Lovely, amazing, gooey chocolate bundt cake

choc bundt cakeI think that this is my all time favourite cake to eat. It’s heavy and dense and squidgy, but slightly tart from the sourcream and with really great quality chocolate ganache poured on top it is perfect. It’s straight from the lovely Delicious Magazine and here is the link to their recipe – the only thing I’ve changed is to have slightly more heavy cream in the ganache as I like it slightly runnier for this icing and to add some white chocolate detail on the top. yum!

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Pittas and The Bake Off

I was full camp Kim-Joy. I loved her Tatty Devine style jewelry and her beautiful presentation, I also loved how real and unaffected she seemed. I was gutted for her when I saw the technical then she totally smashed it! I was inspired by her new zen  like attitude. I did think it was a bit of a crazy challenge though – and the showstoppers? What happened to the wedding cakes of yesterbake? Since when is babaganoush baking? Anyhoo, pittas are bloody delicious, but i think I’ll stick to making them in the oven. They’re easy and really tasty, my favourite recipe is from Honey and Co which is also in my top 5 restaurants anywhere in the whole wide world, I’m off to make them now – this photo is from my last batch!

Sticky Scandi buns

I found these quite tricky to make at first! I tried loads of different recipes, and I think I was just a little bit too impatient – I wanted that sticky bun! As always when I’m struggling I turn to the amazing Felicity Cloake and her column ‘How to make the perfect’ in the Guardian, lo and behold she saved me again the cardamom in her recipe is beautiful and I just love these buns!

Before:

raw scandi

After:

cooked scandiI added some dried fruit to her recipe, and the very top pic is a different batch when I made them separately as my cake tin was already in use! They seem to cook better as a whole though, so I’d absolutely recommend sticking with her recipe – they also work well with some rose flavouring.

Magical castle cake

castle cake

This cake was for a friend’s birthday party and was a lot of fun (and a 3am finish thank you thank you thank you to my talented artist husband who can make my stacks of cakes look like a castle) Its a lemon drizzle cake top with a chocolate fudge cake bottom and its covered in royal icing (which I bought – cheat) its got a chocolate finger drawbridge, rose macaron stacks and the towers are icecream cones dipped in chocolate and chopped pistachios. I hadn’t considered its weight and boy was it hard to carry through Bath city centre!

Macarons – yes, they are that difficult.

Blueberry macarons:       macaron

I’m having a macaron crisis. I’ve made literally THOUSANDS of the beasts in the past and I’ve recently lost my touch. The same thing happened when we worked a season in the french alps, sixty hour weeks, joyful cooking and snowboarding with my then boyfriend (now husband) then one day I just forgot how to do it and had to slide down the slope on my bum. It took me two weeks to stop trying to remember and just start snowboarding again, so this is my plan for macarons too. I’ll stop trying so hard and hopefully I’ll minimise my crying in the snow time. So, although I feel a little fraudulent I’m going to share my previously ‘never fail’ recipe below, see how you get on!

3 x egg whites

pinch of salt

3 tbsp  caster sugar

100g ground almonds

200g icing sugar

touch of food dye – powders or pastes only, no liquid please!

Whisk the egg whites until frothy and slowly add the caster sugar, beat until stiff peaks but no further. Sieve the almonds and icing sugar together and slowly fold into the egg whites with the food dye – this stage is called the macronage and is the tricky bit. If you under mix here the macs are too dry and stiff, if you over mix they will pool into liquid and have no form. The ideal consistency is thick lava – you wouldn’t believe the amount of youtube videos I’ve watched on molten rock. Carefully put into a piping bag and pipe well spaced circles the size of 10p pieces onto your baking sheets (use baking paper here and a bit of the mixture to stick the paper to the trays, if you don’t do this and the fan in your oven blows your paper and ruins your macs you will scream and maybe lose your mind, it happens) then place these sheets somewhere dry for about an hour – until you can touch the top of the mac and its not tacky. Preheat your oven to 135c and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Leave to cool on the baking trays then carefully peel off and fill with whatever flavour you enjoy! The fillings are a whole new exciting area, fruit buttercream or chocolate ganache and allow for lots of stress free experimentation! Just remember not to make the filling too wet – macs are hygroscopic which means they are just dying to suck up any available moisture and go soggy – so keep them in an airtight container.

macarons

 

Tahini cookies, meringue sponges, stress addiction and writing like I’m in SATC

cookies

I’ve always thought of myself as not being very sociable, my favourite ways to spend an evening being reading or watching Buffy with a glass of wine. However, over the last two weeks of maternity leave I’ve realised that this is because I’ve always worked in a customer facing job (even when cheffing the kitchens have been open or there’s been lots of customer interaction) so by the end of another 50 hour week I’ve just wanted to curl up on my own and recharge. Now however I’m not seeing all those people. I’m not constantly busy and stressed and it’s…..weird. Maybe I’m addicted to cortisol – is that a thing? I’m no scientist, but is adrenaline a drug like everything else? Hmmm. That can’t be healthy, surely? Well, neither are these cakes (nice link Marilyn, hey thanks) but they *are delicious*

The cake in the background is an orange and almond cake, topped with meringue – very easy, gluten free & eye catching:

preheat oven to 170c and line a 23 cm tin

mix all in one: zest 2 oranges (save the juice), 250g butter, 250g sugar, 4 eggs, 300g almonds.Pour batter into tin and bake in the oven for approx 40 mins. After about 30 minutes whisk 2 x egg whites until soft peaks then add 120g icing sugar and whisk until the mixture stands up in peaks. Remove the cake from the oven, pour the juice over, turn the oven up to 200c, top with the meringue mix and pop back in until browned – about 8 minutes.

The tahini cookies are from the AMAZING Honey and Co cookbook, which because I love so much I have lent to a friend who was in need of some good reading! I will copy it here as soon as I get it back.

Easy breakfasts for guests

Herby fritatta with literally anything you have in the fridge:

herb frit

This is the perfect breakfast/brunch for when your house is choc full of people after a Saturday night. Its naturally gluten free and veggie, and you can easily cook bacon/sausages on the side for any meat freaks. It looks like you’ve gone to more effort than you have as well, which I enjoy! You’ll need 12 x eggs and about a 24 cm tin (this could be round or square or rectangular) The above fritatta was made with some asparagus and spinach, some sauteed onions and potatoes I had left over from the night before, some coriander and a handful of tomatoes. It’s topped with cheddar. The only thing to remember is that the eggs will cook but nothing else will really, so don’t use anything raw that needs to be cooked – like potatoes or asparagus, make sure they’re cooked first. Ideally you’re using whatever is hanging around in the fridge for this and not cooking anything specially – you can pretty much use whatever potato dish you might’ve made the night before as a base. If you do need to cook something separately just defrost some peas with boiling water and throw those in as a base

Line the tin with baking paper & set oven to 180c

Base ideas: left over mash/dauphinoise/boiled pots/ sweet pots/ squash/ peas/ cooked beetroot

Add any vegetable you have – I had some tomatoes, kale and asparagus

Top with cheese – I am yet to find a cheese that doesn’t work well here! From cream cheese to parmesan to blue, melted cheese is the best

Lightly whisk 12 x eggs with a splash of milk, mix in any herbs or greenery you like and pour over base. Cook until golden and anywhere from runny in the middle to set depending on your taste and your eggs! I’m a bit weird about eggs at the mo so I give mine about 30-40 mins to cook thoroughly, by which time everyone will smell the cheese and emerge into the kitchen and you’ll get that lovely ‘yes I am just like Nigella’ moment as you take something delicious out the oven (to be fair I’ve asked around and its only ever me thinking this, but hey, thats good enough)