Almond Milk Smoothie

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Was it almond milk that Cleopatra used to bath in?

If it was I don’t blame her. The stuff is just wonderful. I have been making all kinds of things with it. Rice pudding, porridge, lattes and now smoothies. Our smoothie drinking has unfortunately been somewhat curtailed by the blender on my ancient food processor breaking down, but despite that I have a great recipe to share.

The mention of smoothies tend to go down with a bit of a groan in this house. It’s not that people don’t like them, but when you live in a house full of blokes, this type of drink having a girly reputation, seems to invoke much macho scoffing. I am relatively thick-skinned and choose to ignore most of this. Also the arrival of ‘vintage paper straws’ seems to sweeten the deal and happily this pastel-coloured creamy delight has been slipping down a treat.

You will need (for 2):

300ml Almond Milk, 1 Banana, about 5 Strawberries, a working blender, 4 ice cubes.

Pop everything into the blender and blend until smooth, although the odd lingering lump of ice-cube will be fine. Pour into suitable glass and enjoy with breakfast or as an after school fill you up.

Almond Milk: I buy it in Sainsburys, so unlike Coconut Water, it is readily available in the section with the longlife milk, milk powder and longlife soya milk. It has a natural very slightly sweet taste and in coffee imparts a flavour not dissimilar to using one of those syrups. To my mind this is infinitely more pleasing than the soya milk alternatives to milk. I also understand (although don’t quote me on this) that it is anti-allergenic so even better for you soya milk (to which some are allergic).

Strawberry Glut Rain Delay Trifle

Ok, I promise this is the last of the strawberries and cream for a little while, but in my defense, Child 2’s strawberry patch has been extremely prolific despite the weather and we are ankle-deep in them. This doesn’t excuse the relentless presence of cream I know, but don’t be alarmed, I shall balance all this decadence out with some low-fat, low carb ideas very soon!

So whilst we were watching the tennis excitement on Sunday a rain delay struck, very helpfully, at the point where my better half and I felt we should really make a few dinner plans and have a cup of tea. The following dessert had vaguely been discussed over the weekend as Saturday morning’s charity bakeathon had left us with an orange sponge traybake to use up. My better half thought he might fancy his hand at a trifle recipe using the said sponge and the endless heaps of strawberries and so with a small amount of guidance from me produced this:

The kids, who are always reluctant to eat too much fruit, were charmed by this after a nervous start as there is no sherry involved and the strawberries seemed to maintain a low profile compared to the other components.

This is a fantastic way to use up left over cake. Quantities of cake, fruit, custard and cream are not critical at all and will depend on the number of mouths you have to feed or possibly how much left over cake you have.

You will need: some plain-ish Sponge Cake, Jam, Strawberries, Pimms, Lemonade, Custard either bought or homemade and Whipped Cream.

  • Begin by making up the Pimms, 1:2 Pimms to Lemonade so stronger than normal. 2 shots Pimms and 4 shots Lemonade should be enough for a regular quantity of trifle (4-6 servings). Pour the Pimms and Lemonade into a saucepan and heat until boiling and then simmer for a minute or two to boil off the alcohol. Allow to cool a little.
  • If your cake doesn’t already have jam in it, then make jam ‘sandwiches’ with it and then cut the sandwiches into fingers and arrange a generous layer in the bottom of your bowl, we used morello cherry jam but raspberry or strawberry would be fine too.
  • Pour the cooling Pimms mixture over the sponge and let that soak in whilst you wash and slice up some strawberries (around 200g). Add them as a layer over the cake.
  • Spoon on about 300-400ml of ready-made vanilla custard, for the size above, or make up some however you usually do having let it cool down to some degree before you spoon onto the strawberries. Cover with clingfilm at this point, to stop a skin forming if the custard is warm, and allow it reach room temperature then chill in the fridge.
  • Just before serving whip up about 300ml of whipping cream and spread over.
  • Decorate with whole strawberries or slices if you wish.
  • Yummy

For anyone who is wondering how the Turkish Delight turned out it is on my Facebook page. Click on the link on the side bar to have a look.

I have a cheeky request for anyone who is feeling charitable today. I need one more FB like for my Cutest Cakes Facebook page to receive stats info, so if you do go and see the Turkish Delight and have an account please could you consider ‘liking’ my account if you haven’t already. Also many thanks and to all the new follows here and the ‘likers’ over on FB that I have already.

I love you all.

From Alaska to The Black Forest via SW19

So my fascination with meringues continues and as I promised an easy chocolate cake recipe I have decided to combine the two. I know this looks a bit extreme, very ‘over the top’ but as you breakdown the components, just think gateaux not cake.

I saw the idea for combining cake and meringues in Annie Bell’s book Gorgeous Cakes, and admittedly, she had much smaller morsels of meringue adorning her’s so if you are deliberately making a batch to top a cake you might like to scale accordingly. Also the meringues can be used as art, so the above cake (more of an unfinished experiment) has the currently ubiquitous Union Jack/ Wimbledon theme echoing through it, whereas meringues which are a deeper pink and purple might make this cake seem more like a crown or feed into the Black Forest gateaux idea. Another scenerio might be to colour the meringues with caramel, either actual or food paste, and then drizzle chocolate over the top to give a more sophisticated look. The possibilities are endless!

I think this one would be called Death by Strawberries and Cream as the strawberry sauce drizzled across it gives a delightful grizzly sense of that….

So we have meringues as described in the previous post which you can find here and then:

You will need: 225ml of double cream, some strawberries (or fruit of your choice or not as the case may be), strawberry sauce (optional), reduced sugar Morello Cherry Jam and a Chocolate Cake.

The Easiest Chocolate Cake

This is my Mother’s recipe and is the cake that was baked typically for birthday parties when I was a child. I’m going to give the quantities in imperial as that is how the recipe comes, with an approximation of the grams etc.

6½ oz (187g) Self Raising Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

2 heaped tbsp Cocoa Powder (sifted)

2 large Eggs

5 oz (150g) Caster Sugar

¼ pint Milk (150ml)

2 tbsp Golden Syrup

5 oz (150g) Butter or Margarine, melted and allowed to cool a little

Preheat the oven to 300 °F/Gas 2/ 150°C/Fan 130°C. Grease sides and bases and then line the bases of 2 7″ sandwich pans, the non-loose bottomed, old fashioned type, and add about a tsp of flour to the bases. Turn the pans on their sides and tap the flour round the sides of the tins to coat, tip out any loose flour.

Combine all the ingredients and whisk to form a smooth batter with a balloon whisk or using a paddle attachment with a mixer.

Pour into the prepared tins.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack.

That is it! There is nothing to it. I love this recipe as it takes us back to an era, essentially post WW2, when eeking out ‘fancy’ ingredients was a necessity: 2 eggs, 2 tbsp of cocoa powder. This is not a rich chocolate-y cake but something of it’s time. My Mother’s generation can still seem nervous to bake a cake with four eggs in it. Sponge cakes, in particular, I’m often asked how I get to ‘look like that’,

‘Well for starters it’s got four eggs in it.’ The decadence of it!

‘Really, four eggs in this cake!’

Yet the Baby Boomers are the wealthiest sector of the population by far, own their own houses, foreign holidays all the time, pay the grandchildren’s school fees etc., but the post war rationing they grew up with still colours their baking view.

Anyway, once you have made the cake and meringues, it is an assembly job.

Reduce Sugar Morello Cherry Jam: great stuff, more like cherries set in jelly, not runny and not too sweet, a bit of a must with everything else that is going on. Widely available in supermarkets. If you need to, level the base layer of the cake just a touch using a large sharp knife, and use about ½ the jar of jam as filling. Then sit on the top layer. Whisk the double cream until stiff. You could use half cream half 0% fat greek yoghurt instead, or whipping cream, and spread over the top of the cake. Arrange your strawberries and meringues as you wish. Drizzle with strawberry sauce. This can be bought, or made using misshapen strawberries, a dessert spoon of sugar and the same of water. Heat in a saucepan over a moderate heat until you have a jammy mush, press through a sieve into a bowl to remove the seeds and heat again until thick and treacly. Allow to cool and drizzle with a spoon or if you can make a greaseproof piping bag, go that route.

Epic.

The fact that the cake itself is not too rich does help here, but this really is for those with a sweet tooth. Fridge any left overs due to the cream. It is still good with coffee the next day.

If you want just a basic chocolate cake use the chocolate fudge icing, method given here to fill and coat the top with the following quantities: 3 oz (75g) Icing Sugar sifted, 1 oz (25g) Cocoa Powder, sifted, 1½ oz (40g) Stork Margarine or Butter, 2 tbsp Water, 2 oz (50g) Caster Sugar.

N.B. Strawberries were courtesy of Child 2’s strawberry patch, thanks muchly gorgeous creature (despite the lack of front teeth) ♥.

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