Sunday, 30 January 2011
Saturday, 29 January 2011
Thursday, 27 January 2011
Saturday, 22 January 2011
I was slightly worried that the relatively small amount of baking powder in the recipe wouldn't give the cake enough lift, but I'm glad I trusted Nigel's judgement on this one, because it was fine. I think the wholemeal flour added to the flavour and moist texture of the cake too, and complemented the other fruity flavours. Although the top looks quite dark, it really didn't taste overdone at all, it was just right. The only change I made to the recipe was to omit the orange zest, simply because I didn't have an unwaxed orange to hand.
You can see just how deliciously moist this cake was - chunks of soft apple, strands of contrastingly bitter orange marmalade peel and juicy raisins all set against a delicately spiced soft moist crumb. The finishing touch was the crunchy sugar on the top - it was such a good textural contrast to the rest of the cake that I wished there had been more. This isn't a rich fruit cake in the sense of wedding cakes or Christmas cakes, but it's certainly one of the nicest fruit cakes I've eaten for a long time. I will definitely be making this again.
The final picture here is from last years cake - the crumb is a much lighter colour because I used white self raising flour rather than plain wholemeal flour plus baking powder, but much the same delicious moist texture. I can also see from other photos that I forgot to sprinkle last years cake with demerara sugar, which is a pity because that added a lot to the pleasure of eating this cake.
Friday, 21 January 2011
The eagle eyed amongst you will spot that a few of the chocs made it into me rather than onto the cake, leaving three spaces. I filled these with Galaxy minstrels. My colleagues absolutely loved this cake - I received so many compliments about it, and yet the decoration was so easy to do. I must try making more of an effort with decorations in the future because they really do seem to be appreciated! And as you can see T, I did leave the foil wrappers on those chocolates, otherwise how can you find them on the little menu card?
Thursday, 20 January 2011
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Again in the frugal vein I was using up some low fat creme fraiche that was hanging around the fridge (leftovers from the banana cake recipe) and also wanted to see how the combination of creme fraiche, a relatively lower egg content and wholemeal flour would work in combination.
Fig and chocolate cake
120g butter, softened
120g caster sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
120g self raising wholemeal flour
100g low fat creme fraiche (I used Yeo Valley, which doesn't have any added stabilisers or other ingredients)
50g dried figs, chopped small (about 4 dried figs)
40g 70% dark chocolate, chopped small
- Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Grease and base line a shallow 8"/20cm round cake tin.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, flour, cocoa powder and creme fraiche and beat again until well mixed.
- Fold through the figs and chocolate and dollop into the cake tin, spreading the mixture out.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until springy and a cake tester comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack, then cut and eat.
You could also add a chocolate frosting or glaze of some sort, but I was too lazy, sorry, frugal to do this!
Sunday, 16 January 2011
I like to think of this kind of cake as 'everyday cake'. It's the kind of cake that is fabulous to have in the cake tin for when your kids come home from school starving hungry and wanting a sweet treat - but you want to feel that they aren't eating rubbish. Or the kind of cake that will stave off the biscuit cravings - perfect with a cup of tea, but whereas a small slice of cake seems to be sufficient and even a treat, two biscuits just won't hit the spot - it needs to be a small pile (or half the packet....). This way you can feel virtuous - you're getting some of your five a day (OK, there are better ways to do it, but humour me) and it's full of wholegrains too.
So to the recipe...
Crunchy Banana Spice Cake
100g butter, softened
120g light muscovado sugar
120g wholemeal self raising flour
1 medium size ripe banana
1 tsp mixed spice
85g low fat creme fraiche (I used Yeo Valley brand which doesn't have any added stabilisers or other ingredients)
Sugar for dredging - see above!
- Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Grease and base line an 8" round cake tin.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the banana, broken into chunks, and beat again until well amalgamated.
- Add the egg, flour, spice and creme fraiche and beat until well combined.
- Spoon into the prepared tin, level the surface and dredge with the grain sugar.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until the cake is springy and a cake tester comes out clean.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Cut into generous wedges and enjoy!
I would definitely make this again but next time, I'd double the recipe and make two cakes so that it was a layer cake, perhaps with a buttercream filling, to make a more spectacular looking cake. Popular with colleagues, this one went quickly in spite of its relatively frugal appearance. It was light but still moist and I think that the combination of wholemeal flour and muscovado sugar gave it a depth of flavour that I don't usually get. The spice was fairly subtle, as was the banana flavour. No one flavour dominated, and it was a lovely, balanced cake.
Saturday, 15 January 2011
The fabulous Sarah of Maison Cupcake announced on the 8th December that she was going to start hosting a blog event to encourage us all to explore Nigella's vast repertoire of recipes. What a fantastic idea! I have (as I'm sure many of you have) many of Nigella's books but don't cook from them nearly often enough. I think my most used one is 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' but this is probably because I've had it the longest. I really must flick through my other Nigella books and mark some of the recipes I want to try - I'm absolutely sure there are loads of them!
The first theme is 'Seasonal Sensations' giving us a wide choice of what to make. As usual I'm posting just before the deadline (last minute lifestyle!) but when I made my entry for the event there couldn't really have been anything more seasonal..... fresh cranberries! They're only around for a short while in the UK, appearing just before Christmas and being gone from the supermarkets just before Christmas. Although I was out and about today and spotted them in a couple of smaller greengrocers near me, so they are still available should you have a yen to make this jam now! The other great thing about cranberries is that they freeze very successfully so you can buy the berries now, and then store them for when you've got more time to make jam.
Googling for the recipe showed me that although not readily available in an official format (hence no link!) many, many bloggers have made this as an edible Christmas gift. Not me, I'm keeping all of mine greedily for myself - I think Nigella would approve!
I've made this recipe before, and the original is from Nigella's 'Feast', naturally in the Christmas section of the book. It must be the easiest jam ever to make - equal quantities of cranberries and sugar with a little water. I decided to add my own twist by grating the zest of an orange in with the cranberries. There is never any problems with a set here because cranberries are high in pectin.
The resulting jam is not too sweet at all - the sharpness of the fresh cranberries comes through quite clearly, and my addition of orange adds just a subtle citrus twist as a background note. It's perfect on hot toast dripping with butter....
Next time I think I might try making it as a more traditional jam - stewing the cranberries in a little more water before adding the sugar and bringing to a rolling boil for the set. I think this might break the cranberries up a little more - this is a chunky jam. Nigella's way is perfect, but I can't resist tinkering! Thanks to Sarah for organising this fabulous event, I can't wait to see what the theme for next month is.
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
I think this bread may cause differences of opinion. I thought it was really, really delicious. J didn't really like it though - the addition of potato to bread was just too odd for her, and she isn't the world's greatest fan of olives anyway. I hadn't had a bread containing chunks of potato before but I thought it worked really well - the contrast of textures was really nice. The potato was really soft and smooth. The actual dough was great too - it had a really good chewy texture. This was quite a dense, substantial bread, but that made it perfect for lunchtime, with a good chutney on the side and a good chunk of well flavoured cheese. I think the next time I make it I'll reduce the amount of potato slightly, and increase the olives, because I didn't quite get enough olive flavour for my liking.
Sunday, 9 January 2011
I guess you could reduce the syrup further and make more of a coating consistency with it, but I just wanted a light syrup. These were lovely, I'm not sure what it is about the texture of cooked pear, but I really love it, and I'll do this again - perhaps the spice sachets could be used to flavour an apple sauce.... I still have three to use!
Tuesday, 4 January 2011
I didn't fancy the frosting/icing recipe that was given in the recipe though, and reverted to one I've used before a couple of times, which worked really well with the cake - definitely recommended!
Sunday, 2 January 2011
The bread is nothing at all like Dan's Semolina BBQ buns, but is just as delicious. The overnight poolish definitely adds a good tang and flavour. The crust is nice and thin and well flavoured with a close grained crumb making it really excellent for sandwiches. A really good loaf to start with (and I haven't even received the book yet!) so thank you to Joanna for recommending it and I'll look forward to looking at all the other breads the Mellow Bakers have made and deciding what to go for next!
Saturday, 1 January 2011
April was clearly a good month though (I'm sure T would agree with that - this was his birthday cake!) and I had fun playing with biscuit cutters to make and decorate some yummy custard cream biscuits after J made them from a friend's recipe.
This cranberry oat loaf recipe, from the ever-reliable and inventive Dan Lepard earns its place in this round up not only for its delicious taste and twist on a traditional raisin loaf, but because I've made it so often this year - with cranberries, raisins, plain and it has been a staple breakfast loaf in this house. Delicious, thanks Dan.
Next up is another bread recipe - these lovely owl rolls, inspired by two of my favourite bloggers, Joanna over at Zeb Bakes, and Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial - you both inspire me constantly. These little babies were delicious and great fun to make - hopefully 2011 will contain many more adventurous and different bread recipes.
As summer started I was inspired by all of the delicious berries available in the shops to make lots of fresh berry cakes. These went down well at work, but this banana blueberry cake was one of my favourites for it's delicious melting soft texture and beautiful blueberry flavour.