Butter and milk buns


There’s something special about a really good bun. Home made burgers are a wonderful thing, and I published my best-ever recipe in one of my cookery books. I think most people will now recognize that a bad burger patty is just not nice, but I think more and more people are coming to realize that a bad bun is just as bad.

This is a great, easy recipe for an enriched dough, made with butter and milk. It’s half way towards a brioche, which I also really like, but I feel as though this is a slightly more versatile bun, which also goes extremely well with the aubergine burger recipe in my vegetarian cookbook.

Butter and milk buns

Makes 12 large buns


550g strong white bread flour, plus extra for kneading.

1 tsp sea salt

2 heaped tsp quick action dried yeast (I find Doves Farm the best)

300ml full cream milk

50 butter, melted

2 egg yolks

You may wish to glaze the buns with 1 egg yolk and a sprinkling of sesame seed


1)   Place the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre.

2)   Then, put all the remaining wet ingredients into a jug and whisk together.

3)   Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix to form a sticky wet, dough.

4)   If using a stand mixer, knead for 10 minutes on a medium speed. If making the buns by hand, then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes until smooth and ever so slightly tacky to the touch. Try not to add too much extra flour.

5)   Place the dough into a large mixing bowl and cover well with cling film. I like to put a tea towel over the top, too. Leave for around 4 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

6)   Knead the dough again briefly now, knocking the air out of it. Divide it evenly into 12 pieces and form evenly shaped balls.  Place on a floured tray, cover with clingfilm again, and allow the buns to rise again. This will take around two hours.

7)   Preheat the oven to 230C or equivalent.

8)   Glaze the buns with egg wash and sprinkle over some seeds if you’re using them.

9)   Bake for 25-35 minutes until they feel light, but crusty. They will be a deep, glossy brown.

10)  Allow to cool on a wire rack and devour.

A video snapshot of Ballymaloe

I have wanted for some time now to show you some videos from my time at Ballymaloe Cookery School. It’s just taken me a while to get around to it – life has been so busy lately. But I wanted to post them before it was too late – it’s frightening that I have been home for four months now.

I hope these videos will give an insight into everyday life on the Ballymaloe Certificate Course, and show you some of my experiences first hand.

First of all, this is a video I made with the help of teacher Annette, when we prepared and cooked scallops in Week 4.

The way the course is structured involves spending the mornings in the kitchen, and then everyone cleans down and enjoys the food we’ve cooked for lunch in the dining rooms. Much time is spent preparing the raw ingredients before cooking recipes to hone our skills. The meat is on the bone, chickens are whole and fish are freshly caught, with the shellfish often still alive. This video was taken from one of my favourite days – lobster day.

Every morning students are in the kitchen (with the exception of wednesdays which are mostly theory-based days), everyone gathers around for an introductory talk with the teachers in the kitchen to run through the recipes of the day before starting. This is a typical morning in Kitchen One.

And this is the same, but in Kitchen Two (there are three kitchens in total).

And finally, at the end of the course, students are taken to Ballymaloe House for Afternoon Tea with Mrs Allen, who shares the Ballymaloe story with us over tea and delicious cakes.

I hope you enjoy these videos. Please feel free to share this page with anyone who may be interested in learning more about the course. Thank you.

Clementine, cardamom and almond cake


Seasonality is one of the most important elements of my cooking. I want the food  I eat to change with the seasons, and to enjoy ingredients at their very best.

That said, there are times when this doesn’t fit with life. Having been given a net of clementines by a relative recently, I wasn’t feeling that enthused to eat them. With a fridge groaning with fresh berries and cherries, all of which with a short shelf-life, we just didn’t get round to eating them. And so, I turned to one of my all-time favourite cake recipes to use them up – with a slight twist.

The addition of cardamom gives this cake a slightly different feel – a lean away from Europe. It makes a fantastic pudding, at any time of the year. Even in the summer months, it is fantastic served with some fresh raspberries, and maybe even some softly whipped cream and slithers of pistachio. It is equally lovely on it’s own with a cup of coffee.

Although it may seem a faff, I recommend you cooking and pureeing the clementines before you weigh them. 6-8 clementines should yield the quantity you require for the recipe. Any excess freezes well to use next time. I should also add that the tin used is a very useful one to have, if you don’t have one already. The ones I use are made by Silverwood.

 Clementine, cardamom and almond cake

Makes 16 slices


450g clementines, cooked and pureed and then weighed.

250g caster sugar

250g ground almonds

100g butter

3 large eggs, beaten

1 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed

Plus a few flaked almonds to top the cake


1)   Start with the clementines. Remove the calyx, and place the fruit into a large saucepan. Cover fully with cold water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for around two hours until the fruit is soft.

2)   Drain and allow to cool. Blitz in a food processor until it becomes a smooth puree.

3)   Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a 12 x 8 inch traybake tin with greaseproof paper and set aside.

4)   In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together well until fluffy.

5)   Gradually add the egg, a third of the mixture at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in the ground almonds.

6)   Finally, fold in the cooled clementine mixture and cardamom seeds.

7)   Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Top with flaked almonds if using and bake for 25-35 minutes until lightly browned and firm to the touch.

8)   Cool fully on a wire rack before slicing, as this cake will be soft.