After a somewhat long working week, I’m pleased to be entertaining for a few friends this weekend! As much as I love cooking though, I don’t want to spend the entire time in the kitchen, so want an easy dessert that would last the few days. What else but cake?
First visit is this evening from my friend and colleague Steph, and my girlfriend Charlotte- both huge lovers of coffee! I’ve no doubt that Cappuccino Cake will go down very well indeed, and with any luck enough will be left for when Scott and Simon visit tomorrow!
- 125g of Self Raising Flour
- 125g of unsalted butter
- 125g of Caster Sugar
- 2 eggs
- 40 grams of Instant Coffee (Nescafe Gold Blend would be best!)
NOTE: The are ingredients per tier. I expect you to do at least two tiers. One tiered cakes are a pointless waste of space.
For icing two tiers:
- One vanilla pod or a teaspoon of vanilla concentrate
- 500g of Icing Sugar
- 250g of Unsalted Butter
- A handful of Cocoa Powder
The last 10 days have been an absolute blur of work, emotions, food and farewells!
I spent all of last week writing the most detailed handover possible for my replacement at work, and learned somewhere in the middle that almost all my flights had been cancelled so had to rebook them! Somehow, I found the time to do my farewell office cakes- tiny little individual chocolate sponge globes! I would love to say them were simple, but they kept going wrong and eventually took me 3 days to complete!
As I’m leaving for the airport in about an hour, I don’t have time to give you a detailed recipe, but can briefly explain that for the “sea” I used white chocolate with blue food colouring (burnt the first batch, and learned on the second that blue food colouring works as a thickening agent… Did you know that?!) and for the “land” I used store bought roll out icing. I attempted to replicate the areas of the world I’m actually going to! Let me tell you, India is pretty hard to cut out of icing!
The Friday was my work/chums leaving meal! What a great nice! An array of 20 friends and colleagues were able to come out for it and show me a fantasically unforgettable evening! A great success!
Then came the Saturday, which was (so far as I was aware) the “family segment” that my sister had kindly taken the duty of organising. And organise she did! I was overwhelmed by all the surprises I had waiting for me!
I have just finished a week of celebrating my 25th birthday, and am justifiably exhausted!
It all began last weekend with my family. I made a rather cheeky request this year that my father cook a 3 course meal for all the family! This wasn’t just so my mum could have a break so soon after Christmas, but also to give my Dad a chance to do what the rest of us indulge in so frequently… Showing off!
First, there was a simply spectacular starter! The stuffed pepper re-awakened!!!
Cod fillet, chorizo, lemon zest, tomato pesto and toasted pine nuts, all baked to perfection inside a sweet red pepper! My mum actually helped him out in the invention of this beauty… I’d say it’s the third best thing they’ve created as husband and wife!
Successfully (and rapidly) polished off.
This was followed some time later by a devilishly delicious dessert…
A classic of my mother’s- Pear poached in port and spiced with vanilla and cinnamon, served with clotted cream
But what I really want to talk about is the main course. The truly irresistable
Today is my Sister’s 28th Birthday, so last weekend she was home to celebrate with the family. I’ve mentioned a keenness to develop my confidence in baking before now, so while she was out on a birthday shopping trip with my Mum I set to work making her a birthday cake to be proud of!
The Chequered Neapolitan birthday cake consists of 3 sponges- one chocolate, one strawberry and one vanilla. It’s brilliant because it actually looks 1000 times more complicated than it really is, so results in you (the baker) receiving far more praise than you really deserve. I wanted to make this for her, as I have a vague child-hood memory of us seeing two-flavour version of this being made on How To (or was it The Handy Men?) when we were little, and then my Mum baking it after sufficient nagging.
You’ve seen me make the strawberry sponge before, back when I was at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, but this time I developed the recipe ever so slightly by adding a tablespoon of powdered Strawberry Milkshake mix… You know, for extra strawberry oomph!
So. Here’s how it’s all done.
To the untrained eye, the above will appear as nothing more than a set of lazy cupcakes, bashed together through the aid of a “just add an egg” kit, and in the unexplainable theme of One Direction.
But look a little more closely, and you will see something else.
A break-through in my baking habits, notoriously lacking in confidence…
Yes. That icing… Is piped.
And a not too shabby job, if I may be so cheeky to say!
A nice change from my usual “just dump it on” approach.
Perhaps my baking will be just a tad bolder from this day!
This cook just grew a little more.
The Monday just gone was my friend Diana’s birthday. Knowing carrot cake is her favourite, and knowing she was unfortunate enough for her birthday to land on a Monday, I couldn’t resist surprising her with a tasty treat! I’d never made a carrot cake before, and the prospect was a tad daunting, so Sunday morning I set out to find an easy recipe to build from!
I would just like to side step, and take a moment to geek out about a free food app I’ve recently discovered that goes by the name of Yummly! Anyone who enjoys cooking and wants a world of recipes at their finger tips should download it and use it immediately! Simply search for a recipe (you can search by ingredient, country or even be specific like I have been here, or browse through the thousands they have on the home screen) and select. Want to hold onto it for future reference? Add it to your Yum List! Look through the ingredients and add anything you don’t have in the house to your built-in Shopping List. When you get to the supermarket, you have right in your pocket the exact items and measurements you require so there’s no longer the risk of finding yourself short of something halfway through cooking!
Anyway, now I’ve got that out of my system, back to the carrot cake recipe.
I found a super easy to follow recipe via Yummly, that from the looks of it can also be found on the All Recipes UK website. I made a few tweaks, such as thickening the icing, adding a teaspoon of nutmeg, and making the vanilla a little more special, not to mention a few other tricks! So, with no further ado, here’s my Carrot Cake Recipe!
Today was a grand day in the village of Long Buckby- the Annual Buckby Feast! Despite this apparently going on for the last 100 years, I only really became aware of it when the challenge to make the traditional “Feas Pudn” was posted through my door- a challenge I quickly accepted.
The making of the Feas Pudn carries with it a strict set of guidelines. Here’s a copy of the lark that was posted…
BUCKBY FEAS PUDN- HISTORY AND HINTS
No, it’s not a typo! We’ve reverted back to the original name in old Buckby language! Feas Pudn is an old country recipe made by country people with ingredients found in houses or specially bought for the Buckby Feast. People would return home for the celebrations and eat as much pudding as was offered while visiting family and friends!
Here are some helpful hints (and a bit of history) to help you make your Feas Pudn.
- BREAD – was proper bread. Our sliced cotton woolly type didn’t exist, thank goodness, and will NOT get a successful result. Adams white or brown, or any homemade white or brown will be suitable.
- SUET – vegetable or reduced fat did not exist. Please use beef suet (other fats are not suitable).
- DRIED FRUIT – currants, sultanas, raisins (these were called dark sultanas as distinct from light ones). Glace cherries did not exist- DO NOT USE THEM
- CANDIED PEEL – Was homemade- orange and lemon. Ready prepared is quite suitable.
- EGGS – Were not size graded so medium or large can be used. Too large or too small are not a good idea! Hens eggs, duck eggs etc- as you please!
- MILK – Was full fat but using semi-skimmed does not affect the recipe, using skimmed however might!
- MIXED SPICE – Use basic cake spice and/or nutmeg. Please be generous with it as the taste should be noticeable. Many other spices were not available then.
- SUGAR – Can be white or light brown.
- The bread should be torn or rubbed by hand. No one had processors, though coarse graters were sometimes used. It is soaked overnight in milk/water and must look very well wetted!
- The mixture will be very runny and lumpy when all the ingredients are mixed in before baking.
- The Pudn was cooked in eartenware bowls, 2 – 2 1/2 pint size kept especially for the purpose and used only at Feast Times. If you have something like this, use it. Failing this, an oblong Pyrex dish, a lasagne dish, a roasting tin or even a thick 8″ diameter tin would do. Pudding basins are NOT to be used. Whatever the container you use, grease it very well. It can be lined with greaseproof paper as well, as this helps when turning out the pudding.
People took their puddings to be cooked overnight at the bakehouses- the Co-op in Church Street, Palmers in King Street, or Bob Clarke’s in Brington Road. This was done after the bread had been baked and the oven was still hot but embers starting to cool. This was still being done at the end of the 1940s.
Well, needless to say, after that delightful little read, I was ready for action! Step one. Bread…
A cold rainy Sunday plus old black bananas can only mean one thing. Mum’s making Banana Bread! The very Banana Bread that is SO DAMN DELICIOUS, as a child Dinner Ladies would demand I bring extra into school for them.
Unfortunately, I don’t live with my Mum anymore so her Banana Bread is not so accessible for me. This left me with no choice but to badger her for the recipe!
Excellent! Cup measurements rarely work out for me, so here’s my translation: