Before moving in with my partner, I spent seven years living in houseshares: five houses, three cities, twenty flatmates in total. I’ve been a face without a name to some, partying buddy to others, trusted shoulder-to-cry-on to many. Most of all, though, I’ve been that flatmate: the one everyone relies on, but not so secretly despises. The one who spends hours cleaning up after somebody else’s party, determined to not wake up to the sight of fifteen people’s unwashed dishes the next morning. The one who leaves passive-aggressive notes on the whiteboard in the hallway, promising a slow, painful death to anyone who doesn’t cough up their overdue share of the bills within the next twenty seconds.
Seven years of housesharing tally up to two thousand, five hundred and fifty-five days. That’s enough time spent tidying up messes and drafting ineffective cleaning rotas to last the rest of my life – or, at least, that’s my excuse whenever I feel like cutting myself some slack from house chores. On the outside, I may look like a sensible adult, but don’t let that fool you: I’m probably the farthest thing from a domestic goddess you ever met. Neat on the outside, I hide my chaos behind the safe walls of bursting closets and overflowing drawers. I don’t mind washing tonight’s dishes tomorrow, if it means I can spend the evening doing something I actually enjoy (*). I can’t even remember the last time I ironed my clothes properly (I don’t have to wear shirts for work, so why worry?). Frown as much as you like, I know I have a point: life’s too short to work crazy hours, set aside the time to do the things I love, and keep the carpet spotless all the time. Fact.
Cooking is the exception the proves the rule. Little gives me more satisfaction than preparing a hearty meal, even though most of my dishes are simple and unsophisticated. The stereotype of the impeccably dressed, attractive woman holding a tray of piping hot food in a fashionable oven mitt? Forget it. Most of the time, you’ll catch me cooking dinner at ungodly hours, still dressed in the clothes I wore for work, which I’ll douse in flour, soak with dishwashing liquid, and still debate wearing the next day. However much effort I put into meal planning, there’s often something that escapes my shopping list, and I only realise it when it’s too late. I lost count of the dishes I made without a key ingredient, disguising botched meals as “interesting experiments”. At my worst, I can forget far more important things, like buying breakfast for a friend who’s sleeping over. Not that any of my friends would mind; they know far too well that treating them to a home baked breakfast is my favourite way to make amends.
This recipe for honey, walnut and granola mini cakes is special to me – and not just because it saved me from a gaffe last weekend. The original recipe looked easy enough to adapt to the ingredients in my cupboard, and quick enough to whip up in the little time I had; the most amazing thing about these soft little treats, though, is how fast they disappeared from the breakfast table. Think twelve mini cakes feeding three people; not a single crumb was left. “They’re so beautiful!”, my friend commented, as she helped herself to the fourth portion. It took as little to wash away my guilt feelings, and replace them with an incredible sense of pride. Ah, the wonders half an hour of emergency baking can do. And yes, I washed the bowl and whisks after baking – I’m not that bad a host!
Mini Breakfast Cakes with Honey, Walnuts and Granola
- 75g butter
- 2 eggs
- 40g granulated sugar
- 3tbsp runny honey, plus extra to serve
- 75g plain flour
- 50g walnuts, chopped
- 1 – 2tsp almond extract
- 15 – 25g granola or muesli of your choice
Recipe (adapted from Lizzie Kamenetzky’s Honey and Pistachio Cakes)
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, then set aside to cool down.
- Using an electric hand mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar and honey until you obtain a thick, smooth mixture.
- In batches, sift the flour into the egg mixture, and fold in gently until combined.
- Fold in the walnuts, almond extract and melted butter. Mix delicately until combined.
- Fill a muffin tray with 12 muffin cases, and pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
Baker’s tip: Use silicone cases if possible. The batter will spread more evenly, and removing the cakes from the tray will be easier.
- Divide the batter between the 12 cases, and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Baker’s tip: Your cakes will be ready when they’re golden brown on top, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Don’t worry if they’re still soft to the touch: they will set as they cool down.
- Remove from the oven. Leave aside until cooled, then remove the cakes from the muffin cases and place on a large plate or cake stand.
- Before serving, drizzle more honey on the top, and sprinkle with granola or muesli.