dinsdag 23 augustus 2011

Caraway seed cake

It is summer- hard to believe I know, as I am writing I can hear thunder and lightning, I see rain and I feel cold! It is not even a summer storm!
Around ten days ago we braved the elements and carried on with the planned BBQ organised by my friend Breda. Dutch weather was not going to spoil our evening!
The theme was Eastern European and I while I wanted to make Dillisk (Irish seaweed) soda bread (recipe to follow) I also wanted to keep within the theme. I did a quick Google search and came up with caraway seeds. Hmmm
The thought of caraway seeds stirred memories- of years ago...of my humble beginnings in Holland. The time of no luxuries, I am not going to tell you I had no running water but I certainly didn’t have a fully equipped kitchen- heck I didn't even have a kitchen! It was a time when it was not common for the average Dutch household to have an oven. I was surprised (and horrified) that almost everything went in a pool of fat in een braadpan on the gas hob! I was, however, lucky enough to get hold of a Tefal mini grill-oven. It kept my sanity. I was able, when urge arose, (remember I am English!) to cook a traditional roast! The oven was small, not everything fitted in at the same time mind, and I remember (now in amusement, then it was pure frustration) how I used to partially cook the food and keep it warm on top of the oven covered in silver foil and then rotate everything! I got it to a T! I also remember having to 'hammer' baking tins to size in order for them to fit in with the oven door closed! I also remember how my baking, on more than one occasion, awoke my sleeping husband! Haha those were the times!
When I had family visitors I also used this oven to bake a cake, I kept it simple, one cake I remember regularly baking is the Seed Cake.
The recipe came out an old Marguarite Patten cookery book: Every Day Cook Book, one I no doubt ´borrowed´ from my mother. It is a book filled with, as it suggests, basic recipes, 1,000 to be exact!
I love caraway seeds and I use them in many dishes savoury (Pak Choi) and sweet alike.
This seed cake is based on the Traditional Madeira cake simply with the addition of caraway seeds. The measurements are lb and oz but I have translated. I used a 20cm cake tin but the recipe calls for a 18cm, in the old days I used a loaf tin which also worked fine.

Seed Cake
Cooking time 1 1/2hours
Oven temperature 325-350F, gas mark 3, 170C
(6 oz) 175gr butter
(6-7 oz) 185gr castor sugar
3 large eggs
(8 oz) 250gr flour, preferably plain
1 teaspoon baking powder with plain flour
approximately 2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (a little more or less according to personal taste)
To decorate: 1 tablespoon sugar. (I find the coarser the better- roughly bashing sugar cubes work well for a crispy top)

Cream the butter and sugar until soft and light, the larger amount of sugar helps to give a very fine texture. Beat the eggs and add gradually to the creamed butter mixture. Should this show signs of curdling, fold in a little sieved flour. Fold in sieved flour and caraway seeds, then the milk. Pour in a greased and floured 7 inch (18cm) cake tin, sprinkle the sugar on top. Bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours in a very moderate oven. Cover if necessary with a piece of greaseproof paper to prevent it becoming dry or burned. Test the cake with a small skewer, if it comes out clean it is ready. Cool on a wire rack. 12- 14 portions.
I served it as a dessert with marinated(Balsamic)strawberries and cream.
This blog is especially for the BBQ guests that requested the recipe- always a sign of success!
Other interesting dishes included Russian 'sunflower' salads, Ukraine Shashlick, pickled tomatoes and....vodka! Cheers!

zaterdag 13 augustus 2011

My 7 Links:

I was quite surprised to be tagged for the meme My 7 links since I’m not a very active blogger. I started with all good intentions (as we all do) I rather naively thought blogging would help organise my chaotic collection of hand written recipes as well as sharing my latest finds. It is harder work that I ever imagined and unfortunately, I am still left with masses of illegible recipes, (unfinished blog)notes, plus hundreds of photo’s to boot!
Paola is the person that actually inspired me to start blogging. I was in awe of her knowledge, and her enthusiasm was overwhelming! She has developed by leaps and bounds, not afraid of following her heart, believe me, she is one talented lady!
Blogging certainly makes the world a smaller place! We are able to unite across the miles, distance posing no boundary. This is an excellent link-building project and I am happy to participate. Yeah I did at first have my reservations- I don't do chain letters/ emails but this is harmless fun. I say lets blow new life into old forgotten posts.

Here are my 7 links:

1. My most beautiful post:

Global artichoke- getting to the heart of things

photo, courtesy of wikipedia
The artichoke is a beautiful creature, unfortunately one that is never able to reach its full potential- if our appetites are to be satisfied. I am tempted to grow artichokes in my own garden in order to see the vivid purple flower in all its full glory. But... I know it would remain a dilemma: would I feed the stomach or could I wait and feed the soul...? mmm temptation...

2. My most popular post:

Banoffee pie with dulche de leche

I have had been inundated with requests to make this time after time. What is the matter with you guys- too scared yourselves?
Whether it is served as the traditional English dessert or with chocolate genache it is always a winner!

3. My most controversial post:

Simple Desserts: 10 minute tiramisu and a quick trifle

I am not a particularly controversial person, hmm, I guess the nearest I come, would be my post on my 10 minute Tiramisu.
A great deal of controversy still surrounds the issue of whether it’s safe to eat raw eggs.

I am (raw) egg phobic. It does not matter how fresh the eggs are I just cannot get around eating them raw!
Shame on me, I know I am denying myself. I came up with a cheats Tirimasu, and also eggless Cheesecake.
Of course, an egg-free Tiramisu should not even bear the name. I do NOT apologise since I love my egg free 'cheats' Tiramisu!

4. My most helpful post:

Thai themed dinner party
one of my first Thai curries
I not only managed to convince myself to appreciate Thai cuisine, but I have taught my friends how to knock up a delicious Thai curry in just minutes! They are very appreciative, now realising just how simple it is.
How was it not always a favourite of mine I now ask myself weekly, but for me it was certainly an acquired taste. Try it!

5. A post that surprised me:

From sticky rice to perfect risotto

one of the many risotto's I can now make problem free!
This posting more than anything surprised the people immediately around me but mostly myself! I have had a rice issue for as long as I care to remember. This was all about conquering my culinary fears!

6. A post that didn’t get the attention it deserved:

Fig and brie toast

This lunch recipe is simple but quite delicious. Since no one has commented, I presume it has gone unnoticed- a grave injustice! I initially re-posted it from Sara Mae. Try it, you will not be disappointed!

7. The post I am most proud of:
Surprise sponge pudding

Like mother like daughter, Mums dessert/ surprise pudding.
This one isn't out the archives but what the heck. I couldn't pick anything else!
It will be no surprise to hear where my love of cooking comes from. As a child, my sister and I were encouraged to mix, beat, bake and generally cause havoc in the kitchen! My father is a food traditionalist- so only good British ‘grub’ for him, with the emphasis on 'meat-and-two-veg'! It will therefore be no surprise to hear my mother is a no nonsense cook. She however has had her limitations over the years, with numerous food allergies / intolerances but still comes up with the goods! Well done!

I would now like to invite and encourage 5 other bloggers to dig into their archives and refresh us with a blast from the past. Choose to accept the challenge if you wish, no pressure at all.
Dutch Girl Cooking
Claudia's Kitchen Creations
My Little Expat Kitchen
Cooked by Sara Mae
The Dutch Baker's Daughter