Saturday, August 21, 2021

Weekend Cooking: Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya Hussain

I am very excited this week to be sharing a collaborative post I have done with BethFishReads. Recently we discovered that we both had acquired the latest cookbook from British cook Nadiya Hussain which is called Nadiya Bakes.

BethFishReads was the original, longstanding host of Weekend Cooking and I was honoured to take over the hosting duties just over a year. I am glad that I have managed to keep Weekend Cooking alive so far! I do still feel like I have had big shoes to fill.

I have shared the recipe for Chocolate Caramel Flan from this book previously. It is a recipe that wows everyone that eats it, and was our dessert for our family Christmas last year. I filled the middle of the flan with fresh berries which looked very festive!

I have the first half of the post here, and the second half can be found at BethFishReads blog here. My thoughts are in purple and hersare in black.

M: I first came across British cook Nadiya Hussain in the sixth season of baking Great British Bake Off. Since winning that show, she has gone on to have several TV shows. How familiar were you with Nadiya Hussain?

B: I first learned of Nadiya when I watched her in the Great British Bake Off. And because I (and the world) followed her journey under the tent, I feel like I know her. I haven’t seen very many of her television appearances here in the United States--only the ones that have been available through Netflix.

I have, however, followed her career from afar. She wrote several cookbooks before Nadiya Bakes, all of which I have checked out of the library. I’ve gone on to buy most of them to add to my permanent collection. Did you know she also wrote a memoir, a novel, and a children’s book? I haven’t read any of them, but I’ve added her memoir to my wish list.

M: Nadiya comes from a Bangladeshi background and she loves to mix up more traditional recipes with flavours from Bangladesh and the surrounding countries. She also loves exploring other cultures. Did you enjoy this aspect of the book?

B: I’ve always been a fan of well-done culinary mashups, and I think Nadiya is one of the best at this. For example, the way she added chiles to the cranberry brioche and her version of traditional Eastern European rugelach that incorporates harissa.

I am impressed with the variety of flavors she includes in this book, for example, let’s just take a few recipes from her “No-Bake Bakes” chapter: we have a Bengali-spiced blueberry cake, a tarragon flavored charlotte, chocolate rice cereal treats, a tea version of tiramisu, a vegan mousse, and a virgin mojito. So within just a few pages, we have traveled around the world and have had both fancy and casual treats.

M: You have made a couple of dishes from the book including Baked Ratatouille. How did you find that recipe? What other recipes are you thinking about trying?

One of my favorite things about this cookbook is learning new techniques that I can use in my everyday cooking and her Baked Ratatouille is an excellent example. First, let me explain how this recipe is different from traditional ratatouille, which is made almost like a stew, slowly simmering on the stove top; it’s brimming with late summer vegetables and is vegetarian.

Nadiya turns this classic dish into a more hearty meal by adding ground lamb, thinly slicing the vegetables (the expected tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini) and layering them in a baking dish, and then topping with fresh mozzarella. The ratatouille is then baked for an hour, and the results are wonderful.

The new trick I learned was to *bake* the ground meat with the tomato puree directly in the baking pan before adding the vegetables. Once the meat is cooked through, you layer on the other ingredients. This not only saved me from washing a saute pan but allowed the lamb to make a bottom “crust” for the dish. I’m going to experiment with this method to make other riffs on this dish (a lasagna-type bake? a layered enchilada?). I will make this dish again and again--we loved it, and the leftovers heated up beautifully.

M: I have a healthier version of lasagne from British chef Tom Kerridge on my blog that uses this technique!!

I, of course, have a million bread and sweet recipes marked to try: cinnamon swirl bread, berry hot cross buns, and pecan pie empanadas are just three. Among the savory bakes on my list are the chicken and brie pithivier, onion pretzels, and the peach-baked salmon.

B: Which recipe do you have on your want to try list that will push you to try something new (a new skill, a new ingredient …)

M: I have tried several recipes so far from this book, and in many ways they have all pushed me to try something new. The first recipe that I made was actually several months before I bought the book when I made the Chocolate Caramel Flan which I was a little intimidated by but it was such a fun bake. You start with a cake base, then pour a custard on top and when you take it out of the oven, the custard has formed a firm layer and the cake is at the top. This is what we had as our Christmas dessert last year, with the whole in the middle filled with lots of berries.

The recipe that I tried a few weeks ago was actually only one of the elements in a recipe. I have wanted to try making honeycomb for a long time. When someone makes it on shows like Masterchef everyone always talks about how tricky it is so I took the instructions on how to make honeycomb from the recipe called Honeycomb Rolls. The technique itself wasn’t too difficult, although I do need to have another go as mine was a bit bitter as I went a bit far with the caramel.

I also am keen to try the Chicken, Brie, Cranberry and Pink Peppercorn Pithivier. In the TV series she talks about how it is simple to make, but I think  it will take a bit of patience to make it, which isn’t always my strong point!

I probably shouldn’t start naming individual recipes as there are a lot that I want to try eventually. It's a sign of a good cookbook that it hasn't yet made it onto the shelf. I keep on looking through it thinking I want to make that and that and that!

Head over to BethFishReads to read the second part of our conversation

I thought I would share the recipe for Filo Cream Squares, which is Nadiya's version of a Znoud El Sit, a Middle Eastern dessert. I made this for my husband because he likes Lebanese food as his ex comes from this background and so he has eaten a lot of it over the years.

Filo Cream Parcels

For the cream filling:

1.2 litres double cream
120g ground rice or rice flour
100g caster sugar
1 orange, zest only (save the juice for the syrup)

For the filo casing:

270g pack of filo pastry
100g ghee or butter, melted
For the syrup:
200g caster sugar
juice of 1 orange, adding extra water to make up to 200ml
1 tsp orange blossom water
3 cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
A small pinch of saffron strands

For decoration:

50g pistachios, finely chopped

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus cooling and soaking. Cook time: 40 minutes.

Add the cream to a fairly deep saucepan on a high heat. As soon as it comes to the boil, turn down to a medium heat and keep stirring for about 10 minutes until it has reduced and thickened to make it richer.

Lower the heat, pour in your ground rice and whisk for 2–3 minutes until it really begins to thicken up. As soon as it starts to thicken and come away from the sides, take off the heat, add the sugar and orange zest and mix through. Pour onto a flat plate, smooth out and leave to cool as much as possible.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6 and have two large baking trays with sides at the ready.

Cut the pile of rectangular filo sheets down the middle into 14 squares. Lay them out and dollop an equal amount of the cooled cream mixture into the centre of each (if you want to be exact, it’s about 85g each).

Take a square, fold one side over, then the next, then the next and then the next, working your way round until you have encased the mound into a neat square, roughly 7cm. Repeat with the remaining squares.

Generously brush the base of the trays with the ghee, add the squares seam-side down and brush the tops with more ghee. Pop into the oven for 15–20 minutes to really crisp up the pastry.

Meanwhile, make the syrup by mixing the sugar, orange juice and water, orange blossom water, cardamom and saffron in a small pan. Give it a stir and, as soon as it comes to the boil, reduce the heat to low and leave for 10 minutes to thicken slightly.

As soon as the pastries are cooked and golden, pop them onto a serving dish and pour the syrup all over to soak into the filo. Leave to soak for 30 minutes.

These can be eaten as they are or are also delicious served chilled, which lets them firm up a little. Sprinkle on a tiny bit of pistachio just before serving.

Best eaten on the day they are made but will keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Weekly Meals

Saturday - Baked Ratatouille
Sunday - More  Baked Ratatouille
Monday - Chicken parmigiana with mash potato and vegies
Tuesday - Zucchini, tomato parmesan and chorizo zucchini
Wednesday - Spanish Tuna Pasta Bake
Thursday - Mexican Chicken and Rice
Friday - Takeaway


Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


  1. The interview is a great idea! I enjoyed reading both parts. I'd love a bite of the cake.

    best... mae at

    1. That was definitely a winning recipes mae.

  2. Thanks again, Marg, for suggesting this conversation! I grew up in an area with a large Lebanese population, so I think I'm going to have to try Nadiya's cream parcels.

    1. I enjoyed the conversation too, and I did enjoy the cream parcels too.

  3. I love the idea of baking ratatouille - I've gotten so lazy but I love that dish, so this is the perfect answer!

  4. Very interesting post and the cream parcels look delicious.

  5. What a cool collaborative post! I haven’t had chance to check out her cookbook yet but you ladies make it very appealing.

  6. I first came across Nadiya on Netflix Nadiya Cooks and fell in love with her. Then I was able to watch most of the Great British Bakeoff on our CBC channel. I found most of her recipes online as well. Love everything she makes.

    1. She's forged an incredible career from starting out on GBBO Jackie!

  7. I can't wait to read the two part conversation regarding Nadiya Bakes here and on BFR! Clever idea to share the conversation! She was a favorite when I was watching the series.

    1. I hope you enjoyed both parts of the conversation Melynda!

  8. Very fun collaboration. I'm off to read Part 2 now. I enjoyed her on TGBBO and then caught Nadiya Cooks on Netflix but I have not tried her cookbooks yet. That may have to change. ;-)

  9. I've seen a little of Nadiya on Netflix, and I'm very interested in her book. Thank you for sharing the thoughts of both of you about this cookbook.

    1. I can definitely see myself cooking out of this one a lot