Midnight Baking for the Modern Woman
Ever long to get your hands dirty whipping up a tart? Then sigh, and think to yourself, "ah, there just aren't enough hours in the day"? Never fear, ma cherie, I am here to help. If there's anything the Keston Kitchen has taught me it's YES WE CAN hold down full time jobs and bake fabulous cakes. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I will tell you about the delights of midnight baking.
How did it all begin?
Shortly after moving into Keston Road, I developed a reputation as a midnight baker. It all stemmed from my student years: with plenty of unstructured time, I discovered the delights of creating culinary treats for my friends and became a poplar woman as a result. I learnt from the best - a combination of Delia and my mum, and soon realised what a joy it was to present friends or family with freshly baked cakes or puddings. Baking is a labour of love, and I fell in love with baking.
I was in for a shock. I graduated, hit the big smoke and tumbled headlong into the world of full time employment. Suddenly, my life was not my own. The trouble was, I still wanted to surprise a friend on their birthday with a delicious cake and, as all true cake lovers know, a bought one just isn't the same. What's more, I had new colleagues to befriend, and what better way than through baked goods bribes? However, as any of the Keston ladies will tell you, life is pretty hectic in London town. With our new jobs came new pals to play with... and there seemed to be a steady migration of old pals from the shire flocking to Peckham's bright lights...and what with the never-ending sources of entertainment to be found in London..... there just didn't seem enough hours in the day.
Or so I thought...
Until I discovered the magical, heretofore wasted weeknight hours of 11pm-1am.
Yes, In my desperation to keep up with the baking I would often be found in the kitchen, apron over my work clothes, whipping up a storm in honour of a friend's birthday the following day. I'd have returned home from the pub/theatre/dinner and suddenly remembered the forthcoming occasion, dived out to the late night shops, and started the creation. The Keston ladies found it amusing, if slightly annoying (the smell of fresh baking wafting up the stairs while your trying to get to sleep is somewhat distracting). Over the years I have decided to embrace it, and have found my midnight baking a revelation
So if you would like to be a midnight baker, you have come to the right place. Here are some top tips to make the whole experience even more delicious.
Midnight Baking: the essentials
1. Music: you have to create the appropriate atmosphere for the occasion EG. for power baking (maybe you've had a bad day at work, or you've just been to gig, or it's already gone midnight and you need to act fast): I recommend Florence and the Machine. Other occasions will call for a more chilled out vibe (you've returned from a relaxed evening with friends, or the theatre, and it's still the right side of midnight): perhaps a bit of Nina Simone or a dash of Fleetwood Mac would do the trick (Beware - nothing too slow or you will get sleepy).
2. Wine: Midnight baking is an event to be enjoyed. As with most cooking, a glass of wine is the essential accompaniment to your late night toils.
3. Dress: you should invest in an apron. BUT - you do not need to change your clothes. Baking in sequins and stilettos adds the necessary touch of glamour to the proceedings.
4. A word of caution: From experience, I would advise against starting baking after 00.30 - things generally take longer than you think and you will be knackered for work tomorrow. The optimal time to start baking is 11.15pm (and should mean you do not have to leave your mid-week social engagements early).
5. And finally: Always, ALWAYS, save some of the fruits of your labour for your housemates. Baking can make you very popular, but beware: hell hath no fury like a Keston woman who doesn't get a slice of the pie.
Most importantly, enjoy. Put on your favourite tunes, have a sip of wine, and relax into the delightful world of midnight baking.
Your muffins and pies will open their eyes,
Your cake fills an empty hole
Biscuits and brownies will wipe away frownies,
Because baking is good for the soul.