Ever since Nino celebrated his second birthday, we’ve been talking almost daily about what kind of cake family members will be getting for their upcoming birthdays. For Grandpa there was polenta cake, rolled out annually on request (with ever so slight variations to satisfy my urge to experiment). Daddy wants a whiskey one next January. Nino was shocked to discover that his Nonna isn’t that keen on cake, nor is a close toddler friend, but we’ve now been to enough birthdays with caterpillars and rainbows and tray bakes to establish a playing field to work from and, after much debate, we’ve hit on a lemon sponge with fresh strawberry buttercream to make for me at the end of the month.
My go-to is almost always chocolate so it’s refreshing to be pointed in a different direction by my mini kitchen sidekick and I’m excited to make and taste his fruity creation. But before then, chocolate cravings still call – thank goodness for an uncle with a birthday before mine and a last minute lunch invite creating the need to whip up an easy one bowl chocolate cake for a sunny Sunday afternoon. Continue reading
Crisp meringue layered with fruit and softly whipped cream is what British summers are made for. Nino has recently discovered ‘I spy’, or a two year old interpretation thereof. The game more than often involves him naming a noun (most likely an animal, food stuff or vehicle) then demanding that I ‘do a [insert cat, ice cream, tractor] mummy’. I’ll name the letter with which it begins, provide a couple of clues then wait for his excited answer. Repeat ad infinitum. This weekend we were baking and I kicked off the round with an ‘M’. Clue: ‘it’s crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle and made from eggs. Nino helped mummy whisk it up and we’re going to fill it with whipped cream and blackberries.’ To which he replied, after serious consideration . . . ‘it’s a yummy pavlova’. Well, you can’t win them all. Continue reading
Dark chocolate & peanut sponges layered with caramel
Back in 2006, Anthony Worrall Thompson‘s ‘Snickers Pie‘ was labelled ‘one of the unhealthiest recipes ever published’ by the Food Commission. At a whopping 1,250 calories per serving and with no less than five super sweet chocolate bars chopped into it, this puff pastry crusted creation was cited as an example of chefs’ irresponsibility with regards to calorie control and our increasingly unhealthy attitude to what constitutes home baking.
Fellow food blogger Jamie Schler recently wrote this interesting piece for the Huffington Post bemoaning the wave of boxed brownie mix, chopped up chocolate bars and cans of frosting masquerading on blogs around the world as home baked treats. While I’m not averse to the odd Oreo crumbled into a blondie or topping a cupcake with fizzy cola bottles, I absolutely agree with her that baking should be about creating things from scratch. It may not make them calorie-free, but using real butter, free range eggs, seasonal fresh fruit and natural colourings in all my recipes is important to me and feels a world away from the oleaginous Worrall-Thompson’s sickly sweet idea of dessert. Continue reading
Sponge fingers encase creamy layers of tiramisu topped with fresh raspberries
‘Some woman is going to want me to do it to her, and I’m not going to know what it is.’
‘You’ll love it.’
20 years ago, the world was a very different place. In lots of ways, of course, but this particular scene from Sleepless in Seattle where Tom Hanks’ character is about to embark on the dating scene again shows just how much our knowledge of different types of food has changed since 1993. To even be able to contemplate including such a joke in the script, the screenwriter would have had to be pretty comfortable that plenty of people didn’t know what tiramisu was; that for every person laughing at Hanks’ clueless comment, another one would be scratching their head and wondering what this unusual aphrodisiac might be. With 5.3 million pages returning on the search term ‘tiramisu’ on UK Google alone today, that hardly seems possible now. Continue reading