• Never look back

    My support of Veganuary, or more accurately, vegans in general has continued with me baking a variation of Ruby Tandoh’s chocolate and hazelnut cookies for Lynwood & Co.  I had difficulty finding hazelnut or almond oil so used walnut oil instead, so in keeping with the walnut substitution in the oil, substituted walnuts for hazelnuts in the cookies.  My colleague Charlotte took to Instagram with the following comment:

    ‘Can vouch for these … one was not suitable to sell as it was too … ummm ….small.  Had to dispose of it.  Yummmmy’.

    On the topic of cookies, although I was not around to witness the event, Kate Moss came into the cafe for a takeaway coffee again.  This time she came in with Nick Grimshaw, the Radio One DJ.  He picked up one of my cookies to go with his coffee and made some comment about the cookie looking somewhat smaller out of the jar than in the jar but lets hoped that he liked it, despite its size.  I guess, on the upside at least the cookies looked good enough to purchase in the first place.

    I should possibly mention that I tried a coffee and almond vegan cake recently, but despite having a very good crumb was lacking in taste (it needed a stronger coffee taste) and texture (a few more almonds wouldn’t have gone amiss).  I might try this again shortly, but I think my Head Chef wants me to stick with what we have for a while i.e. the apple and rhubarb vegan loaf cake with a hint of orange and ginger and the vegan cookies.  Speaking of rhubarb, and being inspired by its presence in the vegan cake, I made a rhubarb breakfast pot, courtesy of an Olive Magazine recipe – a delicious blend of stewed rhubarb, Greek yoghurt with an toasted oat and nut topping.  So much did I love this delicious breakfast offering, that I have chosen the photographic evidence of this offering to adorn this post.

    On a completely different note, we are currently staying in Beach Hut 5, Shaldon, Devon for my husband’s 50th Birthday.  This very diminutive holiday accommodation was featured in Episode 16 of George Clarke’s Amazing Builds by the Sea and is well worth a visit if you are not frightened of small spaces and are not claustrophobic.  That being said I border on being claustrophobic, but after a brief period of acclimatisation, I am feeling quite relaxed in my temporary home on the waterfront.  The accommodation itself is not why I am mentioning it, but rather that its location is in Devon, which is also the home of the Ashburton Cookery School, where I trained to be a patisserie chef.  As I was in the locale, I decided that I would pay the cookery school a visit, or more importantly the main chef on my course to say hello.  I stupidly expected a warm hello, but instead got a rather cold greeting and distinct feeling that I was not overly welcome.  I guess I am a past, rather than a current student and the chef is teaching a new group of students (his second since I graduated).  I know I wasn’t the easiest of students, given my fear of exams and the stress that they created for me, but in the end I didn’t think I was the worst student that they could have.  Anyway, late in life, I have learnt a couple of new lessons: never have any expectations and never look back.

    It is so typical – we have been looking forward to our mini-break in Devon for some time (we really needed a break from our respective work), but I think that with the thought of relaxing in mind that I made my body susceptible to catching the lurgy.  My poor husband has a snuffly, poorly wife to contend with.  My snuffliness has been added to another bout of stomach pain, which started on Tuesday.  The ironic thing was that my stomach had been behaving itself for some time – in fact on Tuesday morning I had been to the Great Western Hospital to see my Consultant (and to sign me off as fit).  Just after lunch (I think I wolfed down a bowl of mushroom soup to quickly, sending everything into a painful spasm), I started to feel poorly and I haven’t felt 100 percent since.  Despite my ailments, I am trying not to be too pathetic.  I did manage a 4.7 mile run yesterday and an 8.7 mile run/walk today along the South West Coast Path, along with keeping up our 100 a day challenge.  I say run/walk with reference to the 8.7 mile run today, as the coast path was very steep and slippery in places, which reduced us to a walking pace.  Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable run/walk – the sun was shining most of the time and the scenery was beautiful – we even incorporated an old smugglers’ tunnel into our training (running the length of the tunnel and ascending and descending the steps contained therein 10 times).

    On our return to Shaldon, after our walk/run, we decided to drop into the Shaldon Bakery, a local bakery, which was awarded Devon Life Food & drink Awards, Best Bakery of the Year in 2016.  Although slightly underwhelmed when we entered the shop, we purchased a multiseeded loaf and their signature Uglibun, which as the name suggests is ugly but nevertheless turned out to be quite tasty with a cup of warm tea.  The perfect reward at the end of a longish run/walk.

    Okay, I am now going to retire for a while – I need a quick snooze to recuperate before taking Jo out for his birthday meal to one of Tim Bouget’s Ode eateries.

  • Apple and rhubarb vegan loaf cake with a hint of orange and ginger

    So pleased have I been with how this vegan loaf cake has turned out that I thought I would share it with you in case you are looking for a vegan cake for yourself, friends or family.  Happy baking!

    Ingredients:               

    Rhubarb:

    • Stem of rhubarb
    • 1 tsp ginger
    • 50g caster sugar
    • Juice from one orange
    • Water as required

    Dry mix for loaf cake:

    • 500g plain flour
    • 60g desiccated coconut
    • 5 tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 160g soft brown sugar
    • Zest from two oranges

    Wet mix for loaf cake:

    •  280ml orange juice (use juice from zested oranges and then top up with orange juice)
    • 90ml oat milk or other non-dairy milk
    • 20ml vanilla extract
    • 120ml vegetable oil
    • 2 large Braeburn/Cox apples
    • 125g sultanas
    • Ground cinnamon and soft brown sugar for dusting

    Method:

    •  Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line two loaf tin tins.
    • Cut a stem of rhubarb into 0.5cm pieces and place in a pan over a low heat with the juice of one orange, ginger, sugar and a splash of water and cook until just tender. Set aside
    • Peel the apple. Cut one apple into small pieces and the other into thin slices.  Set aside.
    • In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together. Then add the desiccated coconut and the orange zest.  Mix well.
    • In a measuring jug, add the orange juice, oat milk, vanilla extract and oil. Mix well.
    • Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, then pour in the wet ingredients. Add in the chopped apple pieces, drained rhubarb pieces and the sultanas.  Fold and mix gently until a thick batter is obtained.  The batter may look quite dry (although less likely with the addition of rhubarb).  Do not be tempted to add more liquid as the fruit will release some moisture when the batter is baked.
    • Pour the batter into the two lined loaf tins. Spread the batter evenly in the tins.  Then place the apple slices on top of the batter in a row.
    • Sprinkle with a mix of sugar and cinnamon.
    • Cook for 20 minutes at 180C and a further 15 to 20 minutes at 160C. When time is up test cake with cake tester and if it comes out clean, the cake is done.
    • Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin before removing and cutting it.

    Please note that the cake can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of days. To keep it longer it should be kept in the refrigerator as the fresh fruit can go mouldy if not refrigerated.

    Source: Veganlovie

  • Veganuary

    Looking back at my last post, just over two weeks ago, I must say that it was a little dull in content.  I wish I could say that this post is going to be more exciting, but I really can’t promise anything.  I guess things in the Lynwood & Co kitchen are a little same old, same old.

    I haven’t had much of an opportunity to experiment with any new cakes, except for a vegan, apple cake with a hint of orange.  Last weekend, we had a customer in, who asked whether we had any vegan cakes.  I had to hold up my hands and say ‘no’ as although I had considered introducing a vegan cake in the past, I had shied away from it as I had, incorrectly, thought that it was likely to lack flavour.  Anyway, after the customer asked about a vegan cake, I thought I had better bite the bullet and explore the unexplored.  It didn’t take me long to find a few vegan cakes which I thought may meet the brief: lemon; coffee and apple with a hint of orange.  Being a fan of apple and orange, I thought I would give the apple and orange cake a go first.  My first attempt at the cake yielded a tasty, moist and beautifully textured cake, even if I say so myself.  Although I was very pleased at the result, as were a number of my colleagues, my Head Chef suggested that it lacked flavour.  He suggested that I added a bit of rhubarb to my next attempt, especially as rhubarb was coming into season.  My next attempt, which included rhubarb, lightly poached in orange juice, sugar and ginger yielded a cake, which got the Head Chef’s approval.  When I say approval, it is difficult to really tell, but the fact that he sneaked an extra slice of the cake when he got back to the kitchen, speaks volumes.  I should also mention that one of our regular customers came in a bought a whole vegan cake.  This was exciting in itself, but I guess only time will tell if it is a complete success, now that it is a permanent item on the menu.

    I should mention that the cherry cake has gone through a couple of incarnations since last I wrote, and although quite popular, the Head Chef had decided to take it off the menu for a while to make way for the vegan cake.  I think that when and if it manifests itself again, it will reappear in the form of the cherry Bakewell, as this seemed to be the most popular of all the cherry cakes incarnations.

    Still on the topic of cakes, whilst I was standing in the queue at work after hours, waiting to pay for some coffee, I overheard a customer discussing the respective merits of our range of gluten free cakes.  According to him, or his wife more accurately, but as relayed through him, the carrot cake was too sweet but the lemon, almond and polenta cake was delicious.  As she had not as yet tried the chocolate brownie, this was her choice for the day.  I haven’t as yet heard the verdict.   Feedback from another customer, took a slightly different form.  When I was in the local wine shop in Lechlade recently, successfully buying my husband a good bottle of wine for his impending 50th Birthday, the owner asked me if I was the lady responsible for the baking at Lynwood & Co as she had noticed a welcome change in the offering in recent months.  She mentioned, particularly, liking the mince pies at Christmas – she thought that they were better than the ones at Huffkins and advised me that she had recommended to the Lynwood & Co owner that we should package mince pies at Christmas to sell to customers.  Something to think about for next Christmas.  Talking about the mince pies, I am not sure whether I mentioned that one customer, a local photographer, loved my mince pies so much that he took professional photographs of them, which he sent to me.  One of these adorns this post.

    On a slightly different note, there has been a flurry of activity on Whatsapp recently from my fellow students at Ashburton Cookery School as it has been just over a year since we embarked on our Diploma in Professional Patisserie.  I cannot believe that there have been two intakes of students since we left.  Despite there being fraught and challenging times during the course, I do miss the cookery school; my fellow students and learning new things everyday.  We are planning a reunion in May, in London, so something to look forward to.  It will be great to see what everyone is up to.

    Possibly not very exciting, but still very important, I have spent the last week doing the costings for all our cakes so that we have up-to-date costings for both our new and house favourite cakes.   Even though I suggest that the activity was not very exciting, it was quite nice to be doing some computer work for a change.

    On a non baking front, we continue to do our new challenge of 100 plus exercises a day.  So far we haven’t missed a day, but we are still in January and there are 11 plus months to go.  Despite being the resident baker at Lynwood & Co, my stomach muscles are beginning to become more defined, thanks to TRX pikes, press ups, crunches and leg raises.  Long may this continue.  We are also managing to fit in quite a bit of running, despite not having the motivation of the 1000 Mile Challenge.  We did attempt a rather unsuccessful first run out of our Christmas present from my Brother and Sister-in-law, ‘Day Walks in the Cotswolds’, Southrop and the Eastleaches.  We chose the worst day to attempt a run we were not familiar with – it was grey, visibility was poor, it was raining, cold and wet from rain and snow melt and half way through the run, it was getting dark.  To cut a long story short, we had to cut the run short after 5.7 miles of a 7.1 mile run.  Better time next time, I hope.

    Anyway, had better go as work is calling.  I need to be there in half and hour and I am not quite ready yet.

     

  • Start as you mean to go on

    Christmas has been and gone, with the last remnants of Christmas being removed this morning.  We are now well and truly into 2018.  I am back on the early morning shift and my 4.45 am wake ups for a 6 am start at Lynwood & Co.

    I started the New Year with a pamper day at Barnsley House Hotel; treating myself to a facial and a massage. Yesterday, I got myself a new hairstyle – shorter and a bit more flattering than my last ‘hairstyle’.   I have decided to treat myself better in 2018, despite the fact that I can ill afford it on a chef’s salary.  That being said, I am not feeling too good today as we had my Mum and her friend Normski (real name Norman, but he Normski gives him more street cred) around last night for dinner and drinks and we all overindulged a bit on the liquid side of things.  Not a good idea given that we are just about to embark on one of our weekend runs.

    Okay, so I am just back from a 6.5 mile run.  Well not quite ‘just’, I have had a bath as well as prepared dinner (stuffed mushrooms with pesto, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, olives and feta, accompanied by broccoli and asparagus, followed by cinnamon, apple crumble and vanilla ice cream).  I should possibly mention that my run went okay despite overindulging last night.  Although we have now completed our 1000 Mile Challenge (I have the medal to prove it) we are still running – just not quite as much as we were doing last year.  Jo has set us a new challenge for 2018, 100 exercises per day (e.g. press ups, pull us, tyre flips, lunges, squats, crunches etc.).  So far, so good!

    As mentioned in my last post, I was going to bake 12 chocolate and orange muffins for my muffin fan and his wife.  Well I did as planned, albeit that the order changed to 6 chocolate and orange and 6 orange and cranberry muffins.  As I went into work on my day off to make the muffins (and this was disclosed to my muffin fan and his wife by one of my colleagues), I was surprised with a personal thank you from both and a bottle of Prosecco.  They were both very happy with the muffins, so much so that the muffin fan’s wife was happy to pass them off as her own, or so she said.

    Not much change on the cake front.  I did however experiment with a cherry and coconut cake with a raspberry jam, glace cherry and coconut topping (to potentially replace the Bakewell tart traybake) and a blood orange, blueberry, almond and polenta traybake (to potentially replace the lemon, almond and polenta cake).  As I have been off work for a couple of days (my days off), I haven’t heard how well they went down.   I guess I will find out tomorrow when I return to work.

    Other than what I have already told you, I haven’t much more to say.  I bought myself a copy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s much more veg and have made a few of his meals; mainly soups as I have been using up Christmas vegetables.   I have attempted celeriac and parsley soup; leek and cauliflower soup with mustard and thyme and celery soup with pear, as well as a tartare hash with poached egg.  I have to say that none of the meals disappointed and I would thoroughly recommend the book, even if it is just for the delicious soup recipes.   You may ask why a pastry chef is blethering on about delicious savoury meals.  Well man/woman can’t live by cake alone.