Hurrah for Autumn! It is easily my favourite season, no contest. You can keep your sweaty Summer days that make my fringe stick to my forehead thanks. Spring days where I always manage to under or overdress thus resulting in either being hot and bothered or freezing and bitter, nah, not for me. Winter is just cold and bleak plus it’s just so far away from the next Autumn! Give me crisp mornings where I want to set my alarm 10 minutes earlier just to give me snuggle time, crunchy leaves and the long-awaited emergence of my coat wardrobe (I have a weak spot for vintage coats. Last year, I had 5 different ones on rotation. A girl can never have too many coats. Fact.). The food is also far superior, so long salads, see you next year! It’s pumpkin season. I feel this chunky bright orange monstrosity is often just viewed as a Halloween accessory to be carved out and cast aside yet the flesh is so delicious. It is naturally quite sweet, the same as a butternut squash for those who haven’t chowed down on one before (they are from the same family of vegetables. A pumpkin is basically a giant squash.) and lends itself perfectly to baking.
I have just completed 6 weeks of no baking and oh my days I almost went cray-cray. It wasn’t by choice but forced upon me by my situation (reaaalllllyyyyy long story, seriously, it even bores me to tell it so I shan’t give you the deets). What I found out in this time is how happy baking and blogging makes me. There was a massive cupcake shaped void in my life! I love plotting my next cake or cookie, researching new flours to use or what glorious seasonal ingredient I can throw in. Next comes a bit of decoration inspiration courtesy of Instagram (I hate to think how many hours of my life is spent on Instagram, whole evenings lost scrolling through pictures of dogs in funny outfits). The photo styling and photography can often swallow up an afternoon by perching on chairs trying to get the perfect shot or spending 20 minutes deciding whether to feature the whisk in the photo or not (important stuff, obvs). The editing and writing up is always the nice part, seeing the end result whilst eating said cake. It is not only my hobby but creative release, without it I have too much time on my hands and too many sweet ideas in my mind just bursting to get out. Therefore after this 6 weeks of forced abstinence I have a must bake list about 4 pages long. An awesome excuse to spend more time in the kitchen!
I have found myself with an awful lot of unexpected extra time on my hands recently. You move to London and think to yourself PARTY TIME! I’m going to be a socialite, out for post work drinkies every evening, shimmying from the latest cool rooftop bar to the next uber cool cocktail bar in Dalston. It will be amazing. I will be rubbing shoulders with Alexa Chung and Nick Grimshaw no doubt! I quickly realised this would not be the case. Not when buying two drinks will set you back over a tenner (or in one particular public house which will remain nameless, I was charged £16 for two vodka sodas. £16!!!!!!!!!! That was my entire food budget for the week gone). And everyone works crazy hours. And so my unexpected extra time has been spent being creative, I’ve thrown myself back into this blogging lark, I’ve had the sewing machine out (I made my housemate Eilis a laundry bag out of some unused 1970’s pillowcases for her birthday. I know, I know, just too cool…) and took my camera out and about. I love to have a feeling of purpose with my spare time, it doesn’t feel like a wasted afternoon when I have some amazing photos or a patchwork quilt to show for it. So actually, Alexa and Nick, you can keep your latest pop up bar, I’ve got a hot date with the sewing machine.
October is the best month, it always has been! When I was younger it was because it was my birthday month but these days I just love the crisp Autumnal mornings, falling crunchy leaves and enjoying the extra hour in bed after turning the clocks back. October this year has been particularly ace due to my market stall launching (the next one will be 15th November, Ascot farmers market, be there or be square). Due to the madness of planning, setting up and baking for the stall I haven’t had as much time to dedicate to blogging (Seriously, where does the time disappear to?!) so to make up for my slack behaviour, I thought I’d share with you my favourite cake OF ALL TIME! It needs no technique, its pretty much fool proof and perfect for chilly afternoons with a cuppa.
Sometimes, I have oodles of ideas spinning around in my mind for cakes. And then other days, meh, not so much. I was struggling a bit this week after spending the past couple of weeks lost in a blur of market stall planning. What shall I bake? What price should I charge? Will anyone buy my cakes? What font should I use on my banners? (For new readers, I will be launching my first market stall in Ascot on 18th October!) I think I have a good list of cakes I am going to bake, a nice selection of vegan and gluten free with one or two ‘normal’ cakes, perhaps a couple of cookie options too. Whilst making the shortlist of possible bakes, I revisited some old recipes from this blog and rediscovered these delightful gluten free pistachio and carrot cupcakes! I posted them over a year ago and since then my photography skills have come on in leaps and bounds. Since I was lacking in ideas, I though I would try them again but with way better photographs and wow, they did not disappoint! So much so, they made it onto my final list for market day!
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.
Only a week back to reality and already India feels a million years ago (no exaggeration). Back to work, to windy cold days and to being stuck in traffic jams on the M25. Yay… I must have said the same sentence around 100 times, ‘Yes I had an AMAZING holiday thank you, it was everything I wanted it to be and more’, every time with oodles of enthusiasm because I really could talk about it forever. We spent the most amazing 3 days at an organic farm called Dewalokam, 50km outside the main city of Kochin.
I have a confession to make. It is pretty bad and I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself. I have found a new love! One that is currently stealing my heart and taking up all my thoughts, all day, every day. And no, the BF shouldn’t fret, my new love is my sewing machine. It has been in my life for a few years now, gathering dust on a shelf, unsure of how to use it. My awesomely skilled crafty friend Laura Cherry had been inspiring me for some time with her beautiful bunting so when a sewing session was suggested to show me how to use my machine, I was super excited. And in those few hours one Saturday afternoon, as I learnt to thread the machine, refill my bobbin and how to stitch straight, I fell head over heels. Since then I have spent many an hour dreaming about what I might create, getting lost in haberdashery departments and raiding my local charity shop for vintage fabrics. So far, I have kept it pretty simple. I’ve made cushion covers using 1970’s bed spreads and replaced the BF’s jean pockets with 80’s curtains. My next project is still dealing with cushions (perfect the simple before moving on) but replacing all the BF’s cushion covers (currently battered and garish Ikea numbers) with John Lewis 1950’s archive print fabric which is just to die for! My new obsession takes time (of which I have little) and sadly, so far I have been taking this time away from cakes and cookies which is why I haven’t been posting much lately but I have noticed how much I have been neglecting my baking and have dedicated myself to coming back with a bang so keep your eyes peeled for some very exciting new cakes coming soon….
Woooooah! Parsnip? In a cake? Are you for real? Yes, I am totes real. Don’t chicken out on baking this one, it is a taste revelation and you will never look at a parsnip in the same way again. Whilst plotting blog bakes for the past couple of weeks, I noticed that I naturally gravitate towards the same flavours all the time. I’m a sucker for my favourite white chocolate, walnuts, raspberries, vanilla and coconut, regular readers of the blog will know that I have used these in a lot of recipes on here and the last thing I want to become is predictable, yawn. So here I am, thinking outside the box, pushing more cake boundaries and living life on the edge of a cake tin. There is def something smugly satisfying aswell about producing something that tastes lush from something that really shouldn’t, just like last weeks bake of beetroot chocolate cake (http://www.hollylovescake.com/2014/08/beetroot-chocolate-cake-with-vanilla-cream-cheese-icing/) or my courgette and lemon cake (http://www.hollylovescake.com/2014/04/courgette-lemon-and-poppy-seed-cake/). Using vegetables makes a cake super moist and creates a much closer crumb, this is not a light, airy cake. No fluffyness here! Just lush, squidgy, spiced delightfulness.