Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Lemon Marscapone Cake

Its not often that I bake a cake of my own choosing. More often, I am baking for someone else, or to use up what we have in the house. But this week I am leaving my workplace of 5 years, and someone suggested I make a cake to follow the special lunch some of my colleagues are putting on for me. So this was my choice.

It is, as are most of my cakes, adapted from a Nigella recipe. I haven't tasted it yet, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Lemon Marscapone Cake

225g butter
225g golden caster sugar
225g plain flour
4 eggs
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp baking powder

200g marscapone cheese
100g good quality lemon curd

Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor, and divide between 2 20cm cake tins. Bake at 180C for about 20 minutes, until the cakes are coming away from the sides of the tin.

Stand the cakes on a wire rack to cool.

When the cakes are cool, place one cake on a plate. Beat the marscapone cheese in a bowl so that it is smooth, and spread over the cake. Top with the lemon curd, and place the second cake on top. Sprinkle with golden caster sugar.

By the way, Tim completed the London Marathon in 4 hours, 28 minutes. I'm very proud of him!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Carb Loading

Tim is running the London Marathon on Sunday, so this week he (and therefore I) am carb loading.

Carb loading is a way of boosting endurance when exercising for longer than two hours. As Tim will be running for at least 4 hours, he thought it would be useful.

There are conflicting views about carb loading. This article gives the science behind it: basically, the body can only store a limited amount of carbohydrate, so carbohydrate loading trains the body to store the carbohydrate in the muscles and liver.

In the first part of the week, carbs are limited, and protein is high. As the week progresses, more and more of the meals are made up of carbohydrates, up to 75% in the final three days before the race. This is supposed to give optimum performance.

So far, we've had steak, chicken and tonight its salmon. I've got to say I'm not disappointed. I think the best part of it is that the foods that are recommended are really healthy, and the psychological effects are huge - even though the actual science behind carb loading is debated, Tim knows he is giving his body the best possible chance to do well.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Garden Plans

I know this is a cooking blog, but gardening and food are going so much more hand in hand in our society, and I have caught the gardening bug.

This being the first year I have had a proper garden of my own (I did grow courgettes last year in a pot on my front doorstep), and I've been sowing seeds like they are going out of fashion. Few have germinated so far, but I keep checking!

So far,  my garden contains:

  • Mixed salad leaves
  • Rocket
  • Broad Beans
  • Spring Onions
  • Spinach
  • Purple carrots
I'd like to grow things that you can't get easily in the supermarket, or that are really expensive in the supermarket - fresh peas, swiss chard, sugar snap peas and so on.

I've had some success with flowers this year - I grew some sweet peas from seed that came free with Gardener's World magazine, and they all germinated. This week, I've hardened them off and planted them outside - I hope they survive. A rose I bought a couple of weeks ago is flourishing.

This marks a real change for me - I've always been interested in food, and always had a sense of pride in what I cook. But this year, I've started planning trips to the garden centre, reading gardening books and even watching Gardener's World. I just hope some of my seeds grow.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Easter Biscuits

I have to credit this recipe to my mum. She used to make these biscuits every single year, and they were legendary. Then, when I moved out, I took the recipe with me. When I first met Tim, he couldn't believe they had to be restricted to Easter time, but they are now starting to become legendary in our home.

Oil of Cassia is a traditional ingredient in Easter Biscuits, which apparantly come from the West Country, where I'm from. It's really difficult to get hold of, mine is from The County Stores in Taunton, but apparantly you can also try chemists or the internet.

So, with all credit going to my mum, here is the recipe. Apologies for the metric measurements!

6oz Butter
6oz Castor Sugar
10 drops of Oil of Cassia
1 Egg
10oz Self Raising Flour
2 oz Custard Powder
4oz Currants

Preheat oven to 180C and line at least two baking trays with baking parchment.

Cream together the butter and sugar with the Oil of Cassia. Work in the egg, then fold in the sieved flour and custard powder. The mixture will become very stiff and you may need to bring it together with your hands.

Add the currants and knead together.

Roll out to 5mm thick. Using a round cutter, cut out 8cm rounds.

Bake in oven for about 8-10 minutes - you barely want them to colour, so keep an eye on them!

Sprinkle with more caster sugar when you take them out of the oven. Leave for 3-5 minutes for them to firm up, then transfer to a wire rack.

You will probably get about 25 biscuits from this mixture.