… I think London at Christmas is London at its best. I realise it’s not quite Christmas yet – for me it doesn’t officially start till December 1st but most of the lights have been officially switched on by the great and good of reality TV so I thought it was worth mentioning how beautiful it all looks. Obviously there’s the tacky, same-again lights on Oxford Street – although even these can’t fail but bring joy to your heart as your gaze is drawn down the great length of the street awash with giant globes of light. Then there’s Regent Street which, although is a repeat of last years, is pretty epic with it’s giant angels with wings. Old Bond Street is always a great hit with it’s fancy chandeliers and peacock feathers but it’s the smaller, off the beaten path lights that I prefer as they’re usually a little more bespoke and tailored to the areas they reflect. My favourite of these this year must be Carnaby Street. They’ve gone for a fabulous Christmas Carnival look with giant party poppers and birds of paradise. Also good is the 7 Dials area of Covent Garden which are just so pretty and quite traditional looking with their wrapped presents and trees. St Christopher’s Place, the teeny street wedged in between Selfridges is always a great show-stopper and this year it’s glorious… but I think my absolute favourite this year is the Covent Garden market lights. They have giant mirror balls and large twigs of mistletoe and holly and it just looks so festive and beautiful… if you’re coming to London and need a lift of spirits I highly advise you to take a late afternoon stroll around the lights!
courgette, clementine and chocolate loaf cake
another all-in-one easy loaf cake… sometimes it amazes me when people say that baking is difficult, well OK, that’s a bit mean because I have enough failures to know better but this cake is so simple and delivers on taste that you simply must try it. Courgettes in cakes isn’t a new thing so no turning up your nose at this one and the combination of the finely grated courgette and finely grated chocolate is delicious and also I think a little bit clever as the grated chocolate compliments the subtle courgette rather than overpower it. The other wonderful thing about this cake is that it will only get better as it ages and if you can bear it, try and keep it for a day or two before serving it. Where most other cakes will go stale, the courgette begins to break down and release moistness over time, which is really rather wonderful.
grease and line a 1lt loaf tin and pre-heat the oven to 170C
- 300g courgette – finely grated – for me this was 1 large courgette
- 250g self-raising flour
- 75g soft brown sugar
- 60g dark chocolate – finely grated
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 75ml sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- the finely grated zest of a clementine
place all the ingredients into a large bowl and gently bring together with a whisk, then once combined whisk briskly for 30 seconds
pour gently into your loaf tin and bake on 170C for 40 – 50 minutes until risen and golden
leave t0 cool in the tin on a wire rack
eat and of course, enjoy!