....beautiful hand-baked brownies with big flavours, direct to your door!
Friday, 26 August 2011
Bunnies, Books & Giveaways...
Well, I thought it was about time that I treated my loyal readers again! But more of that later...
One of the joys of baking as a career is the fact that I can offset the cost of new cookbooks against tax! So I probably buy more of them than strictly necessary...but I reason that I really need them to keep up to date (!) That's my story & I'm sticking to it anyway...my latest acquisition is...
Baked in America by David Muniz & David Lesniak...two Americans who moved here and opened a bakery called Outsider Tart in Chiswick, London. I'm not too sure that I like the way the book is laid out - cakes and the frostings for them are in separate sections of the book, a sort of mix & match idea that I find hard to read and use. But there are some good ideas there. This for example:
Peach & Cinnanmon Cake. Yum. In the book it's called Mom's Apple Cake, but at the end of the recipe there's a small mention that 'Mom's notes say this is great with fresh peaches...' which got me thinking. And 'Mom' was right! It is. Here's the recipe (also good with apples!!) Handily they all come with measurements in both US & metric versions...
Peach & Cinnamon Cake - (adapted from 'Baked in America' by David Muniz & David Lesniak)
Preheat oven to 180c/375f.
Grease and line a 10" cake tin with baking parchment
For the filling:
4 large ripe peaches, sliced as thinly as possible
6 tbsps light brown sugar
4 tsps ground cinnamon
Combine in a small bowl & set aside to macerate.
For the cake:
450g/3 cups plain/all purpose flour
450g/2 cups caster/superfine sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
240ml/1 cup flavourless oil (I used sunflower, they suggest canola)
4 large eggs at room temperature
60ml/1/4 cup whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, combine the eggs, oil, milk & vanilla. Slowly pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix until just combined.
Spoon 1/3 batter (it will be thick) into prepared pan & spread to cover bottom. Arrange 1/3 peach slices over batter...don't let them touch the sides of the pan or they will stick. Continue layering, finishing by arranging final peach slices on the top & drizzling any remaining cinnamony juice over. The mixture does become difficult to spread & cover the peach layers...just do the best you can. When the cake rises, it will cover them beautifully. Bake for 1-1 1/2 hours until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for 30 mins before removing and leaving until cold on a wire rack. I melted about 3 tbsps apricot jam with a little water and used this to glaze the top. Delish!
Yesterday I had to bake 140 shortbread rabbit biscuits for a wedding tomorrow...Debbie & Stuart are neighbours of ours and she loves bunnies! 70 are to be used as placecards for the reception, so I put them into clear cellophane bags and tied them with thin ivory satin ribbon. Debbie has attached hand-letterd luggage tags to them with the names of the guests...cute! The others are to be put in bowls around the venue for the evening party. they were quite plain - she didn't want any frosting or decoration, but I managed to persuade her that a little edible glitter would be a good idea! (NOTE: bunnies are NOT the best shape for cut out cookies....the ears are too fragile and easily snap. I made quite a few extra in case!!)
You probably remember me posting about the book launch that I went to in June...well, the author Vanessa Kimbell came up with a lovely idea on her blog . She calls it...
The idea is that when you are baking, you make a little extra and give it away to someone you might not know well, but feel deserves a little treat. I already do this...the postman always makes sure he pops by at Christmas for a hot mince pie and the checkout lady who is so kind at the supermarket often gets some surprise brownies. But Vanessa made me resolve to spread the cake love around more often! I started on Tuesday evening. I had a selection of cakes and slices left after that day's Farmer's Market, so I boxed them up...
and took them around to our local independent greengrocer & his family. Matt and Tanya have 6 children and they all (even the little ones) work really hard in their fantastic shop that is an Aladdin's cave of unusual fruit & veg - they mainly supply the local Asian and Carribean communities. Every morning I walk past them as they unload their van, on my way to deliver to the Coffee Tree. We usually have a chat about 'what's in the box'! So I thought it would be nice to treat them to a few goodies...like Cashew Chocolate Truffle Cakes...
and, of course, my famous Walnut Fudge Brownies...
which reminds me of my Farmer's Market 'Quote of the Month'. You may not believe this...but trust me, it's true! A woman hovered over my (clearly marked) sample plate and asked "Are there any nuts in your walnut brownie?" !!! No wonder I needed a good rest afterwards...my answer, in case you are wondering, was short and sweet. "Yes". Deep breath & big smile. It's the only way to cope sometimes...
Ok, now to that giveaway! This is a good one....
As I started this post with cookbooks, I wanted to give one of you one of my favourites...
It was first published in the early 1990's under a different title (Memories with Food at Gipsy House, I think...) but was reissued a few years ago...and it's wonderful. Good recipes but the real joy is the little anecdotes and stories dotted throughout by Mr Dahl himself. It was written, with his wife, very shortly before he died and is a fascinating peek into their family life. It's quite a difficult book to get hold of - but as we live near the town he lived in, there are always copies available there. I'll send this (inscribed by me to you, whoever you turn out to be) to anywhere in the world so don't think you'll be left out if you don't live in the UK.
To be in with a chance of winning, just leave me a comment on this post...I'll draw the name on the morning of 9th September (can you believe that's just 2 weeks away??)
Good luck, have a fabulous weekend (it's a long one here for us, yay!) and thanks so much for reading. Why don't you try a Random Bake of Kindness too? It really makes you feel good! xoxo
I live with my gorgeous husband, Paul and our wire fox terrier, Alice, in a small country town.I have cooked professionally for 30 years (boy, does that sound OLD!) and now run Sugar Moon, an online brownie business, as well as a small wholesale bakery, which I love. In any rare spare time I'm working on my first novel and a cookbook based on my business. I love Mozart above most things, but also adore reading, movies,visiting different countries,walking Alice, eating & all things foodie as well as spending time with my beloved friends and family....I hope you enjoy my blog!