I discovered Emma's blog, Poires au Chocolat, soon after starting my own. The French name drew me in, validating my equal love of chocolate and pear cake, one of the recipes that inspired me to begin blogging. Emma's photography mixes simplicity and honesty with ease and grace, making it feel as if I am in the kitchen alongside her. Her voice is so real and truthful that I feel like I've gotten to know her well, despite living an ocean away. Simply put, her blog is lovely.
I'm honoured to be writing for Pastry Affair today. I've been following along for a few years now, watching Kristin's path weave side to side, just like my own.
In short (if only life was this simple and factual), I started out studying medieval literature (Old and Middle English, Old French, Chaucer, Julian of Norwich and so on). In my final year, after two years of blogging, I decided to train in pâtisserie. I spent six months at Cordon Bleu. A few months later, I left pastry and my first cookbook proposal to return to Oxford and medieval literature.
Yet my path soon twisted again and last Christmas I chose to return to food instead of pursuing a career in academia. I've stayed in my favourite city and as well as working on my blog (supplemented by tutoring, much like Kristin did), I'm now developing another book idea. It's a book that will be all the better for the twists and turns of the past few years.
As Kristin said in a post last year, "my path may be riddled with curves, but I've learned to embrace the zigs and zags of my road."
Just like the braids of this bread, sometimes our dreams can be multiple and interwoven, each one taking priority at different times. One strand is at the front, then the next. Neither one ever goes away and both are always connected to the centre.
I'll always have my studies in the background, nudging me every now and again - is it my turn yet? I don't know at the moment if it will ever get a turn again - but then maybe it will, in one form or another. I've learnt that I never know until I hit the peak - that glorious, heady moment as a child when you reach the top of the swing, legs kicking to get higher, before you hurtle backwards again.
It's that moment when you realise you have no choice but to change, to pull the next strand on top, creating your braid. It repeats until you reach the end and the final strand is tucked under. How do I know if I have reached that point? I can only trust.
Though the braiding technique can look a bit intimidating, it's not bad once you've got your head around it.There are lots of different ways to fill these braids. The first one I tried used lemon curd along with the creamy filling. I've also made a version filled with salted caramel, walnuts and meringue and a different bread recipe, which was pretty amazing (I made it for a challenge, I don't think I'd include meringue again). I like the creamy-fruit type for breakfast or brunch. I made a simple blueberry compote here but you could use other fruits or possibly use a not-too-sweet jam.