Everyday Chocolate Cake

Everyday chocolate cake slice

Ever since Nino celebrated his second birthday, we’ve been talking almost daily about what kind of cake family members will be getting for their upcoming birthdays. For Grandpa there was polenta cake, rolled out annually on request (with ever so slight variations to satisfy my urge to experiment). Daddy wants a whiskey one next January. Nino was shocked to discover that his Nonna isn’t that keen on cake, nor is a close toddler friend, but we’ve now been to enough birthdays with caterpillars and rainbows and tray bakes to establish a playing field to work from and, after much debate, we’ve hit on a lemon sponge with fresh strawberry buttercream to make for me at the end of the month.

My go-to is almost always chocolate so it’s refreshing to be pointed in a different direction by my mini kitchen sidekick and I’m excited to make and taste his fruity creation. But before then, chocolate cravings still call – thank goodness for an uncle with a birthday before mine and a last minute lunch invite creating the need to whip up an easy one bowl chocolate cake for a sunny Sunday afternoon. Continue reading

Chocolate Courgette Muffins

Chocolate Courgette Muffins - 2

Let’s talk about courgettes. Or zucchini. Whatever you call them, it’s impossible to avoid their charms and abundance during the summer months. When we were in Italy a few weeks back our neighbour gifted us a bowl of freshly picked courgettes and their flowers which we respectively grilled, grated into a frittata with pecorino and softened in butter. Back in the UK we picked an enormous bag full from the local farm and while most made it into savoury dishes, I couldn’t resist saving a few for some sweeter baking experiments. Continue reading

Happy 3rd Birthday Homemade Memories + Giveaway!

Homemade Memories giveaway

Three years ago my debut cookbook, Homemade Memories, hit the shelves. I adored the process, a labour of love written, tested and tasted during the evenings and on weekends whilst working a full time job. The day after my book launch, I found out I was pregnant and since then Nino has been born and his little sister is cooking up nicely for her summer arrival. I guess you could say this book was my first baby, a trial run of late nights and hard work and ever so slight obsession. When I was working on the book, people often asked how I managed to find the time. But if you truly love, believe in and benefit from something, somehow you make time, whether it’s baking, or jogging or juggling a family alongside a career.

That’s what I’d like to believe, anyway. Recently – most likely due to our house move last weekend – the scales of work and family and personal projects feel slightly off kilter. Suffice to say I’m excited for maternity leave, for nesting in our new family home, spending time with Luke, Nino and our imminent arrival and reconnecting with the kitchen. Everyone knows new baby visits must be accompanied by cake, right? So there will be cake. And scones and biscuits and bringing out the ice cream machine in time for hot summer days spent in the garden without dreaded commutes or deadlines. I’ll be making a lot from Homemade Memories – is it odd to bake from your own book? It truly is a collection of my favourite recipes, so I suppose not. Anyway, I’d love for you to make things from it too, so in the spirit of moving house and discovering some spares (!) plus the thrill of a third birthday and need for celebration, I’m giving away three signed copies. Continue reading

Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

Nutella Stuffed Cookies - 7

I have a close friend whose key life events have aligned rather nicely with mine. We got married within a month of each other and our little boy and girl arrived around six weeks apart. We’ve been able to share tips and maternity leaves and the kind of conversations that might leave friends at different stages of life gasping with boredom (table planning, nappy contents, lack of sleep . . . the usual). We’re both now pregnant with baby number two (we’ve swapped, this time round she’s having a boy, we’ve got the girl) and I wanted to bake a little something special for her baby shower. This is a lady who loves Nutella, so when I spotted these Nutella stuffed beauties on Jess’s blog, I knew they needed to be made.
Continue reading

Brown Butter, Miso & Dark Chocolate Blondies

Brown Butter Miso Blondies - 5Brown Butter Miso Blondies - 1

Brown butter and blondies go hand in hand. Thrown in chopped dark chocolate and walnuts and you’re close to my idea of baked bar perfection. But miso? Turns out the staple so many of us use in soups can add a nutty, buttery quality to all sorts of baked goods.

Of course miso in dessert isn’t a new idea. But I found myself desperate to try it after watching the latest episode of Chef’s Table. This series is all about pastry and Momofuku’s legendary Christina Tosi is first to the pass. Of course I knew about cereal milk ice cream and crack pie, but I wasn’t familiar with her story, her ethos, her attitude to life. An aside, Christina Tosi is awesome, go watch the programme if you need to know why. Continue reading

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies - 1

Are we too close to Easter for me to be posting another chocolate recipe? Or are you riding a wave of sugary goodness – the week a write off for those whose overindulgence spilled over into Monday, the rest of the year a free for all for those who gave up chocolate for Lent? Let’s just say that wherever you sit on the chocolate-guilt-joy spectrum at this current moment in time, this recipe is one worth filing away for the future. These blondies are good. Continue reading

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