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Archive for the ‘Muffin’ Category

Two Cake Sunday

For some unknown reason, I had an urge to make a plum and almond loaf cake. I don’t even really like plums, but I liked the idea of it.  Ignoring the cookbooks (not actually true, I flicked though a few of them and couldn’t find what I wanted), I did a bit of googling and found a blog recipe that seemed simple and idiot proof.

Unfortunately, it was a total disaster. I followed the bloody recipe step for step, but the result was a flat layer of slightly mushy, pink sponge. It tasted alright but it looked like something from a cakey nightmare.  I have to admit that I wasn’t totally surprised when it came out of the oven looking like a cake crash, as the quantities of ingredients used were a bit odd. How could a cake have 8 plums but only 35g of flour?!  And I couldn’t  actually fit all 8 plums in the loaf tin, so I probably only used 5. Pah! That blog can consider itself blacklisted.

Not to be deterred (actually, I was totally deterred but I still had about 3 plums worth of plum pieces left) I decided to try again, and this time I improvised:

150g butter

150g caster sugar

2 eggs

70g plain flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

100g powdered almonds

A squirt of almond essence

a handful of flaked almonds

3(ish) sliced plums)

Topping:

25g butter

40g light brown sugar

I mixed the butter and sugar together till it was pale and a bit frothy, chucked in 2 eggs and once that was all mixed together, I folded in the flour, baking powder, almonds and almond essence.

While that’s all going on, melt the butter for the topping in a sauce pan, add the sugar and mix it over the heat for a couple of minutes.

Put the topping in the bottom of the loaf tin, place the sliced plums over it, and then add the cake mix on top.

Bake the whole thing on 180 degrees for about 45 minutes, and ta-da! Some kind of Plum and Almond Upside Down cake.

I was so pleased with the result, that I’ve eaten about a quarter of the thing already!

And like all cakes, it goes very well with tea.

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Half measures

As successful as my last baking attempt was, I was left with the usual cake-based problem: What to do with 12 portions of cake?! The obvious answer is to eat it, but with only 2 people at Three Small Apples HQ, that means 6 slices of cake each before it goes stale. We’re looking at 2 slices of cake a day for 3 days. Not going to happen. I’m as big a cake fan as anyone, but I was looking at cake overload. The solution? Not feeding (stale) cake to guests (not because it’s a bad idea, but because I wasn’t allowed to), but half a cake in the bin. I may as well  have plugged up the oven and thrown my whisk over the wall. Or something like that.

But a couple of weeks later, and with a bit of spare time on my hands, I decided to retrieve the whisk from the other side of the wall.

Now, I know cupcakes have been done to death, but they still appeal to me. Not because Carrie and Miranda ate them that time. Or because of the pretty one-cake boxes they come in when you buy them from Hummingbird. But because they’re fun to make, easy to give away and they can be baked in tiny batches.

Primrose Hill Bakery, cupcakes, amaretto cupcakes

Yesterdays little batch of 6 amaretto flavoured cupcakes not only satisfied my sponge making urge, but should be easy enough to finish, without that Gawd-Must-Keep-Eating-Cake feeling.

The result: cake success!

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Jam Companion

I live with a jam consuming fiend. If there’s jam at Three Small Apples HQ, it’s already between 2 slices of bread. So imagine my surprise when I found a lone jar of home-made blackberry and apple jam…! I thought I should mark this monumental, unlikely to be repeated, occasion, and there’s no better way to eat jam than with scones!

The recipe was meant to make 8-12… how come I only ended up with 7 (plus a midget scone)?

So easy that if I wasn’t sickened by the amount of clotted cream I consumed (probably 5 times the amount above), I’d bake these every week!

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I think most people know I spend far too much time in Starbucks. And I’ve got a Gold Level reward card to prove it.  But super sweet coffee (“Can I have a tall, skinny hazelnut latte please?” Yes, I know what I sound like) and free Wi-fi? There isn’t actually a better way to spend lunchtime while at work. Although that might be because I work in a slightly disappointing area of West London.

Thankfully, I don’t live in the aforementioned disappointing area of West London. Instead, I live in an area of North London that is so bloody amazing that I honestly dwell on how great it is ALL THE TIME, as well as constantly wonder out loud why I didn’t move there sooner? (Answer: I didn’t want to. I’m reminded of the answer every time I do choose to wonder out loud within earshot of the people who tried to convince me to move…).  And in this amazing area of North London, not only is there NOT a Starbucks nearby, but there is such an abundance of coffee shops, tea rooms and cafés, that I probably wouldn’t visit even if one was to crop up.

Fred & Fran is one of the abundance. Found on a quiet residential road, a minute away from Stoke Newington Church Street, Fred & Fran is a small, simply decorated and cosy ‘Artisan Coffee House’, serving, as well as Square Mile coffee, a good selection of drinks, homemade sandwiches and cakes.

Cappucino

Free serve yourself water, so you can hang round and rehydrate while you ogle the food choices of others.

My chocolate, mandarin and almond cake was worth braving the rain for in itself. Sweet and tangy with just the right amount of almond, I was a bit sorry that I had to share this with Mr Three Small Apples. If I hadn’t borrowed the money off him (it’s cash only) to buy the cake and coffees in the first place, I might have told him to get him own.

Fred & Fran:  55 Kynaston Road, London N16 0EB

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Siberian weather eh? That’s nice.

Actually, it’s not. I’ve been over-wearing the only really warm cardigan that I own, layering up with Uniqlo Heat tech, wearing Uggs in public (yes, I hate myself a bit for it!) and I’m still cold!  So in an attempt to thaw myself out, I decided to make an attempt at chilli hot chocolate.

I obviously used the easiest recipe I could find, and the result? Pretty damn good.

It’s apparently going to start getting warmer this week… but don’t let that stop you trying this out.

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I know I recently swore off Starbucks after a bad hazelnut latte (the first one had too much water in it… the second one had too much coffee… the result? Queasiness and having to go to bed without dinner. I’m such a wimp) but I can’t not get excited about the red cups at Starbucks.  I’m just programmed to be a sucker for marketing.

The first toffeenut latte of the year didn’t induce any sicky feelings (maybe I’ve just had hazelnut syrup overdose? I have been drinking it for about 6 years) which is a very good sign.  Let’s hope the first gingerbread latte is just as successful.

And maybe this year, I’ll try an Eggnog latte? Gotta take a risk sometimes (!).

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God I miss Borders.

Borders, starbucks, magazines, cafe

Where else could you go and have a hazelnut latte and spend 3 hours reading all of the international and biannual fashion magazines that you couldn’t afford to buy?  £10 for a glossy magazine? No thanks… but I might just read it while eating an apple and cinnamon muffin and I promise I’ll be careful not to get crumbs on the pages.

But those days are long gone (probably because of people like me who very rarely bought a book from there…whoops! Come back…I’m sorry!!).

Is there anywhere else in London where I can go and brush up on the newest sartorial knowledge (and perhaps eat cake) without being given the hairy eyeball?

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