One of the problems with writing a blog is that you're constantly pushing your own agenda. While it's always fun and certainly a good way to challenge yourself, it becomes such a big focus that at times you feel you're missing out. When there are so many great bakers and chefs out there to learn from I don't always want to be doing my own take on something, I want to be following their lead and seeing how it's really done. I mean, why would you try and come up with your own custard tart when Mr Gellatly has already done it so perfectly?
So this year I'm introducing a new monthly section in which I'll be sharing some of the dishes I've been enjoying, the people or places I've been inspired by, and any produce that's been deserving of some special attention. While it's primarily a good chance for me to get stuck into my library I'm hoping it will also give you some ideas and inspiration when it comes to your own kitchen. And so, without further ado, welcome to:
The January nosh
JAM, JAM, JAM!
A good crop of summer stone fruit meant some serious jam sessions were undertaken on my last couple of days off. Apricot, plum & vanilla, blackberry rose geranium, and white peach were all steeped and bottled away for whenever a delicious breakfast condiment is next in need.
Since joining the baking community I've "met" plenty of amazing bakers. From images to discussions and stories they are a constant source of inspiration, and it's been great to experience just how supportive and encouraging the international community can be. Recently, Clare Jackson established the #IGbreadclub, where every few weeks a new recipe is selected from Jeffrey Hamelman's 'Bread: A baker's book of techniques and recipes' for users of a certain social media platform to have a go at. This month was roasted potato bread and while it was good fun to bake and follow along with the other bakers, it also made me realise that there are a lot of changes still to be made at home before I'm happy with my bread making.
FLORENTINE THE COOKBOOK
It's not often you get an opportunity to cook from a book before it's released, but when food writer and photographer, Emiko Davies, asked for expressions of interest in testing recipes from her impending first cookbook I immediately jumped at the chance (the pan di ramerino from her blog are still one of my most favourite sweet buns to make). Naturally my main interest was in the baked goods, and so I was given cornetti, cantuccini di prato and schiacciatine recipes to have a play with. All were delicious and a good challenge and I'm really looking forward to seeing the other traditional Florentine recipes she chooses to share.
Cornetti - Like an Italian croissant but with a heavy citrus perfume and more brioche-like texture, these sweet little pastries are a popular breakfast choice, and staple of many a Florentine bar and pastry shop.
Cantuccini di Prato - A classic, twice-baked biscuit, these almond biscotti are most often seen at the end of a meal accompanied by a glass of vin santo for plenty of unceremonious dunking.
Schiacciatine - little round Tuscan foccacias, these are traditionally baked plain or with a simple vegetable topping, like onions & thyme, or fresh tomatoes & basil.