Buckwheat breakfast muffins packed with earthy kale & a kick of chilli
On average, how many of your government recommended 5-a-day do you manage to eat?
Despite, or perhaps (in part) because of, my love of baking and this blog, I’m very conscious of getting my daily quota of fruit and vegetables. In the UK it’s fairly easy to stick to, with the government recommending a modest five 80g portions. However in Australia it’s seven, Spain eat eight and in Japan they suggest a staggering seventeen, although I’m guessing each serving size is slightly smaller than ours given that consuming over a kilo of even the most ambrosial fruit would be a struggle for most sensible human beings in any given day.
A pile of beautiful, buttery homemade croissants
How far would you go to find the perfect croissant?
With so many wonderful bakeries in the city, Londoners like me are lucky enough to have some pretty amazing options on our doorstep. Fancy venturing a little further afield? France is your obvious answer, synonymous with the very best croissants in the world and only a couple of hours away. Doable in a day, definitely, and not so completely crazy if you’re really on a mission to find that perfect pastry.
I’m going to throw another option into the mix. How about we travel for twenty two hours, averaging around 500 miles per hour, covering nearly 11,000 miles and ending up in Surry Hills, an inner-city suburb of Sydney, Australia? We’ll head for Bourke Street, number 633 to be precise, and before you can even begin to feast your eyes on the incredible array of bread, cakes and pastries displayed in the window, you’ll detect the irresistible smell of butter and baking that draws Sydney-siders to Bourke Street Bakery like moths to an irresistible, edible flame. Continue reading
My first ever sourdough loaf!
At the end of February the little loaf blog turned one. As the anniversary approached I started to think about ways in which I could celebrate, pulling together pictures of cakes, recipes for frosting and decorating techniques from my various recipe folders, bookmarks and pinboards. However, even as ideas began to take form for lines of little loaf cakes, sparkling candles and layers of chocolate, I realized I wanted to do something a little more special. Not necessarily anything fancy, but a new challenge to kick off the year to come.
The answer, in all its simple, slow brewing, tangy tasting glory was to start a sourdough culture. Mulchy, brown and bubbling away in a little kilner jar, it was hardly going to provide the glamour shots I’d originally intended for this first birthday post with my multi-tiered celebration cake. But it was exciting in its own way – an acknowledgement of how far I’ve come since that very first wholemeal loaf emerged from my oven and the start of something new. Continue reading
Buttery pears, smooth pecans & sticky syrup make the perfect winter breakfast
This recipe started life as something really rather different.
It began on New Year’s Eve when I offered to cook dinner for my boyfriend and his family up in Yorkshire. Knowing that on New Year’s Day we might be nursing various degrees of hangover, and that the shops would be shut – or operating on minimum opening hours with a likely lack of any fresh produce – we hit the local market to stock up on ingredients. Fresh fish, bread, cheese, vegetables and various spices secured, my attention (surprise surprise) turned to pudding. Continue reading
Can you guess the secret ingredient?
You’ll either love this recipe, or you’ll hate it. Such is the divisive power of Marmite.
Or so their ad men would have you believe. In reality, the lines of this savoury stand-off are slightly more blurred. Of course you get the obsessives who buy into the brand at every level – from crisps and cheddar bites to Marmite-flavoured chocolate – and the haters, who recoil at the mere mention of the word. But there are also a small percentage of people who fall into a murky middle ground, who’d never choose to spread it on their toast, but would nibble on a Twiglet or stir the occasional spoon into gravy. Continue reading
Simple crusty white loaf with a soft, buttery crumb
One of the things I love about bread is its versatility. Even a shop bought loaf can be used in a dozen different ways, from slices of toast to sandwiches, breadcrumbs to bread and butter pudding, the savoury crunch of a crouton or stirred through smooth sweet ice cream. And when you start to bake your own, the combinations are endless – crusty loaves and fluffy rolls, baguettes and baps, sprinkled with seeds, or run through with olives and cheese, fruit, nuts and more.
When I first started writing this blog, I made it my mission to bake my own bread on a regular basis. I’ve since experimented with various different flours and techniques, but the staple loaf I return to time and again is a simple mix of wholemeal and malted grain flour. The latter is fairly forgiving, lending the loaf a lovely lightness of texture and depth of flavour. I tend to do my baking on a Sunday afternoon, and each week a freshly baked loaf of bread makes getting up on a Monday morning just that little bit easier. Continue reading
Fresh, fluffy pancakes with creamy guacamole
‘When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,’ said Piglet at last, ‘what’s the first thing you say to yourself?’ ‘What’s for breakfast?’ said Pooh. ‘What do you say, Piglet?’ ‘I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?’ said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. ‘It’s the same thing,’ he said.
Reading this quote from A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner, I can’t help but smile. In just a few short sentences, the author manages to capture both the thrill and satisfaction of finding pleasure in food. Any foodie worth their salt (or should it be honey?) will always have thoughts of their next meal ticking over gently at the back of their mind, and after the enforced fasting that comes with a good night’s sleep, there are few greater pleasures than waking up and deciding what to eat for your very first meal of the day. Continue reading
Homemade wholemeal courgette loaf...in a flower pot
When I first started writing this blog just over six months ago, I set myself the challenge of baking real bread on a weekly basis. As a self-confessed bread addict and self-styled ‘little loaf’, it seemed madness not to be making my own dough, especially when the average British shop contains such a sad little cardboard collection of bland, sugar-laced loaves.
Since then, I’ve started to eagerly anticipate the ritual of Sunday morning baking; dusting down the work surfaces with flour, kneading and shaping the dough, waiting patiently for it to rise, then slinging it into a super hot oven to bake as delicious smells begin to waft through the house. I’ve experimented with different flours and flavours, from fluffy focaccia to crusty white bloomers, seeded spelt, nutty wholemeal, flatbreads, buns and even croissants. But recently, with six months’ baking under my belt, I felt the need to inject some new inspiration into my bread, so I decided to join the Fresh from the Oven community.
Can you beat a homemade croissant?
‘It’s a labour of love’. ‘You’ll pile on the pounds’. ‘It’ll change the way you think about them forever’ . . .
You might be forgiven for thinking such comments are in some way related to pregnancy and children. They’re not. Despite being an avid baker, at only just the wrong side of twenty-five, I’m not quite ready for that kind of bun in the oven. Nope, I’m talking croissants.
Search for ‘homemade croissant’ online and you’ll find thousands of recipes, often accompanied by a caveat. Yes they are wonderful, and yes you’ll love the end product, but getting there is a tricky, time-consuming process and everyone seems to have a horror story to share (back to that pregnancy comparison, I think there might be some mileage in this . . .)
Homemade eggs benedict
James Ramsden is a high achiever. Trained at Ballymaloe cookery school in Ireland, he started blogging back in 2008 and has since carved himself a career as a respected food writer for The Guardian, The Times, Sainsbury’s magazine and more. Not content with writing for broadsheets, magazines and maintaining a successful blog, he also runs a popular supper club from his home in North London and has just published his first book. All at the tender age of 24. That’s two years younger than me. By rights I should be green with envy.
Hot toasted muffins with salty butter
But I’m not. There’s something extremely likeable about James and his attitude to food. He wants cooking to be simple and he wants it to be enjoyable. He appreciates the fact that, for most people, eating isn’t necessarily an endless succession of dinner-party-standard meals – that in any given week we’ll fluctuate between feeding large groups of friends and throwing together a solitary supper. His attitude reminds me of a cross between a younger Jamie Oliver (minus the cheeky chappy vocab) and my own boyfriend (like James, Carniverous Boyfriend is a Yorkshire boy). Maybe it’s an age thing. Maybe it’s a boy thing. But I definitely feel like there’s a lot I can learn from his enthusiastic, experimental, laid-back approach to cooking. Food should be fun.