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 peruse and dip in and out as casually as you want!
Exciting and always relaxing, I find baking to be the best way to lift my spirits at any time; it never fails to put a smile on my face and no matter how many times I have baked something either from my repertoire of favourites, or if I am working on a new recipe, each bake means something very special to me.
As well as the thrill of planning each bake, the excitement begins in earnest as soon as I weight out the ingredients. A terrific sense of occasion is always with me, 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 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 my favourite recipes – all of which I have either created myself or have tweaked – into one central place; hence this blog.
In a bid to organise things further – I can’t help it; it’s the teacher in me! - I have added key pages to highlight my particular loves within the world of baking, and a recipe collection of the recipes that feature in my posts (to be honest, it helps me find things I am looking for rather than trawl through scraps of paper and the like!): a drop-down menu appears when the cursor is hovered over Recipes at the top of the page, or else can be found in the recipe index on the right, with the recipes ordered loosely by type of bake.
Baking is an important aspect of my life and while I would love to bake professionally, my baking does fit in with the busy and highly rewarding life of a teacher! In fact, no matter how busy things are in a typical week at school, I am always thinking of ideas for the next bake.
One of my underlying aims in baking is to make and, dare I say, improve upon anything that can be bought; preferring to use locally sourced and home-grown ingredients as much as possible, I like to have complete control over what goes into my food, not to mention the flavour, cost and personal satisfaction benefits.
And always there is the thrill of just what can be achieved with relatively few ingredients and achieved quite simply – for baking does not need to be complicated or hugely time-consuming; it can be, and the more difficult bakes that take many hours often ticks the box for me, but it does not need to be!
Of all the things I bake, pastry and bread are my greatest loves; I haven’t bought bread and pastry for many years, opting to make my own. 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.
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.
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 – my trusted testers!
The frequency with which I make up laminated doughs, make macarons and bake breads has prompted me to have an additional freezer in the garage that is devoted to them: many people might indulge in top-of-the-range televisions or luxury cars, but my extra freezer will do me fine as an extravagance!
I’m very much an admirer of Afternoon Tea; although it is an occasional treat rather than a frequent affair, Afternoon Tea (the full works!) is, and rightly so, an event in its own right. And 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.
I also love making and decorating cakes; each time I offer up my creations to others I aim for my cakes to scream “eat me”! And there are few greater feelings of pride to be had than when a cake is devoured happily by others.
My ramblings and my recipes 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 the humble bread and cheese snack 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. One of my key aims, however, would be to publish my recipes and associated ramblings in a book….one day!