Monday, 17 November 2014

Pistachio and Lemon Cake (with a helping of news on the side)

Gosh, where has the time gone?

So how've you been? Good I hope.

Great stuff.

And Me?

Not so much. But getting there.

I've been away a while, I know. Lots of things happening. Some not, but hey, that's life.

Since we last spoke, I've left my job of 19 years (health reasons), and that seems scary.

Mike's job was victim to a reorganisation, so that gave him the opportunity to take redundancy. That seems scary, too.

As they say, timing is everything. So in a burst of mid-life shenanigans, we've decided to start our own business.

A coffee shop. With a bakery - cakery attached.

O. M. G.

That seems very freakin' scary! But exciting, too.

Hopefully soon, we'll be taking on the lease of a small shop near us. Fitting it out, and then opening our doors to entice hungry shoppers with the delicious smell of good coffee and freshly baked cakes.

It's going to be a lot of hard work.

I can't wait.

But I have to. The legalities, you know? Take time. Meh.

So to keep myself occupied I've been practise baking the kind of cakes that we want to offer.

Chocolate Cake.

Carrot Cake.

Lemon Drizzle.

Ginger and Lime Loaf.

etc. etc. etc.

And this one.

A Pistachio and Lemon Cake.

There seem to be quite a few recipes around for this cake, all with slightly different variations.

This one, from Lola's Forever, is a gaw-geous cuddle of a cake. Full of ground pistachios and almonds, it's incredibly moist, yet the crust becomes almost caramelised with the heat from the tin. There is a small amount of flour, so it's not a gluten free cake.

Lemon zest and juice in the batter, and the lemon icing act as a counterpoint to the sweet, nutty pistachios.

At least it keeps me occupied while I wait.

And wait.

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting a bit brighter, though, so hopefully I'll have more news soon.



Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Cranberry and Orange Cake

Over the last few months, I've been trying to get organised around the house. That's included having a mega clear out of 'stuff'.

All different kinds of 'stuff'.

It's been liberating, but there is still a lot around the house (not that I'm a hoarder or anything ...).

So, last week, I decided to weed out the recipes I wanted to keep from a pile of foodie type magazines I'd accumulated. Rediscovering recipes I had forgotten about was fun - and got me back baking again.

This cake is adapted from a recipe I found in an issue of 'Baking Heaven' (the original, though, uses blueberries).

It's a great big comfort blanket of a cake - billowy sweet sponge which shakes you up whenever you hit a cranberry. (Yes, I'm one of those people that love the tingly taste of Haribo Tangfastics).

It's lovely just warm from the oven.

A scoop of vanilla ice cream would seal the deal.

Cranberry and Orange Cake


300g self raising flour
295g caster sugar
2 medium free range eggs
190ml milk
grated zest and juice of one orange
130g butter, melted
200g fresh or frozen cranberries

Preheat the oven to 160 Fan / 180 Conventional / 350 F / Gas 4.

Grease and baseline a 22 cm (9 inch) spring-form pan.

I used a Ruby Orange - love the amazing colour!
Combine all the ingredients (except the cranberries) in a bowl and mix until combined.

Spoon the mixture into the tin, and then top with half the cranberries.

Frozen cranberries - you can add these as is (no need to defrost)
Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove (carefully, as the centre will still be soft), and sprinkle over the remaining cranberries (try and spread the cranberries out, and if you can, press them into the surface of the cake a little - I didn't, and so some that simply sat on the top got a little singed!).

Bake for a further 25 - 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 10 minutes to cool. Then run a knife around the edge, loosen the spring-form and gently take it off. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

This is quite a generous cake, so should serve 10 people easily. I enjoyed mine this afternoon, alongside a cup of tea, while staring out of the window at apple blossom being drenched with pouring rain. 

In other words, the typical run up to a British Bank Holiday weekend.


Susie xx


I've actually managed to post something.

I'm sorry it's taken me nearly four months to do so. I hope you're still around and reading (and enjoying)!

Sadly, depression is a complete bugger - you never know when it's going to overwhelm you. I'm finally feeling like I'm making some progress, though, so hope to be around a bit more often.

'til next time ... xx

Friday, 31 January 2014

Devil's Food Cake

Grey days deserve roaring fireplaces, comfy sofas, snug slippers, a mug of steaming hot tea, and cake.  

An absolutely splendiferous cake. 

This is mine.

For a cake that contains a mahoosive amount of chocolate, sugar, cream, and cocoa, it balances the flavours perfectly. Moist chocolate sponge, with a fudgy frosting. 

It's not overly sweet, but is very rich, so if you are calorie conscious, the merest sliver will satisfy the cravings of the chocolate deprived.

If, on the other hand, you're a complete greedy guts, *ahem*, you will still get a significant number of portions out of it (think at least 12).

Devil's Food Cake* (makes one 9 inch cake)


330g plain flour
90g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tspn salt
185g unsalted butter at room temperature
500g (yes, that's 500g!) soft light brown sugar
2 tspn vanilla extract
4 eggs, each around the 60g mark 
375ml buttermilk at room temperature

375g plain chocolate (around 70%), finely chopped
430ml double cream
125g sour cream
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 160 Fan / 180 Conventional 350 F / Gas 4.

Grease, baseline and flour three 9 inch (23cm) sandwich pans.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. Set aside. 

In a jug, lightly beat the eggs, and then stir in the vanilla. Set aside. 

In another bowl (or stand mixer using the paddle and at medium speed) beat the softened butter until smooth. Gradually add the brown sugar and continue beating until fluffy.

Gradually, add the egg and vanilla mixture, beating well after each addition.

Add a third of the flour mixture and mix on low, then add half of the buttermilk, then a third of the flour then the second half of the buttermilk, and finish with the final third of the flour. Mix gently after each addition.

Divide the batter evenly between the three pans, smooth the tops level,tap them gently on the counter (to dispel any air bubbles - as the mixture is a little runnier than most cake mixes) and then place in the oven. 

Bake for around 20 - 25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. 

Place on a wire rack to cool, and then after about 10 - 15 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the pans, and turn out the cakes. Gently peel off the baking parchment and allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the chocolate and cream in a bowl and melt gently over a saucepan of hot water (ensure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl).

Remove from the heat, and stir to ensure that it is fully blended. Allow to cool a little, then add the soured cream and salt, stirring until just blended. When it has cooled to room temperature, whisk briefly until lighter in colour and thick enough to spread.

Assemble the cake, by sandwiching the layers together with frosting, and then apply frosting over the outside of the cake.

This is not something to be fussy about decoration with.

And there is something rather sinful about sinking your teeth into swirled, thick ganache.


Susie xx

*Adapted from 'The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book'