It’s been a little while since I was last here: toward the end of last year I launched NorEats, a directory of the best independent food and drink in Norwich, and so have been busy eating and writing about all the region has to offer. Truly, a hard task.
I’ve not been resting on my laurels, though, having been told in no uncertain terms that I had to bring a birthday cake to my friends’ celebrations. Cue the troublesome jar of dulce de leche.
A jar of dulce de leche in the cupboard that you need to get rid of is a good problem to have, even if the necessity is there because you can’t help dipping a spoon into it with alarming frequency. So instead of going directly jar to mouth, I’ve taken it on a slight detour via two tweaked recipes: one for white chocolate & salted caramel cake and one for After Eight chocolate mint cake. Read More
This cake is perfect for autumn. It’s just slightly adapted from a David Lebovitz recipe for carrot cake and you probably wouldn’t know it was sweet potato if I didn’t tell you but it’s the maple frosting that makes it. I had a glut of sweet potatoes lying around and I figured there was no reason why I couldn’t use them in the same way as carrots. This frosting is much sweeter than your basic cream cheese frosting so you don’t need a big slice when it comes to eating, but who am I to tell you how to eat your cake?!
It is crumbly without being dry and has the right balance of sweet and spice. As with all cakes, I recommend a strong coffee. Read More
I didn’t get nervous about the Swiss meringue until I saw the polyester sleeve of my mother’s dressing gown dangling perilously close to the flame flying out of the blowtorch.
Let me start at the beginning. When we decided to make cakes for my mother’s birthday, I went with my usual method of imagining something and deciding to leap in without being fully sure of my method. It sounds like a reckless process when I write it down like that, but “Eh, I’ll learn by trying” has served me pretty well so far.
What I didn’t realise when I pictured a cake topped with fluffy meringue, piped tips torched golden, is that Swiss meringue is notoriously finicky. Thanks to reactions between proteins that I don’t completely understand and definitely can’t pronounce, Swiss meringue can be both unstable and less fluffy than you’d hope. It can weep. It can collapse. If I’d known this, I might have been nervous earlier than when I had visions of my hand flying off to the left and setting the kitchen on fire.
Thankfully, using this method, the meringue – and I – did not weep or collapse. Instead, it came out glossier than a show horse, and once I’d moved that pesky sleeve out of the way, turned the most glorious golden colour after being kissed by a blowtorch.
I’ve baked many many simple vanilla cakes over the years but I think this might be my favourite. For a good strong vanilla cake you really do need to use a vanilla extract with the seeds in, vanilla bean paste or powder…or even an actual vanilla pod. Any of those will give the best flavour to your cake and I love seeing the little vanilla seeds dotted throughout. I’m a really big fan of vanilla powder, I’ve only used the Ndali brand so I can’t comment on any others but it gives such a wonderful vanilla flavour to everything I’ve used it in.
Of all the things I bake, layer cakes are the most fun to make and I haven’t made nearly enough recently so I’m throwing myself back into frosting. Plus I finally restocked up on piping bags so I need to practice my piping.
The problem with these tea cakes is that it’s really easy to keep eating them. There’s no muffin case getting in your way and all these pretty little tea cakes are just lying around whispering ‘ooh [insert name here] why don’t you put the kettle on and eat us all?!’.
What? You mean your cakes don’t talk to you?
I jest of course but cake definitely finds a way to call to me in some way. I know how to be stronger and resist. If I make sure I get more sleep and eat well in the day then I can turn cake down but if I’m tired and hormonal then it’s every cake for himself.
These are the perfect no frills tea cakes. Whipping up the egg whites separately means the batter is much lighter. Rose and rhubarb is a wonderful flavour combination and one of my favourites. Read More