Tag Archives: cake

When life is topsy turvy, make upside down cake

We’ve just said goodbye to some friends who popped over for a visit from LA. We were more of a pitstop on their way to the more glamorous climates of Sri Lanka but still, was lovely to have them here. Their trip coincided with a lot of familial upheaval so whilst we endeavoured to feed them proper home cooked foods most days (I say most days, at least two days they were here I was too hungover to leave my bed – I’m a classy girl), we often failed and left them to their own devices. I did, however, get around to trialling the bundt pan chicken I’ve seen on various blogs recently. It’s basically like beer can chicken but on a bundt tin instead of a beer can – the idea is that it stays moist all over and the skin gets crispy as the air circulates around it. It was good but think I overstuffed the base of the tin with potatoes and onions as the skin on the legs didn’t get that crispy. So when I’ve perfected the potato to chicken to tin ratio, I’ll post my very own variation. I cleverly froze the carcass like some kind of weirdo who freezes bones and yesterday, I used it to make bone broth. Well stock but bone broth sounds fancier.

Anyway, they’ve left and we’re left with lots of fruit (mostly because that was what I lazily fed them on) so yesterday, I decided to use that fruit up during a lazy Sunday of baking and brothing.

Also related, I bought a basil plant from the supermarket a few months ago. I am not green fingered. I have a beautiful herb garden in our garden that flourishes in the summer months but then dies in winter and is never the same. I just don’t have that gardening bug. Anyway, I bought this plant, fully expecting it to be dead in a few weeks – but a few months later, it looks like this. This is very exciting news to me, I haven’t killed a plant. I need a medal. Anyway, a girl can only have so much pesto so decided to use the basil in this cake.

basil.jpg
Look at the size of that bad boy.

So below is my recipe for an upside down cake. I did two variants – one plum, one cherry but the cake and topping recipes remain the same. You can use most any fruit with this – apples and harder fruit may not cook down to the lovely softness of stoned fruit though.

IMG_20170723_154235_688.jpg

Upside down cake

Preheat your oven to 160C

For the topping

  • 50g softened butter
  • 50g soft brown sugar

Mix this together until it’s light and creamy then spread on the base of your tin. If you’re making the plum and basil variation, lay a line of basil leaves down the centre of a loaf tin then slice 3-4 plums and layer this over the basil, pushing down slightly so it’s stuck to the topping. Put in the fridge whilst you make the cake batter.

For the cake

  • 120g butter
  • 120g golden caster sugar
  • 2 x medium eggs
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy then add the eggs one by one until just incorporated. Add the flour, salt and baking powder and combine. Spoon the batter on top of the topping and flatten the top then put in the oven for 25-30 mins until a skewer inserted into the top comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the pan for a few minutes, then loosen the sides of the cake, place a serving plate over the top of the tin and invert – the cake should come loose and be ready to serve.

We ate ours warm with Haagen Dazs Belgian chocolate ice cream which I can confirm is a total win. But sure it’d be fine with cream/vanilla ice cream/marscapone/on it’s own/cold out of a bowl for breakfast. You choose.

 

Advertisements

Cranberry and Orange marscapone sponge cake

Welcome to my Christmas blogging spree. As you’ll have seen from previous posts, I kinda went a little political but I’m back on the food stuff now and frankly, that’s much nicer than being a little bit sad and miserable about the state of the world.

So I had a birthday last month. As you may remember, last year was a big ole birthday, so this year, I decided to keep it low key and went to see a play about the troubles in Sri Lanka at the Arcola. Slight change of pace but lovely fun day. I also indulged in a cronut from the newish Dominique Ansel London. Man, I’m glad that place isn’t too close to home, I could eat one of those every day.

img_20161102_120720

As part of it not being a big milestone birthday, I didn’t want a normal gift – I’m good at buying myself things and we’ve been complaining for years about how we hate our kitchen/dining room but haven’t been able to afford to do the big works (knocking a wall through). So this year, I told the wino I wanted a nice dining room for my birthday, so we spent a week ripping out cupboards, painting, putting up shelves etc etc. And it’s so very nearly there. I love it very much. But I’ll save that for a future post, when we’ve finished both rooms.

I hosted my inaugural proper Sunday lunch in the dining room last Sunday. We’d had a cheese and wine and drunken dancing party a few weeks before but what happens on a drunken night stays on a drunken night. So I’m just going to talk about the amazing cake I made for the Sunday lunch (in my new fancy cooker).

I love a Victoria sponge but I don’t love double cream that much. Also not a huge fan of butter icing. I may be a little late to the party on this, but I’ve recently discovered the joy of throwing all the icing sugar at a tub of marscapone and adding some orange zest and juice to it and using that as a quick and dirty icing. It’s delicious and simple.

And because it’s Christmas, I’d bought a bag of fresh cranberries and was thinking about making cranberry sauce for gifting (if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen the kitchen clearout unearthed several hundred glass jars – hence the gifting).

img_20161125_101128
See? Crazy lady jar collection.

But then I had a brainwave. Why not make a cranberry cake? And then I had a second brainwave – why not make a cranberry jam to use in the aforementioned Victoria Sponge cake? So I did. And paired it with an orange marscapone.

My recipe for a sponge cake is well old fashioned but basically, weigh the eggs in their shells, then weigh out the same amount of butter, sugar and flour. And a pinch of salt. I’m a creamer (of butter and sugar) and then an adder but do what you feel best. I’ve just never been able to make the all in one method work for me.

The marscapone is done to taste (god, this is a rubbish recipe, huh?!) But basically, a tub of marscapone, the zest and juice of one orange and a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar – to taste. Mix it all up. Job done.

Now, here’s the cranberry jam recipe. I did it in American units, because I couldn’t be bothered to weight out the ingredients. Is that bad? It might be a bit. Oh well.

Cranberry, mint and ginger jam

  • 300g fresh cranberries – washed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • A handful of mint leaves
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, grated finely
  • One stick cinnamon

Put the water, sugar and mint leaves into a saucepan and bring to the boil until the sugar has completely dissolved. Leave to one side for 10 minutes, to let the mint seep in.

Remove the mint leaves and add the cranberries, ginger and cinnamon. Bring back to the boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring regularly. I’m sure there’s clever things you can do with checking temperatures and things – I didn’t. Cranberries thicken up as they cool so once you’re happy that the majority of the cranberries have popped, give it a quick stir. You want it thick but not jellified. Transfer to a clean bowl and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, make the marscapone as above, slice your cake in half and once the jam is cold, spread a layer of marscapone, followed by a few dollops of jam. Then repeat on the next layer (if you have two layers) or on the top (if you only have one middle cut.

Put some mint leaves on top if you’re that way inclined. Slice and enjoy.

img_20161127_130246
You can see a bit of my new dining room in the background. How awesome is that colour? 

 

A lot of herbs in a cake (and a commuting rant)

I’ve been a little slack in posting of late – well, it’s been a week but I was trying to do two posts a week and I think I’ve done one in a fortnight and whilst I’m pretty darned sure no one has been pining over my lack of posts, I am truly sorry for being a little bit rubbish.

In my defence I started working in an office again last week. Whilst everyone is really quite lovely and the work is interesting, it’s been a big ole mindset shift from being able to work in my pajamas from 9-11, then catch up on the previous night’s TV at 11am with a cuppa and a biscuit, then maybe have a shower at about 1pm, then do some more work, then contemplate dinner from about 4pm, I’m now actually accountable for what I do between the hours of 9-5. As Dolly said, what a way to make a living. Or something like that, I’m a fiend for mishearing song lyrics.

Anyway, yes, working – great. Being back in London on a daily basis – great. Commuting – actually sucks eggs. Why do people do this? (probably to be back in London, I’d imagine). But everyone seems so bloody angry about it and the Met line seems to be filled with people who tut. Enough with the tuttery please, it makes commuting (which isn’t fun) even less fun. And everyone must stop wearing black. I mean, I wear a lot of black, but my current handbag is pink. Black macs, black trousers, black backpacks. Cheer up buttercups, you work in the best city in the world, it’s spring (ish), get some colour in your lives. And smile. AND STOP TUTTING.

Rant over.

I do have a couple of posts lined up on various bits and pieces (like the lovely day out I had with my dear friend Charlotte who writes the lovely Baking Betsy blog but is so much more than just her blog!) but today I mostly want to talk about the <deep breath> orange rosemary thyme cinnamon clove polenta cake I made at the weekend. <And exhale>.

So I mentioned last week how my herb garden is growing a treat and I do really like using herbs and spices in sweet things. We had yet another lunch (such hardship) to go to on Bank holiday Monday so (as per boringly usual) I offered to bring dessert.

Because the herb garden is so fruitful, I decided to raid it for a cake. And because my wino loves an almond based anything, I thought a polenta and almond cake would work, and we had some oranges that were fast approaching the big orange playground in the sky and the rest as they say, came together beautifully. Do they say that? I have no idea. It was maybe a little Christmassy for May bank holiday, but heck, Christmas is awesome so I won’t hear any complaints, OK?

Here’s the recipe and some pics, anyway. Hope you enjoy. Next week, I may even leave the rosemary out of a pudding. I know right? CRAZY.

Orange cinnamon clove thyme rosemary polenta cake (with almonds too) 

IMAG2028

  • 5 small oranges or two large ones (I had that easy peeling variety but any orange would do)
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 eggs
  • 200g polenta
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped thyme leaves

For the syrup

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100ml hot water (from the kettle, freshly boiled)
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 tsp mixed rosemary and thyme, finely chopped

Grease and line a 23cm tin – I used a spring form one and if you do, make sure you line all the sides and the bottom – there may be some leakage if not.

Put the oranges, cloves and cinnamon into a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, until the oranges are super soft. At this stage preheat the oven to gas mark 4 – approx 160C.

IMAG2018

Take the oranges and spices from the pan, slice in half and remove the seeds (if they have any). Leave to cool, then put them into a blender and blend till you have an orange puree. Skin, spices and all.

IMAG2020

Beat the eggs so they’re light and airy – it’ll help give your cake a little rise.

Measure out all the other ingredients into a large bowl, then beat in the eggs, followed by the orange puree.

IMAG2019

Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin, put into the oven and bake for 50mins – 1 hour.

Whilst the cake is baking make the syrup by simply dissolving the sugar in the hot water, then adding the herbs and zest and allowing to steep. When the cake is cooked, prick a few holes into the top with a skewer and pour half the syrup over it.

Allow the cake to cool before pouring the rest of the syrup over – the flecks of orange and green look just lovely on the top of the cake.

IMAG2027


Slice and serve with a spoonful of cream or ice cream or creme fraiche or yoghurt. Or if you’re rubbish like me and forget all those things, it’s really nice on it’s own too. Promise.

IMAG2038

The Vintage Furniture Flea

Our house is a 1930s semi in the middle of suburbia. You may or may not have noticed me complaining about it being in the middle of suburbia on occasion and it’s really the location I find most distressing –  if you could transport this house to say zone two, I’d never complain. It’s a really good size, we have a huge living space and kitchen/diner and three good sized bedrooms. Apart from the one that looks a little like a prison cell, we should really do some decorating upstairs at some point. And I’ve told you about our garden before too.

We both have a big love of mid-century modern furniture and we brought vintage pieces into the relationship when we met and have bought some pieces together since we’ve bought the house. That’s not to say we always agree on furniture – my tendency is towards colours and fun, he prefers classic and simple. And to be honest, we both like comfort and we both worry about money, so whilst it would have been lovely to get the amazing 1920s marble dining table with silver and yellow velvet chairs we saw at the Midcentury Modern fair a few years ago, we couldn’t quite justify the price. Which I believe was somewhere in the tens of thousands. Eeek. Similarly, I’ve never craved a vintage sofa because all those I’ve sat on, which look lovely, are bloody uncomfortable. Seriously, did people in the 50s and 60s not feel pain? There’s no way I’d be able to have a Netflix indulgence weekender on one of those.

Last week, I noticed my mate Chris had posted about The Vintage Furniture Flea on Facebook and as I’ve not been furniture shopping for a while, I decided to invite myself along. And drag the husband along too, mostly to rein me in from buying plastic things.

Sadly (for me, anyway) Chris is in Milan this weekend, so Neil, Marcel & I met for a full English breakfast at the Natural Kitchen in Baker Street then pootled down to Seymour Leisure Centre in Marylebone. Disclaimer, I didn’t actually pay to get in and I got free tea and cake (thanks Donna!), but I would absolutely pay £2 (or £3 for earlybird entry) if I didn’t have the blog, it’s absolutely worth it. And quite frankly, I would probably give my kidney for one of the cakes, they were AMAZING.

CAKE

The flea takes place in a gigantic sports hall and features about 20-30 traders, all of whom sell vintage furniture, collectables, kitchenalia and electricals and so much more besides. I had my eye on one of the Retromaps before going – these are vintage schoolroom world maps, utterly gorgeous but way out of our budget for today. However, definitely something I’d save for, they’re really striking and would look amazing in our dining room.

Retromaps 2

A little more about our house – when we moved in, there was this shelving unit on the wall behind the sofa. It had been filled with knick knacks by the previous owners (who are my folks). I always hated this shelving unit, it just looked cluttered and messy so we had planned to rip it out. But then in recent months, we’ve taking to carefully ‘curating’ (I’m sorry) pieces to go on to it – starting with framed prints that fit within the different sized holes and we’re starting to love it a little more so it may yet stay. Marcel has been looking for a lamp to put on the shelves so he can read books whilst I indulge in yet more Netflix, but we’ve never been able to find one that works well. I’m also a big fan of symmetry and didn’t just want one lamp, thought we should have two. We are so ridiculous, this has caused numerous rows. And I’ve wanted a vintage floor lamp for ages, ideally one of those cinema style lights, but we just don’t have the room height or the space for it.

But today, we found two beautiful lamps for £125 for the pair at the Flea. They’re quite short lamps, so perfect to have over the back of the sofa for reading, and are a lovely burnished gold colour and they’re a pair, so I get symmetry. We’re all winners. I think Marcel would have preferred them not to be gold, but hell, given that I was about to buy a plastic Toucan light, he knew it wasn’t a fight worth having. Well done Marcel.

the shelves with lamps

Close up on a lamp

We also bought a number of vintage prints – a VW campervan advert from the 1970s and a Warhol print. And I bought some beautiful chocolate moulds for a tenner. A little gutted that we currently don’t have a lot of furniture needs – there was some really nice stuff there, a little bit that had been upcycled (which I’m never sure is a good idea) but lots of tables and chairs in really good condition and relatively good value for money – Neil & Chris are in the process of buying a house so I think I filled it about 16 times over in my mind. Thankfully for them, I’m not moving in with them. I’m sure they’re devastated to hear this 🙂

Upcycling done well

We had a lovely couple of hours at the Flea – it’s not so big that you feel exhausted by the end of it, but there’s enough there that you can find a good bargain. The next Vintage Furniture Flea is on the 31st May in Brixton and then there’s one in Bethnal Green in July. All details are on the website – www.vintagefurnitureflea.com. Thanks to Donna for inviting us along and for the cake, looking forward to seeing you at the next one – we may even come all the way to Brixton for it!

Still sad I didn't buy this
Still sad I didn’t buy this

Getting juiced

I’ve never been that good at being healthy. I’ve never found an exercise routine that keeps me motivated and I’ve never been good at eating in moderation. And I’ve got a sweet tooth that would have been delighted if Marie-Antoinette had told me to just eat cake. Bring. It. On.

Over the last four weeks, I’ve been on gardening leave. That’s another story that can only be told five months from now. Prior to that though, I’d think nothing of having a croissant at 9am or a large packet of Minstrels to myself in the afternoon after a gigantic baguette and a packet of cheesy Wotsits for lunch.

However, being on gardening leave has made me realise that my life is far too sedentary to maintain this sort of diet and that I really need to focus on what I’m putting into my body unless I want to buy a forklift truck to move me from sofa to fridge in the future.

I’ve just entered the last year of my 30s which has been a particularly indulgent decade and I’m keenly aware that if I don’t start making some changes now, getting older is not going to be a fun process – and after the year I’ve had, I’m desperate to bring the fun back.

Inspired by a green smoothie a friend made for me when I visited a few weeks ago, I’ve been spending the last few weeks getting healthily juiced. I haven’t completely cut out all the sugars and any Instagram followers will know that I’ve eaten a heck of a lot of cake recently (birthdays innit) but a daily juice or smoothie has helped me feel much more energised and able to take on the world.

Below are a few of my favourite recipes which are easy enough to replicate. I find it peculiar writing ‘recipes’ there as there’s no specific amounts of each – ‘a handful’ or ‘a few’ is about as detailed as it gets. To be honest, don’t really think any of these are particularly mind-blowing, they’re just good to try if you, like me, feel you need to stop eating crap and care about what’s going in to your body.

Pear, kiwi, plum and ginger juice. Recipe exactly as the name. Really simple but utterly delicious and if you do them in the juicer in an order, you end up with a pretty rainbow as per below. Admittedly, slightly sludgy in colour after you stir and pour.

IMG_20141102_084925

Cantaloupe melon, celery and ginger. 

I love celery, I like its weird alkaline flavour and slight tang. It’s the perfect foil to a melon that may or may not have been much too ripe because it had been forgotten about in the fruit bowl. Coupled with the ginger, it took away the sweetness and made for a much nicer drink. I used three sticks of celery for a whole melon but use to your own taste.

IMG_20141029_082930

 

Strawberry, banana, raspberry smoothie. 

This was my first smoothie, made from fruit that was about to go off with a dollop of yoghurt added for bulk. And it was possibly my favourite so far. I usually only like bananas as actual bananas (for example, I hate banoffee pie) but they work so well in smoothies and means you don’t have to add honey for sweetness.

IMG_20141020_090813

Today’s smoothie, that I’ve yet to make, will include kale, ginger and I’m not sure what else yet. I’m hoping to find inspiration from the gorgeous Leon smoothie recipe book that I got as a birthday present, but would love to hear what you shove in the blender of a morning!