Best of 2012 | thelittleloaf

bourke_street_bakery_croissants

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

Afternoon Tea Cupcakes {Cucumber + Champagne}

champagne cupcakes

A simple cupcake with a hidden core of refreshing cucumber jam

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

Chocolate Chip Speculoos Spread Cookies

chocolate chip cookies

Chewy, crispy cookies rich with chocolate chunks & Speculoos spread

Have you ever discovered something new, only to become more than slightly obsessed with it?

When I was nine, we moved to a bigger house a few streets away from the one I’d grown up in. There were grand plans to build a beautiful kitchen/dining room extension (which is now in place, and the absolute heart of the household), but when we first arrived we had to make do with a teeny tiny kitchen that was actually smaller than our old one. Continue reading

White Chocolate & Toasted Macadamia Brownies

chocolate_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

Dark Chocolate & Toasted Pistachio Blondies

blondies

Chewy crusted blondies studded with chocolate chunks & toasted pistachios

If asked to describe your favourite food or dish, what’s the first thing to springs to mind?

Would you think about taste or texture, flavour or the way feels in your mouth, the essential ingredients or how it can stir a specific memory and create a certain mood? Would you attach it to a location – a restaurant, a party, a place in time – or remember it through colour, the patterns created on the plate, the image etched in your mind? Continue reading

Chocolate & Caramel Layer Cake

caramel_chocolate_cake

Vanilla, chocolate & caramel cake layered with salty caramel

A word of warning before you embark on reading this post: if you’ve given up chocolate and sweet stuff for Lent, you might want to look away now. Recent events suggest I have a tendency to lead people into temptation . . .

Last week I met one of my school friends for dinner after work. There were supposed to be three of us, but my other friend ended up stuck in the office in the way, it seems, that only lawyers can, unsure whether more paperwork might come through from the States and if she’d be there until ten at night or two in the morning. Despite her absence, the evening was lovely: wine was opened, stories shared, gossip caught up on and plenty of good food consumed. After two very virtuous fish-based mains, we both decided to go for the most indulgent-sounding dessert on the menu: chocolate brownie with homemade hazelnut ice cream. Continue reading