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Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Apple and mincemeat galette

Mince pies have been filling up the supermarket shelves for the last few months and jars of ready-made mincemeat have sneakily taken their place amongst the baking ingredients ready to jump out and berate you for being completely unprepared for Christmas months in advance. If you’re one of those wonderfully organised souls you’ll have made your own batch of mincemeat several weeks ago. I, on the other hand, found myself baking with the tail-end of last year’s jars until my lovely mum kindly handed me a jar she’d made the other weekend. (more…)

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More cake today. This time with fruit which totally makes it healthy. And with big gooey pockets of custard which makes it more healthy. Custard’s good for you right? Lots of calcium, good for strong bones. Ahem. The idea for this cake has been kicking around for a while now going through various transformations in my head before it ever even hit the mixing bowl. The first seed of inspiration came from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet, an encyclopaedia of all things good, which has a recipe for apple and walnut cake dotted with custard. I pinched the custard element and reduced the sugar since his recipes always turn out too sweet for my tastes. The cake is a basic sponge made with both caster and soft brown sugar for a caramel depth and spiced with nutmeg, the traditional and perfect flavour pairing for creamy custard and a good match with plums. (more…)

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Hip hip hooray! Today is T and Cake’s 2nd birthday! Wow, where have the last two years gone? So much has happened over that time and hopefully there are many more adventures to come. My new kitchen units have arrived (all 120 boxes) and hopefully I’ll soon be busy experimenting with new toys and fancy settings on the oven. I’ve also had the good fortune to get an allotment which will require rather a lot of heavy duty digging over winter but should provide some beautiful fresh ingredients come next summer. But what is a blog without people to read it? Here’s to you, kind readers. Thank you for stopping by, leaving comments and making this blog what it is. I’m sorry not to be able to share this birthday cake with you in person but we can celebrate in spirit. Cheers!

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My love for tartiflette knows no bounds: tender slices of potato, smoky bacon and browned onions melded together by hot melted cheese sets my heart a-flutter (and, if I consumed it as frequently as I wished, would probably also stop my heart). Designed to revive hard-working mountain dwellers in the Haute Savoie, nowadays it’s also the perfect calorie-fest after a hard day’s skiing. It’s hearty, rich, warming and utterly, utterly delicious. The cheese of choice is Reblochon a mildly pungent, nutty cheese from the French Alps which has a melty, soft texture and turns bubbly, golden and crisp around the edges when baked. During three lovely months spent in the Haute Savoie, living in the lake-side town of Annecy, I worked my way through a good number of tartiflettes made with all sorts of cheeses. Whilst they were all great (especially the goat’s cheese ones) the classic recipe is definitely the best. If you should find yourself in the area you can’t go far wrong at Le Freti, cheese shop by day and restaurant by night. Just be sure to book a table in advance. (more…)

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It’s been a busy old few weeks round here, especially the weekends which have been full of sanding and varnishing floorboards and a day-long haul to Ikea where we finally ordered a shiny new kitchen! We’ve been working like the clappers to get everything ready before the cabinets arrive on Friday (Ikea’s lead time is ridiculously quick). Doors have been hung, skirting board painted and worktop samples ordered; my kitchen is finally starting to come together but rather than feeling excited I’ve been immersed in a sense of blind panic. Foreboding questions are doing laps round my mind. What if it turns out I’ve chosen the wrong combination of cabinets? Is the worktop really going to be too low? Where is all the food going to live? How will I ever find a sink I actually like and can afford? Or a tap? When I find it’s all getting a bit too much I head into my temporary kitchen 1) to remind myself that even if the final product’s not perfect, it’s better than what I’ve got at the moment and 2) to get stuck into some baking which, in the most part, is my favourite way to relax.

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When you have good butter you really need some good bread to enjoy it with. In such cases bread and butter becomes a real treat. When I was little Mum would feed my brother and I bread and butter as a snack if we said we were hungry – it’s good wholesome food for growing kids but not exciting enough that we’d ask for it when we weren’t really hungry. I used to love having a piece of hot buttered toast with a glass of milk before bed and, although I’ve long since given up bedtime snacks, I still enjoy my bread and butter. I spoiled myself to some wonderful raw butter from Isigny-sur-mer, it’s so creamy, almost a little farmy in flavour, and is flecked with big, crunchy grains of sea salt from Guérande. I’ve been happily spreading it on the lowliest of bread including the scraps of crust leftover from my blackberry and sloe gin puddings but I can’t help but feel it deserves something more. Something with a little more sophisticated than a slice of Hovis. (more…)

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It’s another Avignon-inspired recipe for you today! Going back to Les Halles market – the one to give you foodie dreams for years to come – I mentioned the boulanger who sold apple pie by the slice. His pie/tart was not the usually fancy affair with neatly sliced apples delicately arranged in concentric circles but a handheld, picnic-friendly pud.  A sweet apple compote was sandwiched between two layers of flakey, buttery puff pastry while the top was covered in a crackly layer of golden sugar. Thin squares of pie were sliced up and wrapped in a napkin for eating on the spot. The perfect end to a simple lunch of cheese, bread and tomatoes eaten on a sunny park bench overlooking the Rhone river. (more…)

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