Two weeks ago The Little Loaf turned six. I failed to mark the occasion here and, if I’m honest, would have forgotten about it completely had I not received a little note from WordPress informing me of the event. I’m not normally one to let anniversaries sail by – I’m the personality type who likes to look at progress, and anyway, who in their right mind turns down an excuse for celebratory cake? – but this season of our lives is just so busy that the superfluous seems to get pushed out of the picture. Continue reading
We’ve just got back from a whirlwind weekend in Lithuania celebrating the marriage of two very lovely friends. I’m tired, but the lugging a pram down a hill to the picturesque lakeside dinner setting and getting up at 4am to feed a baby confused by the time change tired, rather than the slow lazy sleepiness that comes with daytime drinking and dancing into the night. Weddings with a mini man in tow are an altogether different kettle of fish, and the night before the big day I was in bed by 9pm, snuggling down into the duvet and ordering up chocolate cake on room service. Continue reading
A brownie, for me, is the little black dress of the baking world. They bake up in batches to feed a crowd, can be stacked high and eaten with fingers or served singly with toppings for something more refined. Like that little black dress, they can totally miss the mark – I can count the number of brownies recipes I trust implicitly on one hand, excluding my thumb – but as with fashion, on occasion, a new season contender can jump in to shake up the status quo. Hello rye chocolate brownie with flaky sea salt. Continue reading
I first tried one of Milli Taylor‘s brownies around this time last year. We’d been chatting online about various food-related things and realised that we live pretty close to one another. Milli had some goodies going spare from a catering job so promised to drop a few samples round the flat while we were out. Several bemused messages later, it dawned on us that she’d left them in the wrong street and I ended up having to tiptoe my way down a stranger’s garden path to retrieve the box from behind the bush by their front door. Not the easiest brownies to get hold of, but some of the best I’ve ever eaten, so when I received a copy of Milli’s debut cookbook, I knew this recipe was the one I’d have to make first. Continue reading
Squidgy chocolate brownies packed with caramelized white chocolate
The simple magic of an oven will never cease to amaze me.
Subjected to its heat, pudgy rounds of dough become crusty loaves, liquid batter rises into golden-crowned cakes, pastry puffs, biscuits bake and incredible aromas escape around the edges of its door.
Normally baking requires some sort of skill, an understanding of the alchemy of ingredients and an ability to weigh, whisk, beat and blend. Butter, sugar and flour are combined, flavours and textures far greater than the sum of their parts created. Whether an amateur cook or a professional chef, it’s satisfying to know that baking is both a science and an art. Continue reading
Fudgy brownies swirled with salty caramel, marshmallows & little chunks of chocolate
When I received an ice cream maker for my birthday back in July, I was convinced I’d never buy ice cream from a shop again. I promised myself – and possibly all my readers in one of many excitable ice cream-related posts – that owning this machine would open a world of possibilities, of infinite exotic flavours, wonderful organic ingredients and not an E-number, stabilizer or acidity regulator in sight.
The majority of the time that promise holds true; we don’t eat a lot of frozen food so I hardly ever encounter those extravagant little £5 tubs that dominate that particular section of the supermarket. If I do spend money on eating ice cream out it’s usually in an amazing gelateria like Gelupo, or the mobile offerings of the incredible La Grotta Ices, but there is one shop-bought ice cream I’ve somehow retained an unaccountable weakness for; Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food. Continue reading
Decadent, dark chocolate brownie beneath a rich, creamy cheesecake
Last weekend snow descended on the UK. After one of the mildest winters on record, including un unseasonally warm Christmas Day, we’re finally being reminded what it feels like to be cold. As is always the case in a country where we’re as unprepared for annual snowfall as we are surprised by the heatwaves that regularly occur in the summer, lots of things ground to a halt; thousands of flights were canceled, trains came out of service, motorways slowed to a standstill.
While snow always brings a certain element of chaos, it also adds a sense of peace and tranquility. The world is a different place under its blanket of snow; smells are crisper, scenes softer and sounds swallowed by the heavy sky and thickly carpeted ground. In London the snow never lasts very long – delicate flakes of ice are little match for the combination of traffic, heat and hundreds of thousands of feet pounding the pavements – but for a few hours at least, the road outside our flat stayed covered in a pure, snowy blanket. Continue reading
‘Death by chocolate’ brownies with edible white chocolate skull & crossbones
The majority of my Halloween memories can be measured in food. Whether bobbing for apples or dipping them in sticky toffee, biting doughnuts from a string or simply counting through a treasure trove of trick-or-treat sweets, my relationship with this spooky celebration is all about the edible.
And reading through some of my favourite foodie sites in recent weeks would suggest I’m not alone. There’s hardly a blog out there that hasn’t produced some kind of Halloween-themed treat; from spooky spiderweb cupcakes to ghostly meringues, witch’s finger biscuits to candy corn and more variations on toffee, apple and pumpkin (think pies, cheesecakes, fudge, brownies, muffins and more) than you could make in a lifetime. Continue reading
A fudgey layer topped with a shiny, crispy crust
When I was young, an old lady at the bottom of our garden used to bring us brownies. Not literally, of course – she lived on the next street along and her house backed onto ours – but I used to love the silly image this reference conjured up; a little old lady tucked away amongst the shrubs and fairies, happily baking brownies somewhere between the garden shed and the compost heap.
This neighbour of ours lived alone – her kids had worked abroad, eventually settling in the States – and every so often she’d come round to babysit, armed with a plate of dark, chewy brownies. I don’t know if it was something to do with the seeming exoticism of her far flung family, but I always associated these treats with America. I knew they were brownies, but their crisp crust and chewy texture felt a far cry from the cakier, fudgey version I sometimes made with my Mum. Continue reading
Do you have a best ever brownie? Most people I know either have, or are looking for, the ultimate recipe. There’s a lot of debate as to what constitutes this holy grail of tea-time treats, with opinion generally split between the crumbly cakey camp and fans of a dense, more fudgey fix. I side with the latter – I like my brownies rich and dark with a gooey chocolate centre and slightly crispy crust.
When I was a child our go-to brownie recipe was a Jocelyn Dimbleby classic that ticked all the boxes. Copied onto a piece of paper long before the internet became a household staple, it lived (and probably still does) folded, dog-eared and smeared with sticky chocolate fingerprints inside an ancient Mrs Beeton cookery book on our kitchen bookshelf. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve made that recipe, and it’s been passed on to people we know around the country, feeding family, friends and multiple generations (ok, that sounds a bit epic but it is a bloody good recipe…)