Blackberry & Lemon Friands

Blackberries are in season right now and perfect for friands

Blackberry friands

6 large egg whites/250ml Two Chicks pasteurised egg whites
250g icing/powdered sugar, sieved
130g ground almonds
95g plain flour, sieved
Zest of one un-waxed lemon
160g melted butter
Blackberries – I got giant ones, so used 2-3 per cake

Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter the friand tin

Friands are so easy to make and once you have shelled out for the tin, there are so many variations to make. These can easily be made in a muffin pan too.

Blackberries are in season at the moment and I picked up some huge, absolutely delicious and sweet blackberries on special offer this weekend. The combination of the lemony cake, studded with the big juicy blackberries were a real hit in my house.

Blackberry Friands2

Briefly whisk the egg whites until broken down and a little frothy, you do not need whip them.

Add the zest, butter, icing sugar and fold in the flour until just combined.

Spoon a little mixture into each hole in the prepared tin and place in a blackberry or two. Cover the berries with the rest of the mixture, divided equally between all the holes and place another blackberry (or two) on the top.

Blackberry Friand2

Bake for around 30 minutes, until they have risen, turned golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Leave to rest for 15 minutes before gently turning out onto a wire cooling rack and dust with icing sugar and a little extra lemon zest if you like.

Blackberry Friand


These tasty little cheesy puffs are a perfect canapé to serve with drinks.

cheesy gougeres

Choux pastry is so easy to make and less likely to go wrong – like some other types of pastry I could mention!

I suppose some people are put off by having to use a piping bag, but if you buy a supply of disposable piping bags, it makes it so easy. I got mine from Amazon – they come on a big roll and will last for ages. However, you can also use two spoons or a small ice cream scoop if you don’t want to bother with a piping bag.

This is a savoury recipe for cheese choux puffs that are absolutely wonderful on their own, served warm with drinks, but so good when filled with something creamy and delicious.


The gougères themselves are made with a generous amount of good quality cheese and a little cayenne and nutmeg, which I think makes all the difference to the taste.

The gougères can easily be made ahead, frozen and warmed through before you want to serve them.

4 large eggs
250ml/9floz water
150g Plain/all-purpose flour
160g grated Gruyère cheese, plus extra for the top
110g butter – diced
1tsp salt
¼tsp cayenne pepper
¼tsp grated fresh nutmeg
1 egg plus a little milk to make an egg wash

Pre-heat the oven to 200°/400°F and prepare a lined baking sheet

Add the water and butter together in the pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and dump in the four all in one go.

Beat together until fully incorporated and coming away from the sides of the pan.

Empty the mixture into a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Beat for a minute to cool the mixture slightly before adding the eggs.

Add the eggs one at a time, madding sure each one is fully mixed in before adding the next one.

Add the cayenne and nutmeg and then the cheese, mixing until smooth.

Put the dough into a piping bag with a wide tip, or you can just cut the end off the disposable bag.

Pipe little mounds onto the lined baking sheet, using a wet fingertip to smooth away any points. For bite-sized gougères, they should be about the size of a cherry tomato, but you can make any size you like! Leave a gap of around 2 inches between each one to allow them space to puff up and out.

Very lightly brush each one with a little of the egg wash and top with extra cheese that has been finely grated. I use a microplane to grate a little cheese for the top, so it is super fine.

Cheese gougere close up

Bake for around 20 minutes, or until they are golden, well puffed up and light to the touch. They will deflate again if they are not cooked enough and need a few more minutes.

Gougere half

Serve warm from the oven with drinks.

Pan Bagnat – Picnic Loaf

Fresh and delicious, totally portable and perfect for a summer picnic

Picnic loaf uncut

1 large pain de campagne or any other round crusty loaf. like a sourdough boule
4-5 peppers – I used red and yellow ones
2 courgettes/zucchini, sliced into strips lengthways
1-2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
400g Taleggio cheese (2 packs), Mozzarella or goats cheese – Brie also works well.
2tbs Basil pesto
3tbs Mayonnaise
Small bunch of fresh basil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper if desired
Meat option – sliced salami, ham, thinly sliced sausage, bresaola, wafer thin smoked chicken, pulled pork – anything you like, but nothing that might make it tough to cut through – like thickly sliced, air dried cuts. Eat those on the side.

This is absolutely not the traditional recipe for a Pan Bagnat, a traditional speciality from Provence, where olive oil is used and never mayonnaise. This version does use the traditional pain de champagne bread, but the filling can be anything you like really, rather than sticking with tradition. I have used Taleggio cheese this time, which is quite pungent as I had some in the fridge, but most recipes call for mozzarella. Goats cheese, Brie or thinly sliced Swiss cheese works well in this too.

This can be made well in advance of your picnic, I made this the night before so the flavours have time to mingle and develop in time for your outdoor feast. You just need to remember to take a serrated bread knife and a board with you to cut it. You can slice it before you go and re-wrap if you want to travel light.

Start by roasting the peppers until the skins turn black, I do this over the gas flame and then put them in a bowl, cover with plastic and leave to steam. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, rub off the skins and cut the ‘cheeks’ into thick slices, removing the stem and seeds. You can cheat and buy ready roasted peppers in a jar, but I really do prefer to roast my own.

While the peppers are cooling, heat a griddle pan and grill the courgette slices without oil until you have char marks on both sides. Set aside to cool.

When the vegetables are cooked and cooled, cut the top off the loaf and set to one side. Hollow out all the bread (save for breadcrumbs, croutons etc). Don’t make the walls too thin, or they will be soggy.

Mix the pesto with the mayonnaise and using a spoon, coat the inside the hollowed out shell and the underside of the bread lid.

It’s now time to layer up the vegetables, cheese, basil and a little more pesto mayonnaise.

I always like to start with a base of red peppers, cutting them if needed to fit in the base of the loaf and scattering over some torn up basil leaves.

Then add layers of courgettes, cheese, more red and yellow peppers, sliced tomatoes with a little drizzle of balsamic and more torn up basil leaves where needed. Make sure everything is pushed down and the layers compressed. I like to season with a little black pepper too. If you like a little salt on the tomatoes, then go ahead, but as the Taleggio is quite salty, I don’t bother.

Repeat until everything is used up and squashed down.

Tightly wrap the whole loaf in plastic and weigh it down with a plate and some heavy tins on top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.

Serve with hungry friends and Pimms, sangria, cold white wine or a non-alcoholic fruit punch.

Picnic loaf slice

You can also do individual versions of these in ciabatta rolls. This way, everyone can have a personalised one.