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!

20160629_064029

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.

20160629_064008

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.

Warsaw: the Botanical Gardens

When we were in Warsaw a couple of weeks ago, we spent a lovely afternoon wandering around the Botanical Gardens, part of the University of Warsaw.  A short bus ride from our hostel, the gardens were the perfect haven after a few days’ sightseeing in the bustling city. We spent a lovely few hours reading on a secluded bench amid the trees and flowers.

It was one of the times recently when I’ve felt most relaxed – it was lovely to just switch off and just be in a beautiful place.  It’s moments like that which really nurture us, I think. When I wasn’t daydreaming, I powered through much of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling!), which, incidentally, I LOVED and would thoroughly recommend.

If you happen to be in Warsaw and would like to visit the gardens yourself, the  website can be found here.  There is a small charge to venture inside – I can’t remember how much it was, but I’m pretty sure it worked out at less than £1 in the good old GBP.

Here are some of my photographs which I took – take a botanical wander with me!

12043829_1027698413947779_935783278_o

This is actually the beautiful open boulevard just outside the gardens themselves

12037786_1027722320612055_425093703_o

12041104_1027721103945510_1888416931_o

12044063_1027719910612296_333508461_o

12059170_1027717993945821_680034453_o

12059522_1027717113945909_1625873451_o

12059776_1027716397279314_1974061458_o

12025847_1027715173946103_1016807192_o

12051008_1027712780613009_1249267421_o

12025913_1027711630613124_233190501_o

12037682_1027710783946542_20510859_o

12020739_1027708903946730_572285999_o

Listening to I like this one by Joe Stilgoe, Waitress Song by First Aid Kit, Everyone is Gay by A Great Big World and Sister Rosette Goes Before Us by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Everything is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Neapolitan cupcakes

11800972_989814767736144_30188615_o

Up until a couple of days ago, it seemed that summer had well and truly arrived in Britain. We had weeks of glorious sunshine, and when I was invited to my first BBQ of the year, it was the perfect excuse to bake something wonderfully summery. I was inspired by this beautiful neapolitan cake on Ellie Bee’s blog to create a cupcake version.  And here it is. These little beauties consist of a layer of chocolate cupcake topped with a layer of vanilla, and then finished with the best strawberry frosting I’ve ever tasted. The fact it’s made from real strawberries probably explains this.

Everyone loved them at the BBQ, and plenty of people sheepishly sidled over for a second one. (N.B. I wasn’t guarding my cupcakes, I just happened to be standing near the food table for most of the evening. That’s where all the best people are during parties, right? *awkwardly eats another Dorito*)

11800821_989813694402918_1878727774_o

Ingredients

Chocolate Cupcake

1/3 cup (35g) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (80ml) boiling water
1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
3/4 cup (150g) and 2 tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk (you can save the white for the vanilla cupcake mixture)
1/4 cup (60g) double cream
1 cup (140g) plain flour

White Vanilla Cupcake

1 1/2 (210g) cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
7 tbsp (100g) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
Seeds of 1/2 large vanilla bean
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup (120g) milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Strawberry frosting

1 cup + 4 tbsp strawberry puree (Unless you can get hold of this, you’ll need to start with a little less than a punnet of strawberries. Yes, just less than a punnet is a legitimate measurement.)
1 1/2 cup (345g) unsalted butter at room temperature
5 – 5.5 cups (625g – 690g) powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
A few drops of red food coloring (optional)

Directions

For the chocolate cupcake
– Preheat oven to 180c (350F) degrees.
– In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and baking soda.
– Pour in the boiling water and whisk until the bubbling subsides and everything is well blended, then allow to cool for 5 minutes.
– In another bowl, blend together melted butter, vegetable oil, granulated sugar, vanilla and salt with an electric hand mixer until well combined.
– Stir in the egg and egg yolk, saving the egg white.
– Blend in the cocoa mixture, then blend in the double cream.
– Gradually mix in the flour and blend until well-combined.
– Divide the mixture between the 22 muffin trays — around a generous teaspoon in each.  Spread the mixture into an even layer and set to one side.
For the white vanilla cupcake
– Sift the plain flour into a medium-sized bowl.
– Add the baking powder and salt and stir until well combined.
– Using the handheld electric mixture, whip together the butter, sugar and vanilla bean seeds until pale and fluffy.
– In a separate bowl whisk together milk, egg whites and vanilla extract until well blended.
– Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture until completely combined. Mix on a high speed until the batter reaches a fluffy, almost mousse-like consistency.
– Now divide the chocolate mixture between the cupcake cases, spreading gently into an even layer so that the mixture reaches the sides of the cases.
– Bake for about 16-19 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
– Leave on the tray to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the strawberry icing
–  If, like me, you can’t find strawberry puree, you’ll need a little under one punnet of strawberries. Using a hand blender, blend your strawberries until you have 1 cup and 4 tbspn worth of pureed strawberries.
– Add the puree to a small saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 6 tbsp. It should take around 10 – 14 minutes (it’s worth measuring the mixture and if it isn’t quite 6 tbsp then return and continue to simmer until it has reduced enough).
– Pour into a small bowl, then pop in the freezer, stirring every so often, until cool. It shouldn’t take long.
– Whip the butter with the electric whisk until nearly white.
– Add an initial cup of icing sugar, then blend in the puree. Keep adding the icing sugar until you reach a good fluffy consistency — it needs to be relatively stiff to pipe.
– Once the cakes are cool, either pipe or spread the frosting on top. Et voila!
11777570_989816647735956_1694575559_o
11806490_989813774402910_2036247070_o
11783641_989816284402659_771193994_o
Oh, and this was my first time piping – too! It’s a little wobbly, but not too bad for a first attempt, right?
11783950_989818494402438_347972204_o

Listening to I get around by The Beach Boys, Sunshine of your Love by Cream and The Curse of Curves by Cute is What we Aim For.

This recipe is from Cooking Classy.  All other content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Daytrippers: Brighton

Some photographs from a sunny day out in Brighton. It was our first visit to this lovely seaside gem, complete with window shopping, ice cream and lots of windy sunshine. We loved it!

11638880_971958212855133_1625069686_o

11639276_971969046187383_590180241_o

11543086_971975749520046_1592302100_o

11663944_976331665751121_181757924_o

11653960_971981619519459_318676291_o

11658994_976331655751122_1031578432_o

11649131_971966399520981_713572593_o

Listening to Photographs by Joshua Radin, Snow (Hey Oh) by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, This Kiss by Faith Hill and This will be (An Everlasting Love) by Natalie Cole.

All content is ©Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

The Friday Frame {16} Blooms Ahead

The clue is in the bicycle’s cargo: ‘kwiaty’ is Polish for ‘flowers’, presumably 50 metres further on. This bicycle was on a backstreet in Poznan; we discovered it during a very early morning wander: we were up at 6am in an effort to avoid the heat of the day. It’s such a beautiful signpost, how could I not take a photograph?

10522112_778194682231488_1454543480_o

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

The Friday Frame {12} Up the Wall

A mural on a backstreet in Warsaw. There’s just something about this that I love; it’s on the one hand very realistic, on the other strangely surreal. It’s also just amazing to create art on this scale, and in this environment —  I couldn’t help stopping for a few moments to gaze in wonder every time we walked past.

10471425_778186578898965_1485099480_o (1)

Street art in Warsaw, Poland. Summer 2014.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

The Friday Frame(s) {8} Windswept Shores

This week I just couldn’t limit myself to one photograph. If that’s the kind of thing that bothers you, then sorry (not sorry). These three photographs are of Ballintoy Harbour, on the North Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. Believe it or not, I took them in August – you’ve got to love holidaying in Britain. Even on such a stormy, grey day, this is the kind of place which makes me want to forget all about living in a city, and move to the coast with its uninterrupted expanses and it’s clean, cold air. This is the British seaside proper i.e. best enjoyed in three layers, thermal underwear and with a steaming flask of tea.

Oh, and for any Game of Thrones fans, this was one of the Northern Irish locations featured in the early seasons; it was used as the setting for Pyke, one of The Iron Islands.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014.

The (almost) Friday Frame {7} Wildflowers

Yes, okay, it’s Saturday. But that’s almost Friday. Anyway, here’s a photograph of summer to offset the winter blues. These purple wildflowers are a common enough sight along the coast of Northern Ireland, a fact which does little to diminish their beauty, especially in the late summer sunshine.

‘The earth laughs in flowers’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

36584_466408343410125_1990640684_n

Purple wildflowers, the Northern Irish coast, Summer 2013.

 

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014.

The Friday Frame {6} Tramlines

The trams in Krakow, Poland, are just like the rest of the city they zig-zag through. They manage to beautifully combine the charm of a bygone era with the efficiency of the modern age, and they are irresistible to anybody with a camera. Wins all round.

10526534_778187888898834_1947882804_o

A tram winds its way through the streets of Krakow in Poland, Summer 2014.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014.