Strawberry & Rhubarb Syrup

Summer is here! (It’s forecast to rain tomorrow, but 3 days of sunshine and 20+ degree heat is good enough in the UK). To celebrate all the sunshine and possibility of sitting outdoors without a jacket, I made some delicious, delicious syrup. It was one of those recipes you see and think to yourself “I need that in my life”. And I wasn’t disappointed. I took some rhubarb from my parents’ garden, bought some strawberries and a lemon, and a cute milk bottle, and after very little effort, I had this:

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It’s great as a summer drink mixer – use 2-3 tbsp of syrup and add sparkling water, or my personal preference, bitter lemon. If you’re feeling like you need some alcohol, add 2 shots of gin, and maybe a few crushed mint leaves. Beautiful.

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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!

Rhubarb and Almond Loaf

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NEW OVEN. NEW OVEN. Look at it! Oh it’s so pretty! Never have I been so grateful to have a working oven (mostly because I’ve never been without one for FOUR WEEKS before, but whatever). As soon as the electrician left after fitting it on Friday afternoon I made flapjacks and salted caramel tart, and I have all the baking plans for my days off this week. Bread. Quiche. Granola. Cake. More cake. Everything I have been waiting the last month for. So much joy! Hurrah!

 

But, going back to the beginning of this week, I had no idea that by the end of it I would finally have a new oven, so I hedged my bets, and whilst spending a lovely Easter Sunday at my parents’, decided it was best to bake some cake there in their functioning oven. It’s rhubarb season at the moment, so the Hummingbird Bakery’s ‘Rhubarb and Almond Loaf’ seemed a perfect choice – and I got to go down the garden and pick fresh rhubarb. So good! (note: I still have rhubarb that I was given from Oli’s parents’ garden about 4-5 weeks ago, which I can finally use, so I’ll be making this again this week). This is the most moist cake you will ever eat, so make sure you drain the stewed rhubarb properly, otherwise it will take forever to cook (it takes an hour anyway, and that’s without any accidental rhubarb juice.)

Rhubarb and Almond Loaf (from Hummingbird Bakery’s ‘Cake Days’)

4-5 stalks of rhubarb, chopped into 2cm pieces

70g (2 1/2oz) caster sugar

20g (3/4oz) unsalted butter

190g (7oz) unsalted butter, softened (plus extra for greasing)
140g (5oz) plain flour
190g (7oz) caster sugar
3 large eggs
1tsp baking powder
50g (1 3/4oz) ground almonds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
25ml (1fl oz) whole milk
100g (3 1/2oz) stewed rhubarb (see above)
15g (1/2oz) flaked almonds

1. Preheat oven to 170C (325F), Gas mark 3. Grease loaf tin with butter and dust with flour.

2. Place rhubarb in saucepan with sugar, butter and 50ml (1 3/4fl oz) of water. Cook on a medium heat, stirring frequently until rhubarb softens. Remove pan from hob and set aside to cool completely.

3. Using a hand-held electric whisk or freestanding mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time mixing well on a medium speed.

4. Sift together flour, baking powder, ground almonds, cinnamon and ginger, then add half the mixture to the creamed butter and eggs, followed by half the milk. Mix well after each addition. Add the remaining dry ingredients and rest of the milk.

5. Stir in the stewed rhubarb so it is mixed evenly. Pour into prepared loaf tin and sprinkle flaked almonds on the top.

6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50-60 mins. When cooked the sponge should be firm to the touch or a skewer inserted to the middle should come out clean. Allow loaf to cool for a while before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Next week: all the things! and New York Cheesecake