THERE is an unmistakable chill in the air. The clocks have sped backwards, bringing blankets and crackling fires to the fore as the evenings rapidly draw in. The fresh glow of autumn has been quietly replaced by dawn frosts and long, bitter nights. November is a month for cosy weekends, relaxed gatherings and hearty fayre. Have a few friends and family round, light some candles and fill the room with good conversation. Serve up breads to tear, a bubbling, slow-cooked stew and some comforting bakes.

With the festive bustle of December just around the corner now is the perfect time to potter in the kitchen without the pressure.

In my opinion there is no better way to fight the gloom than embracing the hands-on enterprise of baking fresh bread or making a pie from scratch. Now is the time to undertake longer culinary projects and the art of slow cooking. Try cooking up some winter preserves or even mix and store your own mincemeat. Stir Up Sunday, traditionally the last Sunday before advent, is a great excuse to get the whole family in the kitchen, elbow deep in spices and fruit-flecked batter.

This month, in the Sentient Baker kitchen, it’s all about the humble oat. From a simple bowl of porridge to a crunchy, spiced cookie, oats are my fuel of choice when the temperature drops. These Chilli Oat Bites closely resemble a Scottish Oatcake in their savoury simplicity, but pack a flavoursome punch with the addition of paprika and parmesan cheese.

They blossom when lavishly buttered, making excellent accompaniments to soups, salads and smorgasbords. Pile them with whipped goat’s cheese and a smear of chilli jam, dip them into hummus or adorn with a rustic pâté. These are perfect sharing foods with a satisfying crunch and a lingering heat.