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Bready, steady, go

31 May

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I think I may have mentioned the Hoxton Bakery before. They do fan-ruddy-tastic Brownies. They also do bread pudding. It’s pretty fine too. Dense, squidgy, rich, packed full of dried fruit & candied peel, tooth-achingly sweet (this is a good thing people), and eco friendly (because its recycling yesterday’s leftover bread, yeah?)

Bread pudding is not to be confused with bread & butter pudding. It’s more of a tray-bakey-cakey type of thing, to be served sliced and cold with a big cup of tea. You could try Nigel Slater’s bread pudding recipe.

I did some baking this week, a semolina lemon drizzle mash-up, but this bread pudding was far superior so you get a picture of it instead*, and a plea to seek out the Hoxton Street Bakery to try some.

*photo taken from the Hoxton Bakery’s twitter feed

Paris-Best

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
Ingredients
1 x choux pastry
Egg wash
Flaked almonds, to sprinkle
300g crème patissière
100g praline paste175g softened butter
icing sugar, to dust

Method
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

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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.

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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.

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.

Good things come to those who wait

5 Jul

Single Guinness Cup Cake

Remember the chocolate guinness mud cake that came 2nd in the wedding bake off? Well, ever since that post I’d been thinking about how good it was! I had to have it again, and so decided to convert Nigella’s recipe to one for cupcakes. How perfect do they look? Like little sweet pints of Guinness. They taste the business too, even a few days after baking when they magically become even more squidgy and muddy.

Guinness Cup Cakes

iced guinness cupcakes

plain guinness cupcake

guinness cake iced

Good thing cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

Method
1. Make a batch of Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake batter and icing. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C
2. Line 2x 12 hole muffin tins with muffin cases. Pour the cake batter into a measuring jug and then divide between the cases.
3. Bake the cupcakes, 1 tray at a time for 15 minutes per tray. The cakes will still feel quite squishy and soft when you press them, but as long as a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, they are cooked.
4. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, pipe the icing onto the top of the cake in a lovely swirl.
5. Batch them up in pretty tins and share with your friends!

cake boxes

Final tip – these will work best if you use a muffin pan and muffin cases. A bun tray doesn’t do these fellas justice.

Rhubarb’s the star

2 Jul

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I ♥ rhubarb. Absolutely love it, the fresh, ever so fruity smell of the stuff and that tangy suck your teeth taste. I remember, as a nipper, plucking thick stalks of rhubarb from the garden to eat raw & dipped in a cup of sugar. Delicious!

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Naturally, raw rhubarb isn’t to everyone’s taste – least of all Mr Cakes, so these days I prefer to stew said veg (yes, it’s a vegetable, not a fruit) with some sugar just to take the edge off. Its simple enough to do, just trim the tops and tails of the rhubarb stalks and give them a rinse. Chop into chunks and put in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of water and the same of sugar (more, or less to taste!) Take heed of Nigel Slater’s advice regarding the receptacle you use … “Only heatproof glass, enamelled cast iron and stainless steel are suitable materials for cooking utensils that come into contact with the oxalic acid present in this pretty vegetable. Simmer your pink stalks in an aluminium pan and you will end up with a seriously nasty metallic-tasting – if not downright poisonous – pudding.”

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What you can see here is a rhubarb and star anise steamed sponge pudding. Technically this is not a bake, I hope you don’t mind! The combination of aniseedy star anise and the sweet & sour rhubarb has to be tried – the star anise almost sweetens the tangy rhubarb.

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Rhubarb and Star Anise Steamed Sponge Puddings

Makes 4 individual puddings

Ingredients
300g stewed & sweetened rhubarb
100g golden caster sugar
100g butter
2 tsp ground star anise
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
100g self-raising flour

Method
1. Grease 4 ramekins or small pudding basins and spoon the stewed rhubarb into the dishes.
2. Cream together the butter and the sugar, and when light and fluffy beat in the eggs 1 at a time, adding a half of the star anise and vanilla as you do so. Finally mix in the flour.
3. Divide the sponge mix between the dishes, don’t worry if the sponge mix sinks into the rhubarb. This makes the pudding all the better!
4. Cover the dishes with foil and secure with string, steam for 30 minutes.
5. Eat and enjoy! We had ours with custard, another classic combo!

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I ground my own star anise – just pop a few whole stars into a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder. You can sieve out any larger woody bits that you don’t want in your cake. And a word about the vanilla extract, I like Taylor & Colledge Vanilla Bean Paste – almost as good as using a fresh pod.

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