Pomegranate Parfaits with Popped Amaranth, Pistachios & Almond Cream

Parfait Bowl

Today we’re talking breakfast (again). Breakfast and whole-grains to be more precise: the subject of a beautiful new book which hasn’t left my kitchen counter since it arrived last week.

Wholegrain Mornings is, at face value, a book of breakfast recipes from food blogger, Megan Gordon. But it’s also so much more than that. Like her blog, A Sweet Spoonful, the book is understated yet compelling, an honest insight into Megan’s life: from the way she thinks her way around a kitchen to running a granola business to a long-distance love story with a wonderfully romantic ending. Continue reading

Fig & Almond Crumble Cake

Fig Crumble Cake

Despite being a classic dish from childhoods across generations and around the country, crumble isn’t something I’m tempted to make that often.

Growing up with an apple-farmer for a granny, crumble was (unsurprisingly) always made using fruit from her farm and there’s something about the texture of stewed apple that I’m just not that keen on. Whenever a crumble was served, I’d accept the portion offer, add extra ice cream then proceed to eat my way through the crunchy oat crust, leaving a lonely pile of fruit at the bottom of my bowl. Continue reading

Honey Almond Cake with Spiced Strawberry Sauce

Strawberries

Summer and strawberries go hand in hand. Wimbledon, barbecues and, being a summer baby, birthdays are all synonymous with a strawberry or two in my mind, the season kick starting with that first sweet burst at the end of May.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but memories of my childhood summers are dappled in sunshine, garden grass scorched by the sun as we took turns spraying each other with the hosepipe and praying that it wouldn’t be banned. As an adult, the Great British Summer seems a little wetter, certainly colder, the sky hung with clouds and even edible sunshine kept at bay with our strawberry season delayed by several weeks. Continue reading

Chocolate Cherry Frangipane Tarts

Chocolate Tarts

Chocolate almond pastry, chocolate frangipane & sweet, fresh cherries

How many times have you wanted to bake something only to be thwarted by a store cupboard shortage or lack of ingredients in your local shop?

This post is less of a recipe than a series of ideas and suggestions around a theme. While making drunken plum tart several times over Christmas, I fell more than a little in love with frangipane and have been looking for other ways to use it ever since. Previously I’d associated frangipane with the sickly sweet almond filling you often find in croissants – a heavier, altogether different beast from the light, sweet simplicity of the version I made at home. With a new-found favourite and a new technique added to my baking repertoire, I was keen to get experimenting.
Continue reading

Sesame, Almond & Poppy Seed Tuiles

homemade tuiles

Almonds, sesame seeds & a poppy seed crunch combine in these featherlight tuiles

I like how life has the capacity to be surprising. Sometimes the unexpected occurs and things you hadn’t even considered somehow come to the fore, becoming the one thing you want above anything else.

Last week I went wedding dress shopping for the first time. Having not been the kind of little girl who plans that big day while still playing with her My Little Ponies (what, surely, is the point of planning a wedding if you don’t know who you’re going to be doing it with?), it’s all pretty new to me. And even though Carnivorous Fiancé and I have been together for a pretty much all of our adult lives, it’s only recently I’ve really started to think about the dress.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I first entered the boutique. It’s a little like walking backstage at a theatre, row upon row of white and ivory, silk and satin, swathes of veils and hair clips and trinkets sparkling from every corner of the room, doing nothing to dispel the idea that you really are just an eight year old fulfilling some sort of princess-style fantasy. Continue reading

Lemon, Almond & Blackberry Slice

lemon meringue

Almond dacquoise & meringue are layered with lemon curd cream & toasted nuts

A major occupational hazard of baking is the mess.

If you’ve ever left sticky fingerprints on a work surface, mistakenly smeared chocolate behind your ear, walked flour footprints across the kitchen or somehow managed to turn every pan and utensil you own into a pile of washing up, you’ll know what I mean.

My tiny little space for baking might be more hazardous than most. Because it’s so small, every cupboard in the kitchen is crammed to its limit, herbs and spices jostling for space with packets of pulses and only one dedicated place to keep all my baking ingredients. It’s not that I haven’t tried to encroach on other cupboards, but after storing chocolate in the same place as curry powder resulted in it taking on a strangely spicy flavour, I’ve returned to a single space to store my flour, sugar, chocolate, nuts and syrups for fear of cross contamination. Continue reading

Apricot & Pistachio Tartlets

apricot tart

Toasted pistachios, crème d’amandes & sweet apricots fill each delicious little tart

Summer is coming to an end.

While the last few days have seen warmer temperatures and clear blue skies, there’s an autumnal note in the air. Darkness draws in earlier each evening and there’s a coldness first thing in the morning,  a reminder of frosts to come in the not too distant future. Holidays in Spain and Italy are fading to a distant memory of long, lazy days, hazy heat, bare limbs in the evening breeze.

But I’m not letting go without a fight. Continue reading

Individual Almond Treacle Tarts

treacle tart

Flaky pastry, sweet, smooth filling & cool, creamy ice cream

For the last few days we’ve been eating our way around a small portion of the North of England. Our helping sizes, on the hand, have been rather large.

It all kicked off with a family wedding in Yorkshire on Thursday. In the unexpected (but wonderful) warm weather we feasted on three courses of stomach filling stuff – think greedy servings of soufflé, rare roast beef with Yorkshire puddings and thick lemon tart – before retiring for an afternoon of champagne and sunshine followed by an evening of even more food (in the form of dainty canapés, think crispy bacon scallops, miniature meringues and everything in between. Continue reading

Orange, Pistachio & Polenta Cake

polenta_cake

Fresh, bright & full of flavour – the perfect spring dessert

When was the last time someone responded badly to something you’d made?

In the kitchen, I tend to be my own worst critic. Although I enjoy cooking all sorts of savoury dishes, I definitely get the most joy out of baking and making desserts. And one major bonus that comes with being a baker is that your creations are almost always met with a rapturous response. While I’ll worry that something hasn’t turned out quite perfect, that the top is too brown or the middle less moist than I’d hoped, most of the time people have nothing but praise to impart when handed something sweet.

Maybe it’s an inherent insecurity which means I thrive on this praise, or perhaps conversely it’s some sort of overblown ego which makes me enjoy the eager eyes, nods of appreciation, squeals of pleasure and silent smiles of satisfaction, but the reaction of my friends and family to the treats I make brings me at least as much happiness as the actual processes of both baking and eating. Continue reading