Jammy dodger

8 Feb

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It’s Dan Lepard time again, but this time we’re going vegan. These black cherry & walnut biscuits are so good, you wouldn’t even know they were vegan. They just don’t happen to have any animal products in them. But hey, neither do chips and no-one goes on about how amazing they taste, considering they’re vegan.

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Just cos Dan knows his biscuits, doesn’t mean we can’t have a little play on his recipe. I substituted the walnuts for almonds, used groundnut oil, and raspberry jam instead of the black cherry. Whatever nut-jam combo you go for, please do go for it.

Hear, Land o’ Cakes, and brither Scots

5 Feb

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Actually, not oatcakes but shortbread, because I couldn’t think of anything by the Bard that makes reference to biscuits*. For Burns night this year I made shortbread. For me, it has to be crispy, crumbly, with that wonderful melt in the mouth sandy texture. It’s also ripe to be tinkered with – so this time it’s flavoured with cardamom and lemon. Heavenly!

Cardamom lemon shortbread

Cardamom and Lemon Shortbread
Makes 12 biscuits

Ingredients
175g butter
75g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
175g plain flour, sifted
75g fine semolina
zest of 1 lemon
5 cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground to a powder

Method
Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas mark 2. Beat the butter until softened and then add the sugar and beat again until thoroughly mixed. Then add the flour, semolina, lemon zest and ground cardamom. Mix together into a smooth dough.

Lightly roll out the dough on a floured worktop to 1cm thickness. Cut into 12 round biscuits (at this point you can use a cookie stamp to add a pretty picture to your biscuits), and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Set aside in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. My biscuits had spread slightly so I trimmed the edges with the cutter again. Allow to cool slightly, then sprinkle with some more caster sugar and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*If you know of one, do let me know.

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!

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.

Ottolovely

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?

Candy Cane Cupcakes

21 Dec

chocolate peppermint cupcake

Not everyone likes a mince-pie, or a slice of brandy rich, fruity Christmas cake. I mean, there must be something wrong with them, right? But let’s not discriminate. Here’s a festive morsel for those raisin haters out there.

candy cane cupcake

Chocolate & Peppermint cupcakes
makes 16 cupcakes

Ingredients
For the cupcakes
50g cocoa powder
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
165g butter
250g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
125ml sour cream

For the icing
400g icing sugar
125g butter
40ml milk
1tsp peppermint essence
16 mini candy canes

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180/160 fan/Gas 4, and line 2 muffin tins with 16 cupcake cases.

2. Mix the cocoa powder, flour, bicarb of soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.

3. Melt the butter and allow to cool, then beat in the sugar and then the eggs and vanilla. Mix in half the flour mixture followed by half the sour cream. Then mix in the other half of the flour followed by the other half of the sour cream.

4. Divide the mixture between the cupcake cakes and bake for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. To make the icing beat the butter and icing sugar together until well combined and creamy. Beat in the peppermint essence (you can add more or less to taste). Spread the icing on the cooled cupcakes and top each one with a mini candy cane.

Snow White & Rose Red

18 Dec

red snowflake christmas cake

The cake is ready! A few weeks of feeding with brandy and slowly maturing and it’s time to ice. I was dreaming of a bright red reindeer, like this one, what a beauty!

half christmas cake

But Big Sis Cakes had bought me a set of snowflake icing cutters for my birthday. Snowflakes it is then. Doesn’t it look good? Tastes alright too. You can find the recipe in my recent post, Feed Me!

sliced red snowflake christmas cake

Carrot and Stick

6 Dec

Carrot Orange Muffins

When not baking, eating, swimming, cycling or running I can sometimes be found playing music. I know, how do I have the time, right? Well, sometimes, I do. And if said music playing takes the form of a saturday morning rehearsal, you need a little sweet treat to look forward to and boost your strength mid-way though. Following on the veg in cake theme started with this Parsnip, Lime and Ginger cake, how about one or two Carrot & Orange muffins? Oh, go on then!

carrot and orange muffins with cinnamon

Carrot & Orange Muffins

Ingredients
250g plain flour
85g caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 oranges, zested & juiced
75g greek yoghurt
75g melted unsalted butter
1 large egg
100g grated carrots

Method
Line 12 cups of a muffin tin with paper liners, and preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and orange zest.

Mix together the orange juice, yoghurt, butter, and egg. Mix this wet mixture into the flour until just combined and then fold in the grated carrots. Divide the batter equally between the muffin cups

Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden. Eat when you need a break from disturbing your neighbours!