Tag Archives: vanilla

Sfinci: Sicilian doughnut filled with ricotta

Sfinci are fried dumplings of ricotta that Sicilians eat for breakfast and they make delicious snacks for summer or outdoor eating. You can flavour them with vanilla as they did in Noto and shake sugary  cinnamon over if that is your fancy.  I like mine dipped in honey! They are tastier and fresher than doughnuts but just as naughty…

Tucking into cafe style Sfinci in Noto

Tucking into cafe size Sfinci in Noto

Ingredients list: Makes about 8 to 10 Sfinci

  • 6 eggs
  • Sugar, 125 g
  • Ricotta, 500g
  • Flour, 250g
  • Baking powder, 4 Tbsp
  • Vanilla pod, to taste
  • Honey, 60 ml or 60 g of sugar mixed with 1 tsp of cinnamon

Beat the eggs with the sugar until it turns pale yellow.

Add the ricotta, followed by spoonfuls of flour, baking soda and scrapes of the vanilla pod. Make sure it is all blended in.

Use a cast iron pan to heat the oil bring it to a low frying temperature.

Drop big dollops of batter into the oil and leave it to brown on both sides. Keep the fire low so it does not burn too fast! Do check that they are moist inside but not too runny. My children turned their noses up at a runny batch and I had to fry them all over again… The things we do for love…

Serve at rooms temperature with a dip of sugared cinnamon and a dip of honey, to choose from. These treats are deliciously indulgent and very very addictive.

Sicilian doughnuts

Sicilian doughnuts

Details of a Sicilian window

Details of a Sicilian window

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Phyllida’s shortbread

Phyllida's shortbread

Today I give you another version of the iconic shortbread. My favourite biscuit. The ingredients are the same as in my original post but this makes a single shortbread rather than a batch of it and I quite like the quaint wheel design so here it goes!

Ingredients list:
Flour 100g
Caster sugar 50g
Fine semolina (or rice flour) 50g
Butter 100g
salt
scraped vanilla pod

Mix it all up until you get a ball. Lay it on oven-paper and shape it and mark it as you like!

In the oven at 170 for about 20 minutes- take it out before it colours!

With thanks to Phyllida and Eleonor for the many batches they have done for us… It tastes strangely better when I don’t have to make it 🙂

Cannelés from Bordeaux to London

Michel Majerus exhibition in Bordeaux modern art Gallery

Michel Majerus exhibition in Bordeaux modern art Gallery

Cannelés or Canelés, dainty little caramelised puddings, are all the rage in France – and not just in Bordeaux! Having visited this town in the summer, I took the opportunity to research the recipe extensively, children in tow, through many a patisserie, and -on Camille’s- advice to purchase a set of the special mini pans they are baked in.

If you have never tasted them, they make lovely ‘petits fours’ after a meal and are delicious with coffee or tea in the morning.

They should have a nice toffee colour and burnt smell so they might benefit to slightly longer than the indicated time in the oven.

Ingredients list

  • Vanilla pod, split and scraped
  • Full fat milk 200 ml
  • Soft butter 20g
  • Caster sugar 90g
  • Egg 1
  • Rum 1 Tbsp
  • Flour 45g
  • Pinch of salt
IMG_2414

The iconic Cannelé from Bordeaux

Heat the milk to just below boiling point with the vanilla pod scraped in: Leave pod and seeds in it to suffuse. Let it cool down a little while.

Cream the soft butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the beaten egg and whip up. Add the rum, mix in the flour and salt. Slowly add the warm milk. Mix all the ingredients until you get a pancake style batter.

Let it rest in the fridge overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 240 degrees. Give the mix a light whipping to awaken the batter! Remove the pod.

Then pour your batter into small pans, generously buttered up, leaving a little room to rise.

Bake at 240° for 10 min. on the bottom rack ; then lower to 210° for another 35 minutes.

Serve with coffee.

With special thanks to Isabelle and Camille who in London and Bordeaux, introduced me to these little gems…

The original recipe in French

The original recipe in French

>Yves Camdeborde’s Sablés

>I made these recently for a smart dinner and served the buttery biscuits with a simple vanilla ice cream and some brownies.

Ingredients list:
Butter 200 g – at room temperature

Sugar 90 g  (I used a finely ground unrefined cane sugar)

a good pinch of salt

1 or 2 vanilla beans
Flour 250 g
1 egg yolk or 3 tablespoons milk for brushing

Cristalised or fancy coloured sugar for coating (I used multicolour sugar strands here).
This makes about 50 bite-size cookies, crumbly and light with a delicious buttery taste.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter with a spatula.
Add the sugar and salt and mix them in thoroughly until the mix is fluffly and creamy.
Split the vanilla bean(s) length-wise and collect the seeds by scraping the insides of the bean with a blade. Stir the seeds into the mixture. (Save the empty pods for another use : to make vanilla sugar or vanilla oil; to infuse in milk, yogurt etc.)
Add the flour and rub it into the butter mixture with the tips of your fingers.
At that stage, you can use a food processor if you like!

Gather the dough into a ball without kneading.
Divide into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a log, about 3 cm (1 1/4 inches) in diameter.
Wrap the logs in plastic wrap or parchment paper, and place in the fridge to harden for at least 1 hour. (Alternatively, you can freeze all or part of the logs to bake later; thaw partially at room temperature for about 1 hour before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.)
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°C) and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or a sheet of parchment paper.
Remove the logs from the fridge.
Beat the egg yolk, if using, with a few drops of water to thin it out.
Working with each log in turn, use a pastry brush to coat the log with egg yolk or milk on all sides, then sprinkle with coarse sugar until coated all over.
Use a sharp knife to slice the logs into rounds, about 1 cm (1/3 inch) in thickness.
Arrange the slices on the prepared baking sheet, leaving just a little space around the sables – they won’t expand much.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the dough is set in the center. The cookies will barely color.
Let them rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
Repeat with the remaining dough.

The sablés will keep for about a week in an airtight container at room temperature- but they will hardly need to!


Adapted from a recipe from Yves Camdeborde’s Dimanche en famille (Menu Fretin). Mr Camdeborde has the Relais de l’Odeon in Paris 6th and I have every intention to go and visit soon, fingers crossed!

Butter waffles

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Wednesday is baking day in my house and for tea we ate these!


Now, I’d have waffles anytime over pancakes… but I am always searching for the ultimate waffle recipe – at least since I bought my waffle maker last year during that massive snow fall… I want a light and buttery waffle, something crispy and melting at the same time. And today I’ve cracked it ; here it is: the ultimate waffle recipe!

Ingredients list:
4 eggs
Self-raising flour 250g (I used light brown flour)
Butter 125g (use English butter – with salt)
Whipping cream 400gr
Vanilla sugar 2 large spoonfuls
(I make my own vanilla sugar by putting a split vanilla bean into a jar full of caster sugar.)

In a large bowl, work the butter and sugar until fluffy and creamy.
Split your egg whites from their yolk. Then  add the yolks one by one to the mix. Use an electric whisk for that and add the cream and flour, bit by bit. It should be creamy not lumpy.
Clean your hand whisk to beat the egg whites to a stiff consistency, adding a pinch of salt to help start it. They must make peaks when you pull out the blades but don’t overdo it! Carefully fold the whites into the mix with a wooden spatula. You now have a gloriously plump batter, soft as a pillow.

Warm the waffle iron or the electric maker and drop a large spoonful of batter in the centre. Bake until crisp and brown. The rich smell went right up to the loft to entice hungry children…

I like serving these with a blackcurrant sauce or melted chocolate with butter and a few slices of banana. Their buttery flavour hardly needs anything though… The one in the picture has caramel sauce.


I credit this recipe to the booklet compiled by the mums of Lübeck school in Paris. Recipes tried and tasted over generations! A treasure-trove, I tell you!