Sunday, 15 June 2014

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake on Cup of Jo

This week, I am so excited to have my lemon poppy seed cake recipe on the New York based blog Cup of Jo. I've been reading Joanna's blog for years and it's one of my all time favourites with posts on fashion, beauty, life in New York and lots of nice recipes from other bloggers. 

This recipe is part of their picnic seriesHave you baked anything for picnics yet this Summer? My book, trEATs has lots of other picnic friendly recipes like savoury fig and goat's cheese cakes, cheese straws with caraway seeds and mini cherry and cinnamon bundt cakes. 

I chose to share this cake recipe in particular as I find loaf shaped cakes so much easier to transport and slice. It's really easy to throw together and stays fresh for at least 3 days so it's also great for making ahead. Just wrap it up in some baking paper and pop in into a paper bag - no need to carry sticky tuppperware home at the end of your picnic.

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf Cake

For the cake:
¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
¾ cup (170g) caster sugar
1 ¼ cup (190g)  all purpose (plain) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
¼ cup (60ml) milk
¼ cup (30g)  poppy seeds
Zest of 2 lemons

For the glaze:
1 cup (150g)  powdered (icing) sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
Poppy seeds, for sprinkling

Heat the oven to 350F (180C) and butter and line a one pound (4½ x 2½ x 8½ inch) loaf tin with baking parchment. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, poppy seeds and lemon zest and beat until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as you go.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and remove the baking parchment.

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. Use a spoon to beat the powdered sugar with enough lemon juice to form a runny but opaque glaze. Set the cooled cake on a wire rack and drizzle over the glaze. Sprinkle over the poppy seeds and allow the glaze to set for a few minutes before packaging up. 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Spiced Hot Cross Buns on Design*Sponge
Happy Easter! It's been a busy few months writing and recipe testing for me, not to mention completing my second term at Leiths so it's been nice to take a few days off leading up to Easter to catch up with friends and do a bit of relaxed baking. I'm a long time reader of Design*Sponge so I'm REALLY excited so have my Spiced Hot Cross Buns recipe featured on their 'In he Kitchen With...' series. It doesn't stray too far from the traditional recipe with the addition of honey and cardamom. Of course, like any hot cross buns, they are are best eaten toasted with plenty of butter. A good break from all of that chocolate that we'll inevitably be eating.  

(Photo: Kristina Gill for Design*Sponge)

Friday, 28 February 2014

New book!

It's all been a bit quiet on the Rhubarb & Rose blog over the last couple of months but I have a good excuse - I'm working on a new book! I can't say too much at the moment but it will follow in the sweet footsteps of trEATs and I'm lucky enough to be working with the very talented Danielle Wood again. In the meantime I'll be popping in to the Manchester Cake & Bake Show this Spring to demo cake pops and sign a few books. I'm also being kept very busy by the Leiths Food & Wine diploma (highlights this week have been wine tasting, genoise cake and a visit from food writer Ursula Ferrigno).  

Monday, 16 December 2013

Book signing and gingerbread decorating at Waterstones this week

Last week I was at Waterstones for a Christmassy author evening decorating gingerbread and signing copies of trEATs. It was great fun, we made lots of mess with icing and sprinkles and even Darcey (who was also signing copies of her book) iced some gingerbread snowflakes with me. 

This week, on Thursday 19th, I'm over at Waterstones Covent Garden for their Christmas evening from 6pm (check out the link for the full list of authors who will be there). Come and pick up a Christmas present or two and decorate your own gingerbread decorations!   

Thursday, 28 November 2013

House Beautiful feature

It's been so exciting to see trEATs being featured in magazines and online over the last few weeks. Here is my mince pies recipe in this month's edition of House Beautiful (photos by Danielle Wood). This feature is part of a baking special so I'm in good company with Mary Berry and Annie Rigg a few pages away.

Salted caramel trEATs

Some salted caramel trEATs from my book. I made these for kind friends that lent me their backpack for my big trip to South America and Mexico this summer. I made salted caramel brownies paired with extra sauce to warm up and pour over ice cream - a cosy Autumnal treat. The cute jar is from Le Parfait

Nine Cakes, Brooklyn: Not just a pretty cake

Betsy Thorleifson with her daughter in the Nine Cakes studio
Betsy Thorleifson is the owner of Brooklyn based cake studio Nine Cakes. Her seasonal flavour pairings and handmade decorations have earned her praise from the likes of Martha Stewart, Brides magazine and Design Sponge. On a recent trip to New York I caught up with Betsy to find out how she developed her company and where she gets her culinary inspiration from.

The Nine Cakes studio is tucked away on Columbia Street in Brooklyn not too far from Smith Street with its trendy cafes and boutiques and just across the water from downtown Manhattan. Betsy is in good company with so many other young food businesses in the neighbourhood “There’s a little coffee shop that I love called Cafe Pedlar and a really yummy foodie shop called Stinky Brooklyn filled with all sorts of cheeses”. 
The shop front in Brooklyn
Betsy's team create beautiful hand made sugar decorations
Sketched designs waiting to be made up
Betsy's team
In an industry once dominated by formal fondant covered wedding cakes and more recently, the cupcake, Nine Cakes offers a modern aesthetic. Betsy takes her favourite flavours of the season and translates them into nine (of course) signature cakes “I love pumpkin in the fall and one of my favourites is the almond pear cake. In the spring I like doing lots of raspberries and strawberries and then summery things.” For the icing, Betsy uses Swiss meringue buttercream instead of its sweeter and heavier butter and sugar cousin. Each cake tier has four layers and is finished with graphic style piped borders and sugar decorations that are coloured to reflect the cake flavour beneath the icing. Betsy describes the look as “Cake that looks like cake”. 

The inspiration for naming her business came from the cakes themselves. “When I first started, I came up with a list of my favourite cakes. I was sitting around with a group of friends and we were trying to figure out some name ideas. Someone said, ‘well, how many cakes do you have?’” There is also link to Betsy’s fondness for numbers (her dad was a maths teacher). “I came across this book of logic puzzles for kids. Lewis Carroll’s Alice character is tasked with arranging nine cakes in a specific order so I thought, yeah, it’s going to be Nine Cakes!”
Vintage scales in the cake studio
After settling on a name and starting to develop the idea, it didn’t take long for the business to outgrow her apartment. “I very first started in my apartment and then pretty quickly realised that I needed more space. I was making 200 little cupcakes and they were on cooling racks all over”. Shared kitchen space found on the website Craig’s List offered a low risk solution to expanding the business. “It was somebody else’s kitchen and they were looking to rent space to someone. Eventually I took over the space and the lease and it’s been perfect – I was able to start doing my thing and it’s just grown by word of mouth”.

On starting a cake business Betsy says “just jump right in”. Thinking back to her first year she says “It felt like raising a kid in a way. It takes a lot of your attention and as it gets older each year there’s a real difference. By the second year I realised it was better to offer a range of signature flavours for each season. By the third year it felt more like a working machine. I wish I would have known to hire people sooner – there were times where I literally worked around the clock.” 

On delegating she says that it’s best to prioritise. “Find what you want to do and make that happen instead of thinking that you’re going to do everything - in that first year I quickly realised that I have a business, I’m not just a baker anymore.”

It’s too difficult to choose just one of Betsy’s cake flavours so I head back to our friend’s Manhattan apartment via a Smith Street coffee with two single tier six inch cakes from her fall menu – one Pumpkin Walnut and one Chocolate Caramel Cloud. 

Nine Cakes
155 Columbia Street Brooklyn 11231

Pumpkin walnut cake
The studio
Ghost pumpkin display in the shop front
Simple paper decoration in the shop front display
The studio


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