Who thought green biscuits could be so pretty?! These buttery, crumbley shortbread treats are carefully flavoured with matcha powder that gives them a bright hue and subtle green tea flavour. It is an unusual taste, much like green tea, and one that I have grown to love. The matcha latte trend (with unsweetened almond milk,obvs) has led to a million Instagram pictures and it is no surprise a glowing bright green mug that offers many health benefits (I wanted to call it a super food then but my dietician boyfriend would murder me for using such a term!), it can now be found on many hipster coffee shop menus.
Bananas are my favourite fruit. I love all fruit but these bright and convenient fellas are just the best! Similar to my 2nd all time faves, avocados, the window of yummy squidgy perfection is so tiny. I can regularly be found on Sunday mornings whilst on my brunch ingredient hunt, gently squeezing all the avos in Waitrose (I really wanted to type Asda there but who am I kidding?! This is gentrified London) to find the spot on amount of softness so I can mash it and top my toast (artisan sourdough, obvs). And bananas need that hue of yellow, for all signs of green to have just about faded away and the brown spots have yet to appear. That is banana bohemia! Anything older is too sweet and anything less has that weird bendyness and slight bitterness. I doubt there are many things worse in life than under-ripe avocados (in fact, I cried once when I found my avo was past its best. It had been a long day…) and bendy bananas. But rejoice! For those who find their ‘nanas have gone a bit dodge, here is the recipe to save the situation!
London is the most over whelming but exciting place to be. Home is currently Muswell Hill which is north London, filled with yummy mummies and huge Victorian houses. For work I am in Shoreditch which has an extensive array of coffee shops and people who are too cool for school (eg Me). I love how each area has its own personality and style. If I want vintage, I go to Brick Lane, if I want inspiring food, Borough Market. There is always something going on. Back home I would wake up on a Sunday morning and the only thing to do was to walk to the corner shop to get the paper. In London I can do brunch, go to the museum, see some art, learn swing dancing (tried and failed miserably. I have no rhythm. Trod on everyone’s toe’s and no-one wanted to be my partner). Basically, whatever I want to do, I can. There are free things and expensive things. My favourite things are, surprisingly, those which are free. I have started running again after a while out of the game due to injury. Yes, I know you can do this anywhere but running to the top of Alexandra Palace and looking out across the whole of the London skyline at night is pretty lush. Birmingham at night doesn’t have quite the same appeal. As I look out the window now, it is 5pm and the sun is still shining and it is light. Spring is around the corner! Meaning soon evenings will be filled with pub gardens (drink soda water and sneak in your own vodka) and walks in Hyde park. Once you get off the crowded high streets and tourist traps, London is a bloomin lovely place to be where one can never be bored.
I’m back! Some of you more regular readers may have noticed my 2 month absense (and if you didn’t, just humour me and just pretend you noticed I was gone). Things went a bit…. well…. cray-cray. Upside down. Stuff happened. All at once. I can tell you think I am being a right drama queen. First off, I changed jobs as you know. Hurrah! I am now officially at Lily Vanilli Bakery, spending my days making tasty pastries and delectable morsels of cake, #livingthedream. At the same time I moved house, and cities, into London. I’m crashing with some lovely friends of mine who have allowed me to rock up with my entire kitchen contents (and there is a lot… Working for Le Creuset def had its benefits) for a few months whilst I find my feet. And all of this happened as me and the BF broke up. Hmm. I spent most of December holed up listening to Adele (jokes!). Breaking up during Xmas is just the suckiest time (is there ever a good time?) but I must have been the only person to lose weight over Christmas (I wouldn’t recommend the heartbreak diet to anyone but its very effective. I’m now wearing jeans I haven’t worn since I was 22!). I didn’t really want to do much of anything including blogging and baking. Now though, I feel its time to get my identity back a little and get into the kitchen. There are good days and bad days, but if there is cake around, it makes those bad days a little brighter.
Hurrah this week saw the return of the eagerly anticipated Great British Bake Off! Every Wednesday for the next 10 weeks will be about having an early dinner and bath, snuggling up in your dressing gown with a cuppa and watching Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry casting their critical eyes over more baking disasters. For those of you out there who haven’t heard of this glorious programme, it involves two highly regarded bakers making sexual innuendo about soggy bottoms and huge buns as they test the baking skills of 12 amateur bakers. What’s not to like?! A few people have said I should apply but although I would smash week one (week one= cake week. Obvs.), I would epically fail at biscuit/ pastry/ probably bread week for I have no patience. Waiting for a loaf to prove? Pfffft. Messing with delicate ginger snaps? I’m far too heavy handed! Nah, I’d be out on my ear after week two. And anyway, I don’t need anyone else to tell me how good my cakes are 😉
These little lovelies I made for a garden party I went to today, my brothers girlfriends parents threw a Summer (the sun made a brief appearance..) BBQ and I obviously couldn’t turn up empty handed. I spent hours making a brown sugar custard tart with roasted strawberries. Being a smart arse I didn’t bother to read the recipe and rather too late realised the pastry had to rest for 4 hours, then roll, then rest again for 2 hours, then blind bake for 40 minutes (at this point I went to bed, I needed resting as well as the pastry), allow to cool completely, make the custard, back in the oven for 40 minutes…. Phew! It tasted ahmazing but anything which involved 13 egg yolks and 700ml of double cream would do I guess. I also whipped up a simple white chocolate and raspberry sponge and these gluten free courgette and coconut cupcakes.
Coming back to real life after India was a huge uncomfortable bump. I was feeling rather blue, real life is just pants. I was still day dreaming about flexing my yoga skills under blue skys with the parrots flying overhead. So I was very glad to have my chocolate day course booked in for the week after my return with the fabulous Mark Tilling, twice crowned UK’s best chocolatier at Squires Kitchen near Guildford. This was the second part of my prize after winning Tate and Lyles Baking Dreams competition back in November (I haven’t stopped entering competitions since, you’ve got to be in it to win it).
What a superb week of double celebrations! Valentines day AND pancake day! Celebrating love and eating in one week, what could be better. I actually think pancake day should be a weekly, if not daily event. Why confine them to one day of the year? I’m not talking about silly skinny crepes, which I find wholly unfulfilling as a pancake (lemon and granulated sugar? What kind of topping is that?!). I’m talking about huge, pillow like American pancakes. Every Sunday should be enjoyed by the nation by having a pancake brunch, a proper weekend indulgence. If you find the perfect recipe giving you the desired fluffy cloud-like texture, they are perfect for soaking up ridiculous amounts of maple syrup. Throw in some blueberries, maybe some chocolate chips, swop the flour for spelt and even use some honey. Perhaps even go savoury? You could have starter, main and dessert all using pancakes. What else need you ever eat! So versatile, there is a pancake for everyone. My current favourite ones are spelt and coconut ones from Eva In The Kitchen:
They say you should never meet your idols, you will only be disappointed. So understandably, I was feeling apprehensive yet super excited about meeting my favourite French sugar god, Eric Lanlard. I have been swooning over his books for a few years and had visited his shamazing café, Cake Boy, in Battersea so when I had to choose what I wanted for my 25th (ok, ok, 30th) birthday present, there was no doubt in my mind what to ask for. A baking tutorial day at Cake Boy with Eric. A whole day with Eric! A whole day! Me! And Eric! ERIC! He does a variety of different baking days and I plumped for the French Baking day complete with breakfast patisseries, lunch with wine and you get to take home everything you bake. The cakes we were going to make were almond and lavender provencal cake (gluten free), a gateaux Breton (even I had to google that one, a buttery crumbly flakey gorgeousness apparently) and a pear and juniper tart tatin. Major yummo.