Recipe: French Madeleines

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Nearly every year, my parents and I go on holiday to the same small village on the coast of Normandy, France: Anneville-sur-Mer (once chosen for its name). This year, we went in the first half of September and it was as wonderful as ever! It’s one of my favourite places to be: in just a minute’s stroll you’re on the beach with the most beautiful sunsets and it’s as quiet as can be (apart from the sea, which is very soothing). I always get lots of reading done there as well.

Another thing I always do when we’re there is buy baking stuff in one of the giant supermarkets. Either a mould or tin, or some ingredient that’s much more expensive in the Netherlands, or something completely different. This time, on one of the last days, I came across a silicone madeleine mould for three euros, so of course, that ended up being mine. I’d never baked madeleines (tiny, sweet cakes in the shape of shells) before, but now I could!

I should’ve bought two moulds, though, because this madeleine recipe I’ve got for you today makes about a gazillion of them and my mould only has twelve holes. I think I must have made at least five batches before I got sick of it and dumped the rest of the mixture into my mini-muffin tin (still tasted great, but they didn’t look as pretty).

For these madeleines, I used a recipe from the first recipe book I ever bought. The instructions weren’t super clear, though, so I had to go with my gut a few times, which was fun! The recipe I wrote down for you is a little more elaborate. It also calls for orange blossom water, which I still had because I used it in another recipe once. I think you can easily replace it with vanilla, though, because after some research I don’t think orange blossom water is necessarily a staple ingredient of madeleines.

Anyway, on to the recipe!

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Thoughts on Buying Books vs Borrowing Them

buying vs borrowing

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion in the bookish community about what’s ‘better’; buying books or borrowing them from the library. For a long time, there’s been this common misconception that being a book blogger or a BookTuber means you have to own a lot of books, preferably hardbacks. Of course, that isn’t the case at all and I’ve also seen a lot of people assuring others that you can start a blog or a BookTube channel with very few books (or none!) as well, which is great.

However, now it seems like some people have moved over to the other extreme: if you’re only buying books and not borrowing from the library, you’re doing it wrong. They might not put it in those explicit terms, but I’ve seen multiple tweets judging people for buying books instead of borrowing them from the library, or for buying too many books because how can you ever read that many books? That rubbed me the wrong way, so I decided to write a blog post about it. In fact, I decided to do so over a month ago and here we are now with me finally doing it. Story of my life.

Anyway. There are two parts to this discussion: 1) accessibility and 2) preference and I’m going to talk about both.

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Rustic Blueberry Pie

I wasn’t planning on baking a blueberry pie at all, but then the fresh blueberries were on sale at my supermarket and I “accidentally” bought over half a kilo of them. Only when I got home did I wonder what on earth I was going to do with half a kilo of blueberries.

The answer came to me pretty quickly, of course: bake something!

The first thing I came up with was blueberry muffins, but I’ve got three different blueberry muffin recipes up on my blog already (with lemon, lime, and mango) so I figured it was time to try something else. Plus, I just didn’t feel like baking muffins again.

So, what better to bake when you have a truckload of blueberries than a blueberry pie? I’d never baked a blueberry pie before, but it was easy enough. I just used the pastry from my apple pie recipe (which is one of the first recipes I ever posted on this blog) and changed the filling to blueberry instead. I also added some lemon to both the pastry and the filling, and a little bit of ground cinnamon to give the flavour a boost.

And it came out absolutely delicious! This pie is easy to make and tastes so, so good, both when it’s still warm and when it’s cooled down. Yum!

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What I’ve Been Up To [7]: Happy Changes

What I've Been Up To

It’s been a while since I last did one of these “what I’ve been up to” posts and it’s also been relatively quiet around here, so I figured I’d catch you all up on my life and everything that’s been going on!

First of all, as I mentioned in this post, I started a YouTube channel a few months ago and I’ve been kind of busy with that. At the moment, that channel’s called Books Baking and Vlogging, which I thought was a nice variation on my blog name. However, I think I’ll be changing the name soon because it turns out that I don’t really like making baking videos.

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Lemon and Elderflower Drizzle Cake

Summer is the perfect time for fruity flavours! I love lemon all year round, but there’s something about the summer that makes me love it just that little bit more. Last week, I felt like baking something lemony and my mind went to a drizzle cake straightaway. A lemon drizzle cake is delicious, but I was looking for something a little bit different this time. And then I thought of adding elderflower and I figured it would be the perfect combination! (Also, fun fact: apparently Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding cake was lemon and elderflower too – so it must be good, right?)

I baked the cake you see in the pictures on Thursday, but while it was delicious, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with it. All I tasted was lemon – the elderflower in the drizzle didn’t come through at all. In hindsight, it was pretty obvious why; lemon is sour as all heck and elderflower has a very subtle taste. So, I decided to make the cake again on Saturday, this time using only elderflower in the drizzle and leaving the lemon for the cake itself. The result was much better! The elderflower flavour is still very subtle, but I think that’s kind of the point of elderflower in the first place.

As with my previous recipe, I filmed the entire endeavour for my YouTube channel, so if you want visual instructions as well as a written recipe, you can take a look at the video below the list of ingredients!

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Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill: How Toxic Is Too Toxic?

only ever yoursFreida and Isabel have been best friends their whole lives.

Now, aged sixteen and in their final year at the School, they expect to be selected as companions—wives to wealthy and powerful men. The alternative—life as a concubine—is too horrible to contemplate.

But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to remain perfect becomes almost unbearable. Isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty—her only asset—in peril.

And then, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.

Freida must fight for her future—even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known… 

First published: 2014

Content warning: eating disorders


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Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Brownies

I first became aware of the existence of chocolate-covered strawberry brownies when my friend Inge from Of Wonderland shared a picture of them on Twitter. They looked amazing and when I “had” to bake something for my best friend’s birthday party later that week, I knew exactly what I was going to bake.

Brownies are the best thing since sliced bread. They’re incredibly easy to make, but they’re always the biggest hit at any party (as long as they’re baked well, of course). I love to try fun variations on the classic brownie, like my Rolo and Sea Salt Brownies or these Lemon and Ginger Brownies. Of course, everybody knows chocolate and strawberries are the perfect combinations, so I knew right away these were going to be amazing!

An added challenge, however, was that I was filming everything while I was baking. You might have missed it, but I started a YouTube channel a few weeks ago, called Books Baking and Vlogging! I’ve been posting bookish videos for a while now, but this is my very first baking video. That means that there’s the usual written recipe down below, but you can also watch the video if you want to see how exactly things need to be done!

As I expected, these brownies were a huge hit at the party. Multiple people I didn’t know came up to me to thank me for them, so I’d say that’s a success! Anyway, let’s get on to the actual recipe! You’ll find the video below the list of ingredients!

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Why The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker Made Me Angry

‘I heard him before I saw him: his battle cry ringing round the walls…’

When her city falls to the Greeks, Briseis’s old life is shattered. She goes from queen to captive, from free woman to slave, awarded to the godlike warrior Achilles as a prize of battle. She’s not alone. On the same day, and on many others in the course of a long, bitter war, innumerable women have been wrested from their homes and flung to the fighters.

As told in The Iliad, the Trojan War was a quarrel between men. But what of the women in this story, silenced by their fates? What words did they speak when alone with each other, in the laundry, at the loom, when laying out the dead?

In this magnificent novel of the Trojan War, Pat Barker summons the voices of Briseis and her fellow women to tell this mythic story anew, foregrounding their experiences against the backdrop of savage battle between men. One of the contemporary writers on war and its collateral damage, here Pat Barker reimagines the most famous of all wars in literature, charting one woman’s journey through it, as she struggles to free herself and to become the author of her own story.

First published: 2018

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I’m a YouTuber Now! (but also still a blogger)

That’s right, I have joined the land of YouTube! I contemplated starting a YouTube channel for a really long time and on Tuesday I finally filmed my very first video after planning on doing so for a few weeks but each time chickening out for various reasons. It was quite exciting and a little bit scary. I talk all about it in the video, so I won’t just rehash all of that right here.

Just to clarify: me starting a YouTube channel doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon my blog: I plan on doing both because I still love blogging a lot too. It just felt like I needed a new challenge – I’ve been doing this blogging thing for over five years already, after all. YouTube seems like a fun way to try something new and develop some new skills, so I’m giving it a try! As for content, it’s going to be mainly books and hopefully some baking at some point too.

I don’t know yet whether I’m going to post all of my videos on here as well, so if you’d like to see more of them, I’d love it if you subscribed to my channel! I’m excited for you guys to see the video and I’d love to know what you think, so please leave a comment, if you like!

Anyway, enough intro: here’s my very first YouTube video!

Lemon and Blueberry Muffins

Who doesn’t love a good muffin? I used to make them all the time and I was under the impression this was still one of my most-baked things, but apparently the last time I baked muffins was in June! So, high time for another muffin recipe. My supermarket had a sale on blueberries last week and I love me some blueberries, so those definitely had to be incorporated. And lemon makes everything better, so why not throw some of that in too?

The result is this wonderfully fresh muffin. The texture is silky smooth, I think thanks to the yoghurt, and there’s a blueberry (or two, or three) in every bite.

I did have a bit of a revelation when it comes to baking muffins, though: I usually bake my muffins in a silicone muffin pan and they come out pretty great, but they never really have that amazing muffin top. This time, though, I had some batter leftover, so I used my smaller metal muffin tin to bake the last few in (the ones in the pictures) and they came out so great! Look at the rise on those things! This is the first time I’ve noticed this, so it might be a fluke, but I think I’m no longer going to use my silicone muffin pan from now on! Metal all the way, baby.

Anyway, let’s get to the recipe!

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