The best things I've baked during lockdown (and some things I've learned)

My hobby of choice during the lockdown as undoubtedly been baking stuff. With little else to occupy my busy hands, I have turned to Pinterest, my small collection of cookbooks and my trusty saved recipe folder (a physical folder!) and kneaded, proved, mixed to my heart's content.

Favourite things I have made

The Anna Edit's cookies

The hype is real for these cookies which are based on the recipe from the Levain bakery, with a few tried and tested hacks. They are the thicccccc, gooey cookies you've seen all over Instagram, winking at you with their height and oozing chocolate chips - in short an absolute absolute dream. They are sweet, a tiny bit salty, stuffed to the brim with chocolate and a delicious bite from roasted hazelnuts. I want some now! I have to try the white chocolate and miso ones too.

Cheesy welsh cakes

I made these initially to use up a glut of leeks from my veg box - they love sending a leek and Rich HATES eating a leek so alternative leek routes must be explored in our mission to not be a wasteful household. These savoury nuggets are a delightful discovery - I often use them as a bread substitute for my morning boiled eggs, or just as a umami mid-morning snack.

Decorated Foccacia 

This fun baking project lets your creative juices run wild, is easy and tastes great. You feel clever because you have made bread but you don't need specialist equipment so it's a win win. The only downside is you have to eat it quite quickly because without the tons of preservatives they put in supermarket bread, turns out it goes mouldy more quickly - who'd have thought?

Tea, Lemon and Blueberry Cake 

I made this for my mum's birthday. It is from Tesco magazine and it's the first time I've made a cake larger than two tiers so I was a bit intimidated by it! It turned out great though, and tasted lush. You couldn't really taste the tea in it however, so I would probably leave that out next time as it wasn't
missed. My mum appreciated it greatly and even brought out her best cake knife to cut it. High praise indeed.

Some things I have learned...

Measurements need to be precise...but sometimes it just ain't working

I made a pizza base recently and I swear I followed the instructions to the letter but I just could not get it to stop being so damn sticky. Sometimes, no matter how precise you are, the temperature of the room, how warm your hands are, even your mood definitely makes a difference to how things turn out.

You can substitute stuff

That said, whilst they do say baking is a science, most of the time you can sub in like for like and it's largely the same. Oil instead of butter, lemon zest instead of orange, granulated sugar instead of caster. Trial and error is part of the fun - just need to use your imagination and logic.

Sharing is caring

The only downside about making so many baked goods, is having so many baked goods. I'm lucky that both mine and Rich's parents live nearby so every Sunday we would do a little walk or bike ride round to both households and drop off some excess treats, stopping for a little doorstep chat along the way.

It's not worth making the pastry!

I made shortcrust pastry for a pie and it's just long and an effort and I cannot make it stretch properly to save my life. Shop bought pastry is my friend.

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