The comforts of an Autumn day are not to be underestimated. Such a day marks the start of the hunkering down season, a time that can never come too soon for the makers and bakers among us. For all intents and purposes, Autumn is the porridge that Goldilocks chose – neither too hot nor too cold and carrying with it an persistent smell of cinnamon. We’re going to show you how to make your kitchen the cosiest and most delicious place to be this season…for invited guests, of course.
Stock up on essentials
Autumn’s here, which means the next six months will see you fighting the urge to hibernate. And that’s okay! Be kind to yourself, and plan ahead by stocking up on all your autumnal favourites — oats, pulses, emergency cans of soup, and all those fragrant spices that are essential to autumn baking. On those blustery October evenings when walking to the corner shop is just far too much effort, you’ll be rather glad you did.
Simmer the scent of autumn
As any estate agent will tell you, the smell of baking will fill your house with a sweet, comforting scent fit to make any visitor swoon. As seductive as freshly baked treats are, it’s doubtful you have the time or inclination to bake your own air freshener for three months. Instead, when you’re expecting guests, why not use the simmering pot method to keep your home smelling as spicy and warming as a cup of hot cider?
Simply cut an orange into medium-thick disks and submerge them in a pan of water. Add a handful of cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and the peel from two to three apples. Bring the water to the boil and then simmer on the lowest possible setting all day, adding top-up water when needed. Your house will soon smell like the most perfect autumn afternoon and all thanks to your five-a-day.
Now add coffee: DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte
Is there anything sweeter than throwing down at least £4 a day at Starbucks? How about sticking it to those Seattle caffeine mermaids by making your own Pumpkin Spice Latte? For two cups’ worth, whip up around 120ml strong espresso – I use my trusty Tassimo but any way you want to make coffee is fine – and then follow these instructions. These next steps might be a bit fiddly but once you’ve done it, you’re set with Autumn-y hot drinks for weeks:
- Mix 4 tbsps each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, plus 3tbsp allspice. This is your Secret Mix.
- Put 450ml of full fat milk in a small saucepan. Add 4 tablespoons of pumpkin purée (which you can buy in specialist food shops or Waitrose), 2 tbsp of caster sugar, 2 tbsp of vanilla extract and ½ tsp of Secret Mix.
- Heat on medium-high and whisk constantly until it’s verging on boiling. Don’t let it boil – it will go unpleasantly viscous (this is a good band name). You want it frothy (this is not a good band name).
- Divide the coffee into two of your better mugs and then rapidly pour the foamy mixture over the top. Sprinkle a little more Secret Mix over the foam and drink immediately, savouring that sweet frugality.
How long have you had those oven gloves? And don’t you think it’s time you replaced those tea towels? Treat yourself to something new: an apron that inspires you to grab the rolling pin, a new box of herbal tea, a vegetable peeler that doesn’t hurt your wrist after the first carrot, an earth-toned toaster or a shiny red coffee machine. A small gift to yourself can make a big difference to the time you spend in your kitchen.
So, you’ve got your home smelling gorgeous, a mug of semi-exotic spice coffee, and the spirit of Autumn in your heart. Now slip on some wellingtons, an adorable woollen hat and get ready to frolic in some dead leaves! You’ve earned it!