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JR Ryall's blog

Chocolate or Coffee Éclairs

Éclairs are inexpensive to make, freeze well and can be sweet or savoury filled and iced with a myriad of exciting combinations. Experiment and taste, so start with coffee or chocolate. Drizzle the éclairs with contrasting icing – simple but delicious, it could then be feathered in a variety of pattern or personalised with a name or message.

Even sprinkles and hundreds and thousands add a fun element. Coarsely chopped nuts toasted or otherwise! A single chocolate button or dragée can give a contemporary look.

Almond Meringue with Kumquats

This break-all-the-rules meringue is one of our best and favourite puds. We fill it with a myrid of fruity fillings in season, strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, boysenberries, tayberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarine, mango and passionfruit, green gooseberry and elderflower, rhubarb and strawberry….

Christmas Baking at Ballymaloe

This winter we got off to an early start. Christmas baking is usually in full swing by the first week of December. However this year the smell of candied peel, dried fruit and local whiskey filled the kitchen during early November too. It was all hands on deck to make the hundreds of puddings, cakes and mince pies that help make Christmas at Ballymaloe extra special. Anne, Stephan, Breda and Rebecca have been working very hard to ensure all of the Christmas baking goes to plan.

Lemon Meringue Pie

First make the pastry.

Sieve the flour with the salt, cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with the fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop.

Almond Tart or Tartlets with Raspberries

Cream the butter well and then just stir in the sugar and ground almonds. (Don’t over beat or the oil will come out of the ground almonds as it cooks.)

Put a teaspoon of the mixture into 24 small patty tins or divide between 2 x 7 inch sandwich tins. Bake at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 20-30 minutes approx. or until golden brown, 10-12 minutes for tartlets or until golden brown.

The tarts or tartlets are too soft to turn out immediately so cool in tins for about 5 minutes before turning out.

Yoghurt and Cardamom Cream with Sugared Strawberries

Put the milk, sugar and cream into a stainless steel saucepan with the ground cardamom, stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and leave to sit to infuse while you dissolve the gelatine. Sponge the gelatine in a small bowl with 4 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons + 4 teaspoons) of cold water. Put the bowl into a saucepan of simmering water until the gelatine has melted and is completely clear. Add a little of the infused milk mixture and stir well and then mix this into the rest.

Green Gooseberries

Spring brought with it more fruit blossoms than any pastry chef could ever wish for. Anticipating the first Summer harvest always generates excitement in the Ballymaloe kitchen. Apart from a scant number of strawberries, the first substantial crop always comes from the green gooseberries bushes. The first small green gooseberries always have the most intense flavour. Biting into a raw berrie shocks the pallet into summer mode! Once picked the berries must be “topped and tailed”. A pleasant job for those that have time to sit in the sun.

Learn to Make Bread with JR

Step into the kitchen and roll up your sleeves, you can learn the secrets of Ballymaloe bread baking!

Bread baking takes place at 7am each morning. Join our pastry chefs JR and Anne as they bake the bread and scones for each day at Ballymaloe.

The bread baking is €25 per person and lasts approximately one hour. Guests experience the real working kitchen and can take their very own loaf of Irish soda bread home with them.

Fresh Strawberry Shortcake

Rub the butter into the flour and castor sugar as for shortcrust pastry. Gather the mixture together and knead lightly. Rest for a few minutes if you have time.

Roll out into 2 circles 7 inches (17.5cm) in diameter, 1/4 inch (7mm) thick. Bake in a preheated moderate oven 180°C/350°F/regulo 4, 15 minutes approx or until pale golden. Remove and cool on a rack. One circle may be marked with a knife into wedges while still warm, to facilitate cutting later.

Honey Comb

Home-made honeycomb is a real treat. Break into bite size pieces and dip in you favourite dark chocolate for the ultimate treat!

Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.

Place the sugar, glucose and honey in a heavy bottom saucepan with 100ml water.

Place the saucepan on a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.


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