Archive | August, 2012

Marlow High

29 Aug

At last, a race that I can tell you about. The Speedo Marlow 3k swim, in the river Thames. After what can only be described as biblical weather on Saturday, Mr Cakes and I woke up to sun – lots of sun on Sunday morning. Hurrah, a race! We said, and off we set with Mr Bone to lovely Marlow for a lovely (long) swim.

Remember what I said about the Hampton Court Swim? That after 7 months of swimming coaching and weekly pond swimming visits to the Kenwood Ladies Pond with Mog (who won the wedding bake off, remember?) paid off. Well, I kind of can. I did swim front crawl the whole way, didn’t freak out when my face went into the dark, murky chilled water. For me, this is a first and an achievement to be celebrated.

The race itself was very well organised, all waves set off on time. As usual, the boys set off without me, but there were lots of lovely ladies to chat to before taking the plunge.

Swimming 3k takes time, especially with a strong current taking you back half a stroke for every one you take, but that just means more time to enjoy the journey (nearly 90 minutes of fun on my case)

So after all that, you must be hungry?Will bread pudding topped with nectarines do you? Okay then!

Nectarine Bread & Butter Pudding

Nectarine Bread & Butter Pudding
Serves 4

Ingredients
200ml whole milk
100ml double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 tbsp caster sugar
75g unsalted butter
8 slices stale tiger bread (Gail’s Pain de Mie is my fave)
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 nectarines, 1 chopped into small chunks & 1 sliced into wedges

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/gas mark 4. Whisk together the milk, cream, vanilla, eggs and caster sugar and set aside. Butter the slices of bread and cut each slice in half.

Layer half the bread into a 2 pint pie dish, overlapping neatly (!) and cover with the chopped nectarine. Pour a little over half of the milky mixture over the bread and nectarines and leave to sit for 20 minutes.

Layer the rest of the bread on top, pour on the rest of the custard and finally top with the wedges of nectarine and sprinkle with the brown sugar. If you have any butter left over dot this on top.

Bake for 35 minutes, leave to cool ever so slightly before tucking in. It’s also pretty good cold. You do forfeit a bit of the usual crunchy topping with the fruit on top, if that’s a deal breaker just put all the nectarine in between the two layers of bread, and sprinkle the brown sugar directly on the top layer of bread. Please feel free to substitute any fruit for the nectarine.

Nectar of the Gods

24 Aug

Nectarine Cupcakes

Nectarines! Another seasonal fruit I just can’t get enough of. After having the genius idea to bake these juicy beauties into a cake, I thought I’d check out Niki Segnit’s Flavour Thesaurus for a prunus persica match made in heaven. But when I got to the peach section (essentially the same as a nectarine, only before shaving), most of the pairings were other fruits. Why would I want to put other fruits with nectarine, I cried? They taste so flippin’ good, all on their own. Let’s make *just* nectarine cakes, then.

nectarine cupcake batter

unbaked nectarine cupcakes

fresh nectarine cupcakes

Nectarine cupcakes

Nectarine Cupcakes
makes 12

Ingredients
For the cakes:
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
200ml sunflower oil
250g nectarines (approx. 2 large fruit), peeled and stoned
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the icing:
100g soft cream cheese
50g unsalted butter, softened
75g icing sugar
1 nectarine, stoned and sliced into 12 pieces.

1x 12 cup muffin pan, lined with muffin cases.

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4

Cut the nectarines in half, puree 3 of the halves and finely chop the last half. Beat the sugar, eggs, oil, and pureed fruit together until combined (I used a magimix, you can do this by hand though.) Then fold in the flour and salt until just combined. Finally stir in the vanilla extract and the finely chopped nectarine flesh.

Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool for ten minutes in the tins before removing to a cooling rack.

Beat the cream cheese, butter, and icing sugar until smooth. When the cakes are completely cooled, top with the icing and a slice of nectarine

little boy cakie

These cakes are perfect for little hands to decorate, and then scoff quickly with a triumphant shout of “Cakie!” And I’m pretty sure they contain one of your five a day.

Cherry Baby

20 Aug

Fresh Cherry Almond Cake

Mr. Cakes senior (Dad of Mr. Cakes) absolutely loves a Cherry & Almond cake. You know the kind I mean – usually in a loaf, studded with bright red waxy glacé cherries. But I must confess, those super sweet, syrupy candied cherries just don’t agree with my delicate palette.

cherry crumble cake

almond cake batter

almond cake with fresh cherries

cherry almond cake crumble topping

Fresh cherries, on the other hand, well – I can’t get enough of them. You have to be quick if you want to get your mitts on British cherries, they’re not in season for very long.

So when your cherry loving pops-in-law pops over for tea, and it’s cherry season I’d highly recommend making Hugh’s Fresh Cherry Cake with Streusel Topping, another Fearnley-Whittingstall masterpiece.

slice of cherry almond cake

L.ove I.t D.ip O.utdoors

16 Aug

Come sun…

sunny london fields lido

…or snow

snowy london fields lido

You can’t beat swimming outdoors. London Fields Lido heats the water to 25 degrees year round, so there’s no excuse to dive right in.

We’re very lucky in London, we have a shoal of outdoor swimming opportunities, and you can even choose between heated, non-heated, pool or pond (although I’ve yet to find a heated pond…imagine that!)

tooting bec lido

Tooting Bec is surely big daddy of the lido scene. 91 metres of uninterrupted, naturally chilled swimming space. A-mazing.

ian thorpe tooting bec lido

Especially when the Thorpedo decides to pop in for a masterclass. Thanks Ian!

kenwood bathing pond

But what could be better than a dip in one of Hampstead Heath’s bathing ponds? Perfect after a log day’s work on a sunny late summer evening, especially when followed by a big slice of cake from one of the many local hostelries.

Here’s a handy guide to all the Lidos in London

Green and Hairy cupcakes

14 Aug

Gooseberry Elderflower Cupcake

The wonderful thing about preserves is, well, that you can preserve your garden goodies for a later date. Gooseberry season is almost over, so get them now while you can – do you really want to wait until next summer before you can eat them again? Once you’ve made a perfect batch of gooseberry jam, you’re one step closer to these beauties – Gooseberry and Elderflower cupcakes. The delicate flavour of elderflower and the tangy sharpness of gooseberries is a match made in heaven. They happen to be in season at the same time, it’s almost like there was a plan…

gooseberry cupcake batter

gooseberry cupcake batter in tin

baked gooseberry cupcakes

iced gooseberry cupcakes

Gooseberry Elderflower Cupcakes
makes 12

Ingredients
For the cupcakes –
125g butter
180g caster sugar
2 large eggs
250g self-raising flour
125ml milk
3 tbsp gooseberry jam
2 tsp elderflower cordial

For the buttercream –
100g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
2 tsp elderflower cordial

Method
1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan and line a muffin pan with muffin cases (this is infinitely better than a bun tray, cupcakes should be BIG)

2. Cream the very soft butter and sugar until smooth, and then beat in the eggs. I did all this by hand, but feel free to use an electric whisk or food processor.

3. Mix in half the flour until fully combined, then half the milk. Repeat.

4. Mix the gooseberry jam and the elderflower cordial together and then fold through the sponge mixture. Don’t mix in completely – you want to be able to see the jam streaking through the sponge.

5. Divide between the cake cases and bake for 25 mins

6. To make the buttercream, beat the butter and icing sugar together. Once combined mix in the cordial. When the cupcakes have completely cooled ice with the buttercream and add decoration of your choice.

Gooseberry Elderflower Cupcakes

Blueberry Short Stack

9 Aug

Blueberry Short Stack pancakes

What do you do when you have left-over ricotta cheese in the fridge? Think about what baking you can do with it, naturally. I didn’t have enough for a lovely lemon ricotta cake, or the time for these marvellous ricotta muffins. Help!

pancake batter and blueberries

pancakes in the pan

So, how about a short stack of ricotta and blueberry pancakes? Yes please! Perfect for breakfast, or pudding, or a late afternoon post-cycling snack. Or whenever really. Yum!

Blueberry ricotta pancakes

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes
makes 6 cakes

Ingredients
2 eggs
150g ricotta
100ml milk
125g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
100g blueberries
butter

Method
1. Separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs. Mix the yolks with the ricotta and the milk well.

2. Sieve the flour and add to the ricotta mix along with the baking powder and salt.

3. Whisk the egg whites until they have soft peaks. Fold the whites in with the rest of your pancake mix.

4. Heat a frying pan until hot, and brush sparsely with butter. Spoon around 2-3 tablespoons of batter into the pan per pancakes. Sprinkle as many or as few blueberries on top of your pancake as you like and push into the batter

5. Cook on each side until golden brown, around 1-2 minutes per side. You’ll know when the first side is done when the “raw” side shows bubbles.

6. Serve with more blueberries, syrup, honey, sugar, fruit salad, bacon, anything else, or any combination of the above! Or, eat as they are. They’re pretty good.

East End Olympic Triathlon

6 Aug

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Swim

20120805-140557.jpg

Bike

20120805-235217.jpg

Run

20120805-140636.jpg

Pie and Mash.

Shoreditch Bikes

2 Aug

Lord Hereford's Knob

Finally – some good weather. Good news for our annual 2 day ride. Last year – the Coast to Coast from St. Bees to Whitby. This year? Traversing the English/Welsh border south to north. The moral of the story here folks, is if you want good weather for your event, invite Mr & Mrs Cakes.

chocolate stop

Day 1 was 103 miles from Newport to Shrewsbury, including a nice sit down at the top of Lord Hereford’s Knob! Day 2 was our equivalent of a “rest day” – just 72 miles of relatively flat terrain to the Wirral.

Finish line beers

Can you believe – a stop in Abergavenny for coffee, Kington for lunch, Shrewsbury overnight, Ellesmere for brunch on day 2, and we didn’t eat a single slice of cake! Not one cupcake, nor a whoopie, not even a slither of carrot cake.

Shoreditch beers

But we made up for it with plenty of beers! You have to celebrate you’re achievements…don’t you?