The last time I celebrated a fourth birthday, I was about 3 feet tall. My party took place at the brilliantly named Roly Poly Club, a room made up of what I remember as wall-to-wall bouncy castles where my friends and I careered around, fuelled by the heady mix of excitement and mint choc-chip ice cream (there are rosy-cheeked, chocolate-covered photographs to prove this). My mum reminded me recently that I wrote her a shopping list beforehand ‘in case you get it wrong’, consisting simply of ‘mus bus’ (Mars Bars) and ‘sossighes’ (sausages). All the essentials then. Continue reading
On Wednesday, I turn thirty. Being a summer baby is wonderful in many ways, but with weddings and holidays it’s always been tricky to get everyone in one place at one time to celebrate. This year – the one so many of my friends have been hitting their third decade, deciding to get married or embarking on exciting adventures abroad – is no exception and my thirtieth celebrations seem to have extended to about six weeks worth of dinners, parties and weekends away. I’m definitely not complaining. Continue reading
Yesterday, we celebrated my Mum’s birthday. There was a meal at The River Cafe, sunshine in the sky and sunshine on our plates in the form of these grapefruit and ginger cupcakes. The time slipped away with me and I’m afraid there’s no recipe today, but I’ve got something up my sleeve for next time. Until then, have a wonderful week. Continue reading
This weekend just gone, we celebrated our engagement for the second time in as many months (with a big group of people, that is, I can’t even begin to count the number of times we’ve raised a glass in smaller circles), inviting just over sixty of our favourite friends to drink, dance and generally make merry whilst using our upcoming wedding as the perfect excuse to do so. 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
There are few things more British than a cucumber sandwich. Simple and delicate (and delicious when made properly – think paper-thin cucumber, salty butter, soft white bread), this recipe of aristocratic origin is made all the better for being absolutely unnecessary. Traditionally served at tea-time (our way of justifying the indulgence of an additional mid-afternoon meal involving a lot of cake) they have next to no nutritional value, being probably the only sandwich in the world over which I wouldn’t shed a tear to see the crusts removed. But they are a delicious nonetheless, especially when accompanied by freshly-baked scones a glass of cold champagne. Continue reading
Aga toast is probably the best toast in the world.
Other than that, and the occasional slow-cooked one-pot wonder, I’m not an enormous fan of agas. Aside from the fact that I’d boil to death were we to install one in our tiny London kitchen (that is, if it’s great weight didn’t cause it to fall through the floorboards to the foundations below), they can guzzle enormous amounts of gas and slightly scare the obsessive baker in me with their lack of precision dials and just four basic oven temperatures.
But they do make seriously good toast. Continue reading
When was the last time you saw something on your plate and said it looked ‘too good to eat’?
Usually intended as the highest form of praise, this kind of comment makes me ever so slightly uneasy. As a bit of a baking perfectionist, I like my food to look beautiful, but it should also be inviting – I want people to see a dish and immediately lick their lips, grab their spoon and dive right in. That’s not to say I don’t have a lot of time for food that looks like an incredible work of art, but it really has to deliver on taste too. Continue reading
This weekend I’m up in Yorkshire for various family festivities, so I’m keeping this post pretty short. And sweet (of course), which most of my posts tend to be. Continue reading
Do you have a sweet tooth?
Given the content of this blog, the content of my kitchen cupboards and the way in which I can talk for hours about the joys of cake, baking, butter and sugar, it would be foolish to even try to suggest that I don’t. But my sweet tooth (or teeth, some might argue) is not exclusive or exclusionary – I’m unlikely to choose dessert over a main meal, I like to have it in addition to what I’m eating on a daily basis, enjoying flavours that are savoury, salty and sharp as much as I do anything sweet.
When I was a littler loaf, my biggest weakness was always savoury. While I loved chocolate, cake and sweets as much as the next child, sandwiches, crisps and Twiglets were always my first port of call at parties (my Mum, apparently, was the same). While other kids were getting hyperactive on luminous bowls of jelly, multicoloured sprinkles and synthetic sweets, I’d be quite happy munching on the corners of a Marmite sandwich (normally cut into triangles by the birthday boy or girl’s Mum, the crusts removed in an attempt to get everyone to eat them, much to my dismay). Continue reading