This has been a unique summer – we hope that it has treated you okay. If you have celebrated Pride – whether at a big or small event, or in your own way – we hope you had a good time, and a rainbow cupcake or two!
We had our first social back at the Molly House, and it was lovely to catch up. You can read about it below, and see our scrumptious spread of bakes. We have our next social at the Molly House coming up on 12th September – sign up here. We will also have a stall at Didsbury Pride on 4th September – if you are there, come and say hello!
This newsletter is full of summer friendship and flavour. Read on for sweet treats in our Bakers’ Gallery, a tale of donuts by the sea in Poetry Corner, and an interview with our brilliant Baker Rosemary.
We hope you enjoy sharing our summer highlights, and that you have a nice autumn. Keep baking!
Our August social!
On 8th August, we gathered in the Molly House for our first in-person social since early 2020. It was wonderful to see many familiar Bakers again, and to welcome some first-time attendees. We enjoyed a delicious spread, from Welsh rarebit muffins to honeycomb blondies. It was lovely to chat and relax (and eat a lot of cake!)
Our Facebook group has been, as always, a warm and supportive community. For Bakers who aren’t able to meet in person, it allows us to stay connected. It also helps all of us to keep sharing our creations, recipes and top tips. This summer, sweet treats have been popular, with chocolate and orange emerging as key flavours.
As you will see in my poem below, I have had a special summer. Baking and eating – both very important activities for me! – were there along the journey. I hope you enjoy reading “Donuts at Southport”. If you would like to keep up with my poetry and photos, I am on Twitter and Instagram as @Grizonne.
Donuts at Southport – Elizabeth Gibson
I want to go to America and be with her, hike and drive with her,
eat key lime pie in Florida, pick oranges and peaches from the trees.
But for me, this is the summer of staying put, so she flies over,
and we go for walks in the hills, and search for the sea at low tide.
We eat sugary donuts, perched between puddles in the damp sand.
One morning, after watching a film in the flat, I make us muffins,
but use plain flour, not self-raising, and they are claggy and dense,
but she says she likes them, wants to keep on and on eating them.
I never get around to baking again, but we eat chocolate fudge cake
at an Italian place I always wanted to try – we call it our first date.
She leaves, and I make batch after batch of peanut butter cookies.
They are easy. She doesn’t like peanut butter, but says she wishes
I had made them for her. She is so sure we will see each other again.
I try to keep on and on hoping. I tell her baking is my happy place,
that it brings me closer to this contented kind of peace, like she did.
Meet the Bakers
Rosemary Macdonald – above right, with fellow Baker James – is a long-standing Village Baker who has brought the group many a delicious bake, and has dazzled with us at Pride. We enjoyed learning more about Rosemary, the rocky road to her first Bakers event, and her love for chocolate cheesecake.
VB: How long have you been part of Village Bakers, and what inspired you to join?
Rosemary: I’ve been part of Village Bakers for 6 or 7 years. I wanted to do things in the Village to feel included and make friends in the community. There were lots of team sports groups that I worried I wouldn’t be good enough for, but then I saw “baking, all abilities” and I though, yeah, I can do that.
I was struck down with a terrible sudden illness and went to hospital a week before the first event. Even though I’d not yet been, the VB members all sent me such kind, sweet messages, wishing I got better soon, and for a smooth recovery, and I thought, wow, these people are so so kind, I absolutely have to go when I’m better, and then I did – I went every month!
VB: What is your fondest Village Bakers memory?
Rosemary: It has to be parading at Pride with VB! There was one year, a man in the crowd proposed to his boyfriend using a cake we marched through the streets to them with, and it was so, so sweet!
VB: What do you enjoy most about baking?
Rosemary: It’s hard to not just say the eating! It’s lovely watching the mixture change and it’s fun trying out new things – even something you’ve made before, they’re always slightly different. Baking brings out my creative side, and I love designing cake ideas with pen and paper and then trying to make them a reality. The proof is always in the pudding, so to speak, trying it at the end, and it’s a great thing to share with friends and family. It brings everyone together over the experience of tasting something you’ve made.
VB: What is your signature bake?
Rosemary: Anything with chocolate! I’m a big chocolate fiend! If I had to choose the one dish, it’d be some sort of chocolate cheesecake, and I prefer focussing more on it tasting amazing than it looking good.
VB: How have you found baking during the lockdowns?
Rosemary: Baking during lockdown was not without its challenges! At first everybody was panic-buying, so flour, baking powder and eggs were exceptionally hard to come by. (Luckily no one was panic-buying mascarpone cheese and the shelves were filled with Easter chocolates, so chocolate cheesecakes were always a viable option.)
Then VB started doing online baking sessions, so that was nice, as it was a sense of community, nice to catch up with people, and I’d never done a cook-along before so that was a fun new experience.
Finally, the rest of lockdown, baking helped get me through it, as it feels productive; it’s good stress relief. I’m not sure the people I lived with were appreciative of the effects on their waistlines, but it was one of the very few freeing, unrestricted activities I could indulge in, and also, not being able to try new foods at restaurants and other means, at least I could satisfy my taste buds this way.
VB: What other hobbies and passions do you have?
Rosemary: I love rock-climbing, and I’m passionate about cars, physics and fine dining. I’ve recently started making my own wine.
VB: What advice would you give to new or nervous bakers?
Rosemary: 2 things:
1) Read the whole recipe all the way through before you start the first step.
2) Just give it a go! Practise, experiment! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t look like the recipe book picture. If it tastes great, that’s the main thing, and you can always start again if you like.