Lover of all things bread (a lady after our own hearts) and one of the UK’s best-loved baking bloggers, Kate Doran aka The Little Loaf, has had a bit of an exciting year.
Since 2011 Kate has shared her recipes, stories and inspirations on her charming blog; fast forward four years and her debut cookbook has landed.
Homemade Memories: Childhood Treats with a Twist hit the shelves earlier this year. Filled with recipes made with good, honest ingredients and a big dollop of nostalgia, Kate reimagines childhood favourites – from homemade jaffa cakes to triple chocolate chocolate caterpillar cake – with a grown up twist.
Here, Kate lets us into her kitchen and we talk baking tips, blogging and butterscotch angel delight… Plus, you can also win a copy of Kate’s cookbook by entering our competition here.
Your recipes are the perfect balance of nostalgic and distinctly adult tastes. How do you balance that?
Thank you J a lot of the recipes in my book began with a food memory – a favourite biscuit or the ice creams we’d eat on holiday. I’d think about how I felt when I was eating that particular treat – the excitement, the novelty or how it felt huge in my hands – then try to recreate that as something that would appeal to an adult palate.
Everyone I know has fond memories of Butterscotch Angel Delight but if you mixed up a packet now or looked at the list of ingredients, would you really want to eat it? My grown up version uses natural ingredients full of flavour and if you’re using real butter, why not add a cheeky slug of alcohol as well to put the ‘scotch’ into ‘butterscotch’.
Do you have any advice for new bakers? Any recipes, you’d recommend to get the dough rolling?
It’s probably best to start with the basics – one from the book that simply involves stirring but yields wonderful results is the recipe for Fig & Rye Rocks Buns.
Having said that, I hope this book shows that you shouldn’t be scared to tackle things like pastry, ice creams and even homemade honeycomb and marshmallows – just because you’d normally buy them from a shop doesn’t mean you can’t recreate them easily yourself at home.
What’s your one kitchen essential?
Can I have two? I adore my marble rolling pin and my candy apple red Kitchen Aid stand mixer sits in pride of place on my worktop.
When did you start to feel your blog really beginning to take off?
It’s definitely not something you see happen overnight – more of an organic process as you begin to make other food loving friends, build a network within the food blogging community and start getting recognition in newspapers and magazines. I have to say I was pretty excited back in 2011 when I got my first comment from someone who wasn’t my mum or husband!
What’s your most popular recipe?
On the blog, it’s my recipe for Wholemeal Digestives – people come back to that recipe time and again even though I posted it years ago. There’s an updated version in the book made with wholemeal spelt flour that I love even more. Of all the recipes in the book, the Chocolate Honeycomb Biscuit Cake always goes down particularly well.
What dish should we all have in our repertoire? And why?
Everyone needs a signature brownie recipe in their repertoire. They’re infinitely adaptable, delicious, chocolatey and require very little effort – what’s not to love?
What’s your best baking tip?
If a recipe requires softened butter and you’ve left it in the fridge, cut it into cubes and drop directly into a bowl of lukewarm water. Leave for 5 – 10 minutes and you’ll have perfectly soft butter.
What’s the biggest baking mistake we should all avoid?
See above re butter – never try to cream butter that’s too cold or you won’t get the desired results. And try not to drop things! It seems to happen all the time on The Great British Bake Off and is something I’m guilty of myself – for something of a perfectionist, I’m surprisingly clumsy in the kitchen.
What are you next cooking up in your kitchen?
During the summer months, I always turn to fruit as my inspiration for recipes. But now that autumn is just around the corner, I’m starting to turn my thoughts to spices like cinnamon and ginger. And chocolate, always chocolate.
What’s your go-to recipe for when those sweet cravings hit?
Cookies. Big, fat, chewy cookies with crispy edges and giant chocolate chunks – usually a riff on the Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies in my book.
For more recipes and stories, visit The Little Loaf blog. Or, you can buy Homemade Memories: Childhood Treats with A Twist on Amazon.