It’s been quite some time since I last posted here, and indeed, quite some time since I last baked. The past few months have been a bit of a blur; my relationship of almost six years came to an end, I moved house, and seem to have spent most of my spare time since organising my new flat and toasting to the next chapter of my life with my wonderful friends.
At times of stress or trauma, it seems natural to retreat to self-preservation mode, living day-to-day and focusing on the basics of feeding yourself, general life-admin (mainly consisting of desperate attempts to get through the bottomless pit of laundry without the aid of a tumble dryer and phonecalls to utility companies), and work.
But living like this does little to inspire creativity, happiness, or wellbeing. I’ve found myself craving a return to the more well-rounded me, and a big part of that is tied up with baking and writing; the great satisfaction of creating something from scratch. Whether a piece of prose, or a slice of cake – to create, share, and enjoy, I’ve realised, is fundamental to my happiness.
Just a few weeks ago, newspaper headlines declared we were in drought, and decried the start of a hose pipe ban. ‘But how will I clean my block paved drive way witouth my fully-loaded penis-esque Karscher pressure washer?!’ demanded middle-aged men with middle-aged spread.
Fear not, hose-wealders. As if by magic – or by the power of that lesser known phenomenon, Sod’s Law – at the very mention of a hose pipe ban, the mighty sky retaliated by rounding up a gang of the greyest, densest, meanest clouds around, and heartily encouraging them to piss down upon us all for the best part of ten days.
Well, well, well. It’s been almost three weeks since I posted the second part of this triology; probably the time it has taken me to finish the Steig Larsson trilogy in the two hours a day I merrily spend with my Kindle on my commute.
Time seems to move at a different speed in London to Bristol or Newcastle; time seems much more precious, and I seem to have become worse at making the most of it. I hope that will change (at least a little) when I get the iPad I pre-ordered last week.
Following on from the Drizzled Lemon Curd Cake I made recently, the second installment in my triple-layer triology is this utterly charming, porcelain white beauty.
Coconut and lime are one of my most favourite combinations; whether in a cocktail, a thai curry, or these super-cute coconut and lime cupcakes, there’s something about the sharp zing of lime paired with the sweet, creamy flavour of coconut that makes it simply irresistible for me.
This post showcases the first of three tantalising triple-layer cakes I’ve baked recently. Why have I baked so many of them, you ask? Especially when most people are on a new year, clean-eating-boot-camping-green-tea-swigging-booze-craving de-tox.
Well, there are two reasons; one, I prefer dirty eating – particularly in January and February, generally the coldest, most depressing months of the year. Secondly, when it comes to cake, I feel there are few things more satisfying than watching a cake slice gently glide through three decadent, fluffy layers of sponge, and lifting up a resplendent, towering triangle to endless ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s.
Those who know me will know that by day, I work in fundraising, and by night I’m a baking fiend. Most fundraisers will tell you they rarely leave their fundraising hat at the door, and I for one love nothing more than a chance to bring these two passions together for a good cause. This week, that cause is Children in Need.
When a colleague of mine was agonizing over what to get her partner for her anniversary this weekend, I offered to help her celebrate the occasion with a batch of homemade cupcakes. I did it partially so I would have the chance to try out my lovely little heart-shaped icing plungers, but mainly because I think homemade cakes are a wonderful way to show your love for someone close to you.
You may have noticed something of a recurring theme on the blog recently – apples!
I’ve gone a little apple crazy. And thats because everywhere I look, there are lovely, juicy, tangy specimens of all shapes and sizes, just begging to be celebrated. Every house in my street seems to have an offering on their front wall, free to a good home, before the last of the crop falls from the tree and goes to waste among auburn leaves.
There’s an apple tree in my garden, looking a little neglected and wistfully shedding its fruit on to the grass. I share my garden with the other residents in our little block of flats and there don’t seem to be many takers of the small, rough-around-the-edges, apples it has to offer. But I’m a little rough around the edges too and I hate to think of them going to waste, so I added ‘think of lots of things to do with a glut of apples’ to my ever-expanding to-do list.
The sandwich is a modest little thing. If it were a person, I imagine he would stand with his hands in his pockets, scuffing the floor with his shoe and trying not to make eye contact.
But this unassuming chameleon has a lot to be proud of; he can take on anything – from fish fingers to fillet steak, marmite to ham and mustard. Done properly, with delicious, fresh bread, a hearty filling and those crucial condiments to add ‘je ne sais quoi’, it is truly one of my favourite simple pleasures. In its versatility, you might say it’s a little like my absolute favourite pleasure – CAKE!