The Great British Quarantine Bake Off
It’s not so often one finds oneself with absolutely nothing to do for two or three months. Wider reading? Research? I hear you, but I don’t know who you think you’re kidding. With no conceivable schedule and nowhere to go other than the kitchen, I’ve found myself staring at the wall far more often than I usually would. Being at liberty to start and end your day as you please is fun at first, but I couldn’t hack it for more than a week - for fear of never becoming a functional human being ever again.
However long or short my days have been thus far, I’ve tried my best to keep them all from merging into one great exercise in wall staring. So, fancying myself the people’s Nigella with all the charisma and half the talent, I tied up my very high fashion Lanzarote apron (a souvenir from one of my Nan’s four week SAGA stints) and decided to give proper baking a go. I’m talking roulades and choux pastries - no fairy cakes. Not that I’ve ever been particularly great with fairy cakes anyway, they’re too fiddly.
With Mother’s Day just gone, I had the perfect starting point - I’d bought my mum Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s “Sweet” recipe book. Full of obscure ingredients and posh tiny cakes, I’d marked out most of the book just looking at the pictures. Oddly enough, no one is stockpiling buckwheat flour or mahleb right now and they were much easier to find than toilet roll - go figure.
Back home, I propped up the book against a mug of tea bigger than my head and set myself up to attempt the first recipe I’d marked out; “pistachio roulade with raspberries and white chocolate”. The buzz word there being “roulade”. Intimidated but ever-determined, I felt a little like Amy Adams in “Julie & Julia” albeit without the office job - it’s all about working from home these days. Whether Nora Ephron turns my amateur baking venture into a film starring Meryl Streep as Ottolenghi is yet to be seen, but I’ll keep you in the loop.