I'm a pastry chef, author, cookery teacher, gardener and edible flower grower, celebrating baking with natural, seasonal and local ingredients.
I follow a simple philosophy when it comes to my natural baking, believing all products should have great flavour, great texture and be beautiful to look at too. I love to celebrate the goodness of natural wholefood ingredients, so my base ingredients today comprise of wholegrain organic flours milled in the UK, whilst using some interesting grains from abroad too, unrefined sweeteners like raw Suffolk honey, coconut sugar and brown sugar, cold-pressed extra virgin British rapeseed oil, organic dairy products and free-range eggs. Then come the magic ingredients like seasonal fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, dark chocolate, spices, citrus and many more. I want to create delicious food and recipes that satisfy all our senses and bring people joy!
and a little bit more about how I bake...
I have always loved to cook and bake and a year spent in Italy and France as part of my modern languages degree, tasting the world's finest patisserie, inspired me to enrol at Westminster Kingsway College, London, on the Professional Patisserie Scholarship. I trained as an apprentice at The Lanesborough Hotel, and then went onto working in award-winning kitchens for five years.
With my newly gained knowledge and skills, I moved back to Suffolk, the county where I grew up, to start my own business, selling at farmers' markets, making bespoke celebration cakes, catering for events and teaching.
Having grown up in the country and from cooking a lot with my parents with fruits and vegetables from our own garden, I have always understood the importance of using local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible in my cooking. Surrounded once more by some of the best produce in the UK, my passion for natural ingredients was reignited. At the same time, many of my customers were asking for allergy-friendly cakes, biscuits and tarts, complaining that many on offer were not tasty enough. I decided to see what the alternatives were; an exploration of the most interesting and delicious, exciting and new, natural ingredients followed, which led to my first book, Clean Cakes, published in February 2016. It is all about baking with alternative, gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free, wholefood ingredients, applying to them my skills as a pastry in the most delicious ways.
I have since returned to London, teaching baking classes, making natural cakes, catering for special occasions and cooking for supper clubs. I am also writing my second book, The Natural Baker, which focuses on all of the wonderful wholefood ingredients I have discovered since I started baking, with recipes packed with flavour and texture for making delicious dishes, cakes, tarts and much more to eat throughout the day. It's a big mixture of recipes for anyone and everyone and I cannot wait to share it with you all!
Clean Cakes, Delicious patisserie made with whole, natural and nourishing ingredients and free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar, published in February 2016 by Jacqui Small, has a wealth of original recipes with distinctive flavour combinations and intriguing twists on established classics that will help you satisfy your sweet tooth in a natural way. This is a must-have cookbook if you have cut out gluten, dairy and refined sugar yet still want to bake stunning, inspiring and nourishing treats. From those wanting to make changes to their diet or lifestyle to those who love to bake and just want to try out new things, it's a book for everyone and I hope you enjoy it.
My second book, The Natural Baker, which will be published in April 2018, is a continuation of my discovery of the great flavours and textures of natural ingredients. Inspired both by my childhood in Suffolk and my years as a pastry chef, the recipes in it embrace the full range of amazing ingredients I’ve discovered since I started baking and focus on the wonderful tastes and textures offered by whole, nutritious flours, natural sweeteners, good fats and oils, nuts and grains, seasonal fruits and vegetables and many more wonderful, natural ingredients.
Natural baking is easy, fun and most importantly, delicious. If you'd like to learn how to bake the way I do then do come to one of my classes. I teach private classes for up to five people in my kitchen in north London. They are bespoke, designed especially for you and I can work around any intolerances and allergies. Prices vary according to needs, so get in touch to find out more. Private classes last for three hours and are a great day out!
I also teach larger groups in various locations in London. Please see below for my next classes.
Being in the kitchen with Henrietta is just a delight. Her passion for food and knowledge of ingredients is so inspiring. This hands on baking experience was just so much fun, I left with the most delicious cakes and tarts and the know-how to make them myself at home! Feedback from a private class at my kitchen in Walthamstow.
A lovely class, Henrietta was great, the recipes were clear and easy to follow, the class was not over ambitious but we made a great variety of bakes. Bravo. Feedback from my Botanical Baking Masterclass at The Garden Museum in November 2017.
Vegan Christmas Baking with The Natural Baker at Luminary Bakery, Tuesday 12th December, 6pm - 9pm. Do come and join me for my first class as ambassador of Luminary Bakery. After prosecco and some delicious bites on arrival, we'll move into the kitchen to bake some of my favourite seasonal dishes. From quince mince pies and pear, chocolate and hazelnut tartlets to chocolate velvet pots and chocolate chestnut cakes, as well as savoury carrot and coriander crackers and roast root vegetable tartlets. We'll also make some homemade chocolate which is great for edible Christmas presents. With all the proceeds from ticket sales going to the growth of Luminary Bakery, I do hope you can join us there.
Botanical Baking Masterclass at The Garden Museum, Sunday 5th November 2017, 12.45pm - 4pm. I'm so looking forward to this class, bringing the scents and flavours of our gardens into your bakes. I'll teach you how to weave herbs and flowers into your bakes to create sensational cakes, tarts and breads, such as raspberry, rose and pistachio tartlets, orange blossom and polenta cakes, carrot, coriander, mustard seed and anise crackers and rosemary, feta and olive soda bread rolls. This class is open to all levels of skills and interests and I do hope to see you there. Click here for more information and to buy tickets.
Cakes for you
I make bespoke celebration cakes, tarts, biscuits, bars, brownies and lots more to order. I also cater for events such as openings, launches, afternoon teas and parties. Please contact me for more details.
Below is a list of some of the cakes, tarts, bars, brownies and savoury products I make. Most can also be made into canapés. All can be decorated with edible flowers. Please ask for more information in terms of dietary requirements when you contact me to order. I cater for vegetarians and vegans and gluten, dairy and refined sugar free diets and will try to cater for any other needs if can.
Chocolate and hazelnut torte with honey praline ganache
Pumpkin, carrot, walnut and sultana cake with cashew orange frosting or labneh and cream cheese frosting
Chocolate truffle brownie cake
Fig, banana and dark chocolate cake with whipped cocoa cream
Chocolate chestnut cake
Blueberry and lemon mousse cake
Courgette, basil, lime and pistachio cake with lime cream and raspberry jam
Seasonal fruit tarts with nut frangipane of your choice and buckwheat and almond pastry
Chocolate truffle brownies
Rye, peanut butter and raisin brownies
Caramelised red onion and parsley Cheddar scones
Tomato and pepper tart with olives (and anchovies) and buckwheat and hazelnut pastry
Carrot and coriander crackers with seasonal vegetable crudites and dips
Roast root vegetable pots with pecan and sesame crumble and cashew bechamel
Tomato and aubergine tarte Tatin
Pumpkin, spinach, sage and Parmesan filo pie
A selection of seasonal vegetable quiches with walnut and wholegrain spelt pastry; regular short pastry; gluten free vegan pastry
Young British Brands to Watch, Christmas Pop Up at Kreativ House, Saturday 2nd December 2017, 1pm - 6pm (arrive at midday for yoga with Wild Thing Yoga). A great chance to get some Christmas shopping in with some of London's most exciting and inspiring brands - Laurie Nouchka, Polka Pants, Kitty Joseph, OMNIUM, Cassiopeia, STUDY 34, Inger Studio, Humphreys and Begg and SYNDICUT London... and I'll be there with my cakes to sell and doing a little demo, so lots of coffee and cake to keep you going whilst you shop.
Karuna Social Programme Winter Sale, Saturday 9th December 2017, 11am - 5pm, Rendham Barnes Farm, Rendham, Suffolk, IP17 2AB. I feel very honoured to co-host this sale with my friends, Alvaro and Fred, in aid of Karuna Social Programme, one of the charities I support. The Spanish registered charity, Karuna, meaning 'Hope' in Sanskrit, helps women with families to support and limited resources find training and employment in a dedicated craft centre, built from the funds raised through the charity. These gifted women make wonderful clothing, accessories and jewellery in the best silks, cashmeres and cottons which will available at the sale. 100% of the proceeds will go back to Karuna and the well being of the families it supports. We look forward to seeing you there.
Bake For Syria 2, November 18th 2017, 12pm -5pm, Old Spitalfields Market. After the huge success of the first Bake for Syria, I'm so excited to be taking part in NUMBER TWO! It's going to be the most wonderful day with so many scrumptious things from some of the UK's best bakers, pastry chefs, preservers and so much more. There's also going to be an amazing raffle with prizes that will knock ya socks off, all in aid of Cook For Syria. Entrance is free and I do hope to see you there. Find me sharing a stall with my awesome friend, Kylee, found of Newton & Pott, we'll be making some jam-licious things together!
The Suffolk Suppers with Joey O'Hare and Henrietta Inman, Friday 29th and Saturday 30th September, 2017 from 7pm. I am so happy to be working with my incredibly talented friend, Joey O'Hare, and the award-winning and one of my favourite places in Suffolk, Pump Street Bakery, on two pop-up suppers during the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival fringe events, 2017. As two Suffolk girls, we want to celebrate the county’s best seasonal ingredients and spectacular local food. Our five-course, vegcentric feasts will open with a welcome drink of Adnams sparkling wine with blackcurrant and lavender shrub. The meals will start with smoked haddock and Shipcord soufflé and culminate in a molten dark chocolate tart. We are proud to be working with some of Suffolk’s best food producers throughout the menu, including Pinney's of Orford, Marybelle Dairy, Fen Farm Dairy, Hodmedods, Maple Farm Kelsale, and of course Pump Street Bakery’s sourdough bread and chocolate. Click here for the full menu and to book tickets. We look forward to seeing you there and if you cannot make our Suffolk events, soon after we will be bringing everything back to London to cook up another storm so do join us there; more information to follow soon.
Summer Feast with Mira Manek and Henrietta Inman, Wednesday 2nd August 2017, Neal's Yard, from 8pm. An Indian-inspired, colourful and beautiul meal made using seasonal, British produce. Mira will be creating dishes from Saffron Soul as well as new recipes from masala grilled aubergine to a vibrant summer chaat. To finish, I'll serve a raspberry and mint lassi to cleanse your palette, followed by blueberry and pistachio tart with shrikhand, served with chai tea and Mira's cardamom and date mohanthal. A wonderful summer's evening with food and friends.
Bake for Syria, Saturday 29th July 2017, Columbia Road Flower Market, 10am - 5pm. Come to eat cake, drink marvelous mocktails and dance the day away. Hosted by Lily Vanilli in collaboration with Cook for Syria, this event brings together some of London's best bakers, pastry chefs, preservers, pizzaioli and many more, all bringing their delicious food together for one day only to raise money for the vulnerable children of Syria. I do hope to see you there, it's going to be a great day!
Click the link to make my Coconut-cacao-quinoa bars with Katie Quinn.
More cooking videos coming soon!
I love to use edible flowers, adding colour, flavour and texture to so many things in the kitchen. Whether finishing off a cake or tart with rose petals, scented geraniums or pansies or summer salads and other savoury dishes with chive or rocket flowers or nasturtiums, they’re such fun to use. Here's a full list of what I grow.
To finish sweet things I use roses, scented geraniums, pansies, primroses, lavender and rosemary flowers, tagetes, marigolds, dianthus, cornflowers, borage, bellis daisies, elderflowers and violas. Blossom is lovely too but I don’t like to pick too much of it. Some blossoms contain cyanide precursors and should be eaten in moderation also. To be honest, edible flowers, especially on sweet things, really are just pretty, delicate and colourful finishing touches. Personally, you won’t find me eating handfuls of pansies or daisies!
But, when it comes to those that I use for savoury dishes, with their peppery, distinct and fragrant flavours, I might be eating a few more! To finish savoury things I use chive, pea and courgette flowers, garlic chive flowers and nasturtiums. When herbs like dill and coriander and leaves like rocket and radicchio go to seed, the two former have beautiful little white flowers, whilst rocket flowers are white and yellow and radicchio flowers are pastel blue.
The RHS has a very useful page with lots more information about collecting edible flowers for eating, some more types that I do not grow and some good book recommendations.
In larger gardens with grass and flower beds, once planted, the flowers will self-seed and you’ll have lots around in no time. In London, my garden is paved over so I grow all my flowers in pots which needs a bit more work but it's very manageable. They can be bought in garden centres and just potted out into beds or pots, using a mixture of soil and manure. Water regularly, depending on the climate, and don’t forget to deadhead! Don’t be scared. Gardening can be such a wonderful and calming thing and an important connection to nature when many of us live in towns and cities. Embrace it and look forward to becoming green-figured!
Extra fruity fruit cake, Tuesday 28th November 2017
After a long day in the office, a Winter's walk in the cold, decorating the Christmas, an eventful day of present shopping and the many other things we are busying ourselves with over the festive period, I do believe there is nothing quite better than sitting down with a mug of tea and a piece of fruit cake. This one if full of so many good things, from the dried fruits soaked in chai tea and citrus juices to the wonderful chestnut and buckwheat flour blend and then the crunchy almonds. It does take a little time but once of the fruits are soaking overnight, you'll be a hop and skip away from getting it in the oven the next day and slicing it up warm for friends. It makes a great Chrsitmas cake too, just make it in an 18cm or 20cm round loose-bottomed cake tin. Cover it in marzipan and icing if you like, or I sometimes just like a layer of marzipan on top, a bit like a Simnel Cake. I hope you enjoy it and it warms you up this Winter.
60 g (2 oz/⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp) currants
60 g (2 oz/generous ⅓ cup) sultanas
60 g (2 oz/⅓ cup) raisins
90 g (3 oz/scant ⅔ cup) dried figs, stalks removed
90 g (3 oz/scant ⅔ cup) unsulphured dried apricots
90 g (3 oz/scant ⅔ cup) dates
Zest and 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) juice of 1 lemon
Zest and 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) juice of 1 orange
1 vanilla pod (bean), cut in half lengthways, seeds scraped out, pod (bean) kept
60 g (2 oz/3 tbsp) maple syrup
300 ml (10½ fl oz/1¼ cups) tea, made using 1 loose-leaf Darjeeling tea pyramid and 1 chai tea pyramid (see note)
125 g (4½ oz/¾ cup plus scant 2 tbsp) whole almonds
135 g (4¾ oz/1 cup less 2 tbsp) buckwheat flour
135 g (4¾ oz/1 cup) chestnut flour
5 tsp arrowroot
20 g (¾ oz/3 tbsp) gram flour
60 g (2 oz/½ cup) light brown muscovado sugar or coconut sugar
1½ tsp mixed spice
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp sea salt flakes or Himalayan pink salt
75 g (2¾ oz/⅓ cup) virgin coconut oil
3 plums, destoned (100 g/3½ oz without stones), fresh or frozen
5 tbsp unsweetened apple juice
20 g (¾ oz/1 tbsp) raw honey or coconut nectar
Or about 30 g (1 oz/2 tbsp) no added sugar high fruit content apricot jam. I like to use St Dalfour, available in most health food shops and supermarkets, or my friend Kylee's apricot and amaretto jam or her vanilla marmalade from Newton & Pott.
Place the currants, sultanas, raisins, figs, apricots and dates in a large glass or ceramic bowl with the citrus zests and juice, vanilla seeds and pod, maple syrup and tea. Submerge the tea pyramids in the fruit for maximum flavour. Leave to soak overnight, but not for more than 12 hours otherwise there will be no liquid left to bind the cake mix. In a separate glass or ceramic bowl, soak the almonds in 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) of filtered water with ½ tsp of Himalayan pink salt for 8–12 hours (or overnight). Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Line the bottom and sides of an 18 x 11 x 8 cm deep (7 x 4¼ x 3 inch) loaf tin with baking parchment.
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients from the buckwheat flour to the salt. Drain, rinse thoroughly and set aside 50 g (1¾ oz/⅓ cup) of the almonds for the top. In a food processor, roughly process the rest of the almonds, keeping some larger pieces for texture. Add to the dry ingredients. Place the soaked figs, apricots and dates in a food processor and process until half pulp, half still whole. Add to the dry ingredients. Remove the vanilla pod and tea pyramids from the soaking liquids, squeezing them out over the bowl for extra flavour, then discard. Add the rest of the soaked fruit and liquid to the dry ingredients and processed fruit. Finally melt the coconut oil and stir it in, mixing until everything is well combined.
Pour into the tin and spread into the corners with a knife. Bang the tin lightly a few times on your work surface. Place the reserved almonds around the edge of the cake, gently pressing them into the mix. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn down the heat to 160°C/310°F/Gas Mark 2½, rotate and bake for a further 40 minutes, turning again halfway, until the top is golden-brown and slightly bounces back if touched; a skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
To make the glaze, bring the plums, apple juice and honey or coconut nectar to the boil and boil for about 5 minutes, breaking up the plums with a spoon. Turn down to a simmer for 5 more minutes until thick and glossy. Remove from the heat. Turn out the cake when completely cool and use a pastry brush to brush the glaze (or apricot jam, if using) over the cake. Stored in a sealed container, this will keep well for at least five days. I store it in the fridge as it keeps better and becomes even softer. It also freezes well.
NOTE For a warming, spicy, festive flavour, use 1 bag of black tea, such as Darjeeling, brewed with 1 bag of chai tea, which contains a delicious mix of black tea, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. Teapigs or Pukka make a great chai tea blends with no additives or sweeteners. You can use regular tea bags, but I use pyramid bags as they contain loose leaves, so have great flavour, and are less likely to rip or break than regular tea bags.
Salted tahini shortbread biscuit bars with yogurt-coated walnuts and figs, Friday 27th October 2017
These bars are crazy-good! Crunchy toasted walnuts and sweet, juicy dried figs coated in homemade yogurt-like ‘white chocolate’ on a slightly salty buttery biscuit base… they're quite hard to put down and devilishly moreish and probably won’t be around for long.
Makes 24 square bars
‘White chocolate yogurt’
120 g (4¼ oz/scant ½ cup) cashew butter
180 g (6¼ oz/¾ cup plus 1 tbsp) cacao butter, melted
½ vanilla pod (bean), split lengthways and seeds scraped out
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
65 g (2¼ oz/generous 3 tbsp) raw honey
Pinch sea salt flakes or Himalyan pink salt
360 g (12¾ oz/3½ cups) walnuts
80 g (2¾ oz/⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp) virgin coconut oil, softened but not melted
120 g (4¼ oz/scant 1 cup) light brown muscovado sugar or coconut sugar
180 g (6¼ oz/¾ cup) light tahini
2 tsp vanilla extract
200 g (7 oz/1⅔ cups) oat flour (or blend oats in a blender till as fine as possible; use gluten-free oats/ oat flour if necessary)
20 g (¾ oz/2½ tbsp) arrowroot
2 tsp coarse sea salt, finely ground
1 tsp baking powder
200 g (7 oz/1¼ cups) dried figs, small stalks removed
To make the ‘white chocolate yogurt’ place everything in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour into a bowl and set aside, leaving it in a warm place so it does not set.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Line a 30 x 20 x 3 cm deep (12 x 8 x 1¼ inch) tin with baking parchment. Line another tray with baking parchment and toast 160 g (5½ oz/1½ cups) of the walnuts on it for 7 minutes or until just beginning to colour. Set aside to cool.
Beat together the coconut oil, coconut or light brown muscovado sugar, tahini and vanilla extract until smooth.
Blitz the remaining 200 g (7 oz/2 cups) of walnuts in a food processor with the oat flour and arrowroot until as fine as possible. Add the salt and baking powder and blitz once more. Combine the dry ingredients with the tahini, sugar and oil mixture. Finish by bringing the mix together with your hands. Press the biscuit mix into the prepared tin, smoothing it out to make an even base with a step palette knife. Bake for 30–35 minutes, turning halfway, until light brown. Leave to cool.
Roughly chop the figs into about 4–6 pieces each. Roughly chop the toasted walnuts into pieces a bit larger than peas. Mix thoroughly into the ‘white chocolate yogurt’ and then immediately pour over the cooled tahini shortbread base. Leave to set in the freezer for 30 minutes, then remove from the tin and cut with a large serrated knife into 5 cm (2 inch) squares and serve.
Keeps well for five days in a sealed container.
For a vegan ‘white chocolate yogurt’, blonde coconut nectar works well in the place of the raw honey. You can also use regular white chocolate if you like, I like Green and Blacks organic white chocolate.
Recipe from Clean Cakes. Photo by Lisa Linder.
Rosemary, orange, dark chocolate and hazelnut sablés, Friday 6th October 2017
Literally meaning ‘sandy’ in French, sablé biscuits are delectably buttery, crumbly and just melt in the mouth. While a basic recipe would constitute flour, butter and sugar, here I have added chopped hazelnuts to contrast with the crumbly buckwheat dough, and a marriage of beautiful flavours – rosemary, dark chocolate and orange.
Makes about 14 sablés
95 g (3¼ oz/⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp) unsalted butter
30 g (1 oz/¼ cup) light brown muscovado sugar or coconut sugar
Finely grated zest of ½ orange
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary needles
¼ tsp coarse sea salt, finely ground
1 egg yolk
85 g (3 oz/⅔ cup) hazelnuts
65 g (2¼ oz/⅓ cup plus 2 tbsp) buckwheat flour
50 g (1¾ oz) dark chocolate, 85% cocoa solids
Cream the butter and sugar with the orange zest, chopped rosemary and salt until pale white. Add the egg yolk and carry on mixing. In a food processor, chop the hazelnuts up until quite small but not ground. We want to keep some texture. Combine the nuts with the flour, and add them both to the mix. Finally chop the chocolate into rough pea-sized pieces and add.
The mix will look wet and sticky but this is normal. Scrape the mix out from the mixing bowl onto a 30 cm (12 inch) square piece of baking parchment. Roll out to a log about 4 cm (1½ inches) in diameter, by folding the excess baking parchment over the raw mix and then shaping the mix. Freeze for 2–3 hours (or overnight) until firm enough to cut into discs. You can always re-shape the raw biscuits with your hands if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Cut the dough into 1 cm (⅓ inch) slices, place on the lined tray and bake for 10–15 minutes, rotating the tray halfway, until the edges are dark golden and the centre is coloured too. Baking them properly really brings out the flavour of the nuts and rosemary. Leave to cool completely on the tray and serve. Keeps in a sealed container for up to five days.
You could also use dark chocolate with 70 per cent cocoa solids in this recipe if you find 85 per cent too bitter.
This recipe is from the biscuits, brownies and bars chapter of Clean Cakes. Photo by Lisa Linder. I prefer to use organic unsalted cow's butter, but dairy-free butter, goat's or sheep's butter will also work if you have any allergies or intolerances.
Guest recipe from Tess Lister's A Handful of Flour, Baked apricot, almond and honey porridge, Friday 1st September 2017
I love this recipe from my friend Tess, daughter of John Lister, the founder of Shipton Mill. Her book is written with so much compassion and love for the Mill and everything they do there. I thoroughly recommend you get your hands on a copy if you love baking and finding out about new grains to use in your cooking. Tess' extra anecdotes about life at the Mill make you feel like you're a part of the family and draw you into making her wonderful recipes, like this one here about their bees. I must ask her how they're keeping (no pun intended!). Take it away, Tess...
This is a perfect weekend breakfast for when you have a bit more time, but want to expend very little effort. It takes about three minutes to throw all the ingredients into a dish to bake, and then you can pretty much ignore it and leave it in the oven until it's ready. You can adapt the fruit to what is in season or what you have in the house. In the winter months, dried fruit such as figs, prunes or dates also work well, as soaking the dried fruit in the cream and milk softens it while cooking.
150 g jumbo rolled oats
30g whole blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
200g apricots, stoned and sliced
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
150ml whipping cream
Clear honey, to drizzle
Preheat your oven to 170C/ gas 4.
Place all the dry ingredients, including the fruit, in an ovenproof dish, approximately 15 x 24-cm. Pour the liquid ingredients on top and stir to combine. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey before serving.
Enjoy with a glass of milk or with your morning coffee on the side. If you want to loosen the porridge, add an extra dash of milk just before serving.
We've had a slightly tempestuous relationship with our bees at the Mill. After living happily in their old hives among the orchards for years, one day they decamped and went to live in the hill. Some bees do remain in one of the old hives-you can take a stethoscope to the side and hear the buzzing of activity - but I've got no idea what's actually going on in there. I won't go into the relationship breakdown, but we're in the process of winning the bees back. We've built them a shiny new housing development of beautiful hives to tempt them, scented with lemongrass oil, which they are meant to love. Perhaps we went wrong by ignoring old folklore, according to which bees are both intelligent and potentially spiteful. If you don't keep them in the loop, they will withhold their honey. For example, you are supposed to tell them when somebody dies, and if you're going to give bees a new home, you need to signal this by knocking three times on the roof of their existing hive. I would laugh, but unfortunately given that we're currently in the 'withholding of honey' phase I may have to start chatting to them more if they don't take to the lemongrass oil. Prior to their move, every year we would harvest the honey to have our own. I remember nervously getting kitted up in my bee-keeping gear as a child to help.
Honey offers a whole spectrum of flavours but note that a good-quality honey will taste very different to the squeezy-bottle variety. The latter is great for adding extra sweetness, but if the real focus is going to be on the honey it's worth sourcing something amazing.
New blog posts coming soon.
Charities I work with
I love to use my baking in as many positive ways as I can. Whether it is sharing my skills or selling my patisserie to raise money for enterprises close to my heart. At the moment I am working with Cook For Syria, Luminary Bakery and Karuna Social Programme.
#CookForSYRIA is a global fundraising initiative curated by Clerkenwell Boy and SUITCASE Magazine in partnership with Unicef NEXTGeneration London. #CookForSYRIA first started as a simple supper club, where a group of foodie friends came together to celebrate Syrian cuisine and raise money to help Unicef protect Syrian children. Now it’s a global movement, and everybody is invited to the table. From cookbooks to supper clubs, #CookForSYRIA is raising vital funds for Unicef with support from the world’s top chefs, restaurants and volunteers. It's been such a privelege to contribute to #CookForSyria. I created an orange, almond and pistachio cake with pomegranate rose jewel syrup for the cookbook and I've had a cake stall at the past two #BakeForSyria sales. I look forward to working with this inspiring and award-winning charity a lot more in the future. Find out how you can help to here.
Luminary Bakery is an amazing social enterprise that is very close to my heart and I am very proud to be one of their ambassadors. Working with this incredible social enterprise, sharing my skills as a pastry chef, teaching and helping them empower women who have had a social and economic disadvantage build a future for themselves and their families, is very important to me. I've known the team at Luminary and been working with them for about a year now, a period in which they've been growing from strength to strength. From their bakery and wholesale business to their beautiful new café space in Stoke Newington, to collaborations with Ben and Jerrys and most recently, starting to sell their delights at Borough Market. They never cease to amaze me with their endless enthusiasm and energy and most importantly, with the support, safe and professional environment that they give to the women on their employability programmes. I'm so excited to be a part of this growth, encouraging ambition, restoration and second chances. Read more about Luminary, what they do and how you can be involved here.
Karuna was the first woman to be employed ten years ago in the ground-breaking women's craft centre, Karuna Social Programme, created by Eduardo Bores in Nepal. Originally from Gorkha, the Gaikhur district in the mountains, Karuna left her two children with their grandparents in order to take the job at the craft centre. Thanks to the project, Karuna now lives with her family again. Her children now attend the local school in Patan and with her work at the centre, she is able to support her family. Eduardo Bores founded the Spanish registered charity, naming it after her, Karuna (in Sanskrit 'Hope'), that helps women with limited resources and uncertain family environments to have a stable job at the craft centre in Bhaktapur and to enable them to lead a basic but dignified life. The clothes, bags, tablecloths, jewellery and so many unique and beautiful pieces that they make are sold in Barcelona and London every year by volunteers like my friends Alvaro and Fred. I'll be helping to co-host sales in Suffolk and hopefully be doing some baking for the sales too. Please all join me in supporting the programme and follow @karuna_social_programme to find out more about their work.