Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Pumpkin Spice Cake





It's that time of year again. Everybody has started screaming about #PSLs being available at that coffee chain that we keep supporting even though they don't pay their corporation taxes. I'm so over it.


Don't get me wrong: I love pumpkin more than you could ever understand. When I first found out about pumpkin spice latte, my heart skipped a beat (though I did think the idea of pumpkin and coffee sounded rather on the not delicious side of delicious). But here's the thing…

THERE'S NO PUMPKIN IN THE DAMN THINGS! It's pumpkin spice in the sense of 'spices that you might put into a pumpkin pie', not actual pumpkin-infused coffee drink.

I thought it was awful. Misleading. Wrong. And then it dawned on me last week that I could use the widely accepted deceit to my advantage, since I didn't actually have any pumpkin in the house and I wanted to bust out the Nordic Ware pumpkin loaf pan. (And why wouldn't I? Have you seen how beautiful this cake is?)

So there we go: pumpkin spice cake, without an ounce of pumpkin in it. Well, if Starbucks can do it with their lattes…

Try it. I'm not saying don't cook with pumpkin at all, but if you have this tin, it's a shame not to use it at this time of year. (I actually also use it for lemon drizzle year-round, but don't tell anyone.)

By the way, the almond extract is optional, but I have been tinkering about with my bottle of it ever since Fuss Free Helen turned me onto the stuff made by Steenberg's. I love the extra marzipanny depth it gives everything, but I know that not everyone is an almond lover, so you might just want the vanilla. Your choice.


Pumpkin Spice Cake

You will need:

200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
225g soft butter
4 egg whites (or 2 whole eggs, I just had whites to use!)
75ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease a standard sized loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, or a stand mixer (which is what I used), mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the butter and milk and mix until well combined. Beat for two minutes.
  3. Add the egg whites and extracts and beat until smooth (about another minute).
  4. Scrape into the prepared tin and bake for about 45 minutes. Rest for ten minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
Delicious Delicious Delicious received three samples of extracts from Steenberg's Organic. No money changed hands, and my opinions are, as always, my own.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Pumpkin Roll Cake




I am not even going to apologise for the lack of updates since July. On that matter, I will say only the following: my life has changed unbelievably since that last update, and there just hasn't been a single moment in my new life when, much as I love doing it, I have thought; "You know what? I really feel like writing a blog post."


Anyway…

I quit flying!

I know. I can't quite believe it either, but it is true. I gave it up. It was one of the hardest, most horrendous decisions to make of my life. I used to grumble about it often, but really, I loved flying, and I adored my colleagues. The problem, I thought (and still do), is that I was working for the wrong company. Doing something I loved alongside great friends was a fantastic way to spend seven and a half years (yeah, I did it for that long: my try-it-for-two-years-max experiment gave me almost a decade's worth of grey hair.), but it takes a lot to fly long haul, both physically and mentally, and I felt like my employers wanted too much and offered too little for me to stay there.

Life is like a pie. At least I think of mine like one. I want to share that pie out. Some goes to my family, I like to give slices to my friends and hobbies, and obviously, work gets a wedge as well. But flying wanted all the pie. All of it.

I also felt like I needed to change jobs, or I'd be a flight attendant forever. Which I know some people love, and have a great time doing, but I don't think that is for me. An amazing opportunity came my way, at a great organisation here in Cardiff, and I took it.

I work 9-5, in an office, and I have great co-workers. I am learning new things everyday, and I love it. I feel like my new employers took a huge chance on me, and I am determined to make sure they don't regret it!

The change was terrifying, but worth it. I'm stealing this next part from Niki Haris (you might need to Google her), but change is good: "Things that aren't changing aren't growing; things that aren't growing are dying."

So that's why I have been away. I've been busy changing. And it's been amazing.

Oh, and I made a pumpkin roll. Recipe here.

Be back soon. Promise!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

El desayuno: Tostada con tomate


OK, OK, I think we have established in the past that I am not a Spanish speaker, but after my recent trip to Malaga I have been inspired to try and recreate the super sensational breakfast I ate there every single day. And it sounds better in the original language - 'tomato toasts' doesn't really make me feel the least bit hungry, and I doubt anybody is really going to search for that on Google either.

(Just saying.)

Here's the deal: warm toasted bread, drizzled with peppery olive oil and rubbed with juicy, red, sun-sweet tomato. It's so much more than it sounds, and I happen to think it sounds pretty good actually. The way it's served at Dulces Dreams, the place I stayed in (and recommend to all), the tomato comes pulped in a little dish, along with bread, oil and salt, so that's how I have been making it at home too. To be honest, you could probably just rub a cut tomato into the toast and it would be less of a production, but some of us live for the drama, so don't hate me for adding an extra step.

I do think that good extra virgin olive oil is essential. It needs to be peppery and make your mouth tingle, otherwise it's just... well, oil. I've been tinkering with the new Gran Cru range from Filippo Berio, and think their Toscano is just perfect here. I know it's Italian, and this is a Spanish recipe, but let's be honest: who's going to know when it's on the bread and tomato? Toscano has pep, a lovely grassy colour and a nice fragrance too. A little sprinkle of sea salt on the top and you have a seriously delicious breakfast.

Unspoilt. Unadulterated.

The Gran Cru range also has oils from Sicily and Puglia, the different regions (goodness me, the temptation to use the word 'terroirs' runs high!) each offering something different in terms of flavour and colour. I recommend checking them out if you see them in your supermarket; the quality is really high, and good oil makes all the difference in your cooking.

Tostada con tomate

You will need:

(Per person)

1 white crusty bread roll
2 good sized ripe tomatoes
good extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

  1. Split the roll in half and toast the inside. I used my griddle, but the toaster would work as well. Obviously.
  2. While that's happening, either just slice the tomatoes to rub onto the toast later, or grate them using a box grater. 
  3. To serve, drizzle the toast generously with oil; top with tomato and sprinkle with salt. Eat. Repeat.

Delicious Delicious Delicious received a sample of oils from the Filippo Berio Gran Cru range.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Chocolate Cream Cake

 More deliciousness on Instagram.

There are times, despite the sunshine and good weather, that you just feel exhausted, grouchy and in need of the sort of food you never really need at all. I'm talking toasted cheese sandwiches,burgers and big slices of chocolate cake.

Like this one.

In the long-running battle of cake vs. frosting, I have always been, and remain, firmly entrenched behind the lines of cake. It's not that I hate icing, it's just that cake is better. Which is why this chocolatey little beast is exactly what I need a slice of right now. But after my grilled cheese. OK?

There's no typo with this recipe by the way: there is not meant to be any butter in it. The whipped cream acts as the shortening, and quite honestly, has enough butterfat in it (we're talking a whole pot's worth of cream here) that the cake tastes as if it were actually made by dairy cows themselves.

Which doesn't sound delicious, but trust me, this is.

You can also bake it in regular sandwich tins; they'll take about twenty minutes in the oven.

If you feel the need for more chocolate after enjoying this, try this flourless chocolate cake or even these fondants flavoured with orange. Maybe add cherries (this one also has no butter - score!).

Chocolate Cream Cake

You will need:

150g plain flour
75g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
300ml double cream
225g caster sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease and flour a 25cm bundt tin.
  2. Using a whisk, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. Whip the cream until starting to form stiff peaks; then add the eggs and sugar and beat until airy and combined. 
  4. Fold in the dry ingredients, pour into the prepared tin and bake for around 30 minutes, or until well risen and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. 
  5. Cool for ten minutes in the tin, and invert on to a wire wrack to finish cooling.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Malted Banana Ice-Cream






As I sit here, on standby (FML, as the youngsters seem to be saying these days), I realise that it is the first of the month.


Will July be when I start blogging with the increased frequency that I used to? Will I go back to being the kind of nice, friendly blogger who comments on others' posts and engages in conversations on Twitter and Facebook? Well, we can hope. There are going to be big changes coming up anyway, so you never know!

I am freshly back from holiday, and suffering from the associated exhaustion that such a state entails. Am I the only one who thinks we should be entitled to a post-holiday holiday to get over the first? Maybe it's my age (I turned 32 last week).

I spent a week in Malaga, visiting a former flyer friend who just opened a hotel in the old town there. In actual fact, he was in Ibiza for most of the time we were in town, but nonetheless, I took the opportunity to eat as many local treats as one possibly can without the help of a guide (I manage that rather well!) and am going to try to rustle up some of them for these very pages.

One of my favourite finds was a local heladeria, which had such wonderful ice-cream I can hardly bear thinking about it. Thus, I have been in full chilled dessert making mode since coming back home. I have turned out fairly decent strawberry gelato, but the way I do it uses raw eggs and I know what you lot are like about raw eggs in food, having received a raft of emails about leaving them out when I shared my Alphonso mango tiramisu recipe years ago. So I am giving you an egg free malted banana version (which is inspired by a dessert let down I had recently in Bill's - does anyone ever come away from there feeling satisfied? I find it all style and no substance). You don't need an ice-cream maker: this is no churn. Hurrah.

Enjoy.

Malted Banana Ice-Cream

You will need:

1 tin of condensed milk (397g)
300ml double cream
2 ripe bananas, mashed
4 tbsp Horlicks, or other malted milk powder
2 tbsp vodka (optional, but keeps texture smooth during long storage in freezer)
  1. Whisk everything together until thick and airily creamy. Freeze. That's it.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Cardamom Coffee Cake


I love Instagram filters. Is it cheating? Oh well. @peterdelicious

In keeping with my recent discovery of delicious Northern European baking, I am bringing you my adaptation of a Norwegian cake I have read about a few times and put off baking for no good reason at all.

I have never been to Norway: we flirt with the idea regularly, and good friends tease us by saying we should all go on a great escape to the fjords, but it hasn't happened and probably won't for ages as said friends have just had a baby. So I think it's OK to have made huge changes to what started off as a fairly trad and standard-looking recipe.


Some people get annoyingly OTT about authenticity. I just don't think it's important. Switch out brown sugar for white; use whole, skin-on almonds that have been roughly chopped instead of buying slivered and blanched ones: it's a cake at the end of the day. Calm down.

You might think this is not a seasonal offering, and you'd be right. But given that right now it is chucking it down outside and we are in the midst of a full on Indian mango ban, what is there to feel Summery about?

(I suppose you could add strawberries.)

Oh yeah, and this is coffee cake in the US sense: there isn't any coffee in it, it's the sort of thing you have alongside your cup of Java.

Cardamom Coffee Cake

You will need:

200g butter, melted
2 tsp ground cardamom
225g caster sugar
3 eggs
300g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
200ml milk
3 tbsp dark brown muscovado sugar
3 tbsp almonds, chopped

  1. Heat the oven to190°C and grease and line a deep sided 20 x 20cm pan. Melt the butter and set it aside.
  2. Beat the caster sugar and eggs with an electric mixer for about five minutes until thick and creamy. 
  3. Add the flour, cardamom, baking powder and melted butter, and continue to whisk until smooth. Gradually add the milk, still whisking. The batter will have the texture of a thick soup.
  4. Pour into the prepared tin and sprinkle with the almonds and dark muscovado sugar. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool in the tin and cut into squares before serving.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Pumpkin Pie, Peter-fied

Yum.

I am currently downloading the soundtrack to Disney's 'Frozen' and I can barely wait to start singing along. I'm getting the Japanese version of 'Let It Go' as well, which in my opinion has better lyrics, but whatever. I am late to this party and I know you all already have this song (in whatever language you want) on repeat in your cars and playing in your earphones as you commute. In fact, you probably had it in 2013. I just take a while sometimes.

(By the way, I don't normally do Disney. I have been corrupted by my niece. If you prefer the image of me listening to PJ Harvey, know that I was doing that last night. See - I'm still cool. Ish.)

Now: I made a pie recently and I wasn't sure if I was going to put it on here, because it's a pumpkin pie, and some people will say it's the wrong time of year for that. Also, I switched the pastry for a crumb crust (because we all know that pastry can be a disappointment), and there will be people who are offended at that as well.

BUT I CANNOT PLEASE YOU ALL. So here's pumpkin pie, my way. With treacly muscovado sugar and loads more spices than you're supposed to put in it.

What I really wanted to mention was the amazing silicone springform pan I used to make it in. It's by a company called Lékué - from what I gather they are Spanish. (Another thing for Spaniards everywhere to be proud of.) What is amazing about this pan is that the bottom is a ceramic plate. The silicone sides insulate the cake or pie while it is baking and, once cool, come away perfectly, leaving smooth edges and a cake that is ready to serve. It is literally genius.


You can get it here. I think Nigella used one of these on one of her TV programmes too, so you know it's good. The silicone insulates so gently that you could bake a cheesecake in this without all of that water bath tomfoolery.

I have so much more yumminess coming up, and I don't really know why I have been so lax about posting recently, but bear with. I'll get there. Meanwhile...

Pumpkin Pie, My Way

You will need:

250g digestive biscuits
75g butter

3/4 cup dark muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
good grating nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
2 eggs
1 can pumpkin puree
1 can evaporated milk

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Crush the biscuits. Melt the butter. Mix the two together and push this resulting sandy mixture into a 25cm springform pan. Try to raise the edges slightly, though if you want to go cheesecake style, this would still look beautiful with just a base. Chill in the fridge for ten minutes while you make the filling.
  2. Mix the other ingredients together until you have a smooth creamy filling. Pour over the base and bake for an hour or until a cocktail stick inserted near the centre comes out clean.
  3. Cool on a wire rack for a few hours and serve with crème fraïche.

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