry 1 pound cooked bulk pork sausage meat, drain and remove the fat. (Put meat aside until step 4)
2. Measure the following into a large bowl. Use a wire whisk to blend thoroughly.
— 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
— 1.5 tablespoons baking powder
— ½ tablespoon salt
3. Cut in ¼ cup cold unsalted butter using a pastry cutter until thoroughly incorporated
4. Add the following, and stir in to the flour mixture:
— 4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (16 ounces)
— ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
— ½ teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
— 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh parsley or 1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
— 1lb cooked sausage meat
5. Add milk or oil if necessary to improve the consistency for shaping mixture into 1-inch balls. Place in pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brown. Immediately remove from pan.
Can store frozen up to 1 month.

From Vanora: The baked sausage balls seemed rather dry and scone-like, so small balls were more palatable! I wrapped the cooked balls in smoked beef bacon, but regular pork bacon, prosciutto etc would also work. Another time I would be tempted to decrease the flour mix and increase the sausage meat and cheese, as these flavours seemed to be drowned out.

Mini oat cakes with blue cheese mousseOn my third and final try baking my Mini Cheddar Oatcakes, I thwarted disaster by using the recipe on my old Scotland blog, and by adding more butter and a heap more cheese until they resembled what they did then.

I had wanted to try blue cheese mousse because I had eaten mini oat cakes with blue cheese mousse at a party once, and I didn’t want to think up my own ideas when someone else’s was better.

Rosemary crackers with salmon dip

Lisa L was displeased with her Rosemary Crackers, and insisted they resembled the tiny backsplash tiles in Gerri’s kitchen. I refused to honour that sentiment with a comparison photo. They were lovely, and were served with an extremely good salmon mousse. Lisa had even caught the salmon herself, which earns major points (I don’t know what the points will win in the end but there’s bound to be cake involved).

Salmon Dip– thoroughly mix standard package of softened cream cheese and the un-drained contents of an approx 220g can of smoked salmon. Add several dollops of Franks Red Hot Sauce or tabasco to taste. Add cracked pepper to taste. Put into serving dish and refrigerate. Sprinkle with paprika or cayenne before serving.

From Lisa: Here’s some stuff I did right: I added extra rosemary (double the amount) and also sprinkled the tops with additional sea salt before baking. I used a knife to cut the dough after it was rolled out onto the parchment, and pricked the tops of each cracker with a fork. I baked the crackers on the parchment, on a baking sheet.

Here’s where I went wrong (and why they turned out to have both the look and texture of Gerri’s kitchen backsplash tiles): I did not roll them thinly enough, and so I had to bake them too long. They certainly did rise! I would say you need to roll them to about half the height you want them to be.

salsa sour cream dipFor Wendy’s Five Minute Dip, which didn’t work so well as leftovers, I highly recommend simply standing next to it for a long time, slowly but surely devouring a good cup and a half of the delicious mix, piled high on the backs of unsuspecting tortilla chips. Do this until you’re just a little ashamed of yourself, then let someone else have a go.

Cream cheese base:
8 ounces of cream cheese (softened and whipped)
1 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of mayo

Mix base with an electric mixer and smooth into a shallow plate with edges. Cover with salsa. Cover dip with cheddar cheese.

Options from Wendy:

Vary the ingredients based on taste or what you have on hand
Add chopped tomatoes, peppers and green onions on top of cheese
My daughter uses Greek yoghurt in place of sour cream
Use any type of graded cheese
I prefer to use hot salsa as it is not too hot when eaten with the base

Lana was new to our group and her Rosemary and Nut Crackers were reminiscent of the Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps you can often find in the supermarkets. She served these with goat cheese and her own fig jam. So, so very tasty. Apparently the recipe’s creator is Marie. I don’t know who Marie is but she should definitely join out baking club.

seeded crisp breads

Marie’s Rosemary nut Crackers

Original Recipe:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 cup honey
1 cup raisins
1⁄2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1⁄2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1⁄4 cup sesame seeds
1⁄4 cup flaxseed, ground
2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chpped

350 degrees.
Sift together flour, b soda, salt. Add buttermilk. Stir to just combined. Add rest of ingredients. and pour into greased loaf pans.

Bake 35 min. Cool. Slice. Bake 10 minutes on each side.

Modifications: omit parmesean, substitute flax for hemp seed, increased flour by 3⁄4 cup.

Next we have Sandra’s Pine Nut and Roasted Cherry Tomato Tart. I can’t remember if we even managed to save any leftovers from this, or the delightful little cheesy stuffed tomatoes.

roasted tomato tartServes 6

½ pound puff pastry, thawed
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes
½ tsp salt, divided
1 tsp granulated sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
20 pitted Nicoise olives
1 tsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped
6 oz fresh goat’s cheese
1 large egg
1 tsp fresh chives, chopped
1 tsp lemon zest
¼ fresh ground pepper
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted, for garnish
Parmesan cheese, freshly shaved, for garnish
Baby arugula or micro greens, for garnish

Roll out puff pastry into a 16 x 6-inch rectangle. Fit pastry into a 14×4 inch tart pan with removable sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400F. Poke tart shell all over with a fork before baking for 10 minutes. Place on wire rack to cool while making filling. Reduce oven temperature to 350F.

Warm oil in frying pan over medium heat. Add cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with ¼ tsp salt and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in sugar and garlic and continue to cook for another minute. Add olives and oregano and stir to incorporate. Remove frying pan from heat and set aside.

In a bowl, stir together goat’s cheese, egg, chives, lemon zest, remaining ¼ tsp salt and pepper. Spread cheese mixture over bottom of baked tart shell and top with tomato mixture. Bake tart until pastry is golden brown and filling is warmed through, about 25 to 30 minute before unfolding and setting on a serving plate. When ready to serve, garnish with a shower of toasted pine nuts, some shaved Parmesan and baby arugula before slicing.

We also welcomed Lisa H and her delicious Leek and Gruyere Tart. She has convinced me that it is easy, and it certainly proved crowed pleasing, so I think I shall definitely have to give this recipe a go.

leek and gruyere tart

Gerri also treated us to homemade Kale Chips, which are easier to make than one might think. I had in the past used the curly kale, but my chips always went soggy after awhile. Gerri swears by the flat kale, a tiny bit of olive oil to massage into the kale and a sprinkling of garlic salt. Bake in a fairly high oven but watch them and flip occasionally until they are good and crispy. Serve and devour!

kale chips

Finally, we have Jane’s extremely colourful Italian Anti-pasto Skewers. Is there anything better than fresh mozzarella, tomato, salami and black olives? These would be great for a summer picnic.

Italian anti-pasto-skewers

Whew! How delicious was that? I for one could use a snack.

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes, Tarts

High Tea – The Recipes

I’m going to kick off this lovely list of recipes by leading an internet round of applause for Janice, who thwarted the curse of too-warm hands and went ahead and baked with pastry anyway. “I don’t do pies,” Janice once told me. She and pastry are not friends. After many failed attempts at pies and other treats, she informed the other women in her family of her frustration. There was much head shaking and several despairing “tsk tsks,” and Janice was informed that alas, she was born with warm hands and that pastry would forever mock her. But behold, she did it anyways! And I think we can all agree that her spiced nut palmiers were a rousing success. Perhaps the curse of the PASTRY OF DOOM has been broken!

Spiced Nut Palmiers

Janice’s Spiced Nut Palmiers (Recipe from The Perfect Afternoon Tea Book, published by Hermes House)
75g/3oz/ ½ cup chopped almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts
30ml/ 2 Tbsp caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2.5ml/ ½ tsp ground cinnamon
225 g/ 8 oz puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

Makes about 40

Lightly butter two large baking sheets, preferably non-stick. In a food processor, process the nuts, sugar and cinnamon until finely ground. Transfer half the mixture to a small bowl.

Sprinkle the work surface and pastry with caster sugar and roll out the pastry to a 50 x 20 cm / 20 x 8 inch rectangle about 3mm/1/8 inch thick, sprinkling with more sugar as necessary (Sophia’s note – of course I read that as “more sugar than necessary). Brush the pastry lightly with beaten egg, sprinkle evenly with the nut mixture in the bowl.

Fold in the long edges of the pastry to meet in the centre and flatten with the rolling pin. Brush with egg and sprinkle with most of the remaining nut mixture. Fold in the edges again to meet in the centre, brush with egg and sprinkle with the remaining nut mixture. Fold one side of the pastry over the other.

Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry crossways into 8mm/ 3/8 in thick slices and place the pieces cut-side down about 2.5 cm/ 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Spread apart the pastry edges to form a wedge shape. Chill the palmiers in the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F.

Bake the palmiers in the preheated oven for about 8-10 minutes until golden, carefully turning them over halfway through the cooking time. Watch the palmiers carefully as the sugar can easily scorch. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Victoria Sandwiches Mrs BeetonKim’s Victoria Sandwich

I thought it would be fun just to post a picture of the recipe directly from the Mrs. Beeton book (click to make it bigger).

Something to note with older recipes – read them through a few times slowly before commencing. Kim discovered this the hard way: “Stir the sugar and the yolks of eggs together – done! Then add the butter – done! …melted. Dammit!”

Kim served the Victoria sandwich with rhubarb curd, which was positively dreamy. Who cares if it turns out a little runny, because then you have a perfect excuse to drown your cake in the extra. Nom!

Victoria Sandwich with rhubarb curd

Jennifer’s carrot cake roulade with pineapple cream cheese

I have never attempted a roulade. I somehow manage to use all of my kitchen and have been known to overlap into the living room when I’m baking. I imagine requiring an actual island instead of a kitchen island if I were to try to do this. But if someone else wants to go ahead and create this lightly spiced, moist and lovely cake, I fully support this endeavour.

Click here for the recipe.

carrot cake roulade

Jennifer’s advice is to follow the hints on how to roll a roulade:

While the cake is still hot, lay a clean, unscented, lint-free kitchen towel over it. If the towel is long, extend one end about 1-1/2 inches beyond a short side of the cake and don’t worry about the other end. Invert a large rack or cutting board over the towel. Holding both the baking sheet and the rack with protected hands, invert the cake. Remove the baking sheet and parchment.

Using both hands and starting from the short end with the shortest towel overhang, roll the cake and the towel up together. Let cool for 30 minutes.

Carefully unroll the cake; it should look wavy and both ends should curl. (It’s OK if there are some small cracks.) Let cool completely, 10 to 15 minutes.

Jean’s Tea Bag Cookies

These were adorable (and extremely tasty) and would make amazing gifts or place setting treats.

tea bag cookie

From Jean: The fiddely part of this cookie is making the string tag. The string is crochet cotton.

1/3 cup butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
100 gram dark chocolate

Mix first 5 ingredients. Shape into a disk and refrigerate 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 C
Roll dough out about ½” thick. Cut shapes (make a template of a teabag). Poke a hole in the top using a straw.
Bake 5-10 minutes. Let cool.
Melt chocolate, dip bottom of eat “tea bag.” Lay on wax paper to set. Thread through the hole, attach the “tag” at other end of string.

eccles cakesJean’s Eccles Cakes

Because crafting tea bag cookies was not enough, Jean made Eccles Cakes as well. These are so perfect for tea time, and would be great for a picnic as well.

From Jean: Cut brown sugar down to ½ cup if you wish.

4 Tbsp butter
1 cup currants
¾ cup brown sugar
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
1 pkge puff pastry
¼ cup milk
1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 C. Line baking sheet with wax paper.
In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in currants, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly. Remove from heat.
Roll pastry out about ¼” thickness. Cut out rounds, using about 3” circle.
Divide currant mixture between circles; moisten the edges with milk; fold over & pinch edges using a fork.
Turn pastries upside down, gently roll out to make a flatter/wider pasty. Do Not Break The Dough.
Brush each cake with beaten egg. Sprink with sugar (I used organic raw sugar).
Make 3 parallel cuts across the top of each cake.
Bake 15-20 minutes, remove and sprinkle with more sugar.

Jane’s Whipped Short Bread Cookies

To make these cookies, Jane used an electric food gun that she had picked up at a garage sale “many, many moons ago.” Check out the Proctor-Silex Electric Food Gun “Super Shooter” circa 1970. I love it – it makes me imagine Jane is some kind of culinary detective, out to solve kitchen mysteries like The Case of the Collapsed Soufflé, or The Dangerous Dame Tart Shell and the Crime of the Disappearing Custard.

Whipped shortbread cookies

From Jane: I am sure you could produce a nicely shaped cookie and achieve the same result using a pastry bag and large decorating tip; Wilton brand has a multitude of choices.

1 lb of butter
1 cup of icing sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch sifted with 3 cups of flour

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add flour and cornstarch, whip until fluffy.
Drop by teaspoon on cookie sheet or use an “electric food gun”.
Bake at 300 until golden brown, approx 10-13 minutes for 3″ cookie.
Makes 7 dozen plus cookies dependant on size.

Gerri’s Fluffy Scones

Gerri served these with homemade cherry jam and Devon Cream, which I have now learned that you can pick up at Nester’s here in Summerland. I’ve always preferred cream over butter on scones. Combine with jam and add a lovely cup of Earl Grey, and I’ll be in my happy place until all the crumbs are gone.

Scones with cherry jam and cream

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1 cup whipping cream (unwhipped)
½ cup – or a little more milk
2 tsp lemon juice
1 egg beaten

Preheat the oven to 360 C. Sift the flour & baking powder in a large bowl, stir in sugar and salt. Cut the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Mix together the milk and lemon juice – the mixture will curdle slightly. Add the beaten egg and pour into the flour mixture. Mix gently just until the dough forms. Do not keep mixing. Pick up dough the size you wish your scones to be and place on a parchment lined pan. The less fussing the lighter they will taste.

Bake approx 15 – 20 minutes depending on size.

Dorthea’s Sticky Ginger Lemon Drizzle Cake

This cake is rich and warming and very Moorish. Served with extra cream to compliment the hit of ginger, it’s very addictive. The recipe is from the UK.

Sticky Ginger Lemon Drizzle Cake

From Dorthea: The lemon curd was tricky because I had no idea what a stem ginger ball was. Instead I used candied ginger and found a jar of ginger marmalade to use instead of the stem ginger syrup. I think those worked well as substitutes.

So for the lemon curd mixture, I diced the candied ginger, about 2-3 tablespoons, and then combined it with the lemon curd in the blender again. Actually I have an old Braun coffee grinder that I use for spices, etc., and I used it to dice the candied ginger, and to mix as much of the lemon curd as would fit in the coffee grinder, and then I mixed the rest of the curd (about 1/2 – 2/3 cup altogether).

The cream icing filling was the main problem because I clearly didn’t use a firm enough cream. The recipe calls for cream cheese, heavy cream, ginger syrup, and icing sugar. I used whipped cream, cream cheese, ginger marmalade, and icing sugar. The whipped cream didn’t stay firm, which is why it was oozing out of the middle of the cake. While some is supposed to flow gracefully down the side of the cake, this just flowed. I should have used something firmer- perhaps all cream cheese, or even sour cream, or some of Gerri’s double cream!

Laura’s Cream Puffs

Choux pastry is another thing I haven’t yet tried, however Laura has convinced me that it is easier than I have imagined it to be, so I’m officially going to give it a go.

I love some of the images or notes I get from our bakers, with recipes dug up from obscure books or magazines. Here is the choux pastry recipe – notice the note “April 85.” (click to embiggen) Nearly 30 years and still churning out perfect Cream Puffs!

Cream puff recipe

Now you have two fillings to choose from:

Hazelnut Cream Filling
1 egg
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp instant coffee
1/8 cup finely chopped hazelnuts (filberts)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp hot water
2 Tbsp heavy cream, whipped

In a large bowl, beat egg with flour, sugar, instant coffee, hazelnuts and cornstarch until well blended.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add milk and bring almost to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly whisky the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return all the ingredients to the saucepan, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened and comes to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Add vanilla extract and hot water to the thickened mixture, stirring to combine. Set aside to cool until firm. Fold in the whipped cream. Refrigerate until thick.

When ready to serve, horizontally slice the top of the cream puff to create two pieces, a top and a bottom. Fill each cream puff bottom with a spoonful of the filling. Close with the top section.

Additions to this recipe may include flavoured extracts for liquors, cocoa, food colourings, or flavoured waters.

cream puffs with hazelnut cream

Maple Crème Filling
1 egg
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp hot water
3 tsp pure maple surup
2 Tbsp heavy cream, whipped

In a large bowl, beat egg with flour, sugar and cornstarch until well blended.

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, add milk and bring almost to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly mix the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return all the ingredients to the saucepan, cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened and comes to a boil. Remove from heat.

Add vanilla extract, hot water and maple syrup to the thickened mixture, stirring to combine until dissolved. Set aside to cool until firm. Fold in the whipped cream. Refrigerate until thick.

When ready to serve, prepare cream puffs as with hazelnut filling.

Ming’s Lavender Lemon Shortbread

I forgot to take a photo of these very pretty cookies! These are the very same shortbread biscuits that Ming to which treats her B&B when they arrive. It’s important to remember to use culinary lavender. Ming’s trick to never overdoing the lavender flavour is to add lavender to her sugar and give the flavour time to mingle, guaranteeing a subtle and aromatic cookie experience.

Makes 1-1/2 dozen cookies

½ cup (113 grams) butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (45 grams) powdered sugar
Zest of 2 lemons, divided
1/2 teaspoon lavender buds, ground or chopped finely
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
In large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, zest of 1 lemon, lavender, vanilla, and salt until the mixture looks like a coarse sand.
Mix in the flour until the dough comes together.
In a small bowl, mix together the remaining lemon zest and granulated sugar with your fingers until fragrant. Set aside.
Lightly flour surface, and roll out shortbread to ¼ inch thick.
Sprinkle on the lemon scented sugar and lightly press it into the shortbread with the rolling pin.
Cut out shapes and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Finger Sandwiches

With so many sweets on offer, we all dove in to the plates of finger sandwiches provided by Vanora and Sandra. Vanora carved out quaint cucumber and tomato sandwiches into little triangles. And because finger sandwiches can dry out quickly, you don’t have to feel bad about eating a lot of them really quickly. In between you can cover them with a London-inspired tea towel!

baked goodies London Underground tea towel

Notes from Sandra: When you’re ordering bread ask for the white sandwich loaves sliced lengthwise and order a few days in advance . Two loaves will make enough for a full serving plate of sandwiches…I usually order 3 loaves – any leftovers are great for bread stuffing. I usually make ham and egg ribbons, rolled egg with olives, rolled salmon with gherkins, and cream cheese and asparagus.

finger sandwichesSandra’s Finger Sandwich Fillings

Egg Salad
4 eggs, salt and pepper, chopped chives, dash of prepared mustard, mayonnaise
salt and pepper, dill, mayonnaise

Chopped gherkins or pickles, salt & pepper, and mayonnaise.
Mix cream cheese and butter until fluffy and easy to spread – usually 1/2 and 1/2

For ribbons – leave crusts on – and butter three long slices with Cream cheese and butter mixture – and then use egg filling between 2 slices and then ham filling. Makes a 3 layered sandwich – cover these with a damp linen tea towel as you make them, as the bread drys out quickly. I usually make the night before — leave the large sandwich whole and then slice the next day. To slice – first remove all crusts and then slice into equal size fingers. Put in a container – back in the fridge – and keep covered with damp tea towel until ready to serve.

For rolled (Pinwheel) sandwiches – take a slice on bread – cut off the crusts at the short end – spread with cream cheese mixture and top with filling. Line up olives or gherkins at one short end and then roll – keep in the roll – overnight – with damp tea towel covering. Cut the next day. Cut end crusts off first and then cut each roll into 4 or 5 pinwheels. I usually fiddle with the olives so that you get the pimento showing on each sandwich (like a bullseye).

Salmon with gherkins – do the same as above – when lining up gherkins – cut the end of both end of the pickles to give them a flat edge – it looks nicer when sandwiches are sliced.

Asparagus – Add a bit more cream cheese to butter/cream cheese mixture – take long slice of bread – cut off all crusts and then cut long slice into squares – usually will make 4 squares – spread with cream cheese mixture – then lay two asparagus spears diagonally (and top to tail) then fold corner to corner and fasten with a toothpick – keep in fridge with covered with tea towel – slice in two when ready to serve.

I usually make them the day before – slice them the next morning – and then they can keep all day in the fridge until ready to serve.

mini bakewell tartsSophia’s mini bakewell tarts

Another UK recipe from BBC Goodfood, and not surprisingly the photo on the website looks much more lovely than how mine turned out.

And finally we have Judith’s Mini Lemon Tarts! I don’t have the recipe but the secret is they are made with a shortbread case. Judith reported that these are were more than a little difficult when it came to trying to extract them from the tin when they were finished. Apparently greasing is still a requirement even when dealing with something that is made of almost pure butter!

Mini lemon tarts



Filed under cookies, Recipes, scones, Tarts, tea

Getting tarty

The second gathering of our little baking club was even better than the first, with eight of us in attendance and an abundance of tarty goodness to share.


lemon_tartsA few of us bent the rule in what could be truly defined as a “tart.” Both of my desserts – a raw food tropical fruit tart and a chocolate tart – were really more like pies. But despite the chocolate tart burning slightly on the bottom, it still had that mud pie flavour and was rich and delicious.

Kelsey and Lorena’s “chocolate chip cookie tart” with peanut butter icing really did look like a giant iced cookie, but oh was it good. Brilliant comfort food that I will need to recreate the next time I am struck down with a cold.

Then there was Jennifer’s lobster and asparagus “egg tart,” which, let’s be honest, was really a quiche. But it was ever so delicious and perfect to snack on between bouts of sugar overload. The leftovers I had packed away for myself didn’t even make it to the next day.

Straight out of the oven and onto the baking club table were Lisa’s lemon tarts, with a bit of strawberry and basil. Is there anything that can beat homemade lemon curd? I think not.

raspberry_sour_cream_tartChristine and Haley’s raspberry and sour cream tart was both refreshing and rich and oh so Moorish. Finally, Cheryl treated us all to classic butter tarts. I had no idea that adding a little vinegar helps put a bit of zing in the filling.

I’m already planning ahead for this month’s event, the theme for which will be “seasonal fruits.” If we manage to get some hot weather, we could be in luck with cherries, but there are raspberries and strawberries as well. Having dealt with two slight baking disasters for the last two bake nights, I’m determined to practice my recipe at least once.

If you’re an amateur baker and you need another reason to bake and eat cakes, we’d love to have you! Email me at to sign up for the next meeting.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tarts