Blackberry, marzipan and orange cake

I know, I know – I’m late to this party.  The excuse for my tardiness lies somewhere between being on holiday for most of last week, unthinkingly baking a giant chocolate cake just before the first episode aired (couldn’t bake another cake straight away, could I?) and a general scepticism about whether I’d want to get on the Bake Off Bandwagon at all this year.

I’ll admit that along with the rest of the nation, I was unsure about the move to Channel 4.  This wasn’t helped by the fact that just as the dust had settled and we’d all started to make peace with a Mel, Sue and Mary-less GBBO, somebody or other important at Channel 4 trailed the new series with a doom-laden reference to giving the show a “Channel 4 edge”.  If you’ve ever seen Channel 4 offerings like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, you too would be concerned as to what on earth this “edge” might be.

Turns out it’s mainly just the presence of Noel Fielding.  And not really knowing who he was but being slightly put off by his hair (sorry) I have to admit I think he makes a pretty nice host – friendly and goofy rather than obnoxiously edgy.  Plus he is charmingly offset by the British institution that is Sandi Toksvig, so we can all calm down and enjoy another helping of basically-the-same-old-GBBO.  So I’ve decided (belatedly) to bake along!

Initial thoughts aside, it’s (well, was… see above) cake week.  The signature challenge was a cake with fruit in it.  I decided to adapt a beautiful orange and marzipan cake I’ve made before to include more blackberries and a little less orange. I had lovingly collected a heap of them at the cost of scratched shins, nettle stings and purple-stained fingertips, so they needed a home.

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Ingredients

For the cake

  • 175g (6oz) butter
  • 100g (3½ oz) caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g (8oz) self-raising flour
  • Zest and juice of one large orange (reserve 2 tbsp for the icing)
  • 140g blackberries
  • 250g (8oz) white marzipan, fairly finely chopped

For the icing

  • 100g (3½ oz) icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange juice

Directions

  • Set the oven to 180°C (160 fan) and line a square or rectangular tin with grease proof paper.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using a handheld mixer.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, with a tablespoon of the flour each time, then beat in the orange juice (reserving two tablespoons for the icing) and zest.
  • Fold in the rest of the flour and half the marzipan pieces.
  • Sprinkle a handful of blackberries onto the bottom of the tin, then spread about a third of the mixture on top.  Sprinkle in about a third of the remaining berries, and about a third of the remaining marzipan.  Add half of the remaining mixture on top.  Repeat – add the rest of the marzipan and blackberries (expect a handful) then spread the rest of the mixture on top.  Sprinkle the handful of blackberries evenly over the surface.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Leave in the tin for 10 minutes to cool slightly before removing from the tin to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • To make the icing, mix the two tablespoons of orange juice with the icing sugar to reach a consistency with a good dribble.
  • Once the cake is cool, slice into 16 squares before drizzling the slices with the orange icing – leave to set.

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Recipe adapted from goodtoknow.co.uk; all other content and photographs are © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2017.

Be Thankful

Thanksgiving.  It’s not a holiday we celebrate on this side of the pond, but I’ve seen enough American films and read enough décor blog posts to know the deal. Pumpkin pie, cinnamon-scented candles, turkey, more pumpkins, and that episode of Friends where Rachel crucially misunderstands the ingredients of a ‘traditional English trifle’ and everyone pretends to like it. Oh, and then there’s the thankfulness part. Taking a moment to reflect on everything that you have to be grateful for in your life – a way to end the year with a focus on the positives.

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Although as a British person I am duty-bound to view most US traditions with a healthy dose of good old-fashioned grumpy cynicism (sorry guys!), I really like this one. And in that spirit, I was tagged by the lovely lady over at White Walls and Wanderlust to complete the ‘Be Thankful Challenge’. So here goes.

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Rules

– Share this image in your blog post.
– Write about 5 people in your life you are thankful for.
– Write about 5 things in 2015 that you are thankful for.
– Spread the love and challenge 5 other blogs to take part.

Five people I am thankful for (in no particular order!)

  • The Boy. My partner in crime, my best friend and the person who makes me laugh most in the world, who seems to be able to fix everything from broken taps to broken hearts and who makes every day better just by being in it. I’m so soppy.
  • My family. Some more of my very favourite people.  Being with them is like being wrapped in a great big blanket and protected from everything that is wrong with the world. They’re quite funny too.  And as my brother once said in one of his more profound moments, “Families aren’t made to be apart.”
  • My friends! All here together because picking one or two favourites wouldn’t seem fair. I love them all for different reasons, and they all mean the world to me. They are the most intelligent, kind and funny bunch of people, and I’m so glad I’ve been lucky enough to collect them along the way.
  • Dan. Perhaps it’s odd to have somebody on your list you’ve never actually met, but I know this person is patient, kind and incredibly good at his job. Dan is the therapist who helped my boyfriend through his serious and very scary struggle with anxiety this year, and I could not be more grateful to him.
  • Everyone reading this. Too clichéd? Sorry. But honestly, I’m truly thankful for everyone who reads my blog, and for the conversations we have in this little corner of the internet about cakes and fairy lights and adventures and everything in between.

Five things I am thankful for

  • My flat. It’s been my first home away from my family, and my first with Matt. It’s warm and cosy and clean and finally feels like home. It’s our safe little nest for the end of the day, and for that I am incredibly grateful.
  • Challenges. My first year after graduating hasn’t been without its fair share of struggles, some of them very big and real and scary. But I’ve faced them all, overcome them, and my life is better as a result. I’m grateful for everything those hard times taught me.
  • My job. I’ve found a job and a team that I absolutely love. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year is that a terrible job can make you truly miserable. If you hate your job I beg you to leave right now if you can find a way. There is much better out there for you, you just need to find it.
  • Britain. For all of its faults – and there are many – I’m incredibly thankful that this is my home. I’m thankful that I live in a generally peaceful, liberal country where my rights are preserved and protected. I’m thankful that medical care is free and available to everyone who needs it. And I’m also grateful for the wry humour, the conversations about the weather and that wonderful British awkwardness.
  • Language. I love the intricacies of language, discovering new words and unusual sayings, and that feeling of immense satisfaction when you find the right words. I’m also evidently a windbag, given I’ve basically written a paragraph for each of these!

Five nominations

Fuelled by Oats – a lovely positive sunbeam of a blog and blogger

The Thankful Heart – such a fitting blog name, her blog really encapsulates this whole theme perfectly.

Persephone H – a fellow foodie

With all my Affection – one of the prettiest blogs around

A Cornish Mum – this blog has a little bit of everything for everyone

Listening to: Hold my Hand by Jess Glynn, Ashes and Wine by The Civil Wars and Masochist by Ingrid Michaelson.

The words and the images apart from those relating to the challenge are © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Blackberry and Bramley apple tart

Autumn is here!  My favourite season of them all. So it was with great glee that I managed to pick enough blackberries on a walk a few weekends ago to bake the king of all British, autumnal fare: the blackberry and apple tart.

It’s a rare moment when all of these ingredients crowd together and demand to be baked into a rough-hewn pie, bubbling purple from beneath a golden pastry lattice. The blackberries have to be wild — picked from hedgerows and piled into baskets, or scattered into the bottom of plastic carrier bags. Their cost is bramble scratches, nettle stings and fingertips stained purple, but they are a million times sweeter and tarter than the strangely tasteless shop-bought variety.  And the apples have to be Bramley, ‘cooking apples’, with their intensely tart quality which renders them edible only when tamed with sugar and heat. You can’t use normal apples here, sorry.

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Ingredients

For the sweet pastry
  • 900g butter, softened
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 200g flour
For the filling
  • 600g bramley apples, peeling and sliced
  • 200g blackberries, washed and gently patted dry
  • 100g caster sugar
  • A pinch of cinammon
  • 1 egg, beaten with two tablespoons of milk

Directions

– Heat oven to 190c / 170c fan oven / gas mark 5.

– Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until well combined and then beat in the egg yolks one at a time until fully mixed in.

– Mix in the flour until the mixture comes together as a ball of dough.

– Tip the mix out onto a floured worktop and knead briefly until smooth.

– Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

– Once it’s chilled, roll 2/3 of the pastry out on a floured surface, before using it to line the bottom of your favourite tart dish (about 23cm is ideal). Leave a slight overhang – the pastry will shrink when you bake it so you don’t want to trim it right down at this stage. (GBBO knowledge right there.)

– Save any pastry scraps, and return the tart to the fridge for 10 minutes. Prick the base lightly with a fork, then line with baking paper and baking beans or a suitable alternative (I used rice).

– Place in the oven on a baking tray for 20 minutes, remove the beans and paper, then bake for 10 mins more until sandy brown and almost biscuity.

– Tip the apples into a large bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes to soften.  Toss in the berries, sugar, cinammon and 2 tbsp flour with a pinch of salt and mix well before piling into the case, saving 14 berries for later to go in the gaps of the lattice.

– Roll the remaining pastry and trimmings together into a square. Divide into eight strips of pastry.

– Weave the strips of pastry evenly over the fruit to create the lattice, and push the ends into the edge of the tart. Trim the overhang of pastry, brush the lattice heavily with the egg / milk mixture then scatter generously with more sugar.

– Push the remaining berries into the gaps, then bake for about an hour until brown and bubbling.

– Leave to cool for about half an hour, then serve with cream or ice cream.  Leftovers survive pretty well covered in cling film for a few days, and are also yummy cold.

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Tip: If you like, use leftover pastry to decorate your lattice. Take a small, sharp knife and cut out suitably autumnal shapes. Leaves are always a safe choice.

Listening to Sort of by Ingrid Michaelson, Brave by Sara Bareilles and Sister Rosetta goes before us by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.

This recipe is an amalgamation of two from BBC Good Food, which you can find here and here. I made a few changes, namely reducing the amount of filling. Everything else is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Hello! (again…)

Well hello there. Long time, no blog posts! An explanation of my absence seems a little bit pointless for the following reasons:

1) I definitely have not been doing this anywhere near long enough to have a dedicated, ardent following (the thought of which makes me chuckle…)

2) On the offchance that anybody was holding their breath for another post, they wouldn’t be looking too rosy after the last three or so months

3) The idea that I might think that anybody actually hangs off my every word still makes me cringe quite a lot

But, after all that, here’s a short explanation, just in case.

Since August when I last posted, a lot has happened. I hadn’t been home from University for long when I was offered a job (miraculously) and found myself moving to London.

The last few months have been a whirlwind of flat hunting, Ikea trips, adjusting to a daily commute (major shock to my country- girl system), a full-time job (major shock to my humanities student system) and just generally being plunged headfirst into being an adult (of sorts). I’ve assembled my first flat-pack furniture, had my first ever paycheck, paid my first lot of tax (!) and had my first irate conversation with a letting agent (I JUST WANT A SPARE SET OF KEYS… please?).

And, of course, blogging fell very much by the wayside.  Not helped by the fact that for a significant amount of this time I’ve been without internet (read: intense trauma).

But I’m determined to get back on the bandwagon. I soon found myself missing having a reason to be creative outside work. I need to have a reason to write, to think and to photograph stuff and make it all look nice. (Is it bad that I need to blog to remember to do those things? Maybe…) Taking time away, even if it wasn’t deliberate, has made me realise why I started ohtogoawandering in the first place. And that is that it’s first and foremost for myself.

It has always made me cringe to assume that I blog because anybody wants to read what I have to say… A cripplingly British sensibility perhaps, but there we go. And if anybody else happens to like to read my rambles, and see my photographs, then great! I don’t mean at all to sound ungrateful to that tiny band of followers that I do have, even if by this point you’ve seen this on your blogroll and been like ‘Who on earth is that…?’

So here’s to trying very hard to remember to blog, no matter how hectic pretending to be a functioning adult can be.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014