baking

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In Outside

No Gooseberry Fool

I take little pleasure in gathering gooseberries; they are a devil to pick. The low green bush is full of fierce thorns that protrude at every angle. The gooseberries themselves are a bit icky themselves, slightly softly hairy, dangling in pairs like bollocks,  swollen almost taut but with some softness so that you can’t help but give each one a little squeeze as you pick. Hold them up to the sun and they are almost translucent, you can see their insides, their veins and their small seeds which is both magical and disturbing. The bitter sourness of an uncooked gooseberry should therefore be of little …

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In Wellness

Mix a pancake

Stir a pancake, Pop it in a pan. Fry a pancake, toss a pancake, catch it if you can.

When I was little I never understood the ‘Don’t forget the pancake on Jif Lemon Day’ advert. It was extremely clever advertising to establish their product, essentially processed lemon juice, as synonymous with Pancake Day, but I didn’t understand it because we never ever ever had lemon juice (fresh or processed) on our pancakes.

Growing up, pancakes were firmly reserved for Shrove Tuesday (usually after an afternoon spent watching Shrovetide Football in town, but that’s a whole other story). It simply never occurred to me to eat them …

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In Wellness

An afternoon making bread

There is a Swiss proverb which is particularly apt to this post; ‘Avoid those who don’t like bread and children.’ We recently had both in abundance in a classroom above one of my favourite Cotswold bakeries. As a little pre-back to school get together a friend had organised a cookery lesson at Hobbs House Bakery in Chipping Sodbury for 10 children.

With our hands washed and aprons on, we perched on stools around the table. The flour hit the table top with a soft flumff and in swift …

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In Outside

Blessed be…

…the fruit.

I used to think blackberries were only for picking in September; a truly autumnal fruit, so I thought. Every year I was disappointed to have missed the best of the crop. Amateur. Because the secret to blackberry picking is to go earlier than you think. The last couple of weeks of August is probably the best time, before the birds have pecked at them, before the weather rots them and before others pickers have been out. This year they seem to have ripened even earlier.

I have always gone foraging for blackberries – even in London on Putney Heath. Blackberry picking offers rewards …

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In Wellness

Chocolate cake charm

I love baking. It is relaxing and therapeutic with the weighing and measuring, the stirring and whisking, the magical alchemy of bringing together disparate ingredients into something utterly delicious. It is mindfulness and mindlessness at the same time, with a treat at the end of it all (except the washing up). Out of all the things I like to bake, cake is the number one favourite. Not just any cake, but milk chocolate cake from the superbly retro Be-Ro recipe book.

The Be-Ro recipe book was my baking bible as a child. My mum has two ancient editions, one of which has fallen apart from …

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