Thursday 13 August 2015

Salted Caramel Apple Cake

Oh my… this cake was a bit of a triumph.
Not too sweet, spiced just like an apple pie, and sporting a glossy, luscious salted caramel buttercream.  This cake got two thumbs up from everyone at the inlaws BBQ, especially Dave as I baked it with him in mind as a welcome home cake.

Sunday 9 August 2015

Up, Up, and Away!

Trapped in town by the craziest Balloon Fiesta traffic ever, we abandoned our plans to head out to Bedminster (or even up to Clifton and the Downs) to watch the mass balloon ascent and ended up with some of the best views we’ve ever had of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Thursday 6 August 2015

Bara Brith

Bara Brith might seem like an autumn or winter sort of bake, but for me it is good at any time of year when you need something comforting and homely.  That makes it perfect for the rain we're being plagued with at the moment.  It really feels like autumn; I've spent my evenings huddled under a blanket with a book and a chai latte for company. Comfort food is absolutely required, diet be damned!

There are two schools of thought on Bara Brith: a tea loaf or a yeasted bread.  Your allegiance seems to be based on the very first bara brith you ever tasted. My Bara Brith falls into the tea loaf camp as I can't recall ever having a bready version.  It seems to me that it would be like Starbucks fruit toast, which is very nice, but not my idea of a Bara Brith!  Apologies to those who love the bread-style version!  The tea loaf version, aside from tasting gorgeous, has the advantage of not requiring kneading and can all be mixed in the same bowl leaving you hardly any washing up!  The recipe is very child-friendly,too, if your little one(s) likes to join you in the kitchen.  I made Lucas do 90% of the work.  He's beginning to mutter about child labour...

I should also add that Bara Brith travels very well.  I took a huge one to Cornwall last year when we went on holiday--very good toasted towards the end of the loaf--and I can imagine tucking into thick slices around the campfire.  (Should camping be your thing.)

Bara Brith, my way

450g mixed dried fruit
300ml strong black tea
175g brown sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
zest and juice of one orange
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
450g self-raising flour

To top: crushed sugar cubes, pearl sugar or jam sugar

The night before: put the dried fruit in a large bowl, pour over the tea and give it a good stir. Cover and leave overnight to let the fruit plump up.

Next day: preheat the oven to 140C fan oven / 160C conventional.  Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.

Add the sugar, syrup, zest and juice to the mixing bowl.  Mix well. If your brown sugar was lumpy let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve.  Beat in the egg.  Finally sift the flour and mixed spice together into the fruit mixture. Beat together.

Spoon into the prepared tin. Give the tin a few bangs on the worktop to remove any air pockets and level the top.  Sprinkle generously with the sugar topping.

Bake for 1 3/4 hours, checking after 1 1/2 hours. It's done when a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.

Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Book Review: The Earth Hums in B Flat

Young Gwenni Morgan has a gift. She can fly in her sleep. She’s also fond of strawberry whip, detective stories and asking difficult questions. When a neighbour mysteriously vanishes, she resolves to uncover the secret of his disappearance and return him to his children. She truthfully records what she sees and hears: but are her deductions correct? What is the real truth? And what will be the consequences – for Gwenni, her family and her community – of finding it out? Gwenni Morgan is an unforgettable creation, and this portrait of life in a small Welsh town on the brink of change in the 1950s is enthralling, moving and utterly real. Mari Strachan’s debut is a magical novel that will transport you to another time and place.
I am not known for having my finger on the pulse of book releases, but even so I can’t quite believe that The Earth Hums in B Flat has been out since 2009 and I’ve only just discovered it!
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