Tag: The Littlest Life Stories

Lime & coconut yoghurt cake

T

his cake was borne of a feeling that told me, Yes, okay, it’s time to bake now, stop claiming lack of inspiration and just look around you. Eggs that supposedly went out of date days ago (still fine!), tubs of yoghurt, and a couple of limes. I desperately wanted to be back on the baking wagon right away; to be able to say, Whisk, whisk, fold, oven, done – victory! But my first attempt at this cake was honestly poor.

Lime & coconut yoghurt cake // The Dinner BellMy ever-so-polite colleagues ate it even though the glaze was too thin and soaked through to make the cake the texture of gummy bears, so moist that it sat heavy in your stomach. But I knew it needed a lot more work – I knew I’d made mistakes, and I almost decided not to admit that on the internet.

Growing up alongside the invasion of social media makes it amazingly easy to have a skewed view of everyone else’s lives. It brings you to just a few clicks away from being fully mired in grass-is-greener delusions and gives you the tools to compare yourself to every single friend or stranger that pops up your feeds, while you sit there thinking, Oh my god, I know at least three people with book deals and I couldn’t even find a matching pair of socks this morning. (True story. I only have socks in three colours and I still struggle.)

Buuuuut of course that’s ridiculous. We all have different paths, and this small segment of mine means I can tell you guys what changes absolutely should not be made to this recipe (see notes!). It took a couple of tweaks – and a couple of batches of cake forced upon those colleagues – but it’s finally just right. Read More

Pear & honey mini galettes

This time last week, I was waking up from a nap, with a pounding headache and a strange sense of home that contradicts everything I wrote about in my past post.

Pear & honey mini galettes // The Littlest BakehouseIf you’re expecting this to be a romantic story about friendship and discussing deep issues under the stars…you’re going to be disappointed. At a friend’s place, we were far enough out of London to actually see the stars, but bank holiday Friday was a night of tequila shots and pizza, cookies baked at 1am and so many ridiculous stories that will become part of the lore of our group. The weekend has been the subject of a number of flashbacks throughout the week that have left me burying my face in my hands, half in laughter and half in disbelief. In short, it was excellent. Read More

Balsamic strawberry galette with ricotta

Balsamic strawberry galette with ricotta // The Dinner Bell

It’s April, and I sneeze at least five times every morning, right when I wake up. Pollen’s in the air. We’ve cracked out the light jackets. Summer is coming for us.

Summer is the time for falling in love: with cities, with food, with freezing cold showers. It’s suncream, hot tarmac, and that unmistakable smell of strawberries, an aroma that hit me unexpectedly a few weekends ago, giving just a hint of things to come, before the UK was once again blanketed in grey.

London has never been my home – I never yearned for the big city like other teenagers did, and for too long after I moved here I lived in a bubble, terrified that I just couldn’t do it and yet too stubborn to give in. At no point has it been love. London and I are like the married couple that stays together for the sake of the kids.

Balsamic strawberry galette with ricotta // The Dinner BellPeople still say, Ooh, London eh? Good place to live while you’re young. You must have so much fun. And every time, I smile and nod and think, Well, sort of. The economy is harsh, meeting people is difficult and honestly I would rather cook for my friends and pack them off, giggly and stumbling, with a fist full of cookies, than hit the nightlife. 

But just when I think it’s too much – the isolation, and the cost – something good happens. A gaggle of strangers offers to help a women with a buggy, or a museum visit turns out to be particularly good. In this case, it was a trip to a local grocery stall – the one that’s not part of a market, and where you get called “babe” as standard – that saw me laden with almost more fruit and vegetables than I could carry.

I’m still not in love, but it helps. It’s more bearable when you can go home and say, Okay, so a pint might bankrupt me but damn it, I can buy 750g of strawberries for a quid and I dare you to beat that. These are small pleasures, and it’s almost worth it. Summer is a little slice of sunshine breaking up the unrelenting grey, and I suppose this posh jam tart is my sunshine. Read More

Chocolate orange swirl loaf

Chocolate orange swirl cake // The Dinner Bell

Back home, in that small village with the fields of crops I’m incredibly allergic to, most of my neighbours have known me since birth. They’ve watched as learned to walk, ride a bike, and eventually as my brothers and I left home.

My favourite neighbour is an 80-year-old man called Bill. Sometimes when I’m back for a weekend, I’ll nip over one evening, and we’ll end up drinking wine and chatting for hours in his front room, while my parents sit at home and wonder what on earth we could be discussing. Often, when he leans back in his chair, he’ll lace his fingers together and rest them on his tummy while he talks, his Scottish accent still very much there despite his decades in England. He’s not an ordinary old man – he’s fiercely independent and physically active – and we have the same conversations you would with anyone half his age or younger. Read More

Dark chocolate chip cookies with smoked sea salt

It’s my birthday this week, so cookies are back. It’s my party and I’ll gorge myself on browned butter if I want to.

Dark chocolate chip cookies with smoked sea salt // The Dinner BellIt’s probably a symptom of having older siblings, but it’s hard to forget how old twenties always used to sound to me, how much I thought I’d have sorted by now. But then, I thought that at 18 and 21 too, so I suspect my heart and my brain will forever be playing catch up to the passing of timing and the aging of this bundle of cells. I also suspect we all feel the same way.

But these cookies are probably one of the most grown up things I’ve achieved so far. They’re dark and toffee-y and use fancy salt — when did I become a person who gets excited by fancy salt? — in ways that take them a million miles from Maryland’s excuse for cookies.

The making of them completely feels like magic — the process of browning the butter, then whisking it with sugar and leaving it for a bit means that you start out with a gritty mix but end up with a gorgeously thick, glossy mixture. And then! And then you add the flour and the chocolate and it becomes the most gorgeously rich, nutty cookie dough imaginable.

It’s not a cookie to hand out to children — it’s one to be served warm, and savoured, the crisp outside giving way to a soft chewy inside, studded with dark chocolate brought to life by smoked sea salt. It’s an indulgence that, dipped into coffee, makes grey Monday mornings at your office job a lot brighter. It’s most certainly a cookie for grown ups. Read More