Lavender, blueberry and white chocolate bundt cake

Don’t ask me how it transpired, but yesterday the first chapter of my Masters dissertation ended up looking an awful lot like a 4lb lavender, blueberry and white chocolate bundt cake. There’s not even a special occasion like a birthday to justify it, I just really didn’t want to write the first chapter of my dissertation. This is a problem because I might fail my Masters but also I recently read Everything I Know about Love by Dolly Alderton (because all of my friends were reading it because they’re all Exeter graduates with an alcohol problem and desperately in need of therapy, too). Anyway I started taking Dolly’s advice for twenty-somethings as gospel (because she’s paid for a lot of therapy, and reading a book by a twenty-something who’s had a lot of therapy is kind of equivalent to paying for a lot of therapy, right?) and she said not to eat sugar because “it ruins your insides and your outsides”. I’m a whore for sugar, in all of its forms, but especially in the shape of bundt cake. Anyway, I can’t stop eating sugar because I have this theory that I’ll apply for The Great British Bake Off in 2019 and then I’ll make Noel Fielding try my bundt cake and then he’ll fall madly in love with me and we’ll run away to some Scandinavian country together and once we start going grey we’ll share our dark hair dye and it’ll be wonderful. (Just to clarify, I don’t fancy him, I just want to be in the remake of The Mighty Boosh). So you see, I have to practice making bundt cakes.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

medium_Kw17IHwFskgd4-06BiYMPlyCNJy7IRF-dKsLUFGWmwI
Getting really excited about my bundt

The thing with bundt cakes is that they’re distinctive because of their ring shape, but their spiralling patterns make it an absolute bitch to get out of the mould. The key is in the prepping of the tin, and ensuring the batter isn’t too thin, else it will be too moist and soft to get out. So follow my advice and it’ll (probably) come out like this:

IMG_0885
I got 99 problems but a bundt ain’t one

If you’re an person with an unsophisticated palate who despises using “perfume” things as ingredients (like rose or orange blossom or lavender) then you can leave the lavender out. It works just the same. Just taste less posh.

Lavender, blueberry and white chocolate bundt cake (serves 12; vegetarian)

Ingredients:

  • 300g melted butter (Stork) plus extra for greasing that bastard tin
  • 3 tsp dried lavender
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 325g caster sugar
  • 350g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 300g blueberries
  • 150g icing sugar
  • A dash of purple food colouring

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Grease the bundt tin. Using the bain marie method on the hob, melt the butter, 50g of the white chocolate and 2tsp dried lavender. This really helps to release that “perfume” flavour.
  2. Once melted, leave to sit for 5 minutes before mixing in the caster sugar. Combine the eggs. Add the flour steadily, using an electric whisk on a slow setting to combine. Lastly, stir in 200g of the blueberries, leaving the remainder for decoration.
  3. Pour the mixture into the tin, and bake for 60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  4. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, before removing onto a board to leave to cool completely.
  5. Once cool, make the lilac icing and smoother on top. It doesn’t have to be neat. Melt the remaining white chocolate, and drizzle over the icing. Sprinkle over a tsp of dried lavender and pop on the blueberries.

Then indulgently post it all over Instagram.

436C025A-6302-465D-9386-88CF6E62592C.jpg

 

Tunnock’s Teacake Brownies

To touch base, here’s a few things: I moved to Glasgow, started a Masters, started two new jobs, became vegan, became anaemic, rediscovered fish and chips, rediscovered happiness. I had these vivid plans for food blogging in Glasgow – the U.K capital for vegan eats and all-things deep-fried (they even deep fry pizza here and call it “pizza crunch”, don’t you know) – and I had envisioned that I’d be eating out twice a week, free of charge of course, like I did during my undergraduate in Exeter.

Cod in the botanics
It’s an Irn-Bru-induced existential crisis

Added into the mix:

The state of my unhygienic postgrad accommodation has largely stunted any attempts to conjure up any new recipes (there’s no opportunity for aesthetically pleasing photographs when your kitchen hobs are that grimey). I have, however, lived with ten fascinating Americans (woops, and one Canadian, sorry Emilie) over the course of the year. They’ve introduced me to the joys of sweet potato casserole (thanks, Keely from Chicago), Jif peanut butter (thanks, Noah from Minnesotta), Cheezits (thanks, Rachel from North Carolina) and poutine (thanks, Emilie from somewhere in Canada). Apparently combining the sugary hells of the American diet shipped over seas and the deep-fried-ness of the Glaswegian lifestyle makes a postgraduate student such as myself rather distracted and disorganised. I left a lot of things behind when I moved 450 miles north, and a lot of things have gone on hold.

I didn’t bring my baking supplies or my succulents here, because I was stubbornly adamant that I wouldn’t settle in Scotland. I expected to move back down to the old smoke as soon as I hit submit on my dissertation.

But here are some confessions: I actually like Irn Bru now, and I buy it of my own accord. And not even the sugar free version. I like, not just the taste, but the lurid orange colour and the way Glaswegians call it “juice” even though there’s no fruit pulp in it and that you can get it as an ice cream flavour and the fact that my pal who works in the NHS archives has access to the original, secret recipe and that recipe apparently is so sought after that it holds this strange, mythical status. I even own an Irn Bru clock.

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 11.29.22
I wasn’t joking

Second confession: I still haven’t tried an empire biscuit. God knows why they’re such a big deal…it’s just two pieces of biscuit, a white icing glaze and a jelly tot.

Third confession: I hate shortbread.

So, I ventured down South in a bid to navigate through the fog and retrieve my baking goods. And on the 5 and a half hour train journey up from London to Glasgow I noticed that you can measure the milage by the difference in the passengers’ accents, the increase in their happiness, and the amount of times you’re offered a Red Stripe.

To kick things off, I thought I’d stay true to the unhealthiness of my current adopted diet (an amalgam of American and Glaswegian influences) and produce these bad boys.

Tunnock’s teacake brownies (vegetarian; makes 6 “sharing” brownies)

Ingredients:

  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 175g unsalted butter (I’m forever loyal to Stork)
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 130g plain flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 Tunnock’s Teacakes (I went for the dark chocolate variety)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C. Line a rectangular baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Using the bain-marie method on the hob, melt the butter and chopped dark chocolate until smooth, stirring consistently.
  3. Remove from the heat. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and melted concoction. Sift in the flour and mix until well incorporated. Then, crack in the eggs, mix well.
  4. Pour the mixture into a prepared baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes, remove and add the teacakes. (We don’t want these to burn). Bake for a further 20-25 minutes, until the surface begins to crack. Allow to cool before serving.

 

 

Let’s talk business: made-to-order cakes

Rosemary and orange dark chocolate brownies

£15 per batch (serves 10).

 

Rose and pistachio cake

£10 per 2lb loaf (8 slices)

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

 

Gluten free orange, almond and polenta cake 

£15 per 3lb batch (serves 12)

IMG_4631.jpg

Lemon drizzle with candied lemons

£10 per 2lb loaf

13647054_1201843273212189_1409965558_o

Rosemary and dark chocolate buttons

£3 per jar gift; serves 1

 

Gin and tonic bundt cake

£22 per cake; serves 20

 

 

 

Emma’s Orange and Cacao Hot Cross Buns

Just in time for Easter, I thought I’d get Emma to write up a guest recipe for the blog. My friend and fellow Exeposé editor, her hot cross buns made me drool as I was scrolling through Instagram in bed this morning. Here’s what she had to say: 

For the first nineteen years of my life, I was a self-declared hot cross bun loather. As far as I am concerned, candied peel and sultanas are public enemy number one. This year, I discovered the joy of almost fruit-free hot cross buns. These zesty, golden delights, bursting with crunchy cacao nibs, are well worth the four to five hours of your life necessary to tend to them. Now all I need is a recipe for a fruitless Christmas cake…This recipe makes 12 buns, approximately sized for those dwelling in rural Wiltshire. For the daintier appetite, perhaps more.

17886794_1818070741551899_879558599_o

Orange and Cacao Hot Cross Buns  (vegetarian; makes 12

  • 300ml milk (semi-skimmed or full fat – just definitely not skimmed) 
  • 50g unsalted butter 
  • 500g strong flour 
  • A pinch of salt 
  • 75g caster sugar 
  • 1 large egg
  • Zest of 2 oranges 
  • A handful of cacao nibs 
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp marmalade, loosened with a splash of water

Method:

  1. Gently heat the milk and butter together in a saucepan until just bubbling away, then leave to cool until you can comfortably run a finger through it. It really must be neither piping hot nor room temperature when you get around to using it, or the yeast just won’t have fun and your buns won’t be prettily domed. Don’t be alarmed if the butter decides it wants to sit on top and not play nicely; it’s all going into the same dough and it’ll come together whether it wants to or not.
  2. Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl – preferably one attached to a mixer with a dough hook, as enriched dough is a sticky business. When the milk mix is sufficiently cooled, pour it in with the dry ingredients. Add your egg, and get your mixer (or yourself) to work. 10 minutes will be sufficient; your dough should be pliant and still just sticky enough to irritate you. For the first hour-long proofing cover the dough with a clean, damp tea towel in a spot that’s just-above-room-temperature.
  3. When your dough has doubled in size, pop in your cacao nibs and orange zest – add in a teaspoon of orange extract if you’re not the subtle type. Mix it once again, ensuring you have a nice, even distribution of cacao nibs and orange zest. Wrap it back up with its tea towel in that sunny spot, for another hour.
  4. Retrieve your dough. It should now be supple to the touch, relatively clean to handle and full of tiny, delicate pockets of air, so move and shape it with care. Tenderly split it into twelve little lumps of goodness and roll very lightly until one face is nicely domed, smooth and otherwise presentable, then arrange on a lined baking tray however you please – just bear in mind that straight lines make piping the crosses easier. A three by four pattern with half inch gaps between usually suits me. Cover with the tea towel and leave them to snooze for another hour. You really cannot rush a good hot cross bun.
  5. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C, gas mark 7. Hot cross buns are relatively low maintenance during the actual baking process (compared to how high maintenance they are while proofing) so as long as it’s a tad hotter than you’d bake a sponge, it’ll do. Just watch them closely and bring them out a few minutes earlier/later if necessary.
  6. Slake your plain flour with a little tap water until it forms a thick, pipe-able paste. Pop it in a piping bag with a plain, round nozzle. If you haven’t got a piping bag, I always think that a sealed sandwich bag with a minute corner snipped away does the job just as well. Pipe the crosses onto the buns. This mixture isn’t the most pliant, so leave a little more than you think you need dangling over the edge of the end buns.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until they’re browned – it might be a bit of a flat and disappointing brown, rather than that often-promised “golden brown”, but that’s okay. We aren’t done yet.
  8. Whilst the buns are baking, melt down a little high-quality marmalade over the hob. I recommend loosening it with a little water – no more than a teaspoon. As soon as the baked goods are out of the oven, apply evenly with a silicone pastry brush. Leave your offerings to cool just a little before serving with a liberal smudge of good, salted butter.17968494_1818070901551883_814307536_o

Keep up with Emma’s culinary creations and editorial responsibilities on Instagram.

Orange, rosemary and dark chocolate brownies

This year I’m lucky to have a wild rosemary bush growing in my garden, and though I knew wanted to make orange brownies, I wanted to add something that would make the flavour more experimental. After once sampling a stilton brownie at a food festival, I thought a little rosemary wouldn’t be overly adventurous. Next time I would like to bake with lemon and basil – but I’m unsure the brownie base would suit – fortunately, it does for this. 

Orange, rosemary and dark chocolate brownies vegetarian; makes approximately 10 portions 

Ingredients:

  • 2 oranges
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 100ml water
  • 2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 175g butter for baking
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 130g plain flour
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder

Method: 

  1. Begin by making a sugar syrup for the crystallised orange slices which will embellish the brownies. To do this, dissolve the brown sugar in water on the hob over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Reduce to a low heat, and a slices of 1 whole orange, cinnamon and sprig of rosemary. Leave to crystallise for approximately 7 minutes on each side. Remove the slices from the pan and place on kitchen roll, and then in the fridge to set whilst making the brownie batter.
  2. Preheat the oven to 17o°C. Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl of a saucepan of simmering water (be sure not to let the base of the bowl touch the water). Stir occasionally until melted and incorporated.
  3. Remove from the hear. Add the sugar and mix in well, followed by the flour and the cocoa powder. Stir in the eggs. Grate the zest of the second orange, and pop in with a handful rosemary trimmings, and stir into the brownie mix.
  4. Spoon the mixture into a prepared baking tray with baking parchment. I used a square tin (23cm x 23cm x 5cm) for mine. Partially bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, the remove from the oven and add the crystallised orange slices. Place back in the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes. Leave to cool completely before removing before removing from the tray.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Rose petal and pistachio cake

Rose petal and pistachio cake vegetarian; serves 10 

Bottled rose water and dried rose are incredibly exciting ingredients. I bought them about a year a go for a mere couple of pounds from an International food supermarket, and they’ve been a little neglected at the back of my cupboard, amongst the things I told myself I’d always get round to using. And once I practised this recipe to perfection, they were all gone. 

Ingredients:

  • 225g baking butter, softened to room temperature (I am forever loyal to stork)
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 1 tbsp rose water
  • 40g unsalted pistachio kernels, chopped

For the icing:

  • 125g sifted icing sugar
  • 2 tsp rose water
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1/2 tsp pink food colouring
  • 40g unsalted pistachio kernels, chopped
  • Dried rose petals (optional)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and prepare a non-stick loaf tin with baking parchment or butter.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the baking butter and caster sugar. Gradually sift in the self-raising flour, add the eggs one at a time, and combine well.
  3. Stir in the rose water and pistachios so the flavours are evenly distributed through the cake mix.
  4. Pour the mix into the loaf tin, and even out the surface with a spatular. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, or until a knife through the centre comes out clean.
  5. Once cooled take the cake out of the tin. Create the icing by combining the sugar with rose water, warm water and pink food colouring. Smoother the top of the cake with it. Sprinkle on pistachio kernels, and dried rose petals if you’re feeling decadent.

Carob and fig ice cream

Carob and fig ice cream serves 4; vegetarian 

making use of the carob powder and syrup I brought home from Cyprus, I thought I’d try combining some awesome Cypriot flavours into this indulgent dessert. These ingredients are easily found in all well-stocked Turkish food shops. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 large free range eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 200ml double cream
  • 2 figs, peel removed
  • 1 heaped tsp carob powder
  • 1 tsp carob syrup

Method:

  1. figggg.jpegWhisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until stiff peaks are formed.
  2. Slowly whisk in the caster sugar, continuing until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.
  3. Whisk the cream in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed – be sure to not whisk too much otherwise it’ll curdle.
  4. Fold in the cream, egg yolks, the inside flesh of 2 figs, carob powder and syrup into the mixture until well combined.
  5. Pour into a plastic container and freeze for at least 2 hours. Serve with more fresh fig, and carob syrup, according to taste.

 

Sea salt and dark chocolate avocado mousse

Sea salt and dark chocolate avocado mousse serves 4; vegan 

this vegan desert is a lighter alternative to conventional chocolate mousse. The base is made simply from frozen banana and avocado. The sea salt compliments the dark chocolate, giving it a bitter and rich edge.

avo mousse 2.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 1 hass avocado, chilled
  • 1 frozen very ripe banana
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 squares of good quality dark chocolate, grated

Method:

  1. Freeze the banana in slices. Scoop out the flesh of the avocado into a food processor, followed by frozen banana, cocoa powder, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Blend into a smooth paste. If too thick, add ice cubes, and pulse.
  2. Taste, and add more maple syrup if needed. Stir in the sea salt and pop the mousse into ramekins. Sprinkle with grated chocolate, and leave to chill and set in the fridge before serving.

Banana and goji berry loaf

goji berries are a current superfood trend…spread peanut butter onto these loaf slices for a morning energy hit

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 preset

Banana and goji berry loaf makes 10 slices; vegetarian 

Ingredients:

  • 85g unsalted butter, softened
  • 110g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 heaped tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 40g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 40g dried goji berries
  • 30g dried banana chips

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease a loaf tin and line with baking paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in the peanut butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then add the mashed bananas.
  3. Mix in the flour and baking powder until well combined and smooth. Stir in the walnuts and goji berries.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the lined baking tin. Decorate with banana chips, whole walnuts and more goji berries. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, until golden brown, and a skewer comes out clean when put in the middle.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing and serving. Store in an air tight container.

Tahini and honey cookies

Tahini and honey cookies makes 10

tahini and honey are a killer combination. Tahini, which is made from sesame seeds and oil, is very much the Middle Eastern equivalent to peanut butter. 

Ingredients:

  • 70g light brown sugar
  • 80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 40g tahini
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 180g plain flour
  • 1 heaped tbsp of sesame seeds

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C. Cream together the brown sugar and butter, until light and fluffy. Add the tahini, cinnamon and honey, and mix well.
  2. Add the flour and knead until a smooth dough is formed. Break the dough into 10 equal balls, and shape into discs. Coat them in sesame seeds on both sides.
  3. Place on a baking paper on a tray, 5cm apart. Bake for 16 minutes. Eat once cooled!