Our second guest contributor (and what sounds like Donhead’s own domestic goddess), Michele Andjel-Davies tells us about her love for her family, work and baking.
There are countless evenings when I call my husband Phil on my way home from work asking him to make a 5.30 pm dash into Ludwell Stores as I have an urge to make something unusual for supper or just HAVE to try a recipe from the latest issue of delicious or have come across a new dish at work and want to try it out. Each time I am so thankful for the range and quality of ingredients in a shop less than five minutes walk from our front door. Who needs Borough Market when there is local organic meat and vegetables, stunning bread and every kind of fresh herb, sauce and seasonal ingredient just down the lane?
Food, and cooking in general, plays a huge part in my life as all my friends know. Phil and I both work in the travel industry so have spent many years nurturing this love, both in the UK and abroad. I am also lucky enough to work, and be friends with, many chefs and foodies so, whilst some people travel to Manchester for a meeting, I get to spend five days with celebrity patissier, Eric Lanlard, exploring the bakeries and patisseries of Scandinavia or hosting a spice masterclass with Atul Kochhar...it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it. (Meanwhile, Phil’s left holding the fort with two small children, school run, homework and a full time job!)
Having said that, all I really want to do is be at home, be a proper Mummy and make sure that there is always a cake in the tin for when the children come home. I cook to relax and to wind down. Some people watch television, some play on the internet, some do sport but to me there’s nothing more soothing than an evening of weighing and measuring ingredients, kneading dough, collecting wild garlic for pesto or flicking through The Ginger Pig to find something interesting to do with the cuts of pork from our now sadly departed pig, Crackling Rosie. I take days off work just so I can spend the day making Seville orange marmalade, raspberry, rhubarb jam and chutneys.
Normally at this time of year I can do all this looking out of the kitchen window at the first sprigs of lavender coming through and turning their heads up to the early summer sun. Instead, we are all living in monsoon conditions with the plants and flowers bravely trying to open despite the onslaught of water. Ever hopeful though, I have included a recipe which uses lavender, as surely at some point soon our flower beds will be full of this fragrant flower which I use so much in puddings and pannacotta. A similar recipe to this one was given to me by Cake Boy himself, Eric Lanlard (www.cake-boy.co.uk), but this is my version, combining my favourites of lemon and almond with summer lavender. It is simple to make and fills the kitchen with a wonderful aroma and keeps very well wrapped in foil. It will be ideal to take to the Jubilee picnic or just to keep in the tin for a teatime treat.
Jubilee Lemon, Lavender and Almond Cake
Approx. £7.50 to make when ingredients bought from Ludwell Stores
225 g soft unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
4 large free range or organic eggs
50g plain flour
225g ground almonds
½ tsp almond essence
2 large unwaxed lemons – zested and squeezed
2 tsp dried lavender
Preheat the oven – 180°C / Gas Mark 4 / AGA roasting oven – grids shelf on floor – cold shelf above
1. Cream together the butter and sugar until almost white
2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a little of the flour after each egg until all eggs and flour are used
3. Stir in the ground almonds, almond essence, lemon zest, juice and lavender
4. Pour the mixture into a well greased and lined tin
5. Cook for around 60 minutes but cover with foil half way through
6. Test with a skewer after 50 minutes. (AGA users, test after 30 mins and watch carefully)
7. When skewer test leaves the skewer clear, turn out the cake carefully, and cool on a wire rack
8. Serve with lemon or lavender ice cream
A truly, truly scrumptious cake or pudding for any celebration
Many thanks to Michele
If you would like to be a guest contributor to Truly Scrumptious, please let us know. firstname.lastname@example.org
These musings and recipes are gleaned from The Donhead Digest with the permission of AIF, their author.