A belated Happy Father’s Day to my father, to whom this cake was given (albeit a few days late). I cycled a 25km round trip to give him the cake, which I think kind of makes up for its lateness. On said cycle ride, I was yelled at by a woman who seemed enraged that I had only stopped to give her directions, not to have a conversation with her. Sometimes, people be crazy.
The cake was delicious, dense but moist, and most excitingly it was ring-shaped, because this was the first time I have ever used a bundt tin (many thanks again to Seb who has gifted me many a baking thing – especially as I never would’ve bought a bundt tin myself). I don’t think I realised quite how massive the cake was until I tried to lift it into the oven – despite having a hole in the middle, bundt cakes involve one hell of a lot of ingredients (like, half a dozen eggs). It’s gone to a good home though, and actually, has probably been eaten already.
I bought the cheapest blueberries I’ve ever seen to make the cake – on Cambridge market they were doing 2 punnets for £2.00, and I was like, that’s amazing! So I took them home, and naturally, it was too good to be true, because after leaving them in the fridge for a day, quite a lot of them had gone mouldy and I had to pick through and salvage what I could (miraculously, the amount I saved was exactly 250g, the precise quantity I needed for the cake!)
Earlier this week I made a strawberry cake and used up the rest of the chocolate icing left over from the cupcakes last week. One good thing about that icing is that if you can’t use it all at once, and you come back to it a few days later once it’s all hardened, it melts really easily and returns to its former consistency ready for you to pour too much over the cake you made so that it ends up all over your counter (see here). The strawberry cake was just a basic sponge with about 100g of mashed strawberries added, and it was GREAT. I’m trying to make the most of summer fruit season, so I’ve been consuming lots of strawberries and raspberries and jealously watching as my blueberry plants bear fruit back in my parents’ garden. I did have a joyous half hour or so last week though, picking strawberries in Oli’s parents’ garden, only to then find a rash all over my arms. Hayfever is really NOT my friend this year. All in all though, summer is shaping up to be pretty good. Birthday week soon, and in 6 weeks I will be in Canada! A lot of baking to be done, and a lot to look forward to.
Blueberry Cake (from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf)
350g unsalted butter at room temperature
350g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
450g plain flour
2 tbsp + 2 tsp baking powder
280ml sour cream
250g fresh blueberries (plus extra to decorate if you want)
icing sugar, to decorate
~ you can use cream cheese icing to cover the cake, but as I think it’s pretty tasty without, I’m leaving the icing off the recipe here~
1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3. Put the butter and sugar in a mixer with a paddle attachment and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.
2. Beat in the vanilla extract, flour and baking powder until well mixed. Add the sour cream and mix well until everything is combined and the mixture is light and fluffy. Gently stir the blueberries in by hand until evenly dispersed.
3. Pour the mixture into the prepared ring mould (note – grease the tin LOTS) and smooth over. Bake in a preheated oven for 40 mins (or an hour in my case) or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cake to cool in the mould before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar.
Next week: Little Blueberry Pies
Today is my lovely boyfriend Oli’s birthday. Earlier this week it was his colleague Holly’s birthday, and at his request I made her, what I would fairly describe as, an epic cake. A Coke layer cake from The Outsider Tart’s “Baked in America”. It took a long time to make, and it’s only the second time I’ve ever made it (although this time I actually got to taste it!!). I forgot to take a photo before it all got eaten, so the one below is courtesy of another of Oli’s colleagues. Everyone at his office was very happy, and consumed the majority of the cake (apart from one small lump that was left and Oli brought home for me). And then I realised that I’d made a pretty impressive cake for Holly, and in a few days it would be Oli’s birthday and I would have nothing anywhere near as impressive to bake for him.
My original plan for this week was to make a raspberry and almond tart, but it just seemed too mundane to offer as a birthday cake. So I went one up, and I made chocolate and raspberry tart. Okay. It doesn’t sound that much more impressive, and I probably seem like a terrible person. But it has chocolate pastry. And I haven’t tasted it yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be good. I mean, look at it! Chocolate pastry is definitely my favourite thing of the week. Where once there were walnuts, now there is the glory of chocolate pastry. I ate the offcuts. It was great.
I was supposed to use dark chocolate for this recipe, but it said how super rich it was and how you could only eat it in tiny slices, and I just thought, that is not what anyone wants from birthday cake(/tart). So I made it with milk chocolate instead, in the hopes that it will be equally tasty and more quickly consumable. I’ll let you know. Somewhat disappointingly my tart tin wasn’t deep enough to hold all the filling, so I’m going to have to make another tiny one (with plain pastry this time I think though). Luckily this week I have become indebted to my friend Seb for the amount of baking equipment he has showered me with, which included two smaller tart tins than the one I currently have. I am however starting to realise that when I move house, 95% of the stuff I take from the kitchen will be baking related.
You can find the recipe for the chocolate and raspberry tart here.
Next week: Iced apricot and blackcurrant terrine
OH MAN. My oven still isn’t fixed. It’s not great, but I’m learning to work around it (although hopefully not for too much longer…). An oven-free week has led to me making this super tasty honey mustard chicken casserole, and the best breakfast I’ve had in a while – aka, lemon ricotta pancakes. I can’t remember the last time I went to work when I wasn’t hungry when lunchtime came around (without spending the morning snacking), but these pancakes are super filling, and so good. It also seemed like destiny, because I had some leftover buttermilk that was probably going to go off soon, so it was, all in all, a good pancake opportunity.
I really love breakfast (read about that here), and so much of the time I just don’t have anything in the house that is breakfasty enough to keep me full until lunch. This has led me to believe I should always eat pancakes and fruit for breakfast. Not really cost-effective though. I will be looking into this. Breakfast suggestions welcome.
One of the reasons I hadn’t made these pancakes before was that there’s a section of my list which I’m reserving for summer. I’m one of those people who is pretty strict about not buying fruit that’s out of season that’s been shipped from Kenya or whatever. Blueberries in December? I don’t think so! The recipe suggests you should serve the pancakes with raspberries, but English raspberries aren’t going to be around for at least another month or two. I was in the process of trying to reconcile myself with buying some from Spain, when I realised that (slightly unbelievably) there were some strawberries from Sussex. I am fully aware that the amount of energy it took to grow strawberries in England before the summer is probably comparable to them just being shipped from Spain where they probably do just grow normally in April, but it made me feel better okay? I felt better about eating strawberries that came from Sussex.
Hopefully next week we will be back with an oven, otherwise it’ll be another non-oven recipe, or I will use my other option, baking at my parents’ house. It’s Easter, and I really wanted to make something awesome and chocolatey, but at the moment it looks like I’ll just be making chocolate cornflake cakes (which do fit the previous description, but aren’t really what I had in mind).
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Raspberries (or whatever fruit you feel like) from Dorset Cereals Breakfast Book
225g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large free-range eggs, separated
60g caster sugar
185g ricotta cheese
finely grated zest of 1/2 an unwaxed lemon
2tsp butter, melted
1 punnet of raspberries (or strawberries)
1 tbsp caster sugar (optional – or maple syrup is good too!)
1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, bicarb and salt. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, egg yolks, sugar, ricotta and lemon zest. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour and stir until just blended – there may be a few lumps.
2. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the egg whites into the batter until just blended.
3. Place a large griddle or frying pan over a medium heat until hot. Brush the pan with some of the melted butter. Put one ladleful of the batter into the hot pan (you can do them more than one at a time, depending on the size of your pan – I did two at a time). Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until small bubbles appear on the surface, the edges start to look dry and the bottoms golden brown, about 4 mins.
4. Carefully turn the pancake over and cook until lightly browned on the other side – about a minute. Transfer to an ovenproof platter and place in the oven to keep warm (heat the oven to about 120C). Do not cover the pancakes or they will go soggy! The batter will make about 16 pancakes. Serve with fruit and sprinkle with sugar (or maple syrup).
A while ago over here, I wrote about how I’ve cultivated a love of breakfast over the past couple of years. Yesterday I went out and bought the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (yes here I am shouting about SK again), and much to my delight it has an absolutely fantastic breakfast section. Without wasting any time I have already dived in and made Wholemeal Raspberry Ricotta Scones. Because who says you can’t have scones for breakfast?
The other day Oli very kindly bought me some fruit scones, but he was surprised that I hadn’t eaten them before I had access to jam, butter and cream. To be honest, I find scones dry, and as far as I’m concerned the reason they are dry is because you are meant to eat them with jam etc. But the beauty of these is that they already have fruit and cream in them which makes them amazingly delicious and best of all, not dry.
I bought raspberries fresh from the market, which gave off the most glorious smell before, during and after cooking – there’s nothing quite like fruit when it’s at it’s best, and this is raspberry season, which makes this recipe perfect for August.
You can find the recipe for these wonderful scones here.
My breakfasts for the next few days are going to be filled with these delicious scones, (and maybe my lunches and dinners too!) and then I will head onto the other delights the book has to offer – chocolate chip brioche pretzels, maple syrup and bacon scones, and peach and soured cream pancakes. So much goodness to be had.
In other news, I decided to make some brownies the other day. My experience of brownies is thus: once you find a brownie recipe you love, stick to it. I have used the same recipe for about the last five years, and it has never failed me because they are always chocolatey and gooey and amazing, which is my kind of brownie. But the other experience I have is that Peyton and Byrne’s ‘British Baking’ book will never fail me, so I was like “hey, why not, let’s try a different brownie recipe”. No. Never again. It’s not that this recipe is bad, in the sense that if you like brownies that are solid and a bit boring then it will give you what you want. But these were definitely not the brownies I had envisioned, and now I can say with conviction, never stray from a good brownie recipe, it will only lead to disappointment.
So, slightly belated, as I was supposed to write about this two days ago (I’ve been celebrating the fact that I just found out I got a 2:1 for my degree!). I signed up for Foodie PenPals at the beginning of July, and so received my first parcel a few days ago! It came from the lovely Sophie, who lives in Wales, and so all my food items were Welsh themed. She also very kindly put a few extra bits in my parcel as she was late sending it, so thank you Sophie!!
I wasn’t very helpful when Sophie asked me if there was anything I liked – I think all I said was that I preferred baking, so I was excited to see what she had chosen for me. Here is everything together:
The first thing I noticed was the fudge. I am a lifetime lover of fudge – the crumblier the better in my opinion. This fudge is absolutely delicious, and even better because each piece is a different flavour (I’ve managed to stop myself eating all of it so far…)
Then there’s local Pembrokeshire honey, and Welsh raspberry conserve. I love honey, not least because it tends to keep my hayfever at bay. It’s great to have locally made honey as well, because most honey that is sold in the UK is imported from elsewhere in the world – so supporting local honey producers is really important for helping the declining bee population. And raspberry is my favourite jam.
Lastly, but far from least, Sophie made me Welsh cakes! I’ve never had them before, but they were delicious! They’re kind of like flat scones, apart from with currants and spices in them, and they’re so soft and tasty and mmmmmm. So good. Gone way before the fudge.
So there you have it, my first Foodie PenPals package. I’m excited to continue now, this has been so good!
On a more general note, baking has been non-existent of late, as I have been doing things such as travelling to Somerset to go to the best wedding ever, drinking a lot of wine, and mourning the ever-nearing day when my dear friend Laura moves to Paris. But I have leaving cakes and birthday cakes to make, so hopefully baking will be back on my poorly managed schedule by the end of the week.