Saturday, 15 September 2012

White and Dark Chocolate Layered Cake

This is it. I was commissioned for my aunt's 60th birthday, and this is The Birthday Cake.

And it would be completely honest to say this is my best-looking baking achievement of all time.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Lemon Drizzle Cake And Apologies

I've been neglecting you again. I could tell you I've been madly busy and had no time at all. But the truth is, I'm experiencing motivation issues. I really do like baking and writing for this blog, but for some reason I have recently been struggling to get up and DO it. So I apologise, and I promise I'm doing my best.

I made Lemon Drizzle Cake though, will you forgive me?

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Essence of Doughnuts

I've been psyching myself up to make doughnuts for a while.

As often happens, it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Cheese and Onion Slices

Remember when I made rough puff pastry a million years ago and promised that I'd make a post about fillings?

This is that post, and I can only apologise.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Essence of Rough Puff Pastry

This post is going to be a bit more of a tutorial, rather than an 'essence'. The ratio is dead simple, but in this case, it's the method that's the tricky part. I've got lots of lovely pictures of my technique and the appetising results, so it shouldn't be too boring.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Essence of MacarOOns

It seems there's a bit of confusion when it comes to macaroons and their cousins. From where I stand, it seems there are two things. One of them looks like a little pile of dessicated coconut, usually dipped or drizzled in chocolate. That's what I'm making.

The other one looks like a fluorescent hamburger made of meringue. That is not what I'm making.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Essence of Cheesecake

Cheesecake makes me slightly nervous, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

I've always been a bit suspicious of it, purely because of the whole 'cheese...cake' thing. Even from the time before I knew it was actually made of cheese.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Banana Quick Bread

I've titled this 'quick bread' in the hope that no-one will notice it's yet another muffin adaptation. But I felt a bit dishonest, so I'm confessing. I promise I'm going to be getting on with some new original things soon.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes aren't anything particularly special.

They were really nice and everything, but they're not exactly difficult, or spectacular, or unusual.

They're just cupcakes.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Essence of Flapjacks... Maybe?

Flapjacks are tricky. I wasn't sure I'd even be able to do an 'essence' for them.

Because they aren't flour-based, the whole ratio thing is just a lot less important.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Breakfast Muffins

I make a lot of muffins. I know. They're by far my most customised and overused standard ratio. But it's only because they're so easy, and so delicious, and generally great!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Carrot Cake

It was my Mum's birthday this week-

Yes, yes. I'm starting to wish I'd never invented the tradition of putting that picture on every birthday post, but I can't very well stop now.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Essence of Rice Pudding

Last week, we found a tin of rice pudding in the back of our kitchen cupboard. Its best before date was 2005.

Yes, 2005. And tins last a long time before their best before date, too. It could well have been ten years old.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Biscuit Inquisitions: Part 1

OK, you're probably as bored as I am of my biscuit posts reappearing and disappearing . You may have noticed my recent biscuit post is gone again.

The trouble is, I still can't really decide where to put the borderline of the definition of 'biscuit'.

Saturday, 28 April 2012


Here's an interesting fact about me: half my ancestors are Jewish. My maternal grandparents, and a big chunk of my family on that side.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Cheese and Onion Muffins

These muffins had a rather sinister beginning.

They actually started life as a cruel and malicious ploy to trick my friend.

But let me explain, it's not quite as bad as all that.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Chocolate and Spice Courgette Cake

I'm sorry to do this to you again. I really don't want to have to. It's just - it was my brother's birthday last week.

I do have a cake for you, which will hopefully make up for it. A courgette cake!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Essence of Danish Pastry

The first thing I found when I started looking up recipes for Danish pastry was a load of articles saying "It's not as scary as you think!". Considering I actually didn't have an opinion on how scary it was before I started, that all actually made me feel worse about the whole thing.

The Essence of Chocolate Ganache

This was something else that I wasn't sure about making an Essence out of. But I decided to go for it. After looking at a lot of recipes, they all seemed pretty much the same, which I took as a good sign.


It was my friend's birthday last week. Happy Birthday!

...Deja vu, anyone? Yeah, me too. Somehow, out of a group of five friends, three of us have birthdays in March, within a few weeks of each other. Strange indeed.

The Essence of Pancakes - American Style

I was born and brought up (although not so much bred) in London, England.

But because of the 'not so much bred' part, American pancakes are actually the type I grew up with. We never ate pancakes any more than the average family (once or twice a year at the most), but when we did, they were proper thick, fluffy, fried cakes.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Essence of Pancakes - European Style

As I talked about in my other pancake post, European pancakes are not actually my 'mother dish', although it should be by rights of my geography. And in fact, if I was given the absolute choice, I think I'd simply have to opt for American style overall.

But flat, wide, unleavened European pancakes have their own unique applications too, and I can't deny that.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Bakewell Tarts

I loooove Bakewell tart. I mean, really, love it. To the level of, if-I-had-to-only-eat-one-thing-for-all-eternity-it-would-be-Bakewell-tart, kind of love.

I love almonds. I love jam. I love cake. I love pastry. It contains almost all of the things I love, and nothing at all that I don't.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Essence of Shortcrust Pastry

I realised I needed to do an Essence of pastry when my mum was making a casserole.

It's to do with dumplings, actually. I expect some of you are already aware that the essence of pastry is the same as the essence of dumplings.

If you aren't, you might find it hard to believe. I wouldn't be surprised, I was certainly doubtful at first. But it's really true! I'll explain more when we get there.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Essence of Muffins

A lot of people think muffins and cakes are the same thing. I definitely used to be one of those people, until a few weeks ago.

Turns out, they're not.

Monday, 30 January 2012

The Essence of Cake - Part 2

Link to Part 1

Pound cake is not quite as light or fluffy as sponge cake - it's more dense and bready in texture, because the butter whipping method doesn't create quite as much air as the egg method. Which is why sponge cake is might lighter - eggs whip up to a much greater volume, meaning they've incorporated much more air, and so they rise more during cooking. Neither one cake is better than the other. The best one depends on the situation or occasion, your personal tastes, and a whole load of other factors. Of course I recommend you make them both at once in order to compare!

The Essence of Cake - Part 1


I have an odd relationship with cake. That is to say, my feelings towards it have been rather changeable over my lifetime. I expect as a child, I always assumed it was an easy thing to make - the first thing you make, almost equivalent to a batch of biscuits in terms of ease.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Essence of Fudge - Part 2

Link to Part 1

You might be disappointed that I'm going to tell you you need a piece of equipment which you may not already have. This is a sugar thermometer. If you search online, there is a lot of stuff about making fudge without a thermometer, judging by eye and appearance when the fudge is cooked the right amount. Feel free to do this if you wish. I have a (sometimes irritatingly) analytical mind, and so I simply couldn't cope with just 'judging' by eye. That's why I like to use a thermometer. If you're OK without, then I envy and admire you. If you're not, I bought mine for something like £6 online, it's really not a big deal.

The Essence of Fudge - Part 1

Guess what I learnt today? It's impossible to take still photos of a fluid which accurately represent how viscous it is.

Fudge was actually one of my first escapades into the 'essences' of cooking. There are so many different recipes and methods out there, I just wanted to know what made fudge fudge, as opposed to something else.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Essence of Bread - Part 2

Link to Part 1

The trouble with ratios is that they don't explain absolutely everything. Even if you've never made bread before, you probably know that if you just bunged some flour, water and yeast together and didn't do anything else, you wouldn't end up with bread.

So I've also been looking into basic technique. The book, Ratio, gives an acceptable overview but I think even that assumed a bit of prior knowledge, and I was starting from a complete blank. I spent a while looking up simple techniques and things, and decided I had a decent enough idea to give it a try.

The Essence of Bread - Part 1

Do you know what bread is?

Think carefully, it's a difficult question.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


I started baking regularly a good few months ago. Maybe almost a year. I don't really remember how it happened, I just decided at one point that I was going to become 'a person who bakes'. So I did.

I got cookbooks and looked up recipes. I sought advice from the bakers of my family. I took possession of a shelf in the cupboard of the kitchen, reorganised all our baking ingredients and started taking responsibility for the house being stocked with flour and sugar.


I like cooking, and maths.

Wait, come back! Give me a chance.

It's OK if you don't like maths. Lots of people don't, it doesn't mean you have to hate me. And I promise I won't hate you either (even if I might think you're a bit strange,  but I'll never say it). It's OK if you like maths too.

It's even OK if you don't like cooking. Although I'd prefer if it was the 'I wish I was better at cooking and then I'd enjoy it more' kind of dislike, and not the 'I want to kill anyone who likes cooking' kind. But I'm not here to judge.

But I do like maths, and I do like cooking. And so I'll talk about them both a lot. Hopefully the maths will be disguised and/or interesting enough that it won't put off the people who don't like maths. I promise it will (almost) always be relevant to the actual cooking topic in some way or other.

Here's a close up of my oven.