Lemon and Thyme Drizzle

I’m a big fan of lemons. If there’s ever a time I’m spoilt for choice looking at a dessert menu, as long as there’s something lemon based, I’ve found a winner.

A lemon drizzle is most definitely a British classic. It’s hard to beat a thick wedge of  light buttery sponge drenched in a sharp but sweet citrussy syrup. It certainly is one of my favourites.

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The lemon and thyme cake I made this week is just a slight twist on the usual drizzle. I have to admit, the very first time I heard about this combination in a cake I was a bit sceptical, but believe me it really does work!  The fresh thyme brings a wonderfully unique and fragrant flavour to this classic without distracting too much from the star of the show.

Each layer of sponge has specks of fresh thyme running through before being soaked with a tangy thyme infused syrup. To sandwich the layers together, lemon curd is rippled through some mascarpone for a creamy filling that cuts the sharpness and keeps everything light and fresh.

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With it’s sunshine yellows and bright airy feel, in a way, this cake felt like a final farewell to summer. As autumn is fast approaching and the skies get greyer, I’m  very much in the mood for more cozier and warm bakes. Think loads of apples, spices and hearty pies and puddings. You’re in for a treat.


R E C I P E
Serves  6-8

Ingredients

230g Unsalted Butter, softened
200g Caster Sugar
Zest of 1 Lemon
3 tsp Finely chopped fresh thyme
4 medium Eggs
1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
150g Plain Flour
80g Ground Almonds
1 and 1/2 tsp  Baking Powder
40g Sour Cream

Syrup
Juice of 2 Lemons
80g Caster Sugar
2-3 Sprigs of thyme

Filling
250g Marscapone
2 tbsp Lemon Curd

M E T H O D 

Grease and line two 6 inch/15cm cake tins. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4/180C/350F
Add the butter, sugar, zest and thyme to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat together until pale and fluffy
Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. If the mixture looks curdled, add in a tablespoon of flour
Stir in the vanilla
In a separate bowl , soft together the flour, almonds and baking powder
Gently stir this into the butter until just combined
Fold in the sour cream
Divide the batter equally between the two tins and bake for 30-35 minutes

To make the syrup, heat the lemon juice, caster sugar and thyme and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few more minutes and then remove from the heat
Once the cakes are out of the oven, prick holes in the surface with a skewer and pour over the syrup
Allow to cool on a wire rack

To assemble, level each cake with a serrated knife if they’re not completely level.
Mix together the mascarpone and lemon curd and use half to sandwich the cakes together
Spread the rest on top and decorate with lemon slices and fresh thyme

 

 

 

 

#GBBO

Hey there readers – both old and new! The past week or so has been rather exciting to say the least! In case you haven’t heard, I’m one of the contestants on the seventh series of The Great British Bake Off! *yaaaaay* After months of secrecy, it’s feels wonderful to finally be able to explain what I’ve  been up to!!

Benjamina
 Credit: Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions

Since it all came out, it’s been such a whirlwind of excitement and busyness mixed  with numerous exclamations of ”no way!!” and ‘say whaaaat?!’’ from unsuspecting friends. But there’s also been an overwhelming amount of such supportive and encouraging messages which I’m so grateful for.

The first episode last week was such a joy to watch and I can’t wait for you to watch along and see all the crazy adventures we got up to in that famous tent! It really was such an amazing experience in which I gained eleven truly fabulous baker friends.

Besides Bake Off, I’ve been a busy bee in the kitchen lately and so thought I’d share a bit of what I’ve been up to. From salted chocolate tarts to my trusty layer cakes, as well trips to some fancy patisserie shops, this summer has been a great time for baking.

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White Chocolate and Cherry Cake
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Salted Chocolate and Caramel Tarts

I’ve also been working on some new recipes which I hope to share soonish! I’m so excited to get more content up on here so watch this space!

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Eclairs at Maitre Choux

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Plum Crumble Cake

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Ricotta, Prosciutto and Rocket Flatbread

 

 

Summer Galettes

I’ve been wanting to make a galette for the longest time and this week I finally got round to it. Galettes are super easy to make and are essentially just a type of free form pie. Great for when you’re not in the mood to pull off a perfectly latticed and crimped pie but still want a fancy pud relatively quickly. Fabulously light and fruity, they make a great dessert during the  summer months served with some cream or a good dollop of vanilla ice cream.

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I love galettes as they work pretty well with most fruits so you can use anything you’ve already got. I rarely bake with peaches but they’d been on my mind for a while and as they’re in season, I figured they’d be perfect in this pie. I also had some sweet Picota cherries hanging around as well as handful of blueberries so decided to use them as well. I think that’s really part of the beauty of galettes – they’re so versatile and just ooze this cool rustic vibe, allowing you to dress them up in any which way you fancy. And unlike a traditional pie, galettes are very forgiving; even if they lose their shape a bit, come out a tad wonky or all the juices seep out, it’s all part of that rustic charm.

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I used a basic pie crust for this which you can also make ahead of time and freeze or even just use shop bought in a pinch. After rolling out individual circles,  I dusted the base with some ground almonds just to soak up any extra juiciness from the fruit. No soggy bottoms here!

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I was pretty happy with how they turned out – the pastry was buttery and flaky with the fruit remaining the star of the show. I’ll definitely be making these again.

Here comes the Bride

I love weddings. And they’re always extra special when you’ve  been asked to be a part of someones big day. Yes, it comes with a little added pressure (I don’t want be the one to ruin anything!) but ultimately it’s a massive privilege and a real blessing to be involved in such an important day.

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About two weeks ago, I made some cakes for the most beautiful wedding. This was the first completely outdoor wedding I’d been to and it was just perfect. So many colours, so much love and joy and the most thoughtful details ever including earrings for all the bridesmaids handmade by the bride.

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I made a total of 10 cakes for this wedding. Yes, you read that correctly. 10. One for each table. I have to say though, it was such a brilliant idea. Each table had something a little different and it meant everyone could cut the cake at the same time and enjoy it together.

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What I also loved about making these cakes was how much freedom I had to do what I wanted with them. My humble kitchen wasn’t big enough to manage ten completely different flavours so I settled on about five cakes and then doubled up on a few of them. The final cakes included some of my favourites at the moment – Pistachio and Cardamom, Lemon and Thyme, Orange Blossom and Almond and  Coconut, passion fruit and mango.

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Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Banana. Peanut Butter. Chocolate. Brown butter. In a cake. Ooohh yes. Certainly wasn’t holding back with this one!

So I had 4 super ripe bananas sitting in my fruit bowl which can naturally only mean one thing– Banana Bread time. Technically speaking, banana bread isn’t actually a bread – more just a loaf shaped cake. But no need to caught up in semantics, all you need to know is that it tastes great.

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I’m a big fan of peanut butter and will eat it in just about anything. Straight out of the jar is usually good enough for me. The combination of banana and peanut butter is a solid winner. It just works. So I played around with some recipes and came up with this beauty. Unfortunately, I was all out of crunchy peanut butter so had to settle for the smooth stuff which was still amazing, but I think a little extra crunch would have been a welcome addition.

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This cake really didn’t last long! I think it worked so well as it had just enough natural sweetness from the bananas, a slight saltiness from the peanut butter and a great almost caramel flavour from the brown butter. Oh and the chocolate chips. Always a good idea.
The recipe is down below, so do have a try and let me know how it goes!

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And because a little indulgence never hurt anyone, I served this with a dollop of lightly whipped double cream, chocolate shavings and a drizzle of honey. Divine.

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R E C I P E 

Ingredients

120ml Brown Butter, melted*
220g Plain Flour
150g Light Muscovado Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Bicarbonate Soda
2 Large Eggs
80ml Buttermilk**
1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
4 Ripe Bananas
90g Peanut Butter (Crunchy or Smooth)
50g Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped

To Glaze
20g Light Honey , slightly warmed

M E T H O D

Grease and line a 1lb loaf tin. Preheat oven Gas Mark 4/180C/350F
Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sugar
In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, vanilla and buttermilk
Mix in the 3 mashed bananas and peanut butter and stir in the melted butter
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently fold until just incorporated
Fold in the chocolate
Pour into the prepared tin and top with slices of the remaining banana
Bake for 55-60 minutes
Once cooked, brush the cake lightly with the warmed honey and let it cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the tin

 

Notes

*  You can use regular butter if you’d like but I highly recommend trying it with brown butter. There’s a great  guide over at TheKitchn on how make it – It’s easier than you think!

* * If you can’t get your hands on some buttermilk then it’s super easy to make a substitute. Simply take 1/2 a cup of whole milk (120ml) and add 1/2 a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Let it stand for 5 minutes and your’re ready to go! (Any leftovers would be great in pancakes)