Tag Archives: cake

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.

Citrus Fruit and the loveliness of Curds

Zeb Bakes Marmalade with Meyer LemonsI have made two lots of marmalade, started on 1st January which seems a long time ago now and then I moved on to the Seville Oranges when they arrived in the shops. Then I got bored with chopping peel and I cut my finger (poor little me!) so used up the remaining Meyer lemons and Sevilles in the house, which were getting a little ripe to make divine fruit curds which are now in the fridge.  We love lemon curd and we love Seville Orange curd too now!

That is my red chilli plant in the kitchen still fruiting away in case you were wondering.

Zeb Bakes Lemon Shred MarmaladeDid I tell you about the Meyer lemons, fabled for their sweetness and aroma, a fruit well known to Americans, but one I had never seen here.  Gloria Nicols went shopping in Bristol and tweeted that she had found them at Tescos so we went off to find them and we did! I got some for a friend too who lives in a food desert in the East of England where their Tescos don’t stock such delights and gave her some as well at Christmas, the exchange of food being a great excuse for a get together!( along with smoked bacon ribs from Cockermouth, a Northern delicacy rarely seen in the South. But I am guessing it will become trendy one of these days to nibble on boiled bones once again… mark my words… but I digress)

The lemons are indeed quite different from Sicilian or Greek lemons, they have a delightful aroma of clementine and what I imagine is a laid back Californian sort of way about them, the sort of lemons that rollerblade and don’t moan about the weather.

I made luscious lemon curd with them two times. The second time I reduced the sugar as the first batch was a bit sweet for our tastes.

Lemon Curd by Zeb Bakes

Meyer Lemon Curd

  • Four ripe Meyer Lemons, finely zested and juice squeezed out. If you mash the remains gently in a sieve you can get a little thick extra goodness out of the pulp.
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 125 grams of unsalted butter, softened and chopped into small pieces
  • 250 grams of sugar

Note: if using regular sour lemons or bitter Sevilles you might need more like 300 – 325 grams of sugar, but it is all to taste, best thing is to dissolve it all first and have a taste and take a view before you start the final cooking part. You might find you get away with a lot less sugar or you might be able to use half and half, I am not sure.

3 – 4  seven oz jars, washed and put in a warm oven to sterilize them. Lids in saucepan of boiling water on the hob. (I got three jars out of the above quantity and a ramekin over)

In a bain marie, or a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, put all the zest, juice, butter, sugar and beaten eggs together and stir until the butter and sugar is all dissolved. If you don’t want any stringy bits in your curd, then it is probably a good idea to sieve the eggs first. I forgot and just hoiked out the stringy bit when I saw it lurking in there.

Keep the heat low, a gentle simmer, not a fast boil.  If it is too hot you might get a scrambled egg effect. Stir continuously and watch the colours change gently in the pan. You might get a little foam as the eggs start to cook, turn the heat down, if necessary remove the bowl from the pan and allow it to cool down a bit. The most important thing is to keep stirring and be patient. The curd is ready when it coats the back of your spoon like a thin custard or single cream. It will thicken up more once it has cooled.

Boil up your funnel and ladle and put it into your jars and screw the lids on tightly. Books vary in saying how long it keeps from a month to three months. We try and eat it within a month but Brian remembers his Gran making it and keeping it in the larder for several months.

For the Seville Orange Curd I followed the same procedure as above, (I had six oranges left)  used more sugar (325g)  as the juice was more sour.

There was more juice so it took longer to set off and gave us four jars as opposed to three. I didn’t use more butter though or more eggs. Some recipes suggest adding cream or extra egg yolks, I think it is just one of those things that you can be fairly relaxed about. Keep the temperature low and stir constantly and you should be fine. Or try Celia’s microwave method which she blogged about here.

Gibassiers by Zeb Bakes

You can eat the curds just as they are with a spoon. You can spread it on toast, on teacakes, use it in pastry tarts, to sandwich cakes together, dip your Gibassiers in it for complete luxury and just enjoy it. It’s the sort of thing I make once a year and eat and give away and then it’s gone till next time. Though now I think about it, there is no reason not to make it more often…

There was a cake with a delicate lemon glaze for a while in the kitchen too. I liked these lemons and hope that we continue to import them into the UK.

CrackLemonGlazedcake

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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Limeblossom Tea and Madeleines

limeblossom tea in glass teapotThere is a game that people play in which they confess that they have never actually read a famous book or literary classic. It’s a curious game since it involves an admission of failure, and to win, you must have not read something that everyone else in the room has read. There are many books that I haven’t read, or ones that I have picked up and attempted and then simply abandoned, splayed on a side table, or rediscovered with a bookmark placed a telltale eighth of an inch inside, waiting patiently, as books do, for your return, only to be put on a shelf or recycled to the Oxfam bookshop.

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