Not just a Sunday afternoon

sunday morning

I could have turned this into a follow-up of a favourite feature: how to become a pastry chef? – the days off. But I guess you somehow get it. As a chef, days off are unusual enough. And when they happen, so does a concentrate of life. Sleep, eat, drink, be merry. Fall in love or not. Kiss or more. And at times, recipe organising needs to happen too.

That’s what I’ve been doing today. I cooked some leftover rice with a little milk, a little honey and a lot of vanilla. Breakfast. At twelve pm. I watched the boats go by as I was gazing through the windows. Now, this miniature world has turned black and dotted with lights that I like to imagine as millions of fireflies.

And yet, I’m only on letter B. Of the second notebook. I have thirteen. Yes, I have a French-press-ful of coffee brewing as I’m writing this. And yes, I’m kind of procrastinating right now.

Chef or not, how do you organise your recipes? A favourite software, app, notebook?

On my side, I usually have two moleskines for every job I take.
A plain squared one for mise-en-place lists, notes, ideas, recipe development.
And a repertoire one for finalised recipes.

They’re all a bit messy, with doodles and more traces of chocolate than I’d like to admit. They weigh a ton. But really they’re a treasure.
To make it more workflow-friendly, I’ve started transferring the recipes into an excel spreadsheet. It takes forever but I know I will love it when it’s done.

Aaaah, the life of a pastry chef.

PS. would you be interested in a “How to become a pastry chef? – Organising recipes” article? Please say yes as I need a serious incentive to go through the thousands of scribbles I have in my notebooks?

29 thoughts on “Not just a Sunday afternoon

  • Annes Kitchen January 13, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Ha yes, organizing recipes is a pain! I don’t even have dedicated notebooks, I just scribble on anything I can find – which makes it even harder to keep being organized!!! So yes, do write that article, I’ll need it :)

  • Chris January 13, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Sounds great
    I am fellow pastry chef also and love organizing my repatoire!

    • fanny January 13, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      Please Chris, tell me your secret. I love to do it too, but often find myself well overwhelmed! Too many recipes, too little time. x

  • Stefanie January 13, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Another yes from me… I’ll definitely need some inspiration on organizing my recipes as well. I’ve started moleskine book, loose folders, wrote on small paper cards and old bills, I gave excel a chance and word, too. None of them really made me happy, so my recipes are somehow everywhere. The only good thing I managed to do was starting a folder with a best of, the recipes i keep looking for every few weeks… Looking forward to your inspiration :-)

  • Joana Gomes (@joanabcggomes) January 13, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Your posts are so incredibly interesting!

  • kat January 13, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    yes, yes, yes! I´m just an amateur, but… my recipes are my recipes!
    I´ve tried the paper option, but it didn´t work. than I´ve tried my computer. a bit better, but it´s still a caotic… I think that what´s missing would be the definition of the categories, and also the subcategories, and also the sub-subcategories…

  • M.K. January 13, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Please do! I’m not a pastry chef, but I always love to see how other people go through the creative process!

  • Alice January 13, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Of course it’s a YES!

  • fanny January 13, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Haha who knew we’d be so many under the tons of paper-mess our recipes seem to be gathered onto. On the bright side, I’ve just finished organising all of the ice-creams recipes. Now moving onto sorbets!! x

  • habemuspappam January 13, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    I’d love to know more on the subject too, please share your approach!
    Personally: I’m no professional, and I have never created a receipe from bulk, only made few changes from those I take from books/the web. Those I like/find interesting from the web, I save the link on Google+. When I’m satisfied with the receipe, I write a blog post on that… as for my notes, they’re scribbled on word files with no order for the moment…

  • So January 13, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    OUI ! et vive les moleskine remplis de gribouillis !

  • Zucchero e zenzero January 13, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Actually I’m very very interested in your “How to become a pastry chef? – Organising recipes” article! And about my recipes, I use a moleskine, (many post-it… :P) and my little blog! ^_^

  • Cindy January 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Hi! Same here. I’ve got two lovely notebooks from paperchase. One is for ideas, sketches, recipes in development, food and wine pairing ideas, and then, when the recipe is finalised, I copy it into the second notebook, divided in categories. But I have a real ‘tendency’ to write on old envelopes and pieces of paper too…
    Chocolate stained notebooks are the best! Shows they are really used!

  • enchantedhue January 13, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    I bookmarked them in a somewhat organized fashion – until I accidently deleted that bookmark folder! Lost all my favorites. Then I tried ‘Keep Recipe’ and some other online organizers. Not working for me. Now I pin them in addition to bookmarking. But like most of you: the notebook is the most reliant one. Just difficult to organize and find what I’m looking for.

    Anybody had luck with those online recipe keepers?

  • Mischelle January 14, 2013 at 2:00 am

    omg yes! i need to organise my recipes too :( i have wanted to try few things but i just dont know where to start. school is starting soon again and life will be busyyyyyyy ;A; but im excited bec this sem will be about recipes development!

  • Row January 14, 2013 at 3:48 am

    Oh, yes, please! My recipes are scribbled on pieces of loose-leaf paper and I would love some organizing tips! :)

  • mycookingfactory January 14, 2013 at 7:18 am


  • Mohana January 14, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I’m so in love with your blog, Fanny, that yesterday I went ahead and baked a cake!! Though it didn’t really turn out light and fluffy but I’m glad you inspired me to get into the kitchen :) I’m learning to love it (though I’m not a foodie, not at all). And the other thing, it made me enroll for French classes!
    I’m so happy I found “Like a Strawberry milk”

  • Shelvia Loveridge January 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I enjoy all your post, so I’ll take whatever you feel like writing about. If it’s going to be about “Organizing Recipe”, then my piles of printed papers score a revamp! xx

  • Peter Evans January 14, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    je dit: Oui!

  • Irene January 14, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    I agree with the rest: yes!

  • Sally January 15, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Yes to both. PLEASE :)

  • Lucia January 15, 2013 at 7:06 pm


  • Colette January 31, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Hi Fanny! I’d missed this, but definately YES, YES, YES!!!OUI, OUI, OUI or I’d say it any language you’d be most encouraged by :)! It would be fantastic!

  • Jenifer February 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Hi Fanny,
    I agree with recipe organization…I have notebooks from each different job that I’ve worked. However, I never seem to get the time to put them all together in one place. My last boss gave me her whole recipe collection as an excel doc which is very nice. At some point, I’d like to add the rest of my gathered recipes to this format. Its a process, as each recipe has a memory (good or bad) with it. Goals for 2013;) Good luck, and I enjoy reading about your pastry adventures in London~

  • Niall March 3, 2013 at 2:13 am

    Organising recipes is a necessary evil. Excel spreadsheets are great. I have a template with various fields, such as title, reference (chef – restaurant/book/website), shelf-life, prep time, cook time, portions, uses, allergies, etc. Then a few columns with ingredient amounts, the first with the original batch quantity, and a couple more x2, x3, etc.

    Adding in percentage values based on the largest amount of an ingredient in a recipe seems to help, e.g. for pastry cream, set milk as the 100% value, then sugar is 22%, cornflour 8.7%; this allows you to quickly calculate amounts for a specific batch size.

    Having individual spreadsheet per recipe, with multiple folders (e.g. Ices, then sub-folders: ice-cream, sorbet, sherbert, gelato, granité) keeps them tidy. It’s nice to know you’re not the only one with piles of recipes that are awaiting the digital era :)

  • Rasmus November 29, 2013 at 4:37 am

    Yes please :) Just found your blog and absolutely love it since I’m considering to become a pastry chef. Thank you for all your great information you are sharing with us.


  • mm February 24, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    love your blog……can only read it via my email…..looking forward to your book [do love real books] thank you for all your magic

  • Marie May 25, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Yes please! I have a trainee pastry chef in my late 50’s – ha ha but one is never to old to learn and I am so glad to have found your blog. Truly inspiring and humorous.

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