Yoghurt Berry cake and cooking credentials

You may be reading this blog wondering what credentials I have to be advising people about their cooking (valid question) – the answer is: none. I have no formal culinary qualifications, I just love it. I’m a strong believer in doing what you love – I love writing, pretty things and cooking, so writing a cooking blog seemed like a sensible choice.

flowersWhen I say cooking, I mainly mean baking. I have a near insatiable sweet-tooth, so I gravitate towards cooking things which are sweet (and often visually pleasing!) I will try to blog about savoury dishes as well, but I can’t promise they’ll be exciting – nobody gets excited over spag bol!

Cooking (baking especially) should make you happy. If it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong. There are always going to be times when you can’t fathom getting home from work/uni/whatever else you do to slave over an oven, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Find recipes that excite you. Experiment. Make something up! You don’t have to be a professional to make something amazing.

Not everyone gets as excited about cooking as I do, but I like to think that they have it within them somewhere.

A friend of mine loves coming to my house because there are always left overs. She goes crazy over a simple chocolate slice or mashed potato, but refuses to believe that she can replicate them in her house.  She can. I’m going to make her understand this even if it pains me! You can cook as well.

This recipe is super simple and works warm or cold. It’s great for entertaining – it’s quick to make and it makes people happy! It works with most fruits as well. If you don’t have fresh berries, use frozen ones. Nectarines cut into wedges look really effective if you use a lamington tin instead of round cake tin.

sliceSuper simple Berry Yoghurt Cake

  • 125g butter
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 3/4 cup vanilla yoghurt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Icing sugar, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced. Grease a 23cm round cake tin.

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

mixtureAdd eggs, beating to combine. Mix in your plain flour, then the yoghurt. If you only have greek yoghurt in the fridge (like I did), add a teaspoon of vanilla to the mixture as well. Add the self-raising flour and mix until combined. This is quite a thick mixture, don’t worry if it’s a little hard to mix. Spread mixture into your greased cake tin.

tinThe cake tin I’m using has been well-loved. It has held many of my mother dearest’s crème caramels and cakes. As a result, it’s a little worn (that’s being polite) and has a tendency to cling onto cakes when you want to remove them. To combat this I simply trace the base of the tin onto baking paper, cut the round out and place it over the greased base. Problem solved.

frozen berriespressPress a few berries gently into the mixture, but sprinkle most of them across the top of it and then pat them down gently with your hand. If your oven is prone to over-browning things, cover the cake with tin foil two thirds of the way through cooking.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

cake
Remove from oven and let it stand for ten minutes before serving. Sprinkle with icing sugar and add a dollop of cream or yoghurt to finish.

off centreDon’t worry if you take this cake out a little too soon, my favourite part of any cake is the squidgy bit right in the centre where the heat hasn’t completely cooked the mixture. I’m a sucker for cake mixture, and the centre of this cake is glorious!

trio

 

 

 

 

Your finished product should look even better than mine because I foolishly used 2 cups of plain flour instead of one plain and one self raising. It should look more like this (I instagrammed this cake when I made it about a month ago.) We all make mistakes!

 

 

 

Gatsby style honey tea cakes

Part deux of my Gatsby-inspired decadence was kind of given away in my last post. If you saw the tea party pictures, you probably spotted the little tea cakes. I’d made these once before and figured they were perfect for the Gatsby theme. They’re simple and sweet but the look luscious! I prefer them iced (because of the shine it gives to them!), but they’re just as delicious with a smidgen of sifted icing sugar on them.

If you do choose to ice them, they end up looking like gorgeous little ice-cream cones. If you’re a fence sitter like me ice one half and icing sugar the other!

Honey Tea Cake:tea 2

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½  teaspoon bicarb
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 180g butter
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp water

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease muffin tins. I used silicon molds and cardboard cases, so I didn’t need to grease mine (which is a little bit great!)

Sift the flour and bicarb soda together in a big bowl and then add the sugar. In a second, smaller bowl, mix together the eggs, cream and vanilla.

mix

Soften your butter and add it to the dry mixture, mixing vigorously until no lumps remain. This may tak

cases

e a little while, be vigilant. (Honestly, there were still a few lumps left in my mixture when I put them in the oven, and they seemed to disappear – this is a very well-behaved mixture.)

Add the egg mixture into the big bowl and mix until just combined.
honey

Put your honey and water into a microwave-safe container and blitz it for about 30 seconds to soften the honey. Take it out of the microwave and mix it so it becomes syrupy. Add syrup to your batter.

Divide the batter between your muffin tins (or in my case silicon molds AND cardboard cases), you should fill them up about ¾ of the way to the top. Pop them in the oven and sit around for 18-20 minutes while they cook.

The mixture is lovely in that the cake tops rise into beautiful balloon-like forms. Once you’ve removed them from the oven you have two options –

  1. Let them cool while you start on the icing
  2. Sprinkle them with icing sugar and eat them right then and there.

icedicing sugar

For the icing sugar, mix one cup of icing sugar with 4-5 tablespoons of milk. The mixture should be quite thick, but still smooth. When you mix the icing it should slowly smooth itself back down evenly into the bowl. Divide the batter into three and add a different drop of colouring to each mixture. Ice as you please (be generous though!)

You should get 24 tea cakes from this mixure.

teacakestea cake

Gatsby-inspired sponge

I saw Gatsby last weekend. And I was inspired.

Brace yourself for part one of my Gatsby posts.

It was beautiful and opulent and slightly magical. The dresses were all over-the-top and the settings were too fabulous to be real. And I loved them for that.

Nick Carraway is idealistic, Jordan Baker is marvelous and Gatsby is a dreamer. The film is full of people who would make fabulous dinner guests – they’re flawed and impulsive, but imagine the stories they could share! Daisy appears to have no opinion on anything, but at least she added to the beautiful scenery. As long as she’d agree to just sit there and bat her eyelashes, I’d let her partake in our dinner soiree.

I’d never read the book (I know, judge me as you see fit), but I think that doing things in excess is a good mantra to live by!

I’m all for simple recipes usually, but for two posts you’re going to have to allow me a bit of opulence. This sponge is easy AND it looks fabulous – what more could you want? It’s my nanna’s recipe, so it’s tried and tested. Unfortunately the sponge didn’t turn out as big as it should have because of my impatience – I like to think that it was slightly to do with the humidity in the air today though.
Cake

Don’t be disheartened by its flatness, when you do the recipe right, this cake IS old-school glamour.

Gatsby-inspired sponge

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 3tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp of lemon juice

 

Preheat oven to 180°C.Table view

Grease cake tin and sprinkle with sifted icing sugar.Eggs

Separate egg whites and put the yolks to one side. Beat the egg whites in an electric mixer until they’re stiff. Don’t get impatient like I did, this leads to flat sponges! It should take about 8 minutes at a high speed on your mixer. Persevere!

Add the yolks to the stiff whites mixture and continue beating until the mixture thickens.

Add your sugar and allow it to just combine then sift in the flour and baking powder. Squeeze in the lemon juice and mix it in gently – try to let as little air out of the mixture as possible.

Cream shadows

Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. What I would normally do with a sponge is cut it in half and then fill the middle with copious amounts of jam and cream. Being unable to cut my pancake of a sponge in half, I whipped up the cream, added 1/2 a cup of icing sugar to it and then folded some watered down jam into it to make icing.

 

So put your flapper dresses on, buy some fake diamonds and drink everything out of a champagne flute – Gatsby makes his own reality more fantastic through his imaginings, and so should we!

Host an afternoon tea and add a little sparkle to it.

partyIMG_3986

 

The difference between polenta and semolina

There’s no recipe to post today, just a little guide to baking with semolina/polenta. In my last post I made a cake with semolina in it.

I found out the hard way that polenta and semolina are not always interchangeable when I made a lemon semolina cake about three months ago. I Googled “can you substitute semolina with polenta?”

“Yes” was the resounding answer.

My cake said otherwise.

While they essentially perform the same role in a cake, the outcome of my baking with polenta was a grittier, denser texture than I was looking for.

Semolina
This is polenta, the fiend that ruined my cake!

Semolina is wheat, polenta is corn. ‘Polenta’ may also refer to the grain or the dish that results from using polenta.

There are occasions where you can substitute one for the other, but not all the time. They both have their benefits:

  • Semolina is high in protein and fibre and low GI, so it’s good for you! Semolina is a good option for people who need to monitor their glucose levels, like diabetics or dieters.  It is also a good source of vitamins E and B, which help your immune system.
  • Polenta is made up of complex carbohydrates high in dietary fibre, which means that they are a better source of energy than simple carbs. Polenta is also high in zinc, and iron.

When buying polenta or semolina, go for the most finely ground version you can find (unless the recipe specifies otherwise.) Generally cakes will call for semolina or polenta without indicating how coarse/fine the ingredient should be – if in doubt, opt for the finer alternative

My Lemon semolina cake (in which I used polenta instead of semolina) turned out even worse because my polenta was quite coarse – a similar size to couscous – and made my cake crumbly. And a little hard on the teeth.

I still Instagrammed it, because I’m lame. (http://instagram.com/p/Y7iBbAg76M/)

My advice? Tweak recipes where you need to, but if you’re really unsure, save your time by popping down to the shops and picking up the right ingredients!

Bejewelled Orange Syrup Cake and Long Weekends

Juicer

Long weekends are the perfect mix of food, drink and good company in my house. A little too much merriment however, always leaves you sluggish on the last day. Today is that day.

After excesses of gossip, laughing and catching up, Monday morning is lazy, slower than your usual Monday.

To remedy this – administer copious amounts of vitamin C (and other delicious things) by enjoying a slice of this cake. Continue reading “Bejewelled Orange Syrup Cake and Long Weekends”