Birkbeck Bakes!

The results of Cookie Hour! Photo courtesy of D&A’s
Charlotte Belson.

Social distancing has meant that many of us are becoming well-acquainted with our kitchens, turning us into a community of home bakers. It has been impossible to ignore the increase in banana bread, impressive sourdough and delightful cake photographs filling our news feeds. The Development and Alumni team has been keen to get in on the baking action too! Last week, the team had a virtual ‘Cookie Hour’, a fun way to spend some time with each other with a tasty treat at the end of it!

Vanessa Bell’s ‘Apples: 46 Gordon Square’

To pay homage to our Bloomsbury based office, we would like to share a recipe which is inspired by Vanessa Bell’s painting ‘Apples: 46 Gordon Square’. The painting shows a tray on apples perched by a window in 46 Gordon Square, the Bloomsbury building that is now home to Birkbeck’s School of Arts. 46 Gordon Square was home to a number of members of the Bloomsbury Group. Vanessa Bell and her sister, the writer Virginia Woolf, moved to the house in 1904. Following this, the house was occupied by celebrated and influential economist John Maynard Keynes. Today, a blue plaque on the building commemorates Keynes’s time in Gordon Square.

The following recipe is by Jans Ondaatje Rolls, who wrote The Bloomsbury Cookbook: Recipes for Life, Love and Art, which is both a cookbook and a social history of the ‘Bloomsbury Group’ of writers, artists, and intellectuals who based themselves in Bloomsbury in the early 20th century.

Apple Squares

You will need:

Recipe taken from:
The Bloomsbury Cookbook
( Jans Ondaatje Rolls)
  • 128g plain white flour
  • 4 tbs caster sugar
  • 249g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 410g soft brown sugar
  • 120g melted butter
  • 80g dried apples (diced)
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Combine the plain white flour, caster sugar and butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Press the mixture into 2 buttered oblong baking dishes and bake for approx. 13 minutes in the centre shelf of the oven.
  4. Beat the eggs and soft brown sugar together. Stir in the melted butter, apples, lemon juice, vanilla and 2 tsp of flour.
  5. Pour into the base and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Cool and cut into squares. Makes 46.

We’d love to see how you get on! Use the hashtag #BBKBakes on social media to show us your baked goods, and to share other recipes with our community of Birkbeck bakers.

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