Month: March 2016

Fun with Friands

I have been meaning to make Friands for about two years. As far as I can tell they are essentially the big cousins (on steroids) of those tiny, delicate morsels, French Financiers, invented all the way over in Australia. I do love a Financier. The last time I was in Paris, the first thing I bought and scoffed was a clutch of them at the airport. And I did invest in a beautiful Friand baking tin some time ago, and though I have used it for Little Pistachio Cakes (you can find the recipe in BBC Good Food Magazine) I have never used it for its original purpose. Until today. The recipe for these, from Eat, Little Bird popped up on my Facebook feed a while ago and I saved it for when I had the time. I know that my friend, Jo, at Every Nook and Cranny is also a little obsessed by these little cakes, and I would very much to try one of her recipes in the near future. Yesterday, on Easter Sunday, I baked a Gâteau à …

A Coffee Cake with a kick

Good morning and a Happy Easter to you. This isn’t an Easter cake, though it does contain chocolate, nor was it made recently. But I was asked for the recipe from someone over on Instagram, so I felt I should cobble together a blog post with details of how I made this cake (which was in the Autumn of last year). The cake itself is a simple coffee Victoria Sponge, but it is soaked in a Tia Maria sugar syrup, then filled with an Espresso and Mascarpone cream, then covered completely in a good old fashioned chocolate buttercream. It is finished off with a chocolate glaze drizzle, chocolate bark and various other decorative edibles. You should start by making the chocolate bark the day before you need it to ensure it is firm enough to handle, especially if it is warm. Chocolate Bark 150G of Dark Chocolate A handful of Coffee Beans Gold Sugar, sprinkles, bronze honeycomb chunks (Marks and Spencer) or any other pretty gold or bronze decorations you can find that will tone …

Carrot Gold

This isn’t a post in which I share a new recipe; but one in which I share an idea of how to decorate a Carrot Cake for a special occasion. As I was saying to my friend earlier, Carrot Cake *is* beautiful with swirls of Cream Cheese Frosting and some sprinkled nuts on top, but sometimes you want one of your favourite, everyday cakes to be a bit more celebratory. I wanted to show that it is possible to do that without training to be a pastry chef first. Firstly, let me explain that I don’t use walnuts in my carrot cake, but prefer pecans. I immediately thought about how I could use the pecans on the top of the finished cake by dusting them with gold and bronze lustre and adding small pieces of edible gold leaf to others. The cake also contains desiccated coconut, so I felt that using larger shavings of coconut on top would hint at the ingredients inside and add a different texture. After that, it was a case of …

Layers of Light and Lemon

This week at school one of my classes and I ran a fundraising event for Marie Curie. We held a Blooming Great Tea Party, and did various activities in order to raise money for this very worthwhile charity that offers support of all kinds to people with a terminal illness, and to their families and loved ones. I had agreed to bake some treats for the tea party and to make a cake to be raffled off. I went for a Spring like look that tasted fresh, and came up with this. A few people were asking for the recipe so I thought I’d write it up this morning. I hadn’t intended to write a blog post about this cake so didn’t document the making of it in photographic steps, so apologies for that. For the Sponge: 200g of Butter, at room temperature 200g of Caster Sugar 200g of Self Raising Flour 4 Medium Eggs The zest of 1 Lemon (unwaxed) For the Lemon Syrup: 45g of Caster Sugar 3 Tablespoons of Lemon juice For …

Blame it on the Brownie

Brownies are a very emotive subject for me. They are my favourite “cake” and they would be the dessert in my Death Row dinner (and it would be roasted Duck Breast with a red wine and cherry sauce, Dauphinoise Potatoes and Garlic Greens for main, if you are interested). I have very strong feelings about Brownies: they have to have squidge. They should not be hard or dry or cakey: they should be soft, melting, moist and squidge.   I finally found my Brownie nirvana a few years ago with Nigel Slater’s recipe but have tinkered with it a little since. I usually substitute the 50g of chopped dark chocolate for white, for example. I tried various respected food writer’s recipes, including ones from Nigella Lawson and Tamsin Day-Lewis, but Nigel’s recipe gives the exact amount of oozing chocolate richness that I want in a Brownie. Last year I made BBC Good Food’s Salted Caramel Brownies and though delicious and a contender for Nigel’s ultimate recipe, I still preferred his.   Off the back of that I came up …

A Good Sport

If you ask me to go for a run with you or join in with a game of Rounders I would politely decline. I am not very sporty. I am not sporty at all, in fact. That doesn’t mean, however, that I am not a good sport. If you were to ask me to help with your charity event I would do what I could. If you asked me to bake a cake for your charity event, then I would probably be planning it in my head before I had even come to the end of, “Yes, I’d be delighted to.” When my colleague asked if I would bake a cake to be raffled off as part of the school’s fundraising for this year’s Sport Relief I was more than happy to help out. For Comic Relief  last year I made a Red Velvet Cake as I felt the colour tied in with the charity’s logo. This year I stepped away from chocolate and went fruity instead. I decided to use one of my favourite recipes from Ruth Clemens, behind The …

Rhubarb and Pistachio Meringue Roulade

I will keep this post brief but wanted to share with you the dessert that I made for my mum and my family for our Mother’s Day dinner this year. If you know me at all, you know what a huge rhubarb fan I am, and the forced rhubarb is is season now. Initially, I planned to bake a rhubarb cheesecake, but as time was running away with me yesterday I decided to make a meringue based dessert, and use some bits and pieces that I already had knocking about the kitchen. My mum isn’t such a big rhubarb fan but loves meringue and she loved the combination. And it *was* my Mother’s Day too! 😉 If you feel like playing with the flavours then be my guest. Don’t bother with the orange zest if you don’t have it, or try some lime; try an orange curd not lemon; change the nuts to slivers of almonds, or leave them out altogether; it’s pretty flexible and recipes like this are meant to be open to change …

Roses for Mother’s Day

This Sunday, in the UK, it is Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day: a day to treat our mums, grannies and maternal folk to show them how much we appreciate them. Whilst listening to the radio this morning, I discovered that the origins of this day are to be found in the 16th century, when Christians were expected to return to their “mother churches” where they were baptised or to their local church or cathedral on the fourth Sunday in Lent. By Victorian times, when children as young as ten often left home to go into service, it became common practice to take the opportunity on this day to visit your mother, take her wild flowers and to spend time with your family. Modern day celebrations are often criticised for being too commercial (as are most modern Red Letter days in the West) but I can vouch that there is nothing more lovely than being presented with a hand drawn card and a tray of a comically assembled breakfast at 6am on Mother’s Day, eager faces …