Strava Rides

Something I realised is that I need to nail down some of the basics recipes...stuff that isn't a complete item in it's own right, but something you do a lot of. Pastries, sponges, jams...and ganache. There are lots of recipes out there, however I need to stick to one recipe and technique that works for me.

The most common mistake with ganache is getting it too hot, and splitting it. the way I overcome this is to break the chocolate up into small pieces, and leave it for a few minutes after the cream is added to the chocolate to allow everything to melt, and even up in temperature. This recipe produces a ganache that will firm up, and be pipe-able while holding it's shape. The other mistake is trying to pipe it when it's too fluid, so it runs everywhere. I find it's easier to judge the viscosity of it when it's in a piping bag, and you can give it a good squeeze to judge the thickness.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 200g dark (50%) cooking chocolate
  • 150g double cream
1) Chop the chocolate up into small pieces. I find that if you just break it into chunks, you may get some bits that do not melt into the cream. If you want to be really careful, wheel out the food processor and whiz it.

2) Put the chopped chocolate into a small heatproof bowl

3) Weigh the double cream into a small pan

4) Heat the cream gently, stirring with a spatula

5) Just before the cream starts to boil, remove it from the heat

6) Pour the cream over the chocolate, making sure that it is all coated

7) Leave the mixture for 3-4 minutes without stirring, to allow the heat to disperse evenly throughout the mixture

8) Using a spatula or a whisk, vigorously mix the ganache together until smooth and glossy

9) Leave to cool, while stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken

10) I find it easiest to use out of a piping bag, so transfer to a small piping bag

11) If required leave to cool until slightly thicker (you can get a good feel for the consistency by squeezing the bag). Once it feels more viscous, you can pipe it.

Note - if you make too much, put the left-overs in a jar, and keep it in the fridge. When you want to use it, put it in a heatproof bowl over a bain-marie, and carefully stir until it goes fluid again. Be very careful not to overheat it, you just want it to loosen up, and then you are back to step (9) above.

Chocolate Ganache

If there is one downside to making crème patisserie, it's the excess of egg whites you're left with. This normally forces you to make meringue, or macarons, or (if you're going a bit crazy) angel food cake.

In a bit of an internet trawl, I stumbled on Financiers...small rectangular cakes made with an egg white base, and not the traditional meringue whip followed by folding in a dry ingredient. even better, they used a silicone mould that just happened to be lying around in the kitchen.

I went for a simple flavour (chocolate and almond) for these, as it was my first attempt doing the recipe. Quite happy at how they came out, it made about 40 (I did 20 with almond flakes on top, and 20 with a blanched hazelnut pushed in, though I should probably have done 2). they are a mouthful or two each, so perfect petit-four size, and really simple to make. the most complex thing is the beurre noisette (a posh way of saying brown/burnt butter), however even that is not exactly hard... I only had one mould with 20 cavities, so did 2 runs.

For some reason they remind me of dominoes, and it would be fun to make an edible set, maybe with 6 flavours/colours?

Chocolate Almond Financier Petit Four

  • Pre-heat oven to 170'C
  • Get a 20-rectangle silicone mould (~2 inch by 1 inch cavities), and place it on a baking tray


  • 140g butter
  • 115g ground almonds
  • 35g plain flour
  • 1g salt
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 120g egg whites (approx 3 large egg whites)
    150g icing sugar
  • Blanched hazelnuts (optional)
  • Flaked Almond (optional)
1) Put the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, and stir until melted and boiling

2) Keep stirring until the butter begins to turn brown. once it does immediately take off the heat and decant into a heatproof bowl, and leave to cool

3) In a mixing bowl put the flour, ground almonds, salt and cocoa powder, and use a sieve to mix them together

4) Put the egg whites into a stand mixer with the whisk attachment

5) Whisk until the egg whites are loosened (you're not whipping air into them, just slackening them off)

6) Add the cooled brown butter to the egg whites, and continue to whisk to combine

7) Add the icing sugar in thirds, whisking each in (again, you're not making a meringue here, just using the whisk as a mixer to combine)

8) Finally, add the dry ingredients to the mixer and combine until smooth

9) Transfer the mix to a piping bag (no nozzle needed, it's just easier to handle)

10) Chop off the end, and fill each silicone mould to roughly the top (the mixture rises slightly, but not much)

11) If you want, push hazelnuts into each mould, or place a couple of almond flakes on top

12) Bake in the oven for 12 minutes

13) Remove from the oven, and once it's cool enough to touch, transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool.

Financier Petit Fours

Last time I did these I had a complete nightmare...burning them, getting weird, lumpy shapes, and generally not doing that well, so I went back and re-read my notes, and tried to clean up the process. I've also recently had issues with overly slack custards.

One thing it made me realise is that I need to nail down my recipes for the "Basics" eclair is a great's 3 very basic recipes (choux, crème patisserie and ganache), all of which I should be very confident about doing, and I should stick to one recipe. These actually came out really well, so I should nail down these recipe components, and build up some kind of reference for all the basic recipes that I use a lot (typically pastry, dough, jam, ganache, custard etc etc, the fundamental building blocks of baking...)

Anyhow, these came out pretty well...the ganache topping is a little...informal, and I should probably dip them for better results (these were piped and spread with a palette knife). The recipe made enough for about 15-16 éclairs, though I did 12, and then some rings with the leftovers. You'll note I use weights for the's far easier pouring into a saucepan on some scales than trying to be accurate with a measuring jug! This recipe also uses a lot of bowls and saucepans, so be ready to do some washing up...

Chocolate Éclairs - Recipe

  • Pre-heat Oven to 190'C
  • Line a large baking tray with baking parchment

Choux Ingredients

  • 100g full fat milk
  • 100g water
  • 100g butter
  • 3g salt
  • 8g caster sugar
  • 60g plain flour
  • 60g strong flour
  • 3 large eggs
1) Put the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt into a saucepan

2) Put over a low heat and stir until the butter and sugar have melted, and the mixture is just starting to boil

3) Take off the heat, and add in the flours, stirring vigorously to form a paste

4) Return to a low heat and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes, until the dough comes together, and pulls away from the sides

5) Transfer the dough to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and mix for 2-3 minutes to cool it down and smooth the mixture

6) Beat and add the eggs, and mix hard for 5-6 minutes, to form a smooth, glossy, pipeable dough

7) Transfer the dough to a large piping bag with a large open-star nozzle attachment

8) Pipe 12-16 éclairs on the baking tray, about 2-3cm apart. I drew some guidelines on the back of the baking parchment, and was aiming for éclairs 13-14cm long.

9) Trim the ends with a pair of wet scissors, to neaten up the éclairs

10) Sprinkle the baking sheet with a little water (wet your hand, then shake it over the tray)

11) Bake for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them, and if they are browning too much reduce the temperature by 10'C

12) After 30 minutes, turn off the oven and crack the door, but leave the éclairs in there to dry out for another 15 minutes.

13) While the éclairs are baking, make the custard.

Crème Patisserie Ingredients

  • 500ml full fat milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 50g cornflour
  • 45g softened butter
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1) Put the yolks, caster sugar and cornflour in a large heatproof bowl

2) Using an electric hand-mixer, beat until thick and pale

3) Put the milk and vanilla seeds in a medium sized saucepan

4) Heat the milk over a low heat, stirring, until it just begins to boil

5) While beating the yolk mixture, slowly pour the milk in

6) Once fully combined, pour the custard through a sieve into a large, clean saucepan

7) Continue to beat the mixture over a low/medium heat until it begins to thicken. This happens quite quickly once it starts, so be ready

8) Take off the heat, and beat in the butter until fully combined

9) Pour the custard onto a baking tray (with a lip), spread out and cover with cling-film. Place in a fridge to chill


1) Take the éclairs out of the oven, and put on a wire rack to cool completely

2) Create a hole at each end (I use the point of some scissors). The hole wants to be the same size as a Bismarck piping nozzle (for obvious reasons)

3) Take the cooled custard, and hand whisk it to loosen it up. Transfer it to a piping bag with a bismarck piping nozzle

4) Fill both sides of the éclair with the custard (no-one has ever complained about too much custard, be generous!)

Ganache Ingredients

  • 200g dark (50%) chocolate
  • 150g double cream
1) Chop the chocolate up into small pieces,and place in a heatproof bowl

2) Put the cream in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally

3) Just before the cream begging to boil, take off the heat

4) Pour over the chocolate, and leave for 3-4 minutes to let the chocolate melt

5) Stir vigorously to produce a smooth, glossy ganache

6) Once it has cooled and thickened slightly, spread generously over the éclairs

7) Leave in a cool place to solidify

Chocolate Éclairs

Until tonight I knew these as "those biscuits we always buy when we're abroad", which isn't entirely useful. I had some spare puff pastry after making the beef, beer, bacon and bean slices, but not enough for anything typical, so I decided to attempt to find out what the hell those strange, pastry-esque biscuit things were.

Fortunately, looks like I'm not the only one who tries to find their name, as a Google search for "pastry biscuits" takes you right where you need to be! 5 minutes of reading, and I decided to go for a simple demerera sugar version, and headed downstairs to attack the kitchen. By the time the oven had heated up I had a tray of worryingly small biscuits ready, however once they were in the oven they quickly expanded, and were done in about 12-13 minutes (I didn't really know how long to cook them for, so kept an eye on them in case of;
a) Pastry catching
b) Sugar burning

So this meant in under 20 minutes I had my sugar fix! Not much in the way of volumes for this one, as it's all leftovers, and you can really make as many or as few as you have pastry. I was really surprised how well it worked with re-rolled puff pastry (a lump made from off cuts), the laminations still showed really well.

A bit more reading would suggest you can be a little posher by glazing the biscuits in a sugar syrup, and also adding some cinnamon to the mix.

Palmier Biscuits - Recipe

  • preheat oven to 190'C
  • Line a baking tray or 2 with baking parchment 


  • Rough Puff Pastry - mine was spare from the same recipe used here 
  • Demerera Sugar
1) Roll the pastry out into a rectangle 5mm thick (I used batons), about 25cm wide, and as long as you can make it

2) Sprinkle generous amounts of demerera sugar evenly over the pastry, and gently run a rolling pin over it to push it into the pastry

3) Flip the pastry over, and repeat the demerera sugar coating/rolling on the other side

4) Roll each side up loosely to the middle, so you end up with 2 long tubes of pastry

5) Chop slices about 8-10mm thick, and place on the baking tray about 2cm apart

6) Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes...keep an eye on them to make sure the sugar does not burn

7) Remove to a wire rack to cool


 I've spent most of the day in the kitchen making stuff to sell to hungry, wet cyclists tomorrow (I'm not doing the selling, I'm the first-aider, which is probably more worrying). I've made a lot of stuff...well over 100 portions!

Hopefully it will all survive transportation (the cake monolith has been deployed, and they are being picked up by car tomorrow)

1) Beef, Bacon, Beer and Bean Pastry Slices (and 2 plate pies)

This was a combination effort, using the filling from this massive hot-water crust pie (without the chocolate, as I don't think it added anything), combined with the rough puff pastry that I always use from here, as it's really reliable. I did 2 matches of the pastry, and made a load of small parcels with the first batch, before deciding they were a faff, and with the second batch I made a couple of plate pies and baked them instead.

2) Savoury Muffins

These are nice and easy to do, pack a lot of flavour, and are easy to sell as they are neat, standalone portions. I did 2 batches;
a) Classic Cheese, Onion and Chorizo
b) Veggie Carrot, Courgette and Cumin
I use both ground cumin, and cumin seed in the veggie ones, as you do need to get flavour in there when the chorizo is missing

3) Classic Cupcakes

I don't think I have ever done a recipe for these, as I can basically do them blindfold. It's a simple 3-egg butter sponge mix, baked at 150'C for 20 minutes, and then I use my trusty cupcake corer to whip out the middle, pop a teaspoon of jam in and put the core back, then pipe on a classic buttercream (150g butter, 300g icing sugar, splash of milk and vanilla essence to soften, and beat it hard to get it light). I then raided the cupboard for a simple this case silver balls.

4) Experimental Banoffee Cupcakes

I've had these in mind for a while, and a bunch of cyclists and spectators seem the perfect target audience. I slightly rushed the meringue, so it's not quite as smooth as I'd like, however the toffee sauce was lovely (I "accidentally" made too much of it, so was forced to dispose of it)

5) Cycling Flapjack

It would be rude not to really. I decided not to do the caffeine version, just in case it got into the hands of a small child. Chopped it into 20 pieces, held a couple back as fuel for me as it's very transportable.

6) Double-Chocolate Cookies

Again, this is a nice, reliable recipe that looks better than it has any right to. I really like how these crack dramatically, and keep a nice chewy core. The only difference between double-chocolate and triple chocolate is that I added 100g of white chocolate drops, rather than 50g of 2 types.

Volume Baking