Friday, 13 February 2009

Bing Cherry Coffee Cake

I am posting a bit later than I had anticipated, but it better late than never. Today's recipe (and the very first recipe) from The American Diner Cookbook is Blueberry Coffee Cake. Now you are probably saying to yourself, "Hey, isn't this post titled Bing Cherry Coffee Cake? Where does blueberries come into this thing?". Well my dear friends you are correct in questioning this, but I do have a good excuse for changing the fruit in the cake. As I love blueberries in muffins and cakes, some of my family are not totally keen on them. Plus I absolutely adore cherries. The are my all time favourite fruit. As a secret between you and me, I sometimes eat cherry pie filling straight from the tin instead of messing about with pesky pastry!

I haven't had coffee cake in ages, but have been having a hankering for a piece of the warm cinnamon goodness for a while now. I am a lover of cinnamon as well and the thought a a bit of cinnamon & cherry favoured cake with a latte was too good to pass up.

Here's the recipe as it appears in the book with substitutions added in red:

Blueberry Coffee Cake
Serves 6

1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar (granulated)
2 cups all-purpose flour (plain)
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
2 cups blueberries (bing cherries)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (plain)
1/2 cup sugar (granulated)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


1. Grease a 9-inch square pan.
2. In a mixing bowl cream together the shortening and 3/4 cup of sugar. In a separate bowl combine 2 cups of flour, the salt, and baking powder. Add the egg and milk, and mix well. Add the sugar mixture, and mix thoroughly. Gently add the blueberries (cherries). Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan.
3. In a mixing bowl mix together the remaining butter, flour, and sugar, and the cinnamon with a fork until the mixture begins to crumble. Sprinkle over the top of the batter. Bake at 375F/180C for 45 minutes or until cake tests done.


The cake tasted lovely, but was missing the traditional heavy cinnamon taste. If I were to make it again, I would add a bit a cinnamon to the cake batter in addition to the cinnamon included it the topping. I really liked the tanginess of the cherries in the cake, but I think using the blueberries originally called for would have very tasty too. When the cake came out of the oven, I added a slight sprinkling of vanilla sugar to give it a warm wintry smell.

P.S. On another note, I finished my second placement on Thursday and return to theory at uni on Tuesday. I am soooo looking forward to it! Not only will I be back in academics again, but it allows me (for the next 9 weeks) to be able to bake and work on this blog again. Woo hoo!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Back with a Vengance

So after a very long (not planned) hiatus, I will be back with regular weekly updates as of the 13th of February. The nursing course, James's impending book release and just life in general has lead to me having to take an unwanted break from my food blog, but I think I have finally figured out a balance of life and blog that will make this thing possible again.

I have decided to change the format of this blog slightly, but not to worry, it will still be a food blog. I bought a recipe book a while back titled, 'The American Diner Cookbook' by Elizabeth McKeon & Linda Everett. I bought this cookbook because I have always been fascinated by the good ole' American diners of the past and the mouth-watering food they dished up to their cross-country traveling customers. This book is jam-packed with awesome recipes and I have been wanting to try them out for a while. The new format of the blog will be that every week for the next 52 weeks, I will try one or more of the recipes from the book, give honest reviews and any translations from the US recipe to UK equivalents.

I think changing the format from what it used to be to this new way will not only be more managable, but a great way to try out this book. So tune in on Friday for the first recipe from 'The American Diner Cookbook'.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Daring Bakers: Homemade Pizza

Hello there! Long time no see!

The Nursing course is going well, though it has been hard so far. I start my first placement on the 10th of November at a nursing home working with frail elderly patients. I'm looking forward to it as it's my first time working in a care environment. I am working three 12-hour shifts a week, which is a long day but at least I get four days off a week. I am currently studying Adult Nursing but have been really considering switching to the Mental Health Nursing instead. We'll just have to wait and see.

So onwards and upwards to this month's Daring Bakers Challenge: Homemade Pizza. We all had to use the same pizza dough recipe, but you had the complete freedom to use any topping you'd like. You might be saying to yourself, "Hey, homemade pizza is not really a challenge is it? What's up with those crazy Daring Bakers?". Well my friends, the twist was that you had to learn to toss the pizza dough and have photo taken of you demonstrating your amazing new skill!

After quite a few practice sessions with the pizza tossing (sometimes ending up in the kitchen sink!), James took a photo of me in mid toss. Now this is not a flattering shot of me in the least, but it was the best of the bunch, so try not and hold it against me.

Pizza Tossing

The pizza dough recipe yielded enough for six pizzas (9 to 12 inches in diameter), but as James and I are still doing WW, I only used two of the six rounds and froze the rest for later. So for my pizza toppings, I chose tuna and mandarin oranges for one and tuna, peppers & onions for the other. I love tuna pizza so much. I never tried it until I moved over to the UK. Not a lot of people have not tried tuna on pizza, but I highly recommend it.

Tuna & Mandarin Orange

Tuna, Peppers and Onions

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Just a drive-by I'm afraid...

I know I've missed the past two weeks with posting, but I have a 2,500 word essay that needs to be finished by Wednesday and unfornately for the moment, it has taken priority in my life. Also because of the start of university last month, I wasn't able to schedule myself and time to participate in September's Daring Bakers challenge. I'm so sorry, but after this essay I will have more time to sit down and better organise myself and my baking.

Here's something to tide you over until next week.....

They're not mine, but are featured over on Cute Overload.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Being a Student Nurse .....

.... is going to be great! I am so excited about being back in school and I'm really glad that I've taken the plunge.

But of course this means that some things have recently taken a backseat to the course. One main thing being my obsession with baking. This past week I seem to be out of synch with baking and have had a few failures. I tried to make Cake Bites for my mother-in-law for her birthday at the weekend and they just would not form well. I think it was down to the fact that here in the UK we do not have pre-made Cream Cheese frosting and so I thought I would make my own and use it. Unfortunately, the frosting was not stiff enough and I'm pretty sure this was the downfall of the bites. Next were Home-made Doughnuts which turned out more like Fried Dough that you get at the State Fairs back home in the US. Not bad but not what I was aiming for.

So tonight since it's quite cold and windy, I have made an Apple Pie courtesy of Nigella Lawson. Nigella is one of my favourite TV chefs as you can really tell that she truly enjoys food and loves to cook. I highly recommend trying some of her recipes if you haven't already.

The smell of home-made apple pie always reminds me of home and Philosophy Apple Cider Bath Gel. Weird but true!

Friday, 5 September 2008

My First Daring Bakers Challenge: Eclairs

I'm pretty sure that the title of this post has given this week's baking surprise away. I joined the Daring Bakers last month and my first challenge with them was making eclairs. I have to say that I am happy to have made them as I can now add the experience to my baking repertoire. The whole recipe from start to finish took about 4 hours to make including cooling. I chose to fill my eclairs with home-made vanilla bean pastry cream (which was delicious, yum!). As much as I liked the pastry cream, I think if I were to make eclairs again I would just fill them with fresh whipped cream as the pastry cream is quite time consuming.

So here's my end result:

Also, last weekend I was asked by someone I know if I could make a birthday cake for them to bring to a friend and I gladly obliged. The cake I chose to make was a two layer chocolate devil's food with raspberry vanilla bean buttercream icing. I spread raspberry conserve and some of the buttercream between the layers and topped the cake with fresh organic raspberries. It smelt lovely and I was told that it tasted lovely.

On a final note, my best bud Emma bought a new car on Tuesday and I thought I would just share a photo of her new baby:

I almost forgot...I start my course at uni on Monday. I'm studying to become a nurse!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Lapsing into a Sugar Coma

I got a phone call on Wednesday from the university I applied to inviting me to an interview for next week. So totally stoked, I have booked myself in for major beauty work so as not to scare away the possibility of place on the course. I am being quite vague at the mo about the course because I don't want to jinx anything, but if I promise to reveal next Friday.

This week James asked if I could make Custard Creams and I was more than happy to oblige. I used to make these when I worked at a local coffee shop, but they were double the size I made this week. I think these look far cuter in mini form instead of the Godzilla ones we sold at the shop.

Here we go guys.....

Custard Creams
(Makes 12 sandwiched cookies)

Ingredients -

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1 cup + 3 tbsp plain flour (all purpose flour)
1/2 cup vanilla custard powder

Butter Icing:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp whipping cream
2 1/4 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)

Cooking Instructions:
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Cream butter and sugar together in a small bowl until light and fluffy. Sift flour and custard powder into butter mixture and mix well to form a soft dough. Roll dough into small balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Press balls lightly with a fork (just enough to make an impression) and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until set (don't brown them at all). Cool for 10 minutes on cookie sheet, and place on rack to cool completely.

To make icing, cream butter. Mix together vanilla and cream in a small bowl. Add to butter, then sift in icing sugar and beat with a mixer until smooth and soft.

Form cookie sandwiches with a layer of icing in the middle; let set for two hours.


These guys are really good, but are totally fab the next day. My only warning is that the icing is super sweet so be prepared!