Pumpkin Pecan Shortbread Squares

Pumpkin pecan shortbread squares

On Friday morning I opened my email to read this post. Emma, a friend in real life and one of my favourite baking bloggers, has decided not to post any new recipes on Poires au Chocolat while she gets to grips with her graduate medicine course. Rather than leave the blog completely static, she’ll be revisiting recipes on occasion, treating the blog something like an ever-evolving book, but I’m still sad that we won’t be seeing many (any) new recipes for the foreseeable future. Continue reading

Pumpkin Muffins with Maple Crunch

Pumpkin maple muffins

I always know autumn is on its way from the number of pumpkin recipes that start appearing in in my inbox. This year the reminder has been more necessary than most as you couldn’t tell the season from the weather we’ve been having. On Saturday night some friends and I ate after-dinner ice creams outside in the street as if it was summer and yesterday we went for a walk in short-sleeved tops and sunglasses. While I’m secretly hoping that this warmer weather will last a little longer, I’m also aware that colder climes around the corner are an inevitable part of living in England. And when that moment comes, there will be warming autumnal muffins.

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Crunchy Maple Walnut Butter Cups

Crunchy Maple Walnut Butter Cups

As a child, there’s something slightly exciting about spending a day off school sick. Not, of course, if you’re seriously unwell, entirely bed-bound and unable to eat. I’m talking about those days when you’re possibly still contagious but ultimately on the mend, able to appreciate eating on the sofa, watching too much TV and your Mum (or another adult) making a great big fuss of you. Continue reading

Wholemeal Maple Pumpkin Pie with Salty Sweet Pumpkin Seeds

Maple Pumpkin Pie, Wholemeal Spelt Crust

Seasonal baking is something that often seems to pass me by. Although I’ll eat the occasional mince pie (mostly for the pastry and an excuse to eat an extra spoonful of brandy butter), I’m not the biggest fan of mincemeat, while boozy Christmas pudding, marzipan-filled Simnel cake or stollen leave me pretty cold.

Rewind the calendar a month or so and Halloween, for me, has always been about the bags of sweets gleaned from a trick-or-treating spree rather than any great tradition of pumpkin-based treats. Not surprising then, perhaps, that until last week I’d never eaten, let alone attempted to make, a pumpkin pie. Continue reading

Maple Chocolate Pots with Olive Oil Thyme Crumble

Chocolate Pots

Hands up if you’re the person who always orders the chocolate option for dessert in a restaurant?

Until recently, that was me. In fact I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t seriously consider something chocolate based if you took me out for dinner tomorrow. But as I’ve got older, I’ve started to appreciate other flavours on my plate, subtle sweetness, spice and seasonal ingredients like this simple honey almond cake with strawberries. Continue reading

Honey Almond Cake with Spiced Strawberry Sauce

Strawberries

Summer and strawberries go hand in hand. Wimbledon, barbecues and, being a summer baby, birthdays are all synonymous with a strawberry or two in my mind, the season kick starting with that first sweet burst at the end of May.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but memories of my childhood summers are dappled in sunshine, garden grass scorched by the sun as we took turns spraying each other with the hosepipe and praying that it wouldn’t be banned. As an adult, the Great British Summer seems a little wetter, certainly colder, the sky hung with clouds and even edible sunshine kept at bay with our strawberry season delayed by several weeks. Continue reading

Healthier Wholemeal Hot Cross Loaf

Wholemeal hot cross loaf

Hot cross loaf made with wonderful, natural ingredients

Coconut is one of those ingredients I’ve never been one hundred percent sure about.

As a little girl, I can remember waiting for what seemed like forever at the local fair while my Dad and brother threw wooden balls at a row of coconuts in the attempt to win this exotic prize. Once the hairy husk was prized open and crumbly white flesh exposed, I’d try a tiny nub but soon be distracted by the other edible excitements on offer: burgers from the BBQ, bags of sweets or a stick of candy floss that melted with every messy, fuzzy mouthful. Continue reading

Naturally Sweetened Sesame Tahini Granola

Tahini Granola

Naturally sweetened granola made with apple juice & tahini

On 31st March 1979, my parents got married. One year later they returned home from work, tired and late, to discover a small pile of envelopes inside the front door. It was their first year anniversary and, while a few friends and family had posted little notes and celebratory letters, the pair of them had completely forgotten.

Until today, I thought this was unlikely to ever happen to me. I’m organised and I’m excitable, two traits which mean that when it comes to birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations, I’m always in there early. You know the girl who complains that her boyfriend completely forgot her birthday/Valentine’s Day/insert any other day designed to make our men look bad? Not me. I’m the one reminding him at least three weeks in advance then gleefully (and noisily) counting down to the celebrations day by day. Continue reading

Maple Walnut Banana Bread with Crunchy Cocoa Nibs

Maple Walnut Banana Loaf with Crunchy Cocoa Nibs

Banana bread with peanut butter is pretty hard to beat

It always makes me a little bit sad to read interviews where chefs explain that they can go days without eating a proper meal. I suppose it comes with the territory of working such strange hours and constantly tasting, testing and tweaking, but it does seem a shame to be surrounded by so much wonderful food and not have the opportunity to sit down and properly enjoy it.

In between school and university I spent six months abroad, working as a waitress beforehand to save money for my trip. Sixty-odd hour weeks and lots of late night shifts meant complete disruption of my body clock, compounded by the fact that the restaurant I worked in refused to serve their staff proper meals in between shifts (a practice completely counter-intuitive unless you want your waitresses wandering round ravenously eyeing up plates of food as they emerge from the kitchen). Continue reading