Meet Me at Fir Tree Lodge by Rachel Dove is out in e-book today! To celebrate, we have her protagonist Rebecca on the blog talking about autumn and yummy bakes.
Rebecca Atkins, Fir Tree Lodge, Alpine Bites Café, Alpe D’Huez
Hello there! Thanks for popping into the café for a chat. I have rhubarb and custard croissants warming on the counter top, the hot chocolate is creamy and dark, the whipped cream and marshmallows are on standby, and Hans is in the kitchen making some of his famous apple turnovers. Let’s put our feet up for five, and leave the big galoot to it.
October is a bit of a funny month isn’t it? Living year round in the snowy French Alps, I often forget about some of the things from back home in the UK, and what they mean to people. October means summer is well and truly over for another year, Halloween is looming, along with autumn leaves falling and bobble hats and warm clothes being dragged out of cupboards and closets, and the bikinis being sadly put away. It also means darker mornings and darker nights, and that can spell a lonely time for some. I was a bit like that bikini once, I put myself into a cupboard, and kept myself hidden from many people. I had a bit of a fall from grace you see, and it curdled my custard for a while. Till a very unwanted and awkward house guest came bustling into the café one day, and that well, was kind of that. It’s a bit of a long story, that I won’t bore you with, but I am glad it happened.
One thing for me was baking. Following the recipes, and finding new ones was always a great distraction. At the moment, I’m baking some Halloween shortbread with some spooky ghouls and hook-nosed witches on them in icing. Try it! I use a normal shortbread recipe and then really go to town. Sprinkles, seasonal colours in fondant icing, or icing pens, and don’t forget to make them spooooooo-ky! Hans, my boss and long-time friend, is a bit of a wuss. I was a bit of an accident-prone baker when he first took me on though. There is still a scorch mark behind the counter from when I made rock cakes and took the name a little bit too literally. The point I’m making I guess, is that we can all feel a bit lonely at times, or want to shut ourselves away, and that’s fine, but finding someone to occupy us can lead to a whole new direction, a new love. Heck, even a whole new life! If you are feeling a bit fed up this October, and longing for better days, you’re not alone. You can ask Hans and his wife Holly for that matter. I was the original grump of the Alps, and they can attest to that, but put a bowl in my hands, and those days soon turned around. Scorch marks and burned arm hair aside, I love being a baker now, and I am just a little bit addicted to making something we all know and love and adding my own twist to it. Try it, and let me know how you get on next time you pop in for a coffee! I’d better go now, Hans is bellowing about something, and he’s so clumsy, if I don’t check on him, I’ll have no kitchen left!
Take care and much love from the Alps.
Alpine Bites Shortbread
7oz/200g cubed butter (unsalted)
10 1/2 oz plain flour (plus extra for dusting surfaces, rolling pins etc)
3 1/2 oz/100g caster sugar
- Put your oven on 160c/140c fan/gas mark 3
- Mix together the butter and sugar in a bowl till smooth. Don’t overwork the ingredients!
- Mix in the flour gently, making a dough ball with your hands
- Roll out with a rolling pin to a thickness of 8/10mm
- Using a biscuit cutter or freehand with a knife, cut into shapes. Fir trees work well for autumn and Christmas, Mountain shapes or skiiers like in our cafe!
Halloween biscuits are great too, think pumpkins, cats, cauldrons, or spider webs!
- Bake for 15-20 mins or until a pale golden brown. Don’t let them burn, keep a close eye on your baked treats!
- Once out of the oven, set out onto a wire cooling tray. Once cool, you can dust with sugar, ice with icing/icing pens, or even add fondant icing for a design that really pops!
Make sure they are completely cool, or your icing will slip off the biscuits like snow off a lodge roof. Enjoy!