More from life

How to make perfect scones

I am evangelical about scones as a gateway bake – they are the perfect entry point for the nervous baker. They don’t require any nonsense. Rubbing the butter and flour together by hand and stamping the dough out is straightforward; and as long as a scone is risen and golden-topped after baking, then you’re fine.

You shouldn’t be afraid of steak tartare

Whenever I think of steak tartare, I can’t help but remember a heartbreaking passage in Nigel Slater’s memoir Toast. Slater, working at a French restaurant in a Midlands hotel as a young man, is desperate to try the steak Diane. He books a table there for himself and a date. In a moment of madness,

How to make elderflower cordial

I have a complicated relationship with elderflower cordial. I love taking ingredients that have short seasons, preserving and squirrelling them away for future enjoyment. And I’m cheap, so the fact that the main component comes from the hedgerow is appealing. And it’s fun! It is a little like making a potion, dunking whole heads of

The not-so-French roots of chicken cordon bleu

We all have our quirks when it comes to cooking. I have clear mental blocks over what is and is not a complicated supper, many of which do not follow any kind of logic. I wouldn’t think twice about setting a sauce or ragu going early in the day, blipping gently, returning to it every

‘Terribly chic’: how to make chouquettes

I have become obsessed with the French idea of goûter, the time in the afternoon when French schoolchildren have a sweet treat to tide them over from the end of the school day until dinner. It’s just teatime, really, a pause for an afternoon snack – my kid has the same, but we don’t have

How to make ham and parsley sauce

Poor old parsley sauce. As someone who writes regularly about old-fashioned food, it often feels that we are living through a golden revival of vintage dishes. You can’t move for cookbook concepts pinned on comfort and nostalgia, or restaurants attempting to take the diner on some kind of Proustian journey. Whether it’s nursery food, school

How Linzer torte stood the test of time

Linzer torte has quite the claim to fame: some assert that it’s the oldest cake in the world; others that it’s the oldest to be named after a place. It feels churlish to split hairs, but those two assertions are quite different, aren’t they? In any event, it’s certainly very old. For a long time

Tricky but delicious: how to make the perfect pretzels

My husband is obsessed with pretzels. The joy that a slightly warm, soft baked pretzel brings him is disproportionate. And, unlike in Germany and the States, where soft pretzels are ubiquitous, they are hard to come by here. So, for a while I have been trying to perfect the pretzel. It has not been smooth

The contradictory brilliance of Boston cream pie

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but perhaps you can teach it old tricks. When I embarked on making a Boston cream pie, I thought I knew it all when it came to sponge cakes. I’d creamed butter and sugar, using elbow grease and a wooden spoon or employing the horsepower

‘Delicious, not glamorous’: how to make a pot roast

A pot roast is probably the antithesis of glamorous cooking. But that’s also sort of the point. For as long as we’ve been cooking meat, we’ve looked for ways to make the tougher cuts more tender and succulent. It’s the kind of cooking that every culture around the world has developed individually, a way of

Chelsea buns are the best of all buns

The Chelsea bun was first baked in the Bun House in Chelsea in the 18th century. It was a bakery which found particular favour with the Hanoverian royal family, as its pastries were reminiscent of those from whence they came. But these buns were for everyman: they were customarily bought by the poor on Good

How to (correctly) make a Cornish pasty

When it comes to traditional food, there is always regional pride to contend with. Many recipes are intrinsically connected to the area from which they have sprung: Pontefract cakes, Chelsea buns, Lancashire hotpot, Welsh rarebit. They represent heritage and tradition – edible history. You must tread carefully to avoid offending regional heritage, or just making

‘The perfect winter snack’: how to make flammekueche

There are times in the year that call for snacks. Rather than embracing the various diets and other forms of self-flagellation that sweep over us at the start of the year, we need every joy we can get during endless January, with its dark, short days and cold nights. Right now, we are in such

Why terrine is the perfect Christmas starter

When you’re planning Christmas, the big event is the easy bit. No, hear me out. It’s obviously a production – a feast! – more of an exercise in logistics than it is complicated cooking, making sure all the many elements come together at the correct moment. I’m not trying to underplay the amount of effort

How doughnuts took over my life

For almost a decade, doughnuts ruled my life. When I first began baking professionally, I fell into doughnut-making. It was entirely my own fault: after graduating from culinary school, I decided the best thing I could do to improve my pastry skills was to bake regularly. So I knocked together a product and price list

The shame of Ian, the lockdown pup

The park we go to every day is Victorian – large, full of mock landscapes and extravagantly diverse settings, lakes, woodlands, formal gardens and tiny wildernesses. We went on a guided tour of Buckingham Palace’s gardens three years ago, and afterwards my husband said: ‘Well, it was very nice. But Battersea Park is nicer.’ Above

Grumpiness is a way of life

I used to be a terrible grump who would rant and rage against the 1,001 irritations of modern British life. And then one day I decided life was too short to be permanently enraged by everything and everyone.  ‘These kind people simply want to share their music with me! How thoughtful!’ For grumpy me, the