Cre­ate the loveli­est loaf cakes with Flora Shed­den

Af­ter spend­ing more time feed­ing her hung-over house­mates than in the stu­dent bars and lec­ture halls, Flora Shed­den found a unique path – out of class and into her own kitchen

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

The favourite child re­turned home this week. She has been known as this since my fa­ther be­came aware of how much it would ir­ri­tate me, and it has re­mained a long-run­ning “joke” in our fam­ily to this day. My sis­ter, Hebe, is back to study for her sec­ond-year univer­sity ex­ams, and af­ter only one night has man­aged to rack up more time logged on to the (far su­pe­rior) Wi-Fi in my flat than she has at home. In re­turn, she helped with the Ikea-flat­pack-build­ing marathon. With only 17 months sep­a­rat­ing us, Hebe and I grew up closely in­ter­twined; it was tears of laugh­ter one minute and teenage tantrums the next. We ex­pe­ri­enced most things in tan­dem, which is why our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion seems so bizarre. Hebe spends her days row­ing, study­ing, train­ing, play­ing net­ball, drink­ing and march­ing around Glas­gow’s West End, while I spend mine paint­ing, sand­ing, play­ing house and tack­ling the daunt­ing process of set­ting up a bak­ery. It feels so very dif­fer­ent to our nor­mal state of af­fairs. I am fully to blame: I went MIA from univer­sity, then de­cided that writ­ing a cook­book and launch­ing a bak­ery would be the nat­u­ral next steps for a “dropout”, as Hebe likes to call me. I couldn’t hack the pace; I wanted to do noth­ing at univer­sity ex­cept pot­ter around the kitchen mak­ing things for my hung-over flat­mates. I baked them pis­ta­chio loaf cakes and oat and raisin cook­ies for fin­ished es­says; big choco­late cakes for birth­days; and, once, a lit­tle sponge to cel­e­brate my flat­mate fi­nally mak­ing it to a 9am Mon­day lec­ture. It was at univer­sity that I came across dried flow­ers and petals in bak­ing and in Ed­in­burgh I fell in love with farm­ers’ mar­kets – the Cas­tle Ter­race be­ing the big­gest hit. I dis­cov­ered white spelt, fresh turmeric, cus­tard ap­ples and pome­gran­ate mo­lasses. I was ter­ri­ble at go­ing out and quickly learnt that be­ing young was not my strong suit. Food shop­ping was my clubbing. When I lived in St An­drews I made this black-sesame loaf cake many times. The recipe came about when a flat­mate made sushi us­ing black sesame seeds. I love us­ing white sesame for sweet bakes, so didn’t see why the black ones wouldn’t work – and give an im­pres­sive speckle in the process. I use them in both sweet and savoury cook­ing now, toss­ing them in sal­ads, gra­nola and on top of ic­ing. I used to bake for my friends in or­der to dis­tract them from my ter­ri­ble in­abil­ity to be a “real” stu­dent. Hav­ing Hebe home has re­minded me of how bad I was at univer­sity, but also just how well my un­con­ven­tional path suits me. It’s def­i­nitely dif­fer­ent but def­i­nitely for the right rea­sons. And I got two loaf cake recipes out of the process.

Food pho­tog­ra­pher Lisa Lin­der Food and prop stylist Jen­nifer Joyce

Recipe for suc­cess: Flora’s loaf cakes

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