Posts Tagged ‘Food Librarian’

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A Big Bundt-Up

November 19, 2011

For the past two years I have baked on National Bundt Day in America. Inspired by Mary, the Food Librarian I, along with many others who follow her blog have celebrated this, my favourite type of cake, on the 15th November along. My enjoyment of baking this kind of cake pales into insignificance when compared to Mary’s dedication. For three years she has baked a bundt a day for the month leading up to the 15th. That’s 90 Bundts people. This year saw the spectacular Jello Bundt, the slightly freaky Doll Bundt and also the Tomato Soup Bundt – have a look at her site on the link above to see her collection of recipes.

Last year Mary sent a badge to all those who baked along with her, even kindly posting one out to me here in the UK, I would’ve baked again this year anyway, but confess that the thought of another badge spurred me on especially as I have misplaced this one.

There are tentative plans forming that may enable me to sell my wares so test recipes are taking up much of my baking time. I recently made Blueberry & Coriander muffins which where a great success, so I decided to try this flavour combo in Bundt form. I took the Lemon, Yoghurt Anything Cake from Smitten Kitchen to use as the base recipe. This is a cake I’ve cooked numerous times before as both a loaf and doubled to Bundt size, I’ve made it a couple of times with blueberries too. I added 3 teaspoons of dried coriander and some lime zest – coriander lime being firm friends, I also planned a lime glaze.

As I said, I have made a cake very similar to this before, in this tin even. But …. well ….

I perhaps could’ve take more out of the 10 cup pan (I made a small loaf too, no photos of this as I was too preocupied with the disaster above) but it didn’t overflow, just rose above the lip of the tin. I greased and dusted the tin with flour, as always. I put some batter into the base of the tin before mixing the blueberries into the rest of the batter to help prevent the berries from sticking.

And yet ….

Even once I extricated the disaster from the tin it was obvious it wasn’t cooked properly. I toyed with the idea of using a cookie cutter to rescue parts of the cake, but it was never going to taste pleasant. I couldn’t even taste the coriander.

I feel like I’ve had too many sticking disasters recently and it’s so disheartening. On Tuesday I felt like stepping away from my Bundt tins and sticking (no pun intended) to those tins that can be easily lined.

But then I wouldn’t be in with a chance of getting my badge or feel part of the Bundt-fest.

So I made this.

The base recipe is from Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks site, a wonderful blog filled with inspiring photography and recipes. I have both of her books and  regularly look to her for inspiration when planning meals. I do love a banana cake and have been researching and testing recipes to potentially sell, this one was on my list to try as it uses olive oil, dark muscovado sugar and part wholemeal flour. I liked the look of this one as it doesn’t have much sugar in it so isn’t too sweet, especially as I decided to swap the  chopped chocolate for chopped toasted walnuts. I often put lemon in my banana cakes and also added in a mix of spices (cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg) along with the vanilla to add warmth and depth.

I stood for a while surveying my tin options and, decision made, tentatively spooned the batter into the pan. It baked evenly and was done in about 35 minutes. Fearful of the turning out process I photographed the cake still in its tin, the use of dark muscovado sugar adds a lovely darkness to the crumb. Ten minutes cooling time and I turned the tin onto the cooling rack, and felt that wonderful sensation of the cake slipping easily, neatly and in one piece out of the tin.

The glaze is a mix of dark muscovado sugar, icing sugar and lemon juice, the sharpness of the lemon combined with the richness of the muscovado sugar in both the cake and the glaze lift the flavour of the banana which is still noticeable as the cake itself really isn’t that sweet. I like the crunch and earthiness of the walnuts in there, but I’m sure the original suggestion of chocolate would be just as delicious.

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Crammed with Cranberries

November 29, 2010

For my birthday, which fell on the American holiday of Thanksgiving, I decided to honour the theme and the season with two cranberry laden cakes to take into work. As a great deal of my baking inspiration comes from the blogs I read, most of which are American, there was no shortage of potential recipes to be found in the weeks leading up to the 25th. I always have frozen and dried cranberries in the house but bought two bags of fresh that have appeared in the shops recently to use in the recipes below. I would imagine frozen would work just as well with b recipes, you might just need to extend the baking time by a couple of minutes and give them a quick toss in flour to help with the additional moisture.

I had to bake a bundt as they’re my favourite type of cake and I’m glad did as on the morning of my birthday I received my ‘I Like Big Bundts’ badge from Mary the Food Librarian  which I earned by baking on National Bundt Day on the 15th of this month you can see the round up of all those bundts baked in honour of the day, including mine, over at her site. Thank you Mary for taking the time to post one of these all the way over to the UK, I actually squealed with delight when I opened the envelope, along with my birthday cards, on the morning of the 25th.

Both recipes are courtesy of Joy the Baker, chosen for their main ingredient of cranberries, and also because I thought the two together offered a nice contrast of flavours and choice for my colleagues; the richness of a cake laden with fruit, spices and bourbon offset by the zing of lime zest in a light muffin. The original muffin recipe states whole milk, but I had buttermilk to be used. I worried initially that it might be a little too sharp a flavour on top of the cranberries and  lime zest, which is why I kept in the sugar topping, a step I often leave out. I really don’t think it was too sharp, these muffins were light and tasty and possibly my favourite thing for a long time. However,I have a confession, I didn’t manage to brown my butter. It’s not something I’ve done before and it just didn’t seem to be happening.  I’ve no idea how long it actually takes to brown butter but I seemed to be standing over the pan for ages. I had my iPhone and googled hints and tips but my impatience won out and I just used un-browned melted butter. On a positive note, this means I will have to make them again once I’ve established what I was doing wrong.

For the bundt, the apples and bourbon go together nicely, but I think I would perhaps try using a brandy next time, I even have some orange flavoured rum that I need to experiment with. I just used apples I had in the fruit bowl which were British coxes

Browned Butter, Cranberry and Lime Muffins

Joy the Baker

for 12 Muffins:

100g melted butter

1/3 cup of buttermilk or whole milk

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Grated zest of a lime

225g plain flour

140g caster sugar

3.4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups / 162g fresh or frozen cranberries

40g muscavado sugar for topping

Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line a muffin tin with cases.

Brown the butter by melting over a low heat until brown bits appear, once the cracking has subsided it will brown quickly so remove from the heat (or just stand stirring for a while then remove melted, un-browned butter from the heat)

Whisk together the milk or buttermilk, whole egg and additional yolk, vanilla and lime zest in a large jug. Add the browned butter and whisk in.

Whisk together the flour, sugar baking powder and salt in a large bowl and then add the wet ingredients, gently but thoroughly combining.

Fold in the cranberries, spoon into muffin cases, sprinkle with a little of the extra sugar and bake for 18 – 20 minutes. Allow to cool in the trays for 15 mins.

The batter seemed very cranberry heavy – almost as if there wouldn’t be enough muffin to encase them all once cooked, but I needn’t have worried, the cranberries were perfectly encased in the batter although they did need a little over the 20 mins to brown nicely.

Apple, Cranberry and Bourbon Cake

Joy the Baker

450g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil

3 large eggs

337.5g granulated sugar (I used caster)

87.5g muscavado sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon dark rum/ bourbon /orange juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 apples; peeled, cored ad cut into 1/4″ pieces (approx 245g) and a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent them browning

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease a large (12 cup) bundt pan.

Whisk or sift together the flour, bicarb and salt.

Whisk together the oil, eggs, sugars, spices rum and vanilla in a large bowl.

Fold the dry ingredients in to the wet and then fold in the fruit. Joy points out that the batter will be thick and heavy and it’s definitely one that needs to be spooned in the pan rather than poured.

Bake for 60 – 74 minutes (it was 60 for me) and then allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire wrap to cool completely.

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National Bundt Day

November 16, 2010

Mary, The Food Librarian is a dedicated baker. For the month leading up to the 15th November, National Bundt Day in the States, she has baked bundt cakes. One a day, for thirty days, that’s thirty cakes. I can only imagine her shopping bill and the looks she must have recieved from fellow shoppers when spying her trolley full to the brim with ingredients. Never mind the sheer volume of sugar, butter and eggs (including quail’s eggs for one recipe)  but the randomness of the additions to those base ingredients, ranging from stout to butternut squash; from pears to melons; from  jelly to minced beef and garlic. Had her fellow shoppers know what these ingredients were intended for it would surely have raised a few eyebrows.

I am grateful for her dedication and if you want to see how she incorporated all the ingredients into the wonder that is a bundt cake, head over to her blog  and take a look at her recipes and photos.

I decided to recreate the bundt she baked on Day 12, Libby’s Sour Cream Pumpkin Bundt. I have quite a stock of Libby’s pumpkin puree as there was shortage last year and Waitrose stopped stocking it, so as soon as the tins reappeared on the shelves I bought a fair few (yes, I may have over done it slightly, there will no doubt be more in the way of pumpkin themed recipes heading this way in the near future). I followed the recipe on Mary’s site as listed other than substituting buttermilk for the sour cream which results in a slightly lighter cake in my experience. I also just gave the cake a light dusting of icing sugar rather than the glaze.

I will be taking this cake into work today, along with some muffins (recipe later) to feed colleagues in return for a donation  for Movember. This month many men will be growing a moustache to raise awareness, and money, for prostate cancer charities around the world. My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. He’s well and we wait to hear if the radiotherapy he’s received will have done it’s job and nuked the tumour into oblivion. If you know someone who during November has sprouted some additional facial hair please sponsor them or donate a little money to this great cause.

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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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Shiny New Thing

December 1, 2009
I’ve not had a good week. Well, some bits have been fantastic; my birthday was spent with friends, I felt loved and I had lots of fun – along with a fair amount of gin. I’ve been to the cinema several times; seen good films, bad films, barely watched one film at all because it was too scary and had rather a lot of damn fine popcorn. I have all but finished my Christmas shopping, eaten and baked cakes, drunk good wine and tasted Marmite Truffles for the first (but not the last) time. When I write it out like that it seems wrong to sum up the past seven days as poor, but the things that have gone wrong, whilst not taking away from all the lovely things I’ve done and shared, still make for a sum total of a pretty bad week.

So I shopped.

And I bought a shiny, new, lovely thing that I have been resisting for so long.

Todays inaugural baking session took place pre-dawn once again and I just can’t imagine how I’ve managed without (a bit like when I finally capitulated and ordered Sky+). I’m not one for the personification of inanimate objects but this may need to have a name as I can see a meaningful relationship developing (not the type to feature on a Channel Five documentary you understand).


To pair with the most American of kitchen equipment I went with the most American of cakes and baked a Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Buttermilk Icing from Epicurious, found via the recent Bundt Fest over at the Food Librarian. She did a recent round up of all the Bundts baked on National Bundt Day and my contribution features. I reduced the sugar slightly, 1 1/4 cups of caster sugar equals about 280g but I used 250g, I read somewhere recently that a lot of US recipes can cope with less sugar so I’ll be giving it a try. This also had a sugar and buttermilk glaze which added an great sweet and sour element.

I really enjoyed the finished cake, quite simple in terms of taste but unusual to a palate not raised on the taste of pumpkin. There is a comment section on the Epicurious site and there are plenty of hints and tips about adjusting the spices and ways to get a better glaze. The initial glaze on mine went translucent, but I added more once the cake was cold.

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It Must Be Sunday

November 15, 2009
I know I named this blog Spatulas at Dawn because of my early starts and love of filling the small hours with the smell of baking, but I really think that a 4 am start in November is taking things a little too far. Dawn was still several hours away when sat with coffee and recipe books I tried to decide which cake to bake in honour of National Bundt Day which is celebrated on the 15th November in the US.

I love my Bundt cake tin (and I’m hoping that Father Christmas might be able to fit another in my stocking this year – are you reading this Ces?) and rarely need an excuse to use it. As I mentioned the other day Mary, The Food Librarian, set herself the challenge of baking a bundt cake every day for the month leading up to National Bundt Day and I had a tin of pumpkin puree (thank you Waitrose) set aside for the day itself. After all, what could be a more fitting ingredient for this most American of bakeware than pumpkin? I already had my eye on a recipe for a Pumpkin and Chocolate bundt from the list on The Food Librarian’s site and my newest of books Cake Keeper Cakes (as recommended by Nicole at Baking Bites) had an almost identical one for a loaf cake. The average 9″ by 5″ loaf tin recipe can be doubled to fill a bundt so that’s what I did – see below. The original recipe called for milk but I used buttermilk and I also reduced the sugar slightly. Apologies for the mixture of measurments in US cups and metric, with some ingredients it’s easier to measure out in the original cups so I didn’t bother weighing to get the equivalent measure, sorry if that’s irritating, but it was early!

The resulting cake is so moist from the pumpkin and moorish with the differing textures I’m not sure how to do it justice here and hope that you give it a try soon.


Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake
adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chatman

  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarb
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • generous pinch of nutmeg
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • one 15oz can of unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I used a mixture of milk chocolate chips and chopped 70% Green and Blacks)
  • 2 cups of chopped walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 180C, grease your bundt tin and dust with flour
  • Mix flour, spices, bicarb, baking powder and salt
  • Beat sugar and butter until fluffy then add eggs one at a time, scraping the side of the bowl as needed
  • Stir in pumpkin and vanilla then the buttermilk
  • Add the flour in three batches, scraping the side of the bowl and then finally stir in the chocolate and walnuts
  • Pour batter into the bundt tin of your choice and bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean, cool in tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wore rack. Allow to cool completely before attempting to cut

Should your bundt be reluctant to release itself from the tin (as mine was today as I forgot the all important ‘dust with flour’ step) pop the tin back into the oven for a few minutes to help release it (you may also require the help of several implements to aid the process, I used a knife, a rolling pin, a plastic spatula and a bit of brute force)

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A Win and a Fail

November 10, 2009

Another gathering for a night of ladyboy poker provided another baking opportunity. In a search for inspiration a brief email poll of participants returned the single word ‘chocolate’.
I had recently bookmarked a recipe for Chocolate, Coffee and Cardamon Cake with a view to a dinner party/poker dessert (rather than a bake and take to work kind of cake). I had fresh pods in the cupboard from the gingerbread earlier in the week and the pictures on Spice and More’s blog screamed dense richness, just what you need with a good bottle of red to induce a lucky hand. I followed the recipe on the site, using the reduced amount of sugar suggested, with 70% chocolate (I had Green and Blacks in the cupboard). I have a Gaggia coffee machine (possibly my most prized possession) so brewed a double espresso then strained the crushed cardamon pods and seeds which I’d simmered in water into the coffee before adding all the liquid at the point stated. The type of tin wasn’t specified but you’ll need a deep springform for this one. I didn’t bother with a ganache (and this wasn’t because of previous disasters, I believe I now have a foolproof recipe) I just didn’t think it looked like it needed it, the top of the cake looked so moist and was slightly cracked and I worried about masking the cardamon with more chocolate. When it came to serving, additional chocolate definitely wasn’t needed, it was so tasty on it’s own.

Along with the cake I also offered to cook the main. I have the Leon book and love it so much that I gave it to several people as Christmas presents last year, my sister is currently spreading the Leon love by giving copies as gifts. I needed a one pot veggie dish and the Egyptian Tamarind stew looked appealing, filled as it is with roasted aubergines, peppers, tomatoes and chickpeas (or fava beans if you can find them). I Googled it for additional hints and tips and discovered that it had been part of the Guardian’s cookalong series with the added bonus of a pilaf recipe to accompany it. You can get the transcript and recipes here. I used agave nectar rather than honey, partly to just use it and partly because I’m not a fan of honey and wasn’t sure how strong the taste of it would be. I think the agave worked, I added a little more tamarind than suggested and I think that I would split the chillies to get a little bit more of a kick. The smell of the pilaf was amazing as the heat hit the spices and everyone enjoyed it.

So, two wins on the food front were joined by two poker wins – yes I won both games! Unheard of. Only that day I’d been moaning that I was feeling a little despondent as I rarely won a hand never mind games or cold hard cash and was pretty much only going along for the company and baking opportunity. But win I did, and it felt good.
There was a baking fail though, perhaps fail is too strong a word as colleagues at work seemed to enjoy it, but I can’t say I was taken with the Cardamon Vanilla Bundt featured on the Food Librarian’s ‘I Like Big Bundts’ series (in the lead up to National Bundt day on November 15th). It was heavier than I expected and whilst it smelt divine whilst baking, the end result didn’t have enough vanilla or cardamom for me. Do check out the series though, there are some fantastic looking cakes on there.