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Week 47: Polish Mazurka Cake

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
21/Nov/2013

I think most people agree that the crumble topping is the best part of a fruit crumble, so a cake which is mostly crumble should be very good. My interpretation was based on two recipes but as usual I made a few changes.

Mixed berries mazurka

To make the crumble mixture, I put the flour, brown sugar and butter in a food processor and blitzed until they formed breadcrumbs. I then mixed in some ground almonds and dessicated coconut.

The fruit layer was made using a tub of berries from the bushes in our garden. This was a mixture of blackberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and alpine strawberries. I put them in a pan with a tablespoon of water and slowly heated them to a simmer. I then added a couple of tablespoons of sloe gin mixed with cornflour and stirred this in until the fruit mixture had thickened.

I put half of the crumble layer in the bottom of a lined 8 inch tin and pressed it down. I then spread the fruit layer and finally topped with the rest of the crumble. The tin then went into the oven (gas mark 4) for about 45 minutes or so, until the top looked cooked.

I left the cake (or is it a biscuit?) to cool before slicing it and removing it from the tin.

I think that fruit crumbles work best when the fruit has a slightly sharp taste. This is probably why one of the most popular uses of rhubarb is in a crumble. Since my fruit mixture contained alpine strawberries and gooseberries (and no added sugar apart from the small amount in the sloe gin), the fruit layer had a good amount of sharpness to balance the sweetness of the crumble layer.

It's very hard to eat just one.



Windsor's Coffee Shop

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
14/Nov/2013

I do like a nice cup of coffee and in my last job I would regularly get a latte from the canteen and several filter coffees per day from the communal kitchen in the department. Since I'm not working at the moment, I thought I would investigate some of the coffee shops in the city centre, concentrating on independents and avoiding the big chains.

I sometimes go to Ikea where I can get a free drink using my 'family card'. I often buy a cake or a bar of chocolate (or if I am there during breakfast, a bacon sandwich) and sit and relax for half an hour or so but the coffee is fairly unremarkable and not really strong enough for my liking.

I occasionally walk down Far Gosford Street and most of the time I find myself popping into Windsor's for a take-away coffee. I usually choose either the americano or a latte. They are good value at under £2 and actually taste of coffee. The shop is run by a local charity (The Coventry Cyrenians) who provide assistance to unemployed or homeless people.

For many years I would avoid drinking coffee in cafés because it was rare to get a drinkable cup. Filter coffee would always be too weak and espresso machines weren't very common back then. I would choose a cup of tea instead. These days it is much easier to get a good cup of coffee, although a bad cup of coffee is still fairly common. There are some good independent coffee shops out there, such as Windsor's, and I'll try to make an effort to explore a few of them.



Week 46: Porridge Cake and Cauliflower Pizza

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
12/Nov/2013

Now that we are approaching winter, I have started making porridge for breakfast. My usual approach is to put 1 cup of oats in a jug, add any dried fruit or other flavours (such as flaked almonds or shredded coconut), followed by 1½ cups of milk. I then leave this in the fridge overnight, ready to cook in the morning.

The porridge takes about 3 minutes to cook in the microwave. I don't add any sugar but I sometimes add a bit of honey.

I had spare porridge left over today (dried mango and coconut flavour). I thought I'd have a go at making a cake from it, following the same idea as the rice pudding cake. I had some 'cereal dust' from the bottom of a couple of boxes of cereal so I put that in too.

title

The end result was surprisingly similar to the rice pudding cake, with a moist, chewy and cakey texture. It's a good way of using up leftover porridge.

See more ...



Week 45: Yet more cake

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
07/Nov/2013

It's probably wrong to make a cake only a few days after making baklava, when we still haven't finished eating it yet. I bought a couple of nets of tangerines which had been reduced to 20p because some had got a bit squashed. I took the damaged ones, put them in the food processor and used them to make Mary Berry's Spiced whole orange cake. We saw her make this cake at the Good Food Show in the summer and now was my chance to make it.

Spiced whole orange cake

I used 3 tangerines and only made a single layer. I halved the ingredients apart from the spices, since we always believe that cakes need more cinnamon than most recipes suggest. Sadly our food processor is only a tiny one so I had to make the cake by hand, blending the butter and sugar together before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Since Mary Berry is one of the judges on the Great British Bake-Off, you'd expect good things from her cake recipes. I certainly wasn't disappointed with this. If I was making this cake for more people (not just the 2 of us), I'd do it properly with the orange buttercream filling, but even without it the cake was very good.



Week 45: Pistachio and Date Baklava

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
03/Nov/2013

I seem to be making a lot of things based on recipes from the Hairy Biker's books but that's probably because a) they are quite good books and b) I got 3 of them this year. This week's recipe is one I've been meaning to make for a while and is based on a recipe from their Pies book.

We both like baklava but don't eat it often because it is usually quite expensive to buy. They can be a bit labour intensive to make but they weren't very difficult. The main problem was handling the filo pastry without it falling apart.

Tray of Baklava

I made the filling with chopped mixed nuts, chopped pistachios and chopped dates. I cut squares of filo pastry to fit the tin then brushed the tin with melted butter. I brushed a square with melted butter, put another square on top and repeated until I had a stack of 5. I put these in the bottom of the pan, and them topped with a third of the filling.

I put a square of filo on top, brushed it with butter then a second square. I then repeated with another third of the filling and 2 more sheets of pastry and the final third of the filling.

The remaining sheets of filo were brushed with butter and stacked then put on top. I scored the top with a knife, to divide the baklava into 16 pieces. I baked it in the oven for about half an hour until the top looked crispy.

A piece of Baklava

I made a syrup using 100ml of juice from a tin of fruit, 200g of sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. After the baklava had cooled a bit I spooned the syrup over the top, pouring most of it down the score marks.

After a few weeks of cakes which have been ok but not spectacular, the baklava was a total success, tasting every bit as good as bought ones.



Week 44: Potato Bread and Tinned Fruit Cake

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
31/Oct/2013

This week brings another bread recipe from the Hairy Biker's book. The German Potato Bread was made using equal weights of mashed potato and bread flour, with salt, yeast and a small amount of sugar added. Some of the water the potatoes were boiled in was kept back and used in the mix.

German Potato Bread

The dough was quite sticky to work with since the flour was added a bit at a time until a reasonably firm dough was achieved. The resulting bread had a good soft texture and didn't taste potatoey.

German Potato Bread

The second recipe was a bit of an experiment. I had bought a tin of apricots with the intention of using them in another recipe but I never got around to making it and the tin had been in the cupboard for several months. I decided to have a go at a simple all in one cake where the ingredients just get dumped into a bowl, mixed then poured into a cake tin.

I chopped the apricots and added them, along with the syrup, to a mixing bowl. I added just under a cup of sugar, 1 medium egg and enough self-raising flour to make a reasonable looking cake batter (this turned out to be around 1 and a half cups).

This was poured into a greased and lined cake tin and baked for around 45 minutes at gas mark 4, until a skewer came out looking clean.

Tinned Apricot Cake

The cake is very moist and has a reasonable taste. It takes next to no time to prepare - it would be much faster if a tin of chopped or sliced fruit was used instead. You could also leave out the egg since I've seen some similar recipes which don't include one.



Week 43: Rye Bread and Seasonal Fruit Cake

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
24/Oct/2013

I did two new recipes this week. The first was a Norwegian Rye Bread from the Hairy Biker's book. Their recipe called for caraway seeds but I didn't have any of those. Instead I put some fennel seeds in the milk and strained them out when I added the milk to the flour.

Norwegian Ryebread

The bread was good, with a nice texture and flavour.

The second recipe was from the River Cottage Cake book. It was described as a seasonal Fresh Fruit Cake. It was packed with fruit and nuts: I used apples, plums, dried apricots and sultanas, and grated coconut, and a mixture of ground almonds and chopped mixed nuts. Along with the flour and oats, it's probably close to being a nutritionally complete cake.

Fruit Cake

The photo doesn't really do it justice but the cake did come out looking a strange purple/brown colour. The texture was a bit like a soft flapjack instead of being like a traditional fruit cake. The mixture was enough to make 3 cakes - I kept one out to eat, put one in the freezer and one in the fridge. I think the texture improved on the one which had been in the fridge for a couple of days.



Week 42: Sesame Slice

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
18/Oct/2013

This week's recipe was based on a Lebanese sesame cake. It consists of a biscuit layer on the bottom with a cake layer above.

To make the biscuit layer, mix together 100g of honey, 100g of softened butter and 150g of wholemeal flour and press into a lined cake tin. Bake for 15 minutes at gas mark 4.

To make the upper cake layer, beat 2 eggs then add 50g of dessicated coconut, 50g of sesame seeds, 50g of brown sugar, some vanilla essence and seeds from a couple of cardamom pods. Add 100g of flour and mix to a paste. Spread this over the biscuit base and cook for another 15 minutes.

Sesame Slice

The biscuit base might work in a cheesecake but I was a bit disappointed by the overall flavour of the cake. It tasted a bit bland and could probably do with being a bit sweeter. A layer of sesame seeds sprinkled on top might also improve the taste.



Feast Junction, Coventry.

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
18/Oct/2013

We had lunch at Feast Junction, which is the re-branded and re-launched `Dragon Phoenix' near the ring road. We were last there back in 2006 and the place has been completely updated since then.

The food looked like fairly standard all you can eat buffet but the range was good and everything I tried was good. The food was split into several areas, with salad, soups, starters, mains and desserts. I had something from everywhere apart from the soups. The various different curries and oriental style meats were all good. I also liked the dahl and the paneer. The only real disappointments were: 1) the crispy seaweed wasn't very crispy, and 2) they had run out of ice cream cones in the dessert section, but the chocolate fountain was running so that probably made up for the shortage of cones.



Week 41: Beef and Vegetable Samosas

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
10/Oct/2013

This recipe is based on the samosa recipe from the Hairy Biker's pie book. The pastry was made according to their recipe:

  • 250g plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 9 tbs warm water

The egg yolk and oil were mixed with the flour and salt then the water was slowly added until the dough came together.

The filling was made up using leftover meat and vegetables from the fridge and freezer:

  • some cooked stewing steak
  • potato, parsnip and butternut squash
  • an onion and some peas
  • some beef stock

I fried the onion then added the other vegetables and stock and simmered for a few minutes before thickening the stock with cornflour and adding the beef.

Beef and Vegetable Samosas

To assemble the samosas, the dough was rolled out and a saucer was used to measure out circles. The circles were then cut in half and rolled into a cone. The mixture was spooned into the cone the egg white used to seal the edges.

The samosas were fried in a few centimetres of oil for about 5 minutes each side. I was impressed with how the pastry bubbled and puffed up like a 'real' bought samosa. The recipe was very successful, with the samosas both looking and tasting very good.



Maria's Bakery, Coventry Market

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
08/Oct/2013

I do like cakes so I recently decided to look out for any shops or bakeries in Coventry selling nice looking cakes. A few weeks ago I noticed a cake stall on the market with a nice looking display of cupcakes so I decided to try a couple.

I started off with a chocolate orange cupcake and a red velvet one. The latter wasn't as red as some which I've had (probably down to the quality or intensity of the food colouring) but they were both good.

Cupcakes from Maria's Bakery, Coventry Market
Cupcakes from Maria's Bakery, Coventry Market

I was back today to try a couple of other cakes. This time I bought a viennese sandwich (filled with cream and half-coated with chocolate) and a carrot cake. Both of these were good too.



Week 40: A busy week baking

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
04/Oct/2013

I've had quite a busy week baking, doing both breads and cakes. I started off with some olive bread, which I made since I had a large tub of olives which we bought cheap from the supermarket because they were going out of date.

I made a standard wholemeal loaf (50:50 wholemeal flour and plain bread flour), diced a handful of olives and kneaded them into the bread before proving.

Olive Bread

The next recipe was Apple and Oatmeal muffins. These were based on a recipe from a River Cottage book.

Apple Muffins

Finally, a malt loaf. This was based on a recipe from the Paul Hollywood Bread tv series. When it came out of the oven, it didn't look quite right. It was paler than a bought malt loaf and I forgot to add the sultanas. It tasted right though and had the proper soft texture. I'll definitely try it again but next time I'll try to remember to add the fruit.

malt loaf



Half Metre Bratwurst

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
03/Oct/2013

I regularly walk past some of the 'street food' stalls in the city centre and sometimes think about trying one of the sausages from the bratwurst stall but until this week I never actually got around to it. I decided to give the half metre bratwurst a go, complete with onions and german mustard. The sausage is so long, only the middle half fits on the bread.

Half Metre Bratwurst

It's pretty good value at £4.50 and the sausage is good quality and tasty. I did notice that they advertised chicken bratwurst on the side of the stall so I'll have to try those next time I'm passing.



Love Shake, West Orchard Shopping Centre

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
02/Oct/2013

I used to write about local eateries and review local restaurants fairly regularly but I haven't done that for a while. There are a few places in Coventry which I mean to try out in the next few weeks, including various shops, restaurants or take-aways. I won't promise that it'll be a weekly thing but I'll try not to leave it too long between reviews.

I'll get the ball rolling with my visit to Love Shake in the West Orchard shopping centre. They do a wide selection of milk shakes (made using chocolate bars), fruit smoothies (made using a mixture of juice and frozen fruit) and locally made ice cream. I chose The Immunizer which is a mixture of equal amounts of strawberry, kiwi and pineapple, topped up with apple juice. then liquidized.

The Immunizer

The use of frozen fruit means the fruit keeps its vitamin content but also means you get an ice cold smoothie which you can't drink too quickly without freezing your throat. The fruit flavours come through well and you can taste them all within the mix.

I'll have to pop back to try their ice cream next.



Week 39: Rice Pudding Cake

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
23/Sep/2013

A couple of months ago I made a rice pudding but it curdled slightly. I decided to freeze it until I had a chance to do something with it. I had the idea of doing some kind of cake so I looked up rice pudding cakes on the Internet but they all seemed to be more like set puddings and less like actual cakes. I decided to have a go at making up a recipe myself.

Rice Pudding Cake

I took 2 eggs, ¼ cup of brown sugar and ¼ cup of vegetable oil and mixed them together. I added the tub of slightly curdled rice pudding (approximately 300g) then added 1 cup of self raising flour. I baked it at gas mark 5 until it looked done. It was a huge improvement over the original rice pudding, which didn't have a very pleasant texture. The cake has a moist cakey/puddingy texture and a good rice pudding flavour. The photo is of the second slice I cut - the first slice got eaten very quickly.