Croatia – Madjarica

IMG_5781tThis was something of an undertaking. It seems I’ve made a lot of extravagant layer cakes so far in this project (or was it just one? They seem like many now…), and this one was certainly that.

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Sugar Free Banana Bread

This is an unusual one for me. I am all about sugar. I mean, I eat a lot of vegetables too, but when it comes to cake, I am a purist – it’s got to be full of butter and sugar. That’s what cake is about, right?

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A few weeks ago one of my colleagues went on a sugar free diet, and a couple of the others were just generally trying to ‘eat better’…I think we’re always striving for this in my office, but there’s a pretty consistent balance between the amount of cake and the amount of fruit consumed – recently there has been a pretty steady stream of Creme Eggs being consumed. But, I digress! To my colleague, sugar free meant no cake, so I decided to look into making sugar free cake (because an office without sugar is no fun).

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And behold! I found a recipe that I like. This is pretty straightforward, and I’ve played around with it a bit – most recently I have added chocolate to it, because that still counts as low sugar, right? But what I’ve found is that in banana cake you don’t really need sugar. Granted, it makes it look a bit more appetising (for whatever reason this cake has come out a slightly grey shade of brown every time I’ve made it), but it tastes just as good because bananas are super sugary, especially if you leave them until they’re really brown. I’m not going to start advocating a sugar-free lifestyle, but, this banana bread is pretty good if you want to try it.

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2014 – a year of baking

Well, once again this is a bit late due to essay writing. But now I am finally done, and apart from having to go to work the next three days, my Christmas break has officially started!

I didn’t manage to bake anything new or exciting this week though (predictably), just more gingerbread, and some brownies for my housemate’s birthday. So instead, I thought I’d go through all the stuff I’ve baked this year and talk about some of my favourites. 2014 has gone quickly, but looking back to January feels like a lifetime ago. So much has changed since then – not least that I have proven to myself that I can post regularly on a blog for a year (well, I’ve still got a couple of weeks until its officially a year, but let’s call it that anyway).

So without further ado, here are my ten most favourite things I baked this year…

10. Plum Cupcakes – a celebration of all things autumnal!

9. Gingerbread Cupcakes – brought festive deliciousness

8. Rhubarb and Almond Loaf – this was a really good late spring bake, which I made multiple times because it was so tasty.

7. Suksessterte – perhaps the tastiest thing that I didn’t get to eat, but was made in celebration of my lovely friends getting engaged ❤

6. Peanut Butter Cookies – there should always be peanut butter cookies

5. Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels – these are the best breakfast you will ever had. And best snack you will ever have.

4. Peach Jam Scones – peach jam is the best jam ever, and it’s even better when you put it in a scone.

3. Walnut, Chocolate and Honey Tart – I can’t even. Every time I think about this I want to  make it and eat it all by myself

2. Caramel Walnut Upside Down Banana Cake – see above. Also, the tastiest thing I didn’t write a proper post about.

AND THE WINNER IS….

1. The Pancaken!!! – literally nothing will ever beat this – the most frustrating and rewarding thing I have ever baked. I don’t know if I’ll bake another one for Pancake Day 2015. Part of me wants to, and the rest of me is horrified at the prospect of spending hours making pancakes and burning myself repeatedly.

I hope you all had a great 2014, and have a Happy Christmas!

Hot Chocolate

IMG_3367tA short one this week, because I am once again in the midst of essay madness. Christmas is coming up quick, and I’m also trying to make all the edible presents I’m giving to people. I started a tradition last year of making up boxes for people with proper gifts but also lots of cute bits and pieces, like gingerbread families and peppermint creams and that kind of thing. This year (spoiler alert for anyone who thinks they’re getting gifts from me) I have made hot chocolate powder. As you can see above, I’m putting it in spice jars and making them look festive, which is giving me even more joy than usual because it is a break from trying to write about cultural appropriations.

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It’s really simple to make. Ingredients > blend > done.  Unfortunately I haven’t got to try any yet, but I can just tell it’s going to be amazing. The recipe comes from the lovely Deb at Smitten Kitchen, and can be found here. I need to go and buy marshmallows tomorrow so I can make myself a cup.

 

Sticky Chocolate Pudding

IMG_3329tI ate too much today. Since I moved I don’t get the chance to cook for anyone but myself very often, which is kind of miserable because it’s more difficult to do big extravagant meals for one person. But this weekend Oli was visiting, so I made Sunday roast and chocolate pudding today, which was glorious and made me feel slightly sick afterwards. We ate about 7 hours ago, and I’m still not hungry. I think the chocolate pudding really finished it. Definitely one of the richest things I’ve ever eaten (which seems less surprising considering it’s originally a Nigella Lawson recipe – woman of excessive amounts of chocolate). There’s probably enough there to last me the rest of the week – it must be consumed in small portions with plenty of cream to dilute the chocolate.

It’s an unusual recipe, in that, pouring half a litre of water on top of the mixture before putting it in the oven seems like a strange thing to do, but somehow during the cooking process it transforms into a glossy and delicious chocolate sauce. So rich. If you’re looking for comfort food on a cold autumn evening (especially now the clocks have gone back) – this is a good bet, just make sure you’re not eating it alone!

Next week, it’s Halloween! So I will be making toffee apples. I hope. My last encounter with toffee didn’t go too well, so I’m hoping this time it fares better.

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Nigella Lawson’s Sticky Chocolate Pudding (from ‘Real Food’ by Nigel Slater)

150g self-raising flour

25g good quality cocoa powder

200g caster sugar

50g ground hazelnuts (I used almonds which work just as well)

75g dark chocolate, chopped

180ml full-fat milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

40g butter, melted

1 egg

for the sauce:

180g dark muscovado sugar

120g good quality cocoa powder

500ml very hot water

1. Put the flour, cocoa, sugar, ground nuts and chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the milk, butter, vanilla extract and egg. Pour into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

2. Pour the mixture into a large, buttered soufflé dish, about 20cm in diameter. Mix the muscovado and cocoa together and sprinkle on top of the pudding. Pour the hot water on top – there is no need to stir – and put into an oven preheated to 180C/Gas 4. After 35-40 mins the pudding should be firm and springy. Serve at once with cold double cream.