Posts from the ‘Baking’ category

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Food typography is the art of turning food into letters and words. Here’s a selection of my favourite artists and projects, all inspired by baking. If you like it, have a look at my Food Typography Pinterest board!

1. Baking time by Dina Belenko

Shouldn’t any time be baking time? Dina Belenko shoots conceptual still life images in her St. Petersburg flat, “telling magical stories behind everyday inanimate objects”.
Source: Instagram. Copyright: Dina Belenko.


2. Humble pie pastry type by Danielle Evans

I love a beautiful pie topper, especially when it’s cheeky and stylish. In Danielle’s words:

“Humble Pie. We can all use a slice now and then, but in our case a mouthful never tasted so good. After a spirit of contrition hung heavily overhead, I determined to bake a pie inlaid with cheek and cherry. A delicious yet modest pastry emerged from five hours of prep and exacto cutting our mouthwatering, homemade crust. A last minute decision to create an inline finished out the type beautifully.”

Source: Behance. Copyright: Danielle Evans.

1. Copyright Danielle Evans pie


3. Bite off more than you can chew by Anna Garforth

Anna Garforth, a multi-disciplinary designer working and living in East London, started this as a self-initiated project. I love the bold message, the clever food pun and the great execution – I wish my biscuits held their shape like Anna’s!
Source: Creative Bloq. Copyright: Anna Garforth.

Copyright Anna Garforth 2


4. Victoria sponge recipe by Grant Maycock

This wonderfully simple Victoria sponge recipe was born as a Creative Review ad for Smoke and Mirrors, Rockhound Photographic. Amazingly, it was styled in-house, pulling together people, ingredients and props to create a mouthwatering result. I love that it is nearly an infographic: no need for pen and paper anymore!
Source: Behance. Art Direction: Grant Maycock, Lee Gladman. Typography: Grant Maycock.

3. Copyright Grant Maycock


5. Typography pie by A Subtle Revelry

This wonderful pie was created to celebrate Thanksgiving for the blog A Subtle Revelry. In addition to being a show-stopper, the pie is easy to make: the recipe is available in full here. From the same website, here’s the recipe for a typography cake.
Source: A subtle revelry. Produced and photographed by Athena Plichta.

4. Copyright A Subtle Revelry


6. Type Delight: A Life Long Love Affair by Nina Harcus

Type Delight is a conceptual illustrative cookbook about Marcelle, a timid Patisserie Chef who falls in love and uses food to communicate his infatuation. Nina Harcus’ project consisted of three food typography quotes from the story printed on linen tea towels that came with the cookbook. Unfortunately, the cook book does not seem to be available anywhere…
Source: Pinterest. Copyright: Nina Harcus.

5. Copyright Nina Harcus.jpg


7. Norrlandssäkrade by Fabian Björnstjerna

I have great respect for these typography buns – you need guts to make food typography out of yeasty dough that is supposed to rise in the oven!
Source: Creative Bloq. Copyright:  Fabian Björnstjerna.

6. Copyright Fabian Björnstjerna


8. Be Sweet – Go Vegan by Molly O’Riordon

Molly created this project for her Design Alumni show. Completely true to her subject-matter, she used homemade vegan cookies! In her words:

“Not shown: The 100 other sketches, frosting text, and fondant text used to test/practice this. My apartment was covered in wax paper and frosting for a while. Whew!”

Source: Behance. Copyright: Molly O’Riordon.

Copyright Molly ORiordon


9. Home is where the cake is…

… and luckily enough, there is often cake at home.
Source: Blog du web design. Copyright: unknown.

9. Home is where the cake is


10. The End

Pancakes do not need to come round and flat.
Source: Pinterest. Copyright: Mathias Torgaard.

The end


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Speculoos 1
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This post is a little late, as speculoos biscuits (speculaas in Dutch) are traditionally baked in Belgium and the Netherlands on the eve of St. Nicholas day, on 5th December (and I did bake them before Christmas). When it comes to enjoying them, though, there really is no need to be so strict. Thin and crunchy, they are the perfect winter treat to accompany a hot coffee or a glass of milk – in January as well!

The speculoos spice mix (speculaaskruiden)

Speculoos spice mix webThe speculoos spice mix is what sets them apart from gingerbread biscuits. Comforting cinnamon creates the body of the mix; cloves and nutmeg are essential to give it a little warm kick. For two tablespoons of speculoos spice mix, you will need: 4 teaspoons of cinnamon; 1 teaspoon of nutmeg; and 1 teaspoon of ground cloves. You can skip other spices completely or personalise the basic mix by adding a pinch of the one or two spices you like the most (ginger, cardamom, white pepper, coriander, etc.).

The speculoos moulds

Traditionally, speculoos biscuits are stamped on the front with St. Nicholas’ image using handcrafted wooden moulds. In fact, the mould is such a part of the process that the word speculoos apparently comes from the Latin word for mirror (speculum), referring to St. Nicholas’ reflection. If you live in the Netherlands, Belgium or France, finding a speculoos mould should not be difficult; Dille & Kamille sells several online. If you live in Germany, a springerle mould will do the job just as beautifully. Anyone else can either bribe Central European friends or buy the moulds on good old Ebay: search for ‘speculoos mould’, ‘speculaas mould’ or ‘springerle mould’. Of course, you don’t need to use a mould at all: cookie cutters or even the rim of a glass will do.

The dough can be kept in the fridge for up to a week and the spice mix can be kept for a few weeks in an airtight tin in a cool and dry place.

D-P1120840 web

Ingredients (for 20-25 biscuits)

  • 500g all-purpose flour
  • 300g soft butter
  • 280g dark brown sugar
  • 70ml water or milk
  • 2 tablespoons speculoos spice mix
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • a little corn flour for dusting

Speculoos 3

How to make them

1. In a bowl, beat together 280g dark brown sugar, 300g soft butter and 2 tablespoons speculoos spice mix. Dissolve the resulting cream into 70ml water or milk.

2. Sieve together 500g all-purpose flour and 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda. Sprinkle the flour over the butter mix and blend to get a thick, not too elastic dough. Be careful not to knead too much.

3. Wrap the ball of dough in cling film and let it cool in the fridge for at least two hours (or overnight).

4. About half an hour before baking, take the dough out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 170 °C (160 °C for a ventilated oven). Cover your worktop with some baking paper (using baking paper rather than dusting with flour will keep the dough lighter and the worktop cleaner). Cut the dough into four parts. Cover the first one with some cling film and flatten with a rolling pin.

5. If you are using a wooden mould, lightly dust it with some corn flour. Press the dough into the mould with your hand to fit the design and cut the exceeding dough with a cutting wire or a sharp knife. Gently remove the dough from the mould by tapping the mould against the table or using a toothpick. If you are not using a wooden mould, cut the dough into shapes using a cookie cutter or the edge of a glass.

How to use a speculoos mould

6. Place on a baking sheet covered with baking greaseproof paper. If necessary, place in the fridge to cool for 30 min.

7. Bake at 170°C for around 10-15 min, depending on the size, until the speculoos are a deep golden brown . Turn the oven down if they are darkening too quickly.


Speculoos 4


Mont Blanc roulade 1

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Apparently created at the time of the Duchy of Savoy, Mont Blanc (the dessert) is a little cone of chestnut cream vermicelli and crème Chantilly over a base of meringue, inspired by the shape and colour of Mont Blanc (the Alpine mountain). As if the idea of a snow-capped peak were not wintery enough, I though that the earthy chestnut and fluffy meringue flavours of the Mont Blanc would make a lovely Christmas log. Enter the sugar-capped Mont Blanc meringue roulade with chestnut and whipped cream filling. Is there anything more Christmassy than that?

Although Christmas is all about indulgence, you do not want to use too much sugar in this recipe. The sugar in the meringue and the one used to make chestnut spread will be enough as sweeteners, so you won’t need to add more sugar to the chestnut filling or the whipped cream.

Chestnut puree and whole roasted and peeled chestnuts are generally available in supermarkets and health shops in the UK around Christmas, as they are used for stuffing and soups. If you cannot find chestnut puree you can make it by blending roasted and peeled chestnut, adding a little water if necessary. Chestnut spread (crème de marrons), made with sugar and vanilla, may be more difficult to find in small supermarkets, but it is easily available online. The original Mont Blanc recipe calls for some rum to give a deeper note to the chestnuts. If you don’t have it, you can use some whiskey cream or just skip the alcohol.

If you have never made meringue before, have a look at my post on French meringue for some basic tips. Compared to a classic dry meringue, a meringue roulade needs more sugar for elasticity and it is baked at a higher temperature. The rolling needs a firm hand: here’s how Baking Queen Mary Berry does it.


PS: The lovely golden birds on the photos are by Danish designer Jette Frölich.


Mont Blanc roulade 4

Ingredients (for 10 slices)

For the roulade

  • 5 egg whites
  • 275g caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

For the chestnut filling

  • 400g unsweetened chestnut puree
  • 400g chestnut spread (crème de marrons)
  • 150g whole roasted and peeled chestnuts
  • 2 tablespoons rum (optional)

300ml fresh double cream

Icing sugar, for dusting

Mont Blanc roulade 2


How to make it

1. Pre-heat the oven 200°C/180°Fan/Gas 6. Line a large swiss roll tin (about 37×27 cm) with greased non-stick baking paper (note: this last step is not necessary if you are using a silicon tray).

2. In a squeaky clean, large bowl, start whisking 5 egg whites with an electric mixer on full speed. When they get foamy, add ½ teaspoon cream of tartar. Keep whisking and gradually add 275g caster sugar, one spoonful at a time: one third at the soft peaks stage; another third at the firm peaks stage; and the last third at the stiff peaks stage. Whisk until very, very stiff and glossy.

3. Spread the meringue mixture into the prepared tin in a uniform layer. Place the tin in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 8 minutes until very golden. Then lower the temperature to 160°/140°Fan/Gas 3 and bake for a further 15 minutes until crisp and firm to the touch.

4. Remove the meringue from the oven and turn it upside down on to a clean towel or a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Remove the paper from the base of the cooked meringue and allow to cool completely.

5. While the meringue cools down, prepare the chestnut filling by mixing 400g chestnut puree, 400g chestnut spread, 150g whole roasted and peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped, and 2 tablespoons of rum (optional).

6. Whip 300ml fresh double cream.

7. Spread evenly the chestnut filling and then the whipped cream over the meringue.

8. To form a roulade, roll up the meringue firmly from the long end, using the towel or baking paper to help you. Make sure to keep the roll very tight.

9. Wrap in non-stick baking paper or foil and chill before serving. Serve dusted with icing sugar.

Mont Blanc roulade 3


Maple 2 web
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I had the perfect autumn day today. It was a fresh crisp day, with a little drizzle in the air. I put my wellies on and went to the park for a little brisk walk. The leaves were all shades of gold and red and the dogs were playing in the mud. You get the picture! Once back home, I baked these maple syrup shortbread biscuits, just in time for Bonfire Night. They are great with a cup of steaming hot ginger and lemon tea!

I have been planning to bake some maple syrup biscuits for some time, but it took me a while to find the right recipe. Mine is based on the traditional 1-2-3 shortbread recipe, but it replaces sugar with pure maple syrup and adjusts butter and flour accordingly. As maple syrup is liquid, the biscuit is less crumbly than a traditional shortbread.

What makes or breaks these biscuits is the quality of the ingredients, so it’s worth using the best quality ingredients you can afford. Make sure that you use pure Canadian maple syrup (I used Shady Maple Farms’ organic 100% pure maple syrup). I used salted butter because I like to counter-balance the sweetness of the maple syrup; however, that’s just a matter of taste and unsalted butter will work just as well.

For a good result, temperature is also key. The butter must be very soft before you start making the dough, or it won’t become creamy enough to mix properly with the maple syrup. That’s why it’s a good idea to dice it and work it on its own, before incorporating the maple syrup. Once the dough is mixed, on the other hand, you want to keep it cool to make sure that the biscuits keep their shape in the oven. . If it is a hot day, you may need to leave the biscuits in the freezer for 15 minutes after cutting them to make sure that they hold their shape in the oven.

Maple P1 web

Ingredients (for 8 large biscuits)

  • 100ml pure maple syrup
  • 180g butter, diced and soft
  • 275g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Maple 1 web

How to make them

  1. Beat 180g of butter, diced and soft, and 100ml maple syrup with an electric mixer until smooth (this will take about 3-5 minutes).
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together 275g of plain flour and ½ teaspoon of salt. Using a spatula, gradually fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture until completely incorporated.
  3. Squeeze the dough into a ball, wrap it in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour (preferably two).
  4. Preheat the oven to 180ºC / Gas 4 (ventilated). Line a baking sheet with greaseproof baking paper.
  5. Dust the work surface with a little flour and gently roll the dough out to about 8mm-1cm thick. Cut into leaf shapes using a biscuit cutter.
  6. Transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet and sprinkle each biscuit with a pinch of brown sugar. If it is a hot day, leave in the freezer for 15 minutes to make sure that the biscuits hold their shape when baking.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes. The larger and thicker the biscuits, the longer they may need in the oven. Once they are pale golden and firm and no longer stick to the greaseproof paper, remove from the oven and transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool.


Maple P2 web


P1120523 web
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My grandmother had a persimmon tree in her back garden in Italy and I have always loved their sweet vanilla taste and firm, shiny flesh. More exotic than apple and pear and with a warm, golden orange colour, persimmon (also known as Sharon fruit) is my favourite autumn fruit. To welcome the new season, I combined it with cinnamon and organic apple juice, two traditional autumn flavours, for a light and creamy seasonal cake.

In keeping with the Italian theme, I decided to go for a very simple Pan di Spagna sponge. Pan di Spagna is a traditional Italian sponge cake with a light and airy texture and only three ingredients: eggs, sugar, and flour. The basic Pan di Spagna sponge cake contains no butter, milk or oil, which makes it low-fat and perfect for a dairy-free diet. If you want to keep the persimmon compote dairy-free and low-fat as well, substitute the whipped cream with soya cream. Of course, you can also leave the cake naked or just add a sprinkle of icing sugar on top!

A-PdS1c web

There are different methods to make Pan di Spagna sponge: this recipe, based on Giallo Zafferano’s, uses the egg-separated method. Like angel cake, Pan di Spagna cake does not need raising agent: it raises thanks to the air and steam trapped inside the egg foam. Because the mixture needs to be as light as possible to raise properly, I recommend using a low-protein (weak) type of flour, such as US (unbleached) cake flour, Italian grade 00 flour or French T55 flour.



Ingredients (for 6-8 people)

P1120488 webFor the Pan di Spagna sponge

  • 5 eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 75g 00-type flour (or other weak flour)
  • 75g corn flour
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

For the persimmon compote

  • 5 persimmons
  • 250ml organic apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons whipped cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the crème Chantilly

  • 250ml full-fat whipping cream
  • 50g icing sugar

To assemble and decorate

  • 30ml organic apple juice
  • 1 persimmon
  • A few mint leaves

How to make it

How to make the Pan di Spagna sponge cake

1. Pre-heat the oven at 180-160ºC. Grease and line with baking paper a medium round tin (18cm diametre). Sieve together 75g 00-type flour (or other weak flour) and 75g corn flour.

2. Separate the whites from the yolks of 5 eggs; this is easier when the eggs are fridge-cold. Take care not to leave any trace of the yolks in the egg whites bowl.

3. With a sharp knife, cut the vanilla pod in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the egg yolks bowl.

4. Whisk the yolks and the vanilla seeds with 100g caster sugar until the mixture doubles in size and becomes light and fluffy (see photo 4b for how it should look like).

5. Whisk the egg whites with 50g caster sugar and ½ teaspoon cream of tartar until they make hard peaks.

6. Using a large spatula, gently mix the egg whites to the yolks mixture. Take care not to overmix: you don’t want to knock the air bubbles out of the mixture.

7. Gradually sift the dry ingredients over the mixture, gently folding them in until they are completely incorporated.

8. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake at 180ºC for 40 minutes (static oven) or at 160ºC for 30 minutes (ventilated oven). The cake is ready when it springs back if poked with a finger.

9. Once the cake is baked, turn the oven off and leave it in the oven to cool down for about 10 minutes. Then take the cake out of the oven and let it cool completely before taking it out of the tin.

How to make the persimmon compote

10. Cut 5 persimmons in small pieces.

11. Transfer the persimmons to a pan and add 250ml organic apple juice and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Slowly simmer on a low heath for about one hour, until the compote reduces to the consistency of a jam.

12. Blend the compote in a food processor until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons whipped cream and mix well. Set aside.

How to assemble and decorate the cake

13. Make the crème Chantilly by whisking together 250ml full-fat whisking cream and 50g icing sugar.

14. Cut the cake in three horizontal layers.

15. Drizzle 10ml organic apple juice over the bottom layer. Spread half of the persimmon compote and then a layer of crème Chantilly over the persimmon compote layer.

16. Place the second layer of cake on top of the first one and drizzle 10ml organic apple juice over it. Cover with the remaining persimmon compote and a layer of crème Chantilly.

17. Top the cake with the third layer and drizzle the remaining 10ml organic apple juice over it. Spread a thin layer of crème Chantilly over the whole cake and leave to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour. This layer will create a smooth surface for the rest of the crème Chantilly to be laid upon.

18. Once the first layer of crème Chantilly is set, cover the cake with the remaining crème Chantilly. Decorate with one persimmon, sliced, and a few mint leaves.

This cake keeps well in the fridge for 1-2 days.

P1120510 web

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Soda bread web 3
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I love The Great British Bake Off (who doesn’t?). So I was very excited to be one of the production guests in this week’s An Extra Slice. Week three is bread week, so I had to bake a loaf – not just a normal one, one good enough to be on TV!

Despite the pressure, however, this girl is not for novelty shapes and bright colours, no matter what. I went for simple, elegant rosemary soda bread, decorated with a sunflower carving.

Soda bread is a quick bread. Unlike other types of bread, it does not include yeast and does not need proving. It does not need kneading either; in fact, kneading can make the final loaf quite heavy, so try handling it as little as possible. Without yeast and without proving, soda bread rises in the oven, thanks to the reaction between bicarbonate of soda (which is alkaline) and buttermilk (which is acidic).

The traditional deep cuts help the heat to get to the middle and the loaf to bake evenly. Carving a stylised flower shape on the top, rather than the usual cross, is a way to make the final result prettier and more personal.

As a homage to The Great British Bake Off, this recipe is based on Paul Hollywood’s. This version includes rosemary, but you can try other flavours (mint, feta cheese and beetroot is Ben’s favourite).

Soda bread web 1


Ingredients (for one loaf)

400ml buttermilk
250g wholemeal flour
250g plain white flour, plus extra for dusting
20g fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt

How to make it

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 ºC. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Mix 250g wholemeal flour, 250g plain white flour, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add 20g fresh rosemary, finely chopped, and mix again.
  3. Stir in 400ml buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it quickly into a loaf. Do not knead it, or the bread will be heavy.
  4. Put the dough on the baking tray. With deep cuts through the dough, carve a flower or your favourite shape on the top. Dust with a little white plain flour.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until the loaf is cooked through – it should be golden and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Leave it to cool on a wire rack.


Soda bread web 2

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20150815. Sugar'n' spice Index top

Before starting: ingredients

All-in-one cakes

Creamed cakes


Whisked cakes and sponge cakes


Biscuits and small bakes


Savoury bakes

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Cardamom web feature
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I discovered cardamom as a baking ingredient about a year ago in Sweden, where it is used widely since the Vikings brought it back from their travels to far-flung corners of the world. I cannot have enough since (and I am not alone – Ben had 40 cardamom buns as his birthday cake!). More exotic and interesting than cinnamon, it works beautifully in both summer and winter bakes.

Despite being a common ingredient of Persian and Middle-Eastern baking, as well as Nordic pastries, cardamom may be difficult to find in the UK or mainland Europe. In Britain, it is more often associated with curries, as big green cardamom pods are a common ingredient of Pilau rice. For most baking recipes, however, you will need ground cardamom, rather than the whole pods. Where to find it?

Of course, you can buy green whole cardamom pods in most supermarkets and then crush them to get to the dark brown seeds inside. However, this operation can be quite long and fastidious (it took me about 20 minutes of crushing and some motivation for the photo sequence below!).

Cardamom pods, seeds and ground seeds

Cardamom pods, seeds and ground seeds

When I find myself around London’s Marylebone I pay a visit to Totally Swedish, a wonderful little shop on Crawford Street, where you can buy Kockens Kardemumma ground cardamom (also available in their online shop). Ground cardamom can be found in other online stores as well, for example Ottolenghi’s.

For best results, however, it is important to grind the seeds immediately before use, to keep their flavour and fragrant smell. If you have the time, it is worth buying cardamom seeds (easily available online, including via Amazon) and grind them at the last minute.


Flavour combinations

Cardamom tastes delicious combined with: rosewater, orange, pistachio, walnuts, hazelnuts, coffee and cinnamon.


Try cardamom in these recipes

Swedish cardamom and cinnamon buns (kardamomma bulle)
Autumn gold dairy-free cardamom and walnut cake


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Meringue web feature
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There’s something magical about meringues. I love the idea that these airy, featherweight glossy blobs are made of only two ingredients (egg whites and sugar). I love their purity: they are naturally fat-free, gluten-free and dairy-free. And I love that this purity and simplicity requires some precision: meringues are all about sticking to a few rules.

If unicorns exist, their horn is not made of ivory: it’s made of meringue.

In essence, meringues are made beating sugar into egg whites. These two ingredients can be combined in several different ways to make the classic piped, dry meringue; the toppings of lemon meringue pie or baked Alaska; or the “islands” of île flottante (floating island). In the French method, the simpler one, the mixture is then baked. In the Swiss meringue method, egg whites and sugar are whisked over a bain-marie. The Italian meringue method uses boiling sugar syrup instead of caster sugar.

Do it like a pro: equipment

Copper bowls are best for whipping egg whites, because the chemical reaction between the copper and the egg whites makes the foam more stable. Alternatively, you can use any large glass or stainless steel bowl. A ceramic bowl will do, but please don’t use a plastic bowl – they tend to collect grease, no matter how well they are washed, and you risk compromising your egg foam.

Rule number one of making meringues: keep the egg whites far from any fat. Even small amounts of fat can causes the beaten egg whites to collapse.

Even a little water or fat can ruin the whole meringue, so make sure that the bowl and beaters are perfectly clean and dry to obtain maximum volume. Wiping the bowl with a wedge of lemon to remove any traces of grease can often help the process.

Finally, you will need an electric whisk; whisking the eggs with a manual balloon whisk is best left to those with action hero-sized biceps.

P1120291 web detail


Eggs and sugar

French meringue has only two ingredients: whipped egg whites and sugar.

Caster sugar is better than granulated sugar because it is easier to dissolve in the egg foam. I follow Laduree and BBC Good Food and use half caster (during the whisking stage) and half icing sugar (during the folding stage). As icing sugar dissolves quicker in the stiff egg mixture, it reduces the risks of over-mixing and of leaving sugar grains undissolved. Whichever sugar you use, steer clear of sugar substitutes: the sugar stiffens the foam and is necessary to the structure.

Both egg whites and sugar chemically attract water. For this reason, Martha Stewart recommends avoiding making meringues on a rainy or really humid day. Now, this seems like sensible advice for those lucky human beings who live in California, Southern Spain or other similarly blessed sunny places. If, like me, you live in London (or other similarly less-blessed rainy places), waiting for a perfectly dry day would become quite unpractical. So, do as the British have done for centuries, lift your collar and ignore the weather!

Although not necessary, cream of tartar (potassium tartrate) if often used to help increase the volume and stability of whisked egg whites.

Meringues can be flavoured with cocoa powder, cinnamon or almonds. These must be mixed in at the end, delicately folding from the bottom up.

Separating the eggs

Separating the eggsCold eggs separate more easily because the whites hold together better, so make sure to separate the eggs when they are fridge-cold. Crack the egg in half and hold the shell halves over a bowl. Transfer the yolk back and forth between the halves, letting the white drop into the bowl. Alternatively, you can use an egg separator (my friend Linda gave me one as a present and it works pretty well). Transfer the yolk to another bowl.

When separating eggs, be careful not to cut the yolk, as whites containing any yolk will not beat properly. If a speck of egg yolk falls into the egg whites, lift it out with an empty eggshell half or a clean teaspoon. Do not try to fish it out with your fingers; even the oil on your skin will prevent the egg whites from expanding!

Whisking the eggs

While eggs separate better when they are cold, egg whites whip better when they are at room temperature. After separating, bring the egg whites to room temperature by letting them stand for 15-30 minutes.

Whisking makes the egg whites foam glossier and thicker. You can check the progression of the egg whites looking at the peaks they form when the beater is lifted: the first stage is soft peaks; the second stage is firm peaks; and the last stage is stiff peaks. Soft peaks have tips that curl over and disappear when the beaters are lifted. Stiff peaks have tips that stand straight and hold their shape when the beaters are lifted.

Peaks compared text

To test that the meringue is done, you should be able to hold the bowl upside-down over your head without it sliding out. Less dramatically, you should be able to hold a spoonful of it upside down and none of it drops off.

Adding the sugar

Add one third of the sugar at the soft peaks stage; another third at the firm peaks stage; and the last third at the stiff peaks stage. Don’t add any sugar before the whites have been whipped to soft peaks, as this can double the time you have to whip the egg whites to get a foam.

Add the sugar one spoonful at a time and keep beating the whole time. Adding the sugar gradually to the egg whites ensures that the sugar dissolves completely. To tell if the sugar is dissolved, rub a bit of the foam between your fingers: it should feel completely smooth. If it feels gritty, the sugar is not dissolved, so keep beating.


Hard meringues are not really cooked; they are dried out in a very low oven to allow the water in them to evaporate. The result should be white, crisp and dry.

Rule number two of making meringues: bake at very low temperature (60-70 ºC) for a very long time (4-6 hours, ideally overnight).

If you make meringues on a rainy or humid day, you will probably have to bake the meringues longer than on a dry day.

Meringue 4 web


  • 3 large eggs
  • Caster sugar, same weight as the egg whites (depending on the size of the eggs, this should be between 90g-120g)
  • Icing sugar, same weight as the egg whites (depending on the size of the eggs, this should be between 90g-120g)
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)

How to make them (French method)

  1. Preheat the oven to fan 60ºC (conventional 70ºC). Line two baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Take three large eggs out of the fridge and separate them, tipping the egg whites into a large clean mixing bowl (preferably glass or metal, not plastic). Weight the egg whites (if your scale does not take away the tare automatically, weight the egg withes together with the bowl and subtract the weight of the empty bowl). Weight the caster sugar and the icing sugar (each should be the same weight as the egg whites).
  3. Add half a teaspoon cream of tartar.
  4. Once the egg whites have reached room temperature, whisk them with an electric hand whisk or mixer on a medium speed until frothy.
  5. Increase the speed to high and continue whisking until soft peaks form. Slowly sprinkle in one-third of the caster sugar, sieved, one spoonful at a time. Adding the sugar slowly helps prevent the meringue from weeping later. Whisk.
  6. Slowly sprinkle in the remaining two-thirds of the caster sugar, sieved, one spoonful at a time. Whisk until stiff but not dry. The mixture should be thick and glossy.
  7. Sieve the icing sugar. Sprinkle it over the mixture, one third at the time. Gently fold in with a rubber spatula or a big metal spoon, keeping as much air in the mixture as possible.
  8. Once the icing sugar is fully incorporated, pour the mixture into a piping bag and pipe on to the baking sheet in round or square shapes.
  9. Bake for as long as you can: ideally overnight, but at least two hours. The meringues should stay white but they should sound crisp when tapped underneath. Switch the oven off and leave the meringues to cool inside it.
  10. Enjoy!


If your meringue starts to brown: the oven temperature is too high causing the sugar to caramelize.

If the inside of the meringue is chewy and sticky instead of dry, crisp and crunchy and/or the outside of the meringue separates from the inside: the oven temperature is too high, causing the outside of the meringue to dry and set too quickly.

If your meringue starts “weeping” or “sweating” (that is, beads of moisture form on its surface) the sugar has not properly dissolved in the egg whites. To prevent this, add the sugar slowly during mixing.

Meringues will keep for at least a week if stored in an airtight container, but they don’t like to be in the fridge.


Angel cake 1 web
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This traditional American recipe is truly heavenly! Super-fluffy and feather-light, it’s made with whisked egg whites, sugar and flour – basically, a floury meringue. It doesn’t contain any butter or milk, which makes it perfect for a dairy-free diet, and it’s very low in fats (no oil or other fat in the batter).

The cake’s rise comes from whipping the egg whites. To whisk up the perfect meringue, clean the inside of the bowl with some lemon juice to make sure that it’s not greasy and whip the eggs at room temperature. A low-protein type of flour, such as US (unbleached) cake flour, Italian grade 00 flour or similar, will give the best results. Superfine / caster sugar will mix better than granulated sugar.

Angel food cake tin

Angel food cake tin

For the cake to rise properly, the cake tin must be ungreased. For this reason, not all cake tins will do. If you can, get hold of an angel food cake tin (I borrowed it from my cousin Enrica, but they are easily available online). The shape of this tin, like a truncated cone, is designed to ensure that the cake bakes evenly and rises as high as possible. Cooling the cake upside down on the pan’s legs prevents the top from sinking (if your tin does not have “feet”, balance it on the neck of a glass bottle).

I added lemon zest to the traditional recipe, but you can substitute it with vanilla seeds. Serve alone, sprinkled with icing sugar or topped with whipped cream or fresh berries.

AC feature web


  • Angel cake ingredients web10 large free-range egg whites, at room temperature
  • superfine / caster sugar, same weight as the egg whites minus 50g/1.8oz (for example, if your egg whites weight 300g/10½oz, then you need 250g/8.8oz caster sugar)
  • unbleached cake flour, grade “00” flour or other low-protein flour, 1/3 of the weight of the egg whites (for example, if your egg whites weight 300g/10½oz, then you need 100g/3½oz flour)
  • the grated zest of 2 untreated, un-waxed lemons
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • icing sugar (for dusting)

How to make it

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4 (160ºC if you have a fan oven) and arrange an oven shelf in the bottom third of the oven.

2. In a large bowl, whisk 10 egg whites with an electric hand whisk or mixer on a medium speed for one minute until frothy. The egg whites will whisk better if they are at room temperature.

3. Add the zest of two lemons and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar and continue whisking until soft peaks form.

4. Increase the speed to high and sprinkle in two-thirds of the caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Whisk until stiff but not dry.

5. With a fine sieve, sift together the flour and the remaining caster sugar in a bowl. In six additions, sift and sprinkle the dry ingredients over the egg mixture, folding in quickly but gently to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.

6. Pour batter into an ungreased 25cm/10in angel food cake pan or other tube pan with a removable bottom. Gently smooth the top with a spatula.

7. Bake for 45-50 min or until golden brown and springy to touch.

8. Remove from the oven and immediately turn upside down onto the tin’s cooling legs or over the neck of a glass bottle. Leave to cool completely, for at least one hour.

9. Carefully run a knife around the inner and outer edges of the pan to release the cake. Place on a plate, bottom side up. Sprinkle icing sugar on the top.



AC Step 9 web

Step 9

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