Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Spring Fever

Spring Fever Montage

Cooking at Le Manoir

Le Manoir Montage

Tea and Toast

Tea and Toast8

We live in the countryside near Oxford. It can be a bit quiet but there is no denying the beauty of the land that surrounds us. Even on a snowy morning as we take a walk we are greeted by our friends the chickens and the horses, along with the first signs of spring emerging from the bulbs below the snow. What better welcome home than a nice English cup of tea and some toast.

Tea and toast montage

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Celebrating Winter with Chocolate


Chocolate Almond Buttermilk Cake
Chocolate Cake Montage

This first post is about a month overdue. Indeed, we have now left behind the frost and snow - the promise of Spring is all around, heralded by daffodils and early blossom. Never mind, chocolate is always a good place to start.
This intense, chocolately cake is actually quite light as it doesn't have too much flour and the buttermilk keeps it from being dry. I sometimes add half a teaspoon of almond essence to enhance the cake's sweet nutty fragrance.

Chocolate Almond Buttermilk Cake

200g dark chocolate
200g butter
125g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
25g cocoa powder
100g ground almonds
100g light muscovado sugar
250g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
1 250g pot Buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Set oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Line a 20cm cake tin with baking parchment and set aside.
Break up the chocolate into small blocks and cut the butter into cubes. Melt them gently together in a bowl until just melted. I do this in the microwave, but you have to watch carefully if you do this, and take it out and stir frequently so that it doesn't scorch. Set aside to cool.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and cocoa powder. Add the ground almonds to the dry ingredients.
Add the sugars to the chocolate butter mix and beat together well. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Gently stir in the dry ingredients. Then add the buttermilk and vanilla extract.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes. the cake will rise all over like a souffle. Don't worry if it falls a little once it cools - that always happens!

A slice of this cake is just the thing after a brisk walk on a frosty winter's day - or a stroll in the gentle sunlight and sudden strong breezes of March.
Thank you for joining me. More soon.