Recipes revisited: two ways with dulce de leche

Recipes revisited: two ways with dulce de leche

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. Continue reading

Sweet potato cake with maple cream cheese frosting

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. Continue reading

How to: Swiss meringue

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.

Continue reading

Rhubarb and rose tea cakes

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. Continue reading

After Eight chocolate mint cake

After Eight chocolate mint cake // The Dinner BellWhat this blog is, really, is a series of love letters about the people in my life, and sometimes to vegetables. There’s even one love poem, about speculoos. It’s never truer than with cakes, and a round cake on here is almost always a food-based emotional outpouring, because I’ll only make a big, proper dessert, big enough that it could almost be a weapon, for someone I really care about*.

This one was for the work wife.

It’s weird, the intensity of the relationships you form at work, with people you see more than your housemates and family. The ones that are right there when things go wrong, and bring snacks to remedy it, and the ones that make you cry with hysterical laughter. Continue reading

Pear & cinnamon crumble cake

Pear and cinnamon crumble cake // The Dinner Bell

I might call this “Surprise Victory Cake”, instead of its actual descriptive name, because I did not expect this to work, and my god, it did. It really did.

I just about half-followed a recipe: made the topping up as I went along; tasted and guessed at the spice quantities; set to work bringing it all together with bowls strewn around the kitchen. The mixing stage was nerve-wracking, and for a split second, I wondered if it was a a waste of time and ingredients.

But then I put it in the oven and the kitchen filled with the smell of autumn. Cut into it and found it had the perfect level of springiness,  just the right amount of cinnamon and nutmeg flavour.

It turned out to be a cake that you take into the office and ten minutes later start getting “Oh yes 10/10” messages. A cake that might make your flatmate mutter, “Marry me,” as they take a bite. Maybe a couple of “I feel all warm and cosy inside”s. Continue reading