During the spring, the UK typically has a number of bank holidays (national public holidays derived from statute and/or common law) that fall pretty close to one another – typically on Fridays and/or Mondays – and mean that banks, schools, and many places of business are closed for these designated days. In England and Wales, […]
Six things I’ve baked since being here
The UK baking market is currently worth circa £3.6 billion and makes up one of the largest markets in the food industry. As expected, a large proportion of this comes from bread however, the popularity of British baking staples such as scones, cakes, shortbread, and tarts is growing day by day. Thanks in part to popular baking-related TV shows and social media, home baking has become increasingly popular too so we wanted to find out what our scholars have been baking since arriving in the UK.
1. CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Phuong Anh Nguyen, Vietnam
‘What makes the best Christmas gift? Something sweet, something made from the heart, and something cute.
This year, I baked some chocolate chip cookies as Christmas gifts for my friends. They were crispy sweet cookies that had an aromatic taste of chocolate.
The recipe and methods is easy. I am sure that everyone can make it.
100 g unsalted butter, slightly softened
125 g brown sugar (If we use granulated white sugar, the cookies will be crispier. In contrast, if we use brown sugar instead, we will receive chewier cookies. I prefer brown sugar because it makes the cookies more flavoursome)
1 large free-range egg
Half a teaspoon vanilla extract (It will make the cookies more fragrant)
200 g self-rising flour
1 pinch of fine sea salt
100 g dark chocolate (you can use milk chocolate, but I prefer dark chocolate).
- Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
- Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Crack in the egg, add the vanilla and mix well. Sift in and fold through the flour and salt. Roughly chop and stir in the chocolate.
- Roll tablespoons of the dough into balls and place onto the lined trays. Cover and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Place in the hot oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden.
- Leave to cool completely.
Finally, enjoy your achievement.’
2. SOMETHING SWEET
Natesha Alexander, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
‘During exam time, my sweet tooth always acts up. I feel like I can’t read another line until I’ve had something sweet. I love baking so I decided to make some sugar cookies for the first time since getting to the UK.
Unfortunately, at 2am, I really didn’t think it through. First, I had no sugar (but was happy to note my friend and kitchen mate did). Then I had no rolling pin or cookie cutter! But my mind and taste buds were already set so it was substitution time.
I discovered my kitchen mate’s empty wine bottle and voila – a rolling pin! Then, looking around my kitchen, my eyes lit up when I saw the ice cream scoop – who knew what an excellent cookie cutter an ice cream scoop could make! Although, after the first four, I gave up completely on the roll out and just smashed them. At 2am, no snack is allowed to take longer than 10 mins to prep.
18 minutes in the oven and they were ready. Of course, what’s a cookie without some sweetened condensed milk drizzled over it?
I have to say, I think those wonky cookies had powers because I had a great mathematics exam the next day.’
3. BAKING IS COMFORT
Noor Fatima, Pakistan
‘After long lectures, being stuck in a writer’s rut, and having the most hectic pull-my-hair-out days ever, I always run to my safe haven; the kitchen.
The process of weighing out butter and sugar, whisking in the eggs, and folding in the flour takes away all the stress and creates space in my mind. Baking is comfort; baking is my therapy.
It also reminds me of how bountiful the region where I live really is. So many beautiful fruits that we do not have back home. Gorgeously plump blueberries, fat juicy strawberries, and my favourite – the dark little gems that are blackberries. Be it the sumptuous triple chocolate-layered cake or the tangy cheesecake bars; berries turn any plain bake into something spectacular which is why I love baking with them so much.’
4. GUILTY PLEASURE
Azim Kassim, Brunei
‘During my degree in 2010, my guilty pleasure had always been crisps. It was truly unhealthy. At one point, to reduce the guilt, I only had one meal in a day and that was a large bag of crisps.
But when I ventured into bakeries in the UK, my vault of snacks expanded even further and therein reign a new obsession; cookies (and Ben and Jerrys ice cream – albeit that’s a whole different story). From Fox’s chunky cookies to Marks and Spencer’s soft, buttery Viennese cookies, to Millies’ crumbly white chocolate and cranberry cookies, to one of my all-time favourite cookie stores: Ben’s Cookies and their hazelnut praline cookies – there’s an endless variety of options here!
My all-time favourite cookies are the freshly baked Marks and Spencer’s cookies. The bakery dishes out classic flavours such as milk chocolate, white chocolate, and triple chocolate, and I love how the cookies are crispy on the outside then soft, chewy, and chocolatey within.
To avoid the M&S food hall, I began baking my own milk chocolate cookies. The recipe stated 180 degrees for 15 minutes but I love soft baked cookies so reduced the heat to 130-150 degrees and most importantly, let the cookies rest. The best part about cookies (except eating them) is when you stack them all up.
Too bad I have to share them now.
In case the cookies aren’t enough, I have also been known to bake a pre-made apple pie and stack some strawberries on top!’
5. THE BAKEWELL TART
Stefania Rainaldi, Uruguay
‘One cold weekend in February, I had the opportunity to stay with a British family in Whitstable, Kent, thanks to the HostUK programme.
It was an amazing opportunity to learn more about British life and customs. One of the nicest moments was to bake a typical English pudding, the Bakewell tart together.
The pudding originated in Derbyshire around 1860 by accident. The pudding has a shortcrust pastry filled with jam and topped with a paste of egg and almond. In this case, the jam was homemade by my host Susanna. We ate the pudding after dinner, sharing a cup of tea and a lot of stories about our lives.
It was an unforgettable experience.’
6. A SOFT SCONE
Phuong Anh Nguyen, Vietnam
‘I fell in love (at first sight) with scones when I first enjoyed afternoon tea in The Grand Café – the first coffee house in England established in 1650 located in Oxford. I love the combination of the sweet and soft scone with the cool and mellow jam and the greasy cream. It’s an amazing taste.
Learning the basic recipe from the BBC, I decided to bake my own scones.
It was so fascinating when sitting in front of the oven and seeing the cake rising.
Finally, I made it!
Now, I’m sure that when I go back my hometown, I will still enjoy afternoon tea with traditional British scones’
Thank you to our scholars who submitted pictures and stories to this theme.
If you are a current scholar and wish to submit your own pictures and stories to the latest themes, please check your most recent scholargram for submission details.
Whether it’s the glens and lochs in Scotland, the rolling hills in Yorkshire, or the gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) waves in Cornwall, the UK is filled with landscapes to take away the breaths of even the most difficult to please. Our scholars have been living in and exploring the UK for many months now but […]
The UK is a multicultural place which has long attracted people from all over the world, who enrich UK life by bringing their own influences with them to these shores. It is not uncommon to walk around a city and hear multiple languages being spoken around you, or to go somewhere remote in the countryside and still find a […]