How to Be a Domestic Goddess
Diary of a Frustrated Girlfriend

I was sans bloke (due to a stag thing in Exeter) last weekend, and naturally I turned to baking as a displacement activity. It beats crying into your pint, eh ladies?

Getting up bright and early on Saturday, my thoughts immediately turned to yeast. When you only see your chap at the weekends, and half of these are spent at his flat, which has a decidedly non-lady-friendly kitchen, it’s difficult to set aside the proving time for risen breads and associated baked goods. So I whacked up a batch of dough (thank the little baby Jesus for easy-blend yeast), placed it over the grill of a just-pilot-lit oven to rise, and sat down after applying deep hair conditioner and a face pack to eat some yoghurt and read a magazine. After the dough had risen sufficiently I knocked it back and plonked half of it in a 1lb tin and half, shaped roughly oval, to go free and easy on a large baking tray. After another rising both of these went in the oven to bake while I had a shower. Result: one baby traditional and one rustic loaf, perfectly textured bread still slightly warm and ready for lunch (sliced chorizo and tomatoes dumped unceremoniously on toasted long skinny slices of the rustic effort). I love it when a plan comes together.

The afternoon saw a jaunt into Muswell Hill and a wander back through Highgate Woods. Here I met a friend and we spent a good and very enjoyable hour getting thorns stuck in our shins while scrambling through brambles in search of the wily blackberry, many of which we scoffed messily instead of placing safely in our capacious punnets. Given that I spent many happy (if slightly bloody) summer afternoons as a youngster in exactly this way at my granny’s farmhouse, this was nostalgia at its finest and tastiest, notwithstanding the scratches all over my knuckles. Back home, a quick batch of shortcrust pastry was made (with good old lard, of course) and pie was constructed, or rather one big apple/blackberry job (in a hastily junk-shop-purchased ancient flan tin: 50p to you, squire) and a tray of cute mini pielets. The room filled with lovely wholesome smells, girly conversation was had and then pie was eaten. And I now have a store of blackberries in the freezer. Hurrah!

Neither the weekend nor the floury frenzy was over yet. Sunday morning saw more yeast kicked into gear for Chelsea buns. The bread experiment the previous morning had bolstered my confidence, I had unearthed a rather elderly bag of mixed dried fruit and peel from the back of a cupboard, and the game was afoot. I was a bit nervous as I’d not made them before, but all was well, and relatively soon I had a ring of spicy, bready, fruity spirals lurking enticingly on the kitchen table. There are a couple in my desk drawer right now in anticipation of elevenses. Splendid.

So: as has been proved by science, baking is good for your biceps, makes your house smell really nice, and promotes a general sense of wellbeing even if your significant other is many miles away drunkenly tormenting a bald man dressed as a naughty nurse.