Quince?

I’m genuinely getting cross about this now. Quince, a fruit in the same family as apples and pears. Somewhat déclassé, but still grown in abundance in this country and made into wondeful jellies and jams and accompaniments.

But can you buy any fresh? Can you f-!

I have looked at every mainstream supermarket’s online inventory. No one stocks them as far as I can tell. Not even Waitrose! You can get them, pricey though they are, from Ocado.com, an online supermarket, but I don’t want a whole shop, I just want some Quince, maybe some cranberries too (which are now readily available, hooray, but when you consider they aren’t really grown in this country, preposterous!), and I can’t faff about with delivery for a couple of items; it isn’t worth it.

I’m going to try the morrissons ‘fresh market’ stores near where I live (Southsea, Portsmouth, UK), also because I want some italian white onions but… and greengrocers, but so help me if I have to go to Borough Market for this…

I’m sorry for ranting, but it really is silly. If Asda can stock seasonal Persimmons and Passion Fruit, why not Quince!

I’ll let you know how I get on, but if anyone has any ideas beyond growing my own, I’d like to hear them!

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Welcome along…

… to She Who Bakes, another little baking blog about a home baker, me. I hope of course, that you enjoy reading about my antics with flour and sugar, and maybe get some inspiration along the way.

If this were an interview, I guess I’d answer a few on-topic questions about myself. So here’s my ten.

1: Who are you?

My name is Natasha. I was born in Brighton, on the south coast of England. I grew up in a quite countrified corner of Kent, which is in the south east, and I now live in my first ‘own home’ in Portsmouth, also on the south coast, but a hop-skip-and-a-jump further west than Brighton. I’m 25 and share my home with my beloved pet rats and mice. I recently lost my elderly cat, and hope to get another one day soon. I obviously bake, but also enjoy preserve making, sweet and chocolate making, writing, art, gardening, music and going out for coffee. My favourite colour is plum. My starsign is Gemini, and I was born in the year of the rabbit. I work for an accounting firm.

2: What was your first bake?

Queen cakes. My mother has a rather well loved old baking tome she won in third form, and ever time I see the old green binding I feel a smile teasing. Queen cakes were next to victoria sponges and other ‘cakes by the creaming method’. Sultanas were my favourite fruit as a child, and cakes one of my favourite things, so the fluffy, buttery combination of the two is, and was, divine. It’s also a very easy cake to make, so it was perfect for me to start with. The basic sponge mix (4,4,4,2 eggs) was then applied to lemon sponge, another favourite of youth.

3: What is your favourite bake?

At Christmas I bake lebkuchen. Being from eastern european stock, Christmas and Christmas baking is an ingrained habit and thankfully, passion of mine. In the run up to the ‘big day’ I will prepare a batch of sticky aromatic dough and age it for 2-3 days in the fridge, before cutting out dozens and dozens of shapes. Baked in a matter of minutes, they puff up into the most wonderful almost pillowed shapes, crisp but wonderfully chewy and full of spicy goodness. Though this is my favourite bake, it’s not just the finished article I love so much.The whole process makes me feel Christmassy and therefore intensely happy, right through to curling up on the sofa to watch midnight mass and decorating the biscuits with royal icing and various nonpareil, ready to be hung on the tree.

4: What is your least favourite bake?

I’m not sure I quote-HATE-unquote any one bake in particular; baking is a fun hobby for me, a pastime. However, anything particularly trying would probably fall into this category. For me, this is Macarons and Meringues. I have made meringue that I was satisfied with once in my life, and macarons that were passable, again, once. I used to keep a blog called Ugly!Cake for this very reason- whilst everything tasted lush, it wasn’t always dazzling to the eye. That isn’t to say I won’t bake these again- quite the contrary. They are now almost an obsession of mine.

5: What is your speciality?

Probably cupcakes. I do make fairly popular brownies, but nearly always one way. Cupcakes are my go-to bake, and I find it rewarding to try new recipes but also to create my own.

6: What do you need to improve on?

Variety, I suppose. Puddings, for one. I’ve never steamed a pudding. I’d like to try it some time. I’d also like to give Red Velvet cakes another go. And in terms of blogging, my cake photography!

7: What is the best bake you’ve ever seen?

There is a cupcakery in Wellington, New Zealand called Tempt. I’ve never been there in person, but the books by owner Tamara Jane make me want to cry with joy. Sometimes I do, I won’t deny it. In terms of bakers I’ve met and shops I’ve seen, I’m very impressed by the lovely Sarah of Kiss And Bake Up‘s wares and by Rhodes bakery in lovely Greenwich.

8: What is the best bake you’ve ever eaten?

That is hard to pin down! I’m fairly easily pleased, so I can’t think of something that blew me away… maybe the first time I ate christmas pudding? That sounds silly, but that leaps out at me from memories past.

9: And the worst?

Either the burnt birthday cake I was served at an after dinner gathering not so long ago, that was smothered in sickly over flavoured icing and an unfortunate splodge of grey that was apparently supposed to be a rocket, or the first time I made strawberry cupcakes and innocently added as much salt as the recipe asked for. Blech.

10: Any random facts?

I can tie a knot in a cherry stem with my tongue, and I have a mole on the bottom of my right foot.

All that’s left to say is, welcome along, and I hope you enjoy 🙂

Nx