As a case study of one, as far as days on the calendar go, Valentine’s Day isn’t one that raises massive alarm bells for me. I don’t scamper around trying to make that one day more special than any other. But do I smile when some hopeless romantic whips out an embarrassingly large bouquet of red roses for their unsuspecting sweetheart, sure, or when a colleague elaborates on their planned three course dinner, of course. Any occasion that brings people together (whether there’s commercial colluding or not) is one worth embracing.
For me it’s maybe not just one day to show someone you love them, but rather a more intentional day to wear your heart on your sleeve (because that you really can’t do every day – there’s a reason it beats, protected in a rib cage). And maybe that means, not buying the expensive jewellery or gorgeous-man-on-mediterranean-yacht scented aftershave. Maybe all it takes to be humble in love is to roll up your sleeves, sully up the kitchen for an hour or two and pour your intentions into a labour of love that you can present, sweat on your brow, with a cheesy grin and the simple desire of sharing the box of treats together. These 5 recipes would happily rise to vintage baking challenge.
1. Easy old school peanut butter cookies
The thought of peanut butter either makes you think of squished lunch box sarmies or tall glasses of milk and learning to crochet after school with your gran (maybe it makes you think of neither). Either way, a box of proper homemade peanut butter cookies is an endearing way to show someone how much they matter to you.
2. The best jammy dodgers
Maybe you don’t know them as jammy dodgers and actually they remind you of the strawberry whirls or jolly jammers from your childhood. Which ever rendition they conjure for you, most of us have memories of sharing these with friends, twisting them open carefully and licking out the jam. Reawaken that childhood whimsy with this vintage baking hit.
Perfect honey and nut nougat
How many people can say they’ve made their own nougat? It’s often the fused in shrink wrap plastic treat lying at the bottom of your snack drawer or mom’s handbag, but the real stuff hardly compares to that picture of a desperate snack. Not only will someone in your life feel massively loved, but you will have learned a pretty impressive culinary skill.
Totally dunkable chocolate and hazelnut biscotti
There are many different ways to enjoying the accompanying slice of biscotti, lying patiently in your saucer. Savouring it until after the last sip or dunking it slowly, infusing your hot beverage with its nutty flavour – but possibly the best bit is when you and the person you’re sharing them with crunch down on them together and share a stolen glance at your simultaneous good fortune. Now imagine that moment when the biscotti was baked in your kitchen.
I didn’t grow up with shortbread at tea times, but I do have a particularly fond memory of a boy at school who used to bake a shortbread very similar to this one, and would hand it out to all the girls at break time. For that one reason alone – the thought of him baking on a Sunday night, just to charm all the girls at school, shortbread fingers will always be an easy choice when baking something that says love.
Custard slices are perhaps one of the most requested treats here in the office when it comes to celebrating birthdays or providing a snack for a social tea. There’s something innocent and unassuming about their gooey, buttery centre and sugar dusted pastry tops and bottoms. Suffice it to say, the plate is always empty and the faces always content.
Me personally, I plan on baking a stash of peanut butter cookies, and inviting some friends over for a healthy night of popcorn, romcoms and champagne. So, however you choose to share the love, whether with one or many, here’s hoping that some vintage baking inspires you to connect.