We just passed Summer solstice. It always makes me sad, knowing that days will be getting shorter and my beloved sun will stay around less and less time each day. Covid-19 is showing its ugly face again, adding more uncertainty to a year that has been full of it from the beginning. But for every yin there is always a yang, and the month of June also brought another group challenge by the tent bakers. This time Alex Tent Baker Extraordinaire came up with the theme, and he was quite straightforward with it. Laminate something. That was his  brief. A brief brief. I loved it! I had quite a few options dancing in my mind, but quickly settled on a Brioche Feuilletée, because it is all about the lamination, no distractions from it. So, without further ado, my assignment is here for you.

(recipe from Matt Adlard’s Bake it Better)

for the dough:
415g all-purpose flour
8g salt
50g sugar
85g eggs
153g whole milk
42g soft, unsalted butter
9g instant yeast

for the butter block:
250g unsalted butter

(simplified version, original recipe is copyrighted)

The dough is prepared using all the ingredients and allowed to proof for one hour. It is next transferred to the fridge overnight. At that time, the butter block is made with dimensions of approximately 7 x 8 inches and also placed in the fridge.

Next day the butter block is enclosed in the dough and three folds are performed. First a double fold, the other two single folds. The dough is rolled out and cut into four strips, about 2.5 inches in width. Each strip is rolled and placed inside a loaf pan for a final proofing of 2 to 2 and a half hours.

Bake in a 325F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until deep golden. Remove from the pan and allow it to cool completely.


to print the recipe overview, click here

Comments: If you want to know all the details and tips that make this recipe easier to follow, you will have to join Matt Adlard’s site. It would not be fair to publish his detailed instructions here, plus his video is a great help. I’ve been a member of his online group for a few months and highly recommend it for those interested in all areas of patisserie. I will write a full blog post about it in the near future. Not only you learn a lot, but you get to interact with a lot of cool, baking-fanatic folks. See what they bake, follow their progress, share failures and victories.

Matt bakes it in a slightly different way. He adds a baking sheet and a heavy weight to the top of the pan, so that as the dough rises during baking, it gets squished on top, ending in a cool rectangular shape, laminated on all sides, but flat. I did not have a pan with the appropriate dimensions to achieve that effect, so I went with the regular baking in which it all freely explodes upwards.

No matter how you bake it, the result will be the same: layers of buttery goodness that you roll out and enjoy. Nothing else is needed, as the bread is quite rich and indulgent as it is, but if you want to spread it with jam, more butter, clotted cream, you will not hurt my feelings. And I bet Matt will not mind a bit either.

Alex, thanks for a great challenge this month… It is hard to believe that one year ago   we were all frantically practicing for the show in our own homes, wondering  who were the other bakers, how would we get along…  Good times.

For my readers, make sure to stop by the Home Bakers Collective, to see what my friends laminated this month… If the link is not yet published, try again a little later in the day.

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2019

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen – July 2018

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2017

FOUR YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Falafel and a Bonus Recipe

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

NINE YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

TEN YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Chicken Breasts, Coffee, and Serendipity


Another month in this crazy year is coming to its end. For May, the Bakers Collective challenge was set up by Bianca (check her site with a click here). I love how she shook things up a bit. We had to bake something savory but not using yeast. It’s a nice change from sweets, and getting yeast out of the equation makes it a tad more challenging. I settled on my choice almost immediately, because I’ve been flirting with soda bread for a long time. Perfect opportunity to give it a go.

(from Nadiya Hussain)

for Panch Phoran mix (all as whole seeds):
1 tsp fenugreek
1 tsp nigella
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp black mustard
1 tsp fennel seeds

for bread:
250g whole-wheat flour
250g bread flour
1 tsp fine salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp panch phoran (made from mixture above)
400ml buttermilk

Heat the oven to 400F.

Mix all seeds in a small bowl (you will have mixture leftover).

Put the flours, salt, baking soda and 1 tablespoon of five-spice mixture into a large bowl and mix well. Make a well in the center and add a little over half the buttermilk. Bring the dough together by hand, adding more of the buttermilk if needed (I used the full amount).

As soon as all the flour is absorbed and the dough comes together, lightly flour the work surface, tip the dough onto it and roll into a neat ball. Place on the baking tray. Using a sharp knife, make a cross cut almost all the way down to the bottom of the bread, but do not separate the pieces.

Bake on the middle shelf for 30 minutes, until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Allow it to cool completely before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Soda Bread does not get high marks in the beauty department, I admit. It takes rustic to unprecedented levels, but I promise you Nadiya’s version is very tasty. That mixture of spices is perfect. You can buy packages of the mixture, but it’s really quite simple to prepare it yourself, and I happened to have all those seeds already in my pantry. I had fun browsing amazon and reading the comments from people who bought the mix. Some were furious because “it does not have nearly enough fenugreek.” So if you want to make sure to use the authentic “five spice mixture”, make it yourself. I actually loved so much the flavor of this bread, that I intend to make a sourdough version using those spices. Stay tuned.

Although quick breads leavened with baking powder and with little fat in theory do not stay good for more than a day or so, I was surprised by how good the bread tasted after FOUR days once toasted. We froze half of it because with just the two of us there is a limit to how much bread we can consume. But I know I will be making this and other versions in the near future.

Bianca, thanks for such a cool challenge that made me bake something I had never baked before. I am no longer a Soda Bread Virgin!

To see what my tent-baker friends came up for their challenge, visit the Home Bakers Collective site…. (post might take a few hours to show up, so keep that in mind)

ONE YEAR AGO: Purple Star Macarons

TWO YEAR AGO: Smoked Salmon, Fait Maison

THREE YEARS AGO: Kouign-Amann, Fighting Fire with Fire

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, Yin and Yang

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

NINE YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

TEN YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls


If you don’t know what the Home Bakers Collective is all about, please read my post about it with a click here. This month’s challenge was… surprise surprise…. conceived by yours truly! In case you did not notice, we are following the painful path of elimination through the Great American Baking Show that aired in December. Seems like ages ago, as we face  difficult, truly stressful times. At some point I did not know if we could even meet this challenge. Things degenerated too quickly, nobody could find flour and many other baking ingredients were scarce (and still are), but my baking  buddies stood up to the task and here we are. The brief is: bake a pie to say goodbye to winter, dedicated or inspired by someone you miss. Mine is a Blueberry Pie, and I dedicate it to my stepson Alex. More about it on comments after the recipe.

Note added after publication: our next challenge, designed by Tanya, will be…. DONUTS!  Any shape, any kind… If you’d like to join, bake some and we’ll soon figure out a way to share them all…

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by several sources)

for pie crust:
200 g cold, unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
85 g ice-cold water
350 g all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
egg wash (1 egg beaten with a teaspoon of water)

for the filling:
3 pints fresh blueberries.
Finely grated zest of 1 orange, plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice.
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons cornstarch.
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
1 drop food-grade bergamot essential oil (optional)

Make the pie crust. Mix the water, egg and vinegar in a bowl, reserve in the fridge. Add the flour, salt and sugar to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few seconds to mix, but just a few seconds, you do not want to heat up the ingredients.

Add the very cold butter in pieces and pulse briefly to form clumps of butter the size of peas. Turn the processor on and add the cold water/egg mixture through the opening of the lid. Process until the dough starts to come together, then stop immediately.  Grab the dough and press it as a disk over plastic wrap.  Reserve in the fridge for one hour.

Divide the dough in two parts, one slightly bigger than the other (to form the bottom crust). Roll the bigger portion as a round with about 3mm in thickness. Drape it over the pan and reserve in the fridge while you prepare the filling. Roll the second portion in the same thickness to cover the top. Using small cookie cutters make a design on the top if desired, and cut decorations from the same piece of dough. Place them in the freezer.

Heat the oven to 350F.

Make the filling. In a medium bowl, gently toss together blueberries, orange zest and juice, sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and bergamot oil.  Pour the  mixture over the bottom crust, dot with butter and cover with the frozen disk. Brush the surface with egg wash.

Bake until the filling begins to bubble out of the vents and the top crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 1 to 2 hours to let the filling set before serving.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I had a lot of fun making this pie, even if compared to the fancy designs made by serious pie artists, mine was pretty amateurish. I dedicated this pie to my stepson Alex. There are two food items that I will always associate with him, because he loves them so much. Blueberries and crab. No, not together, he is a man of fine taste… 😉  When he lived with us as a young teenager and blueberries were in season, we always kept many little containers in the fridge, so that he could have his blueberry fix with every meal. Steamed crab legs were another favorite of his, our dinners would take a long time, as the three of us went through an impressive number of crab legs. Unfortunately, we don’t see him as often as we would like. He is a physician in New York, a resident in Interventional Radiology working right in the center of the coronavirus pandemic. We wish we lived closer and that he could have enjoyed this pie, sitting right at our table with his adorable partner Courtnie…

Please make sure to stop by The Bakers Collective to see what my fellow tent-bakers did for this challenge. Not everyone could join, for obvious reasons. Life has been stressful for the whole human population. It is a strange way to feel connected to the whole world, and I hope that this nightmare will have a happy ending soon. Be well, be safe, be healthy and STAY HOME.

ONE YEAR AGO: Another Twisted Sister of the Shepherd’s Pie

TWO YEARS AGO: Cashew Chicken, My Way

THREE YEARS AGO: Two Deliciously Simple Salads

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2016

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spring has Sprung with Suzanne Goin

SIX YEARS AGO: Chai Brownies

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze

NINE YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

TEN YEARS AGO: Spring Rolls on a Spring Day



If you don’t know what the Home Bakers Collective is all about, I invite you to read my post about it with a click here. This month’s challenge was conceived by the one and only Carlos, Tent-Baker-Extraordinaire, Newly-Dad of Franklin Chip, a chocolate lab who is the most adorable thing roaming the planet at the present time. Check him out. Back to the challenge. Methinks Carlos made this one for me. Because, seriously, look at his brief: If you were a macaron, which macaron would you be? Can you imagine my sheer joy?  Of course, I could not wait to bake this batch, although it was not as easy and straightforward to decide what to do. I had two main paths in my mind, one focusing on color, the other on flavor. It was tricky to come up with something that would join both harmoniously. So I went with flavor. Tropical, of course, but with some spice. Swirls and sprinkles, of course. Because by now everybody knows I am a serial sprinkler.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the shells:
200 g powdered sugar
115 g almond meal
115 g egg whites at room temperature
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
100 g superfine sugar
orange gel color from Artisan Accents
2 drops coconut extract

for the mango gelee filling:
2g gelatin (powdered or 1 sheet)
water to bloom gelatin (10 mL if using powdered)
60g sugar
60g water
60g mango puree (I used canned)
2tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp Sarawak pepper, ground
1g agar

for the coconut ganache filling:
4g powdered gelatin (I used Knox)
20g cold water
375g heavy cream
130g white chocolate
1/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
to decorate:
Royal icing or Candy melts + sprinkles (optional)

Line 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar and almond meal in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 15 seconds. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam.

Slowly add in the granulated sugar in three to four additions, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium-high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the gel color and the coconut extract drops. Staying at medium-high speed, whip until firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the almond meal mixture in three increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Divide in two portions, color one orange, leave the other plain. Proceed with the macaronage, mixing each mixture to the correct texture (molten lava is the term of choice, I like to form a figure 8 with the batter and also check a small amount placed on parchment, the texture should smooth out in 30 seconds or so).  Place both batters inside the same piping bag fitted with an 8mm tip, or any tip you feel comfortable for piping.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull, about 30 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Make the gelee filling: Bloom the gelatin by submerging it in water until it softens, about 10 minutes.  Combine the 60g water with mango puree, lime, pepper and agar. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, add gelatin.  Pour into a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap and place in fridge until set.  Cut small circles that will sit in the center of each shell.

Make the coconut ganache. Place the powdered gelatin into a small saucepan along with the cold water, let it sit for 10 minutes. It will turn into a hard paste.

Add the heavy cream into a saucepan along with the shredded coconut. Simmer until it almost boils, turn the heat off, cover the pan and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Drain the shredded coconut, bring the weight back to 375g with additional heavy cream. Bring to a simmer, then add to the chocolate. Add the gelatin, and mix well to incorporate everything together and melt the chocolate. Use an immersion blender if desired. Place the mixture in the fridge for a few hours. It is best if made the day before and kept refrigerated. Whip before using.

Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a round of mango gelee in the center. Surround with coconut ganache. Close the shell.

Decorate the tops with swirls and sprinkles. Because, why not?


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was my first time making a double filling for the macarons and there’s definitely a learning curve associated with it. For instance, the agar-layer generates a bit of moisture, so if you are not consuming the macarons within two days, the texture will suffer a bit. I think the issue can be prevented with a very thin layer of melted white chocolate before filling the shells, to form a barrier.  But if you intend to consume the macarons in a couple of days, I would not worry about it.

The pepper. I had several options to try, including Szechuan peppers that would probably be pretty cool to use also. In the end, I sat down with Mr. Pierre Herme’ and he advised me to search for Sarawak pepper. Well, ok, it was not exactly him, flesh and bone (borrowing a Brazilian expression), but his book. Minor detail. So I amazoned the pepper, and used the same amount he did in his Mahogany Macarons, recipe found here. My agar layer is however totally different from his filling, just the pepper in common.

I loved the contrast of mango-gelee and the shell, plus the creaminess of the ganache around it. Infusing the ganache with shredded coconut gave it enough flavor, and more natural than coconut extracts, which often will give that odd sun-tanning lotion aura.

Did I  hit my self-macaron perfectly? Well, it is not as colorful as I could make it, but I think the swirls and sprinkles compensate for the restraint in the color department. The taste is spot on, to quote a certain judge from a certain baking show. What do you think, does it “look” like yours truly?

Carlos, I loved this challenge and I can hardly wait to see what everyone else baked!

To all my readers, make sure to stop by The Home Bakers Collective, and say hi to my friends, each one waiting for you with a very personal macaron in hand. (It might take a few hours after publication of my post for the collective to get updated, so try later if there’s nothing there yet).

ONE YEAR AGO: Bouillabaise for a Chilly Evening

TWO YEARS AGO: Bergamot-Cherry Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Roasted Veggies with Queso Cotija Dressing

FOUR YEARS AGO: Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

FIVE YEARS AGO: Maple Walnut Biscotti

SIX YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

NINE YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

TEN YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini



I am thrilled to share this post today, because it gives me the chance to invite all my readers to visit a new blog, a blog that started from the experience of 9 lucky campers baking together in a certain tent in London. Our cozy virtual spot is The Home Bakers Collective, and we want it to be a place to share culinary experiences, stories,  recipes, and also get feedback from readers. Every month one of us will design a group project and we will work independently on it and show our concoctions on the last day of the month. Sounds like fun?  I definitely think so.

Helen was the first to come up with something for January. Her brief: make a roll cake inspired by your favorite cocktail or drink. It did not take me very long to settle on my choice: a Cosmopolitan-inspired cake!

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, filling adapted from this site)

for the decoration:
50g  butter, softened
50g powdered sugar
50g  egg whites
50g  all-purpose flour
black, pink and green gel food dye

for the cake:
130g cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
200 g granulated sugar, divided (100g + 100g)
Zest of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
powdered sugar for rolling

for the filling:
3 cups fresh cranberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses
227 g unsalted butter, softened (1 cup)
360 g cups powdered sugar, sifted (about 3 cups)

Make the piping decoration by beating the butter with powdered sugar in a small bowl until fully combined. I used a hand-held electric mixer. Add the egg whites and beat for a couple of minutes. Add the flour and mix by hand with a spoon, divide in three portions.  Color them black, pink and green.

Draw the design you want to have on the surface of the cake with a pencil on parchment paper that fits a half-sheet baking pan. Invert the paper so that the pencil mark is at the bottom. Pipe the icing using a very thin piping tip. Freeze the whole tray with the decoration for at least one hour. When the time is almost up, prepare the cake batter.

Heat oven to 400°F.  Sift the flour and baking powder into a small bowl. Reserve. Place the egg yolks in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Sprinkle 100 g of granulated sugar over the yolks, and beat on high speed until the mixture ribbons and is very pale and thick, about 8 minutes. Add the lime zest and lemon extract. Beat until just combined.

Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and fit the standing mixer with the whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Sprinkle the cream of tartar and salt over the egg whites and continue beating on medium-high until soft peaks begin to form. Reduce the speed to medium, then slowly stream in the remaining 100 g granulated sugar and continue beating until the whites are glossy and stiff but not dry. Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture. Gently fold half of the sifted flour mixture into the yolk mixture, then half of the remaining egg whites. Gently fold in the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining egg whites. Transfer the batter into the pan with the frozen pattern on it, and very gently smooth the top into an even layer with an offset spatula. Bake the cake until it begins to pull away from the sides, about 8 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a cooling rack, cover the cake with a towel and let it cool fr 10 minutes. Remove the towel, sift a little powdered sugar over the surface and flip it over parchment paper. Gently peel off the paper with the design, flip the cake again over a towel with a little dusting of powdered sugar on the surface. Starting with a short side of the cake, roll the cake gently, using the towel to support the cake as you go. Let the cake cool all rolled up in the towel, seam side down.

Prepare the filling. Cook cranberries, sugar, pomegranate molasses and a splash of water in a saucepan on medium heat until the cranberries break down and into a thick, juicy mixture. Puree the cranberries in a high-speed blender until perfectly smooth. Chill. You will need ½ cup of this mixture to make the buttercream.

Put the soft butter, sifted sugar, cream of tartar, and 1/2 cup of the cranberry-pomegranate puree into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat, scraping down the sides often, for about 4 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Unroll the cake, fill and roll back, keeping the seam down.  Slice and serve.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you are intimidated by baking a cake with a “printed” pattern, please don’t be. Even if you are artistically challenged like me, simple drawings are easy (although I must say my hand was shaking a bit when I started piping). Just remember that different colors piped side by side will mix. Pipe the outline first, put the baking sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes, and add the second color to fill the design, if that’s the case.  For my Virgin Cosmopolitan glasses, I did all the black outlines first, froze it, and finished with pink and green after.  It is a lot of fun, particularly that moment in which you peel off the parchment paper.

Also keep in mind that you don’t need to have the design on the whole area, as some of it will be rolled and hidden.  I just made sure I covered enough not to go into “pattern-anxiety.”

I tried two different recipes for the cake itself, and settled on the one I am sharing. You need to get good volume as you beat the yolks and later the whites, and use a gentle hand to mix them together. The baking powder made the cake rise quite a bit more than a version I made without it. I think you might get by with 3/4 tsp of baking powder for the same amount of batter.

The filling. I wanted to add fresh pomegranate seeds after spreading the buttercream, but that day I could not find them in the two main grocery stores in town. I got some frozen but they are just to watery and I skipped them. Be warned: do not taste the cranberry/pomegranate buttercream before spreading on the cake, or you might not have enough. So, so delicious! I actually had leftovers that went into some macarons the following week. At the present time, I have 6 macaron recipes patiently waiting to be shared with you. I know. Some obsessions do not seem to end.

BogeyQT™ understands obsession…

I hope you enjoyed my little roll cake, but please make sure to stop by “the collective” to see what my friends came up with (post might take a couple of hours to be published, just try a little later if it’s not there  yet). I heard that next month’s challenge will be pretty cool, but until then we’ll have some cool stuff to share with you. Stop by to say hello, we would love to have you there.

ONE YEAR AGO: Bouillabaise for a Chilly Evening

TWO YEARS AGO: Bergamot-Cherry Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Roasted Veggies with Queso Cotija Dressing

FOUR YEARS AGO: Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

FIVE YEARS AGO: Maple Walnut Biscotti

SIX YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

NINE YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

TEN YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini