Sometimes cake ideas come to me fully formed, sometimes they come from needing to use up leftovers, and sometimes I get a fun new toy I can’t wait to play with. A few weekends ago on a trip to TK Maxx to buy some pretty pots for some of my plant jungle (is 27 plants in the living room too many? If it is I don’t care!), I spied some Halloween cookie cutters. My cookie cutter collection didn’t have anything spooky in it at all, so I decided to buy them as a little treat.
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.
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.
I have to admit that for me, Valentine’s Day is not a big deal. Neither me or the boyf are particularly fussed about it, and with his birthday a few days before I’m always out of present ideas. Although we don’t celebrate the day itself, baking is the way I show love to him all throughout the year (even if that love is sometimes just a big heap of leftover scraps, or a photo!). I though it would be great to share a recipe you can make for everyone you love, romantically or otherwise.
Once you’ve got your basic Christmas baking sorted (I’m talking mince pies, truffles, Swedish Pepparkakor gingerbread, German Lebkuchen Biscuits…) you’re going to need a showstopping pudding for the big day. The obvious choice is the traditional Christmas fruit cake covered in marzipan and white icing or a boozy Christmas pudding. With a nut-allergy, both of these choices are usually off the table. In fact, even nut-free fruit cake has never been something I find particularly tasty. So I wanted to come up with a really special nut-free celebration cake. This Christmas Gingerbread Forest Cake is the final product!
Halloween baking time! When I was younger my sister and I would have our friends round at Halloween, dress up and play lots of games. Eating a boiled sweet from a pile of icing sugar without using your hands, eating a doughnut from a string without using your hands… looking back they were very no hand based! It was always super fun, and I still love carving pumpkins.
In my mind, summer is the best time of year hands down. Swims in sun-dappled lidos, lazy walks in the park, idyllic picnics in leafy parks and drinking outside late into the night. Sometimes the reality lives up to the dream. But of course, the inevitable British weather puts a bit of a dampener on things, no pun intended.