Monday, April 21, 2014

Chocolate (what else?!) and Hazelnut Easter Cake

I'll create any excuse to make a cake really - but its nice to push the culinary boat out every once in a while. This is really delicious it also happens to be gluten free. Take care when folding in all of the 'air added' ingredients and you'll end up with a really light cake. Topping it with chocolate turns this cake into a delicious giant gianduja experience.
I took this recipe from Bake by Rachel Allen, making a few tweaks of my own. I used a 7 1/2 inch loose bottom tin, greased and lined with parchment paper.

200g (skin on) hazelnuts
1 tsp GF baking powder
100g softened butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder
5 eggs separated into two bowls
150g castor sugar
pinch of salt

1- Preheat fan oven to 160C.
2- Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor. I ground them as fine as my machine would allow me catching it just before it started to turn into hazelnut butter! Tip into a bowl and stir through the baking powder and cocoa powder before creaming in the butter.
3- With a hand held mixer whip the egg yolks and sugar until it becomes thick and mousse-y and the mixer leaves a trail. Carefully fold this into the hazelnut mixture.
4- Add the pinch of salt to the egg whites and whisk to stiff peak stage. Carefully fold this into the nut mixture in three stages.
5- Pour into the tin, giving it a few taps to even the surface. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
6- Allow it to cool on cooling rack for about 20 minutes before removing from the tin. Then allow it to cool completely before adding the icing.

Ganache ingredients
100g 85% chocolate, broken into pieces
100ml cream
knob of butter
squeeze of honey (about 1/2 tbsp)

1- Heat the cream in a stainless steel pot over a gentle heat. Remove from heat just before it reaches boiling point.
2- Add the chocolate, butter and honey and allow to sit. The heat of the cream will melt the chocolate.
3- After 5-10 minutes stir everything together and allow to cool slightly before generously smearing the cake with the icing and licking the spoon clean.

Friday, April 11, 2014

On leaving a place behind

A very good friend is leaving behind her life in London and returning to the Pacific seaboard; her (other) hometown of San Francisco. To say I'm going to miss her is an understatement. We've known each other for nearly a decade. Many decades will follow I'm sure, but this move is the end of an era. The end of one thing is only the beginning of another. And leaving a place behind is simply leaving a place behind - everything else travels with you.

Lara wrote a beautiful piece on her blog about leaving one home for another.

leaving home

it finally hit me.  today.  after weeks of only half believing it.  i’m leaving london.
my room’s bare. outside albion drive is bathed in sunshine and spring flowers, all this newness, all this change.
the aussie from the shipping company picked up my six ‘destination: sfo-usa’ boxes this morning, efficient, skilled, oblivious to me walking behind the boxes to the van, as if behind a funeral hearse, a procession.
my belongings are in transit, they’re in between here and there, a little like my head these past weeks piecing together a new life in california, while feeling more rooted than ever in my life and friends and favourite places in london.  a slow dissolving of commitments, of the responsibilities and possessions that hold me here.  and now with majority of my stuff gone and my room with its small piles of clothes and toiletries and whatnots, another string is cut.  in five days i’ll leave this home and this country.
the boxes, the size is called tea carton, are in a truck now racing towards a warehouse near the airport to be weighed, to be measured, to be inspected. inside my collections of green woods 1950s teacups and the jam jars and borough wine reusable bottles, samira’s ceramic bowl, my down duvet, my trinkets and postcards and posters and blankets and dishes and cutlery and books and books and books.  my years here, nearly ten, packed hurriedly and ferried away.
what to keep, what to bring to charity shops.  these decisions over the past weeks have surprised me, how sentimental i am over stuff, some of it found on sidewalks, bought for fifty pence at jumble sales, some of it gifted, most of it bought, as if in all this stuff, there will be an understanding of my time here that i can take with me, that will remind me of who and where i have been in this future life, tentative, unformed, of my london, edinburgh and st andrews stories, the choices i’ve made, the experiences i’ve had, the friends, and walks and quiet moments shared. 
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