These are a few of my favourite things

cactus flower

Baking and sunshine, sunshine and baking…probably my two bests in the whole world. Apart from maybe a very good margarita on a lovely evening with lovely friends. We're a week back from our yearly soaking of Vitamin D at my mama's beautiful little homestead in Spain. Whilst we were there we had a little birthday bash for my mama - al fresco pasta and sangria with the neighbours, who all brought drums and guitars and friends and kept us dancing under the shooting stars. I made a cake (of course), and took the excuse to make one I've been wanting to try out for ages. The original recipe is from the gorgeous Deliciously Ella, and I altered it slightly….and also somehow managed to make it without the luxury of a food processor, so mine was a bit lumpier but just as divine. It's completely gluten/sugar/dairy free and there wasn't a crumb left uneaten…I promise it tasted totally incredible. It's also quick and easy to make. Total winner.

Smug Chocolate & Strawberry Birthday Cake 

for the cake
5ish small sweet potatoes 
2 cups ground almonds
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup gluten free self raising flour (I like Dove's Farm)
1 cup medjool dates (pitted)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 tbsp raw cacao
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 vanilla bean
pinch of salt

for the icing
5 ripe avocados 
1 very ripe banana
1 cup medjool dates (pitted)
3 tbsp raw cacao
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 cups strawberries
handful of almond flakes
edible flowers and desiccated coconut (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel the sweet potatoes, chop into chunks and steam for about 20 mins, until they are really soft. In a large bowl, mix the ground almonds, flours, cacao, cinnamon and salt and set aside. 

Prepare the icing by blitzing all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Or, in my case, pop them in some strange manual chopper and attempt to blitz them until they are as un-lumpy as you can manage… Pop the icing into a bowl, cover and keep in the fridge. 

Place the soft, slightly cooled sweet potatoes, dates, vanilla bean seeds (scraped from the pod - discard the pod), maple syrup & water into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth. Stir this into the dry ingredients until well combined. Prepare three 8" cake tins (I actually think this would be rad even taller in 6" tins, but that might just be me) by brushing with coconut oil and lining with parchment circles. 

Sitting in the hot hot sun whilst you mix the cake is optional but really helps, I find...

Sitting in the hot hot sun whilst you mix the cake is optional but really helps, I find...

Spoon the batter into three separate tins (I like to measure it out with scales to make sure all three have an even amount) and bake for about 20 mins, until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tins 20 mins, then invert onto a cooling rack until completely cool. 

Chop your strawberries and layer your cake with strawberries and the creamy chocolate frosting. I sprinkled some lightly toasted slivered amends and desiccated coconut between the layers too, and topped the cake with more of those plus some yummy edible flowers. Keep in the fridge until serving. ENJOY! God I want to eat it again, right now… 


 

 

dream.....dream dream dream

Very long (week-long...it's a big ask, I know) drumroll please.... as next week I'm going to finally have a proper Cake of Dreams website up! To celebrate I'll be popping a recipe up for my Mexican Chocolate Cronuts. YUP. They are pretty spectacular.... so make sure you check back or your tastebuds will never forgive you. Ever. 

'hot day at the beach' cake by Cake of Dreams

'hot day at the beach' cake by Cake of Dreams

In the meantime if anyone's got an excuse for a party, however weak, check out some recent work on the Facebook page or get in touch via hello@cakeofdreams.co.uk. I would love love love to bake you a cake. Or a cronut. Or ten. Your call.

A lemon cronut and a blueberry bakewell walk into a bar...

A lemon cronut and a blueberry bakewell walk into a bar...

Actual best cookies ever

In my hand-scrawled recipe book (started circa 2001) I have this recipe down as "Best Choc Chip Cookies (Actual Best!)" and as far as I've experimented over the decades they really are. I have absolutely no idea where they came from, but what a find! On Sunday Konch's oldest pal Mark popped over to see his little god-daughter and I realised at the very last minute that we barely had a withered carrot in the house to offer him. These took about 15 minutes to whip up and were gone again almost as quickly. One batch makes a LOT o' cookies but the dough refrigerates like a dream and freezes great too.  They are crunchy *and* chewy and everything they should be. I've made it so many times, often with way less chocolate than the recipe calls for and they still turn out scrummy, so they are great for just making at the last minute with whatever chocolate...nuts...etc... you've got. On Sunday I used choc chips, raisins and chopped pistachios in place of just chocolate and it was a magical combo...

eeeeeeat meeeeeee

eeeeeeat meeeeeee

225g butter, room temp (soft)
200g caster sugar
220g packed brown sugar
2 eggs
10ml vanilla extract
375g flour
5g bicarb of soda + 10ml hot water
3g salt
335g chocolate chips (I find chopped up good quality dark choc works better)

Heat the oven to 175C. Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla. Dissolve the bicarb in hot water and add along with the salt. Stir in the flour and chocolate/nuts/raisins/whatever you fancy. Bake for 8-10 mins, then leave to cool a bit before trying not to eat all in one sitting.

I'll eat you up I love you so

Chocolate Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwiches

I don't think I"m a glutton, but one of my favourite things is eating, for pleasure as opposed to fuel. With two smalleys circling and squawking at me every three and a half seconds these days, good food's presence in my life has dwindled. Exhausted evenings are too often cheese-on-toast-y; meals are scraped together in a hurry as a solution to low blood sugar and its associated whinging; things best dipped in ketchup play far too hefty a role... The ultimate treat has become a good excuse to devote some precious energy to preparing something truly tasty, and a stretch of varyingly child-free time in which to do so, preferably on a Sunday soundtracked by Cerys Matthews and Jarvis Cocker (Heaven). So YAY our lovely friends Leo & Leonie said they'd pop over for Sunday lunch and provide such an excuse. Since it's (supposedly) summer and I'd spent the past two days at my mum's devouring THIS pistachio ice cream (one of the most gorgeous things on this earth, promise), I opted for a twist on a recipe I'd seen on Pinterest that week for chocolate fudge brownie ice cream sandwiches! The below is a variation on that recipe from Good Life Eats.

For the Brownies
113g unsalted butter
225g granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa, plus a bit extra for the pan
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon proper vanilla extract 
85g plain flour
pinch o' salt

For the Ice Cream Sandwiches
1 litre ice cream - I went with 500ml vanilla and 500ml pistachio but you could go with anything as long as it's lovely, quality ice cream - slightly softened
300g proper dark chocolate - I used Green & Blacks 70%
1 tablespoon(ish) butter
couple of handfuls of pistachios, chopped
wooden popsicle or kebab sticks

Pablo assists in breaking up the dark choc yumminess (and eats a whole load when I'm not looking...)

Pablo assists in breaking up the dark choc yumminess (and eats a whole load when I'm not looking...)

First of all, PLEASE start the night before. There is all kinds of thawing and refreezing to be done, and the beauty is that you can get the whole lot prepared nicely in advance of guests arriving, so you don't have to spend half an hour sweating, drinking and trying to hold a conversation whilst you add the finishing touches to something mid-course. 

Start with the brownies. Preheat the oven to 170 C and grease & paper a 13x9in pan. Rub the parchment with butter and then dust with cocoa powder. Shake off any excess powder.

In a mixer with paddle attachment cream butter, sugar and 2 tbsp cocoa, then add eggs one at a time, giving a good little mix after each. Next add the vanilla. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour and salt. Mix until just combined and then spread in the pan. Bake 10-15 mins, until top is shiny, and allow to cool completely.

Once totally cool, cut the brownie in half and spread one half with the ice cream. I mixed it up so some would be pure vanilla, some pure pistachio and some half and half (these were the best). Top with the other brownie half, wrap in greaseproof paper and cling film and freeze for minimum 4 hours (in my case, overnight). 

This is what you get after all that refreezing. My brownies were decidedly un-fudgy - they were more like chocolate cake - but this worked perfectly taste-wise. You could definitely substitute a favourite brownie recipe though!

This is what you get after all that refreezing. My brownies were decidedly un-fudgy - they were more like chocolate cake - but this worked perfectly taste-wise. You could definitely substitute a favourite brownie recipe though!

In the morn, remove the brownie/ice cream blocks and cut into smaller pieces. Insert popsicle sticks and re-freeze. This was the moment I realised I had absolutely no popsicle sticks in the house, so used wooden kebab sticks instead, which was absolutely fine. 

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. I deviated a bit from the original recipe here, which called for melting choc chips with oil in a microwave, because we don't have a microwave and I preferred the idea of butter. Therefore my measurements here were guesswork, but you could play around with amounts of butter added. Only crucial thing is not to get any water into the choc/butter mix (not even a drop!) as that will spoil the texture. 

Dip each sandwich in the chocolate mix and sprinkle all over with chopped pistachios, then place on parchment and re-freeze until ready to serve. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!

I still dream of these...