Tag Archives: Richard Bertinet

Cheat’s Croissants- Don’t tell Richard

I love pastries, especially croissants and pain aux raisin.  Mind you the last time I did a course with Richard Bertinet, I had the most amazing almond croissant.  And for someone who really doesn’t eat nuts, it’s quite an achievement to find something with that has nuts in it that I’ll quite happily walk through hot coals for.


However the homemade variety of any of the above are labour intensive.  A true labour of love.  So I’ve tried to come up with a variation that doesn’t stray too far from the true path of viennoise.  And yes, it takes time, but is not work intensive.

Are they as good as Richards? No.  But then I’ve had croissants from the depth of France that aren’t as good as his.  It’s all about balance.

My Cheat’s Croissants

Makes 16 croissants

500g strong bread flour
300g cold unsalted butter, cubed
240g lukewarm milk
90g sugar
30g fresh yeast (15g- active dry yeast)
½ teaspoon salt
Egg Wash
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk
Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a mixer bowl. Warm the milk to a little under blood temperature and add the yeast. Leave to “sponge” for 5 minutes.


It looks like a huge amount of butter, I know!

Add the milk/ yeast to the flour and mix on low speed until it looks almost like a bad cookie dough. Add the cubed cold butter in three goes, mixing slowly each time. When the butter cubes look evenly spaced through the dough, cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours.


The weirdest looking dough you’ve EVER seen


Remove from the fridge and gently start to bash the dough into a square with a flour duster rolling pin. Then roll out to a large rectangle. Working quickly, fold the outer edges in to touch, a little like a book. Give the dough a quarter turn and roll out again, repeating the folding and turning once more. Keep your work surface well dusted with flour and also remember not to turn the dough over. Just keep in sliding!
Fold again like a book, wrap in clingfilm and leave overnight in the fridge.
Next day roll out the dough as thin as you can on your floured surface. Using a very sharp knife, cut triangles out of strips. Roll up as demonstrated in the video clip.

Brush with egg wash (the egg yolk and milk, mixed well).
Leave to rise for about 1 1/5 hours before baking in a preheated 200oC oven for about 12 minutes.

Enjoy with some strawberry jam and a hot cup of coffee. Or make the dough into pain aux raisin.  Double Divine.

Dillisk Sourdough Recipe

I love making sourdough, so much so next week I am travelling to Bath to further my bread making education with Richard Bertinet.  And yes, I am BEYOND excited. I know every day will be amazing, but for my the sourdough “day” is the one I’m looking forward to the most.

At the moment I use a recipe loosely based on one of his from “Crust”.  Mine is a VERY loose recipe.  And really it’s not very instructive.   But feel free to try!  I plan to do some bread demos in May, so keep an eye here.

I found this nifty little product last week in Waterford from Sea of Vitality, and am adding it to see what flavour it gives me.  The jar said to use as seasoning, so am removing salt from the recipe, and am adding this instead. Dillisk (Palmaria palmata) is a red seaweed native to our Irish shores.The earliest recorded use, is by St Columbus’ monks:

Taken from a poem from the 12th Century :

Seal ag buain duilisg so charraig seal ag aclaidh, seal ag tabhairt bhídh do bhoctaibh, seal i gcaracair.

A while gathering Dulse / Dillisk from the rock a while fishing, a while giving food to the poor, a while in a cell.

Seaweed as a food is very easily digested and weight for weight contains more vitamins, nutrients and minerals than traditional “land” plants.


Milled Dillisk

Sourdough Recipe


475g bread flour

25g of Another flour, I alternate between buckwheat, rye, malt etc etc.  If you adding nothing else just add some more white bread flour.

360g water

10g Dillisk

150g starter


Add the flour to the mixing bowl with the water.  Mix it on slow for 30 seconds then leave this for 30 minutes. (or longer)

Sourdough Prep

Sourdough Prep

Add the starter and mix very slowly for 2 minutes, then add the dillisk and mix for a further 3 minutes, gradually increasing speed.

Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Wednesday 09 Mar 001

Dough risen for 4 hours in the fridge

Remove from the bowl and shape.  Leave in the fridge overnight in the well floured proving basket.   Wednesday 09 Mar 018

Bake in a mega hot oven on a heavy tray for about 20 minutes until hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom.

And it just smelt so good I had to boil an egg to try with it…. just in case I didn’t eat later (LOL)

Dillisk Sourdough with a freshly boiled home grown egg

Dillisk Sourdough with a freshly boiled home grown egg

Books and their covers

I was very happy to receive a number of books for Christmas, specfically cookbooks.  To be fair I am an easy person to buy for.  I like books and horses.  Cookbooks are easier to wrap.



I haven’t decided which to dive into yet.  I did flick through Allegra’s “Big Table, Busy Kitchen”.  I was delighted to meet her the the Lit Fest 2015 (by the way the tickets are on sale for LitFest16– buy some- you won’t regret it.)

Her style is very easy to read and I look forward to trying out some of the recipes.

This year I would like to try cookery courses in other countries, maybe the Italian cookery course will give me a head start!  I’m heading to Bath in March to do the “intensive” 5 day bread course with the esteemed Richard Bertinet.  Nigel did this course 5 years ago and it completely revolutionised our bread making.  Even when I was in Ballymaloe the teachers raved about his techniques.  I am just dying to get there and get started.  And of course will have to make time for coffee and prunes- a staple of any cooking course.

Since we got a loan of a kindle at home I change between reading on it, and reading an actual book.  Unfortunately the cookbooks are a little too heavy read in bed last thing at night, so hopefully when the aftermath of December has died down I’ll get to sit down with a cup of coffee and devour them.

Wednesday 13 January 020

I’m a big Lee Child fan.  Have always enjoyed the Jack Reacher series, and really loved the film with Tom Cruise, although I reluctantly agree with my better half, he was FAR too short to play the lead.    This one was a little disappointing.. which breaks my heart as I really do tick off the days until the next release.  Not that he’s the only one. I love all the Karen Rose books. I must remember to check if she has any new ones out.  These days I very rarely visit shops- even bookshops so don’t get to see the new releases. I also love looking at travel books.  I’ve one for touring America, but that’s slightly wistful thinking so I think that I’ll re-visit this in the near future.

Wednesday 13 January 021

And like when I’m choosing food, the covers on the books appeal to me first.  But often with cookbooks, especially the more generic- 1000 best cakes- and the like, the pictures can be deceiving.  And often, a little like entering a cake shop, the eyes are drawn to colours and patterns.

One of the books I got this year, which I just know will be my favourite, is simply called Patisserie.  Nothing fancy, not even one picture inside.  But the recipes- wowsers.  I nearly had to go for a run to combat the calories I put on looking at the recipes!

So books will be in my future for a while- and hopefully I will garner some new ones this year.  Am thinking the Back roads of Italy might be nice…..to go with my cooking courses of course.

As a very important addendum- this piece from the New Yorker, puts beautifully into prose about reading cookbooks that I just cannot.  So please take the time to read it (and don’t, then, berate me for my appalling style next to his!!!)


Meet my starter.

It’s an easy pet really.  You feed it now and then.  You don’t need to wash it or walk it.  The first week in Ballymaloe, Timmy gave me a small amount of the school starter to feed and produce as my own.  So I bought a kilner jar and looked after my new child.

Bubbling away

Bubbling away

With no name as yet we haven’t done too badly, I have made every kind of shape and size loaf, and am still perfecting it.  Last week I changed my proportions of strong white flour, adding more than I previously needed.  Our flour must be slightly different to what I was using in the Ballymaloe Cookery school.

Sourdough breadrolls for picnics

Sourdough breadrolls for picnics

I also need to work on making the “spine”.  Each loaf seems to burst exuberantly from its shape at some stage in the cooking, giving a nose or an unsightly pimple appearance.  But I’m getting there.  When Nigel went to Richard’s course in Bath, Richard spent a lot of time on the importance of creating the spine, so I am learning, albeit slowly.

Sourdough waiting in baskets to be baked.

Sourdough waiting in baskets to be baked.

I think the things with having you own yeast is that every loaf will be different, but that’s a good thing.  Uniformity in food does not always mean quality, or consistency of flavour.  But if I could get them a teeny bit better looking I’d be happy!

Sourdough, with a good crust and lightness of texture

Sourdough, with a good crust and lightness of texture

Bread, if you can believe it, is older than metal, thereby pre-dating the Bronze Age.  There have been what are thought to be neolithic grinding stones, used to grind grain to make flat or unleavened breads.  There was a “bread” found in Switzerland in 3500BC.  And undoubtedly there was an overlap between the evolution of brewing and bread making, and the Egyptians have recorded the use of “leavening” in food, but the actual origins are probably impossible without a time machine.

Until the time of the development of commercial yeasts, all of the leavened bread was made using naturally occurring yeasts – i.e. all bread was actually what we would call sourdough, with it’s slower rise. Indeed, one of the reasons given for the importance of unleavened bread in the Jewish faith is that at the time of the exodus from Egypt, there wasn’t time to let the dough rise overnight.

But enough history- more another time!

White Yeast Bread Baguettes

White Yeast Bread Baguettes- my dough, Nigel’s skill at shaping and baking