Archive | January, 2013

All these swims that I’ve swum

24 Jan

Snowy London Fields Lido

The swims of 2012 can be categorised in many ways. The cold ones, the really cold ones, the flippin freezing ones, river, sea, lake, long, short, salty, crystal clear, murky, races, training sessions, wetsuited, swim suited, (sadly no birthday suited), quick dip, marathon, honeymooning, even pre-wedding. But each one can all be filed under the following; fun, revitalising, invigorating and addictive.

hive beach wedding swim

Hive beach, Dorset. Pre-wedding, swim suited, quick dip, salty, freezing.

doom bar swimming padstow

Doom Bar, Padstow. Honeymooning, wetsuited, salty, training, very cold.

Treyarnon Bay

Treyarnon Bay tidal pool. Honeymooning, wetsuited, crystal clear, salty, very cold.

Hampstead Heath Ladies Pond

Hampstead Heath ladies pond. Swim suited, frequent, leisurely, cold.

Ouse Nice Tri Swim

Ouse River, St Neots. Wetsuited, race, murky, be-swanned, lurgy filled. Thanks to Glidergoth for use of the photo.

Lake Bala Tri Swim

Lake Bala. Race, wetsuited, twice in 2 days.

Llangollen Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon, Llangollen. Flippin freezing, wetsuited followed by swimsuited, crystal crystal clear, deep.

tooting bec lido

Tooting Bec Lido. Wetsuited and/or swimsuited, training, Thorpe watching.

Dart 10k swim start

River Dart, Totnes to Dittisham. Very cold, wetsuited, race, marathon, salty, murky, choppy, squelchy.

St Margaret's bay swimming

St Margerets Bay, nr Dover. Swim suited, quick dip, channel aspirational.

Marlow swim

River Thames, nr Marlow. Wetsuited, race, busy.

Thames Hampton Court

River Thames, Hampton Court to Kingston, very very very fast current, wetsuited, race.

Snowman tri swim

Lake Mymbyr, Capel Curig. Race, wetsuited, flippin freezing, busy. Thanks again to Dave Johnson for the photo.

What does 2013 hold? More of the same, I hope!


21 Jan

Paris Brest pastry

Another Birthday, another year older for Mr. Cakes. Better get baking then. He likes cycling, I like cycling, we both like cake. Paris-Brest then, created in 1891 to commemorate the Paris–Brest–Paris bicycle race and is supposed to look like a bicycle wheel.

Spaghetti Vongole and Steamed Pollack

But we can’t *just* eat cake. Well, we can, but we probably shouldn’t so a spot of Spaghetti vongole, and steamed pollock to prepare our tummies for pastry, custardy heaven to follow.

Stages of Paris Brest

This was my first attempt at choux pastry. Actually, it was my second. The first went in the bin as it was too runny, so do be careful adding your eggs when making choux.

Sliced Paris Brest

Paris-Brest Birthday Cake
1 x choux pastry
Egg wash
Flaked almonds, to sprinkle
300g crème patissière
100g praline paste175g softened butter
icing sugar, to dust

Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper, on this pipe your choux pastry into a 20cm circle. Then pipe another circle on the inside of the first, and a third circle on top of the other two. Brush with the egg wash, and sprinkle on the almonds (I used about 50g) Bake at 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6 until golden brown, around 30 minute. When the pastry ring comes out the oven cut in half horizontally to allow the steam out. If it’s still a big doughy, put back in the oven briefly to dry out.

Cream together the butter, praline paste and crème patissière to a smooth, piping consistency. When the pastry has completely cooled, pipe this cream onto the bottom layer of the cake. Place the other half on top and dust with icing sugar. Then scoff!

Snow & Ice Cream

17 Jan


What do you think of when it’s -4 degrees outside, and snowing? No, not cuddling up by the fire with a hot chocolate or a tucking into a hefty, rib sticking stew. Snow and ice outside, ice cream inside, right? And you can administer it directly to the top of your piping hot, apple crumble. Now we’re talking.


Ice cream shouldn’t be as ridiculously easy to make as this. Thanks to Mary Berry and her Lemon Yogurt Ice Cream it’s simple as pie. You DON’T EVEN HAVE TO CHURN IT! Nice one Bezza. For this creamy yet tangy vanilla version, substitute the lemon juice and zest for the seeds of 1 vanilla pod, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Brrrrilliant.


11 Jan

Ottolenghi Clementine Cake

A whole year has gone by, and I still haven’t told you how much I love Ottolenghi, or his recipes I should say. Of course, I love his restaurant in Islington too. Toasters on every table for breakfast, hot! (so, how about a Shoreditch branch…?)

Slice of Ottolenghi Clementine Cake

It’s rare for a week to go by in the Cakes household without an Ottolenghi dinner to feature. How about a Tomato and almond tart? Puff pastry smothered with a savory take on frangipane and ripe tomatoes. It’s like a pizza that has eaten in a few Michelin starred restaurants and has decided to smarten up. Or how about Seafood with fennel and lime? Lime tangy and bursting with herby goodness.

Ottolenghi Tamimi Jerusalem Book

But for the recipe for this moist, syrup soaked, Clementine & Almond syrup cake you’ll have to get yourself a copy Jerusalem, the new book by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Get it, it’s amazing. You won’t regret it, and while you’re in the bookshop get the Ottolenghi back catalogue. You won’t want to eat anything else ever again.

Happy New Pheasant

8 Jan

Gypsy Pot Roast Pheasant

Last year began in a very similar manner, travelling home to Shoreditch from Lincolnshire with a pheasant to cook. This year rings the changes; home grown apples from Grandma Cakes and the pheasant is whole.

Let’s use them both then, this delicious recipe for Gypsy Style Pot Roast Pheasant from the Cottage smallholder is pretty much perfect. I’m sure it counts as a bake, yes?