All of the pleasure, none of the pain

It’s properly cold now. I mean it’s only getting up to 16°C during the day. Well, OK, but it has been 1°C overnight. And the Aussies have NO IDEA about insulation, double glazing, or appropriate heating for their houses. I fear I may lose some fingers.

Now can I get some sympathy?

For me, as well as for my poor cats, the only answer is to stuff in the calories like they’re going out of fashion. It’s a dangerous game and is the reason Bertie has turned into a little dumpling in a few short weeks.

theboys

But I still need to eat, so I thought I’d roll out the fun-free cake again, this time in a different incarnation.

apple and date cake

Apple and date cake

This time I replaced a third of the dried fruit with diced apple and sliced the remaining apple to line in the bottom of the tin, along with a little spray oil, before baking. I also added 1 tsp cinnamon. Goddamn, it was delicious!

For interest’s sake, I thought I’d do a little calorie counting. Each 70g slice (1/12th) contains:*

  • 15g dried fruit, 30g fresh fruit and 20ml fruit juice
  • 8g of almonds
  • 3g protein
  • 2g fibre
  • 140 kcals (600kJ) (vs 275kcals (1170kJ) for shop-bought lemon drizzle)

But … that’s nearly half the calories.

So I had two pieces. With some Baileys ice cream.

I am my own worst enemy.

 

*I am not a nutritionist and all the maths is my own. You’ve been warned.

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Food and nostalgia

Smell in one of the strongest trigger for memories that there is.

In fact, behavioural studies have shown the smell triggers more vivid emotional memories than images do.

And what is more evocative than the smell of your childhood kitchen?

  • Garlic roast chicken on a Sunday afternoon
  • Richly savoury bolognese bubbling way on the heat for hours at a time
  • Spicy cinnamon and cloves in every part of the house from the 4 hours the Christmas cake spent in the oven
  • And what about jam and chutney season?

That’s probably the reason family recipes live on. They connect us to our past, to our families, some of whom have departed.

It’s 2 years since both Mr Eleanor and I lost our last grandparents, just 3 days apart. And tomorrow is Mr Eleanor’s birthday. So it’s time for a little food nostalgia with this sentimental nod for his birthday cake.

Nan Ruth's fruit cake

I hope I’ve done it justice. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow!

Nan Ruth’s Fruit Cake

Mum Fruit Cake receipe 001

*SR flour replaced with white spelt flour and 1.5 tsp baking powder; milk was lactose free

Sugar-free, fat-free, fun-free cake?

Oh, goddamit, I’ve got to stop baking – I’m going to develop diabetes at this rate.

But on the other hand, if there was a cake that was low fat and low sugar, that would be ok, wouldn’t it? To be honest, I’m not really asking your permission 🙂

I was doing a little research for my writing (alright, alright, I was procrastinating and surfing the internet, dreaming up things to eat) and bumped into this Maltese recipe from SBS which contains NO ADDED SUGAR OR FAT OR EGGS!

No sugar, fat or eggs? Blergh, I hear you say, but you’d be wrong.

sugarless apricot and date cake

You can find the recipe here:

SBS: Sugarless apricot and date cake

The texture was surprisingly good – I expected it to be crumbly but it wasn’t. It was soft and moist and sweet, and everything a cake should be. As a bonus it is completely dairy free and vegan, and could easily be adapted for gluten free.

Tips from TheO
  • Soak the fruit in a little apple juice for an hour before you bake to keep it moist
  • Switch out the wheat flour for a wheat/gluten free option – I used wholemeal spelt, but perhaps this is taking the concept of healthy cake a step too far
  • If you’re not using SRF, add 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • Although the recipe didn’t say so, I assumed the oven temperature should be 180°C
  • Adapt the cooking time for your tin – I didn’t have a ring tin so used a loaf tin which took 50 minutes to cook
  • Mr Eleanor found the apricot flavour a little too strong so I might try using dried mixed fruit next time, and a bit of cinnamon.

Try it, you might like it.

Nearly finished

chocolate pear gingerbread

I’ve been in a cooking frenzy this week in an effort to get my third cook book, DIG: Cooking with roots and tubers, finished for publishing by the weekend. So I have plenty to share with you: Mexican frittata, beetroot burgers, roast parsnip and pear salad. But having looked at my blog stats, I know you all are suckers for a little bit of chocolate, so for your culinary pleasure I am happy to present:

chocolate and pear gingerbread

Another dark, dense, super-moist cake from the kitchen of TheO – plenty of ground ginger gives it some bite, and the stem ginger releases little pockets of floral aromatics. AND it contains fruit and vegetable! I think this would be great one for Christmas.

Had that for my breakfast … the diet’s going brilliantly …