Ta Da!!!!! It is hereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Hello there, Autumn. I didn’t realise how much I had missed you. I’m conflicted and in tradition of being a walking contradiction, my mood dependence on the sun aside, my favourite seasons are Autumn and the first half of Winter (the part with Christmas in, after that it seems an endless drag to the time when we’ll ever feel warm again). This coming Winter though, it can throw all the cold it likes at me because in the Spring, James, his family and I are going to Orlando Disney! I have never been and to say I am excited it an understatement, I am almost unable to process how excited I am. I love Disney and I love Harry Potter even more.
So, long introduction aside. Autumn is here and I wanted to try to change up my beloved banana cake with something more seasonal that meant I could dig out my favourite loaf tin (the recipe would make one 9 inch round cake or two standard loaf tins). A quick Google search found me this recipe, which I used as a basis but made a few tweaks to. It was pretty delicious, comforting like a banana cake but beautifully coloured by the pumpkin, with those Autumn spices and pecan crunch, eeesh.
In other news, did anyone see the first day of Autumn Google doodle with the squashes and the squirrel? My favourite yet!
I’ve always been a fan of Caramelised Lotus biscuits, or Speculoos as I hear they are called outside of the UK. After an amusing and confusing conversation about biscuit bread, that went something like “Biscuit Bread?!”, “Yes! Biscuit Spread!”, “Bread?!”, “YES, spread, look I’ll go and get it”, I finally stared in awe at this jar of heaven. I was equally appalled and desperate to eat the whole jar with a spoon.
Every now and then I’d treat myself to a slice of toast with biscuit spread but the jar had been lingering in my cupboard, taunting me and I wanted to use it up. I spotted this recipe on Food 52 and knew James would love it (and me too of course!).
Whilst I’m not convinced of its breakfast properties, it was a delicious treat.
The closing of summer means that soon all the season’s delicious fruits will be going out of season and before we know it winter will be here. Not to be depressing, winter has beauty too and nearly all of my favourite flavours (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mulled wine, gingerbread, brandy drenched Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and home made mincemeat) are associated with winter. The end of summer traditionally saw everyone preserving all the fruit of the season, often in jams; so here is my goodbye to summer, some beautifully bright jam.
Nectarines have been in season and seem to be a bargain everywhere, so I’ve been getting them when I can, peeling, dicing them and then freezing them until I had ~1 kg to make jam with. Soft fruits like nectarines are easier to peel if they are ripe and you blanch them in boiling water.
Nectarine and rosemary just feel like a natural flavour combination to me, and I do love a boozy jam. I’ve had a bottle of rosemary gin on the side for months and thought a (large) dash in my nectarine jam would go down well.
I promise next year I will really work on my photography, there is no natural light where we live and I never have time to get anything more than a quick snap. One day though, one day. Also, can we take a minute to appreciate the hexaganol jar? A seriously underrated jar shape if you ask me, and my personal favourite; they are more efficient with regards to storage space than round jars and their tessellation pleases me greatly. A absolutely do not need to get out more.
Hello everyone! On the off chance you had noticed that I haven’t posted in a while, the past two weeks I’ve been working away in London and catching up with many lovely friends in the evening. I didn’t have a kitchen when staying in London and even though I came home in the weekend between (to see Foo Fighters play Milton Keynes – a bucket list item for sure), eating out for every lunch and dinner got old very quickly. I did manage five pre 7 am runs along the beautiful Southbank of the Thames (see my Instagram) though, my favourite part of London.
On a related note, tomorrow I am running the first of two runs for a charity called The Aspinall Foundation, who do amazing animal conservation work, this particular run is for their Gibbon projects (the most endangered primate). If animals are your thing then a donation, no matter how large or small would be hugely appreciated by the animals and myself. The first run is a 5 km fun run and the second is a 10 km run in October (my longest official run to date, eek!).
The recipe inspiration is courtesy of Jam and Clotted Cream, such a simple but delicious combination of flavours with the genius addition of clotted cream at the end, risotto is comfort food at its finest!
Further to making blackberry and apple jam, the very same berry picking episode led to finding and picking some sloe berries! My very first sloe picking venture and as such I am going to do something very unfoodbloggerish and share a recipe I haven’t tried yet; a recipe for sloe gin. I am in the process of trying it but sloe gin takes months to mature/develop/official technical term, so I began mine the other week and I thought we could take this journey together. You make yours now too and we can share notes over our various sloe gin batches at Christmas, yes? I found a recipe online and got to work. Do you have a preferred recipe? Let me know!
The picture is two weeks in, so hopefully by Christmas it will be a beautifully deep red colour.
Carrying on with the theme of the weekend before last, the Saturday was the wedding of some very lovely and fabulous people, a completely adorable and obviously meant for each other couple. Their wedding was totally them, infinitely gorgeous and Roald Dahl themed. I was touched when, at the hen do, the bride to be asked me to make a Bruce Bogtrotter cake (once I was reminded what that was – it is the big chocolate cake that Bruce gets caught stealing a slice of and then gets made to eat the entire cake in front of the school as a punishment, in Matlida).
A quick Google search found me the recipe and who was I to change anything about it?! So here it is, in its original form. It is an absolutely delicious chocolate cake; rich, smooth and torte like (exactly how I like chocolate cake, I’m not a chocolate sponge fan). This may just be my go to chocolate cake recipe in future. Who knows.
A both this weekend and last weekend were pretty damn special but let’s talk about last weekend. On the Saturday one of my dearest friends got married, a wedding we’ve been waiting for since forever because they are so obviously meant for each other. The wedding was Roald Dahl themed and BEAUTIFUL and I was delighted to be asked to make a Bruce Bogtrotter cake (which I’ll share soon!) but today let’s talk about jam.
This jam came about because of a lovely morning stroll with James and his aunt, uncle and their adorable dog. There were so many blackberries (mostly not ripe though), so we picked all the ripe ones. It was a team effort but we got about half a kilo which was plenty to make jam. As if reading my mind, James’ uncle announced his favourite jam was blackberry and apple, and that was that; that evening I made 5 medium jars of blackberry and apple jam. I like putting apples in recipes because they are more likely to set, being a high pectin fruit, which berries certainly aren’t. I found the recipe in a book called Jams, Preserves and Chutneys, published by Like Books.
We also picked sloe berries, which means only one thing. Sloe gin. More on that soon too!
Ingredients: (the original recipe was double this, this half version below make ~5 200 ml jars)
- 500 g of blackberries
- 375 g of apples (preferably green apples), peeled, cored and diced into small chunks
- 750 g of caster sugar
- 62 ml of water
- 0.25 tsp of cinnamon
- 0.25 tsp of nutmeg
- Jam thermometer, optional but advised
- Sterile jam jars (I put my jars in the oven at ~60-70°C whilst I make the jam)
- Put the fruit into a large, heavy bottomed pan.
- Add the water and simmer for 10 minutes until soft (use a hand blender if you want to have a smoother jam).
- Add the sugar, stirring continuously over a medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved.
- Stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg, place you jam thermometer into the pan.
- Put a small plate into the freezer.
- Boil for ~20 minutes, stirring often, until setting point is reached (105°C / 220°F), place a tsp of jam on a cold plate and place in the fridge for 5 minutes. Push it with your finger, if a crinkly skin forms, your jam will set. If not boil for further 5 minutes and repeat.
- Remove from the heat and skim any scum off of the top of the jam.
- Transfer into warmed sterilised jars.