Two recipes from the new Violet Bakery book

This week I count us all very lucky to have two recipes from my very favourite baker, Claire Ptak of Violet Cakes. Claire bakes with flavours I wish I had imagined. Violet cakes are just the right side of sweet and are built around seasonal fruit and ingredients. I am lucky enough to live close enough to be able to visit Violet a lot.

Claire has just written a book – Love is a Pink Cake – which is a recipe book of two halves. One half is London and the baking Claire does here are at Violet and the other half is through the sunflared lens of northern California where Claire grew up and where I left a piece of my heart. It’s pretty much my dream book.

Claire has shared two recipes with us from the book – a  roulade which looks frankly insane and pine nut scones which sound about perfect. Claire recipes are 10/10. They always work perfectly (see my all-time fave cookie Claire’s egg yolk choc chip cookies) so even if you are not a pro baker you will come out with stuff that looks like it could sit on the Violet counter.

Thank you Claire for writing Love is a Pink Cake, it’s a keeper.

Raspberry loganberry roulade with marscapone

Roulades are retro. You don’t see them enough in the US but they have a pretty good stronghold in the UK. This version is light and soft, swirled with creamy mascarpone and punctuated with ripe tart summer raspberries and logan-berries. If you don’t have loganberries, substitute blackberries. All three components meld together in perfect berry harmony.

Serves 6–8
For the meringue:
4 egg whites
250g (11⁄4 cups) caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp cornflour

For the cream:
500g (2 cups) mascarpone
2 tsp caster sugar
For the fruit:
300g (2 cups) raspberries
300g (2 cups) loganberries
100g (1⁄2 cup) caster sugar
Splash of orange blossom water
Icing sugar, for rolling and dusting

Preheat the oven to 140°C fan/160°C/325°F/ gas mark 3. Grease and line a 20×30cm (8×12in) Swiss roll tin with baking paper, coming right up the sides.

Put the egg whites in a spotlessly clean mixing bowl, and whisk to soft peaks. Add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time, with the whisk running, until all the sugar is incorporated and you have soft, glossy peaks. Fold in the vanilla extract, vinegar and cornflour. Spread into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes until it has formed a crust on the surface.

While the meringue is baking, whip the mascarpone in a large bowl with the sugar and set aside. Then toss the berries in another bowl with the sugar and orange blossom water. Set aside as well.

Transfer the cooled meringue (crisp-side down) from the tin onto a work surface lined with a clean tea towel dusted with a good amount of icing sugar. Carefully peel off the baking paper and dust liberally with icing sugar. Use the tea towel to roll the meringue up into a scroll. This
is to create a ‘memory’ in the meringue to avoid unwanted cracks later.

Unroll the meringue and spread with the cream, leaving a small border around the edge. Top with the berries and roll tightly away from yourself. Carefully transfer to a serving platter (I like to use a tart tin base for this), seam-side down. Dust with a final layer of icing sugar and serve. This could also be chilled for a couple of hours before serving but will need another dusting of icing sugar before serving.


Basil, pine nut and parmesan scones

I love savoury scones. You can put just about any combination of cheese and herbs into a buttery scone and get great results. These are the perfect summer treat in a picnic. Frances and I have taken them as a snack to the Hackney Marshes not far from the bakery to forage wild blackberries. As with all my scones, you can make them and freeze them raw, then bake off as needed.

Makes 12 scones
400g (2¾ cups + 2 tbsp) plain flour, plus more for rolling
1 tbsp caster sugar
2½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
180g (¾ cup + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 egg
200g (¾ cup + 1 tbsp) sour cream
100g (3½oz) good fresh pesto (from a deli)
50g (1/3 cup) pine nuts
Freshly grated Parmesan
1 egg or egg yolk, beaten with a little water

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/ 400°F/gas mark 6. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and pepper into a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or a round-bladed knife (or use a food processor) until crumbly.

Whisk the egg, sour cream and pesto together and add to the mix and stir in just to combine. Pat the dough into a cube and place on a lightly floured surface.

Let the dough rest for 5 minutes then flatten it to about 2.5cm (1in) thick with a rolling pin. Scatter the pine nuts over and then fold it in half like you are closing a book so that you have a rectangle, then fold it in half again so that you have a small square. Rest for 7 minutes and then roll into a square about 5cm (2in) thick.

Use a sharp knife to cut the square into three long pieces. Cut each log into two and then each square into triangles. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes (at this point you can freeze the unbaked scones to bake another day).

Place the chilled scones on the lined baking sheet and brush with the egg and water mixture. Grate each scone with fresh Parmesan and bake for 25–30 minutes until golden. These are best eaten on the same day.


Posted: 12.07.23 5 Comments


Posted by camilla keeling at 6:29 on the 14.07.23

Do you cook the frozen uncooked scones straight from the freezer or thaw before baking? Sounds delicious…waiting for the basil to get bushy and thank goodness the pine nut price has fallen a bit!

Posted by Jeanette at 3:33 on the 14.07.23

I am definitely going to try those scones, they sound delicious. I don’t eat eggs but they can be replaced. And I’ll leave out the sugar – why sugar in savoury scones? I like the idea of folding the pine nuts into a layer in the middle rather than mixing them through the dough. It’s got me thinking of other ways to copy that idea. Thanks

Posted by Sarah at 3:07 on the 15.07.23

It too love a savoury scone and these sound sublime, and I also like the idea of doing away with the messy cutters and over-working the dough, though have concerns that the triangle corners may overcook. Defo leave out the sugar – don’t understand this British obsession with adding sugar to tomato sauces as the Italians (in my experience) never do. The fat content overall will be pretty high for a scone with virtually a 1:2 butter flour ratio enhanced further by the olive oil in the pesto. Could also try pre-toasting the pine nuts. Will report further …

Posted by Jean at 2:12 on the 19.07.23

What is a good vegetarian alternative to Parmesan?

Posted by Priscilla Van Veldhoven at 11:06 on the 20.07.23

If you freeze them should you completely de-frost them before baking?

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