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 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.
Recipe for success: Flora’s loaf cakes