• Peach and raspberry vegan loaf cake

    Variation on vegan loaf cake as promised.  Happy baking!

    Ingredients:               

    Dry mix for loaf cake:

    • 500g plain flour
    • 60g ground almonds
    • 5 tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 160g soft brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp ground ginger

    Wet mix for loaf cake:

    •  280ml orange juice
    • 90ml oat milk or other non-dairy milk
    • 20ml vanilla extract
    • 120ml vegetable oil
    • 1-2 peaches (or nectarines) depending on size
    • 1/2 small punnet of fresh raspberries plus extra for decoration
    • 125g sultanas
    • Ground cinnamon and soft brown sugar for dusting

    Method:

    • Preheat oven to 180C. Grease (with non-dairy butter or oil) and line two loaf tin tins.
    • Peel the nectarine/s. Cut nectarine/s into small pieces.  Set aside.
    • In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon and ginger together. Then add the ground almonds.  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 nectarine pieces, raspberries 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 raspberries fruits).  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 extra raspberries in a ‘herringbone’ pattern 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 20 to 25 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: variation on Veganlovie recipe.

  • “Change is inevitable, progress is optional”

    I feel like I haven’t done much but yet have been very busy.  Three weeks with one day off, means that I have started my holiday in Cornwall very tired indeed.  This was evidenced by the fact that I slept on and off the whole way down from Swindon to Watergate Bay yesterday, with the exception of lunch and a comfort stop.  As if this was not enough sleep, I fell asleep again around 9/9.30 pm last night and slept through to 6ish this morning.  Possibly the early night was aided by the fact that after we arrived yesterday afternoon, we decided to do a beach workout before we went to dinner at the Beach Hut.  After bear crawls, duck walks, hero carries, wheelbarrows, walking lunges, push ups, burpees, squats, handstand dips and planks, we were decidedly knackered and a little sore when we went to dinner.  Being anaesthetised by a glass of wine was the final trick in sleep induction.

    I wish I could say that I am feeling refreshed this morning, but as I write this post in the relaxing spa lounge of the Watergate Bay Hotel, overlooking the beach, I feel that my eyelids are already getting heavy.  I feel that my massage at 11.10 am this morning may send me over the edge again into deep slumber.  So with that thought in mind, I had better get some writing done before I fall asleep.

    In terms of the reference to progress in the title of my blog, perhaps the biggest developments since last time I wrote is that I finished getting to grip with the Safer Food, Better Business document and I had my meeting with the environmental health officer.  She was happy with everything and I should be receiving a copy of her report shortly.  Our landlord has also approved me operating a business out of our rental property subject to getting the correct insurance in place.  In his words, he wants us ‘to be happy in No. 13’.  We are very grateful for his support as running a business from home is contrary to our tenancy agreement.

    My next step is to iron out my business model (still not sure exactly what I want to do or how I want to do it).  My ‘job’ is to complete this while I am on holiday this week.  It may sound a bit backwards to have set up my ‘business’ (and I say that loosely) before I know what I am doing, but I wanted to register my business so that I could bake/cook for people from home if I was requested to do so.   I guess it was also spurred on by cooking pizzas for the Coln St Aldwyns fete in September.  I want everything in place by then.

    With reference to change in the title of my blog, the only other thing I have really done since last I wrote is that I have been tinkering with the apple and rhubarb, vegan loaf that I originally made for Lynwood & Co at the Head Chef’s request.  My first attempt replaced the apple and rhubarb with nectarines and raspberries.  My second attempt used peaches instead of nectarines.  I tried the nectarine and raspberry version as I experimented with this at home, but the peach and raspberry version was too warm when I left work on Wednesday.  I did ask the owner’s wife to try the nectarine and raspberry version and she gave it the thumbs up.  I am still waiting to hear whether the Head Chef liked it or whether he tweaked it again.  He did like my Instagram post of it, which might have been his thumbs up.  I will post this variation of my vegan cake under recipes in case anyone wants to try it.

    On this note, I am going to end this post as my massage is fast approaching and I need to get ready to relax.

    Well my massage is over and according to the therapist, I did not, but need to relax more.  Without being rude, ‘tell me something I don’t already know’.  Despite not relaxing (someone, please teach me how), I think it was still time well spent.  Although I requested more pressure as I knew the instant the therapist began to massage me that I my back had more knots than a boating knot guide, the pressure was a bit too intense at times which made it difficult to relax.  She did suggest that I advise her if the pressure was too firm but I didn’t have the heart to tell her as it was me who asked her to increase the pressure in the first place.

    Oh, I just remembered that I also made a delicious carrot cake loaf with excess carrots which we ordered for the Coln Community Stores.  Okay, it was Jo but I asked him to order them at the end of a busy shift which he was helping me with on the recent Bank Holiday Monday.   Apparently he asked the supplier for the usual amount and they sent 3 kg rather than 1 kg.  I suppose all’s well that ends well as we got a carrot cake out of the excess, which was enjoyed by my colleagues at the Coln Community Stores.  Jo unfortunately missed out as I was putting the finishing touches to the cake when he walked out of the house for one of his business trips.

  • 60 ‘Maltese’ cupcakes

    Looking back at my Instagram account, it doesn’t look like I have done a huge amount since I last wrote.

    Perhaps the most significant events, although not very significant in themselves, are that I got to bake the 60 cupcakes for the customer order which I mentioned in my last post and I trialed our proposed pizzas for the Coln St Aldwyns fete, which is to be held in September.

    On Friday evening, after an early morning shift at the Coln Community Stores (5.30 to 10.30am), a quick trip to Fairford to pick up some ingredients, a two-hour mow of the lawns to get our garden sort of in order for visitors, I set about making pizza dough, tomato sauce and caramelised onion, and preparing the toppings for 11, eight inch pizza.  You might ask why, 11 pizzas.  Well, we have just purchased a pizza stacker with 11 slots for 11 pizza trays.  Our mission (Jo was in charge of cooking them in our new Uuni Pro) was to see how many pizzas we could cook in a certain amount of time, in preparation of the Coln St Aldwyns fete in September.  We are hoping to cook 60-80 pizzas in two hours at the fete.  Limited by only two toppings (the organiser’s suggestion), pepperoni and  caramelised onion and goat’s cheese, we prepared and cooked 11 eight, inch pizzas, which were tasted by 6 of the fete’s organisers to determine whether they were worthy of appearing on the fete’s menu.  With Jo able to cook 6 in 9 minutes, and a thumbs up particularly to the caramelised onion & goat’s cheese topping (the firm favourite, not surprising given the discerning palates of the organisers), we have been given the go ahead to appear on the fete’s menu.  The leftover pizza dough (I made enough for 16 pizzas), together with the caramelised onion (of which there was loads), tomato sauce and goat’s cheese were made into a delicious calzone with added anchovies and mushrooms.  I think after the trial run and the calzone, we were all pizza’d out for a while.

    If cooking a shed load of pizzas on Friday night was not enough, on Saturday, after 6 days straight at work (albeit between the two jobs), I went to work ready to make 60 cupcakes (actually I made over 80 to ensure that I had 60 decent cupcakes for the customer) along with preparing what else needed to be made for general cafe use.  I didn’t envisage that some of my day would be spent supporting the front of house chef as it was a very busy day at the cafe.

    I made a decision to make the cupcake mixture in two batches as I didn’t want the mixture to sit around for too long before putting it in the oven.  I painstakingly made the first batch of mixture and took my time filling the cupcake cases.  I adjusted the oven to 10 degrees below the suggested 180 degrees Celsius as the recipe I was using did not specify if the suggested temperature was for a conventional or fan oven and baked the cupcakes for 20 minutes (the recipe suggested 20 – 25 minutes baking).  A skewer test suggested that the cakes should be cooked so I took them out of the oven.  In retrospect, I should have taken them out a couple of minutes later but retrospect was too late at this time.  That being said, after letting them cool for a while, and cutting open 3 or 4 cakes just to be sure that they were cooked (the less decent looking cakes) the cupcakes revealed themselves to be of a very light and decent texture.  With my first batch of cupcakes cooling, I set about making my second batch of cupcake mixture.  With time pressure on me, I tried to hasten the cake mixture (I thought that maybe I had been a little too cautious the first time around).  The result was that the second batch of mixture was not quite as good as the first and there were fewer cupcakes in the second batch that I thought were worthy of finishing off for the customer.  In retrospect (there is that word again), I should have made a single batch of cupcake mixture (our industrial mixer needs a lot of ingredients to ensure that it mixes them properly).  Irrespective, I had 60 plus cakes worthy of icing out of the two batches.

    Towards the end of the shift, we started the task of making the icing for and then icing, all the cupcake cakes.  The intention was that my colleague, who bakes and decorates cakes in her spare time would ice the cupcakes, as I never feel that this is my forte.  The first challenge was to get half the icing red enough.  Armed with 6 tubes of extra strong Dr Oetker gel red, food colouring, we attempted to get the correct colouring.  It was a deep pink rather than red.  My colleague made the correct call to try to add some more colouring.  A quick message to my husband Jo, saw the arrival of three more tubes of Dr Oetker red food colouring.  These did the trick.  The second challenge was to ensure that the icing was firm enough to ice the cupcakes (it was sweltering in the kitchen) – a short chill in the fridge did the trick.  The third and final challenge was to get an even swirl of white and red icing on top of each cupcake.  My colleague used a method used by her aunt, which was to wrap the two coloured icings separately in cling film and the place them in a large piping bag to pipe.  This method ensures that the colours do not mix when piping.  Ingenious!

    After all the icing prep, which took much longer than expected we set about icing the cupcakes, 60 for the customer and the rest for the staff.  A test by my colleague and me revealed that I could in fact ice neater than her so it became my task to ice the cupcakes.  80 iced cupcakes later, 60 of which were left neatly tucked in boxes in the fridge (it was too hot in the kitchen to leave them out – it was the right call as the icing on the ones that we left out for staff, melted slightly), we left for the day, praying that the cupcakes would be okay in the morning.  As I had the Fairford 10km run on the Sunday morning, I was not going to be around for the pick up.  To end this rather long-winded story about the life of a cupcake, lets just say that they were picked up and that the feedback from the customer yesterday was very positive.  The customer came into see me personally to thank me for the cupcakes.  She said that they were more than she had expected and that her Mother (whose Birthday it was) had tears (of joy, I should add) when she saw the cupcakes.  The sentiment most probably came from the colouring of the cupcakes, rather than the cakes themselves as the red and white was supposed to represent the Maltese flag and their heritage.

    Going back to the Fairford 10km.  It was a very fast race with the winner averaging a speed of over 18km an hour.  Although we didn’t place well we were happy with out time of 47.22 minutes.  Our goal was to achieve a sub 50 minute 10km, which we did.  After the race I did a short stint in the kitchen at Lynwood & Co (2-3 hours) and then some paddle boarding and canoeing with my husband, sister and nephew.  Needless to say that we were exhausted so resorted to pub meal and a glass for two of wine at the New Inn.  While at the pub, we got talking to Daisy May Cooper, the actress and recent BAFTA winner from This Country.  She was an absolute delight and asked Jo and I for our phone numbers as she thought we were lovely (her words) and suggested that we meet up for a drink sometime.  She is unlikely to call, but I am sure we will bump into her in the pub sometime.

    The last thing I should mention is that I have made some progress in setting up a business from home.  I am now registered as a business with the Cotswold District Council and have an environmental health officer coming to see me on Monday afternoon.  I have one supplier secured, to provide me with ambient goods and for the ingredients for the Coln St Aldwyns Fete.  I now have a few days, starting after breakfast this morning, to get to grips with the Safer Food Better Business document before the meeting on Monday afternoon.  While I say that I have made progress, any progress that I have made may be thwarted if our landlord does not approve of me operating a small business from home.  We will just have to wait and see what he says.  It is not the end of the world though, as our year’s contract is coming to an end in August as we can look for another property if needs be.