I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon assisting Nina Oortman, with one of her basic bread making classes, which 3 terrific women had signed up for. One, a PA in the City wants to get into private catering, another, a new mum,  wants to open a cafe and the third wanted to improve her skills. All three ladies went home with a huge amount of information,  newly acquired bread making skills and lots of freshly baked bread and rolls.


Nina, the bread and her students

Nina runs really small, relaxed classes and I can’t recommend them highly enough. She has had people come from as far as Oxford and Brighton proving that the classes are not limited to people who live locally! Take a look at her site to see what she offers and when – – the Party Breads class looks fantastic! After all the dough has been kneaded, proved and shaped, Nina breaks for a light lunch/tea offering cheese, some just made soda bread, jams and home made cakes. This time she also brought in a stack of her Rye Crackers (Party Breads) which are amazing. She suggested that I make something and bring it along to showcase my blog. As you can imagine, she did not have to ask twice!


I have had this recipe for Almondines for some time – it probably came from a magazine in a waiting room where I often scrawl down recipes, and yes, I do know that people rip out the recipe pages but I find that intensely irritating and rude, so I don’t. This recipe is for a lovely short biscuit base topped with honeyed sliced almonds and citrus zest. If any of you know the provenance of this recipe, please do leave me a comment.

Almondines are incredibly quick and easy to make, especially if you are using a food processor. I have also given instructions for making it without.


1. Pulse butter and dry ingredients until it looks like damp sand.
2. Add wet ingredients and process until t clumps together
3. Spread dough out in pan
4. Tamp down gently using your fingers or a glass


1. Dough spread out
2. After first bake
3. Heating and mixing the topping


1. Topping spread out
2. After baking
3. Making 4 long equal slices
4. Making 4 more long equal  slices



  • Servings: 16 squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


For the base:

  • 120g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds/almond meal/almond flour
  • 3 Tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 90g cold, cubed butter
  • 1 egg yolk (large)
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp water
  • ½ tsp vanilla paste or extract

For the topping:

  • 60g butter
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • Zest of one lemon or orange
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g flaked almonds


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F. Line an 8 inch square tin with with non-stick foil or grease proof paper. See No 18 on my tip and tricks page for an easy way to do this.

Food Processor:  

  1. Place the the flour, almond meal,  sugar and salt in the processor bowl and pulse a few time to mix.
  2. Add the cubed butter and process until mixture resembles damp sand.
  3. Tip the yolk, 2 Tbsp of water and the vanilla down the chute and pulse until the dough come together when pinched. You may have to scrape the sides down once. Add a little extra water if necessary.

By Hand:

  1. Place the the flour, almond meal,  sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk well to mix.
  2. Cut in the butter until the mix resembles damp sand.
  3. Whisk the egg yolk , vanilla and 2 Tbsp of water together and add to flour mix.
  4. Using your hand, mix until dough holds together when pinched. Add a little extra water if necessary


  1. Press the crumbly dough into your prepared pan. I wet the bottom of a flat bottomed glass and tamped down gently until the base was covered.
  2. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until lightly coloured.
  3. In the meantime, place the butter in a small pan to melt over medium-low heat.
  4. Add the zest, honey, salt and vanilla and stir until the honey has melted and everything is thoroughly mixed.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond flakes.
  6. Tip out the topping onto the warm base, spreading out as evenly as possible. There will be a bit of liquid but don’t worry – just spread it as evenly as you can.
  7. Bake for another 10-12 minutes until the  almonds are golden and before the edges catch  (ahem)!
  8. Let cool in the pan for 10 or 15 minutes, then using the foil/baking parchment as handles, remove from pan and lay on a wire rack to finish cooling.

I find that the best way to slice these sort of bakes is as follows:

  1. Using a long sharp knife slice the bake in half.
  2. Then  slice each half into two equal slices so you now have 4 long equal slices.
  3. Spin the paper a quarter turn and do the same again – slice in half and each half in two.  You should have 16 fairly equal squares.

Store in an air-tight tin and eat within two or three days if they last that long!

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bread Angel – Nina Oortman

One of the lovely things about getting involved with the local food community is becoming acquainted with the many talented people who are on my doorstep. I finally met the wonderful baker, Nina Oortman  when she was trialling a stand  at our local Sunday Artisan Food Market. Shortly after, I received an email inviting me, Pauline Milligan who is the director of the Streatham Food Festival and Anna Nolan; both huge champions of Streatham;  to a trial run of Nina’s bread making class. And last week, we spent a very enjoyable and productive 4 hours learning how to REALLY make bread, under Nina’s expert guidance. Over the course of the session, I found out that Nina worked as an architect before leaving the practice to pursue her passion for baking.

Bread Angel Nina Oortman

Armed  with our pinnies, we watched Nina demonstrating before following suit, using silky organic flours from Shipton Mill and fresh yeast. I picked up lots of tips along the way, my favourite being that liquid is more accurate when it is weighed so 100ml of water is the same as 100g. I have included that little gem on my Tips and Tricks page. We stopped for a delicious lunch of nibbles, homemade soup, bread and cheese before popping in the last of our proved dough into the ovens to bake. By the end of the session we had learned how to knead, shape and prove yeasted dough and had produced a white loaf, bread rolls, a soda bread and a rye bread. And we got to take it all home together with the recipes and instructions.  Nina will be teaching 4 classes in January and February, two on  Friday mornings and two on Saturday afternoons. If you have never made bread before or just dabbled in it, this is an excellent class to really learn what the dough should feel and look like. I have made bread and rolls before but I learned so much from Nina. May I suggest that a voucher for one of her classes would make a marvellous Christmas gift? And you would be supporting a small local business.

Nina Oortman - Bread Angel

Click the link to be taken to  Nina’s  Bread Angel profile and site  where you can find out more about Nina, book classes y and also purchase gift vouchers. The excerpt below is from her site:

“In this 4-hour class you will learn how to bake a basic yeasted loaf, shape and bake bread rolls, learn about 100% rye bread and bake a quick soda bread. This is a hands-on class suitable for the bread baking novice. I will explain about bread ingredients, how easily you can fit bread baking into your life and why your own homemade bread is so good for you. You will get to take all the bread you bake home with you, including recipes and notes so you can easily replicate them in your own home kitchen. A light lunch or afternoon tea and some home baked sweet treats along with tea and coffee are included. Classes are small in order for you to get maximum individual attention. Be prepared to get sticky and floury – please wear appropriate clothing and bring along an apron if you have one.

November 2014

Nina has moved to Malvern, Worcestershire (which is very sad for me but lovely for her!) where she is working in a bakery but also teaching bread making. Her gorgeous new web site is where you can find information on her, book her classes, find out what to bring and how to find her.