The idea of small portions used to appal me. Cake should be cut into wedges, not slivers; a piece of pie is only big enough when the angle between hovering knife and slice edge tips from acute to obtuse. I often just pick the weightiest thing on the menu at restaurants (I'm not proud of it). "Quality over quantity," I hear you say? I know - but why not have both?
While I still revel in excess, it might be time for a change. I need to come around to daintier dishes - the sort of foods that come on plates as big as tea saucers; cakes that seduce, instead of challenge you. Some foods are better suited to small portions - the baklava below is so sweet that any more than a couple of pieces will leave you almost comatose; the cheesy dough balls are perfect for sharing. It's the mature way to eat anyway, right? Forget gorging on a plateful of trifle - real grown-ups know the only polite approach to gluttony is sidelong, via second, third and umpteen tiny helpings.
If you meet anyone who takes issue with these - soft dough balls with molten cheese centres - treat them with the same suspicion as you would someone who claims to hate puppies or Beyoncé ballads. There's nothing here not to like.
Makes around 30
350 strong white flour
7g instant dried yeast
½ tsp salt
½ tsp paprika
100g cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
2 large eggs
3 tbsp butter, softened
75-100g cheddar cheese, in 1cm cubes
1 Combine the flour, yeast, salt, paprika, grated cheese and garlic in a large bowl. Whisk the water and eggs together then add to the dry ingredients along with the butter. Stir vigorously to get a sticky dough. If the dough feels stiff, add a splash of water.
2 Let the dough rest for 20 mins, during which time it'll continue to hydrate and begin to develop a little elasticity. Knead the dough for 5 mins or so - just enough nudge the gluten into action. The gluten is what's responsible for the structure of the bread, making it strong and stretchy s that it puffs well in the oven.
3 Return the kneaded dough to a mixing bowl, cover it with clingfilm (to stop the surface of the dough drying out) and leave to rise at room temperature for 60-90 mins. There's no hard and fast rules for judging when the dough's properly risen, but I usually let it double in size. If your dough is proving slow to rise, give it as much time as it needs - if your house is quite cold or the ingredients were chilled when you started, the yeast will take longer to kick into action. Lightly grease a couple of large baking trays.
4 Once risen, gently deflate the dough as you tip it on to a clean work surface. Pluck a small portion of dough (no bigger than 20-25g) and stretch it between your fingers until it's a flat disc. Press a cube or two of cheddar into the middle then fold up the dough's edges and pinch firmly together to encase the cheese inside. Place on one of the greased baking trays. Repeat until you've used up all of the dough and cheese. Leave to rise for 30-45 minutes, or until visibly puffier. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4, while you wait.
5 Bake for 15 minutes, then heap into a bowl and serve while still warm and the cheese is still blissfully molten at the centres.
Maple pecan baklava
The first time I made baklava, all I could do - between mouthfuls of syrup and pastry - was rue the 20 years of my life, up to that point, that I hadn't spent making baklava. It's dangerously easy to bake: just layer sheets of filo pastry with melted butter and a thick sprinkling of ground nuts in between, then cut into pieces, bake and drench with a maple and brown sugar syrup.
Makes 20-25 small pieces
75g unsalted butter
150g filo pastry
For the filling
100g pecans, finely chopped
100g ground almonds
3 tbsp soft light brown sugar
A pinch of salt
Zest of 1 orange
For the syrup
80g soft light brown sugar
80ml maple syrup
1 tbsp water
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Melt the butter over a low heat then lightly grease a 20cm round loose-bottomed or springform tin. Using the bottom of the tin as your guide, cut the filo pastry into 20cm circles - you should end up with 8-10 circles. Layer half of these circles in the greased tin, brushing each layer liberally with butter as you go. Lay a dampened tea towel over the remaining filo circles to keep them from drying out while you prepare the filling.
2 For the filling, stir the chopped pecans into the ground almonds, sugar, salt and orange zest, then tip this mixture into the filo-layered tin, spreading it around until level.
3 Layer the remaining filo circles over the nut filling, again brushing each consecutive layer with the melted butter. Finish off with - guess what - another lick of butter on top. Cut the baklava into small diamond shapes. Don't wait until after cooking or the pastry will just shatter.
4 Bake the baklava for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden and crisp. As the baking time nears its end, prepare the syrup: bring the sugar, maple syrup and water to a simmer over a medium heat and let it bubble for 2-3 minutes.
5 Slowly pour half of the syrup over the cooked baklava in its tin, resting the tin over a baking tray to collect any syrup that might drip. Wait a minute to give the syrup a chance to soak in, then pour over the rest.
6 Leave to cool completely before demoulding and serving. Scatter a few extra chopped pecans over the top of each of piece of baklava to decorate.
Maple-pecan baklava and cheesy doughballs: don't even think of saying you don't care for these. Photograph: Tamin Jones/Guardian
Maple pecan baklava: they don't last for long...