Blackberry & Apple Loaf Cake

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Autumn is here. I tend to forget how quickly summer can end, how the chill in the air appears overnight and the nights start to draw in. The weather is wetter this year, but the same change comes, the trees are turning shades of orange and gold, which spells time for a slightly heartier cake that warms you on cooler days.

IMG_5185tThis is that cake. A wonderful nutty cake with warm fruit and a crumble topping. It’s basically two puddings combined into a joyous concoction that will warm your soul. There had to be some self-control to stop us demolishing the entire thing in an afternoon. IMG_5192t
I’ve rarely used hazelnuts in a cake before, almonds are usually the recommended nut of choice. After this, I will be making more cakes with hazelnuts in because, seriously, wow! Forget hazelnuts and chocolate in your cake, hazelnuts with fruit is where it’s at. This is destined to become a staple cake, one that I make again and again throughout the autumn and winter.  Continue reading

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Banana & Toffee Cupcakes

The last month has been crazy, full on crazy. I went to Stockholm a couple of weeks ago, and it was glorious. I never get tired of visiting Scandinavia, it’s like this paradise where everything is just lovely and full of coffee and pastries, and they have museum exhibitions about brewing beer (yes!). It also looks like this:

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On returning, we had friends staying for the Bank Holiday weekend, and then had a huge pizza party which was great, albeit very messy, because when you make 3kg of dough, and get your approx. 20 guests to all make their own pizzas, it gets…ugh. My kitchen. It was the biggest clear up job ever, and mad props to Laura and Hayden who did loads of it whilst I was still at the pub. We had some cool pizzas though – including macaroni cheese pizza, potato pizza, and banana and harissa pizza (which surprisingly worked).

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Anyway, now that I’m finally less insanely busy, it’s time to write about those banana and toffee cupcakes I mentioned a while ago. I love banana cake, and I’m always looking for variations to increase its general awesomeness. This is a tale of first world problems, whereby the little Waitrose near my house stopped selling the banana and toffee cupcakes I had grown to love. They still sell them at the one 4 miles from my house, but that is no use to me. So I decided to try and make some myself. I’ve made these a couple of times, and I will say it’s still a work in progress. I think I’m basically hoping that one day they’ll taste exactly like the Waitrose ones, but in the meantime, these work pretty damn well as a substitute.

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Apple Week #2

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I made apple cakes this week! Now that I’ve handed in my essay and things are temporarily slightly less crazy, I managed to spend time baking, and it has been lovely. The first cake I made was a Peyton & Byrne ‘Discovery Apple Cake’ which was delicious and moist, with a hint of cinnamon. The second cake (which literally just came out of the oven) is a Nigel Slater recipe, with raisins and marmalade, which is richer and has a more fruitcake-y flavour, rather than overwhelmingly apple. My house smells of freshly baked cake. Nothing quite like it. Unfortunately my enthusiasm resulted in me taking it out of its tin too soon after it came out of the oven, and it split it half :(. But it is truly delicious, a proper autumnal cake.

I used whisky marmalade in the Nigel Slater cake, which gives it the slight hint of alcohol you get from Christmas cake. If you don’t have some whisky marmalade lying about (kind of unlikely…), then I can definitely recommend you soak the fruit in a shot or two of whisky or rum if you want that extra flavour. Also I find apple cakes are way better made with brown sugar or dark muscavado sugar, because it gives them a more caramel-y flavour that is great with apple.

Christmas is looming now, which means I’m starting to think about all the things I want to bake – I always make gingerbread, because it’s awesome, but I’ve just been looking through Peyton and Byrne and I saw a recipe for honeycomb I’d really like to try. I’m still a little weary of boiling sugar on the hob in this house after my experience making toffee sauce the other week, but maybe I’ll be brave and give it a go. There are a bunch of Christmas themed recipes in Scandilicious as well, which I might write about in the coming weeks.

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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.

Pear and Maple Syrup Cake

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I moved! I’m pretty exhausted after two fairly intense days, one of moving and one of doing lots of induction things at uni. Next week is even busier, so somewhere between endless induction events and all the reading I have to do I’ll have to find the time to bake. I’m still trying to work out my schedule and this is the first time it’s really occurred to me that I have spent the last two months being unemployed, so I haven’t exactly been used to having things to do, and now I have a lot to do, so there’ll definitely be a period of adjustment.

Today I’m visiting my house in Cambridge for the last time. I’ll miss it there – the majority of everything I’ve written about on here was baked in the kitchen there, so if I’m not feeling sad then I’m definitely feeling reflective. But I have an equally good kitchen here in Norwich, so we’ll just keep going I guess. I didn’t get to eat either of the last cakes I baked in the Cambridge kitchen though – I made a Guinness cake for my dad to say thank you for helping me move, and then I made a pear and maple syrup cake which I gave to Oli to share with his colleagues because he likes creating goodwill in the workplace.

Being in the midst of moving when I baked it, I had packed up most of my cupboards, and I realised when I went rifling through boxes that I had in fact run out of maple syrup, but I did have a small quantity of golden syrup left, so I used that instead. It probably didn’t taste quite as good – I can’t be sure, but it appeared to work well as a substitute. The quantity of pear appears to outweigh the amount of cake batter, but once baked it looked really good.

Next week: Sticky Toffee Pudding (I desperately want cold enough autumn weather to make this be like a warming pudding for a chilly evening)

Pear and Maple Syrup Cake (from Tender vol.II by Nigel Slater)

100g butter

50g golden caster sugar

50g light brown muscovado sugar

150g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

50g ground almonds

3 eggs

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the pears

450g ripe pears

20g butter

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tbsp maple syrup (or golden syrup)

1. Grease and line a deep 20cm baking tin with greaseproof paper. Peel, core and chop the pears into roughly 1cm cubes. Put them in a shallow pan with the butter and cinnamon and let them soften for 10-12 mins over a moderate heat, stirring from time to time. Pour in the maple syrup, let the mixture bubble up briefly then remove from heat. The pears should be sticky and deep golden.

2. Set the oven at 180C/Gas 4. Beat together the butter and sugars until pale and thick. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Add the almonds to the flour. Beat the eggs and milk in a small bowl, then add to the butter and sugar a little at a time, alternating with the flour and almonds. Stir in the vanilla extract.

3. Tip in the mixture into the cake tin and smooth the top. Spoon the pears and any remaining syrup over the mixture. They will gradually sink on cooking to make a sticky layer further down.

4. Bake for 40 mins or until golden and lightly firm. Serve warm in thick slices, with cream and a little more maple syrup.

Plum Pie

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We’re a little lacklustre this week due to moving house. Two trips to Norwich so far, a couple more to go before I’m fully settled. It feels weird having two houses, hell, it is weird having two houses. One which I have loads of stuff to do in, and the other that I have hardly anything to do at all. Apart from bake. So I took some plums and my pie dish and my scales up to Norwich and made some pie. Baking is a welcome constant, as well as watching the West Wing – they offer comfort in a time of not really being sure what on earth I’m supposed to be doing with my time. 

One thing I did forget was my rolling pin, so the pie was decidedly rustic-looking, and then managed to spew plum juice all over the oven whilst cooking. There’s nothing like endearing yourself to your new housemates by burning plum juice onto their oven. I should’ve known better really, as plums are particularly juicy when cooked, and pastry isn’t a great sponge. Oh well. 

Next week I will be continuing my travels back and forth, trying to find a job before I go out of my mind with boredom, and baking Coffee and Chocolate Loaf. 

 

Plum Pie (from ‘Appetite’ by Nigel Slater) 

This is one of many variations of pie. Basically if you get any fruit and put pastry over the top of it, you will have this pie. 

I told you it was lacklustre. 

180g plain flour

100g butter

cold water

350g-500g plums

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Combine flour and butter until crumb-like in consistency. Slowly add water until the dough comes together. 

2. Destone and chop up plums. Place in pie dish. Roll out pastry and lay over the top of the dish. Brush pastry with milk or egg.

3. Bake for 40-45mins. Beware excessive plum juice. 

 

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

BLUEBERRIES: ROUND #3

I realise this has been a blueberry-heavy time. But then, isn’t it? Summer is here (despite the questionable weather) and blueberries are everywhere. As are peaches. In fact the only thing not summery about this is the cobbler part, which rings more of cold evenings than summery nights. Even so, it’s still delicious, peaches and blueberries are a match made in heaven (who knew?) and the topping is all light and scone-like and just very tasty. And much more photogenic, so this week we actually have pictures!

The next few weeks are going to be a little craaazy. Got a lot going on – having a very full-on birthday weekend next week, and I am also in the midst of training a replacement for me because I’m leaving my job in 3.5 WEEKS. For those of you who don’t know, I’m going off to be a student (for the second time, except this time I’m actually going to university instead of it coming to me). It’s kind of terrifying, I’m moving city for the first time ever, and I just have so much to do it’s mental. Plus it’s only 4 weeks now until I travel to Canada to see my wonderful friends and their darling baby. So if I miss a week, or I post late, I’m sorry. I’ll probably be letting myself down more than anyone else, because I’m amazed I’ve managed to post every Sunday for the last 26 weeks. I’ll try not to break the chain.

Anyway, for your cold summer evenings, have some peach and blueberry cobbler – you won’t be disappointed. Eat with plenty of double cream. I hope all your summers are as amazing as I think mine will be.

Next week: Brooklyn Blackout Cake

 

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler (from Tender, vol.II by Nigel Slater)

150g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp caster sugar

80g butter

142ml soured cream

3 large, ripe peaches

350g blueberries

juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp plain flour

1. Set the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Rub the flour, a pinch of salt, baking powder, sugar and butter together until the mixture resembles soft, fresh breadcrumbs. 

2. Slice the peaches, and put in an ovenproof dish. Toss with the blueberries, lemon juice, sugar and flour. 

3. Mix the soured cream into the crumb mixture until it forms a soft dough. Break off walnut sized pieces, flatten them lightly and lay them on top of the fruit. Dust the rounds of dough with sugar, then bake in the oven for 25 mins until the cobbler is golden and the fruit is bubbling.