A few pics from a recent summer commercial photo-shoot, featuring a gorgeous iced lavender cake and an incredibly stunning country house garden. Late afternoon sunlight in mid summer is just so perfect!
Photos by me and styling by my talented Mum Sally Wilkinson.
If you find yourself overburdened with hot cross buns this Easter then let me tempt you with this recipe. My twist on bread and butter pudding but even easier to make because the fruit is already in the buns – oh it also has a little luxurious boozy twist. Well why not!
Mass slaughter, gushing blood and decapitated cherubs; those aren’t the usual images that spring to mind when I’m talking about cake, but that was exactly what I got on a recent shoot for Choccywoocydoodah.
I don’t normally post much of my commercial work here on the blog, but this recent shoot was too good not to share!
For me, the perfect chocolate brownie should be rich (but not sickly), dense (but not too heavy) and, without doubt, moist in the middle.
I’ve tried a fair few recipes over the years (all in the name of research!) and my favourite by far is this one by Nigel Slater – with my own little seasonal twist.
I really fancied some fruit bread in the week, so I thought I’d adapt the regular soda bread I’d made previously here.
Soda bread really is my go-to bready saviour, and I tend to keep a little stock of ingredients at the ready in case I want to whip up a speedy loaf. In fact, I liked this bread so much I’m planning to make it again over the weekend!
In terms of the dried fruit, it’s all just down to personal taste. My fruit mix had cherries, pineapple and sultanas, but I think figs could be lovely.
You will need:
500g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp fine sea salt
Approx 400ml buttermilk or live yogurt
A generous handful of mixed dried fruit
A little milk (if necessary)
1. Preheat the oven to 200oC/gas mark 6
2. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing box and stir in the salt and dried fruit. Make a small well in the centre, pour in the yogurt or buttermilk and stir. The mixture should form a soft dough so if it’s a bit dry, add a dash of milk until all the ingredients combine and it becomes a bit sticky.
3. Lightly flour your worktop and tip out your dough. Knead your dough for roughly a minute and shape into a round.
4. Dust your baking tray with flour (this will prevent your bread from sticking), place your dough on the tray and then dust generously with flour.
5. Mark a deep cross in your loaf with a sharp bread knife and then place in the oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes. If you get a hollow sound when you tap the underneath then you know it’s done. Tip: If your loaf starts to brown too quickly, simply cover loosely with foil.
6. Place your bread on a wire rack to cool a little and then serve while still warm with butter.
Makes 1 medium loaf or 2 small loaves
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40-45 minutes
All images ©Heather Wilkinson 2011-12
Filled with enthusiasm after my marmalade success, I decided to try my luck at making jam. I’m literally obsessed with Forced Rhubarb at the moment, and I really liked the idea of being able to still enjoy it after the season finishes.
I opted for Pam ‘The Jam’ Corbin’s (River Cottage) recipe. According to Pam, this is supposed to be a soft jam, but that seemed open to interpretation. I mean, how soft is soft? To me, that seemed like crucial information for a novice jam-maker.
I followed the recipe to the letter and soaked my rhubarb in layers of sugar and orange juice overnight. The following day, boiling the jam and setting it literally took less than 30 mins, although it might have been quicker if I hadn’t spent so much time fiddling about while trying to sterilise my jars.
My finished jam was indeed soft, but so not much that it slides off your bread. And the taste, my goodness this stuff is heavenly! Add a generous spoonful on top of your morning porridge for a scrumptious start to the day.
All images © Heather Wilkinson 2012
Grrr, I’ve had so much trouble getting this post up. Sometimes Blogger totally misbehaves when I’m trying to add text and it drives me crazy! Anyway, enough of my moaning and back to the serious business of cake.
This is a pretty reliable carrot cake recipe that produces a handsome round cake. It can also be scaled down to make a generous batch of muffins or mini loaf cakes.
The great thing about this cake is it’s packed full of sweet seasonal carrots and juicy sultanas, which make it surprising moist. I use the smallest amount of orange blossom essence in the icing, but you could use a little grated orange zest instead.
I hope you like the piccies I’ve done to go with this recipe – I’ve been watching way too much Downton Abbey 😉
For the cake
300g soft light brown sugar
3 free range eggs
300ml sunflower oil or vegetable oil
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract
300g carrots, grated
1 small handful of dried sultanas
100g shelled walnuts, chopped, (plus extra to decorate)
For the icing:
300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold
½ tsp orange blossom essence
1.) Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3. Line and grease a round 8 inch loose-bottomed cake tin.
2.) Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a mixer. Using a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk), beat until all the ingredients are well mixed. Next, sieve in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until all the ingredients are combined.
3.) Add the grated carrots and walnuts, stir together and then pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin. Bake in the preheated oven for around 1hr 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. When the tin is cool enough to touch, remove the cake and place it on a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the cake has cooled you can make your icing. This process is best done in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment, but you can use a handheld electric mixer too. Just lightly hold a tea towel over the bowl when mixing to prevent covering yourself with icing sugar.
4.) Sieve the icing sugar and add into a mixing bowl along with the butter. Beat together until the mixture is well combined.
5.) Add the cream cheese and ½ tsp of orange blossom essence (this must be exact or your icing will be too runny) and beat on a medium/high speed for about 4/5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
6.) Ice your cake using a palette knife and decorate with a mixture of whole and crushed walnuts.