The weekend began beautifully, and as a glorious summer day dawned it was time to head off on a country adventure. Mum had suggested a getaway visit to Aunty K, and while the packed baking supplies had me excited, I nonetheless clambered into the car with some trepidation. Now don't get me wrong, I love my family dearly and believe they are some of the most genuine, beautiful people you could ever have the pleasure of knowing. The thing is, my mother is one of five sisters, and I one of six nieces, and so when a gathering is suggested, be it with one or many of the above, the oestrogen potential alone makes me nauseous. Add to that mum mumbling something about a "crafternoon" and I was immediately breaking out in a cold sweat.
But quips about their powers of chitchat and crotchetry aside, the Blood women do have a number of desirable attributes, with intelligence and green thumbs ranking highly among them. Honorable traits, yes, but ones that would also ultimately prove my downfall since, knowing full well the envy I have for their resplendent garden-bound properties, K quickly identified my Achilles' heel and made an offer she knew I simply could not refuse:
"Em, we have lots of raspberries and some red currants if you'd like to do something on the day - you can take over the kitchen..."
Oh wanton temptress! Entrapment indeed! All the crotcheted turtles in the world could not outweigh the desire for homegrown raspberries and free reign in a fantastic country cottage kitchen complete with herb garden and other such farmly delights.
There are just some things in life worth letting your will be broken for...
So after last week's disasters I was determined to rekindle my baking prowess, and when you need something to inspire and delight, there is only one place to turn - Ottolenghi - and naturally, they did not disappoint.
The brioche galette was amazing. To me, brioche dough is one of the most heavenly aromas imaginable, and this particular version was light, fluffy, and as perfect as this buttery goodness could be. Topped with mascarpone cream, cinnamon almond crumble and an array of raspberries, mulberries and red currants fresh-picked from the farm it was an absolute treat indeed.
And things only got better with the semolina and raspberry tart. A luscious vanilla-flecked custard was made gloriously creamy by the addition of semolina, and studded with such beautiful crimson berries it will definitely be a hard tart to beat.
It was lovely to get out of town for the day, to bake something delicious and to share it in such pleasant company. And returning home with a bounty of plums, raspberries, eggs and alpaca, I couldn't help but be grateful for having such a generous and grounded family.
Glenview plum cordial
With access to such gorgeous ingredients, and having reinvigorated the baking desires, one might almost admit to being contentedly happy...