Posts Tagged With: cake

CCC Week 7

This week has continued the theme of making old favourite recipes, between my favourite quick and dirty tomato pasta sauce – in fact the recipe that my header photo showcases, minus the cooked chicken – a batch of English muffins and a banana loaf, mildly tweaked for the current circumstances but otherwise from a recipe of my mum’s that I’ve been making all my life. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’m using all wholemeal flour instead of half and half, it makes a drier cake and I need to compensate with more eggs/other liquid than the recipe would normally call for.

I went through a phase, before I moved up here, when I first got into making bread, of attempting to make all the weird and wonderful bread options in my Lorraine Pascale cook books. However, having fun aground on focaccia, and never being entirely satisfied with my rolls, I mostly stuck to making Soda Bread and English muffins, and while I do sporadically make soda bread when I’m at my parents, I haven’t made these kind of muffins in a good six years. You can make them in the oven or on the stove top, but I always prefer to make them on the stove top. I’ve made the successfully in a heavy bottomed frying pan, but these days I’ve got an actual girdle pan so it feels rude not to use that.

My girdle pan has actually been getting a fair amount of use lately, between the banana pancakes and the English muffins. I wasn’t sure if I’d use it enough to make it worth giving some of my limited cupboard space to when my mum offered it to me, just after I moved house. It’s really just been lurking on the shelf above the fridge since I moved in, but it’s proved a fun and handy tool over lockdown so I suspect it’s here to stay. Now I’m wondering if I could make flat breads on it.

Now that pasta has returned to the supermarket shelves properly and there’s enough on the shelf that I don’t feel guilty buying some, I’ve been revelling in a different kind of comfort food. Certainly there was my abovementioned quick and dirty pasta sauce, but I was moved to dig out my little Italian food cookbook and dry some more complicated and decadent recipes. I have barely touched that recipe book since becoming a vegetarian, because so many of my favourite recipes from it are heavy on the meat. However, it’s proved quite inspirational, and I’ve rediscovered some tasty recipes some straight forward – I made a cheesy mushroom pasta bake that was heavy on the garlic and included three different types of cheese – and plotted out a couple of rather more adventurous dishes to try to next week.

Vegetables stuffed with other things – rice, couscous, other vegetables – were a bit of a cliché of vegetarian cooking when I was a kid, and while I tend to agree that life is too short to stuff a mushroom, I do love a stuffed pepper so the rice stuffed peppers rather appeals. There’s also a few polenta based recipes, and I used to love cooking with polenta before I went veggie so clearly it’s high time I brought that back into circulation. I also mis-read a recipe Tuscan Beef Ragu as Tuscan Bean Ragu but on reading the recipe, I bet you could make a lovely dish with beans instead of beef that would fit the bill nicely. And that’s before I even look at the dessert section!

Categories: challenges, covid cookup | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Bake More Often – 1/10

In a productive start to the New Year and my new challenges, I baked this weekend. Motivated by the presence of buttermilk creeping ever closer to its expiry date in the fridge I planned a baking afternoon for Sunday with the intent of making soda bread along with something sweet from my new Lorraine Pascale recipe book.

The soda bread plan led to my mum making a big pot of homemade soup to eat it with, which is motivation in and of itself to get round to making bread. Second day soup plus soda bread? Bliss. The second part of the plan went slightly adrift, but in a good way, due to remembering that Monday was my friend Alison’s birthday. Now surely, I hear you say, cake and a friend’s birthday are an excellent plan? Well, you’d be correct, but there was a potential issue…

Some time ago, Alison was diagnosed as coeliac and banished all wheat from her diet. We happened to get chatting about the rubbishness of many gluten-free baked goods and how difficult it was to get certain kinds right. In a moment of rash enthusiasm/foolishness, I promised her I would learn gluten-free baking and make her a birthday cake. As with so many good intentions, I kept meaning to try it out – I even bought Xanthan gum – but never quite getting round to it. And now it was the Friday and her birthday was in 3 days time and I still hadn’t done anything about it. I had a choice, admit failure and buy her some gluten-free cookies or forge ahead and make her a cake. * So of course, I spent Saturday searching through gluten-free cookbooks in the library and searching the shelves of my local town for rice flour. (There was a brief panic at the thought of trying to track down gluten-free baking powder, but thankfully the stuff I already had in the house turned out to be gluten-free by accident.) After some quick and cryptic enquiries with the birthday girl, I settled on making her an almond cake.

The recipe uses ground almond as a substitute for the flour, which actually gives a decent texture to the batter – it looks and feels like cake batter. I have, for various reasons, eaten quite a bit of gluten-free cake and generally found them to be dense and occasionally gritty in texture with a certain…aftertaste. I can’t vouch for the taste of the finished product – but some surreptitious sampling of the batter assured me that it tasted promisingly of almond. And my usual ‘is it cooked yet’ tests, suggested it was both a promising colour and the correct amount of bounce for a good sponge so the signs were hopeful.

Almond Cake

As promising as the recipe seemed, I did chicken out of its recommended icing – it started with soaking blanched almonds overnight and ended with sprinkling flaked almonds over the finished products and seemed altogether a bit excessive. So I stuck with a simple butter-cream icing, gently tinted pink with a dash of almond flavouring to tie it together. I sprinkled some pastel shaded 100s and 1000s over the top instead…

Decorated Cake

And as to the taste? Well it was a present wasn’t it? But the recipient assures me it was good so we’ll need to take her word for it won’t we…

*For those of you wondering why I didn’t just make her a batch of brownies – which are naturally gluten free – well it isn’t technically cake, I felt that was cheating.

Categories: bake more often, challenges | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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