Un peu comme les objets perdus – Le cake au chocolat de grand-mère

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , Written on le Monday 07 April 2014.

[Not unlike lost property – My grand-mother chocolate loaf cake]

chocolate cake

Last week I told you about that chocolate cake, of the lost objects kind. And the next day, this happened:

Yes, one phone call to my grand-mère later – me, describing a guessed ingredient list, and her, flicking through the pages of her stained notebook – she found the cake we’d made together five years ago. A cake she’s been making for ever. And a cake I plan on making for ever.

butter and chocolate

She told me how she reduced the quantity of sugar by half. And I did too.

However, the chocolate I used had a much higher percentage than the go-to French dark chocolate, so if you’re using 70% chocolate, I recommend increasing the sugar ever so slightly.


That day, I melted butter and chocolate together. And whipped egg whites. Egg yolks too, with caster sugar. And a little story was made on Steller.
Yes, it is my new favourite app. And probably yours too, soon.

making chocolate cake

That night, he took my hand. We put our shoes on. And left the house on our skateboards. He was wearing soft trousers and a hoodie, most likely than not. And I was all leggings and t-shirt.

I couldn’t help but remember those early winter nights, during which I was taught how to skate, late at night on tennis courts, somewhere in New Zealand.

And this time, it wasn’t any less dreamy. We could feel the magic that only comes with spring and empty streets.

We sat on that bench. With an empty square before our eyes. And a can of beer – that we’d bought with the only coins we left the house with – in our hands. One pound et des poussières [and a bit]. A few people were waiting for the night bus by the stop. And cars didn’t seem to be a thing.

On the way back home, I picked a cherry blossom, now left to dry in between two pieces of newspaper in Pictures by Tim Walker. My most loved book when it comes to dry flowers; when it comes to everything really!
Maybe one day, I’ll show you.

chocolate loaf cake


We came home and had a coffee. Perhaps, a slice or two of chocolate cake. And lay on a bed made of pillows – a lot – and a mattress – a little. He said we couldn’t never have enough pillows. We might have fallen asleep to the sound of nothingness.

choc cake karl

Le cake au chocolat de grand-mère

I can’t believe I had forgotten about this cake. We’d been making it for years. Every summer spent in Fouras would mean chocolate cake for the week-ends, even thoigh at the time, every day was a week-end. Beach and bike rides. Early morning visits to le marché [the market] and oranges glacées for dessert. At times, we’d have mystère instead, a vanilla ice-cream sphere encasing meringue topped with pralin.

But you see, this cake is not one for dessert. It’s one you have for le goûter of the four o’clock kind. Or that morning cup of coffee. Or in our case, that past-midnight cup of coffee.
It’s understated. Dark with chocolate. Dense but somewhat magically light at the same time. Almost like a baked chocolate mousse. Perhaps, next time, I’ll try to substitute some of the flour for ground almonds. Or breadcrumbs.
In fact, did I ever tell you about my mom’s breadcrumb and chocolate cake? If not, please remind me to do so. It’s wonderful in every way too!

Just a quick note on the sugar: if you’re using 70% chocolate you might want to increase the sugar to 150g. However, if you go for the usual 55%, 100g of caster sugar will be more than enough.

200g dark chocolate
120g unsalted butter
6 egg yolks
100 to 150g caster sugar
(see note above)
70g plain flour
6 egg whites
a pinch of maldon sea salt
butter, at room temperature, to pipe on top of the loaf

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Generously butter a loaf tin and line with baking paper.

In a large heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate and butter. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until lighter in colour and fluffy; and gently fold into the melted chocolate. Add the flour and mix until just combined.

Finally, whisk the egg whites with the salt until they hold firm peaks. Add a third of the meringue and mix well to loosen the batter. Add the remaining meringue and gently fold in until they are no more streaks.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and pipe a thin line of softened butter accross the cake. This will get you a neat crack after baking! Bake for around 30 minutes, or until a small knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool slightly, then unmould.
It’s pretty beautiful, reheated briefly in the microwave, with a glass of ice-cold almond milk. Or toasted with a big fat spoonful of cherry compote in the morning.

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Oops #4 – Le cake au chocolat

la pâtisserieA story about , , Written on le Monday 31 March 2014.


I’ve been going through my pictures. There is this chocolate loaf cake. And really, it’s been haunting me. I made it at my grand-mère‘s house. Back on the twenty-third of march 2008, at 12:38, or so says the EXIF data.

Now if only it would tell me which recipe I used. Because no matter how good my memory for the kind of things that involve flour, sugar and chocolate usually is; this time, it’s failing me.

chocolate cake batter

The only hints I have come from another picture. Of the batter.
There is melted chocolate. A very dirty spoon. Some clearly over-whipped egg whites, which seem to have been whisked without any sugar at all. I can’t see any traces of flour into this otherwise messy bowl, so I’m assuming the dry ingredients were added after folding the egg whites.

So here comes the method, put together after careful observation of a single picture (yes, it does make me feel like a modern Sherlock Holmes, of the chef kind).
Butter and chocolate must have been melted together. Egg yolks and caster sugar beaten until fluffy, then gently folded into the chocolate. Egg whites whipped until too-stiff and lumpy (hehe, please do not try this at home). And finally flour, maybe cornflour or potato starch or ground almonds.

Yes, all it took for me to launch a quest for the perfect chocolate loaf cake was a picture. Soft and moussy. Perhaps even a little dense. In a way only some loaf cakes can be.

Any suggestions welcome!
Please do share your favourite chocolate loaf cake recipe with me. x

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Things that #3… I dream about

memoriesA story about , , , , , , Written on le Sunday 23 February 2014.


A for ever summer. Perhaps in Iceland. Yes an endless summer exploring the muddy roads of the island couldn’t sound better. Picking raspberries. And blueberries too. Maybe even cloudberries.
An illustration in chickpea magazine. And an article in kinfolk.
Making desserts after hours; one day when I’m not working too much. Always.
Days spent at my grand-mère‘s house. It’s been too long.
Taking more pictures, through the lens of my latest Canon Rebel G, you’ll hear about it soon. And writing more too.
A restaurant where it’s normal to work less than seventeen hours a day.
Exploring forests and lakes. Hearing salmons jump into the stream again. Gazing at the Milky Way and if we’re lucky, at northern lights too.

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Petit précis d’iPhone-me-crazy, prononcé iPhoneography

wordsA story about , , Written on le Friday 21 February 2014.

[iPhone-me-crazy 101, pronounced iPhoneography]

I have too many cameras.

A Canon DSLR, which I only use for this blog. Two pentax ME super, which I loved to pieces and used until they could no longer work. A polaroid SX70. I need to buy more film, for the record, as I’ve run out two years ago. A Fuji Instax mini. Again, more film needed. A Minolta Instant pro who is more stubborn than I am. A Diana F+, the prettiest of the lot, really, but damn, at the rate of one good picture per roll, I am not going anywhere. And the latest one – after I realised, I could not go without a film camera – a prime 90s Canon rebel G.

Oh and an iPhone too. Clearly my most used camera now that the pentax lives on my windowsill instead of in my bag (considerably lighter ever since, by the way).

The fact is that no matter how many cameras I have, the only one I always – always – have with me is that small phone. I won’t go back and forth about how our lives have changed and how our phones have taken so much space in them. Others have already done it.
I’m just here to show you which apps I use to edit my pictures and videos.
Pictures that will end up on Instagram (where my username is @fannycacahuete, see you there <3) – most of the time, on comme un lait fraise – sometimes, or in my camera roll – all the time.

The pictures



I think it all started with Hipstamatic. Ages ago. I went through different phases, but mostly a Bettie XL phase, my favourite – ahem – lense ever, which I’ve been stuck in since the dawn of times. When snowflakes were the shape of star-stickers, and jellyfish haunted London’s shop windows.


Of course, I had to try the Loftus too. And many others. In fact, I pretty much ended up buying all of the lenses and films, and camera skins… Yes, it was that good.

Until I got slightly bored; of how random it all was, of how I couldn’t edit analready-taken picture, of how strong the filters were, of how I wish I had used a different lense. I guess as any relationship, the three-year point triggered something. Something dark. Perhaps, it was because Instagram came around.
Taking picture on a phone became easy and painless. The playground love got replaced by a new flavour. And ever since, the Hipstamatic icon still sits on my homepage. Not even inside a folder! Maybe, I hardly ever use it; but I won’t forget it either.

A first love of some kind, to return to when I miss the good old days.



Snapseed used to be my go-to for everything. I would correct the white balance, adjust the exposure and contract, add my ever-favourite tilt-shift feature, at times even use one of its vintage filters.
Really, it’s that versatile.
I love the way the app is designed and how efficient it is. In fact, if I had to keep just one, it would possibly-maybe be the one.

These days I use it before Afterlight. Because I find it perfect to edit pictures and add depth of field (something that Afterlight clearly lacks, by choice perhaps – the fear of bad taste, ahem, something for me to think about).


Afterlight has been my biggest crush since last summer. I’m in love with its filters (so many to chose from), its light leaks (the polaroid collection is amazing, in my eyes at least) and I rather like the fact you can ‘cut-out’ your pictures to different shapes and latter. Anybody recalls the madness around circle pictures?

I couldn’t do without it. I don’t use it much for editing the picture itself as I find the interface somewhat complicated (as opposed to Snapseed), but more to add something to it.
My favourite filters are: frost, captain, forest, bloom, rain, goldfinch, sage, atlas, kus, idaho, and moon. Pretty names, prettiest filters.


This is the Hipstamatic of my dreams. Instead of being able to only take in-app pictures, Öggle allows you to take a picture and edit it later when you’re stuck in the train for thirty minutes.

Of course, the filters are still as strong. And you loose the randomness that once made Hipstamatic a favourite. And it won’t work with every picture. But I kinda like it.
I barely use it. And really, I should use it more.

The process

Let’s take those cookies for example, because you should go and make them right now if you still haven’t!

It was quite dark outside when I took the picture. So I adjusted the white balance and brightness in Snapseed. I also added some depth of field.


I then exported the picture. And opened it in Afterlight. An adjustable filter later here is the result.


And finally, because I need more light leaks – and more animated gifs – in my life, I added some. Voilà!


The videos

As a little extra, I thought I’d tell you which app I use for videos. It’s called 8mm and it’s truly wonderful.
I usually take a video with the camera app and later open it in 8mm where I can choose from different film roll vibes (my absolute favourite is 70s) and effects.

I will then upload the video to Instagram or open it in photoshop to turn into into a gif. Oh gifs, you’ve stolen my heart!


If you’re interested, I will share my favourite ‘fun’ photo-editing apps, in which you can add cute graphics and amazing wording to pictures. Let me know!

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Maitriser la pâte brisée, pas à pas – Mastering shortcrust pastry, step by step

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , Written on le Thursday 13 February 2014.

Pâte brisée [shortcrust pastry] is a staple in every French home. For us, the recipe comes from my grand-mère, and of course, before I came around, it wasn’t much of a recipe. More like flour, butter, an egg yolk or two, and a little water.

So I proceeded to weigh everything out and there you have it: the best pâte brisée you could dream of. Yes, it cracks a little when you roll it, but it patches beautifully. It’s the flakiest, especially when you make it by hand and leave a few flakes of butter.

I had already shared the recipe. But as I made it for a quiche a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t help but do some animated gifs.
That night, for dinner, K. had his very first quiche. With bacon and mushroom and comté, and a lot of garlic. I served it with a baby gem sliced in half, and drizzled with a lot of crème fraiche and lemon dressing. Let’s just say that it was a pretty decent night; casual Sunday bottle of champagne aside.


You will need only five ingredients for a plain pâte brisée (for a sweet one, simply add 40g of caster sugar to the flour, how easy! You could also use milk instead of water):
250 plain flour
one tsp flaky salt
125 cold unsalted butter
, diced
one egg yolk
40g cold water

Note that this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. Once the dough is made, simply divide it into two or three pâtons, which you can keep in the fridge for 4-5 days or in the freezer for up to two months.
As a rough guide, one of the above recipe, will make enough to line a 24cm-wide tart tin.

1. Place the flour, salt (and sugar if going for a sweet shortcrust), and diced butter in a large bowl. And using the tips of your fingers, rub the butter into the flour, until there are no more big pieces. Little flakes are more than fine, as they will give the pastry it’s flaky texture.


2. Add the egg yolk and water. And mix until barely combined. It should look like this!

shortcrust dough

3. Flatten the dough into a circle and clingfilm tightly. Chill for at least 1 hour before rolling out. Or freeze for later use.


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Love like a sunset

memoriesA story about , , , , Written on le Tuesday 11 February 2014.


There was an endless road to the north. Always. We drove over ponds and lakes; at times, even the sea. There were trees everywhere we looked.
And really I had never seen so many. Ever. Before.

We stopped for gas, perhaps an excuse for coffee. Many times. A latte. Perhaps a kanelbulle. And more often than not, a hot dog, of the French kind – or so said the signs plastered outside the gas stations.. Tack tack are the only words I would say.

I remember how I fell asleep in the car. And how I woke up to the sky turning pink as we crossed Storsjön. And it might not have been the real deal. And we might not have seen Storsjöodjuret [the great lake monster].

But it wasn’t any less magical.

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Where is home? – A lot of rye and a little milk chocolate kind of cookies

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , Written on le Wednesday 05 February 2014.


That morning, I woke up early and very unusually rested. I think the last time I had felt like this was when I woke up next to him, with his back beautifully tattooed with the shadows of the blinds. Then, we were sleeping on a matter on the floor, in the house he grew up in. North-north of Sweden.

It’s a beautiful feeling. Serenity.
One that we often overlook, wanting for more, running for more, looking for more. When all this time, it was always right there, right then.
And like being tucked up to sleep in a fluffy feather duvet and whispered love words and forever tickles in your neck, it will always feel magical.

rye chocolate chip cookies

Perhaps it’s because I feel like I belong somewhere now. Perhaps it’s because I’ve found a home to return to every night.
He once asked me: “Where is home?” (which will always summon a beautiful Bloc Party song, maybe my very favourite), and I might – in a moment of bloody-mary-infused-mind – have answered: “Home is where you are.”
And well, no matter how silly it was, there was some truth in those words.

From then on, I’ve pledged allegiance to bloody maries.

And chocolate chip cookies. But you knew that already.


It always starts with some good chocolate being chopped. I like milk chocolate in my cookies, please don’t be mad at me for it, because I come with a tip.
It won’t change your life, but it will definitely make chopping chocolate blocks easier. Use a bread knife. It’s less messy and so much faster.

And while I’m on the tip section, I should add one that makes portioning cookie dough easy. I used to love my cookies of the roll and slice kind. But that was before. Before I went back to rolling little balls that melt in the oven into crisp edges and chewy centres.

I’ve seen some people using scoops. But you see, I like to keep my dough cold before I bake it. And scooping cold dough doesn’t come first on my achievement list. Instead, I roll it into a rectangle so it chills quicker and more evenly. And then, I just cut it into 24 little squares. A quick trip in my hand and there you have cookie dough balls. One for you, one for me.


Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve felt so in phase with the world. And I wish you the same. One cookie at a time. One kiss at a time. One morning coffee at a time.

rye and chocolate chip cookies pola

A lot of rye and a little milk chocolate kind of cookies
Adapted from my old trusted favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe, and inspired by Yossy and Alanna.

I had told you I’d make rye and chocolate chip cookies. Of course I got slightly distracted.
You see it started off hen I first saw Yossy’s beautiful cookies. I’ve always loved rye in anything baked, and I thought they would probably taste amazing. And then, a reader suggested that I try Alanna’s; she said she’d made them and everyone loved them.

So instead of using her recipe, I tweaked mine slightly, and decided – why not? – to go for melted butter as Alanna’s words couldn’t leave my mind. And really, it took me longer to scout the shops of the little high-street, which is more of a street than anything else, looking for rye flour, than it did to make those cookies.
I melted butter in the microwave, added the sugars and vanilla (will I ever one day, make something without vanilla?). And then in another bowl, the flours got mixed, along some rye flakes, a good amount of chopped milk chocolate, and of course, more than a sprinkle of flingsalt [flaky salt], which I brought back from Sweden too long ago.
And well, just as I had anticipated, I welcomed the slight nuttiness of rye into my biscuits. Into my kitchen. And perhaps, most importantly, into my mouth.

A lot of rye and a little milk chocolate kind of cookies

makes 24

100g butter
120g light brown sugar
40g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract/paste
one egg
90g rye flour
90g plain flour
120g milk chocolate
, chopped into chunks
30g rye flakes
one tsp flaky seasalt
, crushed
1/2 tsp baking powder

In a large heatproof bowl, melt the butter. Add the sugars and vanilla and mix well. When it’s cooled down a bit, whisk in the egg.
In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, and add them to the butter mixture. Stir until it forms a dough.
Scrape it onto a large piece of clingfilm and pat into a 2cm thick rectangle. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least an hour or up to 3 days.
Cut into 24 squares, roughly the same size. Now you can either bake the cookies straight away or freeze the dough for later use. In that case, simply let it thaw in the fridge for a couple of hours before proceeding to the rest.
Roll the little squares of dough into balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, making sure to space them quite a bit, around 8cm apart.
Bake at 170°C for 10-12 minutes, until the edges start to brown. Allow to cool down slightly.

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Bonjour février

la pâtisserie, memories, wordsA story about , , , Written on le Monday 03 February 2014.

[Hello February]


I’ve been catching up on blogs lately. A thing I hadn’t done in a while, and a thing I’ve missed doing. I’ve found some new treasures that will forever remain in my rss feeds. And I’ve read through old favourites, not unlike love letters from my early teen.

Aside from that, well, it’s been raining. Sometimes with a reason, most of the times, without. I’ve seen the sun rise over a cascade of shadowed roofs, and I never got to see it set. I can’t help but imagine all the pretty colours. I hope I will see them soon. Before it’s dark enough for us to search for the grande Ourse [Great Bear].
I’ve run a lot to catch the last train, to a place I might call home soon. I’ve had dreams made of Sweden and Iceland. We’ll see which one comes first. I got to hold the very first copy of my book. I cried a little. I’ve realised some people are worth much less than the image we have of them.

More than anything, I’ve missed blogging. Yes, I get to do what I love – bake, make, cake – everyday. And it’s pretty amazing.
But damn, I so wish I could have more time to share recipes – little or not – here too. So I’ve decided to make a schedule, something I’ve always run away from when it comes to blogging, but at times, good things come from confronting your fears. Cross your fingers for me!


1. Rye and chocolate cookies.
2. A pumpkin pie swirl brioche.
3. Pear and hazelnut muffins. Oh yes, please.
4. A pink pizza.
5. Salted caramel swirl marshmallows.
6. Roasted banana cake. Perhaps, with milk chocolate too. And a confiture de lait [milk jam] frosting.
7. Bake bagels, preferably with some homemade cured salmon.
8. Relive my childhood with a tourteau fromager.
9. Salted liquorish fudge cake. Enough said.
10. Crêpes dentelles.

What’s on your to-bake list?

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Shooting-star wishes

memoriesA story about , , , Written on le Monday 06 January 2014.

2013 36




































Perhaps, it is because I haven’t been writing much, but I had too many pictures to show you, so instead of the usual twelve pictures for the twelve months that have gone by, I’m here with thirty-six. And some little stories. Fingers crossed for an amazing 2014! xx

Things I’ve learnt:
– how to fly fish. Not that I’m amazing at it.
love doesn’t had to be crazy mad. It can be quiet and sound.
– it will always be hard to know what you want. More than it is to get it.
– making shooting-star-wishes still works.
– coffee tastes better when it’s made over a bonfire, in an old cast-iron pot.
– finally nailing the perfect recipe for chestnut ice-cream. Only took me a year!
– being fearless sometimes lead to good things. Pretty fucking amazing in fact. One of those good things is sitting across the room and he’s very gorgeous.
– the world on the other side of puddles has trees.

Pictures I wish I had taken:
– the sunset over the endless road to Kusmark.
– all the hearts – made of chewing-gum, plastic, paper, paint – I’ve seen on the pavement, walking to and from work.
– a decent one of Poupée, the not-so-feral kitty I used to see walking home, almost every night. I haven’t seen her in a while and I miss her cuddles.
– all the burgers we had. Perhaps a project for this year.
– the baby bunnies I saw in Richmond park.

Places I’ve been:
– one too many times on the south bank during the endless summer. We’d always start at that little beer van and stroll our way to London bridge. Stopping at every pub we saw.
– two too many times to the hospital. Once for me. Once for K. Let’s hope we had enough of it last year for it to never happen again.
– back home, in the south of France. It was summer. And we got sunburnt to the point of no return.
– back to another home. In the north of Sweden. We took a plane, and a train, and a ten-hour-car-ride. I fell in love. Not just with the place.
– York. We got lost in tiny streets. Sneaked into a pub with walls who’d make any taxidermist jealous. We ate Yorkshire puddings. And drove by beaches. Walked on them to. I shyly tempted a dip, and the waves made the rest for me.

Things I’ve made… wrong:
– chocolate ice-cream without sugar. It happened. I had lost my sense of smell/taste that week due to the worst cold of the history of colds. And all I could taste was the bitterness.
– macarons that looked like flying-saucer candies.
– when we were making cakes for my book (still can’t believe it, no matter how many times i’ll write it!!) E. who was in charge of making the sticky toffee pudding made it four times. Once he baked it at a too high temperature. The second time he used caster sugar. The third demerara sugar. And finally the fourth: muscovado. All were a hit though.

Moments to remember:
– my dad, waiting at the coach station for Gatwick North, standing up and pushing everyone when he heard the driver call for Gatwick South terminal.
– when we first kissed on that couch, with goblins above our heads.
– when we turned a couch and a bed into a double-ish bed.
– the tears we had laughing.
– that day spent on the island. Diving and taking mostly-horrible pictures.
– when we picked apples and made cider.
– that day we got lost in Richmond park.
– that day we got lost in each other.

Things I’ve seen in London:
– a giant plug. Somewhere in Soho.
– a bigger than life snowball on Piccadilly circus. It was the most horrendous thing ever, but I fell in love with the very concept of it.
Christmas lights above our heads.
cats at every corner. Gigantic ones, too.
– the sun setting over St Paul. Many times.
– lights from Canary warf reflecting on the Thames. The only thing I ever see from my bedroom. Late at night.
– a fabric baobab. Probably the most beautiful thing I’ve seen all year.
– the prettiest shadow. Not unlike a papercutted-truck.

The not-so-official 2014 list.
1. Write here more. And when I say more. I mean MORE!
2. Take pictures of everything. No excuses.
3. And that includes the desserts I make.
4. Be in love for ever.
5. Go to Iceland.
6. And Copenhagen.
7. And of course, go back to Sweden. For a week or fifty-two. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. And see northern lights.
8. Make canelés everyday. And éclairs too! (I’m so damn excited about this, but it’s still a secret for now; more to come on it soon!)
9. Celebrate the publication of my little book with champagne!
10. Find something that makes me happier than happy and stick to it.

What are your 2014 must-do’s? Such an exciting year ahead for me.

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Joyeux Noël

memoriesA story about , , Written on le Tuesday 24 December 2013.


I was going to tell you how excited I was to have my parents and sister over for Christmas this year. We’d made plans to have lunch at Brasserie Chavot, and stroll in the park, hoping for snow to happen. And take as many pictures as I can fit rolls of film in my bag, and make doughnuts and pancakes.

But you see, their flight has been cancelled. So instead of a Christmas with all the trimmings, we’re going for the trimmings only. Our cupboard is stocked up with wine and smoked salmon. And who knows, we might have snow and pancakes for breakfast tomorrow.

To happy accidents! And of course, a wonderful Christmas. Cross your fingers and make wishes, because that how it should be. x

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Un dimanche

wordsA story about , Written on le Sunday 15 December 2013.

[A Sunday]


A Sunday happened. As it should be. There was rain. And pizza in the oven. And kisses. And exciting news! And candies. Oh and some coding got done too.

I hope you like it. x

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PS. We picked apples and made cider. Oh and an apple cake too!

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , , , Written on le Sunday 20 October 2013.

apple cider cake

One morning, we woke up to lights through the wooden blinds barely covering never-ending windows. Coffee got made. And we sat on the steps overlooking the garden. Early signs of autumn, drawn to the earth in the shape of dew that made our feet wet as we walked to the apple tree.

Apples as white as snow. His dad said they were called Transparentes blanches. And I really wanted to believe him so I proceeded to do so. I picked a few. Held them in my dress. Peeled them and cored them, with a small knife. Sliced them with the very same knife. And layered them with honey. I whisked eggs into butter and sugar. Eggs paler than the milkyway above our heads the night before. And added wholewheat flour and cinnamon just so. The cake went into the oven and we went fly-fishing by the river. We saw grown-up salmons jump, and tiny frogs too. I was taught how to say liten groda and it meant so much more. We picked blueberries, but you already know that.

So yes, we picked apples and made cider. Cider for in a few months. And I made an apple cake. For dinner that night. It came with vanilla ice-cream from a tub. And I remember how we cut into it with a knife.

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J’avais oublié – Kanelbulle

la pâtisserie, memoriesA story about , , , , , , , , , , Written on le Sunday 29 September 2013.

[I had forgotten – Cinnamon buns]


I had forgotten about the smell of bonfires and forests; coffee made in a cast-iron pot, with as much water as we put ground beans. I had forgotten how blueberries taint your hands; and your lips. And how small they are meant to be.


I had forgotten how it feels like to gaze at the milky way, when the only lights to be seen are far up in the sky. I had forgotten how to make wishes at every shooting stars we see, and how we can’t help but wish harder for them to happen.

I had forgotten how to dig potatoes with my hands. And pick apples from trees. Carrying them, not unlike treasures, in a made-up bag, more of an upside-down dress, really.


I had forgotten about standing by the shore – with wet stocks, mud on our rolled up work trousers (of the too-large kind) and blueberry juices on our hands, earth under our nails – for hours, waiting for fish to come. They almost never do, but who cares?


I had forgotten how to make a cake batter with a wooden spoon. How to knead without a dough hook. How to bake without a timer. And how to eat with our fingers.

But right there, I’ve remembered. The golden trees at dusk. The gumboots we walk into. The smiles we have and what they mean.

It happened one day, of the recent past kind. A distant memory. Or perhaps, just a dream. But really, I have never been more awake. Eyes wide open. And heart too.

kanelbulle pola


I made those on our last night in Sweden. We’d planned a roadtrip to the river the next day. Just hours before our flight.
I proved the dough as I slept, and early in the morning, when the fog was still surrounding us and coffee hadn’t been made yet, I baked them. Of course, I forgot to put a timer. But really, that afternoon, when we sat on the ground by the bonfire, waiting patiently for the coffee to bubble into the flames, they made a pretty decent goûter, to the sound of streaming water and jumping salmons; wind in the trees and branches cracking under our feet.

The dough itself is really easy to make. Quite sticky which makes kneading by hand fairly difficult, but please, don’t be tempted to add more flour. Just be patient and make a plastic scraper – or in my case an old cheese slicer – your new best friend to keep your bench clean.


makes 10 large buns

for the dough
300 g plain flour
150 g whole-wheat flour
130 g caster sugar
3 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
240 g whole milk
one egg
one egg yolk
125 g butter
, softened

for the cinnamon butter
100 g butter, very soft
100 g caster sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom

Mix the flours, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. In a jug, combine the milk, egg and yolk. Pour the liquid over the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or – my favourite, when it comes to dough – a fork until it forms a rough dough.

Transfer to a clean work surface and knead until smooth. You could also use a stand-mixer fitted with the dough-hook, and trust me, it would make your life so much easier as it’s quite sticky. If you’re kneading by hand – like I did – expect to be at it for 15 to 20 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic, and just tacky.
At this point, add the butter, rubbing it into the dough, then knead for an extra 5 minutes.

Place the dough into a clean bowl and cover with a cloth. Allow to proof at room temperature for a couple of hours, or until doubled in size.

In the meantime, get the cinnamon butter ready. Simply cream the butter, sugar and spices for a minute or two and keep at room temperature until needed.

When the dough has proved, punch to deflate, then transfer to a lightly floured work surface and roll into a 30x40cm rectangle, approximately 8mm thick.
Spread with the cinnamon butter and roll into a tight log. Cut the log into ten 4cm-wide slices using a sharp knife, and arrange into a large baking tray lined with baking paper.

Cover loosely with buttered clingfilm and proof until doubled in size.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 170°C.
When the buns have proved, bake in the preheated oven for around 30 minutes, or until golden-brown.

Allow to cool down slightly, pack your car with rods and gum boots. And please don’t forget that cast-iron pot or the ground coffee.

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Bonjour avril

memoriesA story about , , , , Written on le Tuesday 09 April 2013.

[Hello April]

baby apple

The not-so-official April day-dream list.

I want café frappés, the best euphemism of a kind that involves milkshakes for breakfast. I want to wear a sequin top and leopard ballerines from dawn till the next. I want a Bloody Mary in my hands and his lips on mine. And I want to see the stars when we look up. I want to see blossoms at every park too. And perhaps, I want a Pimms and lemonade.


I want to make crazy desserts, after hours. Pete has the best projects ever. I want to walk barefeet on the pavement – still hot from days of sun. I want to listen to the tunes of my teenage dreams. And dance to it too. I want neverending roadtrips from sunrise to sunset. And I want to get lost in the woods.

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Rêveries – Riz au lait à la vanille et plus

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , , Written on le Tuesday 02 April 2013.

[Daydreams – Vanilla riz au lait and more]

riz au lait

It’s ten am. The wind is howling through the windowsill. And the rain battering against the glass.

Yes, I’ve told you before, it’s my favourite kind of music.

But right now, it’s been going on for so long that I’ve forgotten the words to this permanent darkness. I’ve forgotten the words to the book I’m writing too. It’s just that scary. A fear only falling in love can match.


Of course some things can all make it better. There is Jiro dreams of sushi playing, not unlike the Neverending Story. And there is a pot of riz au lait bubbling up.

In fact, it smells all kinds of wonderful around here.

There is the smell of rain. And vanilla, tonka beans, and cinnamon. And really, even for just a moment, I thought I was in Fouras with my grand-mère. Blame it on the scent of steaming rice; even though deep-down, we all know it’s just my daydreams taking over.

riz au lait bis

Riz au lait à la vanille et plus

I’ve shared this recipe with you before. But I’ve been making it so much over the winter – most of the times without scales and with plain old basmati rice – that it was bound to be seen again.

The recipe itself is very versatile. Honey or golden syrup, or even muscovado sugar can be used instead of the caster sugar. And a lot of spices can be added. My favourite combination – right now – is one vanilla pod, two tonka beans, and a cinnamon stick.
Of course, I’ve been adding a few teaspoons of matcha green tea, every now and then, too.

I like to make a double recipe and have a bowlful of steaming riz-au-lait, while I save the rest – in the fridge – for the next day breakfast. And really, you should too.

Riz au lait à la vanille et plus

serves 2
75 g arborio rice
water, to boil the rice
400g milk
one vanilla pod, scraped
2 tonka beans, finely grated
one cinnamon stick
60 g caster sugar

Put the rice and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the temperature and cook, uncovered for 10 minutes.
Drain the rice and set aside.
In the same pan, pour in the milk, sugar and spices. Bring to the boil and stir in the cooked rice.
Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer either into a large bowl or two small ramekins.

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Bonjour mars

memoriesA story about , , , Written on le Monday 11 March 2013.

[Hello March]

grand mere

Right now, there is a snowstorm happening behind my window. Not unlike London turned into a snow-dome. I used to love them. And really, not much has changed since.

But if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that by the end of the month, trees will be coated in a snow of blossoms. And days will get longer. And fuller of Pimms and lemonade.
Spring is on the way, or so they say.

We already have rhubarb. Pink and all. And if I close my eyes and go by the calendar, it seems like strawberries are not too far either.

No matter how much I love winter, this one needs to come to an end. It’s been tough. Not enough daylight, not enough mulled wine. And way too many sleepless nights. In fact, I haven’t had flour or sugar in my kitchen cupboard since October. Some things need to change.


The not-so-official March happy list.

1. Making the best baba in London. With enough Mount Gay extra old to make you tipsy.
2. Day-dreaming about days spent with my grand-mère. I miss her so. Hopefully soon, it won’t be a dream anymore.
3. Only one month-ish until this.
4. An almost magical flan.
5. Getting drunk on coffee.
6. A secret project I’m working on. Cross your fingers.
7. All I can say is that there would be a dessert made of avocado custard, dark-dark chocolate ice-cream, horchata foam and red chilli jam.
8. Yes, it’s a dream come true.
9. Snowstorms. Made of snow. Made of flowers.
10. And perhaps, my hair tied into a top-knot, more often than not.

What are you looking forward to?

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Baity kitchen

to eatA story about , , , Written on le Saturday 16 February 2013.
172 walton street, SW32JL


I’ve told you about Baity before. Well, mostly about that absolutely adorable guy with the glasses and his Greek iced coffee.

But, really, this place is the dimestore diamond of Chelsea. It’s understated, in the best way possible; especially when all you get around are 12£ lattes (remind me to tell you the story of that Russian café we retreated to, defeated by the winter rain).

There is the back-garden, and the teal chairs and aluminium tables, there are the oreo-filled brownies, and cookies too. There is a counter that will make you hungry even when you’re not. And, yes, there is the Greek iced coffee, one of the many-good-reasons to spend lazy summer afternoons at the terrace.



baity 4


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How to become a pastry chef? – The dark side of stainless steel

in the kitchenA story about , Written on le Sunday 10 February 2013.


I received an email. Of a young pastry chef – L. – who was feeling like she didn’t belong to kitchens. We emailed back and forth. To me, there is nothing more magical than getting to do what I blindly love, and couldn’t even dream of a better place to be than in a too-hot, too-fast, too-stressful kitchen.

But it’s only fair to also talk about the other side.

When a daily job relies on boundary-less passion this much, the fine thread that keeps us going, that stretches far beyond strength we didn’t even know we had, can break.

Yes, we’ve all – one day – lost focus. And this is what I told L.: it’s ok. Because deep-inside, you can’t help but have this unreal lovestruck feeling hitting you every morning as you enter the kitchen.

I didn’t write this with the intention to discourage anyone or to bash any restaurant I’ve been lucky enough to work at (in fact, it’s all been just a dream; and if you don’t feel like it is, then maybe, your restaurant is not the one for you, it won’t mean you don’t belong to kitchens, not just to this one); but more as an encouragement. From me to you: shit happens, more often than not. And yet, I can still see you smile when you think you’re not.

Also, please excuse my French – ahem – naughty words. Just consider it a warm-up to the world you’ll soon be breathing.


At times, you’ll wonder why the fuck you’re doing this.

It will be a morning.

You’re setting up your section. Just like any other day. You slept for three hours. Just like any other day. You go in the veg/dairy/you-name-it-fridge and it’s world war seven in there. Just like any other day. You can’t overlook anything. Call it perfectionism, OCD, or care. And really, you don’t have the time. You never have the time, but you make it. Fridge is spotless again. Your never-ending mise-en-place list gets longer. Just like any other day. You have to call every supplier for second deliveries, as a d*ck put through the orders the night before. Just like any other day. Your chef casually rolls in. Just like any other day.

Except it’s not any other day.

Somehow you can’t take it anymore. You will cry. You will swear. You will become bitter.

And you will hate it.
For a second.

Because then, when the check machine starts its merry-go-round, you’re trapped. Willingly or not, desserts are gonna have to leave this pass.

And yes, some merry-go-rounds are scarier, harder, faster than others, but close your eyes and hold tight.

Sometimes, you will feel like it’s unfair. How you’re the first one in and the last out. And no-one seems to give a damn. How you’re the only one to clean the oven or the dry stores. Or worst, doing the stocktake or HACCP.
And really, you can take anything. The fights, the bollockings, the one-too-many joke.

But injustice? No.
And really, you have no choice but keep it quiet. Some things will never be different.

All the time, you will be tired. In fact, you don’t even want to do the maths. But I’ll do it for you.

You wake up at five thirty. Or at least, the first of your many alarms will go off.
You’re at the restaurant by seven. Get changed. Ironed jacket, ironed apron. Need I mention the trousers? One torchon hanging from your hips and another one neatly folded behind your back.

At ten past seven, you’re in the kitchen. A quick look at your mise-en-place list. First delivery comes in and disappears in an army of plastic crates hidden in the fridge. Coffee gets made. And also seems to disappear in a storm.

There is the prep. And the problems. Freezer stopped working. Or perhaps it’s the fridge, or the mixer. Five trays of bread-rolls got burnt. The dairy hasn’t arrived yet and it’s ten. Shit happens. More often than not.

Service happens too. It wakes you up. Makes you feel alive. Makes you connect as a team. As a family. Kitchen is cleaned down. Ready for another service.

You send the last desserts. It’s already half-past midnight.

Hot soapy water, more paper roll than you should use. Sanitiser. Then the floor. You scrub, you squeegee, you mop, you dry. Your turn the lights off. Together.

You get changed. Except this time, forget the iron. Jeans need washing and that t-shirt is more than just wrinkled.
You’re home by late one if you’re lucky. More two.
You stick whites in the machine. Laundry powder. Softener. 60°C. You shower and fall asleep with wet hair. It’s two thirty and your alarm goes off in three hours.

Have a good night.

At least, you have days off to look forward to. Except, you can forget about those too. Someone calls in sick. Someone walks out. Someone is on holidays. Someone, you, need to wake up.

Once a month, you’ll get paid. Don’t make a mistake. No, don’t. Never calculate your hourly wage. Under legal. Not that you care really. Because sooner or later you’ll find the answer to the question that’s been haunting you all day.

Why the fuck are you doing this? You can’t stay away. You learn. You grow up. Perhaps too fast. You love what you do.

I tend to sugar-coat almonds. Not words. You will feel broken. Once in a while. Kitchens are raw. Concentrates of life lessons.
Of course, there is this side. There will always be this side.

But just like there is a hidden world behind puddles, there is also one behind stainless steel. And it’s wonderful, and addictive, and you’ll never get enough of it.

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