Category Archives: Cakes

A Cupboard Full of Cake

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Greetings one and all, it’s been very quiet round here lately. First I was ill then we enjoyed a marvellous weekend with family in Edinburgh so life has been busy as ever. Even though I miss it when I cannot blog I am enjoying the ease of sharing snippets of my days on Instagram. It is a great way of trying to order my ideas and stop the obsessive mental stockpiling of things that I want to share on here!

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As I mentioned, I was knocked sideways by a bout of sickness the other week. I am rarely ill and do not make a good patient. Having caught the bug from the Little Man I was once again overcome with respect for the stoicism that my children show when they are poorly.

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For me, there are two things I need when I am under the weather – cake and chocolate. For inspiration I turned to the wonderful Lillian’s Cupboard. So let me take you on a tour of the treats that helped restore me to strength!

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I first made this Swedish Dream Bar for my colleagues a while ago and it proved to be such a hit that it is still commented on now. Therefore I do not understand why it has taken me so long to give it another go. Moist and chewy on top with a crunchy, biscuit base this makes the perfect sweet snack with a cuppa and is easily transportable for picnics.

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It was unfortunate timing that I caught a bug on the weekend that both my hubby and parents were away. When the craving for cake hit and I realised that the fridge was egg free I nearly cried. There was much internal cheering when I looked up one of my favourite of Lillian’s recipes, the Boiled Raisin Cake, and discovered it to be egg free. Oh happy days! (Incidentally the Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake is also egg free and definitely on my to-bake list!). This is a 1940s tea bread and I adore the simple, sweet cinnamon hit it delivers. It is also very popular with the Little Man as he is not a fan of sponge but loves fruit cakes.

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The final treat in this weekend bakeathon was another WWII era Cake, the Orange One Egg Cake. I blogged about this cake a couple years ago here but it was even better this time. I used half juice, half milk and whisked the frosting until it was extra light and fluffy. Delicious!

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And finally, for balance, there has been plenty of non-cake related feasting around here as barbecue season has hit. You know how much I love a picnic so you can imagine how excited I get about this sort of al-fresco dining and the Little Man thinks that they are the best thing ever! Ironically my favourite aspect of barbecues is not the meat but the salads (my husband says that this is sacrilege but hey ho).

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Here we have Mary Berry’s Coleslaw, made with half vinaigrette, half mayonnaise, roasted vegetables with balsalmic vinegar and, my latest obsession, Delia Smith’s Very Red Rice. Made with Carmague red rice, this salad has a lovely nutty texture. I saw it originally on Instagram and the secret I find is to leave it to cool slightly then stir through chunks of good feta cheese and a load of coriander. So good!

I shall leave you with a final, gratuitous snap of my darling Little Lady who joins in with all of this feasting with an (almost) permanent smile on her face!

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Filed under Cakes, Crochet, Food

Recipe Resolution

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Aw, see my Little Man there? So cute and boy does he have personality! Such a cheeky monkey. Does he know that he should not be eating the plant? Yes. Does it stop him scuttling over there the moment he is put down? Oh no. Big smile and a proud giggle – “Look mommy, I got it again!”

Please note that he is also sporting his first ever pair of shoes (proud mommy moment!). As he is increasingly mobile and standing at every opportunity I thought it was about time that he got some big boy footwear. Bless.

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Now I am not a great fan of New Year’s Resolutions but January is naturally a month of reflection. So, after a bit of thought, I resolved that this year I would shake up my weekly menus. Instead of just reading recipes and then cooking the same meals I would actually make some new dishes.

Here are a few I have tried so far:

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Duck Salad from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. I used duck legs, not breast, and served them with my favourite garlic toast but it still worked well and the dressings were delicious! Chinese five-spice is a new jar in my pantry but I loved it.

If you fancy having a go, watch the original programme here or see my synopsis of the recipe below.

Duck (serves 4)
Score the skin of 4 pieces of duck and season with salt, dried thyme and Chinese five-spice. Rub all over with a drizzle of oil.

Place in a large hot frying pan and press down with the lid of a smaller pan. Keep the lid on and cook for 16 – 18 mins (duck breast) and 20 – 25 mins (duck legs) turning regularly.

Before serving, dress with some chilli, mint, honey, juice of 1/2 a lemon and oil. Season to taste.

Salad
Jamie suggets lamb’s lettuce, pomegranate, radishes and carrots peeled into strips.

For the dressing, mix olive oil, balsalmic vinegar and juice of 1/2 a lemon then season to taste. I used orange juice in the salad instead of lemon, which was sweeter.

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It was our turn to host Sunday dinner for the family and we made Spaghetti with Apples as seen on Rufus’s Food Guide. Cheap, different and delicious this recipe is going to become a regular in our household. To keep the crowds happy we served it with pork, apple and thyme meatballs, which were delicious and went well with the sauce.

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The Little Man particularly enjoyed this dish.

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Not being a fan of spaghetti (he does not seem to recognise it as food and unceremoniously dumps it off his tray) his sauce was served with these adorable Farfalline – mini pasta bows.

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Finally, dessert. This was Orange One-Egg Cake from Lillian’s Cupboard.

Lillian’s blog is wonderfully written and full of mouth-watering recipes, beautiful quilting and interesting stories so pop over and have a look here.

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This cake turned out to be light, zesty and very different to an everyday sponge. The frosting was particularly tasty – light, sweet and fluffy.

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As well as making a wonderful dessert, this cake also happens to be an excellent accompaniment to a bit of evening hooky. Perfect!

Hope this inspires you to try something new for dinner this week! πŸ™‚

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Filed under Baby, BLW, Cakes, Recipes

Coffee and Walnut Cake

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I wrote a post yesterday. It was full of pictures, fascinating anecdotes (of course) and a recipe. It had it all. I published it, the little bar moved along until it reached 100 %. All good. Then the post disappeared. There is no trace of it anywhere. Gutted. I have no idea what happened but I have still not got over it.

Today I am going to try again. If it fails, I shall cry.

On a brighter note, this post is coming to you live from the English Riviera. As hubby has a long weekend we packed our bags and cashed in our Tesco tokens before setting out on the long drive to South Devon.

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We broke up our journey with a delicious car picnic of crusty bread, cheese, antipasto, juicy tomatoes and caramelised onion chutney. Yum yum. I was particularly impressed with hubby’s cheese selection: an amazingly creamy Mustard Cheddar and a semi-soft French cheese, Petit Reblochon.

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The Little Man was trying out his new forward facing car seat. As he had been getting somewhat squished in his baby seat he seemed to enjoy the space and the opportunity to look around. It made him much more part of the journey as he was able to look at us and chatter away merrily. So sweet.

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By late afternoon we reached the seaside. Rather wet and windy, I cannot believe how early darkness falls now the clocks have gone back. Dreary as the weather was the view was far from dismal. The photo above is of Babbacombe, which looked so inviting with its twinkling lights and ferris wheel. (Ed. It is actually Torquay in the picture and Babbacombe is round the corner. Ah well!) And you see that wall? Behind that is The Sea! I cannot wait to go and explore tomorrow. On the drive down I also spied a pier in Paignton and I do love a good pier!

Of course, we have been out and about today but I have not planned my recount of those adventures yet. Instead I need to share what I wrote about yesterday because otherwise I shall not sleep!

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So, in other news. Wednesday was an exciting day for our family, not just because it was Halloween! We celebrated both my mom and my aunt’s 60th birthdays yet (yes, they are twins) and also my sister’s birthday. To mark this auspicious occasion we took my mom out to a fancy hotel for dinner – The Fairlawns.

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The meal began with a complimentary amuse-bouche,Β  pumpkin in honour of the season, which added an elegance to the proceedings. Maybe I’m just easily pleased but I feel that any meal gets off to a good start when you are offered teeny-tiny cups of soup to ‘cleanse the palate’. Anyway, the pate (cannot do accents on here) and duck did not fail to impress.

We ended our meal with birthday cake. Coffee and Walnut Cake with Chocolate and Coffee Buttercream and it was delicious, even if I do say so myself!

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The cake was made using Delia Smith’s fail-safe all-in-one method. This recipe makes two 20 cm/8 inch sponges.

In a mixer place:
6 oz/175 g self-raising flour
6 oz/175 g caster sugar
6 oz/175 g softened butter
1 heaped tsp baking powder
3Β eggs
1 tbsp coffee granules dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
Mix until smooth but do not over whisk.
Stir in 2 oz/55 g crushed walnuts.

Split the batter between two lined and greased tins.
Bake for 30 minutes until the sponge is firm.
*Remember* Do not open the oven until the time is up or your sponge may sink.

For the topping, beat 8 oz/225 g icing sugar and 2 tbsp cocoa powder with 4 oz/110 g softened butter and 1 tbsp coffee granules dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water.
Use 1/3 of the mixture to sandwich the sponges together then use the rest to cover the outside of the cake.

Finally, enjoy!

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I really hope this post has not lost too much from being ‘retold’! I shall be back soon to share some highlights from the English Riviera. xxxx

Edited to add the eggs – thank you to a lovely friend for pointing out my omission!

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Filed under Baby, Cakes, Food, Holidays, Recipes, Trips and outings

Scrumptious Pound Cake

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Tom’s parents are coming for the weekend, and since I knew they were coming, I figured I really should bake a cake. I decided on something fairly simple that will keep well –Β  pound cake. If you have a food mixer this cake is really easy to make (its not hard without one, just a bit more tiring as you have to beat the mixture). First, cream a pound of caster sugar (yes, a whole pound) with half a pound of fat (1 part lard and two parts butter works best, but you can adjust this to suit your tastes). Then add a pound of plain flour, sifted, a teaspoon of baking powder, a teaspoon of salt, 4 eggs, beaten, and 6 fl oz of milk. Combine. Spoon into a 9 inch bundt tin and bake at 190c for an hour.
To finish, mix two tablespoons of icing sugar with a teaspoon of almond extract and 4 tablespoons of boiling water. The mixture should be very thin, almost like water. Use a pastry brush to glaze the cake while its still hot. Leave to cool.

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This cake is heavier than normal sponge cake, so it will dry out if you bake it for too long, but it lasts longer too – perfect if you need a cake to feed visitors all weekend!

You can adapt this cake quite easily – add rum or lemon juice to the cake/ icing for different flavours. I’ve never tried chocolate pound cake but I guess just swapping 3oz of plain flour for good quality cocoa would do it. If anyone tries this, get back to us and let us know how it turns out!

Have a good weekend everyone!

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Filed under Cakes, Food, Recipes