Welcome to my world of home baking: it is very much a world in which the challenges of the outside world are left firmly at the kitchen door! Please feel free to dip in and out as casually as you want, and I hope you will find something to try out, whether it is something new or something more familiar.
Exciting and always relaxing, I find baking to be the best way to lift my spirits at any tim and it never fails to put a smile on my face. No matter how many times I have baked something from my repertoire of favourites or if I am creating a new recipe, often from a mere crumb of an idea, each bake means something very special to me.
As well as the thrill of creating and planning each bake, the excitement begins as soon as I weight out the ingredients: there is a always a terrific sense of occasion, whether I am baking something quick and simple or something more challenging. And how can words do justice to that buzz of anticipation as the enticing aromas come from the oven and the oven door is about to be opened?
Having so many scribblings of recipe ideas on bits of paper and on various files on the computer with no particular sense of organisation, I felt it time to put my ideas and recipes – all of which I have either created myself or have tweaked from existing classics – into one central place; hence this blog.
Since creating the blog I have been fortunate to have been able to create some indulgent sweet bakes for Sainsbury’s Magazine and I submitted an article for perfecting croissants in Brilliant Baking Magazine.
Baking is an important aspect of my life and my baking does fit in with the busy and highly rewarding life of a teacher; no matter how busy things are in a typical week at school, I am always thinking of ideas for the next bake and can always make time to bake.
One of my underlying aims in baking is to be able to make whatever can be bought, but I often like to add my own spin so that I can have complete control over what goes into my food, or tweak things further to fit in with my tastes at the time.
There is always the thrill in baking of just what can be achieved with relatively few ingredients and achieved quite simply: baking does not need to be complicated or hugely time-consuming; it can be, of course, and the more challenging bakes that take more time and focus are sometimes just what I need, but it does not need to be! And often, grazing on a few simple bakes that take moments to throw together, along with a simple salad or fresh vegetables can be just as satisfying as a more full-on meal!
Of all the things I bake, pastry and bread are my greatest loves. I have a particular penchant towards sourdoughs but I love baking any type of bread. I am currently trying to bake my way through as many different types of bread as I can find but I often like to add my twists.
I have long been fascinated with laminated doughs:freshly baked croissants that shatter as you bite into them, giving way to a buttery honeycomb interior, form my ideal breakfast – especially when eaten with home-made strawberry jam and freshly ground coffee. However, I love working on savoury variations on laminated doughs and for me, a warm savoury pastry never fails to make me happy!
In recent years I have developed a love of macarons and I often bake batches of these sweet treats, many of which find their way quite willingly into the mouths of friends and colleagues, although I have been experimenting with savoury macarons, which are becoming a staple canapé for me: the mixture of sweet and savoury notes can, with the right fillings, create a stunning taste explosion.
I’m very much an admirer of Afternoon Tea which is a food event in its own right: there is nothing like an Afternoon Tea to create a real sense of occasion and give a warm satisfaction as you tuck into the treasure trove of goodies on offer. For me, it is like being a child again, waking up on Christmas morning, with eyes lighing up as you delve into inviting packages in front of you! I love experiencing more unusual Afternoon Teas, and an Afternoon Tea with a more savoury slant is, for me, the pinnacle of indulgence!
I also love making and decorating cakes and while the simplicity and taste of a Victoria Sandwich is hard to beat, I aim for my more elaborate cakes to scream “eat me”! Even though I do not have a very sweet tooth, there are few greater feelings of pride to be had than when a cake is devoured happily by others. Mind you, that feeling happily extends to all bakes.
My ramblings and my recipes in this blog also flirt with other areas of cooking that appeal to me. Key among these is preserving: home-made chutneys and mouth-wateringly crunchy pickled shallots can not only lift a simple snack of bread and cheese to dizzying heights of food delight, they are a perfect accompaniment to an endless number of cold savouries. And I could not be without a dollop or two of home-made jam with just-warmed croissants!
In the gallery section are images of my favourite things to make, and my recipes and my comments for these can be found on this blog.