Kilter

It is of course September. And you know what that means? Birthdays!

I cannot believe how time has flown. The niece is 5 and the nephews are 3.

Sunday night, I came back home from a weekend of celebrating with family. It was nice weekend. It was great to see family and other people I have not seen for a while.

Lucky for us that the weather was fine.

When I returned home on Sunday evening I was quite tired but still had just enough energy to make another ras el hanout loaf cake. Lucky for me there were still some ingredients leftover in the cupboard and fridge. So it did not take long to rustle up another baked wonder. And wonderful it was. I adjusted the icing so there was not as much rose water but it still provided enough aroma and sweetness to balance out the savouriness of the loaf cake.

It has been a really nice treat for a week in which I have just felt under the weather and not myself. I’m not sure what is wrong. Monday I worked from home but I was sluggish all day, everything taking perhaps longer than it should but I could still function.I woke up on Tuesday morning with a horrible headache and pain and aching in my neck. I was also feeling a little nauseous and woozy, so work was not really an option. So I rested all day, it was all I could do save take a few painkillers. I certainly was not up for a long commute to work. Today was a bit better. I still had headache and neck pain but again with some analgesia I managed to get a report dictated, correct a few reports and sort out my clinic and trainee for Thursday.

It’s all rather odd and strange. I’m assuming it’s some bodily payback for not having quite rested at the weekend. I do recall that was exhausted even while driving down to our destination on the Saturday, struggling to stay awake and wanting more than anything to just lie down and sleep. However once we arrived the adrenaline, joy and happiness that flowed from seeing family banished any thoughts and feelings of tiredness. Sunday too was a good day and the tiredness was neutralised by an early morning cup of coffee ☕️. However by the time I was driving back to my home, I had the same problem again driving and it was rather scary.

I guess Tuesday my body was playing catch-up and forcing me to rest. I had no choice. But I hope in the next part of this week I will be able to maintain a better balance.

Goes well with a cup of Roiboos tea

It’s Wednesday night now, I’m feeling much more human and tomorrow I head back into the office.I will inevitably take a few slices with me for my 2nd breakfast, lunchtime and late afternoon snack.

Job done.

Ingredients

  • unsalted butter 150g, melted, plus extra for the tin
  • eggs 3
  • caster sugar 175g
  • vanilla extract 1 tsp
  • plain flour 175g
  • baking powder 1 tsp
  • ras el hanout 1 heaped tbsp
  • buttermilk 150ml

TOPPING

  • icing sugar 75g, sifted
  • rosewater 2-3 tsp
  • dried edible rose petals to decorate (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and butter and line a 900g loaf tin with baking paper. 
  2. Put the eggs and sugar into a large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat together until smooth. Beat in the vanilla, flour, melted butter, baking powder and ras el hanout, and mix until smooth. Add the buttermilk and combine well.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 50-55 minutes or until cooked through and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin. 
  4. To make the icing, put the sugar in a small bowl and gradually add the rosewater until smooth and drizzle-able. Once the cake has cooled, smooth the icing over the top. Sprinkle over the rose petals, to serve, if you like.

Orange, almond and cardamom madeleines

These madeleines are simply delicious. There aren’t really any other words for them. I made them last night after work.

They made for a lovely snack after dinner and a light breakfast with a cup of tea.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 85 g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp clear honey
  • 4 cardamom pods, seeds only, ground finely using a pestle and mortar
  • 2 unwaxed oranges, finely grated zest only
  • 90 g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 90 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar), for dusting (optional)

Method

  1. Put the eggs and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat together until pale and creamy.
  2. Add the honey, ground cardamom and orange zest, and mix well.
  3. Incorporate the melted butter, followed by the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder. Mix until evenly combined, then stir in the milk.
  4. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate for 1 hour (or overnight, if you wish).
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C/392°F/gas mark 6.
  6. Melt a little butter and, using a pastry brush, brush the recesses of a madeleine mould generously with it, then dust with a little flour, shaking off any excess.
  7. Transfer 1 tablespoon (not too heaped) of the batter into each of the mould’s recesses.
  8. Bake for 10–12 minutes, until nicely golden brown.
  9. Once cool enough to touch, remove from the moulds. Repeat with any remaining batter.
  10.  Dust the madeleines with a little icing sugar, if desired, and serve immediately.

Reference: Sabrina Ghayour – Bazaar

Ras el hanout and buttermilk sweet loaf cake with rose icing

Bank Holiday Monday found me very low in mood and doubled down with a horrible migraine. I’m not sure why the two arrived at the same time. Maybe hormones or maybe a critical mass of minor life events. In any case I could not persuade my mind or my body that I needed to open the curtains or get out of bed. It wasn’t until I got a call from my mother telling me she was close to my house that I found the energy to move, put on clothes and make it downstairs.

It was as ever lovely to see my mum. She’d trekked across town to where I now live (which I lovingly call ‘the middle of nowhere’) to see if she could make the journey using public transport. Turns out that perhaps a Bank Holiday Monday was not the best time to do that but somehow through the kindness of strangers she made it.

I had not really prepared anything for her to eat, although there was plenty of food in the house. So I was feeling a little bit like a bad hostess, not helping my mood or my migraine. So I thought the least I could do was make a cake.

So I did.

I’d been looking through Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe book Bazaar earlier this week, wanting to find some inspiration for dinner. It was a fruitful exercise. I found a number of manageable recipes – mains, snacks and desserts and I’ve kept a digital note of them. This ras el hanout loaf cake jumped out at me because I was intrigued by a recipe that would put spices in a cake. Ras el hanout is a fairly new spice to my palate , I’ve only really started using it, more recently in a chickpea and cous cous recipe form Honey and Co which is now my go to recipe when guests come round. This thought of it a cake, was mind bending.

It was an easy enough recipe to make but seems that cooking with a migraine is perhaps a little distracting for me and I missed out an egg from the recipe. Only when I’d put the mixture in the oven and was wiping down the counters, did I notice the single egg, sad and alone in the ceramic blue egg holder. For a moment I did think of taking out the mixture from oven, cracking the egg into it and putting it back again. I think common sense prevailed and I carried on tidying up.

The finished product seemed just fine one egg down, in my opinion, lovely soft, moist texture. What I did struggle with in the end was the intense taste of the rose icing. I keep forgetting that a little goes a long way. And this went far, overwhelming in many ways. But somehow just OK with this particular cake with spice. And how was cake with spice? Very nice. Very nice. It was warm and comforting. Just the thing with a cup of tea to lift my mood and the migraine. I could feel the dark clouds rolling away for more cake I ate and tea I sipped. My mum liked the cake, which was a bonus. Between us we finished half the cake over the course of the evening.

So I’m quite pleased with this. It will make for a nice breakfast tomorrow morning. I’ll make it again, maybe titrate the rose icing a bit to suit my palate but it’s a winner for me.

Ingredients

  • unsalted butter 150g, melted, plus extra for the tin
  • eggs 3
  • caster sugar 175g
  • vanilla extract 1 tsp
  • plain flour 175g
  • baking powder 1 tsp
  • ras el hanout 1 heaped tbsp
  • buttermilk 150ml

TOPPING

  • icing sugar 75g, sifted
  • rosewater 2-3 tsp
  • dried edible rose petals to decorate (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and butter and line a 900g loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Put the eggs and sugar into a large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat together until smooth. Beat in the vanilla, flour, melted butter, baking powder and ras el hanout, and mix until smooth. Add the buttermilk and combine well.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 50-55 minutes or until cooked through and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
  4. To make the icing, put the sugar in a small bowl and gradually add the rosewater until smooth and drizzle-able. Once the cake has cooled, smooth the icing over the top. Sprinkle over the rose petals, to serve, if you like.

Recipe taken from Sabrina Ghayour, Bazaar: Vibrant-vegetarian-plant-based-recipes

Garden life

Sometimes, you just have to take time for yourself. Block out the rest of the world and do what brings joy and peace to your soul. That’s what I did a few weekends ago. Life was hectic, I was stressed and I thought, ‘stop a minute, please’. I thought it was time to actually enjoy the space I was in, that which I have worked so hard for. Ignacio was off that Sunday, so we were both around on Sunday morning together which was just lovely. I made myself a random smoothie of ginger biscuits, oat milk and bananas. I drank this alone in the garden enjoying the sunshine. After a conversation with a friend the day before, I was inspired to make some French toast with brioche. I made a few slices and ate them with Ignacio in the garden. It was just so nice. Maybe ‘nice’ is a lame word but it just was, so very nice. We just sat there eating our food and smiling at each other.

Then he when back into the house to continue the room painting and I tackled the garden.

I’m not a gardener but it has been my dream to buy a house with a garden, which is what we were lucky enough to do. I did not really appreciate just how much time and effort gardens would require but also did not realise just how much I would enjoy gardening. When I first moved in, a close friend who lives not far from me, opened my eyes to the weeds that were growing and how to remove them. Weeds were not things that I had thought about – ever…

So I started this Sunday with taking out the weeds. It was hard work, because they seem to be EVERYWHERE, the hardest bit was between the paving stones. However somehow I had fun. I had my music on, the sun was out but not too hot, I felt good. I sorted out the flowerbeds, i.e. cut back a few dead bits of plant, planted a few seeds. I cut the grass for the second time, easier on this round and l was less sweaty with the effort.

At the end of the afternoon the garden looked neater, tidier and I felt great. I felt just great. I wish I could have bottled up that feeling up and release it at times when I’m feeling less than good. But I think perhaps I will just have to do more gardening…