I haven’t actually been baking much during lockdown, which is the opposite of the majority of the rest of the population if you believe the news and the recent daily stats of this blog (thank you everyone and I hope the recipes have worked and tasted wonderful). I think this may be because I bake a lot normally, I bake cakes at least twice a week to serve at the cookery school, and normally two cakes or a cake and some biscuits for each class. This means that we always have a few slices of leftover cake lying around the house, and to be honest (I thought I would never say this) you can get a bit fed up of cake. Baking hasn’t been at the top of my list of things to do during lockdown and this is the first one I have made since 20th March. I just felt the need for cake, and that often translates into the need for coffee cake. It is one of my all-time favourites.
This one has a coffee and sugar drizzle added as soon as it come out of the oven to add that extra coffee kick and a lovely moistness. You don’t need to add this if you don’t want to and the cake is perfectly good without it. If you do go for the drizzle option then please don’t feel you need the buttercream icing on top, it’s just that in this house a coffee cake isn’t really considered finished without the buttercream. It might be overkill for you, but if the mood strikes you for coffee cake then this combination might just hit the spot.
175g softened butter 175g caster sugar 2 eggs 50g plain yoghurt (or use another egg) 175g plain flour 1 tsp baking powder 1/4 (one-quarter) tsp bicarbonate of soda 30ml (2 tbsp) strong coffee or coffee essence 50g walnuts
Method: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade, gas mark 4 or use the baking oven on a 4oven Aga. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin or 20cm round cake tin.
Beat the butter and caster sugar together with an electric whisk in a large bowl until the mixture has turned pale and is fluffy. Add one egg at a time and beat well to combine. Add the yoghurt and beat well to combine. Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda over the mixture and fold in using a large spoon. Fold in the coffee or essence and the walnuts. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Whilst the cake is baking, put the ingredients for the drizzle in a small pan and heat on low until the sugar is dissolved and then raise the heat and simmer for a couple or minutes. As soon as the cake is out of the oven use the skewer to make holes all over the top and brush the coffee drizzle over the top of the cake. Leave the cake in the tin for at least ten minutes so that the drizzle can be fully absorbed. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
For the frosting, beat the butter until soft and add the icing sugar, stir gently until combined (this saves clouds of icing sugar erupting everywhere) and then whisk until fluffy. When the cake is cold decorate the top of the cake and add walnuts as final touch.
The cake will stay delicious for about three days if kept in a tin.
I have said before how much I love Choclette’s blog about all things chocolate. Well the other week she posted a recipe for Almond Toffee Brownies and they sounded like they may well be the pinnacle of brownies. Today, I felt like making brownies and so I thought I would try her recipe. Except that I can never really follow a recipe without feeling the need to mess about with it a bit. So I haven’t yet discovered whether Choc’s recipe is the pinnacle of brownies, but I am sure it is.
My variation is pretty good, with a sugary crust and very moist brownie underneath. Choclette normally uses duck eggs in her cooking and as my hens lay quite small eggs instead of 3 egg yolks I used 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg. I cooked my brownies for longer too, I don’t know why this was necessary, maybe it’s my Aga or the different size tin – a mystery to me.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl suspended over simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Add the coffee essence.
Whisk together the egg yolk and whole egg with the sugar until fluffy. Fold in the almonds and the chocolate mixture. Pour into a greased 8 inch square tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or in the baking oven of the Aga for 20-25 minutes. You want it nicely browned on top but still moist in the centre. Leave to cool in the tin and then cut into squares and enjoy with a cup of tea.
This is what I cook if I am catering for a fair few people. So I always cook it for my daughters’ birthday parties. It was my youngest’s 3rd birthday this weekend and we were having a family tea for her.
It’s very easy to cook this ham in a four-oven Aga as you can just leave it to cook away all night. You could cook it in a conventional oven at a low temperature, but I guess that may use a fair amount of electricity and there are probably better ways of cooking a ham in a conventional oven. This is a recipe from my Mum, but I have no idea where she got it from.
This ham weighed 6kg and cost in the region of £17.00 from my local butchers. It fed 8 adults and two children at the party and has supplied us with enough ham for two ham and cheese omelettes, a spaghetti carbonara for four, about five sandwiches, and there’s a bone for the dog when it is all finished, so it is quite a bargain really.
I placed the ham in a large bowl and filled it with water and then drained this water away and refilled with fresh water. I covered the bowl and then kept it in a cold place overnight. Soaking a ham like this makes sure that it is not too salty and because I won’t be boiling it in water is probably wise, but ask your butcher if they think it is necessary when you buy your ham as cures can be different.
The herbs and spices faintly scent the ham and this way of cooking preserves the full flavour of the meat and retains a delicious moistness.
3 bay leaves
15 black peppercorns
5 juniper berries
4 whole cloves
For the glaze:
3 tsp mustard powder
3 tsp soft brown sugar
3 tsp maple syrup
15-20 whole cloves
After soaking the ham in water in a bowl for at least twelve hours place the ham in a deep sided roasting tin with the bay leaves, peppercorns, juniper berries and 4 whole cloves. Cover loosely with foil – make a tent so that the foil does not come in contact with the top of the ham otherwise you may find that the salt in the ham attacks the foil during the long cooking. Place in the simmering oven of a four-oven Aga and leave overnight or for 10-12 hours.
Remove the roasting tin from the oven. Remove the rind of the ham with a sharp knife but leave as much of the fat underneath as you can. Score the fat into diamond shapes with the knife. Mix the mustard, sugar and maple syrup in a small bowl and spread all over the fat of the ham. Pierce the ham at the corners of each diamond with a whole clove. Place in the baking oven of the Aga (about 180°c) for 20-25 minutes until the glaze is bubbling and golden.
Put the ham onto a meat platter and leave to get completely cold and then slice into lovely thick slices.
I love to cook. I spend a lot of my time baking and cooking, or thinking about baking and cooking. I use this little corner of the internet to share my recipes. I hope that they inspire you to cook one or two of them. I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment or visit my Contact Page to drop me an email. Kath
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