Sometimes you cannot help. Words are not enough. There’s nothing that can be done. Nothing that you can do.

But you can bake.

A dear friend lost her husband of two-and-a-half weeks at the start of the year. He was 40.

My cousin’s baby girl would have been celebrating her first birthday last month, had she lived longer than eight days.

All I could do was bake, bake with my heart full and eyes brimming.

Bake with love, with thought, with hands that know no other way to help. Weigh and mix ingredients.

Zest lemons for life, fold in poppy seeds for comfort, chop rosemary for remembrance.

Bake a lemon, poppy seed and rosemary loaf.

Lemon, poppy seed and rosemary (for remembrance) loaf recipe:

This is a very good-humoured cake, easy and consoling to make amidst mad times.

Haven’t got any poppy seeds? It’s good without. Use all plain flour or caster sugar, rather than the mixtures specified below, if that’s what you have in the house.

It makes two small loaves, but feel free to bake it in a large (900g) loaf tin if that’s what you prefer, baking it for slightly longer.

It’s also an easy cake to double or bake in a sheet pan, depending on what you need it for.

You will taste the olive oil in the finished cake, so bear that in mind when you’re choosing what oil to use. Makes two 450g loaves.

Loaf ingredients:

  • 45g poppy seeds
  • 250ml natural yoghurt
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125ml olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g spelt flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bread soda
  • Pinch salt
  • Glaze:

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100ml lemon juice
  • Method:

    1. Grease and line 2 x 450g loaf tins.

    2. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

    3. In a large bowl, whisk the poppy seeds with the yoghurt. Set aside for a few minutes, then add the sugars, eggs, oil, vanilla, rosemary and lemon zest. Mix well.

    4. Sift the flours, baking powder, bread soda and salt into a medium bowl.

    5. Tip into the yoghurt bowl and combine with a wooden spoon.

    6. Scrape into the prepared tins and place the sprigs of rosemary on top, pushing them lightly into the batter.

    7. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

    8. Meanwhile, place the caster sugar and lemon juice for the glaze into a small saucepan.

    9. Stir over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved then bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. Drizzle the hot syrup over the cakes.

    10. Leave on a wire rack to cool.

    Read more

    Fishwives + barley, asparagus and smoked trout salad