Archive for June, 2010

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A Summery Ginger Cake

June 26, 2010
The recent warm weather, as glorious and much needed as it is, doesn’t lend itself to baking. Even recently at dawn, whilst it may still be cool, the thought of cranking up the oven and creaming butter and sugar has not been appealing (I make sound like I stand over the ingredients with a wooden spoon laboriously mixing by hand – no way, not whan I have a thing of beauty). It’s a shame really, there are few things in life that lend themselves to a sense of collective goodwill but, espeically here in the UK, a few days of consistent good weather, some positive sporting results (I type this on Saturday evening watching Murray beat Simon and before tomorrow’s ‘match‘) and a fresh, home baked cake are definately some of them. Whilst I didn’t quite manage the trifecta, two of the three met wonderfully last weekend when I went to visit my brother and his family.


A ginger cake is not something that would be at the top of any summer baking recipe list, but last Saturday morning, with the sun already warming the day, I was in need of a cake that would do for a pudding, rather than a snack, and could be easily transported down the M5. I have David Lebowitz’sReady for Desert‘ on my shelf and have baked from it, but had spotted this recipe blogged recently which served as a reminder (I had also bookmarked it a few months ago on The Food Librarian but just hadn’t got round to it yet). I had fresh ginger in the fridge, from my recent rhubarb compote fetish and the quick prep and baking time (not to mention the ‘leave to cool in tin’ instruction) made for a potentially perfect recipe.

To be honest I had no idea when I chose this recipe that this moist ginger creation wold be quite the light thing of delight it turned out to be. Married, by accident, with fresh strawberries and creme fraiche it made for the perfect end to the evening (and was damn fine for elevenses the next day too – apparently). I can imagine the original suggested accompaniment of whipped cream with lemon curd would also lift the cake wonderfully.


Fresh Ginger Cake
David Lebovitz

115g fesh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
250 mild flavoured molasses (treacle)
200g sugar
250ml vegetable oil
250g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
250ml water
2 tsp bicarbinate of soda
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 175C
Butter bottom and sides of of a 9″ 23cm tin and line the bottom with parchment

Chop the ginger very finely in a food processor or with a chefs knife (I went for the safer processor option)
Mix the treacle, sugar and oil in a large bowl
Whisk the flour and spices together in a medium sized bowl
In a small saucepan bring the water to the boil, then stir in the bicarb
Whisk the hot water into the treacle mixture, then add the ginger
Gradually sift the flour mixture over the treacle mixture, whisking all the time
Add the eggs and whisk until thoroughly combined
Scrape into the prepared pan and bake until top of cake springs back or a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean – approxamately 1 hour
Leave to cool completely in the tin before running a knife around the sides to loosed.

This will apparently keep for up to 5 days at room temperature, but I doubt you’ll have the chance to test this theory.

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Many Muffins

June 9, 2010

I’m enjoying this recent spate of muffin baking I’m on. As much as I adore my Kitchen Aid there’s something to be said for the ease with which a batch of muffins can be brought together. I also seem to be braver when it come to adapting recipes, something about the end result being distributed amongst 24 paper cases rather than the trepidation of all those ingredients going into the one bundt tin. The reduced baking time can be a bonus (although doesn’t quite leave enough time to clean the bathroom -thank god for portable kitchen timers) as is the reduced cooling time and the fact that they’re perfect for easy distribution. All of which mean that there’s time to whip up a batch before work in the morning rather than having to wait until the weekend in order to allow enough time for prepping, baking and cooling.

For a basic, and adaptable, muffin recipe I found this from Joy of Baking. I was going to play around, but then remembered the packs of blueberries in the freezer and used them straight off. The feedback was great and I really can’t stress how quick and easy it is. The important thing about making muffins is not to over mix the dry ingredients into the wet. A full explanation of why can be found on the link above, but 10-15 ‘stirs’ should be enough to incorporate the flour, you may still have the odd dry clump and streaks of flour, don’t worry!

I recently adapted Dorie’s Carrot Spice Muffins recipe to good effect, I think, starting with substituting courgettes for the carrots (I do love my courgettes). I worried, as I was counting out those ten to fifteen stirs, that there perhaps weren’t quite enough raisins or walnuts in the batter mix. But, the muffins were delightful with some bites delivering a nutty crunch, another the sweet taste of dried fruit with the hint of spice and moistness from the courgettes throughout.





Courgette Spice Muffins
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Carrot Spice Muffin Recipe

Makes 24 muffins

300g plain flour
300g wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp salt
120g light muscavado sugar (or light brown)
150g caster sugar
1 1/3 cup oil
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated courgettes
50g raisins
50 sultanas
75g chopped walnuts
zest of a large orange

Preheat oven 190C
Grease or line muffin tins

Mix flours, spices, bicarb and baking powder in a large bowl
Add sugars, mixing so there are no lumps
In a large mixing bowl or jug whisk together eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla and orange zest
Add in the grated courgette and combine well
Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined, do not over mix, the mixture will be lumpy and there may still be traces of flour visible
Fold in the dried fruit and nuts and fill each muffin case nearly full
Bake for 20 minutes, transfer the tins to a cooling rack for 15 mins before removing the cases from the tins and allowing to cool completely

We’ve been really lucky recently with the weather, a recent glorious weekend coincided with the local monthly farmers market. I stocked up on rhubarb so I could make more compote for my breakfast. Another recent obsession, I don’t have a recipe as such, just chop, add to large pan with juice and zest of orange, vanilla pod, couple of chunks of ginger and some sugar. How much sugar? I like my rhubarb sharp, especially as I usually combine it with yoghurt and the sweet early British strawberries that are to be found right now. Clotilde from Chocolate and Zucchini recommend using 10% of the net weight of rhubarb used which sounds like a good tip. Cook the whole lot for 15 mins. Remove ginger and refrigerate when cool – delicious.

But back to the baking. As with any seasonal ingredient the blogs are filled with recipes meaning inspiration isn’t hard to find. As usual I was overwhelmed by choice but in the end I adapted the Rhubarb Strawberry Pecan Loaf from Smitten and it was divine. The only problem was the muffins that I set aside to take into work on Monday morning were so moist they bordered on mushy. They still tasted divine but these are definitely ones best eaten on the day they’re baked. There are a couple of comments on the original recipe about the moistness of the loaf and I can’t imagine how you would slice it, but the muffins meant this wasn’t a problem.


Rhubarb Strawberry Pecan Muffins
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 24 Muffins

230g Light muscavado sugar (or light brown sugar)
117g oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
187g plain flour
187g wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
450g chopped rhubarb
345g sliced strawberries
75g chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 180C
Grease or line muffin tins

Beat together sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla and buttermilk
Combine flours, bicarb and salt
Add dry to wet and stir until just combined
Fold in fruit and nuts and distribute between the muffin cases
Bake for 15 – 18 mins
Transfer tins to cooling rack and leave to cool in the tins for 15 mins before transferring the cases to the rack to cool completely