Long-time, no cake. Writing to you about cake, that is. Not saying anything about my consumption of cake. I eat a lot of the stuff.
I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by life of late. Lol, what a start.
There’s something about the beginnings of spring that has this effect I’ve noticed. The moment that cold sun comes out to play and everyone suddenly carries tote bags instead of rucksacks. Makes people feel carefree I think – Just gives me a sore shoulder.
My kitchen window looks over the carpark of a big car sales warehouse. It’s where the people that work at the warehouse like to go, to feel like they aren’t at work. A couple weeks back, when it was cold and snowing, I saw a man, I’d say late 40’s, in his car sales uniform, stretch out his arms and run in figures of 8 around the carpark, pretending to be an aeroplane. That same week, I saw two guys, younger this time, in their uniforms, play a game of one a side football – haha not a thing – with a snowball for a football. It was brilliant.
It was brilliant because they were playing, despite the snow, the cold and the dark. In sun, everyone is out, everyone plays all the time. In sun, the world is oversaturated with moments like the man pretending to be an aeroplane. I find it sets me a bit adrift. It’s like there are too many special moments for me to catch. Like I can’t keep up.
Maybe this makes me sound bloody miserable. I hope not. As it goes, I don’t think I have a lot of misery in me. I really love life, I find a lot of joy in it. But when big change is happening, at first, I feel a bit disconnected from the world. A bit overwhelmed by it. Honestly, a bit frightened of it. Frightened of its oversaturated new-ness. I think maybe you feel this sometimes too?
When this happens, I turn to what I know I can make good – butter, flour, sugar and eggs. I start with a thing I want to make. Next, I decide on the texture I want the thing to have. Then I look at every book I can get my hands on with a recipe for the thing. I compare the recipes, work out what each ingredient does. After that, I bake. And bake again, and then again. Until I have what I’m after. Some people would call this an obsession. Lol that’s exactly what it is, but when I’ve cracked it, when I’ve worked it out, it’s a feeling like none other. I don’t feel quite so overwhelmed by life, because I’ve cracked my perfect muffin and I can give it to people I love.
I believe, Joe, that you’d call this process a version of ‘retaining my soul’. That’s exactly what it is.
I wanted a not too sweet, buttery muffin with a structural integrity that borders on denseness but doesn’t feel like you’re eating a brick. Back up with them dry, dense muffins that would struggle to bounce if you dropped it on a trampoline. Haha. There’s a large quantity of blueberries too, and for a bit of sweet somethin, a thick and crumbly shortbread topping.
Bake these muffins and retain your soul, Joe. You have my fave soul, a soul in a millimuffin.
This will either make 8 large muffins or 14 regular sized muffins. If you only have one 6 or 12-hole muffin tray, like me, you can reserve the leftover batter in the fridge and bake them once your first batch is out.
For the Shortbread Crumble Topping
40g butter – cubed and a little cold
60g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Muffin Batter
340g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
130g caster sugar
2 medium eggs – 100g, if you want to weigh it
250g sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 scant tablespoons milk
Pre-heat the oven to 180 / 160 fan. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases, or with butter and strips of greaseproof paper.
Make the shortbread topping by rubbing all the ingredients together between your fingertips. The mixture will come together in clumps. Once done put in the fridge or freezer while you make the muffin batter.
Melt the butter in the microwave and set aside to cool.
Squash about a third of the blueberries with the back of a folk, you don’t want to turn them into a pulp, just burst them a bit. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and sugar.
In another bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract, milk and melted butter.
Add the wet mix to the dry, followed the by the squashed and not squashed blueberries. Fold to combine, careful not to overmix – about 15 folds of a spatula will do it. There might be a few small dry patches of flour, that’s ok! Better that than an overworked batter.
Distribute the batter between the muffin tins and top each with shortbread crumble until all used up. Bake for 24 mins (or 29 mins if making 8 large muffins), or until very lightly golden and a knife inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs.
I’m on the train home from Glasgow listening to Shakira singing about her hips that don’t lie and trying to remember if I put the socks I got you for Christmas in my suitcase or my rucksack…or if I left them in my flat. (Hmm, I left them in my flat).
Imagine for a second that the phrases ‘I like you’, ‘I really like you’ and ‘I love you’ didn’t exist in the human language. Instead, you’d give a person a pair of your favourite socks. A pair that would look great on the person – fit them somehow.
Valentine’s Day would be a pure sock fest. Haha.
I got to dinner at a friend’s flat the other night cold and wet. Anna gave me a pair of socks and Rebeka handed me her hair dryer.
It’s late and I’m putting on my shoes. I return the socks to Anna, fish my gloves out the pocket, put one on and Anna stops me. She inhales sharp and excited like she’s just seen a magic trick – goes – ‘Your gloves! They match the socks’. She reaches for the socks I folded by the radiator, inspects how similar they are to my gloves. Rebeka comes, nodding, smiling, telling me the gloves and the socks are matching – same pink, same yellow stripe.
I got home that night with a new pair of socks for Christmas, feeling like two people I haven’t known for very long had been kind to me, had just said a kind of ‘I really like you’ in the biggest smallest way possible. These mince pies are my way of saying a big ‘I really like you’ in a small way (lol great transition).
A Christmas pudding, a bakewell tart, and a mince, pie walk into a bar. They get drunk and fall over each other in a big heap – these little tarts are a neat version of that drunk mess. A crispy, buttery, fruity, rich, not-too-sweet really, good drunk mess.
Assembly – this recipie is a coming together and the fridge is your friend. The fruit needs at least 2 hours to soak in the brandy and orange juice, but it’s best if you can leave it to soak overnight. The pastry and frangipane can also be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.
Shape – I don’t like pancake flat mince pies. So, these are deep. You want a large cupcake tray or a muffin tray for this recipe.
For the Fruit
350g dried fruit – I use a mix of dried figs, cranberries and raisins
Zest 1 large orange + 100ml of the juice
1 large banana – I promise it works
For the Pastry
175g plain flour
100g butter – cold and cubed
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cold water
For the Frangipane
50g butter – softened
40g ground almonds
25g plain flour
pinch of salt
a drop of vanilla extract
Mix the dried fruit, brandy, orange juice and zest in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.
For the pastry, combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add the cubed cold butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry mix until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the tablespoon and one of the teaspoons of cold water, then, using a knife cut through the mixture until it starts to clump together. Get your hands in and bring the dough together to form a smooth ball. You want a ball of pastry that cleans the side of the bowl with no dry flour visable. If it looks too dry, add in the second teaspoon of water. Wrap the pastry in cling film and refridgerate for at least 30 mins. You can leave it overnight if making ahead of baking time.
Make the frangipane. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffed up around the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and beat again until combined. Next, add the ground almonds, flour, salt and vanilla extract. Mix to combine. Then cover and stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the pies.
When you’re ready to bake, pre heat the oven to 190 / 170 fan. Grease a deep cupcake tray and line each indent with a strip of greaseproof paper. Set aside.
Strain the soaked fruit, keeping the liquid aside. Mash up the banana and mix into the drained soaked fruit. Set aside.
Roll out the pastry to about a 1/4 cm thick. Using a round cutter (about 10cm) cut out 12 disks of pastry, placing them in the cupcake tray as you go. Distribute the fruit filling between the mince pies (about 2 teaspoons in each). Now add a teaspoon of the reserved liquid into each pie.
Top each mince pie with the frangipane (you should get about a teaspoon on top of each), leaving a bit of the fruit visable round the edges. Scatter the tops with flaked almonds. Ideally, you want to put these in the oven a little cold, this’ll stop the pastry shrinking. If you have time/can wait, stick the assembled pies in the fridge for about 20 mins before baking.
Bake for 18 – 20 mins or until golden brown.
Allow the tarts to cool before lifting them out the tin and EATING with lots of cream. Mmmm cream.
I’ve sat with this brownie recipe, and the little intro below, for quite a while now. I’ve tested them A LOT and seems like now is the right time to send you the recipe… I think you should make them.
For the first half of July, I lost all my words.
Maybe that isn’t fair to say, maybe it was more, I lacked words.
Maybe it was more that I felt lacking in all the good things, like words. Haha.
It lasted two weeks and two days this time round. I’m learning that when this feeling comes along, I’m worse off trying not to feel it, that is, fight the feeling of lack so that I might be able to keep up with my un-lacking friends and family. Obviously, to fight like this would be anyone’s instinctive reaction. Thing is, fighting it results in the sad moment where the state of lack makes itself known to you as something much more fixed than a sad mood that could juuuuust about be subsided with will power alone. I’m learning that the lacking state is much less painful if I lead a ‘lacking’ way of life during these times while I wait for it to pass. It passed.
Like it always does.
Now I feel like I’ve got words coming out my ears lol so I can write about these brownies I made during those 2 weeks, while Egg sat on the kitchen counter, patient with me in my lacking state, eating bread.
I hope that these pics can give you some of the good things if you feel lacking in them? Look into that chocolate abyss…mmmmm. These brownies are incredible. Rich, very rich, like molten chocolate pudding scooped straight from the oven or like smooth chocolate fudge once cooled with a wafer-thin crispy top, exactly the kind of top you’d want on a brownie. The raspberries and pistachios were Egg’s addition, I’d really recommend not leaving them out, you need something to cut through the pure fudge of these brownies.
Pistachio Notes – they are spenny spenny spenny. But we were celebrating me being very sad and Egg’s exciting love life… Any other (less expensive) nuts will work.
300g dark chocolate
250g unsalted butter
400g light soft brown sugar
5 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
100g buckwheat flour – plain flour works perfect in these. The buckwheate flour has the benefit of making these brownies gluten free.
50g cocoa powder
30g pistachios – finely chopped
150g raspberries – if you wash these make sure to dry them a bit before adding them to the brownie batter.
Pre heat the oven to 180 (160 fan oven). Grease and line with grease proof paper a 23cm square tin. If you don’t have this sized tin, find one of similar dimensions and keep an eye on it during baking as the timing will be slightly different.
Chop the chocolate and butter into chunks, place in a large bowl. Fill a small saucepan with a little water. Set the bowl of chocolate over the saucepan making sure the bottom of the bowl does not come into direct contact with the water when rested over the pan. Heat on a stove top on low/medium, stirring the chocolate occasionally until melted. Alternatively, put the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl and leave in the oven for a few minutes. Once melted, set aside.
In a separate bowl add the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Whisk these together until combined and a little lighter in colour (about 2 mins with an electric whisk).
To the egg mixture, add the melted chocolate, sift in the flour and cocoa powder and whisk to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin, sprinkle with pistachios and scatter in the raspberries, submerging a few in the batter so they don’t all rest on top.
Bake for 40 (yes, 40) minutes, until the edges are set and a little cracked, but the centre still has a slight wobble. These brownies seem uncooked when they come out the oven, because of how wobbly the centre is, that’s how you want them to look. I promise they will set to be sliceable and perfect. Allow to cool completely in the tin before slicing.
Eating Notes – If you can’t wait for the brownies to cool, they have a molten chocolate cake vibe scooped out the tin fresh from the oven. It’s peng but don’t expect this way of eating or serving them to be neat. The rest of the brownies will be set the next day… so, two desserts in one.
Baking Notes – If they don’t set, it means you have underbaked them haha. They’ll still be great, just stick the whole (cooled!!) tin of brownie soup in the freezer overnight. Set it on the counter the next morning to defrost and you’ll be able to slice your brownies. Store the tin of brownies in the fridge once defrosted.
This cake is an upgraded lemon drizzle. Soft on the inside with a crackly sugar and almond crust, soaked in a tart lemon syrup fresh out the oven.
I first made a version of it in May when me, Tiger, Jess and Sue were moving out our flat. Amongst the tins of chopped tomatoes and packets of rice left in our cupboards we had lemons, walnuts, ground almonds and some yoghurt in the fridge. I made a cake out of them. And it was PENG. So, I wrote the recipe on the back of a Sainsbury’s receipt and have fiddled about with it all summer. I’m still working off that receipt now, with all the changes to the recipe scribbled on top of each other.
The original cake – the May one – sunk slightly in the middle. I altered the recipe, so it rises…how you would expect a cake to rise, but I think the original sunken state is important to remember. This cake has a heavy heart.
It feels right that I’m only writing up this recipe now. It’s a cake that marks change, I think. Fitting – we’re now juuuuust about to fall into autumn and in about a week, I’ll be moving back to Glasgow, into a new flat, this time, just for me and Tiger.
Gluten and Dairy Free Notes – This cake does well being made Dairy Free by replacing the butter and yoghurt with DF spread and a DF yoghurt. I’ve also made this cake Gluten Free by replacing the flour with a gluten free plain flour. In both cases, you couldn’t tell the difference.
For the Cake
2 large lemons – zest of both and 2 tbs juice
60g greek yoghurt – any plain, thick yoghurt will do
180g butter – softened
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3 medium eggs – or 2 large eggs
200g ground almonds
100g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbs vegetable oil – 15 ml
For the Almond Topping
30g flaked almonds
30g caster sugar
For the Syrup
3 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs water
50g caster sugar
Pre heat the oven to 180 or 160 fan. Grease and line a 20cm/8inch round cake tin.
Zest and juice the lemons and set aside. The zest and some of the juice will be added to the batter. There will be enough lemon juice for the syrup you will make later, so don’t get rid of any at this stage.
In a small bowl or jug mix the yoghurt and lemon juice (2 tbs), set aside while you make the rest of the batter.
Beat the lemon zest, butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until just fluffed up around the sides of the bowl. I use an electric whisk for this. Next, add in one egg at a time, beating thoroughly between each addition.
To the butter mix, add all the other ingredients – ground almonds, flour, baking powder, yoghurt and lemon juice mixture and vegetable oil. Beat together just until a homogenous batter forms.
Pour the batter into the cake tin and top with the caster sugar and flaked almonds (30g of each). Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs. Check a little earlier if your oven runs hot.
While the cake is in the oven, make the syrup. In a small heavy bottom saucepan, mix the lemon juice (3 tbs), water and sugar. Heat on a medium/high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the syrup to the boil and allow it to bubble for one minute. Set aside to cool slightly.
When the cake comes out the oven, pour over the syrup slowly, allowing it to soak in. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15/20 minutes before turning it out.
I’m sat in a cafe right now and they love Mamma Mia! They’ve been playing the film soundtrack for 3 hours.
It’s an unassuming cafe; the tables are brown, the walls are grey, and they sell the same caramel crunch slices you get in every Costa Coffee between Glasgow and Oxford, and propbably beyond. I love it.
Blackberry Buns!! I’ve been trying to find a way of getting fresh fruit into cinnamon roll form without them baking into soggy fruit bum rolls for quite a while now – and i’ve cracked it. They are pillowy soft with a slight kick of sharpness from the blackberries, mellowed the second it hits the tounge by the sweet milk glaze.
These buns come with thanks to the lovely Rosa, baker and owner of too many forks, who agreed to test this recipe for me last week. Thank you Rosa!
Note on Dough – For this recipe, I use the same dough as in my cinnamon rolls.It can be made on the day or the night before you want to bake these buns. If you choose the night before, allow the dough to have the first prove in the fridge overnight. The next morning you can fill, shape, prove then bake. This dough tends to rise quite fast though so you can easily do it all in one day.I’ve given you instructions as if making this dough by hand but if you’d prefer to use an electric mixer allow a dough hook to do the kneading for you – I’ve done it both ways and I can’t tell a difference.
Noteon Filling – The filling needs to be cooled completely before using. It can be made a few days in advance.
For the Blackberry Filling
150g fresh blackberries
Squeeze of lemon
1 tbs water
For the Dough
250g strong white bread flour
25g caster sugar
7g active dry yeast
20g unsalted butter, softened
1 medium egg
For the Sweet Milk Glaze
70g icing sugar
30g cream cheese
1/4 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
2 tsp milk
Making the blackberry filling. Add the sugar, blackberries, and lemon juice to a small heavy bottom saucepan. Mixing occasionally, simmer on a medium heat for 5/6 mins until the fruit has broken down and the mixture has reduced.
Whilst the fruit cooks, combine the water and corn flour to form a loose paste. When the fruit has had 5/6 mins, lower the heat, and add the corn flour paste. Whisk briskly. Keep whisking the mixture for about 1 minute, until it has thickened. Remove from the heat and pour into a clean bowl. Allow to cool completely before using.
To make the dough. In a large bowl add all ingredients for the dough apart from the 60ml of water. Mix everything together with one hand, or a metal spoon, squeezing the dough to incorporate the milk. Add the water and give it another mix and squeeze to form a shaggy mass.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface. It is a sticky dough and will still want to stick to the work surface a little even once it has had enough kneading – don’t be tempted to keep on adding flour to your worksurface. Knead for about 10mins until smooth, elastic, and tacky. If using a mixer, stop when the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball around the dough hook.
Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about an hour. If making this the day before, allow to rise in a warm place for 15mins before transferring to the fridge for the night.
The last step is to fill, shape, prove and bake the buns. Grease and line a small rectangle baking dish, I use a 25cm X 18cm one. Set aside.
Tip the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Press into a rectangle shape with the long edge closest to you. Roll the dough out to roughly 9 X 13inch. It can be a little wider, for example 10 X 13inch, if you want a swirlyer swirl. You don’t have to worry too much about the exact measurements of the rectangle, so long as it is a rectangle shape and about half an inch thick, you’ll be grand. As you roll, gently pull the corners of the dough to keep as best a rectangle shape as you can, it will make the rolling and cutting easier.
With the 13inch side closest to you, spread the blackberry filling evenly over the dough, going right to the edges.
Roll up the dough tightly so you end with a sausage of dough 13inches long, seam side down on your work surface. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 2inch pieces. You should get 6. If you are very good at maths you will see I’ve given you an extra inch to play with in case something goes wrong, you are welcome! Put these buns, swirl side up, evenly spaced in the lined baking dish.
Cover with a tea towel or cling film and allow to prove until doubled in size. The rising time will depend on the temperature of your home, usually they need about an hour and a half. You can tell they are ready for the oven like this: very lightly press a fingertip into the dough, your fingerprint should fade away as the dough puffs itself back, fixing the dent you made and returning to its original position. How poetic.
While the buns prove, pre heat the oven to 180 / 160 fan.
Bake the buns for 25 – 30 mins until golden brown on top.
Finish with the icing. Mix the icing sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, and salt. Stir in a tsp of milk. If you want a looser icing add in the other tsp. Let the buns sit out of the oven for 10mins before pouring over the icing. It’s best to let these cool for a futher 10/15 mins to let the structure set before eating…hey look, this bun needs the respect it deserves.
I attach a lot of my identity to the shoes I choose to buy and wear. I think you do to. It feels like something we quietly pride ourselves on. You helped me choose my first pair of Nike air max 90s. They were black and I accidently left them on a train home from Glasgow. I felt shy at school when all the other girls were wearing pretty boots, converse or vans while I was wearing my pink and white Puma Fast Riders. I remember looking down at my feet and feeling silly. Shame, If only I knew then that people would think I was really cool if I cut about in them at the age of 22.
Just have a think about wellies for a second – big old tubes of plastic. Lace up boots – long thin ankle holders attached to elongated rubber pancakes. The toe end of Reebok Classic Leather trainers are modelled on the Grinch’s curly toe feet and Sue’s slippers could be mistaken for 2 un-sliced Warburtons loafs.
I like the idea of a shoe in the shape of a doughnut. French people call their apple turnovers ‘apple slippers’, chausson aux pommes. This makes a lot of sense to me. I’d love to have apple turnovers on my feet. These doughnuts are a bit like slippers too. They are soft on the inside with plenty of airy pockets to slip your feet into. The crispy exterior would protect your toes from hard things and the sharp cherry jam glaze gives you a bit of fashion jazz. I don’t fill these doughnuts with feet though, as comfy as it would be, I fill them with a beautifully light cherry custard cream. I called the filling a ‘crémeux’ when I presented them to the girls in the flat because I used the word once and they got a bit obsessed with it. It means ‘creamy’ in French and describes this filling well. The base of the filling is a crème pâtissière, thick vanilla custard, which is folded through cream whipped to soft peaks. It feels rich and almost buttery but it’s light as a feather. I fold a bit of cherry jam through the custard cream which leaves a perfect sweet cherry taste after the creaminess has melted away.
Honestly, I’d be surprised if anyone actually follows this recipe, not that I wouldn’t love it if someone wants to – work away and power to you!! – but this is more for me to remember what I did and maybe for others to get a bit of inspiration. I’m sure the measurements are not perfect, they could be refined and tested many more times, but it’s as close to perfect as it is right now. The cream is also too special not to write down, you could chuck in any fruit jam which I find pretty exciting.
Jam Note – Make this the day before you want doughnuts, there is enough going on with dough frying to be making jam as well. I’ve included a quick recipe here for cherry jam which makes the exact amount you need for the recipe. This is a spenny use of jam, the amount of fruit you use will cost about £2.50. If you are tight on money or time, find the cheapest jam you can get at the supermarket.
Crème Patissiere Note – You make this thickened custard the day before you want doughnuts, so it has time to set. When ready to fill the doughnuts, you fold in the cream and jam.
Dough Note – The recipe for this doughnut dough is by Tessa from Now-Forager.com. I’ve made doughnuts quite a few times now and this is the best recipe I have used by far. It is also the fastest to put together. This is a soft dough; you will need a stand mixer to knead it.
Makes 7 Doughnuts. The ingredients list makes this recipe look much more complicated than it is. There are a few steps but individually each one isn’t complicated.
For the Quick Cherry Jam
250g cherries – cut into halves, pitted and with stalks removed
For the Crème Pâtissière – makes 400g
250ml milk – whole or semi skimmed
1 vanilla bean or 3/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste – 1 teaspoon vanilla extractwill do perfect too
50g egg – about 1 egg
12g plain flour
25g butter – at room temperature
For the Doughnut Dough
170g milk – whole or semi skimmed
1 medium egg
50g plain flour
215g strong white bread flour
6g fast action dried yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
42g butter – softened at room temperature
About 1L bottle of vegetable or sunflower oil for frying
For the Cherry Cream Filling
400g crème pâtissière
150g double cream
2 heaped tablespoons cherry jam
For the Cherry Glaze
2 tablespoons cherry jam – you can blend smooth with a blender, like I did, for a less bitty glaze.
250g icing sugar
juice of one lime or lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom extract – optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
Water to get the desired consistency
The day before making the doughnuts prep the cherry jam. Mix the cherries and sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan. Put the pan over a medium/low heat and mash the cherries slightly with a fork to help them release some juice. Let the mixture bubble for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. When the jam is ready it should be glossy and thick enough coat the back of a spoon. Transfer the jam to a clean jar or bowl and allow to cool. Cover and keep in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
Next make the crème pâtissière. It needs time to set so get this going the same day you make the jam. In a small saucepan, add the milk, vanilla and half the sugar. Mix and set aside. Measure out the egg into a mixing bowl, place the bowl on top of a tea towel on your worksurface. Now heat the milk mixture over a low/medium heat. While the milk heats add the rest of the sugar, the corn flour and plain flour to the bowl of egg. Whisk the egg mixture to combine.
Once the milk has come to a simmer keep a close eye on it, you want to catch it just before it reaches a full boil. It will simmer a little and then swell up a centimetre, now take the pan off the heat and slowly pour the heated milk into the egg mixture, pouring with one hand and whisking with the other. When all the milk has been poured into the egg, the custard will be very liquid. Pour the whole thing (egg and milk mixture) back into the saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk continuously until the custard has thickened to a consistency just thicker than mayonnaise, this will happen quickly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the pan for a few mins before whisking in the butter a teaspoon at a time. The crème pâtissière should now be thick and glossy. Transfer to a clean bowl and press cling film directly over the surface of the crème pâtissière, this will prevent a skin forming over the custard as it cools. Store in the fridge until ready to use (no longer than 3 days).
The next day make the doughnut dough. Put all ingredients for the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix the ingredients on low speed to combine, then increase the speed to medium and mix for 7 mins or until the dough is smooth, glossy and has come away from the sides of the bowl. This is a wet dough and will feel tacky. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and let it rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
When the dough is almost doubled, fill a large heavy bottom saucepan halfway full with vegetable or sunflower oil. You need at least a 2-inch depth of oil for frying. Attach a sugar or deep fry thermometer to the side of the saucepan and heat the oil to 177C.
As the oil heats, prep for frying. Line one baking tray with greaseproof paper, you will use this to put the doughnuts on before frying, and another tray with kitchen towels or toilet paper (lol), you will put the doughnuts on this tray after they have been fried. Set both trays aside.
Tip out the doughnut dough onto a well-floured worksurface. Sprinkle some flour over the dough and your rolling pin before rolling the dough to 1/2 inch thick. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out 7 doughnuts. Place them on the greaseproof lined baking tray. Cover the tray loosely with cling film.
When the oil reaches 177C, use a slotted metal spoon to gently lower 2 doughnuts into the oil. Fry the doughnuts for 2 mins on each side until deep golden-brown. Remove from the oil with the slotted spoon and place on the kitchen towel lined tray. Allow the oil to come back to 177C and repeat the process until all doughnuts are fried. Allow the doughnuts to cool completely before filling (about 1 hour).
Make the cherry cream filling. Whisk the cream to soft peaks and set aside. Use a spoon to work the crème pâtissière back and forth to loosen it up a bit. Heat 2 tablespoons of cherry jam on the hob or in the microwave to loosen it. Gently fold the loosened crème pâtissière and cherry jam into the whipped cream. You can strain the cherry jam through a sieve if you do not want bits of cherry in the cream.
Pierce the side of each doughnut with a knife and wiggle it about to create a hollow space for the cream. Have a deep side baking tray ready for the filled doughnuts (they need to be kept upright so the cream doesn’t escape). Fill a piping bag or sandwich bag with the cherry cream and cut a small hole in the tip of the piping bag (or sandwich bag). This is a loose filling, don’t expect this piping to be a clean process, the only way to be here is a bit messy. Hold a doughnut like you would a glass, wedge the tip of the piping bag into the hole and slowly squeeze, pulling the bag out the hole as you feel it balloon with filling. Sit the filled doughnut hole-side-up until you are ready to glaze it. Repeat until all doughnuts are filled.
Make the cherry glaze. Put all ingredients for the glaze in a bowl, add a teaspoon of water and mix. Add a drop of water at a time until you reach the consistency you like. For icing like mine, you want a thick ribbon of glaze to fall slowly from a spoon pulled out of the glaze.
Dollop a spoon of the glaze on each doughnut, you can guide the glaze gently over the doughnut, so it drips down the sides. Place on a tray before eating lots of them, very quickly. Mmmmmm doughnuts.
This loaf has a crunchy sugar crust and a kinda caramel vibe to its soft inside, in its sweet stickiness. It’s the kind of stickiness that makes you want to eat one thick slice of this cake after another… and another, and then another. And then, it’s gone! Hmm. Oops. I really had no idea that a vegan cake could taste so good. A while ago, Beulah had sent me a photo of a carrot cake recipe scribbled on a notebook page that she had been given by a friend. I wanted to make her a surprise carrot cake using this recipe. I was asking her if she liked raisins in her carrot cake, before I chucked them in. Didn’t want her to be eating the surprise carrot cake, smiling but feeling sad that there were unwelcome raisins in her cake. The conversation went like this:
Caitlin: If you had a hypothetical carrot cake would you want it with or without raisins?
Beulah: I am an unhypothetical vegan. But I love raisins!
I worked on the un-vegan (non-vegan?) carrot cake recipe she sent me. What I ended up with was a beautiful beautifl lil vegan carrot cake that I’d take any day over one with eggs and butter.
175g caster sugar
250g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon cardamom
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
100g vegetable oil
50g golden syrup
50g black treacle
60g chopped walnuts – any nuts are good
375g grated carrot – yes, 3 7 5 g
40g demerara sugar – to sprinkle over the top
Pre heat the oven to 190 / 170 fan. Grease and line a 1kg (2lb) loaf tin.
Grate the carrots and chop the nuts. Set them aside.
Combine sugar, flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and spices in a large bowl. Set this aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the oil, syrup and treacle. When the first bubbles appear, remove from the heat and pour into the dry ingredients. Add the carrots, nuts and raisins. Mix everything together until combined.
Pour into the loaf tin. Sprinkle the top of the unbaked loaf with the demerara sugar and bake for 55 mins or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out with no wet batter on it.
Happy Halloween bboooiii. Here are some monster cookies. You actually helped me make these yesterday haha but now you have the recipe written down. Thought all our followers needed the recipe too. (Ha! Mum, maybe tell a couple of your friends about this blog? I told mine, but they didn’t seem too interested…)
These are FAT chocolate chip cookies. They have a cookie/brownie/cake texture that is gooey and melts in the mouth. I put cornflour in these, the stuff you thicken gravy with, it gives the cookies the melt in the mouth ting – sounds strange, just trust me.
I made theses dairy free so Tiger can eat them. If you want the full dairy effect, swap the same amount of olive oil spread for unsalted butter.
For about 15 cookies
200g chocolate – I used a mixture, if you wanna add in another 100g of chocolate chunks, go for it.
200g dairy free spread – I used olive oil spread.If using butter make sure its unsalted and softened.
100g caster sugar
150g light muscovado sugar – light brown sugar is all good too.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract – leave this out if you don’t have it.
1 large egg
200g self raising flour
80g cocoa powder
Chop up your chocolate into rough chunks. These don’t have to be neat, you want some bigger bits and some small. Set this aside.
Use a wooden spoon or electric beaters to cream the dairy free spread and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the egg, salt and vanilla extract and give it another good mix together. Don’t worry if the mixture has curdled at this point.
To the sugar mixture sift in the flours and cocoa powder then mix this in. Add the chocolate chunks and give the cookie dough a final mix.
Cover the bowl with clingfilm and put in the fridge for 20mins. Sounds annoying, but it means the cookies won’t melt and flatten out when they hit the heat of the oven. This means your less likely to burn the cookies and they will have a fatter (this a thing?) texture.
While the cookie dough chills pre heat the oven to 180. Line a couple baking trays with grease proof paper.
When the cookies are ready to be baked, spoon out the dough in small mounds, making sure to leave them a lil bit spaced apart on the tray. Use one heaped tablespoon amount of dough for each cookie, or you can use an icecream scoop. Bake these for 12-14 mins, they will be squashy when they come out the oven, this is what you want.
Enjoy the cookies man and have a good Halloween. Caitlin xxxx
(I’m writing this on the train to Glasgow, the wifi is pretty shit and I have diarrhoea. Apart from that, my Halloween is going really well.)
I made this cake for my friend Mátés birthday the other week. OH MY GOD its really good. Máté said he likes anything with coffee and caramel so I combined the two in cake form. How inventive of me.
It’s a marbled sheet cake, one flavour of sponge is vanilla, the darker sponge is coffee and caramel. To top it off is a salted caramel buttercream. If I was making this cake for your birthday, I would get rid of the cake bit and stick candles in a thick layer of caramel buttercream. lol it’s very good. Here are some picture of buttercream for you to enjoy.
To get the caramel in the cake and buttercream I made a caramel sauce. Mmmm. Its surprisingly easy to make. You can mix it into buttercreams, cake batter, whack it on your tooth brush in the morning, use it to stick things to your head. Endless possibilities.
From this recipe you will get about 250ml of caramel sauce so you’ll have leftovers. You are welcome. This doesn’t have to be made on the day you make the cake, it can be made up to 3 days in advance.
To fit in a square or rectangle baking tin. Mine is 20cm by 24cm. You can use whatever you have. Keep in mind depending on the size of your tin, you may need to adjust the baking time for your cake.
Caramel Sauce – Makes about 250ml. This will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
100ml double cream
30g unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Generous pinch of salt
200g unsalted butter
200g self-raising flour
Splash of milk
3 teaspoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons boiling water
Note on measurements – If you don’t have a measuring jug, 1 ml and 1 gram is roughly the same weight so you can measure any of the liquids in your weighing scales.
Note on coffee – I ask for instant coffee in the ingredients but any strong coffee will do. As long as you have 2 tablespoon worth of strong coffee to pour into the half the cake better all is well.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
I never weigh my ingredients for buttercream. I go by texture and taste. If you want some measurements to start off with here you go. (Go on Joe live outside the bubble and don’t use the measurements.)
140g softened unsalted butter
280g icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Generous pinch of salt
1 tablespoon caramel sauce
Measure out the cream and butter and set aside.
Put the sugar and water in a small heavy based saucepan. Over a medium heat stir the sugar until it has all dissolved into the water, the water will look a bit cloudy. Once the sugar has dissolved stop stirring! Now let the caramel do its thing.
Keep the sugar and water mixture heating over a medium heat, letting it bubble away until it has turned an light amber colour. This will take about 4/5 mins, but keep an eye on it, caramel can go from golden amber coloured to burnt very quickly. One rule for making caramel is not to stir the mixture as it is heating, this will crystallise the sugar. If you want to give the mixture a stir, you can swirl the sauce pan from the handle.
Once the caramel is a colour you are happy with remove it from the heat. Quickly pour the cream into the caramel in one go, it will bubble up, and start stirring the cream in immediately. Now stir in the butter, salt and vanilla extract. Once everything is incorporated you have made caramel sauce!
For the cake pre heat the oven to 170. Grease and line the baking tin.
Make your coffee. I use 3 teaspoons of instant coffee and 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Set this aside for later. In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Weigh out your flour and set this aside.
Beat one egg at a time into the butter mix. Add a spoon of flour with each egg addition to stop the mixture curdling. Add the salt and vanilla extract and give all this a good mix.
Sift in the remaining flour and gently fold this into the cake batter. Separate the batter into two bowls. There should be about half the batter in each bowl.
In one half of the batter, add a splash of milk and mix this gently in, trying not to mix it too much. For the other half of batter gently mix in the 2 tablespoons of coffee and 2 tablespoons of caramel sauce.
Dollop the 2 cake batters in big blobs around the cake tin. Give the whole tin a bit of a shake from side to side to level out the top. Using a knife or skewer draw 2 figure of 8 patters through the cake batter. This will create the marble effect (this is my fav bit).
Bake for 30 mins or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 10 mins before taking it out of the tin.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
You can eat away now….or you can make the buttercream. Make sure you butter is nicely softened, you can give it a very short burst in the microwave to soften it a bit, just make sure not to melt the butter.
Using a wooden spoon or electric mixer beat your butter until pale and fluffy. Sift in the icing sugar, give it a gentle stir and then go back in the with electric whisk or give it a good mix with the wooden spoon.
Add in the vanilla extract, salt and caramel sauce. Beat the buttercream until light and fluffy. Once the cake is cooled SMUTHER it in the buttercream.
Have a good cake Joe and Happy Birthday Máté. Caitlin xxx