Tag: cake

A kind cake to have with tea

As I have mentioned before, I am not a baker. That skill was handed out to my sister who can make the most delicate tarts and cakes. She also manages to turn gluten free baking into some kind of delicious realm of possibilities, something I never thought was possible. However, lately I have been finding myself wanting to have fresh baking in the house. I have been making banana bread, gluten, sugar and dairy free muffins (actually really good, will post the recipe soon), lemon and ricotta ring cakes, and yesterday I made a rhubarb and strawberry cake.

Both Ollie and I go crazy for rhubarb. Stewed with muesli in the morning, with ice cream, in a crumble or pie. Any way possible in fact. So this cake is perfect. It is easy, both sweet and tart, and goes perfectly with a cup of tea. It is the kind of cake you can imagine eating with thick clotted cream and your grandmother.

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An Old Fashioned Cake
(Based on a pear cake in Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries)

130g butter
130g caster sugar
2 eggs
130g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Half a punnet of strawberries
About 5 stalks of rhubarb
A sprinkling of brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat the eggs lightly with a fork, and gradually mix them in with the butter and sugar. Sift the flour and baking powder and fold in carefully. Spoon into a greased cake tin and don’t worry that it looks like there isn’t enough mixture.

Finely slice the rhubarb and cut the strawberries into quarters. Place them evenly over the cake mixture, and then sprinkle some brown sugar on top. This recipe can be used for any fruit, I have made it with apple and pear in the past, in which case you don’t need extra sugar. Rhubarb often needs a bit more love than other fruit to make it sing.

Bake for 1 hour, until a skewer comes out clean, leave in the tin for 10 minutes, and then cool on a rack. Or if you are impatient like me, cut a slice and eat it with some natural yoghurt and a cup of coffee.

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The book you can see in the photo arrived in the mail just a few days ago. It is part of a #savetheculture book exchange I am part of. Despite Ollie referring to it as my Ponzi scheme and another friend calling it a glorified chain letter, I think it is a pretty cool idea. I saw a friend had shared a post about it on facebook which I bit the bullet and liked. She sent me a stranger’s address for me to post a book to, plus her address to share with people who liked my post. Theoretically, I should get a whole lot of books in the mail. Who am I to say no to that?

I had been eyeing up Ali Smith’s newest book at The Booksmith just the other day, so I was thrilled to receive it with a little postcard from an old school friend I haven’t talked to in years. I will let you know if I get any other goodies in the letter box.

Happy baking and happy reading from sunny San Francisco x

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Waiting with Banana Bread

I have officially finished work and have two and a half week left until my due date. After hearing that more babies are born on the full moon, I am hoping for an early Easter arrival as I am getting impatient playing the waiting game. I want to meet the wee bub! The baby room/actually a cupboard is almost ready, I have washed all the tiny little clothes, and I am about to start cooking things to go in the freezer to pull out when I am also pulling out my hair over a crying new born.

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Today dawned so beautiful, I couldn’t bring myself to make a soup or a pasta sauce to freeze. I wanted to bake something fresh and tasty to enjoy at our sunny window with a good book. I came across Ottolenghi’s banana bread in his new book Plenty More and decided that it would be perfect, even though I had to modify it a bit due to lack of ingredients in the pantry. He says to grill it after cooking with fresh sliced banana, tahini and honeycomb which sounds absolutely glorious. Instead I just had it warm from the oven with coffee. Bliss.

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Banana and Pecan Bread

1 cup of pecans
3 large ripe bananas
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups of brown sugar
1/2 cup of full fat milk
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt of salt

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Preheat the oven to 175°C  and line a loaf pan with waxed paper. Toast the pecans in this for about ten minutes, take them out and roughly chop them. In a bowl, beat the bananas, sugar and eggs until combined. Next add the salt, milk and oil. Sift the dry ingredients in and continue to mix for a few more minutes. Finally add the pecans and pour into the loaf pan. Pop in the oven for about an hour ten and then put on a baking tray to cool (if you have one).

The result is a deliciously moist and tasty banana bread. I would definitely track down the full and proper recipe in Plenty More and try that, but for today, this one made me particularly happy.

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Orange and Coconut Cake to Celebrate the Sun

Spring is in the air in San Francisco, the sun is shining and there is the smell of blossom wherever you walk. I love the idea of having a spring baby, new life as the city wakes up after winter.

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Here is an easy cake to celebrate the sunshine, fresh flavours and the plentiful citrus fruits on offer at the moment.

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Orange and Coconut Cake

1 orange
3 eggs
150g butter (melted)
1 ½ cups icing sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour
1 cup desiccated coconut

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Boil the whole orange, skin and all, for about half an hour, checking the water level. This will make your house smell delicious and make sure the cake isn’t too bitter. Leave the orange to cool then cut into quarters and remove the seeds. Put in a blender until you have a smooth consistency. In a bowl, beat this with the eggs, butter and sugar then fold to combine the baking powder, flour and coconut. It’s as simple as that! Pour into a well greased cake or loaf tin and pop into the oven for about 40 minutes at 190 degrees celcius, or until a skewer comes out clean.

This cake is delicious warm from the oven, or cold the next day. I like it with a tart and creamy Greek yoghurt and a cup of tea in the springtime sunshine.

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Baking the Perfect Cake to Remind us of Italy

For the whole of 2013, Ollie and I were doing the big LD. He lived in Taipei, Taiwan and I lived in Auckland, New Zealand. We figured it was worth it as it meant I got my teacher’s registration and he got us a visa for the States, but it was pretty hard. To break up the year, we met in Europe, visited my sister who was living in Paris and some good friends who were honeymooning in Italy.

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While we were in Italy we drank lots of coffee and red wine, we ate obscene amounts of pasta and we looked at beautiful churches. We stayed with Courtney and Craig in a beautiful farm house in Tuscany, recommended by an Italian friend in Auckland. When we arrived, the dark clouds threatened rain and the countryside around us smelt of earth and the start of autumn. Stepping through the old doors, we were welcomed by a warm olive oil and lemon cake sitting on the big wooden table, it smelt incredible. We had espresso and cake and looked out over the olive groves as the sun peeked through the clouds. It felt like we were in a postcard. Italy.DSCF1691DSCF1604

DSCF1556DSCF1607Since then, both Courtney and I have been obsessed with olive oil cake. I made one the other day that tasted like disinfectant, but she sent me through the recipe for this one I made today. Heaven.

Olive Oil and Lemon Cake

3/4 cup of olive oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
I vanilla pod
1 1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 2/3 cup brown sugar
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder

DSCF3796Whisk all the wet ingredients then add the flour and baking powder. Pour into a greased loaf tin and cook in the oven for 45 minutes at 180. Both the lemon and olive oil make this cake taste really fresh, mellowed by the vanilla and yoghurt. Perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon, but it would also be delicious with vanilla ice cream after dinner. 

You can also add finely chopped rosemary to this recipe for the ultimate cake.

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P.S. The pretty Europe photos are by Ollie. You can see more of his stuff here.