December 29, 2020
December 15, 2020
The other day I braved a visit to one of our local charity shops. There were no other customers and I needed to enquire whether they have begun accepting donations again after the last lockdown. We have been gradually sorting through the contents of my dad's bungalow since he moved into sheltered housing and we're trying to sell or give away anything useful rather than just leave it to the house clearance people to dispose of it.
Of course, while I was in there it was impossible to resist a browse and so I bought this book by Rachel Allen. I like her recipes and have had a good deal of success with them. When I got home and picked the book up to feast my eyes out plopped yet another hand written recipe, entitled, quite simply, "apple cake".
November 30, 2020
We watched the final of the Great British Bake Off last week, rather grudgingly I might add - but more of that later. I was shocked and saddened to see the tribute to a former contestant, Luis Troyano, appear in the credits at the end. I instantly remembered who he was, a gentle giant of a man who produced exceptionally good bread during bread week. He was a finalist in series five in 2014 and was only 48 when he died of cancer just a few weeks ago.
As so many of the contestants do, he produced a book after that series finished and I bought it a while ago. Until now the only thing in the book I have made is his pumpkin pie, which was, in fact, divine. You can see that if you go here.
48 is no age at all. Amidst all the trials and tribulations that this year has thrown at us, the perpetual fear of impending doom, the worry, the isolation, the pandemic waistline and brain fog, the intense longing for normality, it's frightening to realise that all the other things that normally get us are still out there as well.
A sense of my own mortality set in and with gay abandon I took up Nick's offer of an early birthday present. My birthday is only a couple of weeks away anyway but what if I didn't make it that far? You just never know.
I already own a Kenwood Chef which resides in France. I took it there thinking that that's where I would do most baking and for a few years that was the case. Oh but how I have missed it this year! And how thrilled I am to now have this retro styled baby Kenwood! I christened it without delay by baking my own little tribute to Luis, the recipe for a lemon and sultana Bundt cake that's in his book.
So this cake was my tribute to the gentle and talented Luis Troyano. There are lots of other really lovely recipes in his book which I highly recommend. I shall bake my way through a few more and no doubt write about them.
His recipe for this particular cake includes a glaze made with limoncello but I thought the cake looked quite beautiful without it and turned out to be amply lemony enough as it was. Definitely a cake I shall be making again. R.I.P. Luis.
225g softened butter (I used Tesco Butterpak Spreadable)
500g caster sugar
4 large eggs
380g plain flour
1 tblsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
170g sultanas (tossed in a little flour to prevent sinking)
zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
Prepare your Bundt tin by buttering generously and dusting with flour or using this method here. Preheat the oven to 190 C / 170 fan / gas mk 5.
Using your brand new Kenwood mixer (ahem!) or a hand held electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add and beat in the eggs one at a time along with a spoonful of the flour to prevent curdling.
Add all the other ingredients and beat until well combined. Pour into the tin and level the top, remembering not to fill by more than three quarters. Give the tin a few sharp taps on the worktop to ensure there are no air gaps and bake for about one hour. Cover with foil after 45 minutes and check for doneness after 50 minutes.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Depending on the design of your tin, cuts into 15-20 slices.
November 19, 2020
And indeed, the big size worked perfectly. I had to use brioche finger buns for the base as by the time I got to the supermarket after visiting the DIY shop there were no brioche loaves left. They worked fine.
November 16, 2020
November 6, 2020
October 31, 2020
October 11, 2020
It depends on your perspective I suppose!!
This was an excellent cake, just the right amount of moistness and spice. The drizzled warmed golden syrup on top is a trick I might try on other cakes. Our visitors loved it, had second helpings and jumped at the offer of a slice to take home. Mind you, they thought it could stand more spice and suggested adding some ginger. Judge for yourself if you make it. I was concerned that I had sprinkled too much ground cinnamon over the cake before drizzling the icing on top, and that it might taste a bit "soapy", but in fact it was just right.
It's one of the few cakes I have made that have been gone in less than 24 hours. Here's my adaptation of it.
For the cake
1 dessert apple (or eating apple as my mum used to say!)
180g spreadable butter (I used Country Life Spreadable)
180g soft dark brown sugar
200g self raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tblsp golden syrup
For the topping
3 tblsp golden syrup
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tblsp icing sugar
1 tsp preboiled water (you could use lemon juice)
Grease and line the base of a 23cm round springform cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180C / 160 fan.
Peel the apple, cut out the core and chop into 1cm dice. Put the chopped apple into a small bowl and cover with cold water. This will prevent the apple from going brown. Set aside.
Put the butter and sugar into a large bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer until lighter and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, along with a little of the flour and beat in.
Fold in the flour and cinnamon, mixing until well combined.
Drain the apple and tip onto a tray lined with baking paper. Place another sheet of paper on top and pat the apple pieces dry. Add to the mixture with the golden syrup and stir well to combine.
Tip the mixture into the tin and level the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and done.
While the cake is cooking, put the 3 tblsp golden syrup for the topping into a small saucepan and heat gently until melted and very runny.
When the cake is done, remove from the oven and prick all over with a skewer. Pour on the melted golden syrup and brush over with a pastry brush.
Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
When completely cool, dust with ground cinnamon.
Make a water icing using the icing sugar (sieved) and water (or lemon juice) and drizzle it decoratively over the cake.
Cuts into 10-12 slices.
October 5, 2020
October 1, 2020
When I cleared our fridge in France I brought back to the UK three packs of ready made pastry. They were "pâte brisée", or plain shortcrust pastry. I had bought them to bake something savoury for an event but in the end made a cake instead. They still had several days left on them before the use by date but they needed using up.
The chicken, mushroom and potato elements were leftover from the previous evening's dinner, a sort of fricasee that Nick created and served with lovely new potatoes. I just added the leek and a pack of smoked lardons, also from France.
With another pack of pastry I made a bacon, caramelised onion chutney, spinach and cheddar quiche using this method here.
The lardons were in a twin pack so this used the second half. We had it with homemade coleslaw using this recipe here. (Also with baked beans - but nobody's perfect!!)
September 26, 2020
Nick has nurtured our flowering plants back to life so that we have been able to enjoy some colour in the garden. I picked some of our flowers to cheer us up indoors. To our delight we have also found that our rhubarb plant, only one year old, continues to keep on giving.
September 23, 2020
Another favourite is homemade coleslaw and I had remembered to put the ingredients into the Sainsbury's basket.
This salad contained
Brought from France:
feta cheese cubed
a few black olives
From the UK:
hard boiled eggs
sliced leftover cold duck
sliced leftover cooked new potatoes
For the coleslaw
a chunk each of white and red hard cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, grated
a handful of sultanas
*I often add other ingredients if I have them in stock, such as shredded fennel, sliced celery, finely sliced spring onions, chopped chives or other fresh herbs, whole grain mustard, chopped walnuts.
All mixed together with just enough mayonnaise (from France) to bring it together, a dash of French mustard and a splash of white wine vinegar, plus salt and pepper.
Not a pickled onion in sight!! But I confess to adding a blob or two of Salad Cream.