Tag Archives: pastry

Rainbow Vegetable Puff Pastry Tart

Vegetarian tarts are some of my favourite savoury bakes to make. It’s very easy to create a delicious vegetarian meal without feeling as if you’re missing the meat using puff pastry. And this Rainbow Vegetable Tart is an easy and delicious vegetarian puff pastry tart that can be ready in just 45 minutes!

There’s no shame in using ready made puff pastry, especially when it’s so readily available, cheap and good quality from many supermarkets. The tart has flaky and delicate buttery puff pastry with a layer of smooth cream cheese and lots of good vegetables which are tasty and texturally all different; the cucumber provides a soft mellow base, the carrots add slight sweetness as well as a tiny amount of crunch, the tomato adds moisture and sweetness as it roasts on the surface and the red onions cook down and become crisp. The tart is finished off with melted brie and gorgonzola.

1 x 375g block of shop bought puff pastry

75g full fat cream cheese

Ground black pepper

20ml lemon juice

Pinch of salt

½ a cucumber, cut into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler, seeds removed

½ a carrot, cut into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler

3 tomatoes, sliced

½ a red onion, sliced thinly

50g brie, cubed

25g gorgonzola, cubed

Beaten egg, to glaze

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Cut a piece of parchment to fit a square baking tray.

Roll out the puff pastry into a square on a lightly floured surface measuring 23cm by 23cm. Use a knife to lightly score a mark 2cm in from each side.

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with the black pepper, salt and lemon juice until it has a spreadable consistency. Spread the cream cheese on top of the puff pastry up to the marked edge.

Arrange the cucumber and carrot ribbons over the pastry so that the cream cheese is concealed, again reaching up to the border. Place 16 tomato slices on the tart in a 4×4 grid as in the picture and scatter over the thinly sliced red onions and the brie and gorgonzola. Finish with a crack of black pepper and brush the top of the puff pastry with egg wash.

Bake the tart for around 25 minutes or until the pastry is well-risen, golden and crisp and cooked all the way through to the base. Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before slicing into 4 pieces and serving hot with a lightly dressed side salad.


Salted Caramel Choux Buns

Choux pastry has grown to become one of my favourite pastries to make. It’s simpler in comparison to its shortcrust and puff cousins, you don’t need to roll it out and worry about overworking the pastry and what’s more, it’s also incredibly versatile, capable of making sweet and savoury bakes. Today I’m doing a sweet version, sharing my Salted Caramel Choux Buns.

Salted Caramel Choux Buns

Choux has two important stages in the cooking and mixing process, the cooking of the flour and the addition of the eggs. Choux pastry employs a different method of pastry making compared to the rubbing in of the fat into the flour for shortcrust and the folding/layering of fat in rough puff, flaky and puff pastry. The flour is added to boiling liquid and cooked out over the heat. Heating up the flour will allow the flour to gelatinise as the starch molecules in flour absorb the liquid and swell upon heating. You’ve cooked out the flour enough when the bottom of the pan starts to look furry.

The second stage is adding the eggs (only once the dough has cooled down slightly or the eggs would curdle!) which are responsible for adding extra moisture which will expand in the oven and create the puffed up hollow choux bun. Eggs are a source of protein and lend themselves to giving a structure capable of holding the shape of the puffed up choux bun. And in the oven, the moisture from the water in the first stage and the eggs will evaporate, forcing the choux bun to expand.

I always think of choux pastry as the pastry that looks like it’s going wrong. You add the flour into the liquid and you think it will never mix together to form a dough; you start to beat in the eggs and you never think the choux pastry will come together but after a solid minute of beating, the eggs emulsify and the pastry comes together.


The filling for these choux buns is an almost addictive salted caramel whipped cream. I know salted caramel is a bit of an overused ingredient nowadays but I just can’t get enough of it. Here are some of my other salted caramel recipes:

Salted Caramel, White Chocolate and Lemon Savarins

Dairy Milk Caramel Cupcakes

For the choux pastry

175ml water

75g margarine

¼ tsp salt

100g plain flour

3 large eggs, beaten in a bowl

A handful of flaked almonds

For the salted caramel

120g caster sugar

3 tbsp water

2 tbsp margarine

150ml double cream

½ tsp salt

For the filling

250ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Line 2 baking trays with some baking parchment.

Place the margarine, water and salt into a pan and heat until the margarine has melted. Turn up the heat and bring it to the boil. Once the water is boiling, take the pan away from the heat add in the flour all at once; this technique is often referred to as shooting.

Beat the flour into the liquid with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough. Return the pan to the heat and cook the choux pastry until the bottom of the pan looks furry and a ball of dough which is smooth has formed. Remove the pan from the heat and let the dough cool.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding the second once the first has fully incorporated, until it forms a smooth and glossy pastry which when you dollop it off the wooden spoon will form a ‘V’ shape hanging from the spoon.


Fill a piping bag with the choux paste and twist the top firmly so none of it leaks out during piping. Pipe out balls of the dough around 3-4cm wide, leaving space between for expanding. Lightly brush each of the choux buns with milk or an egg wash. Then place some flaked almonds on the top of the choux pastry. You can smooth out the choux buns using the egg wash if they have a point, which could burn during baking.


Bake the choux buns for 15 minutes before opening the oven door to release the steam and dropping the temperature down to 180˚C and baking for a further 12 – 15 minutes until they are firm, rich golden colour and risen well. They should lift off the parchment easily too, leaving it clean.


Remove them from the oven and use a sharp knife to pierce a hole in the base of the choux buns. Upturn them so the hole is facing upwards and return the choux buns to the oven for a further 5 minutes to dry out. When you are ready to fill the choux buns, split them in half and keep the matching halves together.

For the salted caramel, stir together the water and sugar over a medium heat in a pan until it dissolves. Add the margarine and stir to melt. Bring the mixture up to the boil and let it boil away for around 6-7 minutes until it turns a caramel colour, swirling the pan every now and then to make sure its evenly mixed.

Carefully pour in the double cream as it will spit and splutter. Whisk in the double cream and the salt over the heat until the salted caramel is smooth and silky. Pour into a heatproof bowl to cool down fully. Once cool, it should be thick and sticky.

In another bowl, pour in the double cream and whisk it (by hand, I promise this doesn’t take too long!) until it just holds a soft peak. It will look very soft and pillowy and should just hold on the whisk. Add in around a third of your salted caramel and whisk the cream until it changes colour slightly and the caramel is mixed in well. It should still be quite soft, don’t overwhisk.

Fill a piping bag attached with a pointed star nozzle with the salted caramel cream. Pipe the filling generously into the bottom halves on your choux buns, sandwiching the two halves together and pressing down lightly to stick together but not too hard to disrupt the nozzle pattern. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar.

Salted Caramel Choux Buns

Apple and Plum Turnovers

There’s nothing homelier and comforting than a pie especially when you add a filling with lots of autumnal flavours and warming spices and my Apple and Plum Turnovers are fitting with the change of weather.

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This is a fantastic way to use up those apples that you just don’t know what to do with and the plums which are a bit too overripe for my liking. I like to keep the skin on both the apples and plums as both fruits are high in pectin, a water-soluble fibre that forms a gel when combined with water. This helps to set the compote up slightly so that there isn’t too much liquid which could give you a soggy bottom! I like to place a layer of rolled oats underneath the compote filling which helps to absorb some of the moisture and prevent that dreaded soggy bottom.

I roll out the pastry slightly to make the rectangle larger so it can hold more filling and also the pastry is thinner which is the perfect ratio of pastry to filling. Before I bake the turnovers, I finish with a brush of egg wash to glaze the pastry and sprinkle over some flaked almonds and crunchy Demerara sugar.

2 apples, I used Pink Lady

3 plums

2 tbsp sugar – you can use brown sugar

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp mixed spice

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

50g sultanas

2 tbsp water

2 tsp flour

1 pack of ready-rolled puff pastry

Rolled oats

Demerara sugar

Flaked almonds

Icing sugar

Decore the apples and chop them into 1cm cubes. Halve the plums, twist to separate them into two halves, destone, and chop the plums into 1cm cubes. Add the sugar and all of the spices to the pan. Put the pan on a medium heat for 10 minutes until the fruit begins to soften.

Add in the sultanas and water and stir. Place on the lid and allow the compote to bubble away for a further 10 minutes until the fruit has softened. Check the liquid, it should be thick and syrupy. You can add some flour to thicken it up. Transfer the compote to a bowl and allow to cool fully.


Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Cut the puff pastry into 6 rectangles and on a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry slightly thinner and larger. Onto one side of the pastry and leaving a 1cm border on that side, sprinkle over a layer of the rolled oats. Spoon over around 2 tablespoons of the filling onto the oats and sprinkle over some more on top.

Cut a diagonal line in the centre of the other half of the pastry and fold the pastry over the filling, pressing around the compote and the 2 sides together lightly. Crimp the edges of the turnover using a fork and place onto the baking tray. Repeat for the other turnovers. Brush the turnovers with some beaten egg and then sprinkle over the Demerara sugar and flaked almonds.


Bake the turnovers for around 25 – 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown, risen in layers and when you lift them up from the tray, the bases are cooked through. Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

While they cool, make your icing by mixing together icing sugar with either water or milk to form a thick icing that is runny enough to pipe; 2 teaspoons of liquid usually works for 40g icing sugar. Place into a piping bag and drizzle over the turnovers, or you can randomly drizzle it with a spoon.

Exploring Chocolate Tarts: Cremamocha Tart

The final chocolate tart in my series ‘Exploring Chocolate Tarts’ is my Cremamocha Tart; a shortcrust pastry base filled with a coffee flavoured smooth chocolate ganache. The coffee flavour comes from the addition of Camp Coffee, a chicory-based coffee flavoured essence which can be used in baking to produce a coffee flavour as well as being used as a coffee substitute.


Here are some of my other recipes where Camp Coffee could be used to give a great coffee flavour. To use Camp Coffee, I recommend using the same weight of the coffee granules, so if a recipe calls for 1 tsp of instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 tbsp of milk, add 1 tsp of Camp Coffee essence.

Coffee and Vanilla Striped Biscuits

Snowy Mountain Mochacinno Cake

Mocha Choca Madeleines

Coffee and Walnut Lamingtons

Perfect Coffee and Walnut Cupcakes

Since the ganache filling is not baked in the oven, you have to blind bake the pastry cases. You can read the full details of both how I line my tart tins as well as how I blind bake my pastry by clicking here.

1 pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry

150ml single cream

2 tbsp Camp Coffee essence

150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Fill your tart tins with the pastry as detailed above, rerolling any excess to the same thickness. Any gaps in your pastry can be patched up with the pastry. Line with foil as above and fill with weights.


Place the tarts into the preheated oven and turn the temperature down to 180˚C and bake blind for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, remove the foil and weights and return to the oven for 10 minutes until the base is golden and cooked through.

For the ganache, heat together the cream and Camp Coffee essence in the microwave for 90 seconds, stirring after each 30 seconds have passed. Add in the dark chocolate pieces and leave for 3 minutes. Then stir the ganache until the chocolate has all melted and it is smooth and silky.

Fill the pastry cases right to the top with ganache, using a knife to spread out the surface so that it is smooth. Chill the tarts for 45 minutes until the ganache has set and isn’t soft or sticky to the touch.


To serve, dust the tart decoratively with icing sugar, using a template to create shapes. You may wish to serve it with fresh fruit or a praline.

Exploring Chocolate Tarts: ‘Nuts for Chocolate’ Tart

You might have seen my recipe for Dark Chocolate Teacakes using Mr Toms but I chose to reinvent the way in which I used it in a bit of an experiment to make my Nuts for Chocolate Tart.


Mr Tom is essentially a peanut praline bar and so I decided to crush it up into a powder and use it as a dry ingredient in the chocolate frangipane. This was a bit of an experiment but the texture of the tart was reminiscent of a Bakewell tart except with the flavour of chocolate.

Margarine and sugar are creamed together before the egg is mixed in and the ground almonds, cocoa powder and Mr Tom powder are folded through with a drop of almond extract. I like to finish the tarts off with a chocolate topping of simply melted chocolate with single cream. It sets softer than a ganache made with double cream for a cleaner finish.


Again because the tarts are so small, the frangipane cooks quicker than the pastry would so I have to blind bake the pastry. You can read the full details of both how I line my tart tins as well as how I blind bake my pastry by clicking here.

1 pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry

100g margarine

80g granulated sugar

2 eggs

60g ground almonds

1 x 40g Mr Tom bar, crushed up into a fine powder

1 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted

¼ tsp almond extract

50ml single cream

50g dark chocolate, broken up into pieces

Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Fill your tart tins with the pastry as detailed above, rerolling any excess to the same thickness. Any gaps in your pastry can be patched up with the pastry. Line with foil as above and fill with weights.


Place the tarts into the preheated oven and turn the temperature down to 180˚C and bake blind for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, remove the foil and weights and return to the oven for 5 minutes until the base is slightly golden.

Prepare the chocolate frangipane by beating together the margarine with the sugar until the sugar has dissolved slightly. Add in the eggs one by one and beat until incorporated. Then fold through all of the ground almonds, Mr Tom powder and sifted cocoa powder with the almond extract until it forms a frangipane batter. It will look lumpy because of the ground almonds.

Spread a layer of the frangipane all the way to the top of each blind baked pastry case. Bake the tarts for around 12 – 15 minutes until the frangipane feels spongy on top and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tarts for 20 minutes before lifting out of the cases.

Prepare the ganache by heating up the cream until it is above body temperature. This is easiest in the microwave in a bowl for 1 minute. Add in the chocolate and leave for 3 minutes before stirring the ganache until it is smooth and shiny. Spread over the ganache in a layer over the frangipane and leave to set. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar.


Exploring Chocolate Tarts: Bitter Chocolate Tart

The second of the chocolate tart recipes in my ‘Exploring Chocolate Tarts’ series is my Bitter Chocolate Tart. The shortcrust pastry base is filled with an intensely flavoured chocolate ganache-style mixture and is baked in the oven to set, giving it a smooth texture.


The foundation of the filling is a ganache made with milk instead of double cream. I infuse the milk with Food Thoughts Cacao Nibs which helps to extract some of their chocolate flavour. I add the dark chocolate and then cacao powder before stirring into a thick and glossy ganache mixture. Eggs will help to set the ganache when the filling is baked. This means that apart from the natural sugars in the milk and dark chocolate, this is technically an added-sugar-free bake, something that I’m not prone to!

But the intense hit of the chocolate flavours from the addition of the cacao powder and nibs along with the use of a 56% dark chocolate means you don’t really miss the sugar at all. The crunch of the cacao nibs adds great texture too with the little bursts of bitter chocolate against the smooth ganache filling.

Again I blind bake the pastry and you can read all about both Food Thoughts Cacao Nibs and Powder and how I lined my tins with the pastry and how I blind baked my pastry by clicking here.


1 pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry

150ml whole milk

1 tbsp Food Thoughts Cacao Nibs plus extra to decorate

150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

1 tbsp Food Thought Cacao Powder

1 egg

Chopped roasted hazelnuts, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Fill your tart tins with the pastry as detailed above, rerolling any excess to the same thickness. Any gaps in your pastry can be patched up with the pastry. Line with foil as above and fill with weights.

Place the tarts into the preheated oven and turn the temperature down to 180˚C and bake blind for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, remove the foil and weights and return to the oven for 5 minutes until the base is slightly golden.

Prepare the ganache filling by infusing the cacao nibs in the milk. They don’t dissolve completely but they do release some chocolate flavour into the milk. Put the cacao nibs into the milk and microwave for 90 seconds in 45 second blasts, stirring halfway through. You can bring the milk up to a boil and then leave to cool as well.

Once you can hold your finger in the milk for 1 second, add the chocolate all at once and leave for 5 minutes to melt. Then stir the ganache until it is smooth, shiny and all the chocolate has melted. At this stage, it should be cool enough to add the egg without scrambling it. Add in the cacao powder and egg and mix until the egg has been incorporated in well.

When the tart cases are out of the oven, spoon in the bitter ganache mixture. If you have shaky hands, you might wish to transfer the ganache to a jug and pour it in with the cases on the oven tray. It doesn’t rise or expand so you can fill it right to the top.


It takes just 12 – 15 minutes for the filling to set, it should have a tiny wobble right in the centre. Leave the tarts to cool for 30 minutes in the tin before lifting out of the tins, serving with cream, fresh berries and sprinkling over more cacao nibs and chopped roasted hazelnuts to finish.

Exploring Chocolate Tarts: Chocolate Brownie Tarts

I’ve been wanting to do a series of different versions of the same bake and everything seemed to come together all at once. I found another one of my reduced bargains from Marks and Spencer and it was ready rolled shortcrust pastry for 80p and it tied in perfectly with the arrival of my Food Thoughts Cacao Powder and Food Thoughts Cacao Nibs, allowing me to Explore Chocolate Tarts!

Food Thoughts Cacao Nibs are made from Fino de Aroma beans that are gently roasted to ensure they maintain essential nutrients such as iron and magnesium. Food Thoughts Cacao Powder is non-alkalised and sundried naturally making it a rich source of flavanols (which promote healthy blood flow) and anti-oxidants (which reduce the effect of free radicals in your body).


Here’s the science: our body naturally produces free radicals, which are substances consisting of one or more unpaired electrons. They are produced by respiration, inflamed areas of the body and even during exercise. Free radicals take electrons from proteins in the body to complete their electron pairs, leaving behind more free radicals causing a chain reaction. Free radicals cause cells to die as they collect in the cell membranes, eventually making them brittle and leaky. Poor cell performance can lead to tissue degradation and an increased risk of disease.

Antioxidants are a source of electrons for the free radicals but do not become free radicals themselves. They give your cells defense against these reactive oxygen species and can improve your skin health dramatically as well as repair damaged molecules and protect DNA from radical attacks.

Both products will be fantastic in your baking and I thoroughly recommend them!

The first chocolate tart recipe I’m sharing is my Chocolate Brownie Tart. It’s a shortcrust pastry base with a fantastically dense chocolate brownie filling which is sticky and chewy too.


The brownie is made by the melting method and couldn’t be any easier! What’s more, this same batter can also be used to make chocolate fondants, the wonderfully gooey and runny chocolate puddings. The use of cacao powder in this tart intensifies the chocolate flavour and a tiny amount of Himalayan salt in the batter adds to this flavour. I blind baked this pastry because even though the brownie batter is baked, it’s for such a short period of time that the pastry would remain underbaked so blind baking prevents that soggy bottom!

But the most important bit of getting your tarts perfect right is lining the tins with pastry. Always cut out a section of pastry larger than the tart tin and lift it vertically upwards so that it starts to go right down to the base and start to manipulate the pastry into the tin. Use a small ball of pastry to push and gently adhere the pastry into the flutes and roll a rolling pin across the top of the tin so the pastry cuts off by the flutes. You can then check the pastry is right down into the bottom and then dock your pastry with a fork (pricking the base).


Lastly line your tart tins with foil well; by this I mean so that it takes the actual shape which will help to prevent the pastry rising too much, allowing you to get the delicious brownie filling in. I have a tub full of my blind baking rice which I have used to blind bake for nearly 2 years!

1 pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry

75g margarine

75g sugar

75g dark chocolate (I used 56%)

45g plain flour

Pinch of Himalayan salt

5 tsp Food Thoughts Cacao Powder

3 eggs

Roasted hazelnuts, chopped finely to finish

Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Fill your tart tins with the pastry as detailed above, rerolling any excess to the same thickness. Any gaps in your pastry can be patched up with the pastry. Line with foil as above and fill with weights.

Place the tarts into the preheated oven and turn the temperature down to 180˚C and bake blind for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, remove the foil and weights and return to the oven for 5 minutes until the base is slightly golden.

Meanwhile prepare the brownie mixture by melting the margarine with the sugar and the chocolate either in a pan or in the microwave in 30 second blasts. Once it is all melted together, sift in the flour, salt and cacao powder and beat until it thickens. Then beat in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.


When the tart cases are out of the oven, pour in the brownie batter and shake to level out. It won’t rise too much so you can fill it almost to the top. Bake the tarts with the brownie for 10 minutes and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before lifting out of the cases to cool fully.

Finish the tart by topping with some of the chopped roasted hazelnuts and serving with ice cream and fresh fruit.