Chocolate & chilli bread

For the chocolate week, I wanted to make something savoury with chocolate.

Sadly, most of the dishes I found that use chocolate as savoury weren’t vegetarian, so I thought of bread.

This chilli and chocolate bread can be used as savoury or sweet.
I chopped my chocolate so fine that you don’t get big chunks of it that are really sweet. I also used very dark chocolate.

This bread is not too hot at all, it makes the chilli stand out but doesn’t overpower the whole thing.

For a big loaf, you’ll need:

– 500g of strong flour
– 10g of salt
– 12g of dried yeast
– a splash of olive oil
– 340ml of water
– 1 tsp of flaked dried chilli
– 2 tbsp of very finely chopped chocolate

Put the flour, salt, chillies and yeast into a bowl and mix well.

Add the oil and water and knead for about 10min until smooth and elastic.

Add the chocolate and knead for another 2min.

Put the dough in a floured bowl, cover it with cling film and leave it to raise for an hour.

Put the raised dough on your work top and knead it for a minute to knock the air out.

Shape your bread as desired; I usually make mine plaited.
Put the bread on a baking sheet, cover it with a tea towel and leave for an other hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C, egg-wash the bread if you want and cook it for 25min or until golden brown.

Eat toasted with butter, jam, cheese or just as it is.

finished loaf


Elderflower champagne

You’re never going to believe me but the other day, between two big dark rainy clouds, I’ve seen some blue sky. Yes, blue sky, there was even a bit of sun…

I start, like everyone, to feel depressed about this non-summer so I try to cheer up with one of my very summery drinks: elderflower champagne.

I made some about 5 weeks ago, when the first flowers arrived.
It’s the third year in a row I’ve made some. Last year’s was horrible, I have no idea what happened as it was the same recipe. Anyway, I opened a bottle of this year’s champagne and I can’t tell you how good it is! Very fizzy, not too sweet, just right with this lemony flavor and of course, a nice and delicate taste of elderflower!

I give you the recipe for you to try next year, as the season is over now (in the uk anyway)

For 5 bottles, you’ll need:

– 6L of water
– 700g of sugar
– 15 to 20 elderflower heads
– Juice and zest of 4 lemons
– 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

In a big pot (I use a jam pan), dissolve the sugar with the water.
Add the other ingredients and mix well.

Cover the pot with a cloth and leave it for 5 days in a cool and airy place. You can check regularly to see if everything is going well: if you see that the mixture is beginning to change and becoming yeasty and bubbly, it’s a good sign.

If you think your mixture doesn’t behave like it should, add a pinch of dried yeast, it should help a bit.

Sieve and bottle up in preferably strong glass bottles.

Leave it at least 2 weeks before drinking.

You’ll really need good bottles (not with a screwing lid).
Last year, we drove with some big jars (because of a lack of bottles) full of elderflower champagne in the boot and the gas made the glass break! So be careful!


Focaccia mon amour…

Since I arrived in UK, I noticed all the Italian food you can find in the supermarkets here; we don’t get the chance to get it in France. I was surprised to see Italian breads, sauces, risotto… Italian food is so popular over here. I then realized I didn’t even know half of the Italian famous dishes.

Anyway, I discovered the existence of focaccia on a food programe on TV.  It looked amazing and I couldn’t wait to try it.

Obviously, the focaccia has to be thin and not thick like you usually find them in England. The dough is very very wet so it makes the kneading quit unusual but not bad at all, I actually enjoyed doing it.

My focaccia was really nice, light and very tasty. It didn’t last very long  at all, it’s very moreish. So for my very first one, it was a success. It was very easy to make so if you fancy making it, don’t hesitate and give it a go!

You’ll need:

–  500g of strong white flour
–  7g of fast action yeast
–  3 table spoons of olive oil plus more for kneading and topping
–  400ml of cool water
–  10g of salt

Mix together the flour, yeast, salt, olive oil and half of the water. Add the rest of the water a bit at a time.

You will soon think you need to add flour but don’t, it would be a big mistake.

Knead this wet dough for 5 minutes. Oil your worktop with olive oil and put the dough on it. Knead it a bit more and put it in a oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave it at room temperature for an hour.

Then pour the dough in two medium tins, covered with oiled baking paper. Press it gently to take the shape of the tin or tray. If your fingers stick to the dough, just put a bit more oil. Leave it at room temperature for an hour, without cover.

Preheat your oven at 220°C. Press gently your focaccia with the tip of your fingers to make little holes. Sprinkle with salt, rosemary, thyme… You can put garlic, olives…

Put in the oven for 20 min or until golden. Drizzle with virgin olive oil and serve warm with feta cheese, olives, dried tomatoes,… I personally love it on its own.

Absolutely delicious!


I’ve always been a bit passionate about making bread, brioches, pastries… Everything which includes a dough actually. The thing is, I’ve always been disappointed with the results I got. Most of the time my things didn’t raise properly, had a weird yeasty taste or were dry and not fluffy.

I always attributed my results to using dried yeast  and I really wanted to try fresh  yeast to see how different the  result would be. But where can I find that, I thought?…

I found my supermarket’s bread section sold it and when I went to see them they gave me this huge piece of yeast. It was very cheap for the quantity I had.

The texture of the yeast was very pleasant, soft and smooth. It was a big square of crumbly light brown yeast that you keep in the fridge. You can freeze it too, after you have crumbled it. I couldn’t wait to try using it and I quickly found a brioche recipe….

It needed quite a lot of time (4H30 to raise) but it tasted sooooooo good!!! It was fluffy, buttery, light, everything I was hoping for.

So if you always wanted to make your own brioche, I’d recommend using fresh yeast! I read that the dried yeast “rots” the dough and makes it taste horrible. There is the fast active yeast, which is very fine and the dried active yeast, which has much thicker particles that you’ve got to dilute in warm water or milk.

If you are allergic to yeast the best thing to do is to make sourdough, which is a mixture of water and flour, which does a reaction with the air and produces a natural yeast. I never tried it but I’m sure I’ll do it very soon.