Self Isolation 101

The perks of working from home are plentiful and undocumented. Having enough days in a row to get through all the steps in David Lebovitz's croissant recipe is just one of them.


A whole duck that needs to be cooked twice, four-day chocolate cake, bread that takes 18 hours to rise, quince recipes more demanding than a newborn… In an attempt to sweeten your days in self isolation, we've compiled a collection of delicious, complicated recipes that take several days to complete (in ascending order.)


Nigella Lawson’s Roast Duck With Orange, Soy And Ginger (A FULL DAY)

Serves: 4-6



2 x 2kg (or 1.8kg without giblets) ducks

2 medium smooth-skinned oranges (skin only, finely pared with a vegetable peeler)

50 grams fresh root ginger (cut into coins)

4 star anise

500 millilitres cold water

5 x 15ml tablespoons soy sauce

2 x 15ml tablespoons honey


Take the ducks out of the fridge. Remove and discard the giblets, if the ducks have come with them (or for a cook's treat, fry the liver in butter and deglaze with brandy), then cut off and discard the parson's nose with a pair of scissors and remove any excess fat around the cavity. Leave the ducks to come to room temperature. Lightly prick the skin all over with a cocktail stick.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F. Once it's hot, pour water from a freshly boiled kettle into a deep roasting tin, to come about 1cm up the sides, and place a rack on top. Sit the ducks on it, breast-side up, and cook in the oven for 1½ hours. Then take the tin carefully out of the oven and, again, prick the ducks assiduously: you will see the fat bubbling and running out. Using oven gloves for ease, remove the ducks - pouring any liquid collected in the cavities into the tin below - to a couple of baking sheets, or similar, and leave to cool before transferring to the fridge (within 2 hours), where they can stay, preferably uncovered, for a day or two. Once it's cooled down a little, carefully pour the liquid from the roasting tin into a large, heatproof jug and leave to cool, then refrigerate. When the fat's cold and solidified, remove (discarding the water underneath) and store in the fridge to roast with at a later date.


About 2 hours before you want to roast your ducks, take them out of the fridge and sit them breast-side up, on top of a wire rack sitting over a deep roasting tin, to come to room temperature; they really mustn't have any chill about them. As soon as the ducks are out of the fridge, drop the finely pared orange peel into a small saucepan. Add the ginger, star anise and cold water and bring to the boil. Let it boil for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and leave to steep for 2-3 hours.


Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/425°F. Lightly price the duck skin all over with a cocktail stick, yet again, and if you're lucky you'll see a few fatty blisters, bubble-wrap style, probably on the underside: if you do, press on them to push out and remove little dots of fat; this is very satisfying work. I know it doesn't sound attractive in the context of cooking, but I have to say it: it is just like squeezing spots.


Transfer the ducks to the hot oven and roast for 50-60 minutes, turning the tin around halfway through, until the skin is crisp and bronzed. You will get some stippled dark brown patches - that's fine. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes.


Before you carve, finish the sauce. Remove and discard the orange peel, ginger and star anise. Add the soy sauce, put the pan back on the heat and bring to the boil, then switch off the heat and stir in the honey to dissolve it. Pour into a warmed gravy boat or jug.


Carve the breast thinly and remove the meat from the legs or leave them whole as wished, then arrange on a warmed plate, along with any crisp skin that's left on the bird. Spoon a little of the orange, soy and ginger sauce just over the meat. Serve absolutely immediately.


Romain’s Tonkotsu Ramen Broth (12 HOURS)



6 lbs pork bones with some meat on them.

4 oz white mushrooms sliced

1 onion peeled and halved



Place the pork bones in a large stock pot and cover with cold water.

Bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat. At this point a huge mess of scum will form.

Remove from heat. Dump the water and carefully rinse all the bones under cold running water.

Return the bones to the stock pot. Cover the bones with cold water and bring to a rolling boil.

Add the mushroom and onion and maintain a rolling boil for 12 hours, replenishing the water along the way. You want to keep the bones under water the whole time. It’s best to cover the pot for this or you’ll be adding water every 30 minutes.

After 12 hours, remove the stock from the heat and cool slightly. Remove the bones with a slotted spoon and strain the stock.

The stock will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or can be frozen at this point.


Nichola Ball’s 18 Hour Bread



3 cups of breadmaking flour

1.5 teaspoons salt

Quarter teaspoon dried yeast

1 5/8 cups of water


  1. Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Add water and stir enough to make a rough looking dough. Cover with cling wrap.
  2. Place in a warm place (21 degrees celsius) for anything between 12 – 18 hours.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured board and fold into itself and turn over – twice only!
  4. Return to bowl, cover and leave 15 minutes.
  5. Turn onto well-floured tea towel (on a board) shape quickly into a ball without handling too much, cove with another well floured tea towel and return to a warm place for a further 2 hours.
  6. After 1.5 hours of this second rising, heat oven to 200 degrees, and place a heavy casserole dish (that has a lid to fit it) in the oven to heat.
  7. Uncover bread dough and tip quic kly into casserole dish – give it a bit of a shake in the pot but don’t worry about shaping it. Replace lid, cook for 20-25 minutes. Remove lid, then cook for further 30 mins – or less!
  8. Turn onto wire rack and cool.



David Lebovit’s Whole Wheat Croissants (2 DAYS)


Makes 6 pastries



1 1/4 cups (175g) white flour, bread flour (preferably) or all-purpose flour

3/4 cup (105g) whole wheat flour (see Notes)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

2/3 cup (160ml) whole or lowfat milk very slightly warmed

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher or sea salt

5 1/2 ounces (160g) unsalted butter cold and cubed

1 egg

pinch of salt


Day 1

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the white and whole wheat flours. Prepare the dough by mixing the yeast with the milk and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, or stir it together in a large bowl. Stir in about one-third of the flour mixture and let the mixture stand until it starts to bubble, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Mix in the rest of the flour and the salt, and stir until all the ingredients are combined. Knead the dough on a lightly floured countertop a few times, just enough to bring it together into a cohesive ball, but do not overknead. 10-15 seconds should do it.
  3. Put the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight. (Or for at least 6 hours.)


Day 2

  1. Put the cold butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until there are no lumps in the butter, about 15 seconds. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, whack the butter with a rolling pin, turning it a few times, until it’s a cold paste.) Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and place the butter in the middle. Enclose the butter and shape it into a 4- by 3-inch (10 by 8cm) rectangle. Chill the butter for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough on a lightly floured countertop, so it forms a diamond shape with four flaps – two on top, two on the bottom, leaving the dough raised a bit in the center. (See the photo in the post.)
  3. Unwrap the chilled rectangle of butter and place it in the center. Fold the flaps over the butter, sealing the butter completely, and whack the dough with a rolling pin to flatten it out. Roll the dough into a 12- by 9-inch (30 by 22cm) rectangle.
  4. Lift up one-third of the left side of the dough and fold it over the center. Then lift the right side of the dough over the center, to create a rectangle. Take the rolling pin and press down on the dough two times, making an X across it. Mark the dough with one dimple with your finger to remind you that you’ve made one “turn”, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for 45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Do the next turn of the dough the same way, rolling and folding the dough again, making 2 dimples with your finger in the dough, then chill it for another 45 to 60 minutes.

(The resting period between steps #4 and #5 can be longer in case you have other things to do. Feel free to let it rest a couple of hours between each turn. It’ll be fine.)

  1. Do the last turn and folding of the dough and let it chill for an hour. (The dough can be chilled overnight at this point, or frozen.)
  2. To shape the croissants, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured countertop until it’s a 12- by 9-inch (30 by 22cm) rectangle. Trim the edges off with a sharp chef’s knife and cut the dough into 3 rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally, making 6 triangles (as shown in the post.)

Take one triangle and roll to lengthen it to 11 inches (28cm) long. Starting at the wide end, roll the croissant up toward the point, not too-tightly. Set it point-side-up on the baking sheet and roll the rest of the croissants the same way.

  1. Cover the baking sheet with a large plastic bag (such as a clean trash bag), close it, and let the croissants proof in a warm place until the croissants are nearly doubled and puffed up, which will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (If you wish, you can chill the rolled croissants overnight. Take them out of the refrigerator and let them proof in a warm place, as indicated.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC.) Mix the egg with a pinch of salt and brush each croissant with the glaze. Bake the croissants for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat of the oven to 350ºF, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned. Some butter may seep out during baking, which is normal.


George's Quince Paste (2 DAYS – FEELS LIKE WEEKS)

(adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s Cook's Companion)


8 quinces, washed and peeled

1 cup water

juice 1 lemon



Cut the quinces into chunks and put into a large saucepan with a tightfitting lid. Add water, lemon juice and a quarter of the cores and pips. Cover and cook over a medium heat until quinces are cooked through.


Pass through a food mill and weigh the puree. Mix the puree with three-quarters of its weight of sugar. Return to a wide based saucepan. The original recipe says to cook over a moderate heat, stirring every few minutes until the paste leaves the side of the pan. I suggest using a very low heat to avoid burning. By the time it's cooked, it should be a deep red. This will take 3-4 hours.


Let the mix cool a little and then pour into a lined tray. Dry the mixture in a warm place for several days or overnight in a gas oven with the pilot light on. Keep well wrapped in greaseproof paper and alfoil.


Bob Hart’s Labneh (2 DAYS)


Labneh – a silky yoghurt cheese you can create in your own kitchen – is a foundation of Lebanese cooking, and is also deliciously simple. And if you choose to make it from your own home-made yoghurt, as we suggest here, so much the better. Although a good, pot-set natural yoghurt works brilliantly. We were taught to make labneh, and the shanklish that follows, by the legendary Marwa Makool from Melbourne’s Oasis Bakery. – Bob Hart



1 litre whole milk (ewe’s milk, if possible)

2 tbs natural ewe’s milk yoghurt

sea salt

EV olive oil




In a saucepan, bring the milk gently to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to body warmth, or until you can easily tolerate it to the touch. Stir the yoghurt into half a cup of the warm milk, allowing it to dissolve fully, and then add to the rest of the milk and stir well. Cover the mixture and leave to stand in a warm place for 24 hours. Place a clean thin tea towel or – better still – muslin or layered cheesecloth in a large strainer.

Salt the yoghurt mixture to taste and pour into the strainer over a bowl.


Tie the material at the top to enclose the yoghurt mixture, but leave it in the strainer in a bowl and keep it in the fridge for 12 hours, or until the desired texture is achieved, discarding the liquid that drips into the bowl. (Alternatively, you can hang the wrapped yoghurt over a bowl, but few fridges will easily accommodate that technique. Also, remember that extra time means a firmer texture.)


To serve, spread the labneh in a bowl or on a plate, sprinkle with zaatar and drizzle with EV olive oil.


For a lively variation, once you have prepared your labneh, but before you serve it, try this: wearing a pair of disposable gloves, dip your fingers into olive oil and roll the labneh into small balls. Place these in a container with olive oil and add dried chilli flakes to the oil. These will keep in oil for up to three months, getting even better, day by day.

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