Elderflower and almond cake

This is the most moist cake (try saying that three times, fast) I have ever made. By a million miles! It’s similar in many ways to a lemon drizzle in texture, but the ground almonds make it both denser and squidgier. The cream cheese frosting is not overly sweet, which perfectly offsets the sugary goo of the cake itself. This is summer in a pudding – yellow sponge dripping with elderflower and lemon, swirls of bright white frosting and a sprinkling of crushed pistachios make it a joy to behold. And to eat.

Special shout out to my mum, who not only made the elderflower cordial featured here but also nursed it on the train down from Darlington to London and then carried it around the city all day to give to me. Thanks mum!

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Ingredients

225g butter at room temperature

50g self raising flour

200g ground almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

225g golden caster sugar plus 15g extra

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

4 eggs, beaten lightly

150ml undiluted elderflower cordial (I used homemade, but you can buy in shops too)

150g cream cheese

150ml double cream

A generous handful of chopped pistachios

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c (160 fan) and grease a 9 inch springform cake tin or similarly sized loose bottomed one with butter or a non-stick cooking spray.  Line with greaseproof paper.
  2. Using a mixer of electric whisk, cream together the butter, lemon zest and 225g of sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the beaten eggs gradually, beating well between each addition.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and almonds then add this to the butter-sugar mixture.  Mix together scrape into the cake tin, smoothing the top gently.
  5. Bake for 35-45 minutes until risen and golden.
  6. While the cake is cooking make a syrup by combining 100ml of elderflower cordial, the extra sugar and lemon juice in a small pan, stirring gently until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat to cool.
  7. Once it’s done, leave the cake in the tin to cool, pricking lots of holes all over with a skewer, then pour over the elderflower syrup, spreading it all over the cake’s surface so it sinks in evenly.  Leave to cool completely.
  8. For the frosting, mix the remaining 50ml elderflower cordial and the cream cheese together until smooth.
  9. Add the double cream and mix again until really smooth.  When the cake is completely cool, remove it from the tin gently and cover with the frosting, using a knife to create swirls if you like. Scatter over the pistachios and devour.

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Listening to: Your body is a wonderland by John Mayer, Send my love (to your new lover) by Adele and Hold Up by Beyoncé.

I adapted this recipe from eat the right stuff, the main change being swapping the marscapone for cream cheese. Everything else is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

Sunken apple and honey cake

Well hello there. You’re looking lovely today. I know it’s been a while… But I have to say I’ve made my peace with falling firmly under the ‘occasional blogger’ category. And for me — a resolutely all-or-nothing, perfectionist kind of human — that’s actually something rather special. But I will admit I’ve missed it (and shout out to the lovely Rhonda who says she misses me too!) so here I am with a recipe I hope you’ll love and an overlong introduction you might appreciate less.

I’ll cut to the chase (finally) and say this cake is delicious. The sponge is simple and not overly sweet, but combined with soft apple and a slightly salted honey glaze it reaches new heights. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

For the sunken apples

4 smallish apples, peeled, cored and quartered
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Cake mixture

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup runny honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, separated
2 decent pinches of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
160g plain flour

Honey glaze

1/4 cup honey
A generous pinch of sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F/175c/155c fan.
  2. Coat a 9-inch springform tin with butter or a nonstick spray.  Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper.
  3. Prepare your apples: place each quarter core side down on a chopping board, and use a knife to create parallel thin slices only cutting halfway through the apple so it holds together. If you accidentally cut all the way through (I did!) then just reassemble once you come to put on top of the cake in a minute.
  4. In a bowl, gently toss your apples with lemon juice and 2 tablespoon granulated sugar.
  5. Prepare cake mixture by beating the butter and sugar together in a bowl with an electric whisk until fluffy.
  6. Add the honey and beat until combined.
  7. Add your vanilla and egg yolks, beating until just combined.
  8. Sprinkle salt and baking powder over the top, and mix for just 5 seconds until they disappear.
  9. Add flour, half at a time, mixing only until just combined each time
  10. In a separate bowl with hastily cleaned and thoroughly dried beaters (unless you own two sets, you domestic goddess you), beat egg whites until stiff.
  11. Stir 1/4 of them into the cake mix to lighten it a little.  Fold in the rest in three additions. It will seem initially like it’ll never combine — persevere with gentle, patient folding. Only fold the last addition of egg whites until it has mostly disappeared — a couple of faint streaks is fine.
  12. Spread the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smoothing the top.
  13. Arrange apple quarters face down over the cake mixture.  You don’t need to smush them in, just nestled on the top is fine. Pour any extra lemon juice and sugar in the bowl over the apples.
  14. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let rest on a cooling rack for a few minutes, then run a knife around the edge to make sure it’s not sticking to the pan at all, and unhinge the sides. Let cake cool completely.
  15. Before serving, if you’d like the glaze to look glossy, or whenever the cake is cool, if you don’t mind if the honey sinks into the cake, make the honey glaze. Warm 1/4 cup honey and a good pinch of sea salt until it thins to a glaze consistency — this will take less than 30 seconds. Brush honey-salt mixture over cooled cake and enjoy.

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Original recipe from yep, you guessed it, Smitten Kitchen.  All photographs and the ramblings at the top are © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

Double chocolate brownie cookies

Picture the scene.  It’s Sunday night. You want to bake a tin full of goodness for work tomorrow. But should you make brownies or cookies? Answer: both. And don’t hold the chocolate chunks.

I found the answer to my cookie vs brownie dilemma on Smitten Kitchen which, by the way, is pretty much my go-to baking blog after the perfection of her salted chocolate chunk cookies.

Described by one of my colleagues with a completely straight face as ‘one of the best things I have actually ever eaten’, I recommend this most excellent of hybrid baked goods to you.

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Ingredients

115 g unsalted butter
115 g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
190 g dark or light brown sugar
25 g granulated sugar
2 large free range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
45 g cocoa powder
130g plain flour
115 g dark chocolate, chopped into fairly generous chunks

Directions

  • Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in the microwave or a very low heat on the hob.  Remove from the heat when the chocolate is almost melted, then stir until smooth.
  • Whisk both sugars into the melted butter and chocolate mixture before adding the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla.
  • Whisk in the baking soda and salt, and sieve the cocoa powder into the batter.
  • Next, sieve in your plain flour and stir until combined.
  • Add the chunks of chocolate and stir in.
  • Pop the bowl into the fridge for about half an hour (but apparently you can leave it in for up to a few days).  The chilling makes these easier to scoop.  If you leave the batter in for longer than 30 minutes it’ll harden more, so leave to sit at room temperature for a little while before spooning out.
  • Once the dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 175°c.
  • Scoop the dough into about two-tablespoon sized mounds and place evenly on a tray / trays lined with baking paper, allowing room for them to spread out a little.
  • Bake for 11 to 12 minutes, at which point they will still definitely look like they aren’t baked.  Take them out anyway, because you don’t want to lose the fudgy, soft centre.
  • Let the brownie cookies firm up on the trays for a few minutes before carefully transferring to a cooling rack.
  • Enjoy warm if you can, but in case you’re not up for demolishing the entire batch in one sitting or you have people in your life who expect you to share, these are also yummy (and still fudgy – yay!) once cooled.

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This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen. The photographs and other words are  © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

Foodie Adventures: Damson & Co

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Birthday weekends. The perfect one is hard to achieve, but you can go a long way in the right direction with a good brunch. So on the day after my birthday Helen (my official brunch buddy) and I headed into deepest Soho in search of something delicious. We were actually heading for a bigger establishment, but met with the Saturday lunchtime crowds we wandered away and found this place instead.

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The menu was substantial, ranging from breakfast items through to various dishes more reminiscent of lunch – I believe meatballs featured – and we both had trouble settling on just one thing to order!

In the end Helen ordered a green shakshuka (a spinachy omelette thing, with the eggs baked whole rather than beaten) and I had the eggs royale (poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and smoked salmon on an English muffin). My food was really delicious and everything was prepared perfectly. I couldn’t really fault it.

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I also ordered a banana smoothie. The smoothie was okay, but to be honest it wasn’t as tasty as similar ones I’ve made at home, so I’ll admit I was a little disappointed. Helen had better luck with her coconut milk mocha – even as someone who doesn’t really appreciate coffee I can tell you it was amazing. Rich and creamy with a real depth of flavour, and beautifully presented.

Service was good and fresh tap water was generously provided – one of the little touches which really makes an experience better. The prices are on the steep side, but what you’d expect to pay in this area of London really.

The verdict? Definitely give Damson & Co a try if you get the chance.

© Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

The Breakfast Club: creamy blueberry overnight oats

One of my new year’s resolutions this year was to get into a better morning routine.  I really wanted to make my mornings a more mindful, fulfilling time of preparation for the day, rather than – to use the technical term – a mad rush.  If you’d like to have a morning in which breakfast is not one of the things you have to think overly hard about, then these oats are going to be your best friends.

You prepare them the night before by mixing a few things together, and then in the morning you just need to give them a stir and you’re ready to go.  They’re also ridiculously healthy, and vegan to boot. I’ve tinkered around with differing amounts of milk and oats to find what I like, so please feel free to do the same. And the beauty of a recipe like this is that once you find a base that works, you can add almost anything on top to make it even more delicious.

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Serves one for a yummy breakfast

Ingredients

1/2 cup porridge oats

1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk you like)

1 tablespoon cashew or almond butter

A handful frozen blueberries

A generous squeeze of honey (optional)

Directions

  • Take a tupperware (perfectly acceptable) or Kilner jar (Pinterest-worthy but slightly pretentious) and scoop in your oats.  Add the milk, nut butter and honey and give it a really good stir.  Now add your blueberries, and stir those in too.
  • Put on the lid and place in the fridge overnight.  In the morning I like to let mine warm up a little closer to room temperature if I remember – I just lift it out on my way to the shower and around half an hour later it’s perfect.

Tip: Use a decent container and on your less than zen mornings you can throw your oats into your handbag and eat them at work. I’d say just now I do this roughly 50 per cent of the time. Hey! I’m getting better!

Listening to Love Myself by Hailee Steinfeld, Cake by the Ocean by DNCE and Stitches by Shawn Mendes.

© Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Who doesn’t love a chocolate chip cookie?  But all chocolate chip cookies are certainly not created equal. I actually actively dislike supermarket cookies. They are horrifically sweet (and this from somebody with a very sweet tooth) and taste resolutely artificial. But here is a chocolate chip cookie that is all grown up. Or as grown up as a chocolate chip cookie can be. Chunks of dark chocolate leave milk chocolate chips in their wake in this particular context I’m afraid. And the flakes of sea salt take the edge off the sweetness and add an extra layer of deliciousness.

Do enjoy with a glass of milk though, because who actually wants to be a grown up anyway?

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This recipes makes about 14 fairly decent-sized cookies.

Ingredients

1/2 cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (50 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (165 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (220 grams) plain flour
1/2 pound (225 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks
Flaky sea salt, to sprinkle

Directions

  • Heat oven to 180°C and line a baking sheet with grease proof paper.
  • Cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and the vanilla, beating until incorporated, and scraping down the bowl as needed.
  • Beat in salt and baking soda until combined, then add the flour until just mixed, and then fold in the chocolate chunks.
  • I scooped the cookies into heaped tablespoon-sized mounds, spacing them apart on the baking tray.
  • Sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt.
  • Bake for 11 to 12 minutes, until golden on the outside but still soft on the inside.
  • Let the cookies rest on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring a cooling rack.

Tip: I froze extra dough in scoops on a plate lined with greaseproof paper. Once they’re solid, you can transfer them to a freezer bag.  This allows you to pin a note onto your noticeboard saying ‘Bake frozen cookies for 11 minutes’ and feel like a domestic goddess whenever you take advantage and have freshly baked cookies within 20 minutes.

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Listening to Hello by Adele (obviously!),  Totally by Joe Stilgoe and I’m not gonna teach your boyfriend how to dance with you by Black Kids.

I adapted this recipe very slightly from Smitten Kitchen, but it’s originally from Ashley Rodriguez’s Not Without Salt. The photographs and other words 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.

Foodie Adventures: Brockley Market

A couple of weeks ago, the boy and I headed to Brockley Market on one of our weekend adventures.  It was a bit of a trek from North West London to Lewisham, but it was worth it for this lovely market, which was an absolute food geek’s paradise! Stall upon stall was laden with fresh, gorgeous produce, from artisan sourdough to homemade cordial, and almost every one was manned by a friendly stall holder, passionate about their wares and eager to explain the painstaking processes of producing their food.  It was great to talk to so many people so clearly pursuing their passions, and so proud of what they had to sell.

One lady explained to us what makes sourdough different from normal bread, before advising us on the best loaf for sourdough beginners (n.b. it was delicious). Another guy explained how he made his beautiful cheeses, while M made himself at home getting endless advice about different craft beers. We also tried some very VERY hot BBQ sauces, touted by some very eager guys who took great glee in our reaction to their mildest offering!

There were loads of street food trucks to choose from for lunch — our resolutions to save money and eat at home having rapidly disintegrated. After much deliberation, we went for the Saltwood Fish Bar. Matt had the fish and chips, which he declared to be one of the best he’d ever had. I had the calamari and chips — squid coated in polenta and deliciously crisp — alongside some wonderfully garlicky aioli. We ate this on several large wooden benches set at one corner of the market, alongside people enjoying everything from burritos to huge burgers from the other stalls.

I’d thoroughly recommend taking a trip to Brockley if you find yourself in the area. It’s a lovely way for anybody who likes food (isn’t that everybody…?) to spend a Saturday morning.

For the where, when and how, the website is here.

And now, for many many photographs…

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Listening to There is an Answer by A Great Big World, Wonderful Unknown by Ingrid Michaelson and 22 by Taylor Swift.

© Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

The Breakfast Club: Blueberry compote

You know when you buy lots of blueberries, forget about them in either the fridge or freezer — forgotten blueberries in the freezer being infinitely less of a tragedy — and then remember just in time before they become rather too blue and a bit fluffy?  Just me? Okay. Well this is the perfect answer to an entire punnet of blueberries — two cups to be exact. You can even buy them especially, if you want to be that organised person who puts me to shame! Bubbled up with honey and a dash of cinnamon, this compote is wonderfully versatile.  Pile on top of porridge or pancakes for a weekend breakfast, or drizzle over creamy Greek yoghurt for a dessert that tastes far more indulgent than it really is.

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Ingredients

2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

3 tablespoons water

2½ tablespoons honey

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  • Place all of the ingredients into a medium saucepan over a medium -high heat.
  • Stir everything together gently using a plastic spatula, gently squishing the blueberries against the side of the pan to help them reduce more rapidly.
  • Keep stirring, bringing the gloriously purple mix to the boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat and keep stirring for about 10 minutes, or until the berries are fairly well broken down.
  • You can serve this warm or cold — warm for breakfasts, and cold for yoghurt I’d say!  My latest batch lasted for about 3-4 days in a tupperware in the fridge.

Tip: I like to let maybe around 1/3 of the berries hold their shape for a compote with a tiny bit more bite, but you can keep cooking and squishing until the compote is smoother, if you like.

Please see below for the compote before and after swirling…

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Listening to I Don’t Wanna Love Somebody Else by A Great Big World, Love is on the Radio by McFly and Hard out Here by Lily Allen.

This recipe is a simplified version of an already simple recipe by A Sweet Pea Chef.  Lazy, me?

Everything is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Foodie adventures: Beam Cafe, Crouch End

Last Sunday, I went for a wonderful brunch with one of my best friends in one of my favourite parts of London. Could a Sunday morning get much better? I love Crouch End for its abundance of pretty cafes and cute card shops – perfect for a weekend wander. Unfortunately it was a bit of a rainy morning when we headed to Beam Cafe for breakfast, so there was less wandering and more eating brunch in the cosy confines of this lovely eatery. Not a problem in the slightest.

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I ordered the Eggs Royale: fluffy muffins lightly toasted, topped with perfectly poached eggs, smoked salmon, delicately creamy hollandaise sauce and a tumble of chives. It was delicious. Thinking about it now (8pm on a Monday evening) I could eat it all over again. In fact, I’ve thought about this dish an unhealthy number of times since I polished off the last forkful. This is what brunch was invented for.

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Freshly squeezed orange juice: sweet and tangy at the same time with a pleasing amount of froth

My friend had the avocado, egg and bacon on toast — she enjoyed it very much. I’d thoroughly recommend this little cafe: the interior was simple and cosy and yet felt chic at the same time. Even a couple of tight-fisted northerners like ourselves conceded that the prices were pretty darn reasonable, especially given how genuinely exquisite the food was and what a nice part of London this is. We’re already devising excuses to return soon!

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Fork – ACTION SHOT

Listening to Holding Back the Years by Gretchen Parlato, Let’s hear it for the boy by Deniece Williams and Put the Gun Down by ZZ Ward. All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.