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Food director Leah Hyslop browses the supermarket aisles with French baking star Richard Bertinet.

Richard Bertinet was born in France and trained as a baker from the age of 14. He lives in Bath, where he owns a cookery school, The Bertinet Kitchen, and two bakeries ( His latest book is Patisserie Maison (Ebury, £20).

This is a bit like dark brown sugar, but richer, thicker, very unrefined. In winter, I use it in a wonderful cider punch, with rum and apple.

The best butter for making croissants is Lurpak – it’s a very hard butter, so it doesn’t melt as quickly when you’re rolling it between the dough layers.


Nielsen Massey vanilla extract is the best for baking. I sometimes make my own extract by putting dried vanilla pods in a coffee grinder with a neutral alcohol like vodka, too.

When my wife and I started our cooking school in Bath, we didn’t have much money and we used to buy Sainsbury’s two-litre tin of olive oil (£6.50), because it was the cheapest available! It’s still very good value.

I love a roast on Sundays. Look out for cornfed chickens – they have a slightly yellow colour, and are so much more flavourful.

I use free-range eggs, usually Clarence Court. They have a proper golden yolk – it makes a real difference to the colour when you’re making pastry.

I love the spice mix ras el hanout. I mix it with honey and rub it over ham or chicken – it’s just fantastic.

Image: Shutterstock

Growing up, my mother always had a jar of prunes soaked in rum, which she used to make a Breton pud. I add them to coffee!

Levi Roots is a sweetheart. He once came to the baking school for a class and played his guitar! And it’s amazing what you can do with his sauce. It’s not just for barbecues: a little bit in a stew brings so much flavour.

We get through a lot of flour at my bakeries. My favourite is buckwheat – it has a delicious nutty and earthy flavour. Back in Brittany, we use it for a crepe called a galette. It’s also great for blinis.

Image: Shutterstock

We get through a lot of bacon – my 16-year-old son plays rugby and eats a lot! We have two TVs at home – the actual TV and the fridge, which he stands in front of and stares at, waiting for food to come to him! Oak-smoked is my favourite.

Golden Delicious apples make the best apple tarts. We use them a lot in France. They’re not too sweet and hold their shape very well.


About the author

Leah Hyslop
Leah is our lovely food director. You'll most likely find her scoffing cake in our test kitchen...