For every serious home baker, perfecting patisserie represents the ultimate triumph. Now, guided by MasterChef finalist Tim Kinnaird, creative home bakers can capture the flavours from the award winning Macarons & More bakery, based in the heart of Norwich’s Royal Arcade. For each of the recipes here, from fanciful financiers to classic dark chocolate mousse, there are photographs that lead through every step of instruction. Whether used to improve skills or to refine technique, Perfecting Patisserie dispels the mysteries, so that everyone can make exceptional cakes at home.
60 seconds with … Tim Kinnaird
- If you only had £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what? Vegetables from Norwich Market.
- What do you eat for comfort? Pickled things or sweetcorn straight from the tin.
- What is your desert island dish? (That is, the one dish you could not live without.) Steak and chips, with Béarnaise sauce, obviously.
- What is your favourite cookbook? It’s so hard to choose one. Maybe the first River Cafe Cook Book.
- Who taught you to cook? Ready, Steady, Cook.
- What is your favourite patisserie? Lemon tart.
- What is the most popular macaron flavour of at Macarons & More? Salt caramel.
- What is the single, most useful advice you would offer to readers baking macarons? Treat them mean, don’t spoilt them, and it’s all about the consistency of the batter.
- What is your favourite recipe from Perfecting Patisserie? The green tea, white chocolate and lemon delice.
- At the end of the working day, what is your favourite tipple? Gin and tonic.
Basic macaron shells recipe
There are three methods of making macaron shells. French, Italian or Swiss meringue is combined with ground almonds and icing sugar. Baking macarons can be a frustrating process, but using this technique offers a consistent method of preparing them.
- 200 g (7 oz) icing sugar
- 200 g (7 oz) ground almonds
- 150 g (5 oz) egg white (divided into 2 x 75 g (2½ oz) quantities)
- 200 g (7 oz) caster sugar
- 50 ml (1¾ fl oz) water
- Colouring paste, if required
- Combine the icing sugar, ground almonds, the first quantity of egg white and beat until well combined. Food colouring can also be added if desired.
- Place the second quantity of egg white in the bowl of a free-standing mixer or bowl resting on a damp cloth to hold it securely.
- Mix the caster sugar and water together in a small saucepan. The volume of the sugar and water combined needs to fill the saucepan at least a quarter full. If the saucepan is too large the temperature of the syrup will rise too quickly. The syrup is heated to 117°C (242°F) and this requires a good depth of syrup for a thermometer to accurately measure. If you don’t have a saucepan small enough, double or triple the sugar and water quantities then use only half or a third of the final syrup.
- As the temperature of the syrup gets close to 117°C (242°F), the egg whites should be whisked until a little frothy. While continuing to whisk, the sugar syrup should be poured onto the egg white. Continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Add the mix from Step 1 into the Italian meringue. Beat together slowly for 30 seconds then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and beat again for a further 30 seconds.
- The consistency of the mix at this stage is the most important factor in successful macaron shell baking. The batter needs to flow smoothly and when dropped back into the bowl should spread back into a flat, even surface.
- Transfer the batter into a piping bag with a 1 cm (½ in) plain round nozzle. Pipe small rounds of batter onto a baking sheet lined with silicone parchment paper. Using a template of 4 cm (1½ in) diameter circles approximately 2.5 cm (1 in) apart will produce a consistent-sized macaron.
- Hold the nozzle 1 cm (½ in) above the surface of the silicone paper. Pipe the batter until it almost fills the circular template. It will continue to spread out after piping. The tip of the nozzle should be swirled off by moving it around the edge of the piped shell; this will help the batter to flow into an even, flat surface. If the batter is under-mixed, tapping the tray of piped macaron shells will help the batter spread.
- Most macaron recipes recommend that piped shells are left for a period of time to allow a skin to form before baking. This is a rather inconsistent method as how well a skin forms is dependent on the kitchen’s temperature and humidity. A better technique is to place the trays immediately in the preheated oven but reduce the temperature to 0°C (32°F) and bake for 10 minutes. Then turn the heat back up to 150°C (300°F) for 8 to 10 minutes. The macarons are baked when they have a smooth, dry top and have firmed up. They don’t need to be completely dry and stiff as they will continue to cook for a few minutes after.
- Remove the parchment paper and macarons from the baking tray, allowing the shells to cool on the work surface. This is important as if left on the baking tray the residual heat in the tray will over-cook the shells. Peel the shells from the parchment and pair up.
Perfecting Patisserie: Mastering Macarons, Madeleines, Meringues and More by Tim Kinnaird (£14.99), published by Apple Press.
First published in French as Barres de céréales: Muesli & granola maison, this bitesize collection of recipes is Rachel Khoo’s first book. Starting out as a miniature muesli-making factory, Rachel roasted, stirred, grinded and baked every possible muesli-related concoction from her little Paris kitchen. The muesli mission grew to muesli and granola parties, where friends would taste-test the latest creations and then vote for their favourite. Out of this muesli madness, Rachel Khoo’s Muesli & Granolawas born, redefining breakfast’s snap, crackle and pop.
Triple chocolate gluten-free granola recipe
What this granola lacks in gluten, it makes up for in chocolate. Makes about 1 kg.
Cereal flake granola base
- 300 g / 10 ½ oz buckwheat oats
- 120 g / 4 oz millet oats
- 150 g / 5 ½ oz buckwheat flakes
- 25 g / 1 oz puffed rice
- 25 g / 1 oz puffed quinoa
- 50 g / 1 ¾ oz cocoa nibs (cocoa beans roasted and shelled)
- 1 tsp salt
- 100 g / 3 ½ oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 100 g / 3 ½ oz milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 100 g / 3 ½ oz white chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 300 g / 10 ½ oz agave or maple syrup, honey or golden syrup
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 50 g / 1 ¾ oz cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 160°C / 312°F / Gas mark 2–3.
- First prepare the sweeteners. Heat the agave, maple syrup, honey or golden syrup with the sunflower oil and cocoa powder in a saucepan until the mixture becomes runny.
- Add all the dry ingredients, apart from the three kinds of chocolate, which are added at the end, and stir well.
- Spread the granola mixture over two baking sheets. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until nice and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Stir the chocolate into the mixture.
- Store the granola in an airtight tin.
Rachel Khoo’s Muesli & Granolaby Rachel Khoo (£14.99), published by W&N.
Rekindling our affection for honest, home cooking, Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds shares the fare previous generations thrived on. The recipes are simple, unpretentious and comforting, honed by cooks spanning the breadth of Britain: from Bedfordshire clangers, to Yorkshire curd tart and Cumberland rum nicky. These are dishes for autumn and winter, when we all need a bit of extra central heating.
Queen of puddings recipe
This nursery pud is a classic, and a great way to turn a few leftover slices of bread and a few store cupboard staples into a real treat.
- Butter for greasing
- 600 ml whole milk
- 1 vanilla pod
- 50 g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 75 g slightly stale white breadcrumbs
- 100 g raspberry jam
For the meringue topping:
- 4 large egg whites
- 150 g caster sugar
- Heat your oven to 180°C / gas 4. Butter 6 ramekins or individual heatproof glass dishes, 10 cm in diameter. Divide the breadcrumbs between them, scattering them evenly.
- Put the milk in a saucepan. Split open the vanilla pod with a small, sharp knife and scrape out the seeds with the tip of the knife. Add both the seeds and the pod to the saucepan. Slowly bring the milk just to the boil, then take off the heat.
- Whisk the sugar, egg and egg yolks together in a bowl. Pour on the hot milk and whisk well. Strain this into a jug.
- Pour the custard into the prepared dishes, dividing it equally.
- Stand the dishes in a large roasting dish and pour in enough hot water to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the custards are set. Remove the dishes from the roasting tin and allow to cool.
- If your jam is very stiff, beat it to soften, or heat it slightly. When the custards are cool, spread the jam over them. Return the dishes to the emptied-out roasting tin.
- For the meringue topping, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk, or using a mixer with a whisk attachment, until they hold stiff peaks. Beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time, until you have a fluffy meringue that holds stiff peaks.
- Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm nozzle and pipe it on top of the jam-topped custards. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the meringue is golden, then serve straight away.
Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds (£20), published by Bloomsbury. Photography by Peter Cassidy.
The Great British Vegetable Cookbook is a wholesome book all about veg. Written by one of Britain’s best-loved food writers, Sybil Kapoor, this book is for omnivores and vegetarians alike, and shares a passion for bringing out the best of home-grown vegetables. These recipes are a labour of love and promote intuitive cooking by using locally-grown produce within their natural season. With recipes from sticky blackcurrant shallots to carrot and cardamom cake, this book will encourage you to explore your local National Trust, persuade you to eat more vegetables, and will set your mind buzzing.
60 seconds with … Sybil Kapoor
- What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit? My most used, aside from the pans, knives and wooden spoons, is a small zester for lemon and an old fashioned grater for Parmesan. My least used is an oyster knife and a meat thermometer.
- If you only had £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what? I would buy organic produce from my local supermarket and feast on home-made dishes, such as stir-fried rice; pea, bacon and cream spaghetti; and black bean chilli with pitta bread.
- What do you eat for comfort? I’m afraid that I still love childhood sweets like crunchy bars and chocolate buttons, as well as couture chocolate like L’Artisan du Chocolat and Pierre Hermé.
- What is your desert island dish? I’m torn between a bacon sarnie with fresh cherry tomatoes and chana masala with bhatura.
- What is your favourite restaurant? Noma in Copenhagen. René Redzepi’s food tastes wonderful and the ideas behind each dish are inspiring. Imagine eating a liquid blackcurrant in a pickled wild rose petal.
- What is your favourite cookbook? This is really hard – certainly, Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families (1855) and Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook by Alice Waters.
- Who taught you to cook? I’m self-taught. I learnt by using Robert Carrier, Jane Grigson and Katie Stewart’s cookbooks – they were brilliant at explaining things, and their recipes worked.
- What is your favourite recipe from The Great British Vegetable Cookbook? Probably, the aubergine noodles and pizza with sweet green peppers, but I also love the carrot and cardamom cake, and the marrow and ginger conserve.
- What advice would you offer to home cooks this Autumn? Home-grown produce is at its best and cheapest now, so if you have got the time, preserve as much as possible by making soups, tarts and cakes for the freezer, and pickles and conserves for the cupboard.
Salt-baked celeriac recipe
British vegetables are as susceptible to culinary fashions as any other food. The latest restaurant trend is to salt-bake root vegetables, which makes celeriac taste amazing. It might seem slightly wasteful of salt, but the method intensifies the flavour of the vegetable and requires little effort on the part of the cook.
- 1 celeriac, about 700 g / 1 lb 9 oz weight
- 500 g / 1 lb 2 oz rock salt
- 2 medium egg whites
- Preheat the oven to fan 180°C / gas 5. Wash the celeriac and then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper. Trim the base and cut out any muddy crevices. In a bowl, mix together the salt and egg whites until you have a thick paste.
- Place a sheet of baking paper on a roasting tray. Shape a flat disc of salt paste on the paper and sit the base of the celeriac on top. Pile up the salt mixture around the celeriac, so that it is completely encased in salt paste. This will be about 1 cm / ½ in thick on the top but thicker nearer the base, where you need to pile it up.
- Immediately, bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour for al dente or for 70 minutes if you want to mash the celeriac. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
- Break open the crust and pull out the celeriac. Cut away its skin and serve as wished. You can dice it or cut into small lengths; then serve plain with a stew or tossed in a pan with melted butter and/or cream with or without chopped parsley.
The Great British Vegetable Cookbook by Sybil Kapoor (£25), published by National Trust Books.
When you’re cramming for an exam or having an essay crisis and turn to the fridge for salvation, The Hungry Student will come to the rescue. With 100s of easy recipes using simple ingredients, you can now whip up some grub no matter how little is lurking in the kitchen. The Hungry Student books are not just for novices, even a fully fledged whippersnapper will appreciate creamy chicken and pesto pasta or zesty ginger and orange stir-fry. So, when time-pressed, get creative with Vegetarian Cookbook. Master the recipes in Cookbook and you’re sure to win friends. Then, when there is no chocolate left in the house, turn to Easy Baking and make the baked desserts that are bound to become favourites, long after graduation.
60 seconds with … Charlotte Pike
- What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit? Most used: my chef knives. They were a present from my parents and they just make every task so simple. Least used: I bought a bread maker to try, but I’ve decided it’s much easier and tastier to make my own bread. My favourite recipe is the artisan loaf from Easy Baking.
- If you only had £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what? I would go to Lidl, and stock up on vegetables and cheeses, which they do very well. I’d make my cheesy baked aubergines from Cookbook and some soups, which I would serve with welsh rarebit, made with homemade bread.
- What do you eat for comfort? I love anything warming in the winter, particularly slow-cooked casseroles with really tender meat. I also love to bake for comfort. Not only do I enjoy the end product, but I find the process of baking really relaxing and comforting.
- If you could only eat bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose? I’m afraid I’d choose bread. This is why I will never be thin!
- What is your desert island dish? (That is, the one dish you could not live without.) Roast chicken.
- What is your favourite restaurant? I eat out a lot with my job, so when I choose where I go, I prefer something a little simpler. I don’t have one favourite restaurant, but I always enjoy the food at Wahaca. Tommi Miers is one of my favourite chefs.
- What is your favourite cookbook? I have a very large collection, so it’s so hard to narrow it down to just one. I love reading Nigel Slater’s and Rose Prince’s writing and recipes.
- Who taught you to cook? My Mum. I love that she always made time to teach me things in the kitchen, and always let me have a go – the best way to learn.
- What is your favourite recipe from Hungry Student? I can’t choose one! I love the cinnamon buns from Easy Baking, which is my favourite sweet recipe. My favourite (and most-cooked) savoury recipe is probably the sausage ragu with pappardelle in Cookbook.
- What single, most useful advice would you offer to students starting university? Invest, if you can, in some reasonable quality equipment. It need not be top of the range, but some sharp knives and reasonable quality pans will help you to produce much better food.
Red velvet cupcakes recipe
A classic American treat, these cupcakes look stunning with their red, chocolatey sponge and gorgeous cream cheese frosting. Simply sprinkle some cake crumbs on top for an easy decoration.
- 125 ml milk
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 110 g butter, softened
- 175 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 175 g plain flour
- 20 g cocoa powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Pinch of salt
- ½ tsp red gel food colouring
For cream cheese frosting
- 25 g unsalted butter, softened
- 60 g full-fat cream cheese
- 150 g icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 170°C fan / gas mark 5. Line your muffin or fairy cake tray with the appropriately sized paper cases.
- Place the milk in a measuring jug and add the lemon juice. Stir and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Whisk the vanilla extract into the beaten eggs, then add to the butter and sugar mixture a little at a time, stirring well after each addition.
- Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and gently fold into the mixture.
- Pour in the milk and lemon juice and stir in, followed by the food colouring.
- Spoon the batter evenly into cake cases and bake for 25–30 minutes until risen and lightly browned. The sponge should spring back when pressed lightly with your finger.
- Allow the cakes to cool fully on a wire rack.
- To make the frosting, place the butter and cream cheese into a bowl and beat together. Sift the icing sugar into a separate bowl and add to the butter and cream cheese a few spoonfuls at a time. Beat the sugar in well. When all the sugar has been incorporated, continue to beat the mixture for a further 2 minutes to ensure it is smooth before frosting your cakes.
- Slice off a tiny amount of each domed top and set aside. Top the cakes with the frosting, then crumble up the reserved sponge and scatter over the cakes to decorate.
- Store in an airtight container and eat within 3−5 days. If iced, store in the fridge.
The Hungry Student: Vegetarian Cookbook, Cookbookand Easy Baking by Charlotte Pike (£7.99 each), published by Quercus.
Combining a love of bite-sized food with elegant French cuisine, Nathalie Benezet created Le Petit Paris: French Finger Food. From guilt-free almond financiers to simple Parisian sandwiches and melting onion soup, this edible adventure proves that the best things come in small packages. Filled with colourful pops of sweet and savoury food, this book reminds us all how truly show-stopping French food can be.
60 seconds with … Nathalie Benezet
- What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit? The most used is a tiny scale from 1 g to 5 kg, which is perfect for liquid too. The least used is a massive heavy wok dish that is a real pain to clean.
- If you only had £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what? I’d spend it on a top quality baguette and fresh butter from a French cheese maker, and some macaroons if I have a bit of change.
- What do you eat for comfort? Homemade ice cream or nougat, or chocolate.
- If you could only eat bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Definitely bread, as there is such a beautiful variety.
- What is your desert island dish? That is, the one dish you could not live without. Pavlova, with raspberries and fresh passion fruit, and some crème Anglaise on top.
- What is your favourite restaurant? In London, Regent Canal’s towpath, and in Paris, Chateaubriand, avenue Parmentier.
- What is your favourite cookbook? The first edition of La Cuisinière du Cuisinier.
- Who taught you to cook? No one, I still have everything to learn, and I have only just started.
- What is your favourite recipe from Le Petit Paris: French Finger Food? For something savoury, the croquet-monsieur as it pleases everyone. For a sweet, my melting chocolate cakes. They’re the easiest cakes to make even if you have only 5 minutes.
Chocolate éclairs recipe
The French pâtisserie classic, crisp choux pasty fingers filled with a rich chocolate and vanilla crème, and topped with a sweet, sticky icing.
For the choux pastry
- 120 ml (4 fl oz / ½ cup) milk
- 100 g (3½ oz / ½ cup) butter, cubed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 140 g (4½ oz / 1¼ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 5 eggs, beaten
For the chocolate crème pâtissière filling
- 500 ml (17 fl oz / 2 cups) whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 medium egg yolks
- 75 g (2½ oz / 1/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 20 g (¾ oz / 1/4 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 2 heaped tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- 30 g (1 oz / 1/4 cup) dark (bittersweet) chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
- 1 heaped tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
For the glaze:
- 200 g (7 oz / 1 cup) fondant icing
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1–2 tsp water
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F / gas mark 5). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Place the milk and 120 ml (4 fl oz / ½ cup) water in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add the butter, salt and sugar, and heat gently over a moderate heat. As soon as the water boils and all the butter has melted, remove from the heat. Add all the flour and beat hard with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth dough that comes away from the sides of the pan without sticking. Return the pan to the hob and continue to beat over a low heat for a couple of minutes more. It will begin to thicken and dry.
- Transfer the dough into a food processor or a mixing bowl and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Gradually add the eggs to the dough, a quarter at a time. Beat well after each addition. Continue beating until all the eggs have been incorporated and the dough is completely smooth.
- Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm (1/2 in) plain nozzle. Pipe the dough about 7.5 cm (3 in) in length onto the trays leaving gaps between each one.
- Bake for 10–15 minutes. When they are golden and firm remove from the oven and pierce the bottom of each éclair with a wooden skewer. Cool on a wire rack with the holes facing upwards.
- To make the crème pâtissiere filling, combine the milk and vanilla in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer very gently for about 5 minutes and then take off the heat and cool. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornflour. Pour in the milk, whisking continuously and bring back to the boil over a medium heat for 1 minute. Pour the mixture into a bowl and leave to cool.
- Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water then pour the melted chocolate into the crème pâtissière. Add the cocoa powder and whisk to a smooth consistency. Spoon the filling into a piping bag fitted with a 5 mm (1/4 in) nozzle and carefully fill each éclair.
- To make the glaze, place the fondant icing in a small pan and gently melt the fondant over a low heat. Stir in the cocoa powder and 1–2 teaspoons water until evenly combined. Using the back of a spoon spread the glaze over each éclair and place on a wire rack. Allow to set in the fridge until ready to serve.
Le Petit Paris: French Finger Food by Nathalie Benezet (£12.99), published by Hardie Grant. Photography by Jacqui Melville.