Chocolate Almond Lime Semolina Cake

DSC_0373aThis cake is the happy result of an experiment in gluten-free baking* for my Lovely Flatmate, who is gluten-intolerant, but lacks the willpower to resist my baked goods. It’s based loosely on a Greek cake called Revani, which traditionally is made of a mixture of semolina and almond flour, and sweetened with a sticky orange syrup. My version substitutes lime for the orange and adds plenty of cocoa. It’s a delightful crumbly-but-moist tea cake, with a hint of crunch from the semolina. It meets my ‘specialty diet’ test, meaning that I would bake this cake again for people without dietary restrictions. Lovely Flatmate consumed the entire cake in two days (hurrah! Also, slightly alarming). Continue reading

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Dark Chocolate Blood Orange Cake with Blood Orange Buttercream

DSC_0266aThere is something that feels literally magical about the start of blood orange season. A few weeks after the excitement of Christmas and New Year’s has died, when we’ve glumly settled into the January doldrums, being beset by cold toes precludes us from wearing anything but big clumpy shoes, and slushy snow feels rather less than miraculous, the blood oranges suddenly … appear. There they are at the greengrocer’s, putting clementines, humdrum navel oranges and even Sevilla oranges to shame. They’re like visitors from a superior planet. Blood oranges would be irresistible even if they weren’t so glorious-looking, but slicing open a blood orange to reveal its saturated pomegranate-red flesh gives me an almost voyeuristic thrill. So beautiful, so delicious. Continue reading

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread

DSC_0988bAlthough it’s not commonly taught, I think that everyone is familiar with Newton’s law of bananas. That law is: no matter how large or small a bunch of bananas you buy or the size of your family, there will always be two leftover bananas that become too overripe to eat. They sit in their basket, accusatorily, shrinking and slowly becoming covered in black spots. You look at them every morning guiltily. No one wants to put soft bananas in their breakfast cereal. Eventually, they pass a point of no return. Then it’s bin them or turn them into banana bread. Continue reading

Russian Black Bread

DSC_0878bBread-baking is the antidote to everything that people find frustrating about pastry. Measurements are imprecise and dependent on variables such as ambient humidity and elevation. You can be messy and aggressive; bread dough responds to abuse rather like a particularly eager masochist. Bread dough likes being slapped and pounded, and “rustic” is an aspirational term, rather than a euphemism.

I first started baking bread when I was about 11. A snarky, competitive, and somewhat fatalistic child, I decided to become a bread baker because it was the only type of kitchen craft that my mother did not execute impeccably; I didn’t want to cook things that she would always do better. Continue reading

Salted Chili Chocolate Truffles

Holy crap, it’s 2012! Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a fun New Years Eve involving lots of good food and champagne, like I did.

I’m starting this year’s blogging with a Victorian moral tale. Yes, there is a Rash Person who makes foolish choices. The consequences are severe and immediate. Yet, humbled by her thoughtless hubris, she sees the error of her ways. She does not give up. No. Through hard work and perseverance she is able to overcome the obstacles her actions have placed in her path, even though at first they seemed insurmountable. Our story concludes with our heroine in a Methodist church, basking in the warm cheer of good friends and celebrating her newfound piety. (Okay, maybe the church part didn’t happen.) Our story concludes with our heroine, slightly tipsy, sitting at a dinner table in Camberwell happily watching her friends enjoy her salted chili chocolate truffles. Later there was a bonfire and more champagne. Continue reading

Raspberry Mousse with Port Chocolate Sauce

There are certain dishes that always and forever will remind me of my mother. My mother is an early disciple of Julia Child and Craig Claiborne, and a fantastic classical French cook. One such dish is berry mousse, which my mother makes with egg whites, whipped cream, and a bit of gelatin (and no yolks), so it is airy and delicate. I had spare egg whites from making pasta, and the British raspberries in the supermarkets have been singing a siren song to me. And perhaps I was feeling a little nostalgic for my mother’s mousse. Continue reading