It seems like the joys of spring have finally descended, and the blossoming trees, gamboling lambs and rolling green fields in Derbyshire are making me feel very lucky to be living in such a beautiful place. Even more excitingly, the hodge podge vegetable garden I’ve assembled in a variety of pots has already started to produce exciting treats. So far that’s just a bunch of radishes and a few handfuls of chard and spinach, but across the summer I’m looking forward to my own peppers, courgettes, tomatoes, herbs, chillis and cucamelons, which supposed taste like cucumbers with a hint of lime, but are the size of a grape.
There are certain recipes that the first time you make them, you know they’re going to be a reliable friend for a long time. Dan Lepard has provided several of these (roast cocoa cookies, anyone?), and a few weeks ago I finally got round to buying one of his books, Short and Sweet. Settling down with some sticky tabs and a cup of tea, I ended up marking about a third of the recipes as ones to try, and these Rye, Raisin and Chocolate Cookies were the most tempting of the lot.
Sometimes baking can really lift your mood in ways you don’t expect. I made this Floral Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream on a very rainy day. With lots of baking on the day’s list, and still wearing my PJs, I was in a massive grump. One of those grumbly for no reason moods. And I couldn’t work out how to shake it. My favourite Easter biscuits were delicious but seemed unphotographable. I missed a chilling step in a batch of Lemon bars and they ended up unpleasing greasy. The kitchen was a mess and I felt lazy and useless.
Easter is a big deal in my family. Ever since I can remember it’s been marked with celebrations, normally with my cousins, family friends and more. When we were little these celebrations involved rolling eggs we’d painted down hills, welly wanging (not as rude as it sounds!), and culminated in the inevitable chocolate egg hunt. Although I haven’t thrown my welly across a field in over a decade, the Easter Egg Hunt is still a huge feature of every spring.
Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. I first had these Easter biscuits at my boyfriend’s family’s house, as one of about 10 amazing bakes made by his mum. She kindly gave me the recipe and I’ve been making them ever since.
Sometimes food stays with you for a really long time. Years ago, my sister and I took our mum to an incredible ‘High Chai’ afternoon tea at Cinnamon Soho in London. The dishes were all spins on English afternoon tea staples: finger sandwiches full of tandori chicken and punchy chutney; scones with a tangy spiced relish; cups of masala chai. But the thing that really stood out for me was an unassuming slice of cake spiced with garam masala. Spicy, sweet and moreish, it was everything I wanted from a cake, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
Calling everyone with a nut allergy – nut-free macarons are not just a possibility, they’re also totally delicious! Traditionally made with almond meal, ground pumpkin seeds can be used as a simple replacement, and the outcome is completely delicious.