Toasted Cornmeal and Salted Honey Shortbread … Goes Well With Coffee – 1st Edition

This post is a little different from my regular posts as I have decided that, over the next few months, I want to do a series of posts all around one theme. And no, we are not talking Christmas cookies (even if Pinterest might have you believe you should be dusting off your star-shaped cookie cutters already). Instead, this little series will be all about things that go well with coffee. And by things that go well with coffee, I, of course, mean cakes, cookies, pastries and all their various incarnations. Because, really, isn’t the whole point of sitting down for a cup of coffee the opportunity to enjoy something sweet alongside said cup of coffee? The series is inspired by the Coffee Taster’s Flavour Wheel produced by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. As it says on the SCAA’s website, the Flavour Wheel develops a glossary of coffee terms based on sensory science and is used by coffee cuppers

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Individual Victoria Sponge Cakes with Chamomile and Macerated Strawberries

I am not the first person to pair Chamomile and Strawberries – there is a recipe for chamomile panna cotta and macerated strawberries in one of Heston Blumenthal’s books and a quick jaunt around the internets will bring up recipes for chamomile sorbet, chamomile custard and other sweet floral delights made with chamomile. Yet, it is a rare combination. Maybe unsurprising given a lot of us will have grown up sipping tepid chamomile tea while recuperating from yet another childhood illness. Yet with herbs finding their way into baked goods more and more, it is about time we gave chamomile a second chance. Its flavour is delicate. Lemony, even a bit grassy, and undoubtedly floral. Moderation is key when using chamomile – too generous a helping will yield a bitter flavour yet, if you show too much restraint, the chamomile will be imperceptible. These individual Victoria Sponge Cakes are my idea of the perfect treat for a summery afternoon tea.

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Peach Polenta Pine Nut Cake

I asked Alessandro the other day what his idea of summer was – his answer? Pasta con pomodoro fresco e basilico (pasta with a sauce made from fresh tomatoes and basil). My idea of summer? Biting into a slice of crunchy, juicy and perfectly sweet watermelon after a refreshing dip in the sea (failing which, a dip in a swimming pool). Like him (and myself) I am sure all of you have your own idea of what summer is (maybe a crisp glass of white wine enjoyed on the porch, a barbecue with friends, the smell of sun lotion etc), it is after all most people’s favourite season of the entire year. Having spent the majority of the last 12 or so years in the UK, first in Brighton and then in London, I got used to a somewhat different type of summer than my childhood ones in Germany, where the days from late May to early September were filled

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The older I get, the more ambivalent I feel about my birthdays. Long gone are the days where I would run down the stairs excited to open my presents. These days, the highlight tends to be managing to take the day off work (though good presents are obviously still appreciated). However, August is my birthday month and even if I am not a fan of big crowds and therefore haven’t thrown a birthday party in years, a birthday is there to be celebrated in some form or another. And celebrate I did. Not with one, not two, not three, no, with four birthday cakes in total. First there was the box of cupcakes from Lola’s Bakery that my friend Verena gave me and that was devoured together with my parents. There was the Pflaumenkuchen, a plum cake common in Germany around this time of year (the plums are incredibly tart when baked so the cake is eaten covered in sugar

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The weekend

After what seemed like a never-ending workweek (only ending around 11pm last night) the weekend is finally here, packed with meeting up with a friend who had a baby just under 3 weeks ago (god he is tiny! And so cute), heading to the Old Vic to see “Democracy”, a play about Willy Brandt’s last few days in power, dinner at a new to me Mexican place in Soho and hanging out with a friend who just got an amazing new job but who will sadly leave London in a few months. A good weekend indeed. Made even better by a trip to the little fruit and vegetable stall from my house – much cheaper than the supermarket and always a great selection of seasonal produce. I walked away with fresh asparagus, fennel (yup, still obsessed), fresh cherries, a watermelon, raspberries, some apricots (the dough for an apricot-frangipane galette is chilling in the fridge already), some deep red tomatoes and

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