Saturday, 15 November 2014

Cider Cake and a belated Bake Off round up

Cider Cake

In this cake bicarbonate of soda reacts with cider to make it rise. Mine rose too much in the middle like a child's erupting volcano science project. This cake has an apple-y tang and is surprisingly boozy. Next time I won't eat it for breakfast. 

The recipe came from some Paul Hollywood recipe leaflets my grandma saved for me from The Telegraph - thanks Nona! If you want to try it, you can find the recipe here

Some people think Paul Hollywood is a bit of a silver fox but I think he is plain creepy. I had to hide his piercing eyes under a pile of books. 

Things I baked whilst watching Bake Off

For the first episode I made Ruby Tandoh's Alfajores. These were really difficult to roll out but definitely worth it. I'm more that a bit of a fan of condensed milk so these biscuits went down a treat

Pies and Tarts week I made a (wait for it) Walnut, Apricot and Tuaca tart. Oh my. I adapted the recipe from the Pecan & Bourbon tart recipe in the Popina Book of baking and felt pretty clever about it. 

For the final I made an orange thyme and oilve oil cake (also from a Ruby recipe) but replaced the thyme with rosemary from the garden/yard. This got a good review from my housemate for its grown-up savoury but sweet flavour.

Newsflash! Ruby Tandoh's recipes are as good as her faces. Woah.

Friday, 14 November 2014

My first poached egg

In an attempt to lead a more pleasure-driven life I've been learning to get better at making cooked breakfast. This process generally entails making myself cooked breakfast for dinner, when I'm more alert. In time I'll be a bleary-eyed breakfast making pro. Right now, I've got a lot to learn - its a timings thing.

I used to think I only liked eggs 'in things' but a good friend and breakfast chef has recently turned me on to the joy of eggs.

I followed Felicty Cloake's method from her 'how to make the perfect...' column and whilst not perfect (lost some egg white in the whirlpool) it was a passable first attempt.

crumpets > toast

Sunday, 9 December 2012

My first Bundt!

When I finished my masters I bought myself a bundt tin to congratulate myself. At £2.99 from ALDI my place as one of the last of the big spenders is secured - woop woop! I've been meaning to use it for a while but since I've moved home and Mum is also about baking things I've had to wait for an opportune moment when the house was not already full of baked goods. I've never used a bundt tin before so I wanted to practice in prepartation for making something spectacular for Christmas.... watch this space!

I adapted the recipe from Brendan Bakes Spiced Apple Pecan Bundt Cake halving the ingredients because my bundt pan is only 1 litre rather 2. I still used 2 eggs because 1 and a half eggs is not practical and I used two pears and one apple as we had some pears that had seen better days that needed using up. The smaller bundt took 35 minutes rather than an hour to bake.

Turning it out the bundt is a little bit nerveracking. I found a combination of easing a knife around the edge, hitting it with a rolling pin and swearing helps.

All that effort for a cake... with a hole. This recipe turned out well, the spices could have been a bit stronger so I'll add more cinnamon next time. 

I'll leave you with one of my favourite moments from My Big Fat Greek Wedding - 'there's a hole in this cake!'

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Rhubarb and Ginger Jammin

My grandfather's rhubarb patch was a healthy jungle of giant leaves. Pushing them aside Nona and I tugged at the stems and (careful not to fall backwards!) we pulled the rhubarb from the ground. The captain says that rhubarb leaves are poisonous and so must not be composted. Consider yourselves warned.

Rhubarb haul wrapped in the Torygraph

I gathered inspiration from BBC Good Food and adpated the recipe as per the constraints of what was in the house.

1.9 kg rhubarb
2kg granulated sugar
juice of two satsumas and half a lemon
2 teaspoon tried ginger
8cm of fresh ginger grated
vanilla essence

The process of mixing fruit with a load of sugar is called macerating. Leave it overnight and in the morning...

it will look like this. 

The jam didn't really set - oops! It turns out rhubarb doesn't have much pectin in it. Mum says that I could call it 'conserve' or 'compote' but I think jam is jam however jammy it is. This is good on toast (who'd a thunk it?) stirred into yoghurt or mixed with fizzy water to make a gingery rhubarb drink!

This is the first time I've made jam on my own and I was so filled with jam-pride I even made labels!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Vegan Earl Grey Shortbread

My first foray into vegan baking and the results are pleasantly surprising. I was skeptical because, well, baking is all about butter, right?!

The recipe is from the Cake Liberation Front, a social group in Manchester who aim to push the boundaries of vegan baking and challenge stereotypes about dry flapjack. Check out their slick-looking website complete with awesome slogans like 'Rise Up!' and 'Flour Power!'

I followed this recipe but I translated it from (pesky) cups to grams with the help of the conversions here. So, quantities in metric are: 

112g vegan margarine
75g icing sugar
150g plain flour
1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
contents of 3 earl grey teabags

The method involves mixing, rolling and baking. You know the drill.


They look a bit funny because they are speckled with bits of tea. Freeing the tea from the teabags was superfun!

Guest what? These biscuits are good with tea. Biscuits are good with tea. Full stop.

I think I'll be doing more vegan baking, if only because I have loads of margarine left and I'm curious. Watch this space...

P.S. Let butter know I don't love her any less.

P.P.S. I'm still stacking like a boss *grin*

Monday, 20 February 2012

Malteser Cake... on a boat!

I made Heather a malteser cake for her birthday and we all partied on her boat and it was magical. I followed this recipe from a lovely blog called poires au chocolat which you should check out. I just made one layer of sponge so it was just white inside like a malteser. Cutting maltesers in half may count as a newly acquired skill, but its probably not c.v-worthy. Heather's boat, however, is seaworthy - how cool is that?

malteser cake!
Kneeling in front of someone with a cake looks a lot like a proposal. I propose that you continue to be totally awesome, Happy Birthday!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Pistachios and Pearls

My parents celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary on 13th February. Their love is big and real. I can't really get my head around what it must feel like to have been alive that long, let alone love somebody for that duration of time. Crazy stuff.

I mentioned to a friend the other day that I don't want to get married - its patriarchal and oppressive! But, I secretly look forward to my friends getting married. An occasion with family, friends, dresses, dancing, booze, cake and awkward conversation... Weddings are a good excuse for a party and I am all for partying. The question is, do we really need archaic institutions to celebrate our love?

Pearls are the traditional gift for a 30th anniversary. Pistachios are land pearls (metaphor alert!) so I baked a pistachio and orange cake with creme fraiche orange zest icing. 

I found a ludicrously kitsch heart shaped sparkler to decorate it with. Cake + indoor fireworks = wooo we have something to celebrate here!