I don’t know about you…

19 December 2011
Ben Pentreath

But I’ve been baking.  All those flipping “GET READY FOR CHRISTMAS NOW” Blogs to live up to.  Yikes. How do they do it?  Hang on… how do I do it?

Actually, I just thought I’d surprise everyone and bring some mince pies into the office when I get back to London tomorrow afternoon.  Only, I suppose having turned this selfless private gesture it into a “How the flip do i do it aren’t you jealous of my busy lifestyle” blog, it won’t be such a surprise after all. Hmm.

It’s been a manic day: my friend George and I have been getting a major planning application in today. And if I’m really honest – there’s not much which is nicer at the end of all that than emptying your brain of all thought and turning flour and butter into pastry and then into pies. Magic. If only building was quite so simple.

And quick. God, I love how quickly cooking happens.  It’s taking 5 years to build the part of the development that George and I, and our friend Johnny, have been designing down here in Dorset (and about another 30 years for it to get nice, lived in, rough around the edges). I’m just about to start work on a project in Scotland which is going to take sixty years (SIXTY YEARS) to finish. Strange to think I’ll be dead! So it’s quite nice to cook some mince pies in 15 minutes to perfection, 5 minutes to cool.

My preferred recipe of choice: Orlando Murrin from the BBC website. You can find it here, and when it says it’s unbelievably easy… yes, it’s flipping unbelievably easy.  Believe me. Impress your friends, please your granny. Make some mince pies.  Although I would recommend 15 minutes in the oven, not 20, unless you like black pies.

While we’re at it: I took this photo in the Sunday sunshine. I liked very much the way the light was falling on my dresser, and on the Wedgwood biscuitware terrine, with its handle in the shape of a perfect, crouching rabbit. Nice, hey?

Quite a different from freezing, drenched Dorset today. Time to bake.


8 comments on this post


Thank you so much for the very helpful and informative answer.


Ben, is there a special name for the marble-pattern brown and yellow pitcher on the far right of the last photo? Do you know where it was made? I love it but can’t find much about it online. (Agate mochaware?) Thank you!


Hmmmmm, Yes, I think that would be exactly what it is called. Agateware. I think this jug is probably 19th century and it’s made of two different coloured clays. I agree – hard to find on the internet and not something one sees very often… try popping into Divertimenti on Marylebone High Street, I have sometimes seen modern copies there…

The photos of your baking experience are really lovely, they are suffused with such a golden light and the whole scene looks idyllic. I also love the photo of your hutch and dishes in the sunlight. I am baking with my daughter tomorrow and I hope the cookies and my kitchen looks as charming as yours. Love your blog!


hehehehe. Katy you just made me chuckle ;). Obviously you were one of the wonderbloggers I’ve got in mind 😉 so that’s all very reassuring… xx

Nice job. I’m in complete denial of my house projects this month. I dream of an intern that could do everything I do: work, blog, make cookies, dinner, do the laundry, research mortar, call contractors, deal with my mom who calls a hundred times a day to say nothing. Or maybe just a clone.


I would much rather make and “bake” bricks from scratch than pies! But your mince pies look lovely.

I’d be curious to know what will take 60 years with the project in Scotland – if that is something you can write about in some future blog. All projects here are rush rush rush that must get done in 24 months that it would be nice to hear about something that needs(?)/takes a longer approach.


Dear Gretchen. That is a very nice idea of a post. And I will indeed write it up. Ben

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