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A goodbye to 2017

29 December 2017

As another years draws to a close, I find myself much the same as I always am at this time of year. Perpetually covered in mince pie crumbs and struggling to do up my jeans, yes, but also rested, calmer and contented - three states of being which I am resolved to make more time for in 2018 (*imagines self doing yoga and meditation, knows it will never happen*).

As is the cliché for us time-poor angsty twenty-somethings, the days have felt long but the year short in 2017. And yet, as I look back at the past twelve months, it's safe to say that 2017 has been quite a year. I'm painfully aware that I have shared less than I'd have liked on Pudding Lane this year, and so for myself and for you, I bring a belated year in reflection. Be warned - there is no recipe here, so anyone searching for cakes or buns might prefer to stop reading now, and click the recipes tab up at the top instead.

So what have I been up to? Well, the year began in rather sensational style in Wellington, New Zealand. My cousin (and general great friend and wonderfully good egg) Sarah and I jetted kiwi-side on Boxing Day for a family wedding, and managed to tie in a little (read: actually quite lengthy) road trip before the big day. Much of our family hail from NZ, but this was my first time visiting as an adult. It is a truly beautiful corner of the globe, and the perfect headspace to begin an eventful year.

Landing back to London and reality with a bang, I headed straight from the airport (quite literally, actually) to Leiths School of Food and Wine, where I was lucky enough to spend three months cooking and studying. Professional cookery school is something that I had deliberated over for years. I was always desperate to do it but - like most people - couldn't quite join the dots financially between a year of unemployment, living in London and, of course, coughing up for the fees themselves. I was so excited to be one of the first to enrol on Leith's brand new evening essentials professional course, which was set across evenings and weekends and more of a realistic financial outlay than the diploma. Anyone interesting can read more on their website here, and in my original blog post here.

And so for three months, life was point blank crazy. Twice a week, I would dash from work in East London over to Leiths, throw on chef whites and study until 10pm. I'd usually falling asleep on the tube back to Brixton, before arriving home wide awake and deciding there could be no better time than 11.30pm on a Monday to practise filleting a flat fish or filling choux buns with pastry cream. Non-school nights meant homework and time plans, but it was totally worth it. The joy I felt at learning again, improving as a professional cook and meeting a whole new group of incredible, like-minded people was off the scale.

April brought with it a new job, which took me back to my PR roots - but this time for restaurants. I don't tend to write about my day job here (there's not much space for anything beyond the cake!), but I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed settling back into the office 9-5. I am lucky enough to work for some incredible restaurants and chefs in London and beyond, and to have an amazing new team of colleagues-come-friends too.
Before getting back to the grind, I managed to sneak in trips to Amsterdam and Verbier, where I had my first taste of life on the slopes. Safe to say I caught the bug - hopefully more on that next year.

May saw wedding cakes number two and three come to fruition, as my teeny little wedding cakes business kicked into gear. There were hexagonal tiers of fruit cake and almond sponge with roasted rhubarb and orange blossom buttercream in Rutland, and four tiers of Victoria sponge topped with berries, peonies and sweet peas in London.

I was lucky enough to start writing and styling recipes for Land Love magazine this year. In June, it was autumnal foraging recipes - think sloe gin jellies, rosehip shrubs and cobnut nougat. Recipes shot by the wonderful Luke Albert for the October 2017 issue of Land Love.

Wedding bells again! This time it was semi-naked tiers of chocolate, pecan and salted caramel and almond, lemon and raspberry curd. Finished with vanilla Swiss meringue, peonies and my very favourite white currants.

More recipes for Land Love too; bonfire toffee (November 2017 issue) and homemade sweets for Christmas - quince fruit pastilles, orange blossom marshmallows, peppermint creams and salted honeycomb. All shot and styled by me for the December 2017 issue of Land Love.

And a surprise cousins weekend in Zurich for baby Burton's eighteenth birthday. I have loved getting to spend more time with my family this year. They are really, truly the bees knees.
The former saw me run a half marathon (the less said about that and the ensuing knee injury, the better), and hit the big 2-6 in glorious Lisbon with Rob. Tiled streets and pastel de nata, a city made for Instagram. I also met the wonderful Candice Brown at the first Happy Foodie Cookbook Club with Penguin Random House - more on that here (good luck on the ice Candice!)
Two more wedding cakes, this time destined for Wales and the gorgeous Chandos House in Marylebone. Four tiers of fruit, carrot and almond cake headed to the Brecon Beacons, alongside mini mince pies, ginger biscuits and mini brownies to grace the ingenious dessert trolley.

To round off the year, a fleeting trip to my favourite city in the world, Paris. Shopping, eating, drinking and the most special patisserie in the world - Paris, you are irresistible.
This year, I've also been lucky enough to work with some fantastic brands here on Pudding Lane, including John Lewis, The Chocolate Show, Guittard, Rachels Organic and Bacofoil. Working with likeminded brands is such a treat for me, and I still pinch myself when I look back at how much this little space has grown in the past almost-four years.

I've shared more of my favourite recipes, including GF clementine and almond cake, roasted plum flapjack and rhubarb and rose pavlova, and been lucky enough to have recipes published with Hello Fresh, The Sunday Mirror and The Sunday People. Yikes!
And that - I think - is everything! If you're still with me, thank you. With the end of the year nearly upon us, I have to say a very big THANK YOU to so many of you who follow along here. This little blog continues to grow and foster a community which brings me so much pride, support and inspiration. I wrote this post for myself, but also for those of you who have been here since the beginning, joined along the way, or even if this is your first time reading. I am so, so happy to have you all here with me on this mad ride.

I have loved seeing your interpretations of my bakes and reading your messages, questions and suggestions. What with everything else that has been going on this year, I've not been able to share as many recipes as I'd like to, so thank you for being patient with me. See you in 2018! I'd love to hear what you'd like to see more of - leave me a comment below, send me an email or get in touch on Instagram.

I hope you have all had a restful Christmas break, and wish you all the happiness, fun and adventure for 2018.
All my love,

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  1. Wow! What a year you've had! I'm so happy that you are growing as a chef and enjoying the whole experience. I wish you all the best for 2018 (try & fit yoga into your hectic routine - you'll love it!)

    1. Thank you Sue! I know, I really do need to. Whenever I do yoga I remember how good it is for the body and soul! Thanks for your ongoing support xx happy new year!

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