The Bake Off Bake Along: White Chocolate and Apricot Spiced Teacakes

I was pretty excited for this edition of the bake off bake along, because I love bread. Completely love it. I bake bread quite a bit at home, and I always love bread week on GBBO. But was it just me, or was this a bit of a lacklustre bread week? In my head, a teacake is a biscuit chocolate marshmallow type deal. I have never even eaten a bread-style teacake, let alone made one. And the technical challenge seemed a little dull to me. I’ve never heard of or eaten a cottage loaf either, but isn’t it basically just standard white bread in an unusual shape? Bread sculptures are all well and good, but they’ve done that before. This isn’t even the first time someone’s made a bread octopus on the show. I didn’t think the episode as a whole was particularly exciting.

But still. Even an unexciting episode of Bake Off is enough to make me pretty happy. And the bake off bake along is a great excuse to try something new.


I’ve been making a real effort to actually, er, learn the bakers’ names this week (did not have that nailed last week), and I was very happy to see Julia get star baker. Probably because she’s from Siberia, so in my head she’s a kindred spirit (I used to live in Siberia, in case that connection wasn’t clear).

Also next week is caramel week!!! One exclamation mark was not enough to demonstrate my excitement. I cannot wait for that bake off bake along session.

Before that happy moment, however, we’ve got the bread week bake along to get through. I’ve gone for teacakes, mostly because I found them a more interesting prospect than a cottage loaf and obviously I am not making a bread sculpture. And you know what? They were bloody delicious.



It seemed sensible to start with Paul’s Hollywood’s recipe, for obvious reasons.


The recipe instructed me to make eight teacakes, so I obediently did so. But they were absolutely massive! Like pillows! I mean, worse things have certainly happened, but if I was making them again I’d divide the dough into ten pieces.


500g strong white bread flour
10g salt
60g golden caster sugar
1 tsp ground allspice
10g instant yeast
50g butter, softened
300ml tepid water
Flavourless oil for kneading, such as vegetable or sunflower
150g dried apricots, finely chopped
100g white chocolate, cut into small chunks
1 beaten egg, to glaze


  1. I made all this in a mixer with a dough hook, because I am lazy. Pop the flour, salt, sugar, allspice, and yeast into your large mixing bowl. Add your butter and roughly three quarters of your measured water, and either begin kneading by hand or turn on your mixer. Gradually add more water until you end up with a soft (but not too wet or batter-like) dough – I found mine was perfect with all 300ml, but you may need more or less, depending on lots of factors like the absorbency of your flour. If you’re kneading by hand, tip your dough onto a lightly oiled surface and go at it until your dough is beautifully silky and smooth, probably around ten minutes. If you’re using a mixer, just let it do the work. Either way, lightly oil your bowl, cover it (I use clingfilm), and leave your dough to rise until at least doubled in size – a long, gentle prove will give your a better flavour in your dough. I left mine for two hours.
  2. Get two baking trays ready, lining them with silicone or baking paper. Pop your proved dough onto a lightly floured counter, and pull it into a rough rectangle shape. Scatter your apricots and white chocolate over it, and then roll your dough up like a swiss roll – I find this helps to get an even distribution of fruit and chocolate from the off. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it feels like the extras are well distributed.
  3. Weigh your dough, then divide it into ten equal pieces. Shape each into a ball, then place it on your baking tray and press it down gently with the flat of your palm to flatten it a little. Brush each with beaten egg, then place the baking trays into plastic bags and leave the teacakes to prove until doubled in size again – at least another hour. Heat your oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas 6.
  4. Bake your teacakes for ten to fifteen minutes (mine took twelve), until risen, golden, and smelling amazing. Cool on a wire rack or do what I did and eat immediately with butter.

This bake off bake along is not particularly great for anyone trying to eat healthily. I think all my bakes have contained chocolate so far. Although admittedly that’s my own fault.


Apricot, Hazelnut, & Dark Chocolate Cake

This apricot, hazelnut, and dark chocolate cake was one of the very first cakes I made for local literary event Short Stories Aloud, which means I must have been making it for a few years now. Which is frightening, because I feel like I only discovered it a couple of months ago. Time seems like it’s rushing by in disconcertingly huge dollops these days.

The joy (well, one of many joys) of Stories Aloud is that if you bring a cake then you get in for free. This almost feels like cheating to me, because I bring cake pretty much everywhere, whether or not it is wanted, so being given entry to an event in return feels pretty jammy, not going to lie. This is typical of the Stories Aloud mentality though. It’s an event quite unlike any other that I’ve attended, full of intelligent, warm, generous, funny people. It helps that it was founded by the wonderful Sarah Franklin, who is a totally top human being. Making cake for them each month has forced me to get my act together and produce something on more than one occasion. Everyone is always unfailingly polite and appreciative of my efforts.


This cake certainly didn’t look quite like this when I first started making it though. I fiddled and embellished and mucked around and was inspired by a Victoria sponge (which was also made for Stories Aloud, funnily enough). Now, suddenly, we’re at this odd hybrid of a cake. It’s studded with rich dark chocolate and sharp, fresh apricots, and stuffed with toasty chunks of hazelnut to give it a bit of satisfying crunch. We’re in apricot season round these parts and my are they glorious. Apricots are one of my favourite fruits when you catch them at their best.

This cake is simple enough to whip up with relative ease, but probably pretty enough for a birthday or a special gathering if you cover it in a loads of miscellaneous bits and pieces, like I did. It is robust, and keeps well, and is unusual enough to be a nice change from a standard recipe, if you’re into that sort of thing.

In short, I would thoroughly recommend it.



Adapted from the chocolate, pistachio, and apricot cake in Anne Shooter’s excellent Sesame & Spice.


Obviously I have covered this cake in all manner of stuff, because I am in the habit of gilding the lily. Here, the cake is topped with buttercream, raspberries, apricot slices, pomegranate seeds, chopped hazelnuts, and edible flowers. Related: they have started selling edible flowers in Sainsbury’s! I am overjoyed about this. If I need a large or specialist order of edible blooms then I buy from Maddocks Farm Organics, but only for special occasions. Since I don’t have a garden and can’t grow anything myself, I am very pleased that I can get edible flowers cheaply and easily at Sainsbury’s for more casual cake-decorating needs.

Anyway, do of course feel free to skip all this rubbish and simply leave the top of the cake plain, or dust it with some icing sugar. It will still be delicious. I’m just a crazy person.


200g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
100g whole blanched and toasted hazelnuts (or take the skins off yourself, if you prefer, but who has time for that really?)
150g softened butter
150g golden caster sugar
around 10-15 cardamom pods
3 eggs
150g plain flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
5 ripe apricots, stoned and diced

for the filling

100g softened butter
250g icing sugar
1/2 jar of apricot jam


  1. Heat your oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4. Grease and line two 18cm (or thereabouts) cake tins. Either blitz your chocolate and nuts in a food processor until they are rubble, or chop them together fairly finely.
  2. I do this next stage in a Kitchen Aid, but it would be fine with a hand whisk or simply a wooden spoon if you prefer. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Crack open your cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar, then remove the seeds and grind them until fairly fine. Beat the cardamom into butter and sugar. Beat your eggs together then add them gradually to the butter and sugar mix, beating all the while. Finally, beat in your flour, salt, and baking powder, then fold in your diced apricots, chocolate, and nuts.
  3. Divide the mixture as evenly as you can between your two tins, then bake for 30-35 minutes, or until firm and passing the skewer test. Let your cakes cool completely while you make your filling.
  4. For the filling, beat the butter until very soft, then gradually beat in the icing sugar until you have a smooth, fluffy buttercream. Beat in 2 tbsp of the apricot jam (or more, to taste). When your cakes are totally cold, cover one with remaining apricot jam, then either pipe buttercream on top of the jam or simply spread it onto the other cake and sandwich them together. Leave plain, or decorate however you like with fruits and nuts.

Pistachio and Apricot Macarons

Yes, I know my last blog post was also a macaron recipe. I spent a little while worrying about this, before I remembered that this is my blog and I can put whatever I like on it, and if I want to do seventeen variations on macarons in a row and never post a thing about vegetables again, then no one will really care. Except maybe my dentist (sidenote: I used to think I didn’t have a problem with dentists, until I had to have a wisdom tooth removed a couple of months ago. Now I understand why people fear dentists).


Anyway, these were experimental macarons, partly because I have never done macarons with a nut other than almonds in the shell before, and partly because I had a pack of apricot leather leftover from teaching a class and wasn’t sure what to use it for. Apricot and pistachio sounded like a pretty delicious combination. And thus these little babies were born.


Notes (my standard macaron notes):

  • For this, you will need at least three baking sheets (I sometimes go onto a fourth) and parchment to line them, a sugar thermometer, a food processor, an electric hand whisk or a stand mixer, and a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle, as well as the normal bowls and scales and stuff. Sorry, lots of kit I know, but that’s just how it is for these.
  • This recipe makes around 50 shells, or 25 paired macarons, although this obviously depends on how big you pipe them.
  • I don’t personally think you need to bother ageing your egg whites unless they are stupendously fresh to start with – perhaps you have your own chickens or something, who knows – but I do always make sure mine are room temperature.
  • I am not awesome at piping, and so my personal preference is to line my baking sheets with disposable parchment and, using a cookie cutter, draw circles onto it in black Sharpie as a guide, then flip it over ready to be piped on to. You can also buy templates that are already on silicone mats (which I should do but I am cheap) or print them off the internet, or just pipe freestyle if you are confident. You want to end up with something like this.


for the shells

200g white caster sugar
75ml hot water (from a hot tap is fine, but boil a kettle if you like)
200g icing sugar
100g ground almonds
100g pistachios
160g egg whites (divided into two bowls of 80g each)
Pinch of salt

for the apricot filling

apricot leather – I lazily bought mine, but you can make it, or substitute a thick apricot gel or jam, or flavour buttercream with apricot jam, or use something else entirely. I can’t tell you how to live your life.


  1. Get out three baking sheets and line them with parchment (or silicone), and create a template if you need one. Pop your water and caster sugar in a saucepan, stir it gently together with a wooden spoon, and put the pan on a low heat to dissolve the sugar (starting with hot water speeds this up). While that’s happening, pop your pistachios with 2 tbsp of the icing sugar in a food processor and blitz for about 2 minutes, or until you have a very fine pistachio flour. Add the rest of the icing sugar and the ground almonds, then blitz again for 1 minute. Scrape the sides down, then blitz for an additional minute. Pass the sugar and nut powder through a sieve into a large bowl. You might be left with some chunkier nut mixture in the sieve. Don’t force it through – you want smooth macarons – but save it to sprinkle over the top of the shells once baked, if you like.
  2. If your sugar has dissolved into your water (the liquid shouldn’t feel gritty), turn up the heat on your syrup, stick your thermometer in it, and start to bubble it up to 115 degrees celsius (which is your target). Meanwhile, mix 80g of egg white into your sieved almond pistachio mixture with a spatula to make a thick, stiff paste. It will look like there isn’t enough liquid, but keep working it and it will come together. Pop the other 80g of egg white into a clean glass bowl with the pinch of salt and whisk to stiff peaks.
  3. When the sugar syrup hits 115 degrees, pour it into the whisked egg whites in a thin stream while still whisking them on high speed. The mixture will become shiny. Once all the sugar syrup is in the whites, keep whisking for five minutes or so while the bowl cools until you have your stiff meringue mix. Whack 1/3 of the meringue mix into the almond pistachio paste and beat it in any old how to loosen it.
  4. Now gently fold the remaining meringue into your macaron batter with a spatula. You need to make sure it’s well incorporated and there are no streaks, but the more you mix it the more air will be knocked out, and the looser the batter becomes. If you don’t mix enough, there will be unincorporated meringue and the batter won’t smooth out when piped. If you go too far, it will run everywhere when piped. You want to be able to lift the spatula up and draw a trail of batter across the surface of the bowl and leave a line which stays there for around 10 seconds, but then gradually disappears back into the body of the mixture. People say it is supposed to look like lava but that’s totally unhelpful to me as I don’t know what lava looks like. Go slowly, one fold at a time, and keep checking it. If in doubt, go for under rather than over mixing, as the process of piping the batter will knock more air out too.
  5. When you are happy with your batter, put half of it into your piping bag and begin to pipe out your rounds. I find it easier to only use half the mix at once or the weight of it makes it come out of the bag very fast, which is tricky to pipe. Piping these just takes practice. Give yourself space, pipe directly down rather than at an angle, move quickly and get into a rhythm. Your batter will spread a little so aim for batter circles slightly smaller than your template circles. Once you have finished piping, pick up each tray, lift it a good few inches off the surface, and drop it straight down. Do this a couple of times. You need to knock out any air bubbles that have accumulated. After this is done, leave your macarons to rest for around half an hour. Once rested, they should have a slight skin. Leaving them for longer – up to a couple of hours – shouldn’t hurt them.


  6. When your macarons have rested, heat your oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Bake your macaron shells for around 20 minutes. This is obviously dependent on your oven and the size of your macarons, so keep an eye on them. Check after 17 minutes. When your shells are cooked, they should lift off your baking parchment without leaving much residue behind. If they are leaving lots of very sticky mixture or not lifting off, give them more time. If they are completely dry and hollow then they are over-baked (but will still be yummy when filled). When they are done, get them on a cooling rack and once they are cool enough to touch, take them off the parchment.
  7. Match the shells of your macarons into pairs of similar sizes. Using a cookie cutter, stamp rounds out of your apricot leather and place between your pairs of shells – or, if you are using an alternative apricot filling, simply pipe rounds of it onto the bottom shell and gently sandwich on the top. If using, sprinkle with the leftover pistachio and almond mix.

Really, you should store macarons in the fridge in an air-tight container for 24 hours before eating them to let the shells soften into the filling but my willpower isn’t always up to this. Regardless, they keep very well.


Roast Chicken, Apricot, and Goats’ Cheese Salad with Pesto

I hadn’t actually cooked a full roast by myself until I got to university. In my second year, I lived in a beaten-down student house with four friends, and had the run of the shabby old kitchen. The gas oven there was horrific – old and unreliable with uneven heat and prone to turning itself off for no particular reason – but the great thing about roasting huge lumps of meat is that they’re not too precious about things like consistent oven temperature.

My best friend, Annis, and I once decided to host a pre-Christmas dinner there before everyone went home for the holidays. We walked up the road to the supermarket and bought so much stuff that we had to take the trolley back to the house with us because we had no hope of carrying it otherwise. In the end, there were seventeen people crammed into our little house, eating food off whatever random assortment of china, plastic, and paper plates we could find and drinking very cheap wine. We tried to make it look Christmassy.


The humble roast chicken is still my favourite. Yes, beef and pork and lamb are all special and delicious, but for me, you can’t beat roast chicken. It’s cheap, easy, and customisable. Everyone likes it (um, except vegetarians – sorry guys), whereas I have friends who object to beef, pork, and lamb. Best of all: leftovers. I always buy a bigger chicken than we need, to ensure that when we’ve eaten I get to pick the carcass clean (oddly satisfying) and fill a Tupperware box full of delicious meat for the next day.

A cold roast chicken sandwich is a glorious thing – lightly toasted fresh bread, a little bit of garlic mayo, salad leaves, maybe some bacon, and piled high with cold roast chicken. But this time, I fancied a change.


In defiance of the spectacularly non-existent summer we’ve had, I’ve made a light, summery salad, perfect for outdoor gatherings or long, lazy suppers on warm, light evenings. I mean, yes, in reality we ate this on the sofa under a blanket with the central heating on, but never mind. The salad still had that summery spirit I was hoping for.


Notes: I’ve made enough here to feed two people, but you can easily multiply it as needed. The quantities are pretty flexible – really, just use your common sense and base it on how much of everything you have lying around.

I’ve made the pesto from scratch here, because I think it tastes so much nicer and in a salad where pesto is a key ingredient it seemed worth it to me. But the pre-made stuff in a jar will do too if you’re pushed for time. I always do it by eye and it’s a very forgiving thing to make, so don’t worry too much about quantities.


200g cold roast chicken, torn into bite-size pieces
100g soft goats’ cheese, torn into lumps
4 apricots, stoned and halved
salad leaves of your choosing – here, I’ve used one of those mixed bags of watercress, spinach, and rocket

for the pesto (if making it from scratch) 

1 large handful of basil leaves
1 small handful grated parmesan
1 small handful toasted pine nuts
juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic glove, crushed
6 tbsp good olive oil (or thereabouts)
salt and pepper


  1. If you’re making the pesto, do this first. Put all of your ingredients in a food processor and blitz until you have a glorious green paste. If it isn’t loose enough, add more oil. Taste it. Does it need more lemon? Cheese? Salt? Adjust accordingly, then set aside.
  2. Heat a grill pan on the hob until very hot. Brush your apricot halves with olive oil on both sides, and lay them cut-side down in the pan. Grill for two minutes, then flip. You should have the beginnings of a charred bar pattern – if you want it darker then leave them for three minutes per side. If you don’t have a grill pan, you can do this under a grill in the oven.
  3. Assemble your salad. If you want this done prettily on a serving platter for a gathering, start with your leaves, and then place the apricots, chicken, and goats’ cheese on top and drizzle with the pesto. If you’re not fussed about presentation, whack it all in a bowl and give it a good mix. It will still taste great.

Trio of Chocolate Cheesecakes – Bake Off Bake Along Week 4

Confession: before this week, I had never made a baked cheesecake. It was one of my page-turners. Everyone must have page-turners, right? You know when you’re flicking through a recipe book (or, in this day and age, more likely a blog or online magazine), and you see a certain ingredient or instruction and automatically think ‘No, thank you!’, turn to the next page, and move swiftly along? Well, every time I see instructions to wrap a springform tin in cling film, then in foil, then fill it with cheesecake mix, then sit it in a water bath, then bake the cheesecake, then leave it to cool with the oven door oven, then let it sit overnight… well, I tend to think ‘Sod that’, and go and make a fridge-set cheesecake instead. It’s a combination of fear and laziness, really.


So, I thought this week would be a good opportunity to finally get over my baked cheesecake prejudice and make one. Well, make three. I don’t have enough ramekins for crème brûlée, and I’m certainly not going out to buy them. And although I do like meringue, I don’t think anyone could really like meringue enough to get through a whole Spanische Windtorte. Also, it would leave me with a dozen egg yolks that I wouldn’t know what to do with. Somehow, making three cheesecakes started to seem like the most sensible option.

Spoiler alert: it was definitely not the most sensible option. It was actually a huge hassle, and all of our friends will be eating cheesecake for days.


Nonetheless, I made three baked cheesecakes and managed to stack them into a tower that didn’t collapse, so I am definitely calling this a win, despite the fact I had to literally buy a kilogram of cream cheese to make this and nobody should ever really be doing that.

I’ll be really interested to see what everyone else tries to make this week, because I imagine lots of you will have the same problems and reservations that I did regarding crème brûlée and Spanische Windtorte, but making three tiers of cheesecake doesn’t exactly feel like the easy way out. Oh, how I miss cake week. Next week is free-from baking – you know, sugar free and gluten free and such – and I can’t imagine that will be any easier.


Can we also just take a moment to mourn the departure of Sandy from the tent? She was never one of my picks for the final, but she was definitely one of my favourite bakers. Some of the things she said literally made me laugh out loud.

Also, Ian winning star baker is now getting boring. Three weeks in a row?!


So, on to the cheesecakes. I will admit that these are not going to be winning any beauty contests. By the time it got to the decorating stage, I was short on time and very stressed, so it was all a bit of a rush job and I am terrible at tempering and piping chocolate, so I basically threw things on top of them and hoped for the best. I also had to move the delicate cheesecakes around so much – first to stack them and then to separate them – that they started to crack a bit. Nonetheless, they were really delicious. Once I have gotten over the trauma of this, I might actually make a baked cheesecake again.

On the show, Paul and Mary kept complaining about fruit bleeding into cheesecake, but what’s wrong with that!? I actually like that, and purposefully mashed up my fruit a bit in the cheesecake batter to encourage the pretty colours rippling into the smooth, pale cheesecake.


Source: I started with a plain baked cheesecake recipe from Leiths How To Cook and then adapted it. A lot.

Notes: I very much doubt that anyone wants to be as insane as me and make this whole recipe start to finish, so I am not going to give any instructions for stacking or decorating, which is all common sense in any case. The method is exactly the same for all three cakes, only with different quantities and some variations on ingredients, so I am going to provide the ingredients for each cake and only write out the method once.

One of the reasons I went for this particular base recipe was that it didn’t ask you to mess around with a water bath or wrapping the tin, and I am inherently lazy. It seemed to work out fine just bunged in the oven like a regular cake.

This would have looked far better if I’d had a smaller top tin, but I didn’t, and didn’t want to buy a new one just for this, so such is life.


for the little white chocolate, blackberry, almond, and ginger cheesecake (16cm)

for the base
50g butter
65g ginger biscuits
20g ground almonds

for the cheesecake mixture
3 tbsp caster
10g cornflour
240g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
2 medium eggs
90ml cream
100g white chocolate
100g blackberries

for the medium milk chocolate, hazelnut, and raspberry cheesecake (20cm)

for the base
85 butter
125g oat biscuits
25g chopped skinned hazelnuts

for the cheesecake mixture
5 tbsp caster
15g cornflour
415g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
100ml cream
200g milk chocolate
150g raspberries

for the massive dark chocolate, apricot, and pistachio cheesecake (23cm)

for the base
100g butter
150g digestives
30g roughly chopped pistachios

for the cheesecake mixture
6 tbsp caster
20g cornflour
500g cream cheese
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
200ml cream
150g dark chocolate
4 apricots, stoned and chopped


  1. Preheat your oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas 6, and grease and line your tin. Melt the butter for the base. Crush the biscuits, either by beating them in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or whizzing them in the food processor. Put them in a bowl and mix in your nuts. Add the butter, mix, and then press the mixture evenly into the base of your tin. Bake the base in the oven for ten minutes, then remove and leave it to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 150C/ 130C fan/ gas 2.
  2. For the topping, set aside 2 tbsp of the sugar. Put the rest in a large bowl with the cornflour and beat with the cream cheese and vanilla to combine. Separate the eggs, and then beat the yolks into the cream cheese along with the cream.
  3. In a large clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to medium peaks, and then whisk in the saved 2 tbsp of caster sugar. Gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture.
  4. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Gently fold it into the cheesecake mixture, along with the fruit.
  5. Pour the mixture over the biscuit base and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until just set with a slight wobble. Leave it to cool in the tin. Chill in the fridge.

Chocolate and Pistachio Buns

You know how Picasso had a Blue Period? Well, I’m having a Pistachio Period. Exactly the same kind of thing. Except my phase is less artistic. And less sad. And will hopefully last for less than three years, because pistachios are really expensive.

I tend to get obsessed with certain ingredients, and before I know it, they’re in everything. Poor James has had to put up with an absolutely unreasonable amount of pistachios in the past month. There was the pistachio, dark chocolate and apricot cake, which I will post the recipe for at some point because it’s one of my favourites. There were the pistachio and walnut brownies.  The pistachio and apricot frangipane tart. The pistachio and pomegranate cake. Pistachios stirred through innumerable salads. Pistachios eaten by the handful. And now these pistachio and chocolate buns. I’m also working on a pistachio-crusted chicken recipe.

Actually, now I’m listing it all, it’s even worse than I thought.


What can I say? They’re delicious. And so pretty! Purple flecked when whole and shelled, pale green when chopped and ground. And so versatile! A great addition to sweet and savoury recipes. And healthy! Full of Vitamin A. Although admittedly they may be less healthy when you mix them with huge amounts of sugar and chocolate.

I’ll shut up now.

I’ve always been like this about certain foods. I will become utterly obsessed with them, eat them daily and work out sneaky ways to include them in every meal and hope the people I am feeding don’t notice and become perturbed by my sudden obsession with pistachios, or pomegranate seeds, or salted caramel, or avocado… Then something else will catch my attention, and we’ll be off on a new tack. I’m the same way about music: I will listen to a song five hundred times until I know it more intimately than my own hands, and then move along to a new backing track for my life. I’ll binge-watch every single episode of a TV show and be interested in nothing else. I’ll watch a film, then rewind it and watch it again. I am intensely loyal in my obsessions… for a limited amount of time, until I’m obsessed with something else.

Just me?

Anyway, these were a bit of an experiment, and I was really happy with them in the end. When I mentioned that I was making them to a friend, who (normally) has excellent taste, he was doubtful:

‘am not sure about chocolate and pistachio?
pistachio seems too… salty?

Well, I’m happy to say he was wrong. And not just because I was right.


Notes: I prefer to let this dough develop in the fridge overnight, because I think the longer prove gives it a deeper flavour, and also I rarely have time for two proves in the morning. However, if it’s easier, you can just cover it and leave it in a warm place for an hour for the first prove.

These buns are best eaten on the day of making, as they do stale fairly quickly, as does all fresh pastry. However, if you keep them in an airtight container they should be alright – although not quite as good – the next day.


for the dough

500g strong white flour, plus a bit extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 sachet of fast acting yeast (they are usually 7g and can be bought in any supermarket)
300ml whole milk
1 large egg
fairly flavourless oil, for greasing (vegetable, corn, rapeseed, whatever you have lying around)

for the filling

30g butter, melted
100g shelled pistachios
120g sugar (I used caster, but whatever you have should work as long as it’s not too dark)
120g butter (you will have an easier time if it’s a bit soft)
100g chocolate (I used 70%, but use milk if you prefer)

for the topping

2 tbsp apricot jam
100g sifted icing sugar


  1. Pop the milk and butter in a pan to warm through – you want the butter completely melted and the mixture to be ‘blood temperature’, which I always think sounds creepy, but basically it shouldn’t feel either particularly warm or particularly cool when you touch it. While it’s warming through, combine the flour and salt into your largest mixing bowl, then make a well in the middle and pop the yeast in. Lightly dust a large surface with flour in preparation.
  2. When the milk and butter mixture is ready, pour it into your dry mixture, add your egg, and stir it all together – I find a silicone spatula easiest at this point, but if you’re the type that likes getting your hands messy then live that dream. When it’s all come together, tip it out onto your prepared floury surface and knead it however you like until it becomes smooth and elastic – it should take about five minutes.
  3. When it’s kneaded, pop the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with cling film, and pop it in the fridge overnight (or cover it with a damp tea towel and leave it in a warm place for an hour if you prefer).
  4. Prepare your filling. Put your pistachios and sugar in your food processor and pulse them until you get a chunky sandy texture – the sugar should stop the pistachios turning into a paste at this stage. Then add your butter and blend until well combined – you should end up with a paste with clearly defined bits of pistachio in it. Chop your chocolate into small pieces.
  5. Tip your dough out onto a floured surface, and roll it into a 30cm x 20cm rectangle. I am useless at judging measurements by eye so tend to check this with an actual tape measure. Brush the melted butter all over the dough, and then take your pistachio paste and spread it all over your rectangle. Sprinkle your chopped chocolate on top.
  6. Roll up your dough. The long side of the rectangle should be facing you – roll it in tightly towards you from the opposite long side. When you’ve got it tightly rolled, cut it with a sharp knife (I find my bread knife works best) into thick rounds. You should get around 10 – 12. Place the buns, cut side up, into a deep pan or dish which has been greased with butter, leaving about a finger-width of space between each. I use my big rectangular brownie pan but a circular dish will work too.
  7. Cover, and leave to rise in a warm place for about half an hour. When this prove is done, the buns should be touching each other in the pan. Preheat your oven to 190C/ gas 5. When it’s nice and hot, pop the buns in. Bake until they are starting to turn golden – around fifteen minutes. I prefer my buns slightly under-done, as I like the doughy squishiness and think they stale less quickly this way. However, if you prefer them darker and crisper, bake them for an extra five to ten minutes.
  8. Pop the jam in the microwave with a splash of water and heat if for around thirty seconds until it’s smooth and spreadable. When your buns are ready, brush them with the jam. Mix your icing sugar with enough water to make a thick paste (start with one tablespoon and go from there) and drizzle it over the buns. I prefer to do all this in the tin and take them out a few minutes afterwards, once they have set, to minimise the amount of jam and icing all over my kitchen.