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Silent Sunday


I can’t believe we are in the home stretch to 2013. 2012 has passed way too fast for my liking. Looking back through the photos which have documented this year, I haven’t been baking or blogging about baking nearly enough.

And though this has been a recurring sentiment, I’m getting back in the proverbial (blogging) saddle. Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. There’s going to be a whole lot of baking, eating, sharing and best of all a big trip to the motherland.

Stay with me, dear readers… but in the meantime, here’s a taste of what went on in the downtime:

Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge in honor of the Diamond Jubilee. Recipe from Primrose Bakery Baking Book, although I used fresh strawberries in place of jam and Earl Grey/Lemon whipping cream. This was my first go at the traditional British cake. I was happy with the way it turned out and will most likely bake it again when tradition calls.


My baking book of the year is definitely ‘Baked In America‘ – maybe it’s because I’m American, but mostly because this is one AMAZING baking book. Recipes from this book are featured many times throughout the blog in 2012 and will continue to be featured in the future. One day I’ll finally make it to Chiswick to Outsider Tart and hopefully meet my baking heroes – the two Davids.

The brownies above are called Hepburns (Kate, rather than Audrey) and probably the best brownie recipe around. They make ideal treats for any occasion – school fetes, birthdays or general parties.

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake brownies

Brownie tower

These Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Brownies were made especially for my mother in law’s un-birthday party. As her party food was served buffet-style, I wanted to make a special desserty treat that attendees could eat as little or as much as they like. So these brownies were cut into 1.5 in squares and served on cake stands mixed with the Hepburns featured above.

Orange polenta cake

Another series of books which have inspired breakfasts, dinners and baking alike are the Leon books. The Orange Polenta Cake is from Leon – Baking & Puddings, book three, as featured in the ‘Teatime’ section. This cake is an ideal accompaniment to Earl Grey tea and also gluten-free!

Trish's Two Cents

Martin has been working on building a set of speakers over at his dad’s house. I like to take a baked treat when we go over. One weekend in September, Trish’s Two-Cents from Baked In America caught my eye and I had to give it a go. This is the best ‘pound-cake’ type cake I have ever had. It is definitely going to be in regular rotation for when cakes are called for.

Pumpkin pie

And last, but not least, in the baking recap is Pumpkin Pie. This is a recipe traditionally served at Thanksgiving, in fact was featured in my Thanksgiving blog post from 2011, but I am not celebrating Thanksgiving this year so it was moved to Bonfire Night. While this recipe is from the back of a Libbys can, it is home-made with love and reminds me of autumnal days past.

Watch this space for Christmas treats to come soon…

Beef and Ale pie

Having not celebrated Thanksgiving for seven years, I decided this year was time to make a change. I booked the day off work, invited some new friends around and set out to have Team Whiteman & Team Heaps first UK Thanksgiving feast.

On the menu was, of course, turkey, candied yams, mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie and apple bourbon cake. Team Heaps brought corn pudding, green bean casserole (not the kind with cream of mushroom soup, though) and cinnamon ice cream. Needless to say, we were not going to go hungry.

Pumpkin pie, a classic american dessert, is not as widely known here making it a bit difficult to find tinned pumpkin. Thankfully, Waitrose carries it.

Classic Pumpkin

Libby’s Pumpkin Pie recipe:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk

9 in pie dish lined with shortcrust pastry

MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

POUR into pie shell.

BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 176˚/350˚ F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

Pumpkin pie

We had an abundance of apples, and although apple pie is traditionally served on Thanksgiving, I decided to get a bit fancy. We had a surplus of Jack Daniels, so this recipe was a perfect choice.

Apple Bourbon Bundt Cake Recipe

2 sticks unsalted butter (226 grams), at room temperature, plus more to grease pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (315 grams), plus more to dust the pan
3 tablespoons (30 grams) plus 1/2 cup (80 grams) bourbon or rye whiskey
1/2 cup (90 grams) candied ginger, chopped
1 3/4 cup (330 grams) light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons (3 grams) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (5 grams) fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup (227 grams) sour cream
1 tablespoon (15 grams) vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon (5 grams) finely grated lemon zest
2 medium Granny Smith apples (about a pound, 454 grams), peeled, cored, and coarsely grated
1 cup (120 grams) finely chopped, toasted pecans
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon (20 grams).

Apple Bourbon Cake ingredients

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons bourbon and the candied ginger. Let stand 10 minutes.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the brown sugar and remaining butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining flour with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream and vanilla. Pour in the bourbon from the ginger mixture (reserve ginger) and whisk until smooth. Stir in zest.

4. With the mixer on medium speed, add the dry mixture and sour cream mixture to the wet mixture in three additions, alternating between the two. Fold in the ginger, apples and pecans. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out dry, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool in the pan 20 minutes, then run a paring knife around the sides of the pan to release the cake; cool, flat side down, on a wire rack.

5. While the cake cools, combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup whiskey in a small saucepan. Over low heat, gently stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the lemon juice and take off the heat.

6. While the cake cools, make 10 slits on top with a paring knife and pour half the bourbon-sugar mixture on the still-warm cake. When the cake is fully cool, flip it and pour the rest of the glaze on the other side, then flip again to serve.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

Candied Yams

Another traditional side dish is Candied Yams or Sweet Potato Casserole. Don’t be put off by the marshmallows, as my pessimistic husband said “The combination is sublime.”

Thanksgiving sweet stuff

Now it was time to put it all together:

Carving the turkey

Hostess with the mostess

Gathering of friends

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dessert

The first Team Whiteman/Team Heaps UK Thanksgiving was a success. I’ll definitely be looking to do this again in years to come.

Now it is time to look forward as we countdown to Christmas.

Last weekend I really fancied making a cherry pie.  I hadn’t had much success with homemade pastry in the past, but the alternative of using store bought pastry for a pie didn’t have much appeal. Since I had so much success with the chocolate cake from Eric Lanlard’s Home Bake, I thought I’d give the sweet shortcrust pastry recipe a try.

While the pastry rested in the refrigerator, I put together the cherry filling.  After perusing many recipes, I put my own together with 2 cans of black cherries – drained, some cherry jam we made in the summer, a bit of cornflour, a bit of sugar and a bit of lemon juice and simmered until it was the right taste and consistency.

Success! The pastry came out perfectly. This book hasn’t let me down so far!  Ideally, I would have liked to make a whole cherry pie with a lattice top, but since it’s just the two of us I made individual mini pies so we could have some now and freeze the rest for later.

I’ll make a whole pie with the lattice top one of these days, but I think I’ll have to double the pastry recipe.  Until then, I’ll just enjoy a mini cherry pie with custard… Eat your heart out Mr Kipling!

I had some leftover cherry filling in the fridge and didn’t want it to go to waste.  I referred to many of my cookbooks for inspiration on how I could best use the fruit and decided on a crumble.  This one included ground almonds which will compliment the cherries perfectly.

The recipe said it served 6 so I cut it in half, but still had extra crumble.  I didn’t want that to go to waste so I got out the damsons we’d frozen in the autumn and made a damson crumble.  Economical and tasty! We’ll be set for desserts for a while.

Today’s baking soundtrack:  Rufus Wainwright

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