Cooking Ideas & Recipes by Joana Reis

May 21, 2014
by Joana

Patisserie course week 5

La Pâte feuilletée!

Week 5 of the 8 week patisserie course has arrived and its puff pastry! I love puff pastry, it’s probably one of the worst types of pastries you can have because of all the butter but it’s so yummy and delicious.

This week I learnt how to make puff pastry its hard work, we didn’t have enough time to do all the turns but I will finish it at home tonight. Due to only having 3 hours, we used a “here’s one I made earlier” type to make our goodies.

Patisserie course

I got to make a Classic Millefeuille with patisserie cream, honey & mustard Palmiers, Apple and Raspberries turnovers and Savoury Straws. I have to say my arms got a good workout with all the pastry rolling I had to do but it was so much fun, I really enjoyed every minute.

Salt and Pepper Straws


Apple Turnover

Top tip for this week’s lesson was; don’t scrunch up the off cuts of puff pastry. Fold them on top of one another and roll it out, otherwise the pastry won’t rise.

Next weeks lesson is bread, I can’t wait

May 9, 2014
by Joana

Patisserie Course – Week 4

La Pâte à Choux!

Week 4 of the 8 week course has finally arrived. This is what I have been looking forward to the most, the pastry lessons. This week was choux meaning I got to make éclairs, profiteroles and a puff pastry with choux and patisserie cream cake (I can’t remember the name of it and forgot to write it down). Look at the image below its beautiful and delicious.

Patisserie Course

So I made an attempt at making swan shaped éclairs, apparently they were big in the 70’s? Why? I found it hilarious but still gave it my best shot and as you can see from the picture they didn’t come out very pretty. I think I need to practice more.

Swan eclairs

Once again I found out that I’m not very good with delicate stuff. We tried to make a basket out of caramelised sugar and my first attempt turned into a bird’s nest and the second a good looking sugar ball. Practice, practice and practice I think.

Overall I once again enjoyed my lesson, took the goodies to work as I’m off to Barcelona this weekend and training for a 10k. Not sure if it was a good move to start a patisserie course and sign up for a 10k run at the same time. Anyway, the goodies went down a treat and once again nothing left to take home.

Eclaits and Profiteroles

On another note, I feel like rambling on today so bear with me. I was asked today if I was planning on taking this patisserie stuff to a professional level. I think for now I am enjoying it as a hobby and learning all the little tricks and skills but I have to say I wouldn’t mind. Maybe one day I will open my own bakery…

May 8, 2014
by Joana

Chocolate Guinness Cake

I first tried chocolate and Guinness cake at a Movember-themed bake sale at work last year. I really like this cake but it can be a little heavy. I even took it to my first event of the Clandestine Cake Club as the theme was “something to sip on”.

If you are not familiar with the Clandestine Cake Club, it’s a great cake club, like the name suggests. Each meeting has a theme and all the attendees have to bake a cake based on that theme, the rules are no cupcakes only cakes allowed and the cake must be big enough for 12 slices. You then go to the events have a slice of each cake and have a chat.

Ingredients for the Chocolate and Guinness Cake:

  • 250 ml Guinness
  • 142 ml sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 250 grams unsalted butter
  • 400 grams caster sugar
  • 275 grams plain flour
  • 75 grams cocoa powder
  • 2 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

Ingredients for the Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 150 grams icing sugar
  • 300 grams cream cheese
  • 125 ml double cream


  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/350ºF,
  2. Line a 23cm tin with butter and baking paper
  3. Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan; then add the butter and heat until the butter’s melted
  4. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the mixture
  6. Finally whisk in the flour and bicarbonate of soda.
  7. Pour the cake mixture into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until a skewer comes out clean.
  8. This is a very dark cake so don’t worry, you haven’t burnt it.
  9. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.
  10. When the cake’s cold, it’s time to make the icing.
  11. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth
  12. Now sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them both together. Remember to cover the bowl with a tea towel or you will get the icing sugar powder everywhere.
  13. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency.
  14. Ice the top of the chocolate cake.
  15. Enjoy!

April 25, 2014
by Joana

Patisserie Course – Week 3

Lesson 3 – Les Mousse et Gelees!

Recently, I started an 8 week Patisserie course, the course is teaching me how to make all kinds of pastry and crèmes and by the end, I will be baking beautiful Classic Millefeuille, Palmiers and Profiteroles.

This week was all about mousses and jellies. After two great weeks so far, I now look forward to my baking lessons every week. What I am enjoying the most is having a hobby again, spending some time by myself learning/improving my baking skills. I am enjoying it so much that I have started to wonder what’s next? What other food related courses are out there? So far the top of my list are wedding cake decorating courses.

Going back to my patisserie course and this week’s lesson. This week I made chocolate mousse with a cheeky splash of baileys, Panacotta, honey and lavender bavarois, rose wine jelly and tuile biscuits. I really enjoyed making all of the desserts but discovered that I don’t have very delicate hands. I kept snapping my tuiles which wasn’t good. However I am ready to give it another go sometime in the future.

Pannacotta, chocolate mousse, rose wine jelly, honey and lavender bavarois and tuile biscuits

April 23, 2014
by Joana

Patisserie Course- week 2

Lesson 2 – Le Gateaux!

I have started an 8 week Patisserie course, this course will teach me how to make all kinds of pastry and crèmes and in the end, I will be baking beautiful Classic Millefeuille, Palmiers and Profiteroles.

After the great first lesson, I was really looking forward to going back. This week was gateaux week and we made Black Forest Gateau, Madeleine’s and lastly, Victoria Sponge – not very French I know.

The good thing about this lesson was that I got introduced to chocolate decorating, in other words, how to make the little chocolate bits that the café chain, Patisserie Valerie, puts on top of their cakes.

I struggled with creativity at first, but ended up making some good-looking chocolate decorating pieces. To make these, all you have to do first is just put some melted chocolate into a piping bag and prepare a bit of baking paper in a tray. Now you pipe onto the tray and you make lines, flowers, stars or even love hearts. When ready, refrigerate for a couple of hours while you make your cake.

Again, all the recipes I made this week were delicious but my favourite was the Madeleine’s, they are delicious!


If you’re ever making Madeline’s, one little known trick is that after you have piped them into the mold, refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour or so. They’ll then rise better when you bake them.

I have to say I was really proud of my gateau. I never usually decorate my cakes or try making them look pretty. I’m always too impatient and just want to have a slice. But, I think this is a new beginning. From now on I’m always going attempt to decorate most of my cakes.

Black Forest Gateau