Friends, family and colleagues have mentioned my lack of posts recently - which also indicates a lack of attention to baking and cooking in general on my part - so here is what I made at the weekend [all gone now] - coffee and walnut cake from the Peyton and Byrne cookbook.
for the cake
200g walnut halves 200g unsalted butter 200g caster sugar 200g self raising flour 3 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp of hot water 4 eggs
for the topping
300g cream cheese 50g light brown sugar
Heat the oven to 170C/gas 3 and butter a springform or loose bottom tin and line with greaseproof paper Spread the walnuts on a tray, toast in the oven for about 7 minutes [my fan oven only took 5 minutes so keep an eye out for them] Allow the walnuts to cool then put half aside for your topping and crush/chop the other half for the cake mix
Cream together the butter and sugar
Then add the eggs one by one, mixing really well between each one
Beat in the coffee and then fold in the flour and the crushed walnuts
Pour the mixture into the baking tin and pop in the oven for 45-55 minutes Remove the cake from oven and allow to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes [the book says 10 but I find this too long and the greaseproof paper sticks]
Run a knife around the inside edge and turn the cake out onto a wire rack The cake needs to completely cool before you add the topping - this can take around two hours - so factor it in if you are making it for an afternoon tea For the topping, beat the cream cheese and sugar together in a bowl until fully mixed and creamy - spread it over the cake, cover with the whole walnuts and dust with icing sugar
I was a bit suspicous of the topping - sugar and cream cheese and no coffee? - but it worked really well and stopped the cake being too overloaded with the flavour of coffee. And just to be contrary I had my coffee cake with a big pot of tea.
This year I got three very good but very different cookbooks and I am only now really getting round to trying out some of their recipes.
The Two Greedy Italians satisfies my love of all things Italian and contains a recipe combining two of my favourite ingredients - broccoli and anchovies.
Casa Moro gives me Sam and Sam Clark's second book of middle eastern inspired food. I find their recipes very light and refreshing even though I often find this style of food heavy in restaurants. One of my favourite recipes is Turlu Turlu from their first book. I have already given the Moroccan eggs a go and I can see them becoming a staple supper dish - or indulgent late Sunday breakfast.
Larousse Gastronomique satisfies my inner geek - discovering the history of food and the practices that surround how produce moves from field to table.
It also gives me a new source of recipes to test, try and become favourites. Christmas and New Year this year were wonderful because it is the first one in the new house and with my amazing new kitchen but I was so busy on the run up that I stuck to recipes and meals I knew well. So now I want to do a bit of culinary exploration.
I also want to come up with some good dishes as my London colleagues will be up in Scotland in March and will be visiting me. I have spent a lot of time working in our London office recently and I have been taken care of in great style by many of my colleagues. Now that they will be up in Glasgow for our annual conference I have the chance to repay the favour. So the search is on.