PUMPKIN SPICED LIFE

Autumn has arrived in all its golden coloured glory and I couldn’t be happier about it. There is something about autumn that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, it could be because it’s finally time to pull on cosy jumpers again, or perhaps its going for walks on those sunny days where the air is crisp and cold. One thing I’m certain plays a part in my love of autumn is coffee and bakes get a whole autumnal makeover. Coffee shops have the chance to get creative with their syrups and powders to liven up their lattes and cappuccinos. Alongside the seasonal drinks, the spice cupboard is also raided when it comes to baking, making those savoury or sweet bakes for cosy nights in front of the fire a little bit more exciting!

One of the first things that springs to mind when I think about Autumn flavours is the infamous pumpkin spice latte! I’ll be completely honest pumpkin spice is not usually the one for me, I’m more of a hazelnut kinda girl when it comes to my coffee. But that being said I still get excited when the inevitable ‘PSL’ posts start showing up on my instagram feed because that means its officially Autumn (which also means Christmas coffees aren’t so far away, but we will talk about that another time!). Having a seasonal coffee out and about can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t really know what you like and lets face it the speciality coffees aren’t cheap, so it’s important to know you’re going to enjoy it when you order one. So a little tip if you are new to the world of Autumnal coffees is think about what spices you like in food, if you love the gingerbread flavours of winter, chances are you will enjoy a pumpkin spice latte. Perhaps just ask for half the usual amount of syrup and see how you like it, you can always go full whack next time if you love it. If you are more like me and are drawn to nutty flavours then look for the hazelnut option on the menu, there is usually one. However, I’d not recommend going half measure for these are they are usually a more subtle flavour anyway, so just go for it!

If you are reading this and thinking, well I don’t even like coffee, so my options for a joyful and different autumnal drink are limited. Let me introduce you to the Chai Latte, despite its name it is in fact coffee-less. This is a comforting, hug in a mug kind of drink. Warm milk, spiced with flavours of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a hint of sweet caramel, its a winner all round. For the coffee lovers if you fancy trying this drink but can’t give up the caffeine ask for a dirty chai latte, you’ll get all the comfort with a shot of espresso. You can even try making your own chai latte or autumnal drink at home, I find TKMaxx a brilliant place to pick up new coffee flavourings and syrups.

Now lets talk snacks! I am sucker for cinnamon, so around this time of year those cinnamon bakes are calling my name louder than ever mainly because they are everywhere! Whether its a cinnamon scone, bun or danish I’ll be picking it up whether I’m hungry or not, I just can’t help myself. But it’s not just when I’m mooching about this time of year that I’m reaching for the cinnamon. This is also when I find my home baking becoming a little more savoury and taking on more robust flavours, with the additions of nutmeg, cinnamon and all spice to name a few. I love taking my classic recipes and adding a bit of warmth or grabbing some nuts to change the flavour up a bit. This is not something you should be afraid of doing, and I recommend you give it a go. If you’ve got a tried and tested loaf cake or scone recipe then simply throw a handful of nuts or a sprinkle of cinnamon and you’ll instantly have a deliciously autumnal bake. There is also a real chance to get a little more creative this time of year, with biscuit decorating, colour themed icing on fairy cakes and even dipping apples, the options for decorating are pretty much endless. I’ve never been big into Halloween, but this year, in particular, I think we could all use some extra magic, so I’ll be embracing my inner child when it comes to my bakes and I hope you join me!

My favourite autumnal walk and coffee takeout combos:

  • Percy’s @ Hillsborough Lake
  • The Lock Keepers Inn @ Shaws Bridge, Belfast
  • General Merchants @ Ormeau Road and a walk around Ormeau Park
  • Brew & Bake (go for the hot chocolate over coffee here!) and a mooch up the Lisburn road

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