The food has to have a mildly healthy feel to it, almost as an extension of breakfast. So, we have to feel comfortable enough to indulge while not beating ourselves up about cake before lunch. Fruit and nut based breads or pastries, cinnamon buns, flapjack or oat bars, muffins, yoghurt or soured cream cakes such as typical American coffee cakes are always winners for elevensies.
I try to stay as seasonal as possible, and often choose my meals by what is available at the farmers’ market, but truthfully I follow my mood more than anything else. I am a compulsive purveyor of cookbooks, and try to make at least 3 new things a week from any of the new bibles on my shelves.
My favourite meal to eat is breakfast as without it I am a bit of a disaster! So much so that I often find myself cooking breakfast for dinner!
I always like to plan in advance. For me that is the main prep, as all my decisions have been made and I don’t change my mind on the menu at the last minute! Pacing myself, particularly when baking is the key. I made the dough for the Linzer hearts two days before and left it in the fridge overnight, and made everything else the day before. The only “day of” job was assembling the Linzer Hearts the morning of the event so that they would not be soggy!
On an average weekend I can feed anywhere from 30-50 mouths. I usually make friday night dinner at home for a crowd, and then there are the lunches and the teas…
I have never actually counted them, but glancing at my shelves, there are about 250 in my kitchen, more in the study, and the stacks next to my bed, I am not sure I want to know myself!
COMPLETELY! Obsessed, passionate, consumed, fanatical…
Easy! The best sourdough bread with salty french butter
I love my Fruit and Nut Bread (recipe below) for elevensies (or tea, or cocktails…..) as it is savoury and not too sweet, and is just as good with goats cheese as with butter and jam. It is also a great festive treat and I always include it in my Chrismas holiday baskets that I frantically deliver at this time of year.
Hanna’s Fruit & Nut Bread
Makes 3 small breads or 2 large
I tend to use any combination of dried fruit and nuts, depending what is on hand at any given time. I think figs add to the beauty of the slices and I always try to use pistachios for colour. Just make sure that the quantities are the same when substituting fruit and / or nuts.
I have also used gluten free flour (Bobs Red Mill makes a good one) on occasions when I make these for those who prefer to steer clear.
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed, light muscovado sugar
3 cups walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios, toasted
3 cups roughly chopped apricots, pitted dates, figs, handful of dried cherries
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 160c
Lighly oil and line base of loaf tins with parchment or foil
In a large bowl whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar
Add nuts and fruit and mix together with your fingers making sure every piece is coated in flour mix
In a small bowl whisk eggs and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and mix well
Pour into loaf tins and cook for 35-40 minutes until golden brown
Cool completely in pans.
Once removed cut into thick slices with sharp bread knife.
I love these best either with goats cheese or lashings of butter but feel free to experiment with toppings or just au naturel!
Adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich