Tuesday, 17 April 2012

People's Kitchen cakes

I did a bit of cooking and baking over the last few days, for the new People's Kitchen in Glossop.

Recipes have now been requested and as I winged it fairly heavily I'm now going to have to do some serious thinking! Two were intrepid new cake experiments based on the old faithful chocolate cake (I made one of these too, just in case) - added to which, I made them all gluten-free (substituted Doves gluten-free flour blend), which I've never attempted before.

*Note on quantities - this makes a massive amount of batter so I recommend halving it for a normal 8"/9" cake tin. In which case also reduce the baking time by 10 minutes or so.

Ginger, lemon and treacle cake:

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3-4 tsp ginger depending on personal taste
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda (a bit more if you're using gluten-free flour)
1 tsp salt

3/4 cup oil
2 tbsp vinegar (any kind will do)
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups cold water
4 tbsp treacle or molasses

Lemon drizzle:
140g caster sugar
juice of 2 lemons

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6, and thoroughly grease and flour your tin.

Sift your dry ingredients (except the sugar) together in one bowl and mix them up, then mix up your wet ingredients, and the sugar, in a separate bowl. I recommend heating up the treacle or molasses before spooning it in, or you'll be stirring for hours! Add the wet to the dry and mix until just combined, pour it into your tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is springy and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, mix your lemon drizzle ingredients together.

As soon as it comes out of the oven, stab it all over with a fork and spoon the drizzle on as evenly as you can. Leave it to cool in the tin. I warn you this cake was very difficult to remove from the tin! The drizzle made the middle of the cake so gooey that it has to be scooped out. I've therefore reduced the quantity of drizzle slightly in the hope of remedying this problem.

Pear and almond crumble cake:

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda (a bit more if you're using gluten-free flour)
1 tsp salt
(1/2 cup ground almonds would also be an excellent addition if you're feeling flush)

3/4 cup oil
2 tbsp vinegar (any kind will do)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp almond essence
2 cups cold water

Pear filling:
Large quantity of firm-ish pears (10-15? depending on how full you want your cake tin), cored and roughly chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp almond essence
1 tbsp treacle or molasses
1 tbsp cornflour

Crumble topping:
2 cups flour (this part is very rough as I just eyeballed it, but if you've ever made a crumble topping before you know how it goes!)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt

Mix the cake ingredients as above and pour the batter into your greased and floured tin. Par-bake the cake at 200C for about 20 minutes, so that a bit of a crust has formed on top.

While the cake is in, stir together the treacle with a cupful of water to loosen it up, and then add the cornflour, stirring until smooth. Mix this in with the pears, then add the cinnamon and almond essence. When everything is coated, add some more water if needed (you want the liquid to be 1/4-1/3 of the way up the pears) and then bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Don't overcook it - the pears should still be relatively intact, and the liquid just verging on viscous.

Make your crumble topping - throw all the dry stuff into a bowl and mix it together, then add a glug of oil and stir. Add more oil bit by bit, stirring it in, until the mixture gets clumpy. Then get your hands in the bowl and rub it between your fingertips until it becomes breadcrumby. If it's too sticky just add more flour - too dry, add more oil. Taste it to check the sweetness level too if you want. (I actually would have used half oats and half flour for this stage, but then I remembered oats have gluten in them! But you can put whatever your please in your crumble topping.)

Whip your half-baked cake out of the oven and, working quickly so you don't lose too much heat, scoop your pear filling on top. It will be impossible to spread so distribute it evenly with a spoon as you go. Then tip out the crumble on top of this (be careful of the hot tin!), spread it out and smush it down.

The tin will be heavy now so be careful getting the whole shebang back into the oven! From this point I baked it for probably 40-50 minutes. It will be difficult to tell if it is done because the soft pears throw the knife test off! But by the time the crumble starts to colour you should be in business. Let it cool in the tin.

I hope they work...

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Gosh, it feels like ages since I posted - oh yes, it is!

So here is a lovely cowl-type pattern I improvised (lace pattern derives from the 198 yards of heaven pattern - I had just finished one of those for a friend and it was on hand to attempt creating my own lace from!) using 2 skeins of Sirdar Big Softie in Cherry Pie (mmm, pie). It's a transcription of a few scribblings on a piece of paper so please feel free to point out errors, omissions and plain rubbishness, if you spot any.

Tools: 8mm needles, 10mm needles, 100 yards of super bulky yarn, and some buttons. Gauge appx 2sts = 1".

To fit a 14" neck loosely, or a bigger one more snugly. With 8mm needles, cast on 35 stitches in whatever way you please.

Working a 3 stitch garter edge at both ends throughout (I will not include instructions for this in any of the subsequent rows, but every row begins and ends with k3), begin by knitting 7" stocking stitch, or as long as you want to neck portion to be.

Increase row: *k1, yo* to last stitch, k1 - 63 sts.

Switch to 10mm needles. Purl one row. Mark centre stitch.

Lace section (apologies for writing it out longhand - I haven't figured out an effective chart-making system yet)

Row 1: k2, *yo, p1, yo, k5* to last st, yo, k1
Row 2 and all even rows: work as sts present themselves - purl the purls (and yarn overs), knit the knits.

Row 3: k2, *k1, p1, k1, yo, k2tog, k1, ssk, yo,* to last 2 sts, k2
Row 5: k1, *k2, p1, k2, yo, sl2 as if to k2tog, k1, psso, yo,* to last 3 sts, k3
Row 6: k3, *yo, k2tog,* to last 2 sts, yo, k2.

Bind off loosely, with a bigger needle if you have one. It's possible that I used a 15mm for this, as I have a problem with loose bind offs! Weave in ends, attach buttons to one of your selveges (I put far more than necessary on, mainly because I like buttons), or lace it up with ribbon, whatever you like, and you're done. I hope.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A Departure

I feel like a bit of a flake, but I'm afraid I have to announce my retirement from the challenge. My apologies, Raven and the Vegan Culinary Institute, it was a lovely idea but after 2 weeks I've come to the conclusion that this challenge just isn't, well challenging enough! I'd consider myself an intermediate to advanced amateur cook, and the recipes in La Dolce Vegan are just a wee bit tame for me. I feel, rather than being inspired, that I'm wasting my time and my money.

I do plan to take up anotyher similar challenge at some point in the future, though - this time I'm going to go way over my head and cook my way through the vegan and veganisable recipes in Terre a Terre's gourmet vegetarian cookbook!

There are about 52 by my rough count, which gives me one recipe a week. Easy, you may think, but some of these recipes are several pages long and involve up to six or seven sub-recipes! And some of them involve making pickles, home-made stock and so forth. I hope I can inspire a few others to join in with me.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Day Twelve: Cumin Rice

I made this a few days ago to bulk up the spinach salad for dinner. One of my favourite restaurants, Planet India in Brighton, serves cumin rice with everything and it's absolutely delicious, so a little piece of me was secretly hoping that this would be the recipe to replicate it. It's not (though part of that could have been to do with my using short grain brown rice instead of basati), but still rather tasty. Even better the next day too. I didn't have any parsley to top it with - I planned to fry up a little fenugreek (which I did have) and dollop it on top instead, but I forgot. NVM, as the kids say.

What has happened to my days?!

They have got all mixed up. I'm not sure where I skipped ahead, but I'll go and check and correct my errors to save confusion! Oops...

*Edit* No, no they haven't... It's our dear Raven who's losing her marbles, not me ;) That's a relief!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Days Ten and Eleven: Espresso Cake and Burrito Pie

A two-in-one blog/food bonanza!

Today was the end of a 6-day week at work for me, so I've had a lovely day off, getting up late, dashing around for last-minute ingredients (fortunately, for some reason my corner shop now sells silken tofu) and making a royal mess of my kitchen.

 For some reason, Mexican food incurs a maximum amount of mess and bowl usage. By the time I'd got this thing in the oven there was quite literally not a square inch of counter space left. It didn't help that the cake was sat on one of the hob rings (not lit, obviously), and my other half was busy frying tempura veg at the same time.

I've renamed this dish Mexican Lasagne due to its layered construction. For once I also ventured into vegan cheese territory, normally avoided like the plague, and in fact it worked rather nicely. It was even fed to a non-vegan with success. The whole thing was very delicious, despite some of my misgivings about baking avocado and pureeing salsa.

The tortillas fitted perfectly into the bottom of the dish, but the slight taper meant that by the time I got to the top the avo was poking out around the edge.

On to the cake.

Having had a slight advantage in being a day late in that I could read the other challengers' comments about this recipe first (is that cheating?!), I adjusted some of the ingredients a little to avoid over-heavy pitfalls. It was still on the solid side, but in a good hold-it-together way, rather than a lead-in-your-stomach way. I added a little baking powder, doubled the apple sauce (to which I added some Chinese brown sugar block in order to cut down on the white sugar), and increased the amount of flour by a touch to compensate. It was only as I was mixing the whole lot together that I realised this is a fat-free cake! My apple sauce wasn't smooth so there were lumps in the finished product, but that didn't matter. I did add a bit more soya milk too to get it to mix better, it looked far too gungy for my liking. Difficult to get into the tin - in my experience cake batter is normally a lot runnier. And as others have said, it didn't really taste of coffee, though I suspect it added a little je ne sais quoi.

By the time we'd finished our mains I was ready to glaze the cake, but alas hadn't read the instruction about putting it in the fridge for an hour to set! So instead I served it as warm chocolate sauce, yum. I halved the amount of margarine though because frankly it sounded a little disgusting. It wasn't. Though I'm not convinced that I'd ever use this again over a simple ganache.

Despite this, as you can see it all came together rather deliciously:

There was a little soya cream drizzled over too, but my picture of that step didn't come out so well. Alas though despite our guest quota there's still half a cake left in the fridge... (But not for long, I suspect)

Saturday, 10 September 2011

IOU one chocolate cake

Today I will mostly not be baking coffee and chocolate cakes with disgustingly decadent glazes. Mainly because I'm on a late shift at work, but also because I'm planning a luxurious lunch for my Sunday off tomorrow, involving burrito pies followed by the aforementioned cake. I may even make custard. In fact I'm drooling a little bit already just thinking about it.