Tag: bit

Pear and cardamom cake for Petra

Excuse my absence. I don’t know what I’ve been doing. Oh yes I do! Potty training Kitty. I won’t go into it, but there’s been a lot of washing, scrubbing, mopping etc. I’m like Hercules trying to clean the Aegean stables!! Only I am better at accessorising. I like to team skinny black jeans and my new Adelphe diamond-slice ring with eau de toddlerpiss.

But look it’s nearly Christmas and though I loathe Christmas recipe pull-outs at this time of year – so confusing, so distracting – I thought I would recycle this cake that I made for my Grazia column (she said casually) and show it to you here, in case you don’t read Grazia and you’re looking for a mildly spiced cake to serve at some party or other.

And say Merry Christmas to you all! But, especially, to a girl called Petra I once knew a long time ago. A friend of a friend. I bumped into her husband the other day at a party, who I never recognise because he keeps changing his spectacles. At the moment he is wearing some intimidating horn-rimmed pair. “Petra reads your blog,” he said. “I’m sorry I don’t, I…” he floundered. It’s alright, I said. You’re not my demographic.

Anyway Petra is absolutely terrific, but she wasn’t at the party because she was working! At Christmas!! But I think she is a lawyer and so just works and occasionally, blinking at the daylight, leaves her office to eat a sandwich and breathe some non-recycled air.

(My favourite story about lawyers, by the way, was when I emailed my friend Jamie, who is a commercial barrister, on a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday about something – I wanted to email while I remembered what it was – and I joked “As it’s a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday Jamie, I expected a swift response as you will, obviously, be at work.” And he fucking was!)

The thing I remember most about Petra was at a dinner party I said I liked her necklace, some really beautiful magnificent choker-y thing with all manner of swizzles and sparkles on it. “It was my grandmother’s,” she said. “There’s an extra bit you can fit on it,” she said, describing a hook and eye in the air with her hands, “that makes it even bigger.”I just stared at her, boggling at the poshness of it all – I thought she was going to say she got it at Accessorize.

Thinking about Petra made me a bit sad. There are all these people, I think, old friends, who read this blog but I don’t see them or speak to them. Then it turns out they’ve been there all the time. It’s possibly best this way, when I think about it. If we were together they would just have to sit there while I rattled on and on just talking about myself and telling boring stories that start off about one thing and then turn into something else and then I suddenly stare out of the window and shout “Oh look there’s that fucking massive parakeet on the bird feeder again!!!” At least if you read this blog you can get up and go and make yourself a cup of tea or something. Get a bit of chocolate to sustain yourself until the pay-off.

And while you’re at it make this cake why don’t you.

This is a very classy cake because of the addition of cardamom, that most people are too scared to use in sweet baking because they don’t want a cake that tastes like curry. But it doesn’t taste like curry, it’s very nice. It’s like something they would make on Bake Off.

But it is absolutely huge, so only make this if you have a lot of people coming round.

Pear and Cardamom cake from The Ethicurean cookbook
Serves about 20, genuinely

315g salted butter at room temperature
315g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
5 eggs (!!!) lightly beaten
315g ground almonds
50g plain flour
1tbsp ground cardamom
1ripe pear (I used tinned pears, which worked very well)
70g dark chocolate

Heat the oven to 170C. Line the base and sides of a 23cm springform cake tin with baking parchment

1 Beat the butter and sugar together for about five minutes, or until pale and sort of fluffy.

2 Add all the dry ingredients and mix on slow until just combined. Remove the bowl from the machine and fold the mixture a few times with a spatula.

3 Turn it into the tin, level the top then place in the centre of the oven and bake for 20  minutes.

4 Slice your pear thinly and break the chocolate into pieces. 

5 Remove the cake from the oven. It will still be liquid. Press the chocolate pieces into the mix across the entire cake. Lay the pear slices on top of the cake and then sprinkle the cake with some sugar, for caramelisation and a bit of crunch. 

6 Put back in the oven. The recipe said for another 40 mins but mine took another 60 mins for a skewer to come out clean. All ovens are different, alas, which is why baking is such a fucking bore. 

Eat with creme fraiche, I’d say. While wearing a really amazing necklace. 

Top cake recipes for May

There’s no time of the year when we don’t fancy a bit of cake! May baking is all about fresh fruits and fun summery twists – well the summer’s almost here, right?

We’ve rounded up the most popular cake recipes to make this month – as chosen by you. Click through the 20 top cake recipes on goodtoknow.

Seasonal berries and citrus flavours like lemon, lime and orange give sponges a lovely fresh twist, while cupcake designs and decorations are a great way to have a little fun this May.

So what cake recipe will you be trying? We have 20 delicious ideas for you to choose from. Fancy something chocolaty? Our Maltesers chocolate cake is always a winner! More in a fruity mood? Our cherry and marzipan cake is an all-round crowd-pleaser.

Save all your favourite cake recipes in one place by starting your own online recipe book.

Passionfruit tartlets

My husband went out the other night and didn’t come home until 3.30am. I know because a car alarm woke me up at 3am and instead of thinking “I’ll just go back to sleep,” I crept downstairs to check if he had come back and was asleep in the spare room. He was not. For some reason I hit the fucking roof, calling him 11 times, texting saying “Where the fuck are you??” and trembling with rage.

He hustled back immediately, apologising. In the morning he apologised more, in different ways, trying to find the right combination of words to make my face not do the I Hate You Death Stare I’m Going To Kill Myself And The Kids thing.

He didn’t understand what the problem was. He sometimes comes back late, it’s not a big deal is it? He wasn’t doing anything bad, just, you know, messing about with R— B— and J—- C—- in the Groucho. There weren’t any girls! Except C—- L— but she doesn’t count! And look, here he is, giving Kitty her breakfast at 7.30am and burping Sam and stuff. He’s not a shit dad! Or really a shit husband either!?

I didn’t know, in truth, why I was so pissed off. But then I got a bit teary and without even thinking said “Do you know what a c— I feel when I’m at home flicking through magazines and washing fucking bottles and you’re out ripping up Soho? I never, ever get to do that. I never go out for dinner, saying I’ll be back at 11pm and then don’t fucking come back till 4am. Never. I just look after the children and work and do Ocado orders and cook. And VERY OCCASIONALLY I go to sleep.”

But you could go out, he said. I’d love you to! Why don’t you? Go! I’ll do the kids in the morning you don’t even have to do that!

That wasn’t the point though. That wasn’t it. I don’t want to go berserk in the bloody Groucho and crawl to bed at 4am. I didn’t even really want to do that before I had kids. I certainly don’t want to now. But I want to want to. Do you see? What I crave is my husband’s freedom to want to do things like that. To go out and have actual fun, not pretend to have fun and be having so much actual real fun that you can just see where the night takes you. If I managed to organise some night out in town it would come to it and the pressure would be so immense that I would fail to enjoy myself for even three consecutive minutes and be at home in bed by 11pm.

My husband thinks that he is not free because he is always home for bathtime and barely looks out of the window without asking my permission. But he is: in his head, he is free. He can let go of his domestic life, if only for a few hours, if only aided by 17 gins, and feel like tomorrow doesn’t matter. Or at least, he will deal with tomorrow when it happens.

I, on the other hand, am a prisoner in a cage that I built for myself out of layers and layers of responsibilities and routines and insecurities and neuroses and the awful knowledge that a father’s absence, no matter how involved he is in family life, is, in the end, neither here nor there. But a mother’s absence is like a massive crater left by a huge neutron bomb. You are always being watched, and judged – if only by yourself. It is mad but it is a fact and it is suffocating. It’s not fair. It’s just NOT FAIR. And it is why women with small children can get so very angry.

[Pause. Look down. Look up. Smile.]

When I started to learn how to cook I was such a completely rock-bottom beginner that even now I tend to think I am being really extremely adventurous for cooking something as complicated as lasagne.

I am always utterly baffled by those things they do on Bake-Off like “yes I’m making orange blossom, cardomom white chocolate and thyme shortbread dippers with a curried Florentine crumble topping” and you’re like WTF? What’s wrong with chocolate chip cookies? (Don’t answer that.)

Anyway I thought I ought to try something more exotic and that is how I ended up making Edd Kimber’s passionfruit tartlets. His original recipe was for caremelised banana and passionfruit tartlets but I thought that might do my head it, so just stuck with the passionfruit.

It involved the making of a passionfruit curd, which I was excited and nervous about as it involves cooking a lot of egg yolks without scrambling them. And usually if there are eggs to be scrambled or a sauce to be split or pretty much anything to go wrong in a recipe I will get it wrong.

But they turned out well! Despite being a bit fiddly. And incredibly impressive for an after-dinner treat when no-one feels much like a huge slab of actual pudding. I took the leftovers up to Kitty’s nursery and the teachers there said that they kept well overnight. I know! I’m such a creep.

Passionfruit tartlets

1 pack puff pastry from Jus Roll (all-butter, in the gold packet)
80ml passionfruit puree, strained (which is the insides of about 5 passionfruit whizzed in a blender or whatever and then passed through a sieve. Do not worry, the blender will not mash up the passionfruit seeds, they will just get left behind whole in the sieve. Passionfruit seeds are INDESTRUCTIBLE. Like Lego.)
100g butter
5 egg yolks (gulp)
175g caster sugar

1 Grease a 12 hole muffin tin and then roll out the puff pastry thinly.

2 Cut out 12 pastry rounds. The recipe specified a 10cm cutter, but I thought that was too big so I went one down. Press each round carefully into a muffin tin depression and prick the bases with a fork. Stick in the fridge for 15 min.

3 Line the pastry with a triple layer thickness of cling film and fill with baking beans (or whatever you use if you don’t believe in baking beans). Bake these in a 180C oven for 15 mins, then take out the beans and film and bake for another 8 mins until brown. I did not leave mine in for long enough and they turned out a bit anaemic so make sure yours are nice and tanned.

4 Allow the shells to cool in the tin.

5 For the passionfruit curd put the egg yolks and passionfruit puree into a pan over a medium heat  and whisk constantly until it becomes thick. This will take a while, about 10 mins or so. It will get really quite thick, too – so if you’re wondering “Hmm, is this only how thick it gets?” then keep going a bit longer. Once it is thick add the butter and stir to combine.

6 Set this aside to cool a bit and then fill your pastry shells. Sprinkle the tops with caster sugar and either caramelise with a cook’s blowtorch (or a real blowtorch if you are also an electrician) or more likely shove under a hot grill for 30 secs. 

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