I spent the the day with the WESTWING team filming a lovely feature on our apartment in Le Marais. There were lots of laughs, lots of cups of coffee poured and perhaps one or two shots for the blooper reel. At the end of the day we even had an impromptu cake and tea party to celebrate. I hope you enjoy a sneak peek into the home I share with my partner James and our adorably aloof pup Parker...
Sugared cranberries always signal the start of the festive holiday season for me. They are super easy to make and add that wonderful sparkle to your cakes, cocktails and holiday table-scapes. I used mine this year as decoration for a chocolate and caramel cake I created for a cafe here in Paris and I loved the effect. Check out the recipe below...
- 1 cup of fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup of caster sugar
- 1/2 cup of water
- In a small sauce pot stir the water and sugar to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in your cranberries until evenly coated. Cover and let them steep for about 10 minutes.
- Strain the cranberries over a bowl to collect the syrup. Place cranberries on a piece of parchment paper atop your cooling rack. Allow to dry for about 30 minutes.
- Place 3/4 cup of caster sugar into a shallow bowl. Roll each cranberry in the caster sugar to coat evenly. They are now ready to help your holiday cakes shine!
* I like to leave some cranberries uncoated for the contrast in color and texture.
Every year since moving to Paris we have hosted a Friendsgiving for those who might not have a place to indulge in all things pie-related. While we always make sure to have a few classic Thanksgiving staples, we also make room on the table for a few French classics. One year we included a traditional French cheese course which proved to be overkill after multiple servings of mashed potatoes. This year I have partnered with famed department store Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann to celebrate the delicious possibilities of Thanksgiving in Paris.
I gave a couple of French dessert classics a tiny Thanksgiving twist. Madeleines are a favorite treat of many here in France and can be prepared with various accents like lemon or orange blossom. For this version I added maple syrup, making for a perfect autumnal bite. If you happen to be cooking in the kitchen this year, they also provide a blissful sweet pause with your morning coffee or tea. I sourced most of my ingredients from Lafayette Gourmet which is now open on Sundays. For those of us living in Paris that's truly something to be thankful for this holiday season.
I borrowed inspiration from Tartine Bakery in San Francisco for my cranberry frangipane tart. It's the perfect balance of tart and tangy cranberries against the sweetness of almond cream. I created it for my Thanksgiving meal using a beautiful tart pan made by deBuyer who has been producing beautiful culinary objects since 1830! To finish up your holiday shopping and plan your next visit to Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann or Lafayette Gourmet click here.
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- 1/3 cup of caster sugar
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 2 teaspoons of maple syrup
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Reheat oven to 375 degrees(190C) Butter and flour your madeleine pan thoroughly.
- Melt butter and let cool to room temperature.
- In a small bowl beat eggs, vanilla and salt at high speed until light in color.
- While continuing to beat, gradually add sugar and continue to beat on high until the mixture becomes thick and pale, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Sift flour into egg mixture in three additions, folding gently each time.
- Add maple syrup and the melted butter. Gently fold butter and syrup into batter. Spoon batter into the molds.
- Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until cakes are golden.
- Use the edge of a knife to loosen the cakes from the pan. Invert onto a cooling rack.
- Dust with icing sugar and eat immediately.
Cranberry Frangipane Tart
Ingredients for the cranberry sauce:
- 3 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
- Orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup of caster sugar
Ingredients for Frangipane:
- 1 cup (114grams) finely ground whole blanched almonds or almond flour
- 1/2 cup of caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- zest of 1 orange
Ingredients for Pastry:
- 200 grams of all purpose flour
- 100 grams of cold butter, cubed
- 50 grams of caster sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 egg yolk
Directions: Heat Oven to 180c
- In a saucepan, combine half of the cranberries with orange zest, sugar and cinnamon. Cook on medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes until cranberries burst and it starts to thicken.
- Stir in remaining berries and cook for just two more minutes. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.
- To make pastry combine flour, butter and a pinch of salt into a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the 50g of sugar and pulse again.
- Add the vanilla, egg yolk and 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulse until the dough just comes together.
- Shape dough on a floured work surface into a disc and then roll out your pastry with a rolling pin.
- Line your loose-bottomed tart tin, pressing the dough up into the sides of tin. Chill for 30 minutes and start your frangipane.
- Using the paddle attachment beat the butter until creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and continue beating on medium high until light and fluffy.
- Gradually add in your eggs, beating well after each addition.
- Stir in your almonds, flour, orange zest and salt. Spoon the frangipane into the tart case and smooth over with a palette knife.
- Transfer to a baking tray and bake for 30 to 40 mins.
- Leave the tart to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.. Spoon your cranberry mixture atop the tart and serve with freshly whipped cream.
No matter how many sophisticated pastries I've eaten over the years, and there have been many, my heart simply sings for a vanilla layer cake with buttercream frosting. Add funfetti to the mix and I start getting very starry-eyed indeed. I invited my baking bestie Jen back into the kitchen to create a cake with a bit of a personality disorder. We wanted the cake to have a soft and elegant exterior with a more playful side hidden underneath. We agreed a funfetti cake would be just the thing to bring the smiles upon cutting into that first slice. We filled the apartment with flowers in shades of violet for frosting inspiration et voilà....
Recipe For Violet Buttercream Frosting
- 300 grams unsalted butter
- 500 grams of (4 cups) icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon of heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- pinch of sea salt
- Wilton violet icing color gel
Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter for 4 to 5 minutes until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and beat until well incorporated. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add your coloring last. A small amount of gel paste goes a long way so add in small increments until you achieve your desired shade.
This summer we spent a week of french country bliss in the south-west region of France. Our tiny village, Floressas, was perched high above lush valleys and vineyards. This part of France is filled with medieval villages that cling precariously to rocky cliffs overlooking the river Lot. Days were filled with walks along the riverbank, château hopping and of course market runs for the best of the local summer produce.
The charming country roads were lined with lavender so for our last day I thought it might be fun to have a garden party using it as baking inspiration. Buttery shortbread biscuits are a classic tea time treat and the addition of lavender seemed like the perfect pairing for a floral country garden party for two.
I served the biscuits alongside a peach streusel tea cake and a pot of jasmine tea. From our little perch in the garden we enjoyed views overlooking the valley and the neighboring 17th century château which also happens to produce a very tasty Malbec wine. After tea we played a round of pétanque while trying to dissuade the dog (with little success) from chasing each silver ball that was thrown.
*While I did collect lavender from the garden to use in the biscuits I'd recommend buying edible grade dried lavender from your local market. This recipe makes about 15 biscuits.
- 50g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 1tsp dried lavender flowers
- 100g butter, room temperature
- 150g plain flour
- Put the lavender flowers and sugar in a food processor and blend until fine. Sieve.
- In a large mixing bowl add the butter to the lavender sugar and mix together, then add the flour, until the mixture forms a dough.
- Turn the dough onto a work surface, roll into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
- While your dough is chilling preheat the oven to 320°F(160°C)
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into your favorite biscuit shapes.
- Dust with sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.
- Decorate with fresh lavender and enjoy.