This is a feature I wrote for one of New Zealand's leading magazines, Your Home & garden.
natalie oldfieldAt home and at work, this baker is a passionate advocate of food cooked with heart and soulText by Amanda Karakoudas. Photography by Todd Eyre.
ood store owner and cookbook author Natalie Oldfields style ethos is clear: she likes her home to be simple, elegant and free of clutter. Natalie, husband Adam and daughter Gabby, now 16, moved into their Auckland bungalow in 2001. Attracted by its rich wood panelling and hardwood floor, Natalie knew it was the home for them at first glance. However, three years later, the cook in her decided to remodel the kitchen. The redesign opened up the kitchen and dining areas, creating a clean, contemporary look. She also had smooth white countertops intsalled to complement the homes dark wood. Natalies aesthetic is also evident at her Mt Eden food store, Dulcie May Kitchen, which she opened in 2009. It has clean lines and flourish-free surfaces that let the counter-top treats take centre stage. A trip to New York City was the catalyst for the food store. The people who live there are so passionate about what they do and why they do it," says Natalie. "It was there that I realised how much my grandmothers love of cooking had
Left Natalie's remodelled kitchen features all the mod cons, yet melds nicely with the bungalow's original decor. Inset above Freshly baked cupcakes are an enticing proposition.Your Home & Garden 13
My favourite kitchen tool ismy KitchenAid mixer I cant cook without it
influenced me and my passion for food and people. Its where the idea to write a cookbook with her recipes was born, too. Excited by the hustle and bustle of her grans kitchen from a young age, Natalie took every opportunity to be part of the proceedings. There was lots of baking going on. I'd help out if someone arrived and Gran wanted something made quickly sponge cakes, biscuits and scones were always easy to make. That sense of togetherness is palpable in the food store, where Natalie and her family spend much of their time making everything from sweet lemon squares, jams and chutneys to sausage rolls, lasagne and turkish flatbreads. Natalies first cookbook, Grans Kitchen, introduced her grandmothers wonderful recipes to the masses. Of all the recipes Natalie features in her book and food store, about 70 percent are straight from Gran". Her most recent cookbook, Dulcie May Kitchen Everyday, was released in April, with similarly themed recipes that are simple, easy, fresh and fuss-free. Natalie: "My first memories of cooking are the moments I got to lick the bowl! Growing up, my mother was always cooking, so the opportunity was there to be involved it was just part of our upbringing.
Main photo, right To enhance her home's wood panelling, Natalie has filled the dining and living rooms with chocolate-coloured chairs and couches. Inset top left Baking is Natalie's true calling, and she still finds time to whip up treats at home. Above right The plates and dishes in this cabinet are used as props for the food styling in Natalies books.14 Your Home & Garden
My interiors rule is...keep it simple and elegantBefore I owned Dulcie May Kitchen I always worked in hospitality in some form or other, whether in the kitchen or front of house. Dulcie May Kitchen is... a family affair. My mum bakes early before we open, then fronts the business for me. Dad works in the kitchen, and my sister Michelle is in charge of all the catering and is involved with the development of new recipes. Behind the scenes it's very cosy. The kitchen is compact, but it gets the job done. We're busy from 5.30am and Im fortunate to have some amazing staff who take on different roles with enthusiasm. I enjoy challenging them to expand their knowledge and skills, and it's been so rewarding to see their achievements. My favourite recent additions to Dulcie May's menu are... quince jelly and crab apple jelly. If I had to choose between cooking or baking... it'd be baking all the way.
Top left This striking pohutukawa painting by Natalie's favourite artist, Auckland's Dave Sotogi, graces a wall in the living room. Top right Natalie says keeping her possessions streamlined allows her to make the best use of her space. The bookshelf in the living room features her favourite books and beautiful cushions. Right The main bedroom is accented with feminine touches pale blue pillows, pink flowers and low lighting contribute to the relaxed atmosphere. Left Dulcie May Kitchen serves only organic, fair-trade coffee. Natalie says engaging with her customers is one of her favourite things about her business.
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Left Natalie with Jackson, the family dog. Above Installing a pool created the perfect spot for summer get-togethers. Along with a wide deck and couches on the patio, it provides the family with a space for swimming and relaxing, and doubles as an entertaining area. Right Natalies love of simple, chic interiors extends to Dulcie May Kitchen. The food store's decor is pared right back to ensure the 3 : 5 edibles are the focus. Z D T 4 : 2 5 PM N
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Mistakes Ive made while baking include using plain flour when it should have been self-raising, and adding salt instead of sugar. My favourite sweet indulgence is tiramisu. I love it! I don't have it often so it's always a treat. My favourite overseas destination is New York City. It's so inspirational and full of life, and the food is very diverse. I make the most of my kitchen space by... being organised, since my kitchen isn't massive. My baking/cooking style is simple and easy, with a little bit of love thrown in. I like to try new things but always seem to go back to the simple things that everyone loves. A quote I live by is from my gran: "It's not what you do, but how much love you put into the doing". The thing I'm most proud of is... my cookbooks. Although it's a challenge, I love to create them I enjoy a challenge. One of my favourite lines from my books is "Food and love are made to be shared, and experience tells me that both are best shared every day."
Natalie'ssweet treatsPhotography by Todd Eyre.
AFGHANSMAKEs 8-10INgrEDIENTs200g butter cup sugar 1 cups standard flour tsp baking powder cup cocoa 1 cups cornflakes 2 cups icing sugar 4 Tbsp cocoa 25g butter, softened 2-3 tsp hot water cup walnut pieces, for decorating 1 Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with non-stick paper. 2 Cream the first measure of butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Into a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and the first measure of cocoa, then add it to the creamed mixture. Gently fold in the cornflakes.
the biscuits are firm. Cool on wire rack. 4 To make the icing, sift the icing sugar and the second measure of cocoa into a bowl. Add the second measure of butter, and the hot water, and mix to a spreadable consistency, adding extra water if needed. 5 Spread the icing onto the cooled afghans and top each with a walnut piece.
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Try this: For the best possible biscuits, use goodquality cocoa. If you like ultra-crunchy 3 Place spoonfuls of the mixture onto the P a g e baking 2 / 0 Bake for ,15 minutes : 0 9 P M afghans, bake them for an extra 10 minutes. 1 2 tray. 3 / 1 2 3 : 5 4 or until NZ DT
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CHOCOLATE PEANuT SLABsErvEs 10-12INgrEDIENTs1 cup icing sugar 1 cup chopped roasted peanuts 1 cups cornflakes or rice bubbles 1 cup skim milk powder 1 cup sultanas or currants cup cocoa cup coconut 250g Kremelta, melted 1 Line a Swiss roll tin with non-stick baking paper. 2 Mix together all of the dry ingredients, then stir in the melted Kremelta. Pour into the tin and leave to set before cutting into squares.
This makes a great chocolate fix to enjoy for afternoon tea. For a variation on the theme, replace the sultanas with dried cranberries
CITruS SLICEsErvEs 10-12INgrEDIENTs100g butter cup sweetened condensed milk ( can) 1 cup coconut Zest and juice of 2 lemons 1 packet plain biscuits 1 heaped cup icing sugar 2 Tbsp softened butter 1 Melt the first measure of butter, then add the condensed milk, coconut, lemon zest and crushed biscuits. Mix well, then press into a lightly greased 27cm x 17cm tin. 2 To make the icing, mix the icing sugar with the second measure of butter and the lemon juice. Add hot water a teaspoon at a time until the mixture reaches a good spreading consistency. Spread the icing over the slice and refrigerate until firm. Store in the fridge. Try this: This slice is equally scrumptious with any sort of citrus fruit. Give oranges or limes a go.18 Your Home & Garden
Dulcie May Kitchen Everyday by Natalie Oldfield (HarperCollins, $44.99)