Sunday, 31 July 2011

Date & Walnut Loaf

I love family time. I think most of us do.
The moments when we sit with our loved ones, -the old and the young- laughing, talking, sharing anecdotes and advice are without a doubt the most precious to me. There were times back home when we were a 'proper nuclear family'- Parents and kids. We used to do everything together. Wake up in the morning and share breakfast as one, have lunch together in the afternoons and of course dinner at night. The moments when we all used to 'chill out' in the evenings and the weekends, collectively sitting in the living room and sharing the stories of our days or even just watching television- these are all my most treasured memories. Often we used to get together with our grandparents and extended family and let our hours pass by whilst we spent time together.
Of course life moves on. 
Some of us got married, the others went off to university and everyone created a life for themselves. And now I appreciate and realise the beauty that we had been granted. There is NOTHING like family. The love that you feel when you're with them is incomparable. The security, the warmth and the happiness is unprecedented.
It happens every now and then though- we all do gather together- albeit a bigger group. Now its married couples instead of single kids, small children everywhere and - A WHOLE LOAD OF MORE LOVE :-)

Recently my grandparents had come over from Africa. I only got a couple of days to spend with them but savoured those few moments. Since they watch the amount of sugar that they have and usually avoid the ready made available snacks from the supermarkets, I really really wanted to make something that they would enjoy when they would settle in the evenings with their cups of tea.
Something wholesome and enjoyable.

I chose Date and Walnut Loaf.

Since this takes a long time in the oven, I had to get up quite early on a Sunday morning to make it, but it was totally worth it.
They really REALLY enjoyed it!!! 
Since there's a lot of dates in this loaf, I just cut down the amount of sugar I put in by a third or a half and it still tasted pretty good.
Although when I make it otherwise, I follow the recipe properly.

I find this considerably more time and energy consuming than the other things that I bake, mainly because of it being a dough and also because of all the chopping required.

But its worth it :-)

Here's the recipe:

8oz Plain flour
8 oz chopped Dates
4oz Margarine
4oz Brown Sugar
3oz chopped Walnuts
1tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Soda Bicarbonate
1 egg
6tbsp milk

Rub in flour, baking powder and margarine.
Add in Sugar, walnuts, dates and mix it all together.
Add in the egg lightly beaten.
Mix the Soda bicarb with the milk and use this mixture to bind the dough together.
Place the mixture in a 1lb loaf tin and bake at 160c for 11/4 hours.

Once it is done, let it cool in its tin for around 5 minutes and then transfer it on to a cooling rack. Let it cool completely before slicing.

Make yourself a cuppa and enjoy :-)


Thursday, 21 July 2011

Salted Caramel Sauce

Salted caramel is my new favourite thing right now.
Its amazingly thick creaminess with a slight crunch of saltiness is divine.
I know I always go back to mentioning my childhood memories, but those memories are the driving force of my passion.
I love capturing the tastes and smells from my childhood. Trying to bring back all the memories that made me who I am today.
The happy, carefree days, spent with family, enjoying different foods and the endless hours of playing with friends and siblings in the dusty streets of our nieghbourhood in Africa.

On the weekends, I mostly remember us having our treats. We used to go out for picnics with family and friends or to restaurants where we used to run around the tables playing or sit and listen to my parents talking, filling our minds with vivid imaginations of the past whilst we waited for our food.

I remember we once were on our drive back from one of our outings when we passed an ice cream place called Dairy Inn. Of course with three noisy kids in the back seat, the right thing for my parents to do was to give in and take us there for our treat :-)
It was so exciting!!!...I had never before seen the yumminess that I saw that day.
After choosing the ice cream of our choice, it would be dipped in to a caramel or chocolate sauce that would immediately harden into a crunchy shell, encasing the ice cream. I think a reason why my parents didn't mind us having them was that they didn't have to worry about us having ice cream running down our arms whilst we tried to eat it because it was protected in the shell.

Of course me being the chocoholic that I always have been, I went for the chocolate option. Not that once but every single time we went to Dairy Inn!!
Once to my utter horror and distress they had run out of my chocolate dip. I was so upset, but after reassurances that the caramel flavour would be just as good, I agreed to have it.
That was the point.
I fell in love with caramel.

There was something about the flavour that I absolutely loved and that is what I tried to capture when I tried to make my caramel sauce.
Of course now being an adult, I don't mind variations. Its fun to try out different things!!
This caramel sauce does not harden but is delightfully sticky and the occasional crunch you get from the sea salt flakes enhances the flavour and makes it all the more delicious!! You can pour it over your ice cream or have it with fruit or brownies or any other sweet or not sweet treat!!

I have two recipes, one that is ridiculously easy that I just tried out myself, and of course Nigella Lawsons'.

Both turn out amazing
Both are yummy.
I want some.

NOW!! :-)

My recipe: (I didn't really use any measurements for this but will try and put it here in its numbers)

Half or 3/4 can of sweetened condensed milk
A heaped tablespoon of golden syrup OR if you don't have that, then you can use any toffee flavoured icecream/cake sprinkles or chunks
Half a teaspoon of good quality sea salt flakes (you can use as much as you'd like)
75ml double cream

All you have to do is put the condensed milk and golden syrup into a small pan and place it on a low heat and keep stirring until it becomes a thick consistency. Pour in the cream to dilute it slightly and keep stirring. Finally sprinkle in the salt flakes.
It takes a while, but the patience is well worth the effort.

(Also, while making this, you WILL be tempted to taste. Be careful, it can burn you very easily )

Nigella's recipe:
75g salted butter, best quality
50g soft light brown sugar
50g caster sugar
50g golden syrup
125ml double cream
½-1½ teaspoons finest salt, to taste

Melt the butter, sugars and golden syrup in a small, heavy-based saucepan and let it simmer for 3 minutes, swirling and stirring every now and again.
The sauce should turn from gold to dark amber as it cooks.
Add the cream carefully, then half a teaspoon of salt, and swirl again. 
Give it a stir with a wooden spoon and taste – go cautiously so that you don’t burn your tongue – to see if you want more salt, before letting it cook for another minute, then pour into a jug for serving.
Both recipes make enough to serve 5-6 people.

Enjoy the yumminess :-)


Friday, 1 July 2011

Chocolate Orange cake

Every time we open a box of cadburys Milk Tray, I always pick the orange flavoured chocolate. There's something about the orange flavour that cuts through the extreme creamy taste of chocolate. Its fantastic. It also smells gorgeous!..
Seriously, open up a box of Terry's chocolate orange and just smell it. You won't be able to resist picking up a piece and popping it in to your mouth.
I have loved orange flavoured chocolate as long as I can remember. Many years back in Africa, Cadbury's used to make something called 'Supa Snack'. I LOVED it!!! It was layers of wafer covered in an orange flavoured cream and coated in milk chocolate. Infact, I have a picture of myself as a complete baby holding a half eaten bar and chocolate smeared all over my face.
I don't think they make it anymore :-( I have searched high and low for it the last few times we went back home, but never found it.

Anyway, now that you all know how amazing I find orange flavoured chocolate, you will understand why this is without a doubt my favouritest cake ever!!!
I found the recipe for Dark chocolate and orange cake online on the GoodFood website and was so excited to make it.
This recipe doesn't use only the zest of the orange- oh no!! You have to use the entire orange so you get the lovely bang of flavour when you dig into this cake.
Not only are the results of baking this cake amazing, but the actual process is really fun too.
I'm not one who licks the spoon after mixing up the ingredients of a cake, but this one- I can't even tastes amazing uncooked!!!!
There's something really satisfying blitzing up a whole orange in the food processor. It may sound crazy but you would know what I mean if you try it yourself :-)
The results?? A moist, fluffy, ultra chocolatey, amazingly orange-y cake filled with tiny chewy bits of orange. 
The recipe includes a chocolate ganache to pour over the cake. It's gorgeous, but that's only if you don't mind the extra intensity of chocolate on top. I found making a milk chocolate ganache or whipping it into a mousse much yummier. I also added some extra orange chocolateyness by chopping up some Orange flavoured chocolate and sprinkling it over the top of the cake.
Also, you don't really have to follow the exact measurements of the ganache, make it according to the consistency that you enjoy.

Hate to break it to the rest of the world, but I ain't sharing this cake with anybody!!! :-P
Try baking'll totally get what I mean!


1 Orange
100g plain chocolate
3 eggs
280g caster sugar
240ml sunflower oil
25g cocoa powder
250g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

For the chocolate ganache:
200g plain chocolate
225 ml double cream


Pierce the orange with a skewer (right through). Cook in boiling water for 30 minutes until soft. Whizz the whole orange in a food processor until smooth; let it cool.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4/fan 160C.Grease and line the base of a 23cm/9in round cake tin. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave for 2 minutes on High, stirring after 1 minute. Let it cool.

In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs, sugar and oil. Gradually beat in the puréed orange, discarding any pips, then stir in the cooled melted chocolate. Sift in the cocoa, flour and baking powder. Mix well and pour into the tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 55 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the middle. (Check after 45 minutes and cover with foil if it is browning too much.) Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the chocolate ganache: put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to the boil and pour over the chocolate. Leave for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth. Set aside until firm enough to spread over the cake - up to 1½ hours.

Transfer the cake to a serving plate. Using a palette knife, swirl the ganache over the top.

Have fun :-)