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
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.
What 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. Read More
This courgette cake was a long time coming. The cake stand in my kitchen had gathered dust. Perched atop the cabinets, it’s stood unloved since the Marvellous Night Circus cake, a state of affairs that 2012 me would never have predicted.
She also wouldn’t have predicted me being caught out with a cache of enormous courgettes that need eating.
Those ones went into courgette and Comté gratin (recipe tbc), but they got me thinking about courgette cake. When I said those words, people recoiled slightly, much like they did with avocado cake, but I’ve proven ’em wrong once and I’ll prove ’em wrong again.
This cake is perfect for this time of year, when strawberry season comes to an end, courgette gluts leave home gardeners desperately pressing the vegetable into the arms of visitors, and the clouds open to remind us that yes, we’ve had a delightful three days of summer but we are still in England, giving you just enough time to put the oven on and consider branching out into wearing sleeves again.
So that was a bit of a gap between posts, eh? 2014 has already been somewhat bonkers, to the point that food has been about what can be cobbled together in the few hours between getting home and going to (sweet, sweet) bed, rather than something of experiments and long weekends in the kitchen.
Letting go of the festive season has been a struggle. Our Christmas tree came down long after January 6th, and the rest of the month saw me gleefully throwing leftover Roses and Quality Street down my gullet and swigging beer while I chuckled at the poor chaps giving up sugar and taking part in Dry January.
But it’s February in a few days, and nothing makes you realise you need to step out of Hotel Chocolat, even if there are bargains to be had, like facing Valentine’s Day as it rushes at you head-on.
Of course, I realised this after I made this cake. It was a multi-purpose delight: a birthday cake, a look-how-strong-my-willpower-is-I’m-not-even-saving-myself-some cake (kidding no-one, I know), and as the last slice was devoured with a cup of tea by a friend, fork in one hand, tissues in the other, a break-up cake.
The cake itself is layers of salted caramel, carried by a simple vanilla sponge and wrapped in white chocolate buttercream, the sweetness offset by the touch of salt. What a way to wave goodbye to January. Read More