Sunday, 30 September 2012

Cherry & Thyme Loaf

Simple and scrumptious, this frosty topped cake is fast becoming a warming new tea time favourite of ours as the autumn cold creeps in.

My own
Serves 8

175g unsalted butter, room temperature
175g caster sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
175g plain flour, plus extra for rolling the cherries
1 tsp baking powder
a large handful of glace cherries
a smaller handful of fresh thyme leaves

1. Turn the oven to 180C (160C fan ovens), and grease and line a 1lb loaf tin.

2. Roll the glace cherries in a little extra flour, then on a separate plate chop the thyme leaves finely, and put both to one side.

3.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar for about 3 minutes until smooth.

4. Beat the first egg in to the creamed mixture, then a spoonful of the flour and stir gently before beating in the other egg. Add the rest of the flour and baking powder a bit at a time.

5. Throw in the cherries and chopped thyme. Very gently stir the cherries into the batter using a wooden spoon.

6. Pour into the prepared loaf tin. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes, checking to see if it is ready after 45. You'll know it's done once the top springs back under your finger and a skewer comes out clean.

7. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before placing on a wire rack or plate.

8. Once cooled but still warm, sift the top of the cake with icing sugar, and serve with a nice cuppa.

This cake was idly baked while listening to Lucy Rose's debut album Like I Used To, a present from my lovely friend Nadine

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Berry Cordial

The choice is yours, whether to make blackberry, raspberry, strawberry or even tayberry or blueberry cordial! When I made this a while ago I plundered our home grown tayberries, but now the shift in seasons brings the possibility of autumnal fruit to enjoy. It would be the perfect time to throw the last of your blackberries into this sweetly sophisticated beverage.

Inspired by one for plum cordial by Skye Gyngell in Waitrose magazine August 2012. For similar, see
300g fresh berries
250g caster sugar (or more, dependent on the sharpness of the fruit)
juice of 1 lemon (orange instead for blackberries or blueberries)
still or sparkling water, to serve
1. Put the berries, caster sugar and lemon juice into a blender and whizz until smooth. Taste for sweetness, adding more sugar or citrus juice as needed.
Alternatively if you don't have a blender, heat the ingredients together in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring well.
2. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a large bowl, and stir again until it is smooth.
3. Pour the cordial into a sterilised bottle until needed.
4. To serve, dilute the cordial with sparkling or still water (about 1 part cordial to 4 parts water), and serve with ice cubes, mint sprigs and perhaps a slice of lemon.
This cordial was idly concocted as I listened to the choral music of Hildegaard Von Bingen

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Gluten Free Painted Brown Sugar Cupcakes

I heard someone on the radio the other day say "Idleness is only a coarse name for my endless capacity for living in the present". It rang so true to me. I've been so involved in the present lately, that I've not had time to look back and blog those delicious hand painted cupcakes from my mad tea party.
Better late than never, here they are now, with a special thank you to the very talented Natasha for showing me via her wonderful website Amelies House, (click here) how to paint on cake. It was my first try, and I loved the results.

for the cupcake bases:
125g unsalted butter
125g light muscovado sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g gluten free plain flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum, or gluten free baking powder such as Barkart

1. Turn the oven to 180C (160 fan) and place medium cupcake cases in a 12 muffin baking tray. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, until smooth and fluffy.

2. Throw in the eggs one at a time and beat well, adding a spoonful of flour after each one.

3. Next sieve the flour and baking powder into the mixture, stirring gently until the batter is combined.

4. Spoon the batter into each cupcake case, until they are approximately two-thirds full (you want to leave enough room for the cakes to rise).

5. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. You'll know the cakes are done when a skewer comes out clean.

6. Take out of the oven and leave for a few minutes, before moving the cupcakes in their cases to a wire rack or plate to cool.

for the icing:
gluten free white ready rolled icing (I used Silver Spoon icing)
2 tablespoons raspberry or apricot jam
Sugarflair colour tint pastes, to decorate

7. Gently boil the jam over a low heat, then leave to cool. Once the cupcakes are also cool, brush the tops with a little of the boiled jam to glaze.

8. Roll out the ready made icing and cut out rounds, one for each cupcake, using a cookie cutter. The cutter I used was 58mm.

9. Place a cut round of icing on the top of each cupcake, and press down lightly to make it stick.

10. Using Sugarflair edible colour pastes, a small paintbrush, and a little water if necessary, paint faces or any other designs onto the icing. Leave to dry before serving.

These cupcakes were idly baked while listening to Grinderman's eponymous debut album