Welcome to my world of home baking: 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 get ideas for bakes to try out, whether it is something new or something more familiar.
Over the years I have scribbled so many recipe ideas on bits of paper and as endless files on the computer, with no particular sense of organisation so I felt it time to put my ideas and recipes into one central place; hence this blog. Unless otherwise stated, all recipes are my own and all photos are of my bakes.
Baking always makes me feel content and relaxed, filling me with a sense of occasion: every bake means something very special to me whether it something I have baked many times before or if I am working on a new idea. 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?
I often wake up in the night with an idea and I then scribble down some thoughts onto paper (I always have a pad by my bed for just this reason!). I then draft how I expect the different components for the bake to come together and how I think the finished bake should look. And if the bake doesn’t quite work out first time, I love tweaking the idea until I am happy with it.
One of my underlying aims in baking is to be able to make whatever can be bought, not least so that I can have complete control over what goes into my food.
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!
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, bread (the ultimate comfort food!) and pastry 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 as well as finding any excuse to create a multitude of flavoured breads. Mind you, an unadulterated bread, toasted and buttered is a very satisfying thing to eat!
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. Whenever I make up a batch, I often freeze half of it for a speedy bake at a later stage.
I love working on savoury variations on laminated doughs and a nicely warmed savoury pastry never fails to make me happy. Mind you, if I am after a sweet hit, it has to be something indulgent!
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, eyes lighing up as you delve into inviting packages in front of you! I love experiencing and preparing more unusual Afternoon Teas, and an Afternoon Tea with a more savoury slant is perfection for me!
Although savoury food is my preference if I am going to indulge, I love making and decorating cakes. While the simplicity and taste of a Victoria Sandwich, for example, is hard to beat, I aim for my more elaborate cakes to scream “eat me”, and in recent years I have been honoured to have been asked by friends and colleagues to create cakes for various celebrations.
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!
Happy baking!Follow @bakingfanatic1