There's something about baking that helps make a home a home and it's often the start to a meal when dining out. Invariably when people enter the restaurant and greet us with the words 'smells good!' it's the fresh bread straight out of the oven.

courgette and sun dried tomato muffin

Courgette and sun dried tomato muffins

150g wholemeal wheat flour, 150g rye flour, 1 tablespoon dried yeast, 20g sun dried tomatoes, 250g zucchini, 30g mild sweet white onion, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, generous pinch sea salt.

Presoak the tomatoes for 15 minutes in a little hot water. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Prepare the muffin tins (line if using metal). In a large bowl mix flours, yeast and salt, make a well in the middle. Peel the onion, finely grate, add to the well. Finely grate the courgettes, add to the well. Drain the tomatoes, finely dice, add to the well, add the oil and mix, pulling the dough to gather, knead lightly and cut into pieces about half the size of the muffin mould. Form into balls with your hand and fill the moulds - leave to rise around one and a half times in size. Bake, middle shelf for around 15 mins or until lightly golden.

almond macaroons

Almond macaroons

These classic biscuits are a perfect coffee or after dinner treat.

150g fresh ground almonds, 150g icing sugar, 4 egg whites, a few whole almonds.

Pre heat the oven to 150°C. Line the oven tray with non-stick parchment or silicone. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, add the sugar slowly and fold in the almonds. Teaspoon the mixture in small mounds onto the tray, press an almond into each. Bake for 30 minutes, remove and leave to cool. They will keep well in an airtight container.

polenta cake

Fresh cheese polenta cake

This delicious cake has a grainy texture and background bite from the polenta, the cheese keeps it moist and the lemon adds tang. Perfect for tea, coffee or picnic.

5 large eggs, 250g fresh cheese (cow’s milk), 280g caster sugar, 75g extra virgin olive oil, 200g wholemeal maize flour, 120g plain white flour, 145g coarse ground maize (polenta), 3 lemons (zest and juice), pinch of salt.

Whisk the eggs a little and grate the cheese. Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add all the other ingredients. Fold in and mix well. Turn out into an oiled flan tin (about 30cm diameter). Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Pre heat the oven to 190°C and bake for about 30 minutes. Leave to cool, can be served with crème fraiche.

bread rolls close up

Olive oil bread

We make bread every day and this is our basic recipe that forms the basis of many other alternatives. 500g unbleached white flour, 20g easy action dried yeast, 15g sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, warm water.

Pre heat the oven to 200°C. Put the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl, mix thoroughly using your hands, add the yeast and mix again. Make a well in the centre, add the oil and about 200ml warm water, bring the dough together, drawing the flour from around the edges of the bowl. Add more water as necessary to bring the dough to a soft ‘loose’ consistency. Do not make it too firm. Dust the work surface with flour and knead the dough, pulling towards you and pushing it back – use the sides and base of palms. Knead for about 3 minutes. Cut the dough, shape into loaves or rolls, dust with flour or egg wash and dip in seeds. Place on an oiled oven tray and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. Bake in centre of hot oven for about 5 minutes for rolls and 20 minutes or so for loaves - when done, they should be light golden and will make a hollow sound when tapped. Leave to cool on wire rack.

mini pizza herb bread

Mini herb flat bread

These can be rustled up using the same basic bread recipe as above or just make a few from part of the dough. Simply flatten small rounds of dough onto an oiled baking sheet, sprinkle with herbs such as dried oregano, a little grated cheese and finely slice onion. The variations are limitless. They can be put straight into a hot oven for about 5 minutes.

cinnamon buns

Cinnamon buns

Another quick alternative, again using the same basic bread recipe or part dough. Add into the dough a little ground cinnamon and icing sugar, roll the dough into a long sausage, cut into lengths of about 20cm and curl up into spirals. Glaze with egg wash, place on an oiled baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes in a hot oven. Cool a little, dust with more icing sugar and cinnamon, serve warm.

vegan ginger cake

Sticky ginger cake

400g wholemeal wheat flour, 70g fresh ginger root, 200g raw cane sugar, 2 apples (medium sized), 120ml extra virgin olive oil, 100g dried apricots, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 oranges (zest and juice).

Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees C. Prepare a 20cm diameter cake tin or silicone mould (line with parchment if necessary). Put the orange juice in a small pan with the cane sugar and heat slowly until dissolved. Peel the ginger root, finely grate and add to the pan. Add the orange zest and simmer for 3 minutes, set aside. Finely chop the apricots. Mix the flour and baking powder, make a well in the middle. Peel and finely grate the apples, add to the well, pour in the olive oil. Add the chopped apricots, add the cooled sugar syrup and combine thoroughly. Spoon into the prepared cake tin. Bake in a pre-heated oven, middle shelf for about 25 minutes. Remove and leave to cool before turning out.

bagels

Maisie’s Bagels

These are well worth the effort if you fancy a change.

500g strong white flour, 3 teaspoons of dried yeast, 2 tablespoons caster sugar plus 1 teaspoon for yeast, 2 teaspoons salt, 200-300ml warm water, egg for egg wash and poppy seeds, water with 1 tablespoon of honey for boiling,

Mix a little warm water with the yeast and 1 tsp sugar to activate. In a bowl mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt, add the water little by little until you have a good workable dough consistency, knead for 30 minutes (this gives the bagels their particular quality). Place in an oiled bowl and leave to rest for 1 hour. Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees C. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, form into balls with the palms of your hand. Press a hole in the middle of each with your thumb, place onto an oiled baking tray, leave to rest for 20 minutes. Simmer the bagels for 1 minute on each side in a large pot of boiling honeyed water, remove and put back onto the baking tray. Brush with egg wash and scatter seeds. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden.