Firstly — apologies for the two-week absence. What with a hectic new job and a whirlwind trip to the UAE (I’ll tell you all about that sometime. It was a hundred-miles-an-hour trip) there really hasn’t been a lot of time or energy for baking. I’m rarely home in daylight hours so photography is impossible, and my little time at home needs to be directed towards sleep.

Today, though, I’m in PJs all day, drinking hot coffee and eating fresh cookies. And I know what you’re thinking: if there’s one thing this blog really doesn’t need, it’s another cookie recipe. But hear me out. Firstly, you can never have too many cookies. Secondly, these are Christmas cookies. Yesterday was my official playing-Christmas-music-for-the-first-time-this-year day, because although I normally try to restrain myself until 1st December, when you’re still crawling down the M1 late on a Friday night, knowing that there’s still the underworld of TFL to deal with once you actually make it back to London, you need the emotional comfort that only Christmas music can bring. Which means that for me, Christmas season is here. And therefore the Christmas recipes can start to come.

If you’ve been hanging around these parts for a while now, you’ll recognise the basic recipe. It’s my go-to for cookies. Because why fix what ain’t broke?

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COURGETTE CAKE | MAGPIE & MAPLE

It’s courgette season, and our garden produced so many this year that for a while we seemed to be eating them at every meal. Although we’re at the tail end of the glut now, I thought I’d experiment with ways to use up the healthy vegetable while they’re still in season. After all, there’s only so many times you can add it to pasta.

Although it isn’t a novel idea to add courgette to baked goods like cakes, loaves and brownies,  it’s not something I’d ever tried before. Much as I love vegetables and advocate eating them in abundance, I’m not a fan of them sneaking in where they’re not welcome. In my experience, ‘healthy’ cake made with things like sweet potato/ beetroot/ spinach/ [insert vegetable here] just don’t taste right and the only people who think they do are those who haven’t eaten proper cake in a decade. Baked goods are never going to be superfoods, so if you’re going to indulge it should at least taste nice.

The one exception, however, is carrot cake; everyone likes carrot cake. Somehow, it just works. So I thought I’d be brave with the courgette, remodelling a Hummingbird Bakery recipe to make it a little more wholesome (and vegan friendly) and I’m pleased to repot that it operates far more according to the carrot cake model than the sweet potato brownie model — i.e., the courgette flavour is undetectable and it just contributes to making a beautifully moist, delicately spiced cake. I’m pleased to report that everyone who tried it loved it, and no one came close to guessing what was in it. View Full Post

GREEN JUICE SMOOTHIE | MAGPIE & MAPLE This is a smoothie for green juice lovers who don’t have juicers. Or maybe you have a juicer, but you prefer to consume the fruit and veg in its entirety to get maximum goodness rather than bleeding out its juice. Or maybe you just don’t like the cleanup associated with juicing.

Whatever your reasoning, this smoothie has the earthy, ultra-green, not-very-sweet taste of a juice, but it’s made by throwing everything into a blender. If you’re not a hardcore green juice person, this isn’t for you. But if you want an easy way to get the goodness and flavour of a green juice, this is probably as close as it’s possible to get without, you know, actually making a juice.  View Full Post

Summer just doesn’t want to go away. I feel guilty any moment that I’m not outdoors, savouring the warmth of the sun on my skin and the freshness of the breeze and the fragrance of the flowers and fresh-cut grass and the sound of birdsong. It may be the last blue sky we get for another year, for all I know. Any day now the weather will turn, the leaves will fall and the rain will come once more.

Summer was part of the motivation behind this recipe. Crumble is delicious, but it’s a warm, comforting dessert, better suited to cold winter nights than summer picnics. It also isn’t portable – like, at all. Just don’t even try that. Which is where the bars come in.  View Full Post