“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot
for a lot of people; it does for me.”
Now if you know what’s good for you- you’ll say yes! I just love risotto and when I found this little gem I was delighted to make it my own. And this is just perfect to have with a coffee at 11, or with some creamy vanilla ice cream as a dessert. Warm of cold, it makes no odds. Just simply divine.
There is no food richer in meaning than rice: life, wealth, and prosperity accompany this grain, a cornerstone of Italian cuisine. It was already a common ingredient in ancient China and India. According to archeologists, rice originated 15,000 years ago on the Indian side of the Himalayas!
Rice is an extremely important ingredient for the populations of the Far East who base their diet on this white cereal. Alexander the Great introduced the grain to Persia and then scientists brought it to the Middle East. Over the centuries, it finally made its way to Europe, first in Greece, then in the Roman lands, where it was never cultivated, rather imported. Rice remained an expense food for the rich Westerners who used it in small doses as a cosmetic or to fight against intestinal disease or fevers!
Risotto Rice, milk, sugar and dried fruit go into this delicious gluten-free cake originally from the city of Bologna.
When it’s apple season it also happens to be pear season. My Grandmother always grew pears aswell as apples and always kept a fruit paring knife in her apron to dole out fruit to the hungry grandchildren. She always kept the pears on the windowsil to ripen. And for me, often, pears are like avocados. A 10 second window of ripeness that often happens, apparently, in the middle of the night, so that they go from rock- diamond hard to mush in 12 hours. This cake uses pears, but they are nearly better when not quite ripe.
200g Plain Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
200g sugar, plus more for sprinkling
100g butter, melted and cooled, plus more for brushing
80ml plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large pear, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter and line a loaf tin. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar with the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then fold in the pears and ginger.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean; loosely cover the top with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning.
Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool completely in the pan. Invert the cake onto a plate and invert again. I like to “paint” the cake top with sugar syrup and I scatter some sugar crystals. Slice the cake and serve with some softly whipped cream.
My Father in law was going away recently and gave me some items from his fridge to use up. There were three cooked and peeled bulbs of beetroot in a bowl. Hmm I said. Salad? nah. Cake? Yes! And I’m not a fan of the hiding vegetables-in-cake brigade, as
a) My family EAT vegetables
b) I’m hesitant about the nutritional value of the said vegetable post bake
Anyway, in this case the beetroot needed using, so chocolate cake ensued. Beetroot is almost always organically grown as it is resistant to most pests. Good News. But grows best in cooler climes, so with the onset of climate change definitely starting to affect us here… Bad News.
150g of cooked beetroot (simply boil in it’s scrubbed skin until soft, then peel)
140g plain white flour
1 rounded teaspoon of baking powder
60g good quality cocoa powder
150g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
140g sunflower oil
50g dark chocolate, chopped
Heat your oven to 170oC. Grease a good quality loaf tin, and line with baking paper, bringing it well up the sides. Unusually I am using my Kenwood food processor, that I normally wouldn’t DREAM of making cakes in. (and yes, since you’re asking I dream about making cakes ALL the time)
Anyway, I digress. “Blend” the beetroot until like little grated chunks. Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla, eggs and cocoa. Blend again slowly then add the oil down through the chute until you get a nice sloppy cake consistency. You may need to scoot around the sides with a spatula to make sure everything is nicely blended.
Pour/ scoop into the prepared tin and sprinkle the chopped chocolate on top.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes or until the skewer comes out almost clean. Leave in the tin to cool down completely.
I’ve been asked to make some Valentine treats for customers and I thought I would share some ideas. Many people don’t want to go out Valentine’s night, and this year, being a Tuesday, it might suit you better to spend the evening.
“Take 6 Small Kisses
Throw in 2 mahoosive hugs
A heaped cup of kindness
And a whole lot of love
Mix together with happiness
And share between two hearts”
I’ll be putting the recipe for these in this months newsletter- but biscuits are always a nice gift. Either munch on them with a cup of tea, or serve with a light chocolate mousse as a dessert.
And if all comes to all, you can just go all out and have a heart shaped cake…
Let me know if you want to order any of the above, or are looking for ideas to cook yourself for a special dinner-
As it’s getting a little closer to December I’m taking orders for my hampers, Christmas cakes and other goodies.
All are available for collection or delivery within reason!
There is a sweet hamper containing:
Jams, Cupcakes, chocolates, meringues, biscuits etc.
You can of course, have a mix of both.
Christmas cakes, both chocolate biscuit cake, and traditional fruit are also available to go into the hampers. They are finished to a high standard and painted in a Christmas scene.
|Food Lovers Feast||30.00|
|6″ Hand painted luxury fruit Christmas Cake||30.00|
|8″ Hand painted luxury fruit Christmas Cake||40.00|
|6″ Chocolate Broken Biscuit Christmas Cake||30.00|
|8″ Broken Biscuit Chocolate Christmas Cake||60.00|
|Christmas Themed Cupcakes||12||15.00|
Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org , or by Facebook. By phone 0879295673 is best by text due to the whole coverage issue!
It’s a given thing in our house, that anyone around the farm at approximately 4 o’clock in the afternoon, heads to Alan’s house for “tea”. This has been happening for as long as we are in Waterford (15+ years), and I’m sure it happened before then too. And the tea consists of tea, with a maximum of 2 biscuits. In fact that was my first foray into speaking Finnish. My nieces and nephews would ask Liisa (my Finnish sis in law) how many biscuits they could have. And to this day, she still will say “kaksi keksejä”, which means two biscuits! But sometimes it involves cake…
The key ingredient of course, of any afternoon is the tea. I try to use looseleaf when making a pot. And I’ve lots of teapots. Lots. But sometimes only a bag in a cup will do. My favourite is Breakfast tea blend, but try to have Darjeeling later through the day. And I know it sounds ridiculously snobby to have a a favourite tea. But people have favourite coffee don’t they???
Afternoon tea can be fun- but also glamorous, and is a very relaxing way to spend time with friends and family. Afternoon tea, is in the fact the new cocktail hour in many hotels. At some stage I want to try the one served in the Ritz Hotel in London. They have served this meal since 1906!! But at £52 per person it’s a bit steep. The more up to date version in Claridge’s (who have only been serving it for 150 years) is a more informal setting focuses more on the food.
Using fresh water (very important because of aeration) bring the kettle to the boil.
Immediately “scald” the pot, leaving the water in it for around 5 minutes.
Empty this water out.
Add one teaspoon of loose leaf tea per person into the warmed pot. Reboil the kettle and add onto the tea. Leave for about 3 minutes, stir and serve.
Darjeeling, as it happens, is a perfect flavour to have with a creamy pastry, so says the king of pastry, Eric Lanlard. So who am I to disagree? Course now that he’s said that, I’ll have to try it. Won’t I??
For me, Baileys Irish Cream is a drink I enjoy every now and then with my sister in law, so I felt it was fitting to make her birthday cake using it. And as it was a “big” birthday, I felt it was a good idea to get creative with the decorating.
Baileys Chocolate Cake Ingredients: 150g unsalted butter, chopped 100g dark chocolate, chopped 100g caster sugar 100g brown sugar 50g good quality (preferably Dutch) cocoa powder, sifted 180ml Baileys Irish Cream Liquor 170g plain flour 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 3 eggs, room temperature FOR THE MASCARPONE BUTTER CREAM ICING 300g icing sugar 150g butter (soft) Tub of mascarpone FOR THE CHOCOLATE BAILEYS GANACHE 100g good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped 50ml cream 50ml Baileys Irish Cream pinch of sea salt 10g butter, softened to room temperature Method: Preheat oven to 160°C. In a pan over low heat, melt the butter, chocolate, sugars, cocoa powder and Baileys, stirring to get rid of any lumps. Remove from heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, grease and line a 20-21cm round cake tin. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. Add the eggs to the slightly cooled chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Gently fold in the flour mix until free of lumps. Scrape into cake tin then bake for about 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanish. Remove from oven and cool in tin for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and cooling it down completely. Trim the tops of the cake to level. FOR THE GANACHE Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Bring the cream, Baileys and the salt to a simmer in a pan. Pour over the chocolate and sit for a minute. Gently stir to combine then beat in the butter. Set aside at room temperature and cool until it is thick enough to spread over your cooled cake. Gently stir the ganache occasionally as it cools to keep the temperature even and the ganache smooth. FOR THE BUTTERCREAM Mix the butter and the icing sugar together, then add the mascarpone, beat very well (I use my kenwood for this) TO ASSEMBLE: Level the top of the cake, make a crumb layer using the cream cheese buttercream, refrigerate for one hour. Further cover the cake with the buttercream. Smooth with a warmed palette knife. Refrigerate again. Carefully pour the ganache onto the cooled buttercream coated layer, tilting to give the “dripping” effect.
2015 was a complete whirlwind for me. I started with Ballymaloe in the first week in January. It finished in March, then it was straight back to the day job and the usual school routine. I was really hoping to get some time cheffing in a kitchen to bed down the skills, but this didn’t materialise, and I made do with the home cooking practice. Hopefully this year! (offers welcome!)
In July I started running demonstrations from our kitchen. These have been so enjoyable for me, and I have had fantastic feedback. Click here for the latest schedule- What I enjoy most about them is meeting new people, helping them realise how important good food is, and how easy it is to cook!
My bespoke cake business has also taken off to my delight (and also to the relief of the collective family waistline). I really love baking. Of every kind, and this year hope to expand into new avenues and directions. I regularly supply a cafe in Tramore and love making cakes for people for their special occasions. Here’s a selection- I won’t even say favourites, as every cake I make I love!!!
This tiramisu cake is a favourite, and I know, going forward it will be a winner in 2016 too.
I just love how this Sugar Plum cake looks and tastes.
Cupcakes featured heavily in December- I think I made over 500 one week. Jords was questioning whether I was cupcaked out!!! But no, I just love baking. My father in law brought me back a mega cupcake baking tray from America. It certainly makes my life a lot easier.
This year I am going to focus on further selling cakes, and hopefully desserts too. And bread. Good bread is very hard to come by, and really is the simplest meal. My sourdough is going from strength to strength and I look forward to showing and sharing my recipe with others. They can have some of Sabrina too!
So looking back I’ve done so much in 12 months. Looking forward- who knows??? But hopefully much more of the same. With maybe a small holiday??? Pretty please??
This is my “letter” to the new students starting the 12 week course in January 2016. This time last year I was getting ready to start what turned out to be a life changing journey. I now cook with more of a conscience, and with more adventure.
Here are my tips for making the most out of YOUR journey.
1. Get the coffee into you. It’s going to be a long day.
2. Make the most of the days, sign up for all the extras- butchery and bread were my favourites.
3. Take copious notes. Believe me, you won’t remember everything.
4. Go to all the lectures, especially towards the end when often students are tempted to stay at home and cram- you’ll miss them when you’re finished.
5. Go foraging. It’s great fun, and a chance to get out and about in the (fingers crossed) sunshine.
6. Offer to pour the wine. It gives you a chance to stretch your legs- you’ll need it.
7. Try EVERYTHING. It’s your opportunity to taste ingredients from all over the world, and more importantly, top quality produce from the doorstep of the school.
8. Spend time with other students. I now have friends for life from those mere 12 weeks.
9. Take every morsel of knowledge from the encyclopaedia on food that is Darina Allen. She is my hero.
10. From the welcome at the door, to every single teacher and member of staff, to the suppliers that speak with such passion about their products. Every single person is dedicated to the cause. I miss them all!
Since leaving Ballymaloe I have strived to put into practice all I learnt. I use my blog to write about what we grow on our farm, and what I cook with those ingredients. I enjoy more thatnever making cakes, and now sell them weekly, helping the collective family waistline. I still get to bake what I love, but don’t have to eat it. Truly a win win!
I hope to expand this in the new year, and already have bookings for my demonstrations.
So best of luck, you’ll love it. Enjoy every minute of it. I wish I was coming back to do it all again.