In between fiction writing, I put together a short e-book of my own baking recipes. I hope Easy British Bakes and Cakes does what it says on the tin – not that I used any! It’s a collection of 20 simple recipes, my own takes on traditional British baking. They’re the kind of treats you’d find on offer at a village summer fete or a vintage-style tea-shop and in the cake tin in British homes.
As these really are my own favourites, some flavours have been left out. No ginger cake or coconut macaroons for instance as they aren’t my thing. And I admit to being addicted to chocolate so that features quite a lot.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a family where my mother loved baking. When she’d been busy I’d come home from school and follow the tempting aroma to the kitchen like the Bisto kid. (If you’re too young to remember that’s a famous old ad – for gravy actually – from 1919, with a scruffy boy and girl following their noses.) Today I still love the way you get that fresh, home-made aroma when you lift the lid on your cake tin. No shop-bought bake can give you that.
Best of all I liked cake and biscuits that could cope with being stuffed in my rucksack on long walks. I still do, saving the meringues for summer tea in the garden. And when I’m writing, the thought of a slice of something sweet with my tea-break keeps me going.
My first attempts at baking came when I started hosting committee meetings about rambling and countryside campaigning. Although very hit and miss at first, it turned out to be an unexpectedly relaxing and satisfying pastime. I’d say I’m more Hairy Biker than Paul Hollywood – I even had the bike and the beard back then.
My recipes have been tweaked over the years to be as quick and trouble-free as possible. On starting out, I learnt to make fruit cake with the rubbing in method but found results are exactly as good with a mixer. The all-in-one sponge method is just as successful as adding ingredients in stages and so on.
I don’t own a food processor, just a hand-held mixer and I like minimal washing-up. The recipes work and have been well tested on family and friends.
My baking rarely looks as perfect as factory-made – but isn’t that the point? For me, home-baking is about good quality ingredients – where the hens who laid the eggs scratch around in the sunshine – great flavour full of natural goodness and an individual artisan look. Above all it’s meant to be fun and make people happy.
Please do click on the link below if you’d like to take a look:
Now out on Kindle, Kobo and Nook.