Category Archives: Cakes

Chocolate Cake

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This is Trude’s chocolate cake. I have written about this cake before but thought it needed an update, as the original post was quite rushed. This is the chocolate cake of my childhood – if there was a flavour profile for childhood celebrations, this would be it. It is also my Dad’s favourite and he visited for a whole 24 hours this week. So I made it to celebrate his unexpected trip. We ate it with Yotam Ottolenghi’s raspberry ice cream that was in this past Saturday’s Guardian. I am wholly in favour of the chocolate raspberry combination. I gave him slices in a tupperware to eat whilst in transit. The rest I took to the office.

This is a lighter chocolate cake than the one I made for A’s birthday. This is an oil/cocoa powder cake, easily made with store cupboard ingredients. It is simple to put together, although I seemed to use more bowls than I would like (washing up elves!), but I suspect this was just because I was being thorough. Or some such.

Trude’s Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup boiling water

1/2 cup cold water

4 eggs, separated

pinch of salt

1 3/4 cups plain flour

1 1/2 cups ordinary (granulated, white) sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup oil

1 tsp vanilla

Line two 22cm tins with butter and baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180C.

Whisk the cocoa powder with the boiling water and set aside. Whisk the egg whites with the salt until stiff. (Hold-it-over-your-head-and-the-mixture-doesn’t-move-kind-of-stiff.) Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together. Whisk the egg yolks, oil and vanilla together lightly, just to emulsify. Add the cold water to the cocoa powder.

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Pour the cocoa powder mixture into the yolk/oil mixture. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add this liquid mixture in. Mix well. (Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl so you don’t end up with any dregs of flour making an unexpected appearance as you pour the batter into the tins.) I like to whisk this part and then switch to a spatula to fold in the whites.

Fold the egg whites into the mixture in two batches. Be gentle with the second batch – you don’t want to knock too much air out. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before icing.

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For the icing, combine 170g softened, unsalted butter with 390g icing sugar and 2 tbsp cocoa powder. Mix on a low speed until it all comes together. Add in a few splashes of milk and once combined, beat on a high speed until smooth and gloopy.  This will make enough to fill and ice the cake.

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Vanilla, Blueberry and White Chocolate Cake

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This is my go-to birthday cake recipe. Or just when-one-is-in-need-of-cake recipe. I made it last weekend and gave the princess most of it to take back to London. The rest I took to the office, where my colleagues made happy cake eating sounds. This recipe makes a glorious sponge cake that you can make into a bundt (as above) or into a triple or even quadruple layer cake with a frosting of your choice. Don’t like blueberries? Leave them out, or replace them with raspberries or orange zest or lemon zest. Ditto for the vanilla and the white chocolate chips…

So this makes a lot of cake. I made a large bundt cake and a loaf tin out of this. I suspect if you halved the recipe (totally do-able), it would make a regular size bundt cake or a three-layer round cake. You are forewarned.

Vanilla, Blueberry and White Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Joy the Baker via Smitten Kitchen

4 cups plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

227g unsalted butter, softened

2 cups golden caster sugar

4 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

300ml buttermilk

100ml double cream

100ml plain yoghurt

1/2 cup white chocolate, chopped

200g blueberries

Preheat the oven to 170C. Liberally grease a bundt tin with butter, and grease and line a loaf tin; or grease and line 3 layer cake tins.

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Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.

In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time.

Combine the buttermilk, cream and yoghurt in a small bowl.

Fold in the flour mixture in three goes, alternating with the buttermilk mixture – flour then buttermilk, flour then buttermilk, flour.

Finally fold in the blueberries and white chocolate.

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Spoon the batter into the bundt tin and the loaf tin.

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Bake for approximately 40 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out and cooling.

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Allow the cakes to cool completely before icing. I used a combination of cookie butter frosting and cream cheese frosting that I’d had in the freezer to ice both cakes.

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Gingerbread Cake and a ‘I Did That!’ List

Happy New Years Eve everyone! I hope you are all planning festivities of some kind. I will confess, I am a New Years Eve grinch. This is mostly due to my hatred of enforced fun and this evening is the worst kind of enforced fun. But, I am willing to go out and have a drink and see what happens. I have found over the years, the key to a good evening is to not have any expectations. So I am embracing that.

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But I did not want to spend the last post of 2015 lamenting the terror of the evening. Rather, I have become, like almost all bloggers and writers I have read this week, reflective of this year in the past few days. I know that normally people post goals and resolutions for the coming year. I have certainly done so in the past. But then my friend Jen shared a link on Facebook, an article written by her friend, Karen Milford titled ‘You Were Awesome in 2015’. Intrigued, I read it and found an excellent idea – one that I have since chatted to Jen about and agreed is something we should do more often, but acknowledge this reflective period at the years end is probably the best time for it. The idea is to come up with a list of five things you are proud you accomplished in the year just gone. It is a stroke of genius. Instead of looking forward and feeling like a failure for all the goals you haven’t yet reached, the list allows the opportunity to look back and reflect on things you have actually done, however small. I’m calling it the ‘I Did That!’ List.

_DSC2811After much deliberation, here is my ‘I Did That!’ List.

1.) I finished my PhD and graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy. This seemed almost impossible at this precise point last year, when I’d just received comments back on my first draft. But sheer bloody mindedness and determination to get it done won out in the end.

2.) I moved in with Andrés, taking that big leap of faith in a shared life.

3.) I took the plunge and finally attended an education conference. I spent most of my PhD feeling like a really didn’t fit into an Education department, and attended more sociology and food studies conferences as a result. I finally got up the courage to go to BERA’s (British Educational Research Association) annual conference and presented my work. I discovered, with sheer joy, a number of other young researchers working in my field and we are now looking at collaborating on different things. And I discovered I do actually fit into Education, however obscurely, and that I am fascinated by other research in education, particularly that around teaching children the history of contested places.

4.) I travelled to Spain with Andrés, to meet his family. I was nervous and plagued by the usual ‘but what if they don’t like me?’ anxiety. We spent a week there, communicating in two, and sometimes three, languages, and I had a wonderful time. I did find I hated being unable to express myself adequately and so now I am learning Spanish.

5.) I learned to ski. I am often scared (and sometimes secretly thrilled) but I can get myself down a mountain or two on a pair of sticks strapped to boots. Proof that you really can learn to do anything if you set your mind to it.

So that is my list. What is yours?

And to round out the year, here is a final recipe. I made this for Boxing Day – baking it on Christmas Eve so it could mature. It is a supremely fantastic cake and the cookie butter icing will make you swoon. (Don’t be put off by the long ingredient list – it is essentially a melt and whisk cake.) I adapted the recipe for ingredients I had to hand and to make a small, one pan cake that could be sliced in half and iced.

Gingerbread Cake

Adapted from BBCgoodfood magazine (November 2015)

75ml milk

1.5 tbsp treacle

200g plain flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

60g light brown sugar

130g light muscavado sugar

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp ground ginger

a pinch of ground cloves

115ml sunflower oil

75g plain yoghurt

75g creme fraiche

1.5 eggs

1 tbsp rum

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170C and line one 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin with butter and parchment paper (line the base and the sides).

Heat the milk with the treacle until just warm and the treacle emulsifies into the milk. Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb, spices, and sugars and whisk together, making sure you break up any sugar lumps.

Whisk the oil, yoghurt, creme fraiche, eggs, rum and vanilla together until combined. Then whisk in the milk/treacle mixture.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and whisk in the wet ingredients until smooth. Pour the mixture (it is quite liquid) into the cake tin and bake for approximately 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack for half an hour before unmoulding and cooling completely before icing.

For the cookie butter frosting:

125g unsalted butter, softened

300g icing sugar

150g philadelphia cream cheese

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g cookie butter (Lotus biscuit spread smooth is good)

Combine the butter and half of the icing sugar. Beat until smooth. Add in the cream cheese and beat again until smooth. Add in the rest of the icing sugar, cookie butter and vanilla. Beat until soft and fluffy.

I found this makes enough for a crumb coat and a generous layer of frosting. I only wanted a crumb coat/naked cake look so I used half and have frozen the other half for use later. To ice the cake, slice it in half and sandwich it together with the frosting. Place the other half on top and cover the top and sides with frosting. If you want a clean finish, ice this layer quite thinly, and don’t worry about crumbs. Place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes and then completely cover the cake with frosting again, taking care to smooth the sides and top. Decorate as desired.

I hope your 2016 is bright and light and full of wonder.

x

Chocolate Birthday Cake (and a reading list)

I am not sure about you but I am a big believer in celebration cake. You are probably unsurprised by this fact. Nothing brings me more joy than making people happy with cake, or thanking them with cake and so I am always on the look-out for excellent cake recipes. I mean, in truth, I am always on the lookout for excellent cake recipes but it is so much more satisfying to then be able to share said cake, to give it away and make someone happy. (Sometimes you just want to make cake for yourself, but that is an entirely different kind of cake – at least for me, anyway. But then again, I don’t really like to eat cake all that often. Yes, I am aware that this is weird.)

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It was Andrés’ birthday last month. I was totally undecided what to make for his cake. When he came home from Spain in September he had talked about a traditional cake that appeared to be vanilla and filled with pastry cream but I had no idea about it and have never made it. My attempts to google the cake fell flat (probably because the sites were all in Spanish, my understanding of what it was was fairly obscure, and my Spanish is limited to basic greetings and numbers at the moment so I just couldn’t figure it out.) Fortunately, he got distracted from that cake by the prospect of an oreo-themed cake (thank goodness for buzzfeed lists!) and so I set about making him this cake.

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I’d been wanting to make this cake anyway because IT IS AWESOME. It is dark dark chocolate cake that is dense and intense (see what I did there?). It is quite unlike my family’s traditional chocolate cake (which, for the record, is still fantastic but lighter, less intense and less solidly chocolate in flavour) but I like the dark headiness of this cake. It makes you feel slightly giddy and simultaneously incredibly satisfied. Like someone you met in a smoky bar and then kissed, after slightly too many whiskies, in a slightly dodgy alleyway.

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This cake is gorgeous to eat without frosting but if you so choose (and like me, are more about the cake than the frosting), it can be a vehicle for your frosting of choice. I’ve made it with various combinations of peanut butter, salted caramel, vanilla, raspberry and so on. Basically all the flavours that work with very dark chocolate (orange is another good choice) will work here. For Andrés’ birthday I filled it with salted caramel and vanilla frosting. This past weekend I made it as a thank-you for my thesis proofreader. I made half the original recipe, and cooked it in one of my smaller bundt tins. I then covered it in salted caramel frosting.

This really is very good cake. You should make it now. The recipe below is half of that in the original and makes enough for a small bundt (this will happily feed 8 people easily – the bundt picture above). If you’re looking to make a large, 20cm three layer, layer cake, then you should double this amount. I’m afraid I haven’t included frosting in the notes here, simply because I feel you should make an executive decision regarding flavours. I usually use a 4:1 icing sugar to butter ratio (500g icing sugar to 125g butter) with a tablespoon or so of milk to help get the creaming process going and add in flavours and additions as I need.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Adapted (very slightly) from Tea with Bea

60g dark cocoa powder

125ml (1/2 cup) boiling water

60ml (1/4 cup) milk

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

65g unsalted butter, softened

140g dark brown sugar

80g golden caster sugar

60ml (1/4 cup) sunflower oil

2 eggs

140g white spelt flour

3/4 tsp bicarb of soda

cocoa powder for dusting

Preheat the oven to 170C. If using a bundt tin, grease liberally with butter and dust with some cocoa powder. Shake out any excess cocoa powder and set the tin aside. If you’re making a regular cake, line the base with parchment paper. Line the sides with parchment paper too, making sure the parchment is higher than the sides of the tin.

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Put the cocoa powder in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Whisk until smooth, then whisk in the milk and vanilla. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy.

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Add in the oil in a steady stream. Then beat in the eggs.

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Mix the flour with the bicarb in another bowl. Fold in the flour in three batches, alternating with the chocolate mixture. Begin and end with the flour.

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Pour the mixture into your cake tin of choice and bake for approximately 45 minutes.

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The cake will be risen and dense when done. A skewer inserted will come out clean. Once the cake is done, allow it to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out of the tin and cooling it completely on a wire rack.

Once this is totally cool, ice with the frosting of your choice… (For the 20cm three layer cake, you will need a fair amount of frosting! If you want to do a crumb layer you’ll need approximately 750g icing sugar.)

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Reading List
I am currently reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I began reading this ages and ages ago (whilst everyone else was reading it and when I was lost in my thesis and the idea of reading for pleasure was a pipe dream). I couldn’t get into it back then but I’ve taken it up again after my mother said she’d read it and it was wonderful. I love love love The Secret History – it is one of my favourite books ever.

This short list of ‘How to tell you are in a Jane Austen novel’ made me laugh a lot. So much of truth.

And I intend to make this applesauce so I can make this cake from Molly over at Orangette.

I now have a craving for toasted cheese sandwiches because Felicity Cloake over at The Guardian made a ‘non-scientific perfect grilled cheese’. Like any of us ever need to be reminded of the epicness that is a toasted cheese.

I want to learn to bake more with spirits like gin and so this sloe gin, plum and almond cake is on my to-do list.

Clementine Cake

It is the last day of 2014. I counted that I only posted 21 times this year. (This will be 22.) That’s almost two posts a month, but still a far cry from the one post a week I am always aiming for, although, I guess, not a total disaster, numbers wise. I continued to blog whilst writing up my thesis (into a now first-draft-with-massive-corrections-to-do-stage) and interning and having things fall into chaos and confusion for several months. (Thank goodness for friends with spare rooms and sofa beds.) And now the year is turning once again and I am feeling all philosophical about life and living. I am fantastically behind on my thesis deadline – the holy grail of a three-year September hand-in has now passed and I am aiming for sometime in the summer (possibly late-summer), which will make me much closer to finishing near the four-year (be all and end all) deadline.

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I have been beating myself up about this failure-to-hand-in-on-time for a while now. I have always tried to do everything well – working hard (I will admit at a whole variety of careers, although everything has food as a common denominator), achieving good grades (although never being an all-A’s type student), surviving the four-hour cooking school finals, handing in my MA dissertation slightly early; never mind being a supportive/good/not-freaking-out daughter and sister. I never handed any essays in late, they were always done with plenty of time to spare. (I will admit to blowing off most economics revision until the absolute last moment and then learning entire syllabi in the week before the exam. I do not recommend this. Someone should have told me not to take economics.) And so I am quite surprised at my inability to write a decent thesis and get it finished to agreed deadlines. But mostly, the not-finishing has made me wonder about the pressure to finish in three years, preferably with publications. (My other failing, I am not yet published, although I have various articles in process and others in ideas form and I have presented at various conferences.)

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I am new to this whole higher education schemangle but the continuous pressure to write my thesis as fast as possible has made me wonder about the process of getting to the end. There is so much pressure on us to finish quickly, analysing and writing at top speed, that I think the process of completing a thesis (possibly the biggest and most stressful thing I will ever do), is lost in the rush to finish. This is exacerbated by the lack of jobs and postdoc opportunities and the hugely competitive market place. (See this rather funny essay on why you shouldn’t do a humanities PhD.) Don’t get me wrong, I love my research and I have loved my whole PhD experience – there have been opportunities to do the most amazing things whilst I have been researching (starting a community garden, travelling extensively, meeting interesting people, becoming completely immersed in academic discussions on food) and I find the whole ‘challenging my mind towards understanding’ incredibly satisfying. And, I am working towards publishing (hopefully loads) from my research. But sometimes, when I think of all the work there is to do, my lack of publication record, and the 9 months I have left, my heart constricts and I find it difficult to breathe. And then I am angry with myself again, both for not finishing already and also for not being able to enjoy the process.

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And yet, I am going to get it done. It may take longer than I expected and it may be harder than I could ever have anticipated but, by the end of 2015 (hopefully many months before), I will have handed in a thesis. More than that, I want to enjoy the process that leads to the end. The last six months of this year were chaotic, thesis-wise. After interning in the US for 6 weeks, I intended to come back, tie all the chapters I already had into a draft, write a conclusion and let my supervisor read the first draft. All by September. Instead, my grandmother became gravely ill, a summer fling ended, and I had no where to live for a while. I ended up being at home in South Africa for nearly 5 weeks between August and October, doing virtually no thesis work. But this is life, I guess. And I think, sometimes, when we are working towards a goal like a decent thesis, and life is getting in the way of productivity and progress, we forget that this is life. My thesis has to form part of my life, it cannot consume me. My family and friends (and all their important happenings and events and catastrophes) are as important as (dare I say possibly more important than) this work, and I think we have a tendency to forget this. I cannot continue to blame myself for life happening and taking part in it.

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Instead I have made a few resolutions, to start off the new year. Firstly, I am going to stop giving myself a hard time for taking longer to finish my thesis. And I am going to stop comparing myself to other PhDs who have completed their work faster than me (or better or with more publications or whatever). I am going to get it done. And I am going to accept that it is going to take more work, more revision, and more time. Secondly, I am going to get very organised. I have this tendency to avoid routine and planning, simply because I think I am good at it. I think, in truth, I am not and so I have hauled out a calendar for 2015 and added in dates, birthdays, important events etc so that I can work out exactly when I can work on my thesis and when I can work on other things, like this blog, and do work that pays money (the joy of being a 4th year means I have no steady income anymore). Thirdly, I am organising my blogging month by month. A new post will appear every Wednesday and I’m deciding at the beginning of each month what to make each week (and writing it onto the calendar so I don’t forget). That way, I don’t necessarily have to think about what to do too often. And I won’t panic that I don’t know what to make. Most of the recipes are ones I’ve had bookmarked or saved for ages and ages. I want to spend more time with this space and being organised about it I think will help. Fourthly, I am going to try to read one book a month. Something inspirational, maybe books on the art of writing and living or maybe just some trashy novels. Books that are not necessarily to do with my research. I’m starting with Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Lastly, I am going to remember to remain perfectly calm and take deep breaths. Even when all seems overwhelming. And I shall try and do more exercise and possibly yoga. (Doesn’t everyone have that as their resolution every year?)

I started the inspirational reading this week with a few articles online about life and living. The ones listed below have been the most helpful so far – reminding me that all is not lost from being slighter slower than the pack, and that sometimes, good work takes time. (And, in my case, many many deep breaths.) Mostly I am resolved to enjoy the process of getting to the end, however long (and however much sweat, blood and tears) it takes.

Brain Pickings: 7 Things I Learned in 7 Years of Reading, Writing and Living

Vulture: 10 of the Best ‘Dear Sugar’ Advice Columns

The Thought Catalog: This is How We Date Now

Holstee: The Holstee Manifesto

Explorations of Style: The Craft of Revision

I have also been listening to Stephen Fry read Harry Potter. Because, really, Harry makes everything better.

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And of course, because this is a food blog, there is cake. The mothership asked me to make this last week but I never ended up doing so. (We had a ‘duvet day’ on the 26th, the day I was supposed to make it. She and my sister managed to watch the entire first series of True Detective whilst I pottered about – I have lost the ability to stay still and concentrate on TV shows it seems – slept, and then went out. And we had too much food leftover from the 25th to really consider making anything other than the obligatory chicken and ham pie.)

So I’ve made it for the New Year instead. This is a fantastically seasonal cake – all gooey, moist (yes, I said it), damp, almost sour citrus with a slightly grainy texture from the ground almonds. There is a lot to be said about cake with four ingredients. And it’s gluten and dairy free too, for those of you making weird diet-related resolutions in the new year. It keeps well over several days and may even be better on day two. Best eaten just by itself, it will also work as a dessert with creme fraiche or ice cream… I like it while still a little warm from the oven.

Clementine Cake

Adapted from Nigella’s Feast

4 small clementines (you need around 380g worth)

250g ground almonds

220g golden caster sugar

6 eggs

The process of making this cake is reasonably simple. Essentially, you boil the clementines in water for around two hours until they are soft. I put a cartouche over mine (a small round-ish piece of parchment held down by a saucer) so that the clementines would be evenly immersed in water. (They float and so part of their flesh is otherwise exposed, pesky little things.) This worked well and I topped up the water after an hour and kept them so they were simmering, rather than rapidly boiling. You then leave these to cool. (In my case, for a few hours in a sieve in the sink, whilst I went grocery shopping to get the remaining ingredients. See, organisational skills need work.) Once they’re cool, slice them into smaller pieces and blitz them in a food processor until smooth. (If you have a food processor of magnificence, feel free to blitz them whole, but mine is teensy tiny and so I sliced them first and blitzed them in two batches.) Then whisk the eggs and sugar together until combined – no need to put much air into this. Add in half the ground almonds followed by half the pureed clementines. I whisked these in but I suspect a wooden spoon would do the trick just fine. Repeat with the rest of the almonds and clementines. Pour into a 23cm round cake tin, with a piece of parchment lining the base. Bake at 180C for approximately half an hour. The cake will be risen and golden but a skewer inserted should come out clean. When I checked the first time, thinking the cake looked done, the knife came out with batter still attached, so I had to put it back for a while. Allow to cool completely in the tin before turning the cake out and dusting it with icing sugar to serve.

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And now for champagne to toast out a terrible year!
Happy New Year all!

Blueberry, Lime and Poppyseed Pound Cake

Greetings, dear readers, from the depths of (thesis draft) chapter seven. This chapter is taking me what feels like ages and ages. But we’re about halfway through and I’m busy re-familiarising myself with arguments about family meals and tables so I can rewrite the first few sections of the chapter so they make more sense (and are not simply collections of field notes and interviews and form an actual argument). Then I’ll be moving on to talk about “proper meals” (and then the last findings chapter on packed lunches…). It’s going to be a busy writing weekend so I can get everything finished by Sunday and then draft a paper for publication and start the packed lunch chapter. Like I said, crazy busy at present. (I know it’ll all be worth it in the end but wow, it’s sort-of-rather-very stressful at the moment – which is also why I am obviously also socialising like a queen bee, the more work I have and the more stressed I am, the more I want to go out!)

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It’s fun going through all my data again and being reminded of all the amazing practices and ideas I witnessed (plus some of the stranger things). Unfortunately, deciding what to include and what to exclude takes time and bravery. I am always worried about leaving something important out, or missing a relevant example, or using a piece of the existing literature (what if I’ve interpreted it incorrectly?!). Writing a thesis is all about decisions and they’re hard ones to make. Plus deciding that THIS IS THE ARGUMENT takes quite a lot of faith in oneself. I know what I saw/witnessed but what if the examiner disagrees with me? Such questions plague my 1am frazzled brain.

Fortunately, at such times, there is this cake. (In truth, there is always cake, but this one is particularly lovely in the early summer.) My friend H, who is also a PhD on my course, requested the recipe after I gave her some to sample on Wednesday and then reminded me that I still hadn’t shared it so here it is.

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This is pretty simple cake to make. It only takes one bowl (always winning) and can be made with a wooden spoon. I’ve made it three times in the last month or so (twice this week in fact) and I thoroughly recommend it. It’s dense, slightly crunchy with poppyseeds, and the blueberries are like nuggets of sweetness that surprise and delight.

The original version of this cake came from Smitten Kitchen and you can find it here. Whilst I love pound cake, I love poppyseed cake more and so this is a perfect combination of the two. It holds up well in travel and improves on the second day. Things to note: I halved the recipe Deb made, mostly because I never have occasions for loads of cake and her recipe made loads. This still makes more than enough (the one I made earlier in the week fed tutors, the netball team, and some PhD’s) and cut into around 10-14 reasonable slices. I worked out the gram measurements from cups – the flour and sugar are both 1 1/2 cups worth (if you prefer to make it with those). You can obviously play around with flavours here – oranges and lemons, frozen raspberries (also a cupful), white chocolate (about 1/2 cup) also all work in various combinations in this cake.

Blueberry, Lime and Poppyseed Pound Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

170g butter, unsalted, soft
115g cream cheese (philadelphia)
325g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla paste
215g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
zest of one large lime (two limes if yours are teensy)
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tbsp poppyseeds

Preheat the oven to 175C and grease a bundt tin with butter. (My bundt tin is 21cm across so of the slightly smaller variety).

Place the butter and cream cheese in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. (You can use electric beaters for this too but if the butter is very soft, a spoon works just as well.)

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Add in the sugar and beat until the mixture is smooth. The sugar will mostly disappear and the mixture will become whiter and smoother.

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Add in the eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each addition.

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Add in the flour, lime zest and vanilla paste. Give everything a good beat, until all the flour in incorporated.

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Lastly, fold in the poppyseeds and then the blueberries.

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Scoop the batter (it’s fairly thick) into your greased tin. Smooth it with a spatula.

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Bake in the preheated oven for about an hour. The cake will be risen and golden. A skewer inserted will come out clean and the cake will have pulled away from the sides of the tin when it’s done. Place it, still in the tin, on a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto the wire rack to cool completely.

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Now, I glazed the particular cake that is featured here but it’s not really necessary – only if you’re so inclined. It works perfectly just plain. But if you do want to glaze it, I used 75g icing sugar (golden kind which is why the icing isn’t white) and the zest of half a large lime. I then added in about a tablespoon of hot water just to get the consistency I was after. Feel free to do what suits you.

Chocolate Bundt Cake

So a while back the Princess and I went day tripping to Lincoln. It was a bright sunny day quite early on this summer (which has been bright and sunny a lot, much to my delight) and whilst we were there we stumbled across the quaintest kitchen shop where I found a bundt tin (again much to my delight). The Princess made fun of me for buying kitchen equipment on a historical day out but whatever. I needed a bundt tin and they’re just far to heavy to cart overseas. (Although I will confess to doing just that when we were in New York together and I had a moment in Zabar’s and bought two. I then had to persuade my Dad to put one in his luggage because each tin must weigh at least three kilos. Sadly neither of those tins made it into my PhD suitcase hence the need for a new one.) Anyway, as well as finally buying a bundt tin I noticed that I recently passed my 200th post and decided cake would obviously be the way to celebrate. That and the fact that I promised an American friend cake for moving our stuff out of the way of the rising tide on the beach in Wales on Sunday. (Yes! I went to the beach! In Wales! And I got into the Irish Sea! Which, I might add, is freezing.)

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So this bundt is adapted from a recipe in the Donna Hay magazine which arrived last week. It’s the black and white issue and is lovely. Is that magazine ever not lovely? The cake is dark and moist (sorry but it is), and the glaze is slightly bitter. It’s an almost-one-bowl cake, which suits me just fine as it means less washing up. We ate it warm after dinner – such is my scheduling that I was late to dinner because I was waiting for the cake to bake. I’m told this is an acceptable excuse.

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I used gluten-free self-raising flour because that was the self-raising flour I had. As such, I added in xanthan gum for texture. I also didn’t have liquid glucose which is called for in the glaze so I used golden syrup. I suspect this made the glaze thicker than it was meant to be but I liked it so consider it a winning substitute.

Chocolate Bundt Cake

Adapted from Donna Hay August/September 2013

For the Cake:

1 1/3 cups milk

1 cup golden caster sugar

1 cup demerara sugar

1 tsp vanilla

250g unsalted butter

200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

2 eggs

265g gluten-free self-raising flour

1 tsp xanthan gum

35g cocoa powder

For the Glaze:

200g dark chocolate (I used 170g 70% and 30g 85%)

100g unsalted butter

3 tbsp golden syrup

1 tsp sunflower oil

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease a bundt tin with butter.

Mix together the milk, sugars and vanilla in a large bowl.

Melt the butter and chocolate over a low heat, stirring almost constantly once things start to melt so that the chocolate doesn’t seize.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the milk one and whisk until smooth. Then whisk in the eggs. Sift in the flour, xanthan gum and cocoa powder. (This is one of the few times I actually bother with sifting, mostly because cocoa powder has a tendency to clump when added into large liquid batters and then you spend a ridiculous amount of time chasing the lumps around the bowl. Who needs that?)

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Pour the batter into the bundt tin and bake for about an hour. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out and cooling before glazing.

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Make the glaze whilst the cake is cooking – melt the butter, chocolate and syrup together in a saucepan, stirring until smooth. Off the heat add in the sunflower oil. Spoon over the cooled cake and allow to set before slicing.

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