Category Archives: Cakes

Banana Bread Bristol Fashion

Bananaloaf

Banana Bread Bristol Fashion adapted from Brixton Banana Bread by North/South Food

The back story is that Brian eats a lot of bananas and I don’t. So if for some reason he hasn’t eaten them they sit there going browner and browner.  There are always bananas lurking in various stages of decay and I try and ignore them for the most part.

Then I read Brixton Banana Bread by the wonderful North/South Food and was inspired by her freezing her excess bananas for a later date.  Writing this post today, I realise it has taken me almost a year to get round to making this cake but I am glad that I finally did! So many thanks to North/South food for inspiring me to use my brown bananas and for her recipe.  Continue reading

Small Breads, a Bundt and Speculaas Biscuits

2nd January 2014

For those of you who don’t know IMK, Celia curates an ever growing list of lovely bloggers who share things happening in their kitchens across the world.  Click on the link to go to Celia @ FIgjamandlimecordial.com to find out more. I don’t have lots of wild and exotic things to show you that arrived for Christmas as I spent Christmas on the beach but you might like to see these photos anyway from my Bristol kitchen.

Sesame coated rolls

My current favourite thing to do with dough is to make the date syrup kefir dough with a healthy scoop or two of stoneground wholemeal in the mix and then shape it into a loaf and a tray of rolls. I am somewhat enamoured of rolling the rolls in sesame seeds before leaving them for their final prove as I love the taste that sesame seeds add to the dough and it makes a change from the usual floury tops I tend to make. These rolls use about 85 – 100 g of dough and bake on a tray in about 20 minutes at 210-220º C. They freeze well and are very good for slicing for emergency toast, for a lunch as here, and perfect stuffed with salami for a picnic. Continue reading

Nightmares, Time Travel, and Chocolate Cake

I am a bad blogger, I have half-written posts whirling about in my head and none of them finished. I take photos of things with great bloggerly enthusiasm and then somehow the moment passes and I think you probably don’t want to see or hear about old stuff from the week before or even last month. Is blogging supposed to be in the here and now, is it ok to  backdate one’s blog life diary, even relate stories out of synch? How do you feel about this if you blog? How related to a personal timeline should a blog be? Would you as reader mind seeing photos of flowers that have now passed on to the great seed pod in the sky?

My favourite David Austin climbing rose

On a completely random note, I have just waded my way through the first of a two-parter on time travel set in the London Blitz by Connie Willis, called ‘Blackout’ and debating whether to read the second part; truth is I haven’t really engaged with the characters, maybe they will get more interesting if I wade through the second chunk of this.  The only thing I really want to know is whether they have to stay put in the 1940s or get back home; I always prefer it when people get back home in time travel stories.  I really liked an earlier story called’ Firewatch’ and her ‘Doomesday Book’ novel, which are all part of the same series, which is why I bought these two.  If you like time travel stories by the way, my favourite is one called ‘The Book of Kells’ by R A MacAvoy. I read the Connie Willis books because a friend of mine who is now dead, was a great fan of hers and so I read them for her and imagine the conversations we might have had about them once we had both read them.  We all have our own ways of remembering friends who are gone and this is what I do to comfort myself for the loss of this friend.

One thing I do know is that the book has given me nightmares of cities built out of red sandstone where the streets and buildings fall into holes in the ground and one can never find one’s way back to where one was, just keep on going and hope that somewhere, some place it makes sense. I know that this dream is in part derived from some of the passages in the book, but there are no bombs in my dreams, just huge clouds of red dust and buildings silently sliding into crevasses, of running up and down staircases, through courtyards, along passageways and corridors, pushing doors open and always looking for the people I have lost, out on the street, through a building here, round the crest of a hill there, I am exhausted when I wake up. Nightmares have a way of making waking reality preferable most of the time.

Baby Starling having a Think

In my waking reality today it is Sunday and grey and a bit chilly with this strange North Westerly wind howling about round these parts, so I thought that this could be a two slices of chocolate cake sort of a day. (Did you like the way I steered this post away from the  books I read and the madness of my dream life to food?)

I made this rather wonderful choc chip Victoria Sandwich cake last night and it was too late to eat it by the time I finally did the icing thing so I have decided that today I can have yesterday’s slice as well. Flawless logic as ever.  →The recipe is by Dan Lepard ← and can be found on the Guardian’s website for Friday 21st June. I have been thinking about chocolate cake for a while now and how most chocolate cakes these days are squishy and dessert like which is great but sometimes I just hanker after a cake that is not made of pure chocolate, butter, eggs but has flour in it, the sort of cake you can carry off on a plate to a chair somewhere and eat without feeling you have just consumed a box of artisan chocolates that were very nice but you wish you had only eaten two of them.

This cake is,  as promised by Dan in the recipe,  chocolatey but not overwhelming. It is light and moist with a slight tendency to crumbliness, which I like. After all there is nothing quite like chasing cake crumbs around a plate either decorously with a fork or more prosaically with a damp finger.

I used a few bowls in the making ; there was a worrisome moment on mixing in the cocoa batter into the creamed butter and sugar as it looked a bit weird but after that it all came together and I am more than happy with the result.  If I were to open my garden for National Garden Day this is the sort of chocolate cake I would make for my visitors, in fact I would be happy to make it for anyone who came for tea.

I used four large duck eggs and half and half light brown and dark brown soft sugar as I didn’t have enough of either, Green and Black’s cocoa, and some Lindt dark cooking chocolate and a rather expensive tube of Waitrose own brand chocolate chips.

My oven temps are slightly different from Dan Lepard’s. The equivalent of Gas 3 on my chart is 165 C so that is what I used and I reckon you need about half the icing quantity to do this cake, but I don’t like an inch of filling and icing, less is more for me but…

Dan Lepard's Chocolate Chip Victoria Sandwich Cake

…excuse me, I have cut this slice and am terribly sorry but I have to go and eat it before the mouse carries it away. Life is very hard sometimes.

What’s for Tea? Lemon Madeira Cake

Madeira Cake Pam Corbin Cakes

I make a cake maybe once a month or so – I try not to eat all the cake myself but share it with people. We had a very nice coffee and walnut cake last time which took me forever to make as I cracked a whole bag of walnuts to do it, as the prepacked ones in the shops always look and smell rancid to me and today for tea we had a lemony Madeira cake from Pam Corbin’s Cake book.

I used a narrow based high sided Matfer tin, the one I use mostly for making high rye tinned breads  which holds a litre of water, so I hoped that is what Pam Corbin meant by a litre tin. Most mysterious.

This produces a nice slim cake, with the possibility of lots of small slices.

I adapted the recipe to use a proportion of Light at Heart stevia sweetened sugar and, oh horror of horrors, some Stork margarine, curious to see if I could taste either if I only used a bit of each. Well I can’t taste either of them in these proportions.  So I can hear you thinking, what next? Is she going to go all processed food on us? Is she going to start making cakes with coconut oil and icecream from cauliflower? Who knows? I might, but I think it is fairly unlikely.

I don’t like Stork and I don’t like margarine but I know lots of people who prefer the taste of both to butter. Cake is cake and infinitely adaptable.

So for my version of this cake, perfect for a lunch box or just for carving small slices off at random and as necessary

 

Lemon Madeira cake adapted from Pam Corbin’s recipe in Cakes

  • 200g of self-raising flour
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 50g Stork margarine
  • One large lemon finely zested
  • 1/2 tsp of Sicilian Limone essence from Bakery Bits
  • 4 large eggs
  • 100 g of organic granulated sugar
  • 25 g of Light at Heart
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

For the icing

  • 100 g icing sugar
  • lemon juice as needed and a bit more Sicilian Limone essence
 

And then it is the usual thing of beating softened butter with sugar till light and fluffly, mine always looks wet and fluffy, not sure why and mixing in the zest and limone essence.

At some point I give up and get to the nitty gritty of the affair. I advance towards the hurdles of adding the eggs one at a time with a few teaspoons of flour with each one, Very similar to hurdles at which I was rubbish at school I may add.  I warm the eggs first and wish very hard that they don’t curdle. I am getting better at it slowly, but my heart is always in my mouth and my brow furrowed slightly while I do this.

Usually somewhere just after the first egg has gone in, I remember the tin, in fact I have a minor tin panic attack and rush around pulling tins out and staring at them as if I hope they will speak to me and say ‘Me, me, pick me’ but they never do.  Remember to turn the oven to 180 C (conventional electric not fan) /Gas Mark 4 if I am on a winning streak at this point.

I went for my old Matfer tin, greased it with butter, and popped a symbolic piece of baking parchment in the bottom. Turned the oven to 180 C/Gas 4. Did I mention nothing has ever stuck to this tin so far. The silver lining of my sometimes dark and thunderous cake making attempts is this tin and a couple of others. If you have a tin that won’t let go of your cakes, let go of the tin, you won’t regret it, I promise.  Sorry where were we?

Oh yes fold in the rest of the flour. Add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice,  Wince a bit more, waiting for the cake mixture to scream and separate. Feel slightly disappointed when it doesn’t curdle for once.

Plop the mixture in the tin, set the oven time for 40 minutes, long narrow tin bakes quicker than a more traditional low slung loaf tin. Leave to bake, test with wooden stickie thing. Take out. Leave to cool in tin for ten minutes. Tip out onto cooling rack…

Next day.. mix up 100 g of icing sugar with a little lemon juice and plop it on the top. Go out in the garden and in a homage to the seriously good cake makers out there, pick some primroses, violets and geranium flowers and stick them on the top. Don’t they look fancy?

To those of you who have read this blog for a while a big apology that I still have mild panic attacks about making cakes, I think it is something to do with knowing that the ingredients are much more costly than for making bread and therefore there is more pressure on me to get it right, also there is in my eyes at least more that can go wrong. I don’t trust that the process will replicate itself each time I do it and while a slightly misshapen loaf is charming and rustic, a sunken cake that has left a big chunk of itself in the tin is just sad.

Find a pretty spot in the garden to take a photo and test at teatime.  Well, it’s cake innit?  Mine all mine, and even with those suspicious ingredients, still far nicer than most cake you can buy in the regular shops. And you can’t buy fresh flowers in a packet…

PS As there is a little bit of interest in the Matfer tin I used, judging by the comments, here it is:

 They aren’t cheap, but it has lasted and looks almost as good as when I bought it. It measures 10” x 3.5” (250 mm x 85 mm) around the top, narrowing by half an inch at the base. It is 3.25 “ deep and is deceptive in that it holds around 750-800g dough / a litre of water.  It has a rolled edge and sharp clean corners. I also have the smaller sized one of these which holds approximately 400g dough.

Matfer Loaf Tin

Hedgerow Colours and other Bits and Pieces

Rosehip CordialMy gesture towards autumnal hunter gathering (ha!) has been limited this year to these two little projects.  Rosehip and (assorted friends) cordial and the hawthorn ketchup recipe which comes from Pam Corbin’s book Preserves but can be found fortuitously (and probably not very surprisingly) in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Guardian Weekend column this week along with other fashionable hedgeforagy ideas. More about haws here in Alys Fowler’s column too.

out of focus washed haws (hawthorn berries)

I managed to make one little jar from 500 g of hawthorn berries. Not sure if it was worth the effort somehow!

I barely picked any blackberries and there were very few sloes, apart from a few I found in the freezer, the damsons were almost non existent and the squirrel has stolen and buried all the nuts – so it goes. And I suspect that this is the same for many people, hence the interest this year in the hawthorn berries and rosehips which are plentiful.

I am working my way through the apples from the garden slowly. I spend a lot of time not doing very much and what I do, I do quite slowly. Here is a squishy apple cake, which I made yesterday from a recipe from Cooks Illustrated by Andrew Janjigian. It is made with oil not butter and has a clever construction whereby you mix egg yolks into part of the batter for the bottom and extra flour into the top part thus creating a layered effect in the cake. I am not sure I did it justice as I was working from cups, which as we know is not my strong point. Edit : My apples are for some reason all floating to the top in any cake with a soft batter. I think it is me as it has happened now in a couple of cakes ! I have added a link to the recipe, which I didn’t have earlier and I see there is a video too… if I had known…. ah well there is always next time !

I had better add a slice shot too

I ‘tore’ up the original bright and breezy tra la version of this post as I need to find a new voice. I am not a good housewife, I am not a good gardener, I am just a fallible and imperfect human being who for some reason strayed into the blog world and stayed for company. I like your company. Truth.

Sometimes I think I am channeling the Guardian.   Alys Fowler confirms that it is perfectly acceptable to rehome supermarket basil in this week’s magazine too. I can report that my two are still rampaging away and people come and lop stems off and cart them off. It really is much the easiest way to keep them going with minimum fuss and outlay. I am not convinced by the micro herb thing. Seeds, though not expensive when you grow full size plants from them, do become pricey for relatively small return when you eat the results so small. They don’t always come out nicely either, sometimes very small and a bit stringy and sad, if you don’t have ideal growing conditions indoors.

Outdoors the flower sprouts, which now dominate the raised bed with their dark and purply presence are…. yes they are…. growing flower sprouts – this is quite exciting for me as I have never grown sprouts in any shape or form. They are frilly and they lie in the space between stem and leaf. Ooh! The broccoli rab threw up two leaves, a yellow flower and died in the shadow of the giant flower sprouts. The winter creeping thyme drowned mysteriously having started off quite well. The half a dozen bulb fennel babies are living in their fortress where I shall protect them from the marauding pigeons if I have to sit on the veg bed with a knife between my teeth.

Brian has taken a beautiful photo of the Trail of Tears beans drying on a north facing windowsill.

And what else did I think might amuse you as you dance through the internet? I attempted to clear one tiny corner of the garden yesterday, with much moaning and wingeing and pulled out the cold frame with Brian’s help to give it a rudimentary tidy up before the winter and managed to disturb Madame Frog. She made me scream of course but then I steadied my nerve and picked her up to move her to an undisturbed spot and I swear she is is smiling here. You have heard of Puss in Boots? This is Frog in Glove.

Zeb went to look for the frog but he has some funny ideas.

No frog in here…

NB For Rosehip Cordial.  Pick as many ripe rosehips as you can manage. Put them in the freezer overnight to help soften them.  Cook them gently in water until you can mash them up. They have little hairs inside so you do need to strain them or let them drip through a fine muslin in order to get the juice out, as you would if you were making jelly which is also an option.

A mixed bag of rosehips, hawthorn (haws) berries and blackberries

I added a handful of blackberries and some other bits and pieces to use them up but you don’t need to do that. Then once you have your strained juice, add 325 grams of sugar or so to each 500 ml of juice, heat till dissolved but do not boil. Then bottle in clean bottles and heat in a water bath if you don’t have a canner. The water bath is basically a deep saucepan with a clean folded tea towel in the bottom full of water in which you stand the bottles up to their necks and then bring the water up to a set temperature for a set time, (varies depending on what you are canning). If in doubt freeze your cordials if you have space and then you won’t have to worry about this.

Home Made Jaffa Cakes – the Marcus Wareing ones

For my friend Lynne – Get well soon!

Simple! Ha! Marcus Wareing’s Home Made Jaffa Cakes recipe from Great British Chefs – recipe can be found here.

It sounds so simple doesn’t it? Make a tray of little tiny spongy things, cut them in half, take out a bit of the middle bit, blob some marmalade in there, dip them in melted chocolate, take a photo, give to one’s true love who has asked for them. Well, let me say this. NO! It is not an easy recipe. No, no, no.

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Saffron Pear Almond Cake : Short & Sweet

I don’t have a lot of time to get this written up tonight so this is a speed post, half an hour flat out. I wasn’t going to bake this weekend but I found myself drawn into cake making, maybe by Mitchdafish’s delectable version of this cake here.  I scoured the garage for tinned peaches and came up with September’s home bottled pears and a tin of cherries. I checked with the others on Twitter what the drained weight of the peaches in the recipe should be, a great advantage of baking with other people even at the distance of the internet is that you can ask away and someone will say something helpful. Thinking about it afterwards, you just use what you have as the fruit goes on the top of the cake and doesn’t make a difference to the texture of the cake itself, providing you drain it, I am sure fifty grams more or less of fruit topping wouldn’t matter much.

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