One of the questions I’m most often asked about this blog is where I get my love of food and baking from. My first point of reference is almost always my parents – a childhood where helping my Mum out in the kitchen and making my own birthday cakes was the norm, every summer spent in Italy amongst an abundance of incredible produce and a father whose eyes are a whole lot smaller than the stomach which unfortunately reflects his infectious love of food (sorry Dad!). Continue reading
Tag Archives: cake
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
‘Some woman is going to want me to do it to her, and I’m not going to know what it is.’
‘You’ll love it.’
20 years ago, the world was a very different place. In lots of ways, of course, but this particular scene from Sleepless in Seattle where Tom Hanks’ character is about to embark on the dating scene again shows just how much our knowledge of different types of food has changed since 1993. To even be able to contemplate including such a joke in the script, the screenwriter would have had to be pretty comfortable that plenty of people didn’t know what tiramisu was; that for every person laughing at Hanks’ clueless comment, another one would be scratching their head and wondering what this unusual aphrodisiac might be. With 5.3 million pages returning on the search term ‘tiramisu’ on UK Google alone today, that hardly seems possible now. Continue reading
Do you have a sweet tooth?
Given the content of this blog, the content of my kitchen cupboards and the way in which I can talk for hours about the joys of cake, baking, butter and sugar, it would be foolish to even try to suggest that I don’t. But my sweet tooth (or teeth, some might argue) is not exclusive or exclusionary – I’m unlikely to choose dessert over a main meal, I like to have it in addition to what I’m eating on a daily basis, enjoying flavours that are savoury, salty and sharp as much as I do anything sweet.
When I was a littler loaf, my biggest weakness was always savoury. While I loved chocolate, cake and sweets as much as the next child, sandwiches, crisps and Twiglets were always my first port of call at parties (my Mum, apparently, was the same). While other kids were getting hyperactive on luminous bowls of jelly, multicoloured sprinkles and synthetic sweets, I’d be quite happy munching on the corners of a Marmite sandwich (normally cut into triangles by the birthday boy or girl’s Mum, the crusts removed in an attempt to get everyone to eat them, much to my dismay). Continue reading
A word of warning before you embark on reading this post: if you’ve given up chocolate and sweet stuff for Lent, you might want to look away now. Recent events suggest I have a tendency to lead people into temptation . . .
Last week I met one of my school friends for dinner after work. There were supposed to be three of us, but my other friend ended up stuck in the office in the way, it seems, that only lawyers can, unsure whether more paperwork might come through from the States and if she’d be there until ten at night or two in the morning. Despite her absence, the evening was lovely: wine was opened, stories shared, gossip caught up on and plenty of good food consumed. After two very virtuous fish-based mains, we both decided to go for the most indulgent-sounding dessert on the menu: chocolate brownie with homemade hazelnut ice cream. Continue reading
With Christmas just around the corner, thoughts are turning to festive food. Turkeys, geese and glistening hams have already been ordered, mincemeat made for perfect pies, salmon smoked, butter brandied and puddings laden with boozy fruit stored. In the last week or so there’s been a creeping chill in the air, and suddenly all this hearty winter fare feels just that little bit more tempting.
For most, a Christmas spread wouldn’t be complete without stuffing, and when I think of stuffing, chestnuts come to mind. Associated with warmth and winter, chestnuts are in their element when roasted over hot coals, the toasty smells wafting temptingly through the streets as vendors tout their treats to passers by. The Christmas Song, composed in 1946 and sung by Nat King Cole, is alternatively titled ‘Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire’ and conjures up all the cosily romantic images we so strongly associate with Christmas. There’s never been a better time to cook with these strong, sweet, shiny nuts.
Anyone with even a passing interest in food knows the importance of texture. We might use the term ‘taste’ as a general description, but we’re not just talking about the flavour of a dish; food is measured in structure, in substance, in ‘mouthfeel’. And as their skills improve, home cooks and chefs alike begin to strive for perfection in texture; I’m not talking the foams and jellies of molecular gastronomy here, but recgonisable goals – the crispiest bacon, the fluffiest scones, the lightest of soufflés.
‘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
‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ – Old English Proverb
From its grand entrance into records as the original forbidden fruit to the more pedestrian prescription as a daily dose of vitamins and minerals, the apple has held an important place in history. It’s the fabled fruit that fell in front of Newton, supposedly helping him to form his theory of gravity, the present that children traditionally take in for teachers and the iconic logo for a brand that irreversibly changed the course of technology. The apple of one’s eye is a most cherished possession and this simple fruit has been the subject of numerous phrases and sayings across the ages.