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
On the eve of the French revolution, Marie Antoinette is said to have responded to claims that there wasn’t enough bread to feed the French people with the now infamous phrase, ‘Let them eat cake’. Historians have since refuted this, suggesting variously that it was completely made up, the much maligned queen was misquoted, or that something may have been lost in translation from the French into English.
Whichever way you like to look at it, there’s definitely some sort of confusion between bread and cake. Continue reading
Sweet, soft & full of interesting flavours
‘Every time I’m forced to watch [my friends] eat egg whites, I feel bad for them. In the first place, egg-white omelettes are tasteless. In the second place, the people who eat them think they are doing something virtuous when they are instead merely misinformed’.
My attitude to egg white-only omelettes is pretty much in line with the Nora Ephron quote above. After a major custard or ice cream making spree, I’ve occasionally attempted to scale the mountain of leftover albumen by making an anaemic omelette, but I’m almost always disappointed by the odd consistency and insipid flavour which result. Continue reading
Squidgy little squares of nutty chocolate goodness
Before the age of about fifteen, I don’t think I’d ever made buttercream icing.
I’d eaten it, of course, at friends’ houses and birthday parties, spread over simple sponge cakes and smothered between the rounds of the ubiquitous caterpillar cake (one made an appearance at a 28th birthday we recently attended, clearly caterpillar cake will never go out of fashion in some circles), but I’m pretty sure I’d never actually made my own buttercream at home.
A pile of beautiful, buttery croissants
With just a few hours left until the new year, there’s little left to say other than thank you.
Thank you for your comments and support, for continuing to be interested in what I have to say, for reading and sharing my recipes and for sending me your amazing pictures when you make them.
Rather than posting anything new today, I’ve included a round up of your five favourite (by page views) little loaf recipes from the past year, followed by five of mine.
2012 has been incredible. Here’s to an even more amazing 2013. Continue reading
Moist chocolate sponge cloaked in chocolate & rolled in coconut
Saying goodbye can be hard. Any way in which the blow can be softened – if only by butter, chocolate and sugar – has got to be better than nothing.
On Saturday two of our friends threw a leaving party. At the end of December they leave for Australia where they plan to spend year at absolute minimum, more likely two with very little likelihood that they’ll make it back for our wedding next summer. Continue reading
Squidgy chocolate cake with creamy peanut butter frosting
David Lebovitz once said that the best thing about being a pastry chef is that your kitchen colleagues have to be nice to you 364 days a year. Why? Because on the 365th they want you to bake them a birthday cake. While I’m no pastry chef and have never worked in a commercial kitchen, when it comes to baking cakes for friends, I know exactly where he’s coming from.
One of the things I love most about baking is being able to share what I make with those around me. A cake can be a talking point, a celebration in itself and (for me anyway) often a better way of expressing love for the person in question than any other present might be. Birthday cakes are particularly personal, the one opportunity each year to take centre stage, to call the shots, to cut yourself the biggest slice, eat seconds and thirds and lick off extra icing if you should so choose (not, of course, that I’d ever do something like that . . .) Continue reading
How to turn a cupcake into something just that little bit more special.
- Bake it straight into a non-stick muffin pan for contrast between the outer edge and fluffy middle
- Cram it full of crunchy pecans, fiery ginger, a pinch of cinnamon and a splash of cider
- Smother it in sticky caramel sauce, lifted with a generous sprinkle of sea salt
- Give it the dignity of calling it a little cake, not a cupcake
Rich chocolate sponge, condensed milk & whiskey buttercream, chocolate ganache
We’ve just got back from two days in the beautiful county of Rutland celebrating a friend’s 30th birthday. With the recent bout of unexpected and unseasonally warm weather, he couldn’t have picked a better weekend for us to spend outside and out of London (or Leeds, where he lives), enjoying each others’ company, soaking up some sunshine and drinking in the country air.
I don’t really need to tell you that I offered to bring a birthday cake. That goes without saying and is pretty much what you’ve been waiting for, right? Continue reading
Chocolate mousse. Two words, a hundred variations, a thousand different expectations.
Ever since I made this favourite little dessert on holiday in Italy, I’ve wanted to write about it on the blog. My usual recipe for chocolate mousse is simplicity itself, rich and elegant, steeped in childhood memories and consisting of just two ingredients: chocolate and eggs. It’s the ultimate store cupboard recipe (don’t tell me you’ve not got chocolate on your shelves, I don’t believe you), and involves minimum effort for maximum impact, making it an easy go-to recipe to have in your repertoire.
Perhaps a little too easy. Continue reading