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Slate and Soya

23 May


First triathlon of the year for the boys, first spectator event for me. It was the Snowdonia Slateman in and around Llanberis last weekend. A quick dip in the icy Llyn Padarn, an undulating cycle round and about, followed by a sunny sprint up and down the local slate quarry. It did look fun, but I had to settle for ringing my chain reaction cycles cow-bell for all I was worth to cheer on the athletes. Well done one and all!


Seeing as I was in a support role I provided baked goods for the weekend, a pear & chocolate upside down pudding to fortify the troops the evening before, and the delectable Dan Lepard’s soya and linseed loaf for breakfast. Mr Bakes and I have been big fan of Vogel’s soya and linseed bread for many a moon, until we discovered we could make our own, with Dan’s recipe. Seriously, if you like Vogel, you’ll love this. Try it!

Getting in a flap

19 Jul

rhubarb almond flapjack

What do you do when you have a vegan colleague visiting your office for the day? Subject them to the latest venture in your quest to find that perfect energy bar, of course! It’s been a while since I tried making a cycling jersey pocket friendly snack, but this weekend me, Mr Cakes, bro-in-law (he of Dave Johnson’s Photography), and a couple of other chums will be cycling around 200 miles along the English-Welsh border. We need snacks to sustain us.

rhubarb almond flapjack squares

So, a test. Flapjack; tasty, consistancy holds together but isn’t rock hard, and suitable to feed to your vegan colleague. No pressure. Oh, and what about that rhubarb that you have in the fridge to use up? Okay then.

These fellas aren’t half bad. They’re just the right amount of gooey and chewy, not hard, not crumbly, and they taste good. Quite tangy with the rhubarb and just the right amount of sweetness.

A classy pocket contender indeed.

rhubarb almond flapjack square

Rhubarb and Almond Flapjacks (vegan)
Makes 9 squares

125g porridge oats
100g stewed rhubarb
25g flaked almonds
75g coconut oil
100g soft brown sugar
50g agave syrup

1. Mix together the rhubarb, almonds and oats and leave to stand while you grease a 20cm square cake tin with a little coconut oil. Line with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 180C

2. Melt together the coconut oil, sugar and golden syrup gently in a pan. You want the sugar to just melt, but not boil. Mix together with the oat mixture.

3. Spread the mixture into the cake tin and level with the back of your spoon.

5. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in the tin for 10 minutes before marking into squares using a sharp knife – do this while the flapjacks are still in the tin. Allow to cool completely and set. Then cut and eat!

Rain stops play, but not the awards

16 Jul

I was hoping to tell you all about my swim in the Thames from Hampton Court to Kingston today. I was going to tell you how, 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. I was hoping to recount race perfection, an easy 200 metre warm up before a good (for me) paced race for the rest of the 2.25 mile swim. I would have told you how I didn’t panic in the open water and swam front crawl the whole way. But I can’t, because the Hampton Court Swim I was due to take part in on Sunday was cancelled. Bah humbug!

Thank heavens, then, for not one but two “One Lovely Blog” nominations that came my way last week.

One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog Award

The first was from Amy at Snazzy Biscuits, and the second from Ester at Pies & Cookies. Thanks ladies, you rock!

With nomination comes great responsiblity, here’s what I happens next…

  • Link back to the blogger who nominated you – yup
  • Paste the award image on your blog, anywhere. – mmm hmm, in triplicate
  • Tell us 7 facts about yourself.
    1. I was christened on Christmas Day.
    2. I can play 3 musical instruments “officially”, and many more unofficially.
    3. I have the old Channel 4 Tour de France theme tune as my phone ring tone.
    4. My surname isn’t really Cakes…
    5. I don’t really like chocolate cake.
    6. I’m a pedant, or I would be if I were clever enough.
    7. I can swim 100 metres in 1m50s
  • Nominate 15 other blogs you like for this award.
    1. Dave Johnson’s Photography– Dave is my brother-in-law, cyclist, and photographer. His photography blog is a bit of alright! (and he did the wedding photos for me & Mr.Cakes)
    2. Carla Kirste – Carla is an amazing seamstress, and she made my wedding dress!
    3. Wild Woman Swimming – One woman’s wild swimming adventures in the west country, I wish I was there!
    4. Rhubarb & Rose – the source of my cake pop fascination.
    5. 10k Marathon Swim – if you like open water swimming, read this. Inspiration.
    6. Planet Byde – Rosemary’s amazing tales of adventure racing, more inspiration.
    7. Skinny Freezer Meals – some yummy eats right here.
    8. San Diego Fitness Diva – Asia is on a journey to completing her first Ironman triathlon – go girl! Even more inspiration.
    9. Avocado and Basil– hummus and black cherry jam in a sandwich? If anyone is going to convince me, it’s this blog…
    10. The Bubbly Baker – adventures in baking? Yes please!
    11. The Thankful Heart – more delightful cooking. Thank you.
    12. 400 days til 40 – one blogger’s quest to figure out life by age 40.
    13. London Review of Breakfasts – the most important meal of the day? Too right.
    14. All Seasons Cyclist – helpful advice to keep you cycling all year. Much needed in this biblical summer weather.
    15. Pitfield London – cakes, eats, gorgeous homewares. And all on my doorstep. I die!
  • Post a comment on each of your nominees’ blogs telling them about the nomination. – consider it done!

Well done nominees. If you fancy taking part, please do. If not, no worries.

And now, back to business. Swimming. Oh what could have been! If only it were still May, sunny, and Mr Cakes and I were back in Padstow swimming in the Doom Bar (and later downing pints of it…) And this weekend’s bread – a Sour Cream sandwich loaf, Dan Lepard style.

doom bar swimming padstow

Dan Lepard Sour cream Bread

Green and Hairy Jam

12 Jul

Gooseberry Jam in Kilner Jar

When I was little I had a paperback called The Green and Hairy Joke Book, full of jokes exclusively about gooseberries. My favourite? What’s green and hairy on the inside and white and squishy on the outside? An inside out gooseberry. Ha-ha!

Gooseberry jam is so easy to do, it virtually makes itself. This is no joke, it’s because the gooseberries are naturally high in pectin which is the natural gelling agent essential for a succesful jam.

fresh goosberries

boiling gooseberries

gooseberry jam

Rude health loaf with gooseberry jam

Gooseberry Jam Recipe

300g topped & tailed gooseberries
300g granulated sugar
50ml water

Place the gooseberries and water into a saucepan and simmer on a low heat for about 15 mins until the fruit is tender. Add the sugar and continue to cook slowly for a further 15 mins until all the sugar has dissolved. Then turn up the heat to high and rapidly boil the sugar and fruit for about another 10 minutes, maybe less. At this point, test if your jam has set (although its gooseberry, it will have set, I promise you!)

To test for a setting point have a chilled plate ready. Spoon a little jam onto the chilled plate, push the jam with a spoon or finger and if the skin wrinkles then its set. If not boil for a further 5 minutes.

Leave to sit for 10 minutes, then decant into sterilised jam jars. This quantity makes 1x 450g/1lb jar and can easily be scaled to the amount of fruit you have. Use equal quantities of fruit & sugar, with 10ml water per 60g fruit. Spread liberally on, say, your home-made Rude Health loaf and scoff quickly.

Rude awakening

9 Jul

Rude Health Morning Glory Bread

Porridge is my favourite breakfast, I could eat it every day – even in the height of summer (especially this november-esque summer we’re having right now.) At the weekend I feel obliged to have something else – a bacon sandwich perhaps, or a couple of poached eggs on toast. Tasty breakfast fodder, but just not porridge.

rude health morning glory

rude health morning glory

On most Sundays during the summer Mr Cakes and I have some kind of sporting pursuit planned – a training cycle ride, a triathlon, or the Hampton Court Swim we have planned for Sunday this week. The best thing about these weekend physical jerks? We get to eat porridge for breakfast!

Rude loaf before baking

The king of porridge is Rude Health’s Morning Glory Porridge, a blend of 5 grains and 5 seeds. It’s good for you, and deeelicious. I love it, so much so that I decided to bake it into a bread, so that even on the bacon sarnie/poached egg days I could still get my oats.

Rude loaf after baking

Rude Awakening Loaf

75g Rude Health morning glory porridge, plus extra for sprinkling on top
450g strong white flour
100g strong wholemeal flour
1½ tsp salt
1½ tsp brown sugar
1½ tsp instant dry yeast
50g unsalted butter, melted
Oil, for kneading
Milk, for brushing

Mix the oats with 375ml boiling water. Let it sit for 15 minutes, until the mixture has cooled slightly (but still warm) and looks like porridge. Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in another bowl, then add the porridge mix and the melted butter and mix well. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.

Then use Dan Lepard’s tried and tested 10 second kneading technique – oil your hands and work surface, knead the dough on it for 10 seconds, cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Repeat this twice at 10 minute intervals. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea-towel and leave for 30 minutes. Flatten the dough into a rectangle, roll up and tuck the ends underneath the loaf shaping into a bloomer. Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Cover and leave for 90 minutes until risen by half.

Preheat the oven t0 220C. Brush the top of your loaf with milk and then sprinkle on some more Rude Health morning glory porridge. Cut some slashes on top of your loaf. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200C and bake for a further 20 minutes. The loaf will sound hollow when you tap the bottom when it’s done

Eat with bacon, eggs, or maybe some home-made gooseberry jam (recipe to follow soon). Oatally brilliant!

Rude health loaf

Rude health loaf with gooseberry jam

Roobarb and Strawbs

6 Feb

rhubarb and strawberry jam

She’s been at it again, that sister o’mine. Preserving I mean – this time Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam, c/o Jam, Jelly & Relish by Ghillie James.  I can tell it’s going to be a fantastic combination, strawberry-rhubarb pie is all the rage over the pond so why not here?  One day soon I’m going to force myself to try this one by baking goddess Smitten Kitchen. And did you know, if you add a couple of tablespoons of strawberry jam to your rhubarb tart, it’ll taste like pineapple? (according to the Flavour Thesaurus)  You could just make a pineapple tart, but where is the fun in that?

How do you do this rhubarb and strawberry jam then?

Strawberries for jam

Chop up your strawbs

Rhubarb for jam

and your rhubarb, and guess what next?

strawberry rhubarb mascerate

MASCERATE!!!!! (we learnt this word last week in the marmalade session)

strawberry rhubarb jam boiling

boil boil boil….

test for jam setting point

Chill a plate, put some jam on it, test for setting point by seeing if it will wrinkle when you squish it. And look at the zebra! Nice plate sis. Then put into you sterilised jars, or straight on your freshly baked scones like Louise did. Nom nom nom. Can’t wait to try some myself.

Lady Marmalade

1 Feb

Oranges and Lemons

I’m not the only one in the Cakes dynasty with a gift for the sweet stuff. My big sis, Louise Cakes is a dab hand in the kitchen too. Believe me, you should taste her Pavlova – to die for! So, imagine my delight when she was totally and utterly up for making a me 1, or 2, or 80 jars of preserves.

Yesterday, the marmalade making began. It all started with a text…

“Just about to start macerating the oranges to make Seville marmalade 2moro, never done it before so wish me luck!” Errrr mascer-what-ing now? Goodness me. “Good luck!” I replied, after asking what on earth mascerating means.  If you really must know, it means softening or breaking into pieces using a liquid. So now you know!

So yesterday, the mascerating began, and looked like this…


This is step one – squeeze out all the juice from your oranges, then chop up the peel. Use a food processor if you’re clever like big sis! Soak the peel & juice together with some water overnight.


The following morning you should wake up to a bowl full of mascerated goodness! Boil this lot up for a couple of hours til the peel is tender, then add loads and loads and loads of sugar, and a wee bit of lemon juice

sugar and lemon

Stir until your sugar dissolves and then boil rapidly until your marmalade reaches the holy grail – setting point.

boiling marmalade

To check put some marmalade on a chilled plate and squish it with your finger. If it wrinkles, it’s ready. Beware though…molten hot sugar and fingies don’t alway like one another….

setting point

When it’s ready, pour into sterilised jars….

marmalade jars

And put a lid on quick sharpish!

finished marmalade

Et voila! Perfect Seville orange marmalade. It’s been given the seal of approval by Big Bro in Law, and fellow blogger Dave of Dave Johnson’s Photography, so it must be good.

By now you must have noticed that I have a bit of a soft spot for Hugh Fearnley-Whttingstall (actually I prefer his 3 hungry boys at the moment, but that’s between me and you…) Here’s his version of Seville orange marmalade. It’s Seville orange season, so get out there and get some and get making some marmalade. Yum! Thanks sis.

A muffin for a new mum

8 Jan

Yesterday was very exciting. For a start I got hang out with an old chum of mine and meet her baby (so so so so cute!)  We took bubba to Pizza East to hang out with the other Shoreditch babies (we met a very cute 4 month old in the most amazing snow-suit, I sometimes with they made baby clothes for grown ups…)

Secondly, it was a day of double baking – muffins for breakfast and a steak & stilton pie for tea. The muffins were whipped up last-minute when I realised I had nothing to offer my guests, how rude! An hour before their arrival I scouted round the cupboards to see what they might offer. I knew I had the holy trinity of butter, sugar and flour so the rest was easy!

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

inspired by Nigella Lawson’s Blueberry Muffins recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess

Tea and Apple Cinnamon Muffin

and before you say anything, yes I know that’s a teapot with a coffee cup.

75g unsalted butter
150g plain flour
50g plain wholemeal flour
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp bicarb of soda
2 tsp baking powder
75g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
100g greek yoghurt
100ml semi-skinned milk
1 large egg
200g chopped apple
12-bun muffin tray lined with 12 paper cases

Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.

Melt the butter and set aside to cool, you’re going to mix it with the egg, milk & yoghurt later and you don’t want end up with scrambled eggs!

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and in a measuring jug beat together the yoghurt, milk, egg and melted butter (once it has cooled)

Gently combine the wet stuff with the dry stuff. Try not to mix too much! Fold in the chopped apple, again keeping mixing to a minimum.

Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes, by which time the muffins should be risen, golden and firm on top. You could sprinkle some Demerara sugar on top before baking to create a crunchy top. I didn’t do this, but I reckon I will next time. Perfect for breakfast, or elevenses for new mums.

Apple Cinnamon Muffin

They’re also pretty good when you’re knackered and hungry after your sunday morning swimming lesson! Mr Cakes and I started lessons today with Red Top Swim at London Fields Lido. Quite possibly the best place to swim in London.

Now, time to plan our triathlon training plan for the year. Enough to make you work up an appetite….

Double bake day

7 Jan

First, for breakfast – Apple Cinnamon Muffins


Adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe

Then, for dinner – A Pieminister moo & blue pie


I’ll post the muffin recipe tomorrow. If you want the steak & blue cheese pie recipe you’ll have to buy A Pie for All Seasons, their cookbook.