Bake-Off, Bake-Off

So it’s the holiday season (just in case you hadn’t noticed) and this year, it’s all about food. The shelves of my local Waterstone’s are groaning under the weight of cookery books in a pretty neat approximation of the way we’ll all be groaning post-X’mas lunch. Now I’m no Nigella (or Mary or Delia, it has to be said), but I do like all the fuss and fun of Getting Ready to Bake. Checklist: flour (plain and self-raising, organic, milled, rolled, wheat, gluten-free), sugar (Demerara, caster, organic, Muscovado, what-have-you); eggs (free-range, roaming, happy chickens); chocolate (Green & Blacks, obviously) . . . apron, book, timer, KitchenAid . . . oh, it goes on and on.

This year, in addition to all of the kit above (under which my kitchen shelves are groaning, never mind my tummy), one celebrity chef reigned supreme. Oh, Yotam. Thank God for www.ottolenghi.com. In addition to the flour, sugar, eggs and Laird of McHeddleson Lightly Salted or Unsalted Butter At Room Temperature and Medium Softness, I’ve now got shelves of zatar, star aniseed, pureed pomegranate seeds and purple sprouting mustard. Or something very like it. I’ve tried half-a-dozen of the truly delicious recipes contained within its glorious pages . . . and I’m here to tell you that the effort (yes, all of it) is Truly Worth It. In fact, Otto and I (on nickname terms already) are now such a firm X’mas favourite that this came in the post recently.

If only…

Here’s hoping you have a wonderful holiday season, with- or without these divine seven-hundred-calories-a-nibble cookies, with family and friends and a big fat, juicy, post-festive lunch blockbuster of a book. No hints, then.

Lesley

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