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

Triple Chocolate Muffins

Triple Chocolate Muffins - 2

There are times when only a muffin made with chocolate, butter and sugar will do. Contrary to what the diet industry would have us believe, the first few months of the year aren’t necessarily a time for absolute deprivation. Nourishing foods are important when the weather is cold, but who’s to say a little comfort in the form of chocolaty baked goods isn’t every bit as good for your wellbeing as anything more ‘worthy’? Certainly not me. Continue reading

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies - 6

I’m writing this post on a Sunday afternoon, sitting in my slippers at the kitchen table as clouds drift into previously clear blue skies and the light begins to fade. One boy is napping, the other enjoying a cheeky post-lunch pint with a friend at the pub where we all ate prodigiously after a trip to Kew Gardens: roast chicken and Yorkshires and red cabbage (hello Christmas) and an enormous ‘kids’ serving of battered fish, mash and peas for Nino who practically licked the plate then proceeded to demolish any leftovers on other peoples’ plates. Sunshine, sharing good food and spending time together is what it’s all about: my belly is very full and my heart even fuller. Continue reading

Chocolate, Courgette & Olive Oil Muffins

Chocolate Courgette Muffins - 4

Ever since Nino uttered his first few gurgles, I’ve been noting down the things he says in his baby book, adding an explanation in brackets where necessary in the hope that our future selves will be able to decipher their meaning. It all feels so important in the here and now that it’s impossible to imagine that one day these precious milestones will be eclipsed by greater events: full sentences, proper facts, probing questions, and the rest. But the logical part of my brain knows that they will, so for the last year or so there has been this list. Which is now running at full capacity, words scribbled in the margins and over the page. Before I had Nino I didn’t realize quite how talkative a twenty month old would be, and although we have a lot of conversations about bears and cats and pee, there are already glimmers of so much more, a little joker who’s keen to communicate and eager to learn. It all feels very special. Continue reading

White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake (No Bake)

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake - 2

Two weeks at my parents’ house in Italy and it feels like we were away for two months. Somewhere around the 15km mark outside the local town, time stands still and you slip into this blissful world where – although the days are packed with swimming and eating and chatting – nothing really happens and nobody else much matters. Looking out across the mountains from the edge of the garden there are a handful of houses in the distance, so small that they hardly look real, and at night the sky is a vast canvas of twinkling stars, all the more visible and beautiful for the lack of electric light. Continue reading

Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies - 1

London when it’s hot can be beautiful. Leafy green spaces, a sparkling River Thames, the sounds and smells of barbecues drifting across garden fences during long, light evenings. It can also be sticky and stifling and nigh on insufferable, especially if you’re stuck under an armpit on a tube without air conditioning. Or trying to sleep beneath a mop of sweaty but oh-so-adorable baby curls that your mother refuses to chop off (sorry Nino).   Continue reading

Malted Milk Chocolate Blondies

Malted Milk Chocolate Blondies - 1

On Saturday, I went out to dinner with girlfriends for the first time in months. Before having Nino I couldn’t comprehend parents who never went out, always assumed it was easy but – (not such a ) news flash – it’s not. There’s a reason why all those friends with kids smile wryly and forecast the end to your social life as soon as you tell them you’re pregnant. Being a parent is wonderful in more ways than can be imagined, but it can also be repetitive, tough and – unless you have a live in nanny, endless family or an even more endless supply of cash – full time. Add into the mix a not-so good sleeper, breastfeeding on demand and separation anxiety (both Nino’s and mine), and you’re talking stay-at-home central. Continue reading

Easter Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Easter Cake - 1

Making memories is a wonderful thing. Ever since we’ve had Nino, each time a celebration rolls round I get a little twinkle of excitement at the thought of how I can recreate the fond traditions of Luke and my childhoods. Summer holidays with sandy toes and sticky ice creams, unwrapping presents at Christmas, Mothers Day lunches and chocolaty Easters. For as long as I can remember, my mum would organize an Easter egg hunt in and around the house and garden, working so well on their hiding places that tiny, shiny eggs would appear in the most unexpected places months after the actual event. One year we wondered why she’d disappeared during a dinner party at our flat, only to discover on getting into bed those same tiny, shiny surprises hidden under our pillows, mattress and tucked into our pajamas.

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Chewy Chocolate, Oat & Raisin Cookie Bars

One of the (many) things I love about having a little person in my life is the way he’s made me reappraise my relationship with people I don’t know. Sitting on the quieter side of the social spectrum and living in London where everyone (with a few exceptions) is happy to go about their daily lives without so much as a ‘good morning’, I’m not much one for speaking to strangers if I don’t have to. But it’s impossible not to wave and smile along with Nino’s uninhibited attempts to make friends with any and everyone. Over the past year I’ve found myself striking up conversations in the shops and playground or on the bus. And even the surliest of strangers find it hard not to crack a smile at his full bodied, double handed wave. It’s incredibly sweet to watch.  Continue reading

Millionaire’s Shortbread with Salty Peanuts

Peanut Millionaire's Shortbread - 3
Millionaire’s shortbread
is something of staple in my baking repertoire, second only to brownies, perhaps cookies, in the list of simple treats I’ll bake when called on to bring something sweet to a special occasion. Like brownies, I’ve got a favourite recipe (ok three, on rotation) but I’m not averse to a little tinkering here and there. These lovely little morsels were my contribution to a baby shower this weekend just gone, and although it’s hard to beat the classic, I may have to throw a handful of salty peanuts into every batch of millionaire’s shortbread I make from now on, they’re so damn delicious.  Continue reading