Spinach, Artichoke, & Blue Cheese Galette

Ever really wanted some pie, considered making one, and then thought it was too much effort and fallen asleep on the sofa instead? Enter: the galette.

A galette will bring you the joy and happiness associated with eating pie, but with none of that ‘finding the right tin’ and ‘making sure the pastry doesn’t tear’ and ‘blind baking’ stuff that all seems like a bit of an effort. It’s free form. It’s rustic. You don’t even need a dish or a tin –  a flat baking tray will do the job admirably.


What you get is delicious, crisp, more-ish pastry, cuddling up informally with the filling of your choice. Here, I’ve gone savoury, with this spinach, artichoke, and blue cheese number. But you can use any pie filling you like (including sweet ones, if you omit the herbs and spices from the pastry), and still enjoy a delicious pie-like treat.

The best thing is that a galette is meant to look rustic. The pastry is inherently cracked and folded. You don’t need to worry about perfect pastry technique. If you’re nervous about rolling and shaping pastry, the galette is your friend. And it looks appealing and impressive enough to be pretty fancy, if that’s what you’re looking for. But it’s also easy enough to just be dinner. A really tasty dinner. I’m going to go and snack on some galette now.



Pretty liberally adapted from this recipe.


You may be wondering about the grated mozzarella. I would normally always go for a ball of mozzarella, rather than grated, but for this (and pizza toppings, incidentally), grated tends to work best because it’s not too wet, and is easy to distribute through fillings. That said, if you have whole mozzarella you’d rather use, that’ll be okay too if you shred it finely.


for the pastry
150g plain flour
150g wholemeal flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1-2 tsp very finely chopped fresh thyme
175g cold butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk
2-4 tbsp cold water (start with 2)

for the filling
300g fresh spinach
Glug of olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
Generous pinch of cayenne
Juice of ½ lemon
300g artichoke hearts, drained, any huge pieces cut in half (from a tin or a jar is fine)
115g grated mozzarella (see note)
Salt and pepper
80-120g blue cheese, broken into chunks (choose the amount according to how much you like blue cheese/how much you have lying around)
Handful of walnuts
1 egg, beaten
Handful of fresh basil leaves, to garnish


  1. Pop a small bowl of cold water in the fridge. Put both flours, salt, pepper, and chopped thyme in the food processor. Blitz briefly to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse until everything is combined and looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and two tablespoons of your fridge-cold water, and pulse again. If it’s starting to come together and looks like pastry, you’re done. If it still looks dry, add another tablespoon or two of cold water until it just comes together. Tip your pastry onto cling film, knead briefly to bring it to a disc shape, then wrap in the cling film and chill in the fridge while you make the filling.
  2. Heat your largest frying pan over a medium heat, add the spinach and cook until wilted, then keep cooking for a couple of minutes to drive some of the moisture off – you might have to do it in batches depending on the size of your pan. Tip the spinach into a sieve and get rid of as much excess liquid as you can – don’t be too precious about it, though, because you can spend your whole life trying to get liquid out of spinach.
  3. Put the spinach back in the pan and add the olive oil and the garlic. Cook the spinach with the garlic gently until it starts to smell tasty – 2 or 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the cayenne, lemon juice, artichokes, grated mozzarella, salt, and pepper, then leave the filling to cool – pop it in the fridge if you’re in a hurry.
  4. When your filling is cool, take your pastry out of the fridge. Flour your work surface and roll the dough to about the thickness of a £1 coin – aim for a circle-ish shape, but it doesn’t really matter. Transfer your pastry to a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Leaving approximately a 7cm border around the edges of the pastry, top the dough with the spinach mix, then scatter on the blue cheese and walnuts.
  5. Fold the edge of the dough over the filling – don’t worry if it cracks a bit, you’re going for rustic. Brush the crust with the beaten egg. Place the galette in the fridge for 15 minutes, or until ready to bake – if you want to get ahead, you can leave it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 4. Bake the galette for 45-55 minutes, or until the crust is golden and crisp. Let it sit for five or ten minutes, then top with fresh basil, and serve.

Frosted Walnut Layer Cake – Bake Off Bake Along Week 1

I think one of the best things about the internet is that it connects people who might otherwise feel like they are alone. If you have always wanted to re-enact the Battle of Hastings dressed as a Death Eater while reciting the closing speech from The Breakfast Club, then you can find the only other person in the world who wants to do that too, and make it happen. When I was a child, the internet made me realise how big the world is, and yet made it feel so much smaller at the same time.

Over the last week, the internet has reminded me that I am not the only person who is worryingly excited by the return of the Great British Bake Off to our screens. And yes, I do mean ‘worryingly’ excited. I spent the afternoon and evening last Wednesday in such heightened anticipation that I think I scared James a bit.

How can I explain the joy of the Bake Off to those who don’t watch it? For me, it’s a guaranteed hour of pure happiness and escape from everything else that’s making me stressed. The Bake Off of is an overwhelmingly positive programme. You can see that Mary and Paul, and Mel and Sue, really want the contestants to do well. It’s light-hearted, and funny, and charming. It’s about people doing the thing they love as well as they can. It’s about creating things that are delicious, beautiful, and inventive. It’s about baking, for god’s sake.


Anyway, the show started last week, and it made me just as happy as it always does. I am going to go on the record now, by the way, and say that my bet on the final three is Marie, Tamal, and Flora. Just putting it out there.

I will be doing the #bakeoffbakealong for as long as I can manage this year, before my schedule absolutely cripples me. The choice this week was between a Madeira cake for the signature challenge, a walnut cake for the technical, or a Black Forest gateaux for the show-stopper. For me, I want the bake along to be an excuse to try recipes I wouldn’t normally bake. I made a variation on a Madeira cake mere days ago, and I need absolutely no encouragement to make a Black Forest gateaux. So, down walnut way we went.


Source: This recipe is widely available now that it’s been used on the Bake Off – see here – but I actually used the version in my copy of Mary Berry’s Baking Bible.

Notes: The recipe in the book is actually a bit different from the recipe that the contestants used in the show. Firstly, it doesn’t call for buttercream, simply advising you to use the frosting to sandwich the layers together as well as to coat the cake. Secondly, it doesn’t call for the walnuts to be caramelised. I was planning to do that anyway, but, as you can see, I didn’t in the end. I was making this cake to take to a party and we had to rush out the door: I simply ran out of time. Hard experience has taught me that you shouldn’t try and rush caramel, so I left it rather than risking burning myself dramatically.

Even though the recipe I was working from didn’t call for buttercream, and the bakers on the show used a plain vanilla buttercream, I went for an espresso buttercream. Just because, really. I felt like I wanted something to break up all the sweetness of the cake a bit. While I am happy with this decision taste-wise, it does mean the layers of the cake looked less distinctive, because the buttercream was a very similar colour to the sponge.

I am going to called this a marshmallow frosting, rather than a boiled frosting. This is partly because is tastes like marshmallow and partly because ‘boiled frosting’ sounds horrid.


for the cakes

225g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
100g walnuts, finely chopped, plus extra for decorating

for the buttercream

100g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
2 teaspoons of espresso powder dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water

for the frosting

2 large egg whites
350g caster sugar
4 tbsp water
¼ tsp cream of tartar


  1. Preheat your oven to 160C/ 140c fan/ gas 3 and grease and line three 20cm sandwich tins with baking paper. I don’t have three 20cm tins (or any three matching tins, for that matter), so I had to do the baking in two stages.
  2. Whack all your cake ingredients in a large bowl and beat them together with an electric whisk. The book specifies this all-in-one method, which is what I used, and it worked fine. That’s why you have two teaspoons of baking powder – you need extra rise because you’re not getting as much air into it through multiple beating stages. Divide your batter into three equal amounts and bake your cakes for 25-30 minutes.
  3. Once the cakes are completely cool, make your buttercream, Beat your butter and icing sugar together until smooth and fluffy, then beat in your espresso. Spread half of it over your bottom sponge, and top with your second sponge. Spread the second half onto the top of your second sponge, and top with the third.
  4. For the frosting, measure all of the frosting ingredients into a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water and beat for 10-15 minutes with an electric whisk. This bit is really boring, but you do have to do it to make sure the frosting isn’t grainy with sugar. Check it about ten minutes in by rubbing a bit between your thumb and forefinger and seeing if you can feel sugar grains. It should be smooth.
  5. Cover the top and sides of your cake with the icing. You can either swirl it or leave it smooth(ish), depending on your preference. Decorate your cake with walnuts (or do it properly and caramelise some, if you are better at time management than me).