Monday, November 02, 2015

project 365: week 44

I'm afraid it all went a bit awry this week with missing photos all over the place! I'm not entirely sure where last week went, but thank goodness for Millie, and apologies for the beagle themed set of photos!

298. Coffee and pain au chocolate for breakfast. The Husband lined them all up on the board "because I know you're going to take a picture" so I had to oblige!

299. Is absent I'm afraid. The only picture on my phone was a cartoon my friend sent me to cheer me up after a rubbish day at work last week. 

300. Lots of early nights this week and Millie made the most of bedroom privileges, getting quite comfy on the blanket.

301. After work I went to visit Grandad and then it was straight home and to bed, with a quick snap of the bedside table on the way.

302. Getting licked by Millie, despite my protestations.  

303. Well there's a phone full of pictures for Friday but they are all screenshots of possible hairstyles for my appointment on Saturday morning! It seems in the midst of that I completely forgot an actual picture, as we spent the evening making fajitas and watching a movie. 

304. And just to complete the theme, Millie looking entirely disinterested in my new hair and far more fascinated by something on the wall, either that or she was trying a new pose after a week of being my subject! Hopefully more variety next week, and a full complement of photos too! 

Sunday, November 01, 2015

first things first

The first of November. Can you believe it? I'm finding it difficult to comprehend, especially when my parents' garden is full of beautiful blooms like those above, and we still have a final rose flowering in our own. On one hand the year seems to have flown, and then I think back to Australia, and this time last year, and it suddenly feels much longer than twelve months ago.

The first full day of being a brunette. After getting my hair cut very short, and dyed brown (having always been a natural blonde), I'm still shocked each time I see my reflection. I'm a bit unsure if I'll mange to style it decently for work tomorrow, I'm quickly realising short hair can look very fluffy very easily, or at least mine can!

The first run in two months, to visit my Grandad. It was stop and start, but I turned off all my audio prompts, just listened to music with no clue how fast I was going or how long I was taking, walking when I needed to, and it didn't go half badly. Slower than before, which I was expecting, but not by much, and it was lovely to be out.

The first six in the morning start in a while. I've been aiming for a month of early starts as one of my things to do before thirty, and I am rapidly running out of months! This morning I did some cooking, including a chicken stew for supper (which we dropped at Grandad's earlier in the day - I didn't run with a casserole dish!), and some yoga, another first for a while, and then The Husband and I enjoyed breakfast together.

Tomorrow is the first day back in work after the weekend, which as usual has felt far too brief. However, we have tickets to see a show, so that is something nice to look forward to, and November is full of small treats and little trips, so here's to a month enjoying good times in good company, and the start of the countdown towards the festive season. I love this time of year, and I hope you have a good month too.

word of the week #44

Suddenly it's Sunday night again, and I've no idea at all where the week went. In the fact the same could be said for the fact that it's somehow November too, and I find myself not quite believing this year is almost over. The week seemed to be over as soon as it had begun, with busy, quite tricky, days at work, and early nights at home.  

It's also hard to think that it's less than a week since my Grandad got discharged from hospital. After his surgery last Friday, all of a sudden on Monday night, there he was sat at home on the sofa, and so far he is doing well. We have had a few nice nights together, watching tv and drinking tea, and I'm on my way round there again shortly. I'm going to attempt to run there, and it will be my first run in a while, so I don't think there will be anything particularly sudden about my pace!

Perhaps most surprisingly, I suddenly find myself with very short, very brown hair, after a lifetime of being a blonde. After months of indecision, taking the same pictures to the hairdressers but never quite going for it,  I now have a brown cropped haircut. I still keep doing a double take when I walk past a mirror, and think I need a bit more practice at styling it myself so I don't end up with tufts everywhere, but it makes a nice change, and I'm very glad I went for it.

The Reading Residence

Sunday, October 25, 2015

project 365: week 43

291. We went for a Sunday afternoon walk with Millie and had a lovely time, watching the canal boats on one side and a sailing competition on the other.

292. Monday evening was spent at art class, learning some new watercolour techniques.

293. Cuddles with our beautiful beagle.

294. Mine and The Husband's childhood teddies.

295. Coffee and cherry pie for an afternoon treat.

296. We went out for a meal with my parents after visiting my grandad in the hospital and passed by a power station, which looked fairly foreboding in the dark.

297. Pink roses on the kitchen windowsill.

word of the week #43

Lots of lovely visits this week. Last Saturday I visited the shop where we bought the bridesmaid dresses for our wedding, to try on a bridesmaid dress for one of my close friends who is getting married next year. She is the second one of my bridesmaids to use the shop for their bridesmaid dresses, so it has become somewhat of a tradition to visit there in recent years.

This week I have been out and about on a few days for work, visiting different people, and also the place where I will be moving for my next placement in a few weeks. I will be sad to move on from the current place as I am enjoying it a lot, but the new team seem very welcoming and it is closer to home which will be nice.

This weekend has been filled with visits. Lots of visits to my Grandad who had his other knee replaced on Friday, in what feels like hardly any time since he had the first one done! He is making a fabulous recovery so far, and is hopefully due home tomorrow. I've also managed to see two lovely friends this weekend. Yesterday morning I popped to see a friend and we spent the morning chatting over coffee and biscuits. Then today another friend and her husband called in for a few hours, and we spent the afternoon chatting over tea and biscuits. A lovely weekend all round, I hope yours was too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Great British Bake Along: Mokatines

I will confess to going a little off menu with just a few of the ingredients this week. Rather than getting white fondant and brown food colouring I ended up with chocolate flavoured fondant. It seemed to work just as well with the recipe, and you only use a small amount so the chocolate wasn't overpowering. This was my solution to an absence of brown food colouring in the supermarket, and I was pleased with my ingenuity (small things!). The only coffee essence I could find was that large bottle of Camp Coffee and Chicory essence. I'm not entirely sure it was the right thing to buy, the chicory gave it a smoked flavour, which was lovely, almost like treacle toffee, but it was a bit more complex than just a coffee essence. I'm looking forward to finding some other recipes for this, apparently its a Scottish product, so if anyone has any suggestions I'd love to try them, it feels like the perfect winter ingredient.

Confession 2 - I failed this recipe on the first attempt. That beautifully bubbly genoise mix you can see above produced a thin rubbery sheet. Never one to waste cake I covered it in the coffee icing and decided to give up on the recipe for the evening. When I cut into it I found pockets of raw cake mix and lovely lumps of self-raising flour, which explained why it hadn't done quite what it should. I think I had been so scared of stirring it too much and losing the air I didn't mix it enough and it ended up in the bin. I think Millie could sense the impending disaster from the look on her face.

Confession 3 - It may be blasphemous to say so, but I disagree with Mary's recipe. The picture above is my first attempt at the coffee icing, and the second attempt looked fairly identical. I found a single recipe on the internet that also mentioned milk, which wasn't included in the recipe on either the BBC site or the GBBO official website. However, it seemed like a reasonable suggestion, and it turned out to be third time lucky, resulting in the much more appetising version below, although it was also slightly addictive. The first successful batch of this got poured over the cake that then got binned, but at least when I started again the next day I knew exactly what I was doing with this. I have included milk in my version of the recipe below.

Confession 4 - the sugar syrup did not go very well. This was my first ever attempt at a sugar syrup, and I did manage it much better by the time the mille feuille came around, but this ended up crystallising a little. Being a bit too lazy by this point to re-make yet another part of the recipe, I used it as it was but later regretted it, more on that later.

Confession 5 - Even my second sponge didn't rise brilliantly, despite the copious whipping and gentle folding. It was lacking in the rubber department, and there were no surprise bursts of uncooked flour, so I was happy enough to use it for the recipe. It did require some fairly delicate slicing, and there were one or two where I was grateful for the icing because it helpfully covered the bare patch of sponge on the top where I had cut it a bit fine.

Confession 6 - I think I went a bit overboard with the apricot jam, really daubing it on so that I could make sure they were properly covered in nuts. As a result, there was a strong apricot flavour which I thought took over from the coffee slightly, I wonder if a coffee icing (told you that stuff was addictive) might work better, or if it would look too messy where you could see it between the nuts.

Confession 7 - I ran out of the crème beurre. See my earlier confession about the sugar syrup. This meant that the finished mixture was full of lumps of crystallised sugar, and having put the mix straight into the piping bag, the nozzle kept getting blocked with these lumps. This meant that quite a lot of the mix ended up getting wasted as I had to keep cleaning out the nozzle, and so some of the finished cakes ended up looking like this one.

Confession 8 - Despite all of the above, I really enjoyed making these, and loved the finished result, they actually looked vaguely like they were supposed too, and tasted nice too. If you ignore the failed attempt, they didn't take all that long to make (by GBBO standards anyway!) and looked like time and effort had been put into them. 

Mary Berry's Mokatines
Recipe adapted from BBC Food

Makes 9 cakes. Prep time 1-2 hours. Cooking time 30 mins to 1 hour.


For the genoise sponge
  • 40g butter
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 65g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbspn cornflour
For the coffee icing
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbpsn instant coffee
  • 225g icing sugar, sifted
  • 3 tbspn milk
For the crème beurre au moka
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 large free-range eggs
  • 75g softened butter
  • 2tsp coffee essence
For decoration
  • 4 tbspn apricot jam
  • 100g chopped almonds, toasted
For the fondant icing
  • 100g chocolate fondant OR 100g white fondant and brown food colouring

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan. Grease and line the sides and base of a shallow 18cm square cake tin with baking parchment.
  • To make the genoise, gently melt the butter in a pan, then set aside to cool slightly. Put eggs and sugar in large bowl and whisk at high speed until the mixture is pale, thick and mousse-like, so that it leaves a trail when the whisk is lifted up. 
  • Sift the flours together into a bowl, carefully fold in half of the flour into the egg mixture. Pour half of the butter around the edge of the mixture and fold it in. Repeat this process with the remaining flour and the remaining butter and then pour the mixture into the cake tin.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes until well risen and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the tin, the turn onto a wire rack, remove the parchment and leave to cool.
  • To make the coffee icing measure the butter into a small pan, and heat gently until melted. Remove from the heat and pour in the milk and add the coffee, stir until the coffee has dissolved. Add the icing sugar, mix until smooth and glossy and leave to thicken.
  • To make the crème beurre measure the sugar and two tablespoons of water into a small, heavy-based pan. Heat very gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil steadily for 2-3 minutes, or until the liquid is clear and forms a slim thread when pulled apart between two teaspoons. (The syrup is very hot so handle with caution!)
  • Put the egg yolks in a small bowl, and whisk lightly to break them up. Preferably using a stand mixer, add the syrup in a thin stream over the yolks, whisking the yolk continuously as you do so, until the syrup is incorporated and the mixture is thick and cold.
  • In another bowl cream the butter until very soft and add the egg yolk mixture gradually. Stir in the coffee essence to flavour the mixture and use it to fill a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle.
  • To assemble, slice the cold cake in half horizontally and sandwich the slices back together using the coffee icing. Trim the edges of the sponge and then cut the cake into 9 equal squares.
  • Gently heat the apricot jam, then pass through a sieve into a bowl. Brush the sides of the cakes with a thin layer of jam and roll the sides in the toasted nuts until the sides are well coated.
  • Pipe tiny rosettes of the crème beurre very close together around the top edges of each square. Keep the rosettes close together so they form a solid border, to allow the centres to be filled with fondant. Pipe another line of rosettes around the bottom edge of the cakes.
  • Knead the fondant icing until it is soft, beat with a wooden spoon, or food processor, until smooth. Gradually beat in 4 tablespoons of water to make a thick liquid glaze, so that the consistency will pool in the middle of the cake. If using food colouring, add it to the mixture to make a coffee-coloured glaze. Spoon into the centre of the cakes and leave to set.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

word of the week #42

As you can tell from this week's Project 365 post we have been doing rather a lot of baking this week. It wasn't intentional, but somehow we found ourselves doing more baking than we have done in months.

It started last week, when I used some of my unexpected time off work to finish the GBBO technical bakes. I found the recipes a gentle distraction, there was something comforting about spending a few hours following instructions, and, for the most part, getting something lovely at the end of the process. I think the sense of order and predictability was much needed, and of course cake always helps too.

Although they all got finished last week, this week I have been gradually catching up with the blog posts. The Tennis Cake and the Flaounas were made a while ago now, but the posts only went up this week and there are still a few more recipes to go online. Funnily enough, now that GBBO has finished, I've been baking more than ever, enjoying the freedom and simplicity of baking something quick and easy just using ingredients in the cupboard.

There have been three separate batches of biscuits (two by The Husband), naan breads, and a loaf of bread, and tonight there has been chicken, leek and bacon pie, with filo pastry from the freezer. It is nice to bake a fresh batch of biscuits, or try something new, like the naan bread, without needing to send off for specialist ingredients, or devote whole days to the process. I also liked that instead of nipping to the shop when I fancied I treat, I decided to see what I could rustle up at home instead. I hope you have all had a lovely week.

The Reading Residence

project 365: week 42

284. We had a lovely hour at Crosby beach, wandering amongst the statues that form Antony Gormley's art installation. This is the first proper trip we took Millie on, back when she was a newly rescued puppy, and it was lovely to take her back there, more than 2 years later. There was something soothing about being by the sea, walking along the shore as the tide went out, and enjoying the peace.

285. In between a few meetings I worked from home for an hour, and Millie managed to wrap herself up in my blanket as I worked. As it was my first day back in work I was glad I had the chance to see this face, it was a lot tougher this week with that sense of suddenly life just carrying on, I wasn't ready for that somehow.

286. I've been racing through the books this week, all of them have been really gripping reads. I wasn't sure what I would think of this, as I have seen mixed reviews, but I couldn't get through it fast enough! I didn't find any of the characters particularly likeable, and I had worked out a lot of the plot twists quite early on, but for me neither of those detracted from it, I found it a great plot and it does make you think of the commute slightly differently!

287. As suggested by my Word of the Week, there has been a lot of baking here. After a low day in work I decided to make some oat and sultana cookies. I enjoyed making them, but think perhaps I overbaked them a little as they had caught on the bottom, so no recipe for those any time soon. The Husband decided to bake biscuits too (he doesn't like cinnamon or sultanas so mine we a no go), and he decided that we were having a biscuit party. It was a nice way to end a rubbish day.

288. Not that we have been finding comfort in food at all! Thursday night and we had potato cakes and tea for a late supper. I never manage to make them taste quite as good as my grandad does though!

289. We made our own naan breads on Friday, and we were very excited with our results! Having lifted some curry from the freezer on Thursday we decided to make our own naan bread to go along with it. The Husband got home from work before me and made the dough (a good way to use up some nigella seeds from the GBBO pitta breads!), then I fried them up once I was home, and they puffed up miraculously into naan breads.

290. The Husband made some (more!) biscuits on Saturday, and they were very nice indeed, especially with hot chocolate. I've been feeling very Autumnal this weekend.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Great British Bake Along: Tennis Cake

So next up in the technical challenge was that well-known family favourite of tennis cake. This recipe is a mammoth one. I think, and this is no mean feat, that it may have won the award for most ingredients of any of the technical challenges, but at least all of them were readily available in a normal supermarket. No obscure only-available-online products this week. Having said that, I did need The Husband to do an emergency shopping trip part way through making the recipe. I ran out of gelatine and liquid glucose, having made two batches of fondant that went wrong. In what can only be described as a rookie error, I realised it was because I hadn't soaked the gelatine before using it. It resulted in bizarre plastic stringy bits scattered throughout the fondant, kind of like icing and dental floss in one, which while ingenious, is not necessarily a winning combination.

Third time lucky and I got lovely smooth fondant. The fruit cake was a beautiful recipe and definitely one I would make again. It was quite light rather than a typical dense fruit cake, and I loved the addition of pineapple to the mixture. It was a good job really, as this made a lot of cake. I ended up sending it into The Husband's work, as it wasn't really something we could have between us for dessert, it needed a crowd of people to even begin to make a dint into it.

Rather than buy a cake tin purely for the purposes of this recipe, I just used a deep square tin and then cut it to size. Having not quite thought it through, it meant that one side of the cake was not finished as nicely, being without the golden crust of the outer edge, but it did give me off cuts that I used to make mini cakes so pros and cons I suppose! The mini cakes also meant I could try the cake without cutting into the large one, so I didn't have to send a half deconstructed cake to The Husband's office.

Once I'd learnt how to use gelatine, the fondant and the almond paste went quite smoothly (no pun intended, but I couldn't resist pointing it out). The rest of the icing was less successful. I don't know what happened between the pink and the orange icings but as you will see from the pictures the pink held its shape fairly well, while the orange seeped and ran repeatedly. I kept putting it in the fridge and trying again, and every time I just ended up with another layer of collapsing rosettes pouring down the edge of the cake, so I gave up.

Even more frustrating was the white icing. The icing on top of the cake was fine, went on nicely, set hard, and looked fine. I did need an internet reminder to check what the lines of a tennis court should look like, but I think in the end I did a reasonable job (except for that awful orange stuff).

When it came to the nets, and the racquets, it was a completely different story. They piped well enough, and I even did spares, just in case (the horror of the Spanische Windtorte still haunts me). But they just would not set. They went in the fridge, they went in the freezer, I didn't quite go for Mat's approach of putting them in the oven but I was tempted. No matter what I did, or how long I left it (and I literally left it for hours, the cake was done, we went out, we came back), they were still mushy whenever I touched them.

I must have iced ten nets, without exaggeration. I thought it was the mix. As the icing on the cake had set beautifully, I tried to ice one just using that bag (it had a thicker nozzle on it), but that went the same way. I can only assume it was something to do with the paper I had iced it on, but goodness me if I know why. Every single net that I made, no matter how long I left them, or how much I froze them, invariably ended up like this.

So in the end we played net-free tennis. I iced a few racquets onto the top, so it looked slightly less like a randomly striped green cake. They weren't as neat as the original ones, but by this point I had rather had my fill of tennis. As far as Victorian cakes go, it seemed like rather a bizarre one to pick, and I have no clue what pineapple has to do with tennis, but none of this series seems to be about making well-known favourites!

The odd thing about this cake was the fact that there was nothing to bind the layers together. The almond paste, despite the name, was a dry marzipan that could be rolled out. So the cake had a layer of the almond paste, then a layer of the fondant, and they just sat on top of each other. The minute you tried to cut into it, or take a bite, the layers came apart. Having said all of that, it apparently disappeared quite quickly when The Husband took it into work so I don't think anyone minded too much! I was glad of the mini versions too, they were perfect for with a cup of tea as an afternoon treat.

Tennis Cake
Reproduced from BBC Food

Serves 12-16. Prep time 30 minutes to 1 hour. Cooking time over 2 hours.


For the cake
  • 350g glacé cherries
  • 1 x 225g tin of pineapple in natural juice
  • 350g ready to eat dried apricots
  • 100g blanched almonds
  • 350g sultanas
  • 2 lemons, zest only
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 5 large free-range eggs
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 75g ground almonds

For the almond paste
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 tsp almond essence

For the royal icing
  • 3 egg whites
  • 675g icing sugar
  • pink gel food colouring
  • orange gel food colouring

For the fondant
  • 4 leaves gelatine
  • 4 tbspn liquid glucose
  • 1 1/2 tspn of glycerine
  • 500g icing sugar
  • green gel food colouring


  • Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan. Grease a 23x15cm cake tin and line with a double layer of parchment.
  • Rinse the cherries in a sieve. Drain and chop the pineapple. Dry the cherries and pineapple well, using kitchen paper.
  • Quarter the cherries and roughly chop the apricots and blanched almonds. Place the fruits and nuts into a bowl with the lemon zest and gently mix together.
  • In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. In a separate dish beat the eggs lightly. Add a beaten egg to the butter and sugar, followed by a spoonful of the flour, and repeat for all five eggs. 
  • Fold in the remaining flour and ground almonds. Fold in the fruit and nuts and pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Level the surface. Bake for 2 hours, covering with foil after 1 hour, until a skewer inserted into the mixture comes out clean. 
  • When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven, cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out, remove parchment and place on wire rack until cool.
  • While the cake is cooking, make the almond paste by combining the ground almonds, caster sugar, and icing sugar in a bowl. Add the egg and almond essence and knead to form a stiff paste, but don't over-knead. Wrap in cling film and set aside.
  • Make the royal icing by whisking the egg whites until they become frothy. Sift in the icing sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking slowly as you do. Beat until the icing forms stiff peaks and cover with clingfilm.
  • Make the fondant by placing the gelatine (already prepared as per the packet instructions!), 2 tablespoons of water, glucose and glycerine in a bowl. Place over a small pan of simmering water and heat gently until the gelatine has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  • Sieve half of the icing sugar into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add the gelatine mixture. Use a wooden spoon to mix it together. Sieve the remaining sugar onto a work surface and tip the mixture onto it. Knead until it forms a smooth, pliable fondant. Reserve a small, thumb sized piece, and wrap with clingfilm. Gradually add the green colouring to the fondant, and knead until it is pale green and evenly coloured. Wrap with clingfilm.
  • Roll out the almond paste into a rectangle and cut to 23x15cm to fit the top of the cake. Place on a silicon sheet that you have dusted with icing sugar. Roll out the fondant and cut to the same size and place on top of the almond paste.
  • Divide the royal icing into three bowls. Colour one bowl using the orange gel colour, one using the pink gel colour and leave the remaining bowl white. Place most of the white icing into a pipping bag fitted with a number 3 (large) writing nozzle and pipe the outline of a tennis court onto the fondant, leaving a 2cm gap around the edge.
  • On a silicone mat or greaseproof paper, pipe the outline of two tennis racquets, and an outline of a tennis net which is the same width as the tennis court you have piped onto the fondant. Place the remaining white icing into a bag fitted with a number two (small) writing nozzle and use it to pipe the strings onto the racquets and net. Leave to dry until they can be peeled off the paper.
  • Place the pink icing into a bag fitted with a number 8 star nozzle and the orange icing into a bag fitted with a number 7 nozzle. Pipe a decorative border around the tennis court using the two colours of icing. 
  • When the cake is cool, place the almond paste and fondant on top of the cake. Pipe white icing across the middle of the tennis court and place the net upright on the centre of the cake. Place the two racquets onto the cake, and use the reserved piece of white fondant to roll into a tennis ball and place along side one of the racquets.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Great British Bake Along: Flaounas

Another magical mystery Great British Bake Off recipe, peppered with bizarre ingredients. This time not one, but two, unusual little jars. Mahleb and mastic, to be precise. Do let me know if any of you use these in everyday cooking, particularly as I now have two jars to use up. I found these two ingredients on amazon, through a company called Steenbergs. This isn't a sponsored link, I was just impressed to find somewhere that stocked them, and that dispatched them so quickly that I ordered them after the programme on Wednesday and had them by Friday. Their website is a treasure trove of mystery ingredients!

This is the mastic, which came as crystals, but ground easily into a fine powder, and was a lovely excuse to use the long-idle pestle and mortar. I also really enjoyed making this recipe overall. The yeasted pastry was simple to make, and I found myself being quite impressed at how well it all came together.

Despite all of the attention that was given to the folding and shaping of the pastries in the programme, none of them looked liked the ones in the recipe online. The contestants seemed to have all gone for a square shaped pastry, whereas the recipe provided on the website advises a circular pastry folded into a triangular shape instead.

Once I got the hang of it they were really easy to make, and the shape looked quite effective. The sesame seeds were a little reluctant to stick at times, and I found the part of the recipe which asked you to layer all of the sesame seeds out onto a tea towel a bit messy, but it did work for constructing the pastries.

I made some with the sultanas in, but as neither The Husband or my mum like sultanas, I decided to do some without, to make them a bit more tempting! The cheese flavour wasn't that strong, particularly considering how much there was in the recipe, although I did use grana padano in place of the pecorino romano (purely because that was the closest I could find in the supermarket) so that may have been part of the issue.

Unforunately, as pleased as I was with these, I will not be baking them again, because I found the smell and flavour of the mastic really unpleasant, and quite overpowering. It is very aromatic, and as was mentioned on the programme, is quite like pine, but for me it was really off-putting. The Husband said he enjoyed them, and my mum said they smelled nice, so I think it is perhaps one of those flavours that is quite divisive, but after cheerily declaring how nice these were to make I was really disappointed not to enjoy eating them. I did try, both warm and cold, but they just weren't for me, and I'm not altogether sure what to do with the rest of the mahleb!

I would, though, use the yeasted pastry technique again, and I loved the appearance of the triangular shape with the filling. I think they could also work really well in a mini version for sweet or savoury canapes, perhaps with an onion and goat's cheese filling for example. They looked quite effective, and it was really simple to do, so it definitely wasn't a complete waste learning to make these.

Paul Hollywood's Flaounes
Reproduced from BBC Food

Makes 12 flaounes. Prep time 1-2 hours. Cooking time 30 minutes to 1 hour.


For the filling
  • 500g pecorino romano cheese
  • 250g halloumi cheese
  • 75g plain flour
  • 90g fine semolina
  • 7g of instant yeast
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 100g sultanas
  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • 4 tbspn milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
For the pastry
  • 750g strong plain flour
  • 1 tsp mastic powder
  • 2 tsp ground mahlepi (also known as mahleb)
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 60g unsalted butter, softened
  • 450ml full-fat milk
For the glaze
  • 200g sesame seeds
  • Dash of white wine vinegar
  • 3 free-range egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • To make the filling, grate the pecorino romano and the halloumi into a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the semolina, plain flour, instant yeast, dried mint and sultanas. In a jug, beat together the eggs and milk.
  • Tip the flour mixture onto the cheeses and pour over the egg mixture. Mix with your hands, then cover and leave to stand while you make the pastry.
  • For the pastry, put the flour, mastic powder and ground mahlepi into a bowl. On side of the bowl add the sugar and salt, and on the other side of the bowl add the yeast. Make a well in the centre and add the butter and 350ml of the milk. Combine to form a soft dough, adding the remaining milk as needed (you may not require it all).
  • On a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth. Return it to the bowl, cover and leave for an hour.
  • To make the glaze, place the sesame seeds and white wine vinegar in a small saucepan, with enough water to cover them, and bring to the boil. Drain the sesame seeds and lay them on a clean tea towel to dry.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan and line three baking trays with non-stick baking parchment.
  • Divide the pastry into large pieces, and roll out on a lightly floured work surface until around 3mm thick. Use a saucer as a template to cut out 15cm rounds, until you have 12 of them. Press one side of the rounds into the sesame seeds to coat.
  • To finish the filling, add the baking powder to the mixture, and divide it equally between the centre of each pastry round. For each round, fold the sides into three edges and bring to the centre to make a rounded triangle, leaving the middle exposed so the filling can still be seen.
  • Place the flaounas on the baking trays and brush with the egg yolk. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180C/160C Fan and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and puffed up. Serve hot or cold