Sticky Toffee Banana Cake


When I lived in Thailand I missed a few Christmases. It was sad and a little weird, but in hindsight, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. You learn a thing or two when you’re making Christmas dinner in a tropical country of 104-degrees. For one, I learned that no dinner is worth that amount of sweat ever again, and two, I learned that whether it be one mile or three-thousand miles, love still exists between people. We had a table of about 10 friends that year, and though we all felt the void of our parents, grandparents and cousins, we still found comfort in the presence of each other.

Anyway, before all that warm-hearted stuff, you have to actually cook the big meal. When you love someone (a.ka. Jay) who comes from another far away land other than your own, it takes a little collaboration to get the combination of traditions just right. Our result? We had sticky toffee pudding for dessert on the day and bubble and squeak on Boxing Day. That series of words had never left my mouth before so, it took Google and some serious Great British Bake Off watching to get to the bottom of it all.

Essentially, all of that was just my long way of telling you that this recipe was inspired by the sticky toffee pudding I made that year. It’s gooey, dense, and smells like caramel banana covered bliss. Just think that if banana bread and sticky toffee pudding had a baby, this would be it.


For the caramel top:

3/4 c. brown sugar

7 T. salted butter

2 ripe bananas

  1. Melt the butter and sugar together and pour into the bottom of a 9″ cake pan.
  2. Peel and slice the bananas in half so that you have two stubs, not two long slices. then, slice the banana halves into thin slices and place them in a fan shape in the caramel. Refer to the picture if you have no idea what I’m talking about.
  3. Set aside.

For the cake:

1 1/2 c. AP flour

1/2 c. almond flour

1/4 t. salt

1/2 c. soft butter

3/4 c. brown sugar

2 eggs

3 very ripe mashed bananas

1 t. almond extract (you can use vanilla if you don’t have this)

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients together and set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Then add the eggs, bananas, and extract until fully combined.
  3. Once combined, add the dry ingredients you had set aside just until the batter is moistened and without lumps.
  4. Pour it on top of the caramel and banana design you made beforehand and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake springs back up when you push the middle of it. **
  5. Once done, flip onto a cake plate after about 5 minutes.

**Depending on your pan depth, you may not need all of your batter. Your pan should be 3/4 of the way full with batter.



Bacon, Cheddar & Spinach Buttermilk Scones


If you’re American, these might resemble those amazing Red Lobster biscuits you’ve eaten that come with every meal. If you’re not American, just be glad that you’ve never been to a Red Lobster restaurant before. It’s where Lobster souls go to die. I always try to get inside the tiny mind of the lobsters and wonder if they just sit there all day thinking of ways to kill themselves. There are far better places to get your shellfish. For instance, the sea! So, skip the misery of it all and just stay home and make these instead. The secret is in the buttermilk. They take all of 5 minutes to whip up, too. You lose Red Lobster. You lose.



2 c. AP flour

1 t. sea salt

1 T. baking powder

1 t. sugar

6 T. cold butter

1 c. shredded sharp cheddar

4-5 strips of crispy bacon

1 large handful baby spinach

3/4 c. buttermilk

425 F / 220 C

  1. In a food processor combine flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and butter. Pulse until the mixture forms a coarse crumb texture.
  2. Add cheese and bacon. Pulse only a few times as to not break up the bacon too much.
  3. Then, add the buttermilk and pulse until a dough forms.
  4. Add the handful of spinach and very loosely pulse until JUST combined. You don’t want your scones to turn green.
  5. Dump onto a lightly floured surface and roll to about 3/4″ thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut as many as you can until you have to reroll the dough. Be careful to not overwork the dough when rerolling it or your scones will be tough. Be sure to work quickly. Once the buttermilk touches the baking powder, the rise action will begin.
  6. Place them on a baking sheet topping with a light sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top. Bake 15-20 minutes.

Poppy Sesame & Sea Salt Bagels w/ Roasted Red Pepper Cream Cheese

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There is nothing better than making your own bread. I taught a class of 6th graders last week and one of them brought in cupcakes for a project. They were supposed to demonstrate something that they knew they weren’t good at, and she chose baking. I asked if she made them from scratch and she said no. Fine. Then a girl from behind us said in disbelief and with a little bit of disgust, “Who makes things from scratch anymore?!”

Not fine.

How did we lose touch with something as basic as making our own food? The idea that some people would rather buy something off of a shelf without ever knowing where it came from is unthinkable to me. I know I know, there’s a balance. We can’t all be amish. We can all, however, be educated and aware that our food doesn’t have to share an ingredient with our yoga mat or whatever.

To me, bread is the ultimate celebration of slow food. It’s about making something from some things with time and love and appreciation. So today these bagels are my way of honoring the process and a reminder that convenience isn’t always an acceptable answer.

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BAGELS (makes 8 bagels)

2 c. whole wheat flour

1 1/2 c. white flour

2 t. salt

1 T. instant yeast

3 T. caster sugar

Egg wash (1 egg with 1 T. of water)

Toppings: Sesame seeds, sea salt, cheese, herbs, etc.

425 F / 220 C

  1. In a stand mixer or glass bowl, combine flours, salt, yeast, sugar and water making sure to put the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl before adding the water.
  2. Knead with the dough hook for about 6 minutes or 12 minutes by hand.
  3. Place in greased bowl covered with a bag or plastic wrap in a warm place and let rise for 2 hours or until double in size.
  4. Once risen, cut your dough into 10-12 pieces depending on how big you want your bagels to be. Roll them into smooth balls by pinching the sides and gathering them at the bottom of the ball.
  5. Once finished place your finger through the middle and roll the dough around both of your index fingers until you reach the size you want. NOTE: They will puff up in the second rise and boiling so, don’t underdo it!
  6. Cover with plastic again and let rise 20 minutes in a warm place.
  7. In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat your oven.
  8. Once the water is boiling, add the sugar and drop the bagels (4 or 5 at a time) into the pot and boil 90 seconds on each side turning with a slotted spoon. Place the boiled bagels on a pan lined with parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina.
  9. If you desire toppings: brush the top of the bagels with the egg wash and add what you’d like. In this case sea salt and seeds. If you don’t desire any toppings, just egg wash the bagels and bake them.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes and then flip and bake for 10 minutes again. Don’t worry, your toppings won’t fall off.


4 oz. cream cheese

1/2 roasted red pepper

  1. Pulse in a food processor the pepper and cream cheese until smooth.


Date & Walnut Cinnamon Rolls


Running this blog, there isn’t a day that goes by when the kitchen isn’t loaded with baked goods. That started out as a good thing, but now my cravings lean more towards the savory side rather than the sweet and I’m up to my eyes in cookies, brownies, pasta, pies and marshmallows. Finding someone to pawn it all off on is getting to be a challenge since they’re all on to me by now. Anyway, steady on. Here comes some rolls.

When it comes to bread, there’s nothing better than a warm stretchy, gooey, sweet roll. Then you add dates, nuts and cinnamon to the mix. You’re welcome. I turned to the bread god that is Paul Hollywood again for my brioche dough because who else?!


CINNAMON ROLLS: (from Paul Hollywood’s recipe)

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

7g salt

50g caster sugar

10g instant yeast

140ml warm full-fat milk

5 medium eggs (or 4 large)

250g unsalted butter, softened

  1. In a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, add the flour to the bowl. On one side, add the salt and sugar and the yeast to the other.
  2. Then, add the milk and eggs and mix until combined.
  3. Knead 6-8 minutes on medium speed or by hand for 10 until glossy and elastic.
  4. Add the butter and continue to knead for 4-5 minutes with the dough hook. At this point, the dough is barely able to be kneaded by hand.
  5. Once butter is fully incorporated, dump the dough into a plastic bowl, cover and chill overnight for at least 7 hours.
  6. Once the dough has chilled, roll the dough out into an 18 x 12″ rectangle. The dough should be about 1/4″ thick.
  7. Make the filling (below) and sprinkle it evenly over the top of the rectangle and then sprinkle the brown sugar over that.
  8. Roll the long side towards you into a tight spiral. Cut the ends off and begin slicing 1″ pieces. Place them in greased muffin tins and let proof for another 2-3 hours.
  9. Bake 20-30 minutes. They should be brown, but not burnt.


1 c. brown sugar

1 c. pitted dates

1 T. ground cinnamon

1/2 t. nutmeg

1/2 c. softened butter

1/2 c. chopped walnuts

1/2 c. brown sugar (SET ASIDE)

  1. In a food processor, pulse all of the ingredients but the remaining brown sugar together until combined.



Olive Oil Focaccia w/ Rosemary, Tomatoes and Garlic…and Soda


Yet another bread recipe pulled from my favorite book of bread! Except this time, it’s more like it came from it’s next best relative, Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day.

Today is cold and rainy and just, blah. I’ll happily admit that I dream of days like this because it’s the perfect excuse to just be one with the kitchen. Cookbook out, music on, oven heated and scale at the ready, I decided to make focaccia bread.


The beauty of artisan bread is that it’s often no-knead, and this book calls to the laziness in all of us. Even the most inexperienced baker can make this happen. Add some olive oil, herbs, tomatoes and garlic and you can impress the socks off anyone. The dough itself has a looser crumb with inconsistent air pockets, which is desirable in an artisan bread.

It’s another one of those recipes on a long long list of others that lets you make it anything you want it to be. In the spirit of being cozy indoors, I resorted to ingredients that are familiar, classic and easily enjoyed by every taste bud around.

DOUGH: (makes 2)

1 3/4 c. lukewarm water

1/8 c. olive oil

1/2 T. Yeast

3/4 T. Kosher salt

1 T. sugar

3 3/4 c. all-purpose flour


Halved grape tomatoes

Fresh rosemary

Minced garlic

Sea salt

Shredded parmesan

  1. The book uses a method they call dump and stir. To a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, add the water and yeast. Measure out the rest of the ingredients and add those in too. Mix on medium speed until fully combined.
  2. Cover the mixer bowl and let sit 2 hours. It won’t rise as much as other doughs, but should look activated.
  3. After the two hours, dump onto floured surface and rotate into a ball. Transfer to a floured pizza stone or baking sheet. Flatten the ball into a disc gently with your fingers about 1/2 inch thick. Let rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Using your fingers again, gently push the dough further out until it is half the original thickness. Scatter the toppings to your own taste over the top and let rest and rise for 20 minutes. During this time, preheat the oven.
  5. Bake for 15-25 minutes until golden brown. The time will depend on the thickness of your bread. Mine took 18 minutes total.



If you’re watching the clock while your bread rises like I was, you can make up a batch of this. It’s refreshing and a definite step away from the typical cola you might have in your fridge. It’s simply rosemary, honey, crushed ginger and soda water. The recipe is for one glass so, if you love it, increase the portions and make a pitcher.


1 sprig of rosemary

1 thumb size piece of ginger, crushed or pressed with your palm

1 star of anise

2 T. raw honey

2 T. hot water

soda water


  1. In the cup that you want to drink out of, combine everything but the soda and ice. Let the honey dissolve in the hot water.
  2. Add ice and soda water.
  3. Drink!


Winter Squash Pizza w/ Whole Wheat Crust


There’s been an absence of savory flavors around here and it’s about time I fix that before I one, go into a comatose or two, get diabetes. In an effort to avoid either situation, I made pizza. A healthy(ish) pizza to boot!

For Thanksgiving last year, I was still in Thailand. There wasn’t a turkey in sight at the store so, I settled for something a little less traditional, pumpkin lasagna. It was my way of bringing Fall to a tireless streak of tropical weather. And ya know what? It was delicious. I mentally filed my sauce recipe away for another day and today is the day. I made a few switcheroos this time around but it’s just as good.

The flavors here are classic cold weather flavors and since it’s winter and anything above 60 degrees is cold to my tropically adjusted body, this seemed ideal. In my post about soda bread, I mentioned a book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The crust used for this is from their master recipe. If you don’t own this book, own it. You won’t be sorry.


CRUST: (makes 2 pizzas)

1 1/5 c. warm water

3/4 T. active dry yeast

3 c. whole wheat flour

1/4 c. all purpose flour

3/4 T. salt

375 F / 190 C

  1. In mixer bowl or glass bowl pour in the water. Add the yeast and leave to activate while you measure the flour and salt.
  2. Measure out the dry ingredients and add to mixer bowl.
  3. With dough attachment or wooden spoon mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. Securely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 2-3 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when it deflates in on itself.
  5. On a lightly floured surface roll half of the dough into desired shape, about 1/8″ thick.
  6. Dust a pizza stone with some semolina flour or AP flour and arrange the dough on the stone. Pre-bake for 8 minutes.

SAUCE: (for 2 pizzas)

1 roasted acorn squash

1/2 c. whole cream (or more if you prefer)

1 1/2 t. salt

1 t. pepper

  1. Roast acorn squash in foil drizzled with olive oil at 350 F / 180 C for about 30 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, combine all ingredients.
  3. Set aside.

TOPPINGS: (for 2 pizzas)

1 raw beet, peeled

1 c. cubed cooked sausage (I used Al Fresco Red Pepper and Asiago)

2 1/2 c. fresh spinach

1/2 c. goats cheese

chili flakes

pine nuts


  1. On pre-baked crust, spread half the squash sauce on the crust and then top with half of the remaining toppings, except the chili flakes and pine nuts.
  2. Bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes at the same temperature of 350 F / 190 C.
  3. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle the chili flakes, pine nuts and additional salt and pepper over top.



Maple Pecan Butter Turtles w/ Homemade Nut Butter


Cancel your plans, call in sick, pray to the snow day gods, do whatever you have to do to stay home today and make these. They’re some seriously badass chocolates.

I had leftover pecans yesterday and decided to blitz up some butter from them. Then it occurred to me. I have never seen pecan butter sitting on the shelves with it’s older, more established nut brothers. I’ve seen it online and in gourmet food stores before but never have I seen it in an ordinary grocery store where most of us shop. What the heck?

A good raw/organic nut butter with no sugar or other preservatives added is worth the extra couple of bucks. Jif isn’t gonna cut it, folks. I remember when Justin’s nut butter showed up in the local grocery store here. I threw a small personal party in aisle 9 out of sheer joy that some real quality nut butter had been conveniently added to my life. Wahoo! Just to get you my level, Justin’s is an impressive company that was just a little Colorado startup not too long ago. Check them out here if you’ve never heard of them. Justin’s is doing great things with sustainable initiatives and a real team oriented business model. It’s the kind of company you want to contribute to. If none of that matters to you, just buy it based on how genius the packaging is. It is sheer simplicity in a world of clutter.


Anyway, the pecan butter. Making nut butter is easy if you have a higher powered food processor. You simply throw nuts in, add flavor if you want and process until the oils release from the nuts and form a smooth creamy butter. Voila!

After all this you’re probably thinking, this better be good. Well, it is. Damn good. Then you add chocolate to it and holy crap. Just one bite and you’ll be high on happiness. I promise. If you’re not, contact me so that I can forward the number of a support group to you that helps people rebuild their empty souls. Kidding. Kind of…


2 c. toasted raw organic pecans (toasted optional)

1 t. organic vanilla paste or extract

1 T. pure organic maple syrup

1/2 t. ground organic cinnamon

sea salt to taste

  1. (optional step) Toast the pecans on a baking sheet in the oven at 350° F /  180° C for 10 minutes. Let cool.
  2. In a food processor, add all of the ingredients. Process on high for 2-4 minutes depending on the power of your machine. You want it to be smooth and spreadable. Before it reaches this point it might form into a ‘doughy’ ball but will loosen up as the oils continue to release from the pecans.
  3. Salt to taste and store in airtight container.



1/2 c. milk chocolate chips

1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 – 1/2 c. vanilla maple pecan butter

sea salt

  1. Over a double boiler melt the chocolate.
  2. On a piece of wax paper, make teaspoon-size circles and spread them out slightly. Place a small dollop of pecan butter on top and top with more chocolate. Sprinkle top with sea salt.
  3. Let the chocolate set at room temperature.


Olive and Parmesan Soft Pretzels


This is one of those bread recipes that I hinted at in my soda bread post that involves a bit more time and effort. I had planned on doing these yesterday but ended up having one of those days where you just don’t give a damn. So, I’m doing it today instead, which by the way, I’m still not giving a whole lot of damn. Let this be further proof that making your own bread is worth it even on the lazier days.

There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t crave a pretzel. When I say pretzel, I do mean the Americanized version of it. Though German pretzels do have their place, today isn’t it. This recipe is a step up from the ones you dip in wannabe cheese at baseball games, though. They’re salty, nutty, rustic and a bit rough around the edges, which is right up my ally.

I used this basic pretzel recipe from ChowHound and added a few extra things to it in the recipe below. In total, this will take you a few hours. If you choose to add different flavors, add them AFTER the first rise! Just off the top of my head, you could add: fresh herbs, cheese, roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes, dried fruits, candied peels, seeds, nuts, chocolate, etc.


*I may have photographed my pretzel upside-down. Oops.


1 cup warm water

2 1/4 t. active dry yeast

Vegetable oil

2 3/4 c. bread flour

1 T. granulated sugar

1 t. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

6 c. water

1/4 c. baking soda

1/4 c. green olives, measure then finely chop

parmesan cheese for sprinkling

  1. Prep: Lightly grease a glass mixing bowl. Line 2 baking sheet with greased parchment paper and a layer of greased plastic wrap overtop.
  2. Add yeast and water to a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes until it becomes frothy.
  3. Meanwhile, combine your dry ingredients in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. When the yeast has proofed, add to the mixture on low power. Once combined, move to medium power and knead for about 8 minutes until your dough becomes shiny and smooth.
  4. Take dough out and shape into a ball. Roll it in your greased bowl so it is covered on all sides and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in warm place for 40 minutes to 1 hour. It should double in size.
  5. Once doubled in size, dump the finely chopped olives over top and punch down the dough. Gently squeeze the dough until the olives are evenly incorporated. Divide the dough into 16 evenly sized pieces.
  6. Roll each piece out to about 16 inches and form a pretzel twist (Bring two ends up and twist two times. Bring the twist over the middle of the piece and press lightly where they meet.) Pictures in link above.
  7. Place all 16 pretzels on the greased sheets you prepared earlier and let sit in warm spot for about 20 minutes. They should be bouncy and airy to the touch.
  8. Meanwhile, bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Once it reaches a boil, add the baking soda. The water will fizz a little bit. Preheat your oven to 425º F / 218º C for step 10.
  9. Place 2-3 pretzels in the pot and boil each side for one minute, 2 minutes total per pretzel. When done, remove the pretzel and move to a wire rack until finished.
  10. When each pretzel has bene boiled on both sides, place on baking sheets and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for 8-10 minutes, flipping them over halfway through. They should be brown with a chewy thick crust.
  11. Cool on wire rack until ready to eat.



Garlic, Onion & Thyme Soda Bread w/ Rosemary Olive Oil Goat Cheese Spread


I realized that I haven’t made any bread yet, which is unlike me because I love bread. I love eating it, I love dipping it, but more than anything, I love making it. There’s something very loving and ritualistic about baking bread that amuses me.

I’m aware that most people don’t actually want to spend half their day nurturing a blob of dough, which is why there are alternatives! Obviously, you can just buy some bloody bread and call it good, but that’s sissy talk. There’s an amazing book that I was given by someone very dear to me called, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It is the answer to all your bread prayers if you’re someone with little time to spare for baking. I can’t recommend this book enough. You get yeast-risen dough in half the time and only a fraction of the work. The other option is to make bread that doesn’t use yeast at all. Instead, it uses bicarbonate of soda. Also known as quick-bread, there is no wait time for this. Make it, shape it, bake it, eat it. Easy.


The bicarbonate of soda reacts with the acid in the buttermilk and pushes the dough up and out, making it rise. If I could compare it to anything, I’d say it has more of a biscuit-like texture happening inside. A delicious, crunchy, biscuity bread. Yes.

This recipe is a page out of Paul Hollywood’s book of expertise on all things bread. I imagine if there were a bread god, he’d be it. I’ve spiced his traditional recipe up with some herbs and cheese and to be honest, there’s hardly any left. Its almost shameful consdiering I made it only an hour ago and I’m the only one home. Carpe diem.


P. S. If your interest in bread stops here, well done, and enjoy your soda bread. If you’re looking for something more challenging, stick around for a fruity brioche bun in the near future.


SODA BREAD (base recipe by Paul Hollywood)

250g plain white flour

250g plain wholemeal flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 T. fresh chopped thyme

1 t. chopped garlic

1/2 of an onion, diced

About 400ml buttermilk

390° F / 200° C

  1. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients.
  2. Form a well in the middle of the mixture and pour in most of the buttermilk.
  3. With your hands, combine the ingredients into a uniform dough. If the mixture feels too dry, add more buttermilk.
  4. Once combined, dump the dough out onto a floured surface and gently bring it together into a circle, pushing it down to form a large disk (about 7-inches).
  5. Place on lightly floured baking stone and score it into quarters by cutting deep into the bread, but no all the way through. Dust with flour.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap it.



85 g. goat cheese

2 T. cream

1 T. olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 T. grated parmesan

1/4 t. salt

1 t. fresh rosemary, chopped finely

  1. Combine all ingredients by hand, in a mixer or food processor until smooth and creamy. Optional: Place in a dish and drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Top with a sprig of rosemary.


Baked Camembert & Sweet Onion Chutney


Happy New Year!

Let’s celebrate with cheese. I can almost hear the nods of approval. You can thank me later. With all this jetlag after flying back from Thailand and jelly arms from a tough workout yesterday, I’m keeping it simple again. Simple and delicious.


Baked camembert is a regular thing for me. It’s one of those lazy day snacks that you pop into the oven because it takes no effort all. Throw some cubes of bread on a plate for dipping and voilà. For those moments when ambition strikes, however rare they may be, it’s nice to liven up the party with this little number. Cue the chutney.


When I traveled to India and Nepal last year I ate my fair share of chutneys. So, I’d like to think I know a good chutney when I taste one. Plus, sweet and savory anything is the ultimate combo. There are about a million ways to use chutney, especially one as versatile as this. You can spice it up (or not) to your liking. Best of all, it will improve your sandwiches, tarts, eggs, toast, crackers, pies, basically everything. Make it. Make it now.

The recipes for both the cheese and chutney are below.


SWEET ONION CHUTNEY: (makes about 1 1/2 c.)

6 red onions

2 T. olive oil

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

1/4 c. red wine vinegar

1 bay leaf

  1. Put olive oil in a large pan on medium-low heat.
  2. Slice the onions into thin half-moon slices and put into the pan. Cook for 20 minutes or until soft.
  3. Once they’re soft, add the sugar, vinegar and bay leaf. Stir until completely mixed.
  4. Simmer for about 30 minutes until the mixture becomes sticky and thick, much like a jam.
  5. Sterilize a jar (clean and then heat in oven at 350F for 10 minutes), seal it, and store in a cool place. It should keep for about 4-5 months in the fridge in an air-tight container.



1 wheel of good quality camembert cheese

2 T. olive oil

1/4 t. Thyme (fresh or dried)

2 cloves of garlic

400° F / 205° C

  1. Chop garlic roughly.
  2. Slice a grid into the top of the cheese and wedge the garlic pieces into the cuts.
  3. Sprinkle thyme on top of the cheese and then drizzle oil.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes on a cookie sheet prepared with parchment paper or in the cheese’s original wooden box if possible. When finished the inside should ooze out as soon as you cut into it.