Behind the scenes at a Whole Foods Market & the best brownies I’ve ever made!

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a Whole Foods Market. From freshly ground coffee, an array of savoury artisan breads and delicious sweet treats the bakeries have all the goods to make anyone’s day delightful and a few sunny weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting all the bakers in the High Street Kensington Branch to gain an insight into their world.

Whole Foods Market is well known for their organic approach in baking, only using eggs that are free-range and non GMO fed and only using flour that is unbleached and unbromated. You also won’t catch any artificial colours, flavours, sweetness or preservatives in any of the food they sell which means when you walk into theirs stores and smell the amazing aroma of freshly baked breads and cakes, you know that you’ll have a hard task finding anything better.

So what happened during my visit and where do the best brownies ever come into it? Take a read on and let’s find out.

08:30 – The introduction

I arrived at 8:30am sharp to the welcome of Madga, one of the Whole Foods Market bakers. As she stood equipped with chef whites and a net cap, it was clear the outfit I’d selected for the tour was not worth the anguish the night previous but needs must for food safety and as I adorned the chef whites and net cap i suddenly felt like part of the team. So with that off we went on the Whole Foods Market tour…first stop The Bakery.

08:45 – The Bakery

The bakery was possibly the most impressive part of my visit with their sour dough line up a particular highlight – I wish I could have bottled that smell and taken it with me, but instead I settled for tasting as many of the different flavours as I could.  That smell wouldnt have been possible without their starter who I was delighted to be introduced to. Aptly name “The Mother” she took pride of place in their tiny kitchen bubbling away waiting for her next feed. I’ve always been fascinated by bread and used to wonder why on earth people named their sour dough starters, but to see how alive “The Mother” was made it so clear that they deserve a title and she in particular deserves that name.

Their Kensington branch is of few stores who bake their bread daily, using the freshest ingredients including Shipton Mill Organic Flour. Whatever bread you’re after, you’ll find as they offer so much choice from sourdough, focaccia, bagels, ciabatta and crusty French sticks which I was able to see being both shaped and baked before being whisked away and taken up to the Patisserie kitchen.

09:15 – The Patisserie

Eventually Madga managed to get me out of the bakery and upstairs to the cool patisserie kitchen which was a warm welcome on that hot morning. I was visiting on a particularly quiet day but nevertheless the bakers were busy in their day getting all the delicious cakes and tarts ready for the shop floor. In one corner a baker was busy decorating the chocolate orange….while in the other corner another was bringing out freshly baked croissants and lining them onto trollies.

I was fascinated how much they had got prepared that early in the morning but Madga confirmed that they had lots of mix ready made in large batches which saves time. She took me into their cold store to show me and I was distracted by their mince pie filling.

“Have you already got mince pies in preparation” I asked

“Yes of course Christmas is in full swing,  we have to start preparing our flavours at least a year in advance” she replied ”

I was in awe of their organisation and loved watching all the bakers bustling in and out of the cold store, grabbing things here and there but smiling all the way. It was so clear they loved their jobs, and I’m not surprised.

As we left the cold store I was distracted again by their huge ovens to the left of me.

“Ohhh what’s in there?” I asked as I peeked into the window of their giant oven.

“Ahh those are our brownies” Magda replied, as one of the bakers opened the door to bring them out releasing what I can only describe as the smell of heaven.

“Oh wow okay so I’m going to need the recipe for these please” I begged

Madga laughed “Of course” as if that wasn’t the first time she’d been asked that question


09:45 – Shopping

After the tour and with my mind set on getting home and baking those brownies ASAP, it was time to buy some ingredients using some of Whole Foods finest.

First stop was of course Shipton Mill Organic Flour and I wanted to get as big a bag as I could carry on the train so opted for the 2.5k packet.

If I was making brownies I obviously needed chocolate so second stop was their chocolate aisle on the hunt for some unique and organic chocolate to use. I was determined to use something I’d never used or even seen before and found BlanxArt. This was the perfect choice as it was one of the creamiest dark chocolates I’ve ever tasted.

I also wanted to try some different sugar to the standard caster sugar which has been a staple in all my baking for all these years. I was keen to try something new and also as organic as I could find so opted for Equal Exchange Organic Raw Cane Sugar.

I could have easily spent longer browsing their aisles and filling my trolley with every wild and wonderful new ingredient I stumbled upon but my strength can only go so far so I had to stop there…next time I’ll be bring reinforcements.

For all ingredients visit your local Whole Foods Market of visit


Makes|16 Brownies

Preparation time| 30 minutes

Baking time| 45 minutes

550g sugar

350g unsalted butter

6 eggs

400g good quality dark chocolate

350g flour

190g chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 3 and grease a 20cm x 20cm brownie tin.

In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the 400g chocolate until smooth.

Melt the butter slowly in a pan then pour over the smooth chocolate and whisk the two together until silky.

Leave the chocolate/butter mixture to cool for 5 minutes.

In another large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar together until combined, but try not to overwhisk as you don’t want to add in too much air.

Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the eggs and sugar mixture and combine well

Sift the flour into the mixture and add the chocolate chips then carefully fold it all together using a large metal spoon.

Pour the batter into your prepared brownie tin and bake in the centre of your oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour checking.

You want the centre to still be a little wobbly when you remove the brownie from the oven as this is what ensures you get the gooey brownies we all dream of.

Leave them to cool on a wire rack for a few hours or overnight (covered with a tea towel) then cut them into 16 equal squares and dust with some icing sugar.

Serve with strawberries and cream for the ultimate brownie dessert.

Alternative additions

300g chopped hazlenuts

300g chopped macadamia nuts

550g white chocolate chips

For more information on Whole Foods Market UK and any of the ingredients I’ve used for The Brownies please visit or pop into one of their many stores around the UK.





Chocolate Cherry Brownies


I hope you like your brownies gooey as this recipe gives you exactly that. Those of you on a health kick should glance quickly past the butter, chocolate and sugar quantities as they aren’t recommended for the faint hearted. Then again, the recipe does include cherries so that’s one of your five-a-day, right?

I’m forever searching for the perfect brownie. The battle between too cakey and too wet has always been a struggle to overcome, and while these brownies are perhaps a tad on the gooey side, their chewy edges give you the best of both worlds.

My favourite thing about these though, is the cherries. Not only do they add bite, but they give the tastebuds a break from the dense chocolate flavour in such a complimentary way. Next time I’ll be doing these with fresh cherries for a sour/sweet kick. If you’re a fan of texture, add chopped macadamia nuts or hazelnuts alongside the cherries for extra crunch.




Prep time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 25 minutes

Serves 12

200g dark chocolate (roughly chopped)
250g unsalted butter
360g caster sugar
60g plain flour
80g coco powder
3 eggs
100g glacé cherries or fresh cherries (with stones removed)

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Line a 20cm by 20cm non-stick baking tin.

Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and leave until melted and silky.

Remove from the heat and let it cool.

In a separate bowl mix the sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy, then slowly drizzle in the butter/chocolate goodness until well incorporated.

Chop 70g of the cherries into halves and combine the flour, coco powder and baking powder. Add the cherries to the flour mixture and mix well with the wet ingredients until thick and smooth.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin and press into the sides. With the remaining whole cherries carefully place them equal distance apart in 3 lines (Use them to measure how big you want to cut your squares).

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until flaky on the top but still soft in the centre. When pressed lightly it should bounce so be careful not to overcook otherwise the edges will become hard and crunchy.

Leave to cool completely then cut and enjoy.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Brownies

Peanut Butter Brownies 4

Much like marmite I find peanut butter is very much a “you either love it or you hate it” kind of spread. Of the lovers, some like it crunchy, others prefer it smooth, but whatever the texture preference, all will be glad to hear that today is National Peanut Butter Lovers Day.

In celebration, many may simply run to the toaster to make warm peanut butter on toast, but with baking what I’m known for, it was only right that I used peanut butter in some form of kitchen creation.

I’m no stranger to baking with peanut butter as you will see from some of my previous posts, but there is one thing missing and that’s the chocolate brownie. As soon as I got the idea in my head it wasn’t long before the warm chocolatey, peanut buttery slab of heaven was ready to be tasted. Needless to say it didn’t last the hour and 30 minutes it took to make: I never knew I was friends so many peanut butter lovers. It seems I chose well!

Peanut Butter Brownies 2

Peanut Butter Brownies

Makes 16 squares

Preparation time | 30 minutes

Baking time | 1 hour

Brownie batter

115g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan

160g good-quality dark chocolate chocolate, coarsely chopped

85g all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

150g granulated sugar

3 large free-range eggs

2 tsp pure vanilla extract


Peanut filling

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

65g confectioners’ sugar

100g smooth peanut butter

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line a greased 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over sides.

To create the batter, put butter and chocolate in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted.

While this cools whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl, and set aside.

Then add the sugar and eggs into the cooled chocolate mixture, whisking to combine. (remember to ensure the chocolate is cool so the eggs don’t begin to cook). Stir in the vanilla then add the flour mixture folding until well incorporated.

For the peanut filling, stir together butter, icing sugar, peanut butter and vanilla into a bowl until smooth.

Pour 1/3 of the chocolate batter into the prepared pan spreading evenly into the corners. Place 4-6 spoonfuls about 1 inch apart on top of the batter. Follow this process with the remaining chocolate batter and place the rest of the peanut filling on top.

With a butter knife, gently swirl the filling into batter, starting from the top corner and running the knife lengthways in an ‘S’ shape. Bake for about 45 minutes then let it cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Lift out brownies and let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.