Saturday, 5 October 2013

Lightweight Tea Bread

Sometimes, you just have to have dessert... And when you're a lightweight rower or cox attempting to be smaller, you need to tweak recipes!  Here is my latest tweaking attempt... A rather British one, I daresay.

Lightened Tea Cake
- 400g dried fruit of choice (I used currants and candied peel)
- 250g whole wheat strong flour 
- 250g all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 eggs
- 600ml brewed black tea
- Stevia or other sweetener (calorie free sugar) to taste, about 25g

Bake in a fan oven at 160C for 40min, or in a non-fan oven at 180C.

Makes 20 slices. Rough nutrition per slice: 176 calories, 5g protein, 35g carbs, 1.5g fat.  Compare to normal tea bread, a slice of which is usually around 320 calories with 10g fat (mmmm butter + sugar + oil)

This makes an absolute huge amount, so I ended up overflowing my cake pan and having to make mini tea cakes...



Monday, 26 August 2013

The Classic: Victoria Sponge

Since I'm pretending to be British and all, it was really becoming a necessity that I bake a Victoria Sponge.

Just to prove that I can bluff my way into being considered a "kind of Brit."

Cue the cake party....

Victoria Sponge
  • 250g butter, softened
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g cake/self-raising flour
  • dash milk (I used whole, but you can use anything)
  • good quality jam
  • ready-made whipped cream or double-cream, to whip

'Cream' together the butter and sugar.  This is a fancy way of saying 'beat the crap out of that.'

Add the flour 100g at a time, using a folding maneuver to incorporate it into the butter/sugar mix.  Be patient.  Slow and steady wins the race (only this time).

Now that is some stellar batter consistency.

Line two 8-inch cake tins with baking parchment, and grease the sides.  Do your best to distribute the batter evenly into the two tins.  I swear this is the toughest part of this entire recipe.

Maybe I'm just portion-challenged.


Pop them in the oven at 180C/350F for 20 minutes.  Make sure they're on the same rack, and turn them halfway through cooking to ensure equal browning of the tops.

They're done when you push the top and it springs back, or when a fork piercing the center comes out clean.

Let them cool on wire racks.  Admire your beautiful cake stand, given to you by Caius rowing ladies.

Drool if you have to.

When they're cool, add the jam generously, leaving a one inch gap from the side.  Seriously, though, if they're not cool, you will fail as I did and all will melt approximately 20 minutes after assembly, and one will be forced to remake this at another time.  Depressing.

Spoon on your whipped cream.  Again, leave a one inch gap.  When you smoosh your top layer on, you don't want a weeping whipped cream cake.

Carefully add the top layer.


Eat damn soon, or put somewhere cool.  Mine melted like it was in Mordor, so do ensure your kitchen is cool and your cakes are likewise chill!

I didn't take a picture of the hilariously melty blob.  Don't worry, though - it still tasted delicious.

Happy British baking!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Raspberry Chocolate Cake

At the request of very manly rowers, I bring you: Raspberry Chocolate Cake.

This cake is best eaten after working out profusely.

Raspberry Chocolate Cake

The Cake
Recipe adapted from BBC Food
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 150g light soft brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50ml/2fl oz sunflower oil
  • 30g cocoa
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 100ml/3.5fl oz thick double cream
  • 300g cake flour
  • 3 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 bar Divine 70% Dark Chocolate And Raspberries

The Filling
  • 200ml/7fl oz thick double cream
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 1/2 bar Divine 70% Dark Chocolate And Raspberries
  • 20g icing sugar
  • handful dessicated coconut
  • 2 punnets fresh raspberries
Let's get started.

Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F.  Melt the butter in a saucepan (or microwave... I know some of us like to roll student-style), and add sugars, oil, cocoa, and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.  Make sure it is still hot (not boiling), and add in 1/2 bar of Divine Chocolate and Raspberry bar.  It's easiest to break up this 1/2 bar into little pieces, so they melt quicker.  Stir until batter is smooth.

When batter is smooth, add the eggs.  Beat well.  Mix in the double cream and baking soda.  Finally, add the flour in small increments, to prevent lumps.  If you have a flour sifter, this is a great time to use it.  As a poor rogue University student, I do not.  But, life goes on.  

The batter should be thick, but easily flowing off the spoon.

Bake for 30 minutes covered with foil, then another 20 minutes uncovered.  Remove and let cool.  Slice in half once cool.

For the icing, again heat the double cream.  Break the other 1/2 of the Divine bar into pieces, and stir until thoroughly incorporated.  Add a handful of raspberries to the still-heated mixture - mash them with your stirring spoon, and mix well.  When the mixture has slightly cooled, add the 100g of cream cheese and handful of desiccated coconut.  Blend well, then stick in the fridge for 30 minutes to solidify.  

You've sliced your chocolate cake in half.  Hopefully better than I have.  I seem to have a nice little slope at one end... but don't you worry, we'll hide that.

Spoon the icing onto the bottom slice, starting from the middle and working outwards.  Stop about 1/2 inch from the edge.  

Get bad with your creative self and add those raspberries.  

Smoosh the top slice as elegantly as possible onto the bottom.

Dust icing sugar over top.

Unfortunately, my cake had to be heaved delicately placed back into its metal cooking tin, in order to be transported to the boathouse.  But I'm sure yours will look oh-so-much-better sitting out in the open.

Raspberry peek-a-boo!

Edit: Made this cake at 6:30PM.  Realized that I had frosting on my forehead at 10:30PM.  For the win.

Avocado with a Baked Egg

Super simple recipe, but quite a few of my friends requested it!

So, here you have it...

Avocado with a Baked Egg
1 medium-to-large avocado, sliced in half, pit removed
1 small-to-medium egg

Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F.  Scoop out the avocado pit, and make the space a bit wider.  It really depends on how big your eggs are.  I find small eggs to fit the best in the avocados here in the UK, but the USA definitely has bigger avocados... (go big or go home).

Crack your egg into the middle of the avocado.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes (will vary by oven).

Enjoy heartily.

Monday, 24 June 2013

French Almond Cake

I've had a bag of almond flour sitting in my cupboard waiting for the right recipe...

It was time.  

French Almond Cake

  • 110g unsalted butter, melted
  • 120g caster sugar 
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 90g ground almonds (almond powder/almond flour/almond meal)
  • 40g all purpose flour
  • 2/3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk (any type)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon flaked almonds for sprinkling
  • Icing sugar for dusting

Recipe inspiration: here.

Almond Buttercream Icing
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons milk (any type)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 150g powdered/icing sugar

Makes an 8" cake.


Pre-heat your oven to 180C.

Begin by melting the butter (about 50 seconds in the microwave), then add the milk and eggs.  Mix well.  Add the vanilla extract and baking powder.  Add the almond flour, stir well, then add in the all purpose flour.

Grease your cake tin, and pour in the mixture.  

Lick the spoon.

Bake for 15min, then cover the top with foil.  Bake for another 20 - 25minutes.  

It's done when you insert a fork into the middle and it comes out clean.  Let it cool, then either dust with icing sugar or ice with almond buttercream icing!

Optional, but recommended: let giant rowers devour entire cake.

Monday, 3 June 2013


If there's one thing I miss from the states, it's the bagels.

Bagels are meant to have a chewy crust, doughy inside and be pleasantly plump.  Here, I find them lacking a bit in the chewy crust, and they're often more bread-like than bagel-like on the inside.  I decided to have a whack at attempting the fabled bagel...

They turned out a wee bit small and the holes shrunk, but taste-wise, spot-on.


  • 4g dried, active yeast + 50ml warm water
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 150ml warm water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Dissolve your yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar in the 50ml of warm water.  Stir and wait until it's frothy.

In the same bowl, add the 150ml of warm water, followed by the flour, in 50g increments.  Work together with a fork, then use your hands to mold it into a ball.  This is going to be a very soft dough, compared to the other bread doughs you've seen on this blog, so you might have to create your own new 'kneading' technique.  For this one, I oiled my hands, picked up the ball and simply threw it down into the bowl, over and over again.  It both stretched it and prevented the soft dough from sticking to my fingers.

Plus, it gave me an excuse to throw things.  Awesome.

Form into a ball, oil the sides of your bowl, and cover in clingfilm.

Let it rise for about an hour, or until it's at least doubled in size.  

Stare out the window while you wait.  Admire this strange 'sun' object.

Begin boiling a large pot of water.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar to the water.  Re-oil your hands, and divide the mixture into 5 roughly equal sized balls (I totally failed at this).  To create the hole, I "spun" the dough around the handle of a spoon.  You definitely want the hole to be a bit bigger than you think, as it'll shrink massively during cooking.  Massively.

Also, click that oven on to 220C.

The key to getting chewy bagels is to boil them before baking them!  When your pot of water comes to a low boil, add one or two formed bagels to the water.  They'll rise to the top of the pot pretty quickly.  Give them about 1 minute on each side, flipping with a slotted spoon or spatula.

Drain them on the spoon/spatula, then place on your oiled baking sheet.  I used foil because my baking sheet ran away.

Repeat the boiling process with all of your dough balls/bagels-to-be.  

Make sure to add any toppings at this stage.  You can sea that I put sea salt on two, and drizzled honey on one.  The other two I left plain.

Such a weird texture pre-baking.  But it makes for the chewiness, so we'll deal with it.

Chuck 'em in the 220C oven for about 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200C for another 15-20min. I accidentally left them on 220C for a wee bit too long... 

They still taste nice!

The one on the right seems to have grown a horn... interesting...

Mmmmmmmmm butter.

These are pretty small sized bagels, so if you wanted ginormous ones (maybe for sandwiches or the like), you could do only 2 or 3 bagels out of this recipe.  

Tastes like home.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Oatmeal Walnut Cake with Date Caramel

So.  I wanted to make some good ole fashioned oatmeal cookies.  But... my cookie sheet had gone missing. No surprises, there.  I only had a round tin available... cue the CAKE!

Or, well, cookie-esque, dense cake.  With delicious topping.

Oatmeal Walnut Cake with Date Caramel

The Cake

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter (~150g) - thinking you could also do half butter, half greek yogurt.. will need to try.
  • 2/3 cup light soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 cups jumbo/large oats (ie, not the porridge kind)
  • handful of crushed walnuts

Date Caramel

  • 3 handfuls of dates, stoned (I used Whitworths)
  • 1/2 cup milk (you may need more/less.  Will describe later)
  • 2 tablespoons of light soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat your oven to 190C/350F.  Melt your butter in the microwave, then add the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and vanilla.  Stir in the eggs.  Add the oats and walnuts last, making sure to distribute them evenly into the mixture.

Grease your round cake tin before pouring in the mixture.  Place the cake in the oven for roughly 30 minutes.

As the cake cooks, make your date caramel!

I had never done this before, so it was mostly a shot in the dark... but it seemed to work well!  Heat a small saucepan on low-to-medium heat, adding 1/4 cup of the milk, the sugar, vanilla and all of the dates.  When it comes to the boil, lower the heat slightly and begin stirring every few seconds.  The dates will begin to soften, at which point you can begin 'smooshing' them with the back of your spoon, thus making the mixture much thicker and smoother.  The dates can't be entirely smooshed, so you will have a few date bits hanging around, but I personally think that's even better!  Continue adding the milk until you reach your desired consistency.  Remove from heat and let cool.

When the cake is semi-cooled, feel free to frost it with your caramel!

Oatmeal cake, pre-icing

As you can see, I also added a bit of desiccated coconut on top for flare...

This buddy should feed a small army.  Or, 8 ravenous individuals.

This cake was a true hit with my rowing comrades.  Three cheers for cake!