Baking · Bread

Provence: Olive and Rosemary Fougasse

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I found out how to make bread rise! This may not sound like much, but this has been a major issue for me recently – there just isn’t anywhere warm enough in my house! However, thanks to a tip-off, I found that by turning my oven to Gas mark 4 for 5 minutes and then turning off, enough heat is generated to all my bread to rise! Result!

Fougasse 2

This recipe is another from the cookbook of Le Cordon Bleu, and is for a delicious, flat loaf flavoured with rosemary. (The original recipe calls for thyme, but I had fresh rosemary in the garden and just couldn’t resist! The fougasse is a form of flat bread baked in a wood-fired oven, and was used to check the temperature of the oven was correct. Fougasse is from Provence, and often includes other ingredients such as cheese, olives and anchovies. The Italian foccacia is from the same family of breads, and is made in a similar way.

Fougasse 1

This bread is simple to make, and great for summer picnics and outdoor meals as it has quite a dense texture which doesn’t crumb easily. Just be warned – it is very moreish, and won’t last long!

Olive and Rosemary Fougasse


  • 300ml warm water
  • 15g yeast
  • 500g strong plain flour
  • 5g salt
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 60g olives, stoned and sliced
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped


Make your starter dough, by dissolving the yeast in the water, before adding 120g of strong plain flour. Mix briefly before covering and leaving in a warm place until doubled in size.

Place the remaining flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the salt, 50ml of water, olive oil and the olives before mixing in the starter dough. Start to knead the mixture until all the flour is incorporated, before shaping into a ball and scoring with a large cross. Again, cover and leave in a warm place until i has risen to double its original size.

Preheat the ovento 445°F/230°C/Gas Mark 8 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the risen dough out to about 4cm thick and place on this sheet. Cut slits in the dough, pulling slightly to create a gap in the dough. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle over the salt and rosemary. Bake about 35 minutes until golden brown (cover with foil if it starts to burn)

Baking · Cupcakes · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge · Natural Decorations

Italy: Rosemary and Olive Oil Cupcakes with Chestnut Frosting

English: Italian Flag

Ok, I know that I have already completed a cake for Italy, but I couldn’t resist trying this combination, and my goodness, it works! Loosely based on the Tuscan speciality Castagnaccio, this cake combines the flavours of chestnut, rosemary and olive oil into an intriguingly-delicious flavoured cupcake. The original castagnaccio is a very traditional poor-mans dessert in Italy. Chestnuts have a history of being a crucial food source for the poorer communities of Italy, as the fact that they grew wild meant that anyone could collect and prepare these nuts. The earliest example of castagnaccio can be traced back to Roman times, when they would make a paste from chestnut flour, water and salt and top it with rosemary and pine nuts. Whilst no doubt practical for long marches, I am rather glad they have improved slightly since this point!


The cupcake base is a dense olive oil and rosemary cake, which is topped with a chestnut frosting. Decorated with a sprinkle of chocolate shavings and a sprig of rosemary, these cakes are beautifully rustic, yet classically delicious in their design. Eat these and dream of being in the beautiful tuscan towns, getting the sun that we are missing dreadfully in the grey cloudy country that is England.


Rosemary and Olive Oil Cupcakes with Chestnut Frosting


  • 4 eggs
  • 6oz/56g caster sugar
  • 158ml olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 7.5 oz/225g plain flour
  • 1 tsbp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g chestnut puree
  • 100ml double cream
  • 10g caster sugar


Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C/Gas mark 3 and line a cupcake tin with liners. Beat the eggs until foamy and the gradually mix in the sugar. Slowly pour in the olive oil, beating constantly. Add the rosemary, flour, baking powder and salt and mix until well combined. Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.

To make the frosting, whip the cream and sugar together until it is holding soft peaks. Add the chestnut puree and mix until well combined. Pipe onto the top of the cupcake and decorate with chocolate shavings and a sprig of fresh rosemary.


Bread · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge · Uncategorized

France: Pain Brié

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Much as I hate to say it, there is only so much cake that you can eat. Particularly as a baking blogger, the question of what to do with the remaining cakes. I’m lucky in that I have a very hungry younger brother who is a willing tester for many of the recipes when he is back from university, but otherwise it can come down to just Max and I to eat it, which can leave you feeling very fat. The problem was partially solved when my mum provided me with some lovely small round baking tins which belonged to my grandmother, but even so!

Every so often then I make something else, and today that something is bread. I have mixed feelings towards bread – I love tiger bread and could quite happily eat half a loaf in one sitting, but as much of the bread around these days is plastic white sliced sandwich bread, I don’t tend to eat much of it. Homemade bread is a different matter, but my house is not made for baking bread, and I find it almost impossible to make it rise! The only way I’ve managed to successfully get dough to rise is to place the bowl on a pile of books stacked under the bathrooms heated towel rail – not the best situation to be in!


However, when I make bread, I remember why it’s worth all the hassle! This loaf is a prime example of how good proper bread can be – a Normandy-style bread, filled with both black and green olives and rosemary. Delicious for a picnic, and very simple to make! It can be served either hot or cold, and does not need any topping to improve it – the ultimate one hand snack! The recipe is taken from Rachel Khoo’s book The Little Paris Kitchen



Pain Brié


Fermented Dough:

  • 10g yeast
  • 10ml warm water
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 generous pinches of salt

The bread:

  • 5g dried yeast
  • 4 tbsp warm water
  • 85g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • a knob of butter
  • 300g fermented dough

The filling:

  • 50g green olives, chopped
  • 50g black olives, chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 20ml olive oil


First make the fermented dough, something that must be done the night before. Mix the yeast and warm water and stir until all the yeast has dissolved. Place the flour and salt in the bowl and quickly mix before adding the yeast mixture. Stir to combine before turning out onto a floured surface and knead until it forms a smooth dough. Place in a bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight before continuing.

The next day, dissolve the yeast in the warm water, before mixing the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture, fermented dough and butter before bringing together to form a ball. On a floured surface, knead for 15 minutes until smooth, and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Make the filling by mixing together the olives, rosemary and oil. Roll out the risen dough so that is it 1 inch thick and about the size of a piece of A4 paper. Spread the olive mixture on top of the dough, and roll up lengthways into a long roll. Place join-side down on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Us a sharp knife to cut deep slits in the dough (ensuring that you d not cut all the way through!)  and cover with a damp tea towel before allowing to rise for 1 hour (it should have doubled in size).

Preheat the oven to Gas mark 9/240°C/475°F with a baking tray in the middle and a roasting tin in the bottom. Once hot, slide the roll (still on the baking paper) onto the hot baking tray, and pour a galss of water into the roasting tin. Bake for 5 minutes before reducing the heat to gas mark 7/210°C/425°F and bake for a further 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Baking · Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge · Uncategorized

Andorra: Peach, Almond and Rosemary Coque

The flag of Andorra Español: La bandera de And...

Despite being a microstate (a term I did not know existed, but I like it!), Andorra is unique in that it has two co-princes; namely the president of France and the Bishop of Urgell. This means that François Hollande is not only premier of France, but also an elected reigning monarch of Andorra. As a result he is the only monarch in the world to be elected by the common people – granted not those of the country he rules, but still!

Andorran cuisine shares much of its basis with Catalan cuisine, and so will often seem very Spanish in preparation. However, one thing that sprung out at me was the prevalence of preparations that combine both sweet and savoury foods, an idea which I was excited about the possibility of trying out in cake form. My first thought was to combine this idea with a recipe for coques, a sweet dough recipe, including fruit and a sweet almond picada (a herb and nut mixture similar to a pesto, but without cheese).


I was unable to find a suitable coques recipe so the following recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat. I used the basic dough recipe, spread the dough with a sweet almond and rosemay picada and topped this with a layer of peaches. Crumbled amaretti biscuits are crumbled on top before the cake is baked in the oven. Lovely hot or cold, this can also be created with other fruits – if you have access to blackcurrants these make a delicious addition. I love this as a breakfast cake, or eating a slice with a cup of tea in the evening – really I could eat it anytime!

[Note on yeast – the first time I made this, it didn’t rise. Still tasted delicious but wasn’t quite as soft and pillowy as I would have hoped for. It turned out that the yeast I was using was too old, and therefore did not react as it should have done. You can test to see if you yeast will work effectively by dissolving it in lukewarm water – if bubbles form after about 3 minutes then it is alive and raring to go! Otherwise, sadly it is no longer with you and will not help in your cake-making quests!

Andorran-Inspired Peach and Almond Coque



  • 400 gram(s) strong white bread flour
  • ½ teaspoon(s) salt
  • 50 gram(s) caster sugar
  • 1 packet(s) yeast (easy blend, about 3g)
  • 2 medium egg(s)
  • ½ teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • ½ lemon (juice)
  • ¼ teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
  • 125 ml milk (luke warm)
  • 50 gram(s) butter (softened)


  • 24 blanched almonds
  • 1 spring of rosemary
  • 1 slice stale bread, toasted, crust removed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon amaretto
  • 2 teaspoons of water
  • 4 peaches
  • 100g/4oz Flour
  • 75g/3oz Butter or margarine
  • 75g/3oz Sugar
  • 50g/2oz crushed Amaretti Biscuits


Place 350g of flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a bowl and set aside. In a different bowl, beat the eggs before adding them to the lukewarm milk, along with the vanilla extract, lemon zest and cinnamon. Gradually start to add the liquids to the flour mixture, mixing them to form a smooth dough (You may need to add more flour if it is too sticky). Add the softened butter and knead for 10 minutes, until smooth. Cover and leave in a warm room for about an hour until doubled in size, before punching down and stretching into a baking tin (greased and lined). Leave for 15-20 minutes to prove (a final rise aimed at ensuring a final fermentation of the yeast) before brushing with beaten egg

To make the picada, process the blanched almonds until finely ground. Add in the amaretto, water, cocoa, rosemary leaves and the slice of bread, and process to a puree, adding a little more amaretto if it is a bit dry – you are aiming for a smooth paste. Spread the mixture on top of the dough.

Make the crumble by working the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles rolled oats. Add the sugar and crushed amaretti biscuits and mix to combine. Chop the peaches and use to top the dough, before covering with the crumble topping. Bake in an oven preheated to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes, before turning the oven down to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and baking for another 20 minutes.  The dough should be golden brown and the topping will be set (not crunchy). Leave to cool, and cut into large pieces for ultimate enjoyment!