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Looking to give your sweet tooth a rest but loathe to put down your mixer? Whip up a batch of savoury bakes with these comforting recipes, courtesy of Michael and Pippa James.
Unless you’re in possession of an exceptionally sweet tooth, we’d wager that you might have had your fill of sugary bakes over the past 18 months. With our zealous production of cinnamon buns, chocolate brownies and endless loaves of banana bread during successive lockdowns, we left no sugary mix unstirred in an effort to make mid-afternoon tea breaks more enjoyable.
Only now, we’re hankering for something different. Savoury goods that satisfy our craving for that fresh-from-the-oven smell, whether we’re in need of a quick weekday lunch or something a little fancier for all the picnics we’ve got lined up before summer draws to a close. Granted, we’ll always have room for a slice of cake, but we’re decidedly in the mood for a bake-a-thon involving creamy cheeses, seasonal veg and fresh herbs – especially when there’s a glut of seasonal produce to play with.
If you’re looking to step aside from the sugar, Michael and Pippa James have plenty of inspiration. In their new cookbook, All Day Baking: Savoury, Not Sweet, they offer a range of comforting, inventive ideas for savoury pies, sausage rolls, pasties and other pastry-based treats that could be enjoyed as a snack or transformed into a nourishing, any-time-of-day meal. And if you’ve grown weary of your own baking repertoire, we’ve three delicious recipes to share.
First up, Michael and Pippa’s celeriac kale and hazelnut muffins are a must for fans of the freshly baked fluffy treats. Roasting the celeriac brings a lovely natural sweetness to the mix – just be sure to bake a double batch, because they’re bound to get snaffled up fast.
The sweetcorn and sour cream loaf, meanwhile, is ideal as a fuss-free brunch dish. Inspired by the ingredients of a sweetcorn fritter, this gorgeous golden bake will make you want to dig our your chunky knits pronto.
Lastly, if you’ve a little more time on your hands to prepare dinner, the pumpkin and blue cheese galettes are a beautifully seasonal bake. If you cook the pastry and pumpkin ahead of time, assembling them after work is an absolute cinch – all that’s left to do is pour the wine…
Celeriac, kale and hazelnut muffins
Michael and Pippa say: “These muffins take me back to when I worked as a chef in a two- Michelin-star restaurant in London, circa 1998. We used to serve an appetiser of celeriac purée with crisp toasted hazelnuts. These rich, earthy flavours are such a winning combination. I’ve used wholemeal flour here, as I love the flavour of whole grains in my baking, but feel free to try different flours – khorasan or spelt are delicious and will work just as well. Use this recipe as a base and change out the flavours depending on what’s in season. Instead of celeriac, try roasting apple and parsnip together, or change it up completely with roasted parsnip, chicory and mustard with a touch of honey.”
- 300g celeriac
- 30g olive oil
- 25g curly kale
- 40g toasted hazelnuts
- 75g plain flour
- 75g wholemeal (wholewheat) flour
- 6g baking powder
- 3g fine salt
- 50g (1 medium) egg, at room temperature
- 150g milk kefir
- 100g unsalted butter, melted
- grated zest of 1 lemon
Roast the celeriac ahead of time so it has time to cool. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel the celeriac and roughly chop into 1cm dice. Toss in a roasting tray with 20g of the olive oil, then roast for 25 minutes, or until starting to colour. Set aside to cool completely.
To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 190°C and grease six holes of a standard muffin tin with a little butter (you can also use cupcake liners if you like).
Trim the kale and cut the hard stems out of the leaves, then roughly chop the leaves. Roughly chop the hazelnuts, reserving some whole for the topping. Combine the celeriac, kale and chopped hazelnuts in a bowl.
Put the flours, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine, removing any lumps in the flour. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the egg, milk kefir, melted butter, lemon zest and remaining 10g olive oil. Fold the flour mixture into the milk mixture until well combined. Add the celeriac mixture and stir with a spoon until evenly distributed through the batter.
Divide the mixture between the muffin holes and top each muffin with a few whole hazelnuts. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the tin and bake for a further 5–10 minutes until starting to colour on top. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack to cool.
Sweetcorn and sour cream loaf
Michael and Pippa say: “This makes an excellent snack or brunch dish served with avocado and sour cream. It’s based on all the things that make a great sweetcorn fritter, but in a loaf form. If you like, substitute the buttermilk for milk kefir or a 50:50 mix of milk and plain yoghurt.”
Makes 8–10 slices
- 3 corn cobs
- 20g unsalted butter, plus 110g unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
- 190g plain flour
- 150g polenta
- 18g baking powder
- 12g fine salt
- 250g buttermilk
- 120g sour cream
- 40g honey
- 180g (approx. 4 medium or 3 large) eggs, at room temperature
- grated zest and juice of 1 lime
- 2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 18g coriander leaves, chopped
- 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
- 30g parmesan, coarsely grated
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 10 × 25cm, 8cm deep loaf tin, leaving the paper overhanging the long sides by 2–3 cm.
Slice the kernels off the corn cobs. Melt the 20g butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Pan-fry two-thirds of the corn kernels for 5 minutes, or until they soften and have a little colour.
Add the crushed coriander seeds and fry for a further 1–2 minutes until fragrant, then set aside to cool.
Put the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine, removing any lumps. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, sour cream, honey, eggs, lime zest and juice until well combined. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until well combined with no lumps.
Add the fried corn, spring onion, chopped coriander and chilli and mix until just combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Combine the parmesan and remaining corn kernels in a small bowl and scatter evenly over the top of the loaf. Bake on the top oven shelf for 45 minutes, then reduce the oven to 160°C and turn the tin. Bake for a further 8–10 minutes until golden on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. When you touch the loaf, it should feel springy to touch. If it is not ready and getting too dark on top, turn your oven down a little sooner and cover the top of the loaf with aluminium foil to protect it from burning.
Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack. Serve while still warm. The loaf keeps for 3–4 days in an airtight container, or it can be sliced and frozen, then toasted or warmed in the oven for 6 minutes at 160°C.
Pumpkin and blue cheese galettes
Michael and Pippa say: “This is one of my favourite weeknight dinners. If you’re in the habit of a weekly meal preparation session, I recommend cooking the pumpkin and making the pastry ahead of time. Once those jobs are done, assembling the two galettes is quick, leaving you time for a cheeky pre-dinner drink while it bakes. Stilton is my preferred cheese for this galette – it’s so creamy and perfectly robust against the sweetness of the pumpkin, but use any cheese you like. You can make many other galettes based on the ideas here: roasted beetroot, goat’s cheese and hazelnut; carrots roasted in za’atar with pecorino; sweet potato, harissa, preserved lemon and labne. Let your imagination run wild.”
Makes 2; Serves 6
Make it gluten-free: use gluten-free flaky pastry
Make it vegan: use vegan flaky pastry, use vegan cheese
- 1 large butternut pumpkin squash (approx. 1.5 kg)
- 50g olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- fine salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 quantity wholemeal flaky shortcrust pastry (see below)
- egg wash
- 120g blue cheese
- 10g pepitas (pumpkin seeds), lightly toasted
- 10g sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
- 10g sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- 1 small handful herbs, such as parsley, chervil and thyme
- 1 small handful salad leaves
For the wholemeal flaky shortcrust pastry
- 225g unsalted butter, chilled
- 350g plain flour
- 6g fine salt
- 120g chilled water
- 225g unsalted butter, chilled
- 250g wholemeal (wholewheat) or spelt flour
- 100g plain flour
- 6g fine salt
- 140g chilled water
Whole rye variation
- 225g unsalted butter, chilled
- 180g rye flour or wholegrain rye flour
- 170g plain flour
- 6g fine salt
- 140g chilled water
Wholegrain flours absorb more liquid than plain. If you find the dough too dry, add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you have the correct consistency.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the unpeeled pumpkin in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Put the pumpkin halves in a roasting tin, cut side up, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover the tin with aluminium foil and bake for 1 hour, or until soft. Set aside to cool completely.
Put the pastry on a lightly floured kitchen bench and divide it into two equal pieces. Roll each piece into a disc 4mm thick. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Using a large dinner plate as a guide, cut out two rounds from the pastry 30–32 cm in diameter. Lightly score a circle 5cm in from the edge of the pastry. Refrigerate again for 30 minutes.
Mash the cooled roasted pumpkin into a rough purée, discarding the skin. Spoon half the purée over each pastry base and spread it out to meet the 5cm margin. Fold the margin of pastry in towards the centre, over the edge of the pumpkin, then crimp the pastry edges together to contain the filling. Lightly brush the exposed pastry border with egg wash.
Return the galettes to the fridge. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
To get the bottom of the pastries nicely browned and cooked through, put two baking trays in the oven to heat up, or use a pizza stone if you have one.
Slide the galettes on the baking paper onto the hot trays. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven to 180°C and turn and swap the trays. Bake for a further 20–25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes, then crumble the blue cheese and sprinkle the seeds over the pumpkin.
Finish with the herbs and salad leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.
Flaky shortcrust pastry
Michael and Pippa say: “This has been my go-to pastry for years. It’s perfect for lots of my favourite bakes, such as galettes, quiche or tops for pot pies. It is very easy to make and use, and it gives you a wonderfully light, flaky crust. To increase the versatility, I have included variations for wholemeal and whole rye. Try any grains you can get your hands on and celebrate the difference in flavours. If you want to add even more flavour, substitute the water with crème fraîche, sour cream or milk kefir. When using wholemeal or rye, the absorbency of the flour will differ, so check the dough as you mix and add more liquid if needed. I recommend making the plain dough first so you get to know how the dough should feel. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can change the flours and liquids used, knowing what you’re aiming for.”
Cut the butter into 1cm cubes and chill it in the freezer while you weigh up the rest of your ingredients.
Put the flour and salt in a mound on your kitchen bench and scatter the chilled butter cubes over the top. Use a rolling pin to roll the butter into the flour, gathering the flour back into the middle as you go with a dough scraper or spatula. Keep rolling until the mixture is crumbly with shards of butter the size of rolled oats still visible.
Make a well in the middle and add the chilled water. Use a dough scraper or knife to gently cut the flour into the water, gathering up any leaks as you do, until you have an even crumbly texture. Use your fingertips to gently push it all together into a rough dough with a slightly sticky texture. If it feels dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until there are no floury bits left.
Roll out or press the dough into a rectangle 2–3cm thick (exact dimensions are not important here). Fold one-third of the dough into the middle, then the other third over the top of that, as if folding a letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and roll it out again into a rectangle 2–3cm thick, then repeat the letter fold. Don’t worry about making these folds perfectly neat – this is just to finish bringing the dough together and layering the butter, which results in a lovely flakiness.
Rotate and roll out the dough once more into a rectangle 2–3 cm thick and do one last fold. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. The pastry will keep for 4–5 days in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.
All Day Baking: Savoury, Not Sweet by Michael and Pippa James (£25, Hardie Grant) is out now
Photography: Lisa Cohen
Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.