Chocolate Easter Egg Brownies

Chocolate Easter Egg Brownies

Two weeks ago The Little Loaf turned six. I failed to mark the occasion here and, if I’m honest, would have forgotten about it completely had I not received a little note from WordPress informing me of the event. I’m not normally one to let anniversaries sail by – I’m the personality type who likes to look at progress, and anyway, who in their right mind turns down an excuse for celebratory cake? – but this season of our lives is just so busy that the superfluous seems to get pushed out of the picture. Continue reading

Claire Ptak’s Rye Chocolate Brownies

Rye Chocolate Brownies4

A brownie, for me, is the little black dress of the baking world. They bake up in batches to feed a crowd, can be stacked high and eaten with fingers or served singly with toppings for something more refined. Like that little black dress, they can totally miss the mark – I can count the number of brownies recipes I trust implicitly on one hand, excluding my thumb – but as with fashion, on occasion, a new season contender can jump in to shake up the status quo. Hello rye chocolate brownie with flaky sea salt. Continue reading

Raspberry Chocolate Brownies with Amaretti Crunch

Raspberry Amaretti Brownies

Celebrity chefs are making us fat.

Or so the media might have you believe. According to recent research from the British Medical Journal, recipes from the likes of Jamie, Hugh and Nigella are less healthy than a supermarket ready meal. The study shows these recipes to contain, on average, considerably more calories and saturated fat than their pre-packaged counterparts, casting the latter in a much more favourable light. Continue reading

Flourless Chocolate Fudge Brownies


Dense, fudgy brownie topped with salty caramel ice cream

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
After a predictable (but not un-justifiable) moan about the arrival of mince pies on the supermarket shelves in October, the nights are finally drawing in, the John Lewis ad is on TV and I’m slowly starting to get into the festive spirit. Have you seen how many blogs out there are groaning with amazing Thanksgiving recipes (happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers by the way)? Because wonderful as it all sounds, turkey and all the trimmings equate to one thing only in my excited British eyes: Christmas. Continue reading

Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream with a Salted Caramel Swirl

peanut brownie ice cream

Living with just one other person has a lot of positives. At a stage where we no longer want to live in a university style madhouse but a few years before the patter of tiny feet turn our household into another kind of chaos, we’ve found a very happy lifestyle in our little flat for two. Whether it’s wandering naked between bathroom and bedroom or filling the fridge with whatever we want without fear of someone else eating it, the space is ours to do as we please. Continue reading

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Bites

chocolate brownies

Crispy edged & squidgy middled – everything a brownie should be

This is a recipe for anyone who has ever fought it out over the last crispy-edged piece from a pan of brownies.

I appreciate that this may not apply to everyone. Some people prefer the middle slice, an altogether more uniform and yielding experience, devoid of any edges, contrast and – dare I say it? – character. Of course I’m not going to judge you on your brownie preferences (ok, maybe I am), but they do say that variety is the spice of life and there’s something about the contrast of texture as crisp, chewy crust melds into smooth, fudgy middle that makes a brownie pretty much perfect in my eyes. Continue reading

Alfajores-Inspired Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Sandwiches

chocolate alfajores

Dulce de leche ice cream sandwiched between soft chocolate cookies

Visiting a new bakery is one of my favourite things in the world. There’s the smell, seeping out of the doors and into the surrounding street; yeast and warmth, toasty sweetness, the scent of burnt sugar. Then there’s the sound: busy bakers chatting with customers; slicing crusty loaves; sliding purchases into crinkled paper bags. The soft sound of teeth meeting flaky pastry.
Eyes definitely bigger than my stomach and thinking, perhaps, I could try a little taste of everything, I’ll then drink in the feast in front of me: lines of loaves stacked against a bare brick wall, tiers of incredible cakes, trays of pastries issuing forth from the oven and, further forward, a cabinet of sweets and treats, biscuits on offer in every imaginable shape and size.

White Chocolate & Toasted Macadamia Brownies


Take these out of the oven while still slightly wobbly for the perfect squidgey centre

If there’s one thing I admire more than a brilliant baker, it’s a brilliant baker who is also a wonderful cook. While that’s not to say there aren’t a number of people, professionals or otherwise, who are talented at both, baking and cooking involve some fundamental differences in attitude and approach to ingredients and how they are used.

While a chef is generally constrained only by his or her creativity, throwing together ingredients and experimenting with pinches of this and splashes of that, a baker’s art is somewhat restricted by the confines of science: a cake will only rise with the right ratio of fat, sugar and flour; accuracy is key; and following a recipe to the word is important to achieve the right results. Of course baking can still be creative, and cooking is full of scientific detail, but moving seamlessly from one to the other is not always as simple as it might seem. Continue reading