Not so perfect pastry??


As you all know I'm not one for buying cakes, I'd rather make them or go without. So with Christmas fast approaching, I thought I really ought to make some mince pies. To kill two birds with one stone, dinner was to be tomato and mushroom quiche, and the rest of the pastry would make the mince pies. I have made pastry hundreds of times (if not thousands) and never had a problem but on Monday night, disaster was looming.

I put 1lb of flour, half plain wholemeal and half self raising, into the bowl with a pinch of salt and added 6oz of white flora and 2oz yellow flora to rub it into breadcrumbs, just as I always do. For some reason it just would not form breadcrumbs – instead it felt very greasy and was in big blobs!!

I normally then add 6 tablespoons of very cold water to form it into the dough ready for rolling. I only added 4 as it had already formed into a ball, but when I tried to roll it out it was an impossible task!! No matter how much I floured the marble work top, it just stuck and when I eventually had a piece big enough to line the quiche dish, I tried to pick it up on the rolling pin and it just fell apart!

After a huge amount of effort and a few choice words (unrepeatable here I'm afraid!), I managed to make the quiche and a dozen or so mince pies but I wasn't very hopeful for the end product. The quiche was suprisingly good but I didn't try a mince pie that night – still mindful of my waistline!!

When I arrived home from work on Tuesday evening Daniel's friend Phil was just tucking into a mince pie. "Are they OK?" I asked with a certain degree of trepidation!! Daniel laughed, "That's his second and he never eats mince pies!"

I guess that was testament enough and in truth the pastry was pretty good BUT I think it could also have been to do with the brandy I mixed into the mincemeat!!! – hic! Better not do that for Santa's one, don't want him crashing his sleigh!

I'm at work later on – my Fashion on Friday show today is Attitudes by Renee. She's a lovely lady and so thoughtful. In the summer I commented about how the bra she wears gives a lovely outline under her clothes. She asked for my bra size but I thought she would probably forget as she is such a busy lady. Last visit she brought me an early Christmas present… even my Mum commented about the 'uplift'!!

Sunday is my last day on air before Christmas, Beauty Day followed by a Gossip watch TSV at midnight, but I will post again next week.

Much love,
Julia x


  1. Pam Hackett December 17, 2010 at 5:23 pm -  Reply

    Enjoyed the story about the pastry – think we have all been there at one time or another – but how about sharing the kind of bra from Renee – any chance QVC will be offering this – I too need some help with “uplift”
    Merry Christmas to you and your family

  2. smh December 17, 2010 at 5:23 pm -  Reply

    Yes I agree – if you are wearing your new bra under that dress then you look wonderful. As another generously proportioned woman – will you share the brand of the bra?

  3. Chris Sharp December 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm -  Reply

    Julia you look fabulous. Love watching your shows. How are you managing to keep the weight off. Im struggling to lose at the mo. Are you able to say which diet you followed. Happy Christmas to you and your family x

  4. hannah gross December 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm -  Reply

    Dear Julia, I have successfully completed my NVQ level 2 in professional cookery which included pastry work. I think you need to have very cold hands to make pastry and the fat you use needs to be quite hard so as not to melt in the flour causing it to bind too quickly and be greasey. I think it a good idea to wash hands in cold water before making pastry and and using butter from the fridge. Howevern these are just tips and it sounds like your pastry turned out rather well anyway. All the best for christmas and the new year. Hannah xx

  5. Lindsey Sweet December 17, 2010 at 9:20 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    Merry Christmas to you & your family. Hope you enjoy the first christmas in your new home and have many more to come. Any clues for where I can buy a good fititng bra that is not too expensive, am currently in the market for something nice & pretty which is comftable but value for money? Love all the shows you do. Keep up the good work.
    Have a happy & healthy 2011.

  6. Sylvia December 18, 2010 at 2:08 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Just wanted to wish You and All your family A Very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. x

  7. Steven December 18, 2010 at 4:57 pm -  Reply

    Sounds like an eventful day baking Julia! Im sure they would have tasted lovely. You must be a keen baker. Are you cooking at Christmas or do you get the day off? I had my Christmas night out last night and it was really good. Little bit fragile this morning but fine now. I wont mention the football as our game was off – again and your team arent doing too well as I write this unfortunately.
    Hope the snow isnt too bad down Souf!
    Take care xxx

  8. Sharon Gasparutti December 18, 2010 at 5:42 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia, love the blog about the quiche and mince pies. Have to say it reminds me of time I made a christmas cake with ready made roll out icing and marzipan. Never again the amount of mess that it made, getting it stuck all over the kitchen surfaces that was the icing that ‘broke my back’. Now I make a traditional dundee cake and my late mother in law introduced me to a panatone and pandoro which is covered with icing sugar and very naughty, but nice to the waistline. But it is my favourite time of year and WeightWatchers will be calling me in the New Year which will be resumed and who knows maybe, just maybe I’ll drop a few dress sizes for the Spring.
    Well for now a very Merry Christmas to and Yours and all the QVC people and Best wishes for a happy and Peaceful New Year.

  9. Angie December 19, 2010 at 11:05 am -  Reply

    Perhaps your hands were just a bit too warm for pastry-making this time, or you may have had some residual beauty products on your hands/palms? Just a thought! Angie x

  10. pauline December 20, 2010 at 8:34 am -  Reply

    Merry Christmas, I hope you and all your family have a super time and a happy and healthy New Year. I have sent cards but with this weather nobody knows when or even if they’ll arrive. Thank you and QVC for keeping us laughing thoughout the last 12 months and heres to another.
    Love to you all

  11. barbara December 20, 2010 at 8:59 am -  Reply

    hi julia glad your mince pies turned out. mine never turn out that well. hope you and your family have the best christmas in your new house you deserve it after all your hard work. i am still doing christmas shopping. daughters keep throwing a spanner in the works so they can get sorted for christmas i have the grandchildren ( no hardship really as love having them ) will get there in the end. take care in this weather as itis very cold we have to have more snow later in the week. all the best and hope every thing you wish for the new year barbara xx

  12. Jess December 20, 2010 at 10:58 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    Merry Christmas to you and your family and all the very best for 2011.
    Jess xx

  13. Una December 20, 2010 at 11:09 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    I have to say, Im just so glad its not just me!!!!! Glad it was all ok in the end LOL.
    Hope you are well, and your lovely Mum manages to get to yours for xmas.
    My love and good wishes to you and yours.
    Have a lovely xmas day Julia
    Lots of love
    Una xxx
    P.s Annette, I hope you are able to enjoy your day too, just take it slowly, and get your lovely man to serve you for a change! Merry xmas to you, and you too Steve.

  14. Jeannette Brown December 20, 2010 at 2:30 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    I read with interest your blogg about mince pies I had a similar event. I was exteremly interested about the gift Renee got you (ie the bra) as I am a “big” girl and find it impossible to find decent uplift, with out looking like a matron. Funnly enough I am a senior nurse! I wonder if she would share her secret of where she obtained the bra. I have rellies in the USA so if it is from there maybe i could check it out.
    I really would love to know
    Have a very merry christmas and a healthy and Happy new year. dont lose any more wt or you will be too skinny.
    Kind regards
    Jeannette :)

  15. Mrs Angela Murray December 20, 2010 at 2:51 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family. You have been an amazin Presenter again this year with how you describe all the items always thinking of the customer when you describe things and again love the fact that you do actually tell us what size you are currently wearing and letting us know if we need to go up a size or down which is so helpful. Look forward to seeing you in 2011 still looking fantastic you really are one of the most stunnin presenters on QVC and I am not just saying that. Take Care
    Luv Angela & Samantha

  16. Ginny Booker December 20, 2010 at 5:33 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia, Never mind Jeans Gate , It looks like Bra Gate has begun! Do let me know what brand Renee brought you and I will look for it when I go over on my annual FIX for a few months in the spring. Renee is a fab lady and since she was a fit model she KNOWS what to buy!In my first letter to you I did tell you my favorite Bras from here in the UK! Funny how things go! Also while I am here talking to you I am in the market for black leather boots like the ones you have been wearing with your dresses on air. I have too many different ones that are flat like riding boots and one pair too high.I need a mid heel.We wear the same size and I have the high arch and the same leg issues from being a cheerleader for so many years in school.I thought about the Rockport boots which you have on line but I am not sure how they fit. When I go to the R&B store in Chester I usually have to get a 5 to get into them with the high arch! Emu and all other a 4. Enough about Bra, Boot and Jean gate! Have a lovely blessed holiday, Keep warm and well! Hope you got my funny moving card!Please tell me you will not have to repeat this move in a year! The Dyson show enlightened me on the rental!! Bless, XXOO Ginny, This awful cold weather is what I grew up with and it has found me! Help!! Looks like I will be making mince pies tomorrow! Hope it will be okay. I am always baking these great big American objects much to my Welsh family and friends amazement. My pans are big like everything is over there! The Aga works well and helps me a lot.Bless all of you guys at QVC. You all make each day brighter! xxoo

  17. Jill Steele December 20, 2010 at 6:48 pm -  Reply

    Hello Julia
    Your pastry story made me smile. Every Christmas I make 2 ‘special’ veggie rocket and gruyere quiches with parmesan pastry. I make one for the freezer and one for a party earlier in December. This year for some reason, the wretched pastry would not behave! It was difficult to roll out and then would not lift off the surface. In the end I had to put it piecemeal into the dishes to line them like a jigsaw puzzle! I was a bit worried about how it would taste but I got compliments at the party, so I got away with it.
    Well done on your weight loss, but don’t lose any more, you look lovely. I lost 5 stone last year and have managed to keep it off this year. I would like another stone off, but weight maintenance is quite a skill I think.
    Will wait to hear if you reveal the make of bra – I do need uplift after the weight loss !
    Have a lovely Christmas
    Jill x

  18. Martin forbes December 20, 2010 at 7:25 pm -  Reply

    Julia merry xmas and happy new year.
    Hope you got my card.

  19. Rachel Hunter December 21, 2010 at 12:48 am -  Reply

    Every year I watch the Delia Christmas series and every year I briefly consider making my own mincemeat and pies – maybe next year – although I am thinking of attempting her chocolate torte over the festivities and I am tackling a ham for the first time ever !!! (usually cheat and buy a cooked one !) Hope you are settled into your new home and looking forward to a wonderful family Christmas.
    I was surfing tonight and ended up (as I often do) on the American QVC website – and I see they had a silver diamonique exact replica of Diana / Kate’s beautiful sapphire and diamond engagement ring as a recent TSV – will we in the UK be getting the chance to buy this ring ? I loved the ring when Diana wore it – and thought it was the perfect gesture when William proposed to Kate with it.
    Best wishes for Christmas and 2011 x

  20. Annette Roberts December 21, 2010 at 10:33 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    So glad your pastry turned out all right in the end, maybe the room temperature was a little higher in your new house?!
    What a shame we both missed out at Waitrose… their adverts obviously worked well for them.
    Hope you received your card, I did put everybody on but got interrupted whilst writing (Chris hovering, waiting to go to the Post Office!) and I think I missed Poppy off…. if so I hope she enjoys her first Christmas in you new home.
    Still doing the exercises and the odd step without crutches and can now supervise a bit more in the kitchen, which is driving Chris mad LOL!
    Take care and have yourself a wonderful Christmas and New Year too!
    Lots of love
    Annette x
    Una, thank you, will certainly be waited on and making the most of it too, with a few drinks along the way LOL! Have yourself a Merry Christmas and fabulous 2011! x

  21. adrienne December 21, 2010 at 1:12 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia,just wishing you and your family a very happy christmas.I’m already looking forward to everything QVC brings us all next year.
    Oh and I have a request if thats ok? I was watching a recent diamonique show and wondered if QVC and kipling would get together and produce a silver monkey (like the one in the kipling logo on all fours with curled tail) with a small diamonique stone at the end of his tail. I love kipling and diamonique so much and would love to display my love of both around my neck! If anyone could help with this request I’m sure it would be you.Thanks Adrienne x

  22. steve December 21, 2010 at 7:35 pm -  Reply

    Hello Julia,
    They say cold hands are good for making pastry! They also say cold hands and warm heart, and they don’t come more warm hearted than you!! So you will need to go in the garden and freeze them off in the snow first lol.
    It has been a real pleasure keeping in touch over the last year, you have made me smile so many times and your still an inspiration to me, remembering back to the early days of my injury and watching you on the pilates shows for the very first time. I think we have both been on physical journey this year together! I have my goals set for next year! And thanks again for your support, talking of which lol. Up lift….please! You so don’t need it, you are nine lol
    I like to wish everyone who has written here a very merry Christmas and a healthy new year!
    I hope your get some well deserved time off with the family Julia and I hope all your Christmas wishes come true, Steve x

  23. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 12:25 am -  Reply

    Hello Pam
    You will be pleased to hear my pastry behaved for the latest batch of mince pies!
    The bra is from Victoria’s Secret – I think they are available in the UK now aren’t they??
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  24. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 12:27 am -  Reply

    Hello SMH
    As previously admitted the bra is from Victoria’s Secret – it’s my secret now too ……… just not so secret!!
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  25. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 12:31 am -  Reply

    Hello Chris
    Thanks for the lovely compliment! I haven’t been dieting for a while now but the Diet Chef really did start me off well regarding portion control! I also have got back in to exercising and for me that is the key to keeping my weight stable!
    There is a Diet Chef TSV on 3rd January if you are interested?
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  26. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 12:33 am -  Reply

    Hi Hannah
    Thanks for the professional tips – you know I think the white flora was too soft, so on my latest batch I popped it in the freezer for 15 mins prior to rubbing in and it worked a treat!
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  27. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 12:37 am -  Reply

    Hello Lindsey
    I am really looking forward to our Christmas in our ‘new home’ especially as we managed to fetch Mum despite the weather attempting to put a spanner in the works!!
    The bra Renee got for me is a Victoria’s Secret – great shape but not that ‘pretty’. I always used to wear Valisere but they are a bit pricey. Aren’t M & S supposed to be quite good?
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  28. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 12:40 am -  Reply

    Hi Sylvia
    And the same to you and yours. Hope 2011 is a good one for you
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  29. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 12:43 am -  Reply

    Hi Steven
    Hope you have recovered from your Christmas night out???? We have had a fair amount of snow but nothing like some parts of Scotland! Yes I will be cooking over Christmas but I’m sure I will have plenty of help with the veggies!
    Hoping our teams can pick up a few points over the festive season
    Merry christmas
    Julia x

  30. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 12:48 am -  Reply

    Hello Sharon
    Don’t mention marzipan and icing – I have 2 cakes to do tomorrow ( well later today actually, just noticed the time ) one for us and one for the gang at work, and it’s not my favourite job!
    Have tried panatonne but wasn’t that keen ….. your one sounds much nicer!
    Good luck with Weightwatchers in the New Year
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  31. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 12:51 am -  Reply

    Hi Angie
    Not beauty products as I always wash my hands before I start baking BUT I think it may have been the white flora that wasn’t hard enough as I mentioned in a previous reply!
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  32. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 12:53 am -  Reply

    Hello Pauline
    Thanks for sending us cards in – there has been a bit of a backlog this year because of the weather, but I have tried to send some out where addresses were supplied.
    Merry christmas
    Julia x

  33. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 12:57 am -  Reply

    Hello Barbara
    Hope you managed to get all your Christmas shopping done?? Did you get more snow? We were supposed to fetch my Mum fom Nottingham on Wednesday but the Midlands were badly hit that day – we fetched her yesterday instead so looking forward to pampering her a bit over Christmas.
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  34. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 12:59 am -  Reply

    Hello Jess
    Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and happy and healthy 2011
    Julia x

  35. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 1:03 am -  Reply

    Hello Una
    The batch I made today was much more manageable – just wondering where all the last lot went!!! We managed to get Mum despite the worst the weather could throw at us so looking forward to spending some time with her and spoiling her too.
    Hope you enjoy all your ‘goodies’ that your hubby got you.
    Merry Christmas and I hope 2011 is a better year for you
    Julia x

  36. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 1:11 am -  Reply

    Hi Jeanette
    I know what you mean about some larger bras looking a bit matronly – why do the manufacturers think a bra with support for a larger bust can’t be pretty? The bra Renee got me was Victoria’s Secret – I pretty sure you can get them in the UK now.
    I don’t plan on losing anymore weight – just keeping off what I have lost is challenging enough!!
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  37. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 1:15 am -  Reply

    Hello Angela and Samantha
    Thanks for all the lovely things you wrote and so pleased to hear that my ‘advice’ re sizes is helpful.
    I hope you ‘girls’ have a great Christmas and happy and healthy 2011
    Julia x

  38. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 1:20 am -  Reply

    Hi Ginny
    I did get the moving card – I hadn’t opened it as I thought it was a Christmas card so left it til a couple of weeks ago. Thankyou it made me smile and who knows where or when my next move will be ………. somewhere warm I think!
    I sent you a Christmas card – hope you got it?
    The Bra is from Victoria’s Secret – not so secret now heh?
    Hope the mince pies were good
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  39. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 1:51 am -  Reply

    Hi Jill
    When you get a moment I would love the recipe for the rocket and gruyere quiches with parmesan pastry – they sound delicious!
    Well done on your amazing weightloss and good luck shifting the other stone BUT definitely give yourself time off for good behaviour over Christmas!- I know I’m going to. Thanks for the compliment by the way. The bra as previously mentioned is from Victoria’s Secret – maybe I should get myself another one before they all sell out ( as per my Karen Millen jeans! )
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  40. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 1:53 am -  Reply

    Hi Martin
    Yes I did get your card – hope you got mine?
    Merry Christmas
    Julia ( and Dan and Sophie and Chris ) x

  41. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 1:57 am -  Reply

    Hello Rachel
    Good luck with the ham – I truly wouldn’t know where to start!!
    I’ve never made my own mincemeat from scratch but find the addition of a little brandy makes it nice and moist!
    With regard to the Diana / Kate ring I honestly don’t know what the jewellery buyers are planning BUT I would be very suprised if they didn’t do a replica a little nearer the wedding date.
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  42. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 2:05 am -  Reply

    Hi Annette
    So glad you seem to be in much better spirit now – I think it was just getting to you. At least you are a bit more mobile now.
    I didn’t have a card from you yet but then I haven’t been in since Sunday night so it may well have arrived this week. It will be something to look forward to when I’m in on the 29th.
    I am doing the whole of New Year, hence the lengthy break over Christmas. Poor old Sophie is doing Christmas early shift so has had to be up at 5a.m. the last few mornings and will again on Boxing Day!
    By the way Poppy LOVES the house, could be something to do with the underfloor heating methinks ….. maybe that was the problem with the pastry!!!!
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  43. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 2:08 am -  Reply

    Hi Adrienne
    I think that is a lovely idea. Obviously won’t have chance to mention it to the buyers now until January but will do then.
    Hope you enjoy everything QVC in 2011
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  44. julia roberts December 24, 2010 at 2:14 am -  Reply

    Hi Steve
    I also have enjoyed corresponding here over the last year – you have said some really kind and caring things and not just to me!
    Pilates is back on QVC 7th of January for anyone else who wants to ‘catch the bug’!
    Lucky me I have quite a lengthy break over Christmas so lots of time for relaxing with the people I love most in the world.
    Merry Christmas
    Julia x

  45. DP1ntl January 26, 2011 at 1:08 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Congratulations, you are looking really well. I love to tune in and watch you on air as you are an inspiration because you always look lovely and you are so cheerful and pleasant. You look really great with your weight loss and tone up and you seem much healthier. I am of a similar age to you, just a couple of years younger, and I remember watching you a couple of years ago when you were heavier and didn’t look so well, I recognised the way you looked and thought that perhaps you were feeling the same as me due to the horrible symptoms associated with menopause; bloating, insomnia, exhaustion, hot flushes etc. I have been through a period of feeling really quite unwell with it. I’ve been dieting for around 8 months and have discovered that sometimes when I eat too many carbs and sugar I tend to feel worse. Also, when my weight is lower I feel less ill and the hot flushes aren’t so bad. There are so many “menopausal health supplements” that it is confusing and can be very expensive. I wonder if you have any pearls of wisdom that you can share regarding your journey back to health.
    Kind regards

  46. Sandra May 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia, I have been able to watch you on QVC at last with moving and a lot of stress haven’t been able to watch QVC but noticed that you have lost an awful lot of weight. How have you done it can you share your secret please. I remember you saying that you did a lot of swimming a long time ago but that is not swimming that has lost your weight. Well done. A huge pat on the back as it has taken years off you. Hope you family like the new you.

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