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

Lemon Meringue Ice Cream

lemon ice cream

Crisp, slightly chewy meringue stirred through a rich lemony custard

The first time I tasted this ice cream, I knew I had to share it with you.

The flavour of frozen lemon is something pretty much everyone is familiar with. Whether you first tasted it in lemon ice lollies, lemon sorbet or even a slush puppy (granita to those of you who are Italian or have ever tried the slightly more sophisticated version of the lurid slop on sale in cinemas around the country), I’m pretty confident you’ll be able to find at least one childhood memory filled with that mouth-puckeringly sharp sweetness, shards of icy lemon melting on your tongue.

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Lemon, Almond & Blackberry Slice

lemon meringue

Almond dacquoise & meringue are layered with lemon curd cream & toasted nuts

A major occupational hazard of baking is the mess.

If you’ve ever left sticky fingerprints on a work surface, mistakenly smeared chocolate behind your ear, walked flour footprints across the kitchen or somehow managed to turn every pan and utensil you own into a pile of washing up, you’ll know what I mean.

My tiny little space for baking might be more hazardous than most. Because it’s so small, every cupboard in the kitchen is crammed to its limit, herbs and spices jostling for space with packets of pulses and only one dedicated place to keep all my baking ingredients. It’s not that I haven’t tried to encroach on other cupboards, but after storing chocolate in the same place as curry powder resulted in it taking on a strangely spicy flavour, I’ve returned to a single space to store my flour, sugar, chocolate, nuts and syrups for fear of cross contamination. Continue reading

Pistachio & Lemon (Little) Loaf Cakes

little loaf cake

The dense, damp, syrupy crumb makes this cake utterly irresistible

This might just be one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten.

Those of you who read this blog on regular basis will know that this is not a comment to be taken lightly. I love cake. I eat it a lot. I live and breathe baking.  On our recent holiday in Italy in a round of Articulate the clue ‘Kate loves this’ resulted in an immediate and resounding chorus of ‘cake’, and change one letter in my name and I’d practically be named after the stuff. Cake is very important to me.

Pretty much every year I make my own birthday cake. Before you start feeling sorry for me, it’s absolutely out of choice. I love doing it; the magic of mixing together ingredients, transforming flour, butter and sugar into something that looks and tastes delicious, experimenting in the kitchen, sharing my birthday joy with friends and family and condensing it into a single slice.

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Orange & Pistachio Magdalenas

magdalenas

Magdalenas have a unique fluffy texture setting them apart from muffins or cupcakes

Breakfast.

The most important meal of the day.

The secret to better brain functionality, staying healthy, lowering blood sugar levels and preventing obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.

The perfect excuse to indulge in the pleasure of eating when you are truly hungry.

There’s nothing more satisfying than a good breakfast. In the working week I tend to rotate between different combinations of fruit, nuts, seeds and cereal, adding in yoghurt or milk for protein or substituting in homemade toast with smashed avocado or a scrape of salty butter if I fancy something savoury.

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Lemon Curd & Mascarpone Cream Tart

lemon_cream_tart

Crisp pastry, a sharp layer of lemon & pillows of light mascarpone cream

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better – Samuel Beckett

I think that awful moment when a recipe goes wrong is one that we can all relate to. While some people may have many more of these moments than others, whether you’re working in a Michelin starred restaurant or a Bridget Jones-type sheepishly scooping string from a blue soup, you’ll have experienced the horror of a major recipe fail in one way or another. Be it an overflowing tart tin, a sunken cake, a loaf left in the oven too long or mistakenly substituting sugar with salt, everyone is subject to these kitchen mishaps once in a while. Not everyone admits to them, of course, but they definitely do happen.

While no-one wants their cooking to be a catalogue of complete disasters, failure isn’t always such a bad thing. Experimentation – whether planned or otherwise – leads to innovation, and some of the world’s favourite foods can be attributed to the fortuitous mistakes of their creators – just think of Ruth Wakefield’s discovery of the chocolate chip cookie when pieces of chocolate in her Butter Drop Dos failed to melt properly. A world without the chocolate chip cookie would be a very sad place indeed. Continue reading