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

 

Truffles Pizzeria: restaurant review

Upon entering Truffles Pizzeria, the air was pungent with the luxurious smell and quality of truffle oil – as one of my favourite cooking ingredients, this was a good indication of what was to come.

Opened as a pizzeria only a year ago, amongst the dainty throng of local independents on Magdalen Road, business seems to be prosperous. Even on a Wednesday evening, tables were occupied or reserved; popular with local families, companionless individuals perhaps in need of a restful meal and some quality time to themselves, young 30-something couples and people popping in for a hump-day takeaway order. All students tend to migrate towards The Old Firehouse when pizza is fancied, but I recommend this restaurant for a more relaxed, intimate atmosphere, and for a greater selection of elaborate toppings.

Truffles Pizzeria is sadly lacking in a website and an accessible menu online, so I couldn’t do my favourite, unspontaneous habit and peruse the menu and decide what I was going to have beforehand. But its TripAdvisor profile, rating it #24 in the whole of Exeter, and at a stable 5 stars from over 100 happy customers, reassured my qualms concerning the menu. I can vouch that the pizza menu is extensive, for vegetarians and meat eaters alike, featuring experimental toppings like blue cheese, honey and walnut (without a tomato base) to the classic pepperoni. Pizzas are priced at approximately £11.50 each.

Typically I’d go for the most experimental, i.e. the blue cheese, honey and walnut combo, but I’ve seem to be recreating these same flavours again and again for my own recipes (like my pear and stilton flatbreads) because blue cheese and walnut are the recipe for a perfect marriage. On this occasion my reviewee date and I went for ‘The Autumn’, to enjoy the current seasonal flavours, and ‘The Vegetarian’. ‘The Autumn’ is apt for those with luxurious and expensive tastebuds as it was laden with mushrooms, pine nuts and truffle oil. The flavourful ‘Vegetarian’ option featured tender artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, green and black olives and caramelised onion. Both were a real treat, but ‘The Autumn’ was particularly distinct in flavour due to the drizzling of truffle oil and the abundance of toasted pine nuts.

The owner Chris is cheerful and welcoming, and the way he runs the restaurant truly reminds me of No 1 Polsloe’s style, as it has a lovely, personal touch which comes with independent businesses. For example, Chris recently invited in local primary school children to propose their own perfect pizzas, and the winning design made its way onto the menu. The walls are decorated with exceptional prints and drawings by local secondary school students, too.

I apologise that my photos aren’t up to my usual standard as the restaurant was romantically lit by candlelit, so the pictures do not do the pizzas justice. I would encourage you to try out Truffles whilst you have the chance before entering graduate life; it’s a perfect location for a cosy date. Alternatively, you can experience the pizza in the comfort of your own home with Deliveroo…

Truffles Pizzeria on Facebook

Truffles Pizzeria on TripAdvisor

 

Aubergine katsu and miso crunch bao buns

Aubergine katsu and miso crunch bao buns makes 4 buns; vegetarian 

tackling this Taiwanese dish; they’re a worthwhile challenge. Here I combine the pillow soft buns with classic Asian flavours. 

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 130g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp instant dried yeast
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 30ml whole milk
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil

Method:bao making.jpg

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, caster sugar, yeast and baking powder. Pour in the milk and sunflower oil; mix well until a smooth and stretchy dough is formed. Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
  2. Shape into a ball and wrap in clingfilm. Place in a bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for approximately 2 hours.
  3. Once the dough has doubled in size, separate into 4 equal-sized balls, weighing approximately 80g each.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the balls into flat oval shapes. Brush the dough with little sunflower oil. Fold over, placing a chopstick where the crease in the bun will be, so it can be filled with tasty ingredients.
  5. Prepare the steamer (this can be bamboo or stainless steel), and steam the buns in batches for 8 minutes each.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetAubergine katsu bao:

  • 1 small aubergine, sliced into 1cm discs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp katsu curry paste
  • 5g fresh coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. Lightly dust the aubergine discs, then coat in beaten egg and panko breadcrumbs. Fry the coated aubergine in 1 tbsp sunflower oil, for 3 minutes on each side until cooked through andgolden brown.
  2. Gently warm the katsu curry paste, adding the fresh coriander. Fill the steamed buns up with the aubergine discs and curry paste.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Miso crunch bao:

  • 70g cabbage, roughly shredded
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 4 radishes, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 small red chilli, sliced
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1tsp dark soy sauce

Method:

  1. Fry the cabbage, spring onions, radishes, garlic, ginger, chilli in miso paste and soy sauce.
  2. Load up the steamed buns with the stir fry.

Salad to serve:

  • Spinach
  • Radishes
  • Fresh red chilli
  • Cucumber
  • Spring onions
  • A sprinkling of sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset