Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Rhubarb and Blossom :: A 21st Birthday Cake

Oh dear I am so useless, I realised this evening that it has been over two weeks since I last posted. For that I am sorry, however I have had a few issues that needed sorting, but now I am looking forward to the future and I am so excited to see what the next few months may bring. Summer is coming you guys, I can almost feel that sunshine warming me through. It's feeding me with such hope and optimism.

The last few weeks have been such a tease, 20c sunshine filled days, drinks along the river, walking around outside without a coat and the errrmazzzzing blossom that has just exploded on to the London streets. It brings so much joy. Hurry up Summer, hurry, Britain is waiting for you with open arms. 

This past weekend was my baby sister's 21st, I actually cannot get my head around the fact that my littlest sister is 21.... You guys in my head she is still the sweet, innocent, boy hating 12 year old. She is now finishing her dissertation and about to graduate from uni, I wish I had Bernard's watch so we could freeze time and just enjoy being young. Everyone one is growing up so quickly, dear friends, who I have known my whole life are getting engaged, married. Take me back to being 5 when my biggest worry was who I would share my colouring pens with.  On a serious note now Annabel is 21, a whole new world is about to envelope her and I am so excited for her future. I am so proud of her and feel blessed to have her as my sister. So many new futures are being made and it is really just quite lovely. 

Last week I Whatsapped Annabel and asked her what kind of birthday cake she would like as she was coming to spend the weekend with us. Her first request was rhubarb, instantly my mind went into over drive. I wanted to make something that was special. Some thing memorable. All the rhubarb cakes I have had, have been lovely but they didn't have the wow factor. Even Pinterest didn't come up trumps. So I stripped my thought process back and went basic. I decided that a simple Victoria Sponge with roasted rhubarb and a beautifully fluffy buttercream would do the trick. 



The cake is actually so simple, I started worrying that I had missed something. I took the Victoria sponge recipe from Mary Berry and split the mixture into three 18cm tins. 

I roasted 750g of rhubarb with a little sprinkle of sugar for approx. 20 minutes. 



Once my rhubarb was nicely roasted I left to cool whilst the cakes baked in the oven. 

Once slightly cool, I drained all the liquid from the dish and put aside to add to the buttercream. 

For the buttercream I used Hummingbird Bakery's vanilla icing recipe. I do love the Hummingbird recipes, they give slightly more decadent results. Which I like. I added a splash of pink food colouring and the rhubarb juice.

Once all three sponges and rhubarb had cooled and I had made icing, I started to assemble. Sponge, buttercream layer, layer of rhubarb and repeat until you have an un iced cake but it is assembled. 

Once all three layers are together, start lavishly spreading the icing around the sides and on top of the cake. Your rhubarb might escape from between the layers but as they are soft they should just spread into the icing. 

Keep spreading with a palet knife until the whole cake is covered and as smooth as you like. 

I decorated it with blossom's as they are freely available but even plain this cake will still look impressive. 

















This cake is spring at it's finest. It's brought a little ray of sunshine into my thoughts as I look out at the rainy miserable day we are having. 

Hurry sunshine, please come back. I want to enjoy you to your full potential. 

xxxx

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Sunshine Salad

Yesterday I had a euphoric moment, the sun was shining, it was a beautiful. Walking through the park at lunch time, I finally felt that the worst of winter is over and spring is well and truly sprung. Don't get me wrong, I love winter, I love it when it's so cold you have to wear 5 layers, I love snow, I love frosty bright mornings. I do however not like the wet, rank winter we have had this year. It's been depressing. So when the sun shone it happy self, I had an urge to make a lovely spring time salad. This alongside a juicy roast chicken and you are on to a winner. 



Stuffed full of goodness that just gives you that spring in your step. I essentially used what ever grains (giant couscous, quinoa and bulgar wheat) I had in my cupboard mixed in some feta, pomegranate seeds, grated courgette, mint and parsley, splash of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and seasoning. So good and so yummy. 














And it is as easy as that! 

Have a lovely sunny weekend everyone. 

xxx

Monday, 3 March 2014

Shrove Tuesday


Tomorrow is the greatly acclaimed Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day.  Pancake day is the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. 'Shrove' - as in Shrove Tuesday - stems from old English word 'shrive', meaning 'confess all sins'. It is called Pancake Day because it is the day traditionally for eating pancakes as pancake recipes were a way to use up any stocks of milk, butter and eggs which were forbidden during the abstinence of Lent.  The last day before Lent where you can stuff your face with as many pancakes as you can physically eat without being sick.

I am going to make a confession... I don't actually like the usual Crepe that so frequently graces every British household on Pancake Day. I once ate far far far more than my fair share and was violently ill for a few days after. Hence my dislike. HOWEVER, I do love the good old American fluffy thick pancake. Pile 'em high, drizzle with maple syrup and fry up some bacon and I am sold. It's like the perfect Sunday brunch.

This weekend though I wanted to try something a little different, something that could be eaten on Pancake day as a proper meal with out the usual over eating. My pancakes are also made with Buckwheat flour so are gluten free. This makes this dish even more saintly! The recipe for the pancakes comes from the beautiful blogger Tania (just take out the cinnamon and add a dash of paprika). Her blog is one of my fav reads, amazing photography.  

The rest of the dish consists of an avocado and tomato salsa, sour cream, bacon and hot sauce. Heaven in a mouthful.



I would also like to state that streaky bacon really only is the kind of bacon for me. It has more flavour, more crunch and is not as dry as back. 




The first thing to do is whip up the pancake batter and let it rest for a few mins.

Meanwhile finely chop up your tomato, avo, add a teaspoon of capers and mix up with a drizzle of olive oil, hot sauce and season.



When you have made your salsa, cook your pancakes and pile them up.
Sprinkle over your salsa, add a dollop of crème fraiche and dust with paprika and hot sauce.








This to me is the best way to enjoy a guilt free pancake day without sacrificing on flavour.
~
I do however have a cheeky little ending to this post! Peanut butter, Nutella, banana pancakes.
You didn't think I would leave you high and dry on Pancake Day with out the pudding option did you?







This is effectively left over batter (I scooped a little out before I added the paprika and added a touch of cinnamon) topped with melted Nutella, peanut butter and bananas. The little star sprinkles are just cause they are pretty. This would be extra yummy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top (I didn't have any and this was a slight impromptu addition to the meal).

Hope you have a fab Pancake Day all.

xxx
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