Monday, 14 May 2012

Tried and Tested

This week I've made a couple of cakes but thought I would talk about the fantastic Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook available here.

 I wouldn't want to risk writing out the recipe here and getting into trouble with the publishers!

The book is fab for most people who are interested in making indulgent cakes and cupcakes anyway so I'd recommend getting a copy for your recipe collection. Some of the recipes can be a little fiddly or time consuming which is fine, it's not intended to be an 'every day' baking kind of thing, this book is about the occasional treat. I would say, if you're only about making quick and simple cakes then this book might not be for you, but if you want a challenge and to try making something a bit different, give it a go! you'll never improve if you don't try.

So, Hummingbird Bakery Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake, in the grand scheme of things it's not the simplest of cakes I've ever made but put in the time and the effort and the final results really are worth it.
The recipe is fairly standard to begin with but, as I added whole milk it completely split (any other cake and I would have chucked the mixture and started again but the book does warn you it may look a 'little' split...try curdled and you're about there!).

After adding the flour, baking powder and salt I then had to whisk 3 eggs whites into firm peaks. These are then added in 3 parts gently folding in with a metal spoon. It's important to be really gentle when you're folding in egg whites into a cake mix as they are there to add the air and lightness to the cake. A lot of recipes I have come across tell you to use a metal spoon or a spatula to fold in egg whites. It's my understanding that this should be done because the blunt edge of the metal spoon or spatula can 'cut' through the egg whites without knocking out any of the air like the rounded edge of a wooden spoon would.

When the cake was in the oven I made the piece de resistance of the recipe - the lemon syrup. Syrups are super easy to make. Lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and water in a pan, bring to the boil and then reduce down on a low heat until it becomes a thick 'syrupy' consistency.

Once the cake was out of the oven (remember it's ready when the sponge bounces back when lightly pressed and skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean), make holes in the warm cake with a skewer and pour over the syrup. This makes the overall cake so moist and just extra special.

Leave the cake to cool a little and turn out. The one problem I have had with this recipe is the turning out part - both times I've cooked it I've managed to get it stuck in the tin and broken it. I think it's to do with my tin but be warned! Once fully cooled then cover with some lemon glaze (lemon juice and icing sugar) and sprinkle over some poppy seeds.

Share this cake and you will suddenly find friends you never knew you had, I guarantee it!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Using my loaf (ho ho ho)

My other half is away this week so I thought I'd use the opportunity to cause some havoc in our small kitchen and make some bread.

I bought some Allinson's seed and grain bread flour for 80p (bargain), googled a simple bread recipe and set on my way - it's been a while since I made bread so I thought I'd ease myself in with something not too strenuous.

I really do love making bread as much for the delicious, fresh out of the oven, warm loaf you get at the end of it, as for the cathartic nature of kneading the dough. I have nothing against bread machines, especially for bakers who do find it difficult to knead the dough. I just find there's something very therapeutic about really knuckling in and giving the dough what really can release a lot of built up aggression!

After the dough had proved for the 2nd time I cut it into 5 pieces to make individual rolls. Naturally I couldn't make a simple bread without adding a little flounce to the presentation so I separated each of the 5 rolls into 3, rolled into 'sausage' shapes and plaited the dough together, then I folded each end of the dough underneath to create a round, rather intricate looking roll.

And the results speak for themselves...

(Believe me, they tasted super yummy too!)

The basic recipe can be found here

I made it a little more interesting by using the seed and grain flour and sprinkled with a few poppy seeds before baking.


I'm back!

So, it's been a while since my last post...having realised I was trying to cram far too many things into my previous incarnation I decided to have a think about what I really want to write about, what really spurs me on. And the answer is, I guess to sum it up, things I create!

I love making things, I'm big on knitting and drawing, but my absolute love and soul is in food. Especially baking.

So I've decided to use this blog as a tool to share what I create in my every day life as an aspiring 1950s housewife!