I’m now just over three years into blogging, so it seems like a good time to have a little look back at my previous posts. I saw one challenge, called My Seven Links, via London Bakes, which invites you to answer seven questions.
These seven headings are really quite interesting – some of them look just at the numbers of visitors per page, while others are more personal or subjective, and provide an interesting way to think about what I’ve been up to in the kitchen. I think the most difficult part of this is comparing some of my earlier posts, which felt like an achievement at the time, with some of my more recent posts as I have developed a feel for what works and what sort of things I really enjoy writing about.
So here we go…
My most beautiful post
I like to think that I’ve made lots of beautiful things in my time, but one of the stand-out recipes for me was for a classic British summer pudding. This recipe is simplicity itself but it really brings together the flavours of late summer. The picture was one of my most striking, taken at my parents’ house out on the terrace under late evening Scottish sunshine.
My most popular post
Ooh, now this is a bit of a close-run thing. I’m actually going to put forward two candidates here, and as it happens, both of them hail from northern Europe.
The reigning king is my recipe for Dutch mini-pancakes called Poffertjes. This has by far and away had the most hits, and has been consistently popular since it was posted. It was one of the first things I made, so I’m naturally rather thrilled that it has been viewed so many times.
However, hot on the heels of Poffertjes is my recipe for Swedish cinnamon buns called kanelbullar. As with poffertjes, this was a hit from almost the moment that I posted it. It’s also one of my most dependable recipes – the results are always excellent and are always popular when served up to guests.
My most controversial post
I don’t really do controversy. I don’t set out to stir things up, and I am not looking to provoke my readers, and in all honesty, there is a limit to how controversial you can be when it comes to baking and cooking.
When it comes to recipes and fads, if something really does not work for me, then I generally don’t post it. Unless you enjoy websites like Cake Wrecks I don’t think people are looking for shared disasters (for that, we have Instagram). Equally, there are some food trends that sort of pass me by (whoopie pies, anyone?) so I just don’t feature those recipes, as I’m not sure my readers really want to read a piece where I’m negative about something or someone.
Perhaps the closest I’ve come is as part of my “On Location” posts for Swedish cafe called Fika in Brick Lane in East London. Back in early 2010, I went looking for decent cinnamon buns in London, and had great hopes for Fika – the name is the Swedish word for a coffee break. I went over there full of hope, and came out utterly deflated – they didn’t “do” cinnamon buns according to the server. That’s the nearest I’ve come to being really negative, and I’ve been told that it was clear from the post. Apparently they now do sell cinnamon buns (yay!) but in the meantime I discovered the great Nordic Bakery in Soho and excellent Scandinavian Kitchen in Bloomsbury, so I’ll be sticking with those establishments.
My most helpful post
I’m going to chicken out here, and go for two rather than one. I’m justifying this on the basis that one of my posts acts as a cautionary tale for those tempted to go foraging and who get a bit gung-ho with their haul, and the second is a useful recipe for windfall fruit, which looks like it should be useful but can sometimes be hard to make into something nice.
My first helpful post is my attempt at making sloe gin. The gin itself was fantastically successful, but the post starts off with a tale of my mistake in trying to make sloe jam (which was absolutely horrid). It’s a testament to the fact you need to know not only what you’re picking when you go foraging (and luckily, I do) but also understand how to use your free booty to make something delicious. In addition to my nasty sloe jam, I’ve also made horrid rowan jelly, so I am now well and truly aware of the need to use these wild fruits in suitable recipes. The sloe gin itself was absolutely delicious – a sweet, aromatic and plummy liqueur which is at its best on a winter’s evening next to an open fire.
My second choice here is a useful idea to use up windfall pears. I used to live in the upper part of a block where the woman on the ground floor (who had the garden I coveted) had a couple of ancient pear trees. These fellows were tall and grand, but their fruit was nothing to write home about. I managed to track down a recipe for making perada, which is essentially a firm pear paste (similar to the Spanish quince paste eaten with manchego). It’s quite easy to make, and I’ve had a lot of complements from people who have tried it – it seems it’s quite a rare thing to make, so a bonus that you can make it from windfall pears.
My most surprisingly successful post
This one is easy – it’s my third most popular post of all time, my recipe for a spicy black bean stew. I think the attraction is the ease of the recipe – throw beans, tomatoes and spices into a pot, leave to simmer, and that’s basically it. Nutritious and delicious, all with minimal effort.
My most under-rated post
I think this has to be my attempt at rose creams. This is such a traditionally English sweet, and I made them around the time of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I wasn’t chasing hits, but I did think it would generate a little bit more interest than it did, so I’m surprised that it has languished, like some undiscovered Bennet sister. If you’ve got the time, patience and a fondness for things flavoured with rose, they’re actually really rather nice.
The post I’m most proud of
This was a tough one one, as there are quite a few contenders!
However, there is one that really stands out for me. It’s one of my traditional Scottish recipes, a liqueur made from oats, whisky and honey called Atholl Brose. I spent very little time making it (it’s very easy) and had to take pictures in a bit of a rush as time was getting short. I work on the basis that if you’re going to post a recipe for New Year, it needs to be posted in good time before midnight to allow others to see it and potentially make it. The result was really quite stunning and has a real festive glamour to it.