Not the hair sort
Although I have got organised and booked a cut next week, bit overdue as it hasn’t been done since October. But random fact about my hairdressery habits aside, I’m talking about culinary highlights from the last week or so instead.
For the Jubilee picnic, I took strawberries and blueberries and made vanilla ice cream and meringues for a red, white (kind of) and blue (ish) pudding. I used ground hazelnuts and icing sugar as well as caster sugar for the meringues:
If I was being really picky, I’d say I prefer them a bit chewier but the hazelnuts gave them a lovely flavour. They all went, as did this:
Ice cream made the real McCoy way; with fresh custard and double cream. I don’t have to tell you what that tasted like and if you think it’s weird to take ice cream to a picnic, the home made stuff freezes harder than the shop-bought and the recipes recommend you put it in the fridge for a bit to soften before you serve it; so the hour or so in a cool box made it a perfect consistency.
Then there was baking, as it was two of my colleagues’ birthdays this week. For Kathy’s, I made this:
Banana, date and nut cake made using the recipe and tin my mum used for my birthday cake, because I thought then it was one of the best cakes I’d ever tasted. It went down a treat at work; the rich honey glaze and hazelnuts on the top just finish it off to perfection. I also love the way just using the fluted tin turns a cake that would otherwise look average into something quite impressive. And as my mum had two of them, she gave one to me.
I think it’s fair to say it’s fast becoming my new favourite thing, as demonstrated by the way I used it for Adam’s cake too:
Marbled chocolate chip ring cake:
225g plain flour (I used Doves Farm plain GF blend)
85g brown sugar
50g caster sugar
50g ground almonds
3tsp baking powder
250g plain soya yogurt
5tbsp rapeseed oil
1rounded tbsp cocoa powder (as much above the spoon’s surface as below), mixed with 1tsp warm water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
75g milk chocolate drops
75g dark chocolate drops
Preheat oven to 160C and grease a fancy fluted cake tin.
Mix the flour, baking powder, almonds and sugar together by hand till well blended, then make a well in the centre. Beat the eggs and pour into the well with the yoghurt and the oil then mix well with a wooden spoon till smooth.
Spoon half the mixture into another bowl, then add the vanilla to one half and the cocoa to the other. Mix both really well, then fold the dark chocolate drops into the cocoa half and the milk into the vanilla half. Dollop alternate spoonfuls of the two mixtures into the tin artistically (or not, in my case), smooth the top and bake for about 40-45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tin for about 15 minutes, then turn out to cool.
I had plans to ice it with a chocolate and a caramel drizzle but wasn’t sure what sort so in the end, inspired by the glaze on the banana cake, I heated together 1tbsp (12g) butter and 1tbsp golden syrup, boiled for one minute then left to cool. Realising it was turning into something jellyish, I hastily melted three mini packets of Cadbury’s chocolate buttons (40-45g) in the microwave, stirred it in and ended up with something that was more of a splodge than a drizzle.
But considering the whole recipe was a “wing it, cross fingers and hope for the best” approach, it went down a treat; I’ve never seen a cake vanish so fast and one colleague, having eaten three pieces, said it was the best I’d made so far
It’s another colleague’s birthday on Tuesday so I’ll be baking again tomorrow – and I’ve got visions of banoffee cake in mind… I’m thinking it could be good