The sun came out for the Marathon, after a cold and miserable spring, last Sunday was one of the few glimpses of a real spring that we’ve had recently. One of my friends was running in it and I still hadn’t really registered when it was until her flatmate announced she was hosting a pre-marathon brunch. I’d already made lunch plans but luckily they were late, so I went to the brunch and joined her family heading to the 11 mile mark in Bermondsey to wave her on.
The atmosphere was perfect, happy, busy, excited; roads were lined with people and ice-cream vans. As we stood waving we saw several children buy fluorescent blue ice-cream with multi-coloured sprinkles, up till then I’d been craving an ice-cream, despite being full up from a hearty brunch, the blue ice-cream was quick to kill that craving.
I made bread to take to brunch, loosely based around the infamous New York Times’ no-knead bread, I threw 3 cups of half and half wholemeal and plain flour into a bowl, with a teaspoon each of salt and quick yeast (the good stuff, not the stuff with flour treatment agent in it), added a sprinkle of sunflower and pumpkin seeds and a cup and half of water plus a touch more to make a shaggy mess. I paid it very little attention, giving it a quick knead after an hour, adding some more flour to try and make it a little less wet. Left it to rise, beat it and left in the fridge overnight again. The thing I really like about that recipe though, is cooking the bread in a pre-heated pot – it works, the bread steams it self, producing a good crust and cooks evenly and well.
I made two loaves and saved one for myself, I ate it piled with butter and jam for breakfast on Monday morning.
The wine rack is still covered in a fine dusting of icing sugar, I don’t know what to do with the tuppaware of leftover berry coulis in the fridge and I’ve yet to clean off the feint splashes of icing behind the sink.
These cupcakes were part of a series, for the last month we’ve been selling them round the office, to raise money for a charitable fund set up in memory of one of our own who died in tragic circumstances. Yesterday was my turn to host a cupcake making party, I hope I did well, plying my friends alternately with tea and Prosecco, then buttered crumpets in a bid to bribe them out of eating too many cupcakes.
We made 83 cupcakes (only a couple were lost due to hungry cooks), hardly a large number but enough to make a mess of my kitchen; although, my friends’ washing-up skills shouldn’t be sniffed at.
Simple vanilla cupcakes were covered in hundred and thousands; summer fruit coulis bubbled on the hob all morning adding a summery perfume to the deceivingly warm-looking sun outside. The coulis was stirred into a plain sponge to create a take on raspberry ripple and made into icing, which was reported by my office-mate to ‘taste like jam’; I hope that’s a compliment. My favourite were the cardamom and coffee cupcakes, a stunning flavour combination inspired by Niki Segnit’s ‘Flavour Thesaurus’, these were slightly heavier on coffee in the sponge and lighter in the icing than those I’d made before giving a more traditional coffee cake flavour. The best looking (and hence, best selling) were a catchy take on maltesers I’ve been meaning to try for a while, a malt cupcake with chocolate icing, inspired by Emma’s recipe at poiresauchocolate.
The last time I made a rosemary and orange cake was years ago, three years ago to be precise. There is something extraordinary about this recipe, it always stays with me. Yes, I lost the recipe, then found it again, I forgot I’d found it until I recently came across it amongst some recipes I’d given to a friend. I’ve recently seen multiple recipes for rosemary, citrus olive oil cakes, which I want to try, but first I had to make this in its original incarnation.
As I have finally made the cake I named this blog after, I thought maybe it was time to re-instate the blog. London has caught up with me and I haven’t been baking as much the last year or so. I’d like to try and turn back the clock a little to the days when I used to bake constantly. Of course, the reason I haven’t been baking as much is because I’ve been busy doing all the wonderful things that are on offer, living in London. That and a lack of good cake eating flatmates but I have plenty of people to offer cake to and I’m better on flatmates now too.
I made this cake twice, the first time, I was having some mental maths issues and put an ounce too much flour in, as I was making a small cake this was enough to ensure it came out a little sturdier than cakes really should be. I took it into work, where it seemed to be much enjoyed but it wasn’t right and I wasn’t happy. Two days later my second attempt was technically successful but yet somehow lacking, it tasted too ordinary, it was just cake.
Just cake, the rosemary too subtle, the orange too common, altogether unmemorable. There is work to be done here, variants to be tried, more to come.
There was everything and it was wonderful and that is it. I’ve been told that brioche and challah are oh so very different and been told that if I make challah I’m not allowed to call it brioche, ever. Sorry, it tasted pretty good (while underproved and overbaked) … I’m not fused what its real name is. There was cornbread, homemade granola, eggs, bacon, sausages and buttered quinces and apples. Buttered quinces and apples: I’ve never brought quinces before, however whilst exploring my local farmer’s market yesterday I couldn’t resist picking up some quinces. Not after spending most of last week reading blog posts about quinces, anyway. I didn’t expect them to be so solid, to brown so easily, to turn pinky-orange as they cooked. I couldn’t place their taste in comparison to anything I’d ever had before . However, I am converted: to buttered quinces and apples with yoghurt and homemade granola. Thank you to blogs, brand new cookbooks and the lack of nut-less granola’s on supermarket isles for that.
My friends took home jars of granola, I could have fallen over backwards, they were fighting over it and I was having to save some back for myself. I thought I’d made far too much, how wrong I was. I’m looking forward to leftovers and breakfast tomorrow morning.
Just cake, a little cake, put into the oven too late at night. She was on her bike so there were no last trains to catch, somehow it just didn’t matter that I had to get get up for work at 6.30 in the morning and that I was already tired; there was cake. Its been a while since I baked with someone else and I’d been missing it, so when I knew I’d be making cake on a Thursday evening I also knew who to invite round to help me. Two days later I still haven’t caught up on sleep, there have been too many errands to run, too many exciting things to do, sometimes sleep is superfluous.
The cake was little, really little, 5-inches, for I couldn’t foresee many, or greedy, people eating it. It turns out that a cake that a cake this little can be packed in a backpack with ease and and survive a cycle ride across town with no damage. A housewarming offering, chocolate, as requested, little dairy, as required. I walked in to the smell of bacon frying and poked around to see the lovely flat, in a lovely area, I’m jealous.
This cake tastes of cherries, after a while I worked out that it was just the almonds causing this wonderful and unusual flavour. This cake doesn’t make a lot of sense, it doesn’t taste as you might expect but it does taste good and the lack of raising agent is useful when the supermarket is clean out of baking powder.
Its rare that I, and probably many others beside, gawp at the complexity of a recipe at first glance only to find that it’s relatively quick and simple to make. The many parts of the daring baker’s recipe this month, that seemed to assume a kitchen full of gadgets turned out that way. The challenge was a chocolate marquise, served with meringue, caramel and nuts.
I guessed when my sugar syrup was ready instead of using a sugar thermometer, used the grill instead of a blow-torch and ‘made my own stand mixer’ so that I could do more than one thing at once. I’m far to lazy to stand holding beaters for 10 minutes, which this recipe called for, twice, so I balanced my stand mixer on a pile of books. The setup proved to be surprisingly stable, I luckily happened to be using the right size bowl, which helped a lot.
The marquise tasted great I forgot to put pepper in it and substituted the tequila for amaretto, amaretto and chocolate are always a great combination. Eaten with meringue and caramel (again made with amaretto) it tasted great and didn’t seem to be lacking. I didn’t make the nuts, I don’t do nuts.
The caramel recipe is slightly odd, it produced an exceptionally thick caramel I ended up adding a lot more amaretto and a lot more water to it and it was still thick.
This would make a perfect dinner party dessert, rich, luxurious, simple to make and could be made to look fabulous.
Recipe pdf is here.
The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.
The days roll on monotonously, the sprawl of notes, paper and folders spreads and occasionally an exams interjects. I am glad of the bright mornings and the useless blinds in my room, which mean I am woken up early every morning; but sometimes, with only a day of revision ahead, its not quite enough. Those days call for a better breakfast.
When I came across this baked french toast recipe at Smitten Kitchen I knew I had to try it, it had never occurred to me to bake french toast before, or even to leave the bread soaking longer than a couple of minutes. So I did it properly, soaking bread overnight in beaten egg, milk, cream, vanilla, cinnamon and the tiniest touch of sugar. Then once they were baked sprinkling a little sugar on top and caramelising it under the grill. Sprinkled with strawberries and drizzled with maple syrup the french toast was good, very good, though maybe a little overcooked, it had dried out a tiny bit more than I might of liked. I feel that maybe adding a little more sugar to the mix and leaving off the maple syrup would have good, the maple syrup didn’t quite work in the same way it does with my usual french toast.
For a more exciting breakfast on a weekday morning.