I can clearly remember the first time I tasted maple syrup. My brother had a friend from Canada and one year he came back from his holidays with a little glass bottle of viscous amber liquid for us. I’d never tasted anything quite like it: silky textured and distinctively flavoured, like honey, but not and sweet as sweet can be.
We treasured that tiny container – this was a treat from all the way from across the pond with little likelihood of being replaced – and eked it out in little portions. My favourite way to eat this syrup, bizarrely, was straight up, poured over raw porridge oats and left to macerate for a few minutes until the mixture became beautifully soft and sweet. I’m sure my dentist – and my Mum – would have any number of objections but in my defence, this odd concoction probably wasn’t so very much worse than any of the sugar filled breakfast cereal options out there nowadays (it’s a tenuous excuse, but I’m sticking to it). Continue reading
Brown butter is a baker’s best friend. If I had a pound for every recipe I’d read extolling the virtues of this simple ingredient since I’ve been blogging, I’d be a very rich little loaf. Until fairly recently I’d always thought of it as a savoury thing, the foaming beurre noisette surrounding a piece of white fish or flavoured with sage and poured over pasta; I’m only just starting to understand the joy of stirring it into biscuits, cakes, cookies and muffins to ramp up the flavour and add to their intensity.
When was the last time someone responded badly to something you’d made?
In the kitchen, I tend to be my own worst critic. Although I enjoy cooking all sorts of savoury dishes, I definitely get the most joy out of baking and making desserts. And one major bonus that comes with being a baker is that your creations are almost always met with a rapturous response. While I’ll worry that something hasn’t turned out quite perfect, that the top is too brown or the middle less moist than I’d hoped, most of the time people have nothing but praise to impart when handed something sweet.
Maybe it’s an inherent insecurity which means I thrive on this praise, or perhaps conversely it’s some sort of overblown ego which makes me enjoy the eager eyes, nods of appreciation, squeals of pleasure and silent smiles of satisfaction, but the reaction of my friends and family to the treats I make brings me at least as much happiness as the actual processes of both baking and eating. Continue reading
Chocolate is one of my favourite ingredients to bake with. Whether it’s chunked and studded through cookies, stirred into the smoothest mousse, melted over ice cream or baked into a dense, fudgy cake, chocolate is an ingredient reliable enough to be called on for comfort, yet versatile enough to always be exciting.
While chocolate and cocoa regularly make an appearance in my shopping basket, it’s rare that I’ll buy a bar to simply eat on its own. It’s not that I don’t like it, but I really enjoy experimenting in the kitchen and combining chocolate with other ingredients, making it into more of a meal or occasion than a snack straight from the packet. However there are two major exceptions to this rule when I (and a pretty a large percentage of the UK population) can’t seem to help but over indulge: Christmas and Easter. Continue reading
‘Tis the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not venture all his eggs in one basket’ – Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
I’m almost ashamed to admit how many eggs our household goes through on a weekly basis. When I say ‘household’, I’m referring to my boyfriend and I – there’s just the two of us in our little flat – and when I say ‘we’, what I really mean is ‘him’. Yes, my love of all things sweet means I go through my own fair share of eggs – baked into brownies, whipped into macarons and stirred through yolk-rich custards for ice cream – but Carniverous Boyfriend takes egg-eating to the next level. You’ve heard of the government’s ‘five-a-day’ vegetable rule, right? My boyfriend applies this to eggs. Continue reading
I can hardly begin to imagine a life without flour. Yes, it forms the basis of a lot of the food that I put in my mouth, but for me flour is so much more than that. It’s the foundation of baking, a hobby and passion I find therapeutic, relaxing, rewarding and escapist. I love the process of rolling up my sleeves, dusting down the work surfaces, sifting and weighing, kneading and shaping, folding and finishing.
Flour is a staple ingredient in bread, of course, but so much more besides; think biscuits and brownies, pastry and cakes, pizza, pancakes and puddings, even quietly playing its part as a subtle addition to something as simple as a white sauce. It’s the ultimate easy ingredient; long-lasting, cheap and filling. Continue reading