Sunday, 4 November 2012

Seasonal Baking

Because clearing out picture folders and also autumn fetish. I am quite indifferent about cooking (whaddya mean, I have to do repetitive food prep three times a day just to stay alive?! BORING) but baking, like makeup, is an actual hobby. And one that's perfectly suited to autumn, because while it can be fun to try my hand at finicky French patisserie things or new flavour combinations in ice creams, the kind of baking that gives me most pleasure both in the making and the eating is the more slapdash, homey variety, which pairs best with autumnal elements of fruit and veg, spice and rich, dark sugar.

Some recent acquisitions: Matryoshka nested measuring cups! :D So I can play with all the American recipes on pinterest;
Two books by Dan Lepard, one of my favourite baking writers (see his Guardian columns);
and Scandilicious by Signe Johansen, who seems a lovely, greedy, unpretentious sweetheart [though the recipes themselves have some proofing errors].

Better look at the cups, disassembled

In this post I'll just be showing you some of the especially seasonal stuff I've been nomming. It is of course also fun to make/eat something totally impractically unseasonal to cheer a drear rainy day too... but I think blogposts have word/picture limits.

1. Signe Johansen's Chestnut Cinnamon Buns involves a ridiculously fragrant yeasted spelt and cardamom dough, softened with milk and butter:

Which is, after rising and rolling-out, filled with a crumble of cinnamon, dark sugar, butter and chopped chestnuts:

Cut up into rolls, glazed with egg and sprinkled heavily with demerara sugar (because I like my cinnamon buns to come out with a creme-brulee-ish crust):

SO GOOD. I made fifteen and have no idea how well they'd keep because *burp* (If you are going to make these, I would recommend doubling the quantity of filling -- because SO GOOD -- and cutting the rolls 1" (2.5cm) thick before the second rising.)

2. Another Johansen recipe, this time for spelt bread because I had that posh spelt flour leftover from the buns :P No really, it's very pleasurable working with this stuff, smells so nutty and soothing. And I fancied a change from Dan Lepard's Sour Cream Sandwich Bread (basically a cheat's sourdough, toasts amazingly well) which has become a bit of a recent staple.

And it also used up some leftover treacle from previous failed rye bread experiments. Dammit, anyone have a reliable recipe / tips?

Anyway, this loaf came out gorgeous, and almost rye-breadish. Goes so nicely with cream cheese and smoked trout. Also a very quick riser due to the spelt, despite my arctic kitchen.

3. I found Libby's canned pumpkin at the supermarket! The first time I've found it here for sale (not at some marked-up US-expat shop) and had to try out the Pumpkin Espresso Bread (recipe) which had been taunting me from pinterest. 
the main flavourings: espresso powder, pumpkin puree, light muscovado sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
[ I don't like cloves] 
After making the cake batter, you sprinkle MOAR sugar/cinnamon/coffee on top

and it comes out with a rich, intensely flavoured crust, and seepy sugary bits beneath and the rest is dense yet light :O~

My only issue with this was that using bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) as per the original recipe gave way too much rise and I could still taste it afterwards; I would try it with baking powder next time... and wonder if Americans can taste baking powder in stuff as being a bit foreign....
Also, I would love to have more pumpkinny recipes to play with, so comment please!

4. Finally, a more or less family recipe [which really just means we've been making and tinkering with it so long the original source has been lost to knowledge and is probably someone really obvious like Mary Berry] for spiced courgette and walnut cake.
For which you beat 1 1/4 cups of caster sugar with 1 cup of bland vegetable oil then gradually add three beaten eggs until smooth.
Sift together the dry ingredients (3/4 cup self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp salt) and then fold into the other ingredients.
Add 1 cup grated, drained courgettes and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Don't overmix.
Tip into a greased, lined 20cm cake tin and bake at 180ºC for 75ish minutes or until the top springs back when pressed.

Icing consists of icing sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and mascarpone. Played by ear.


  1. I really enjoy your posts like this, they're full of inspiration. Those cinnamon buns look delicious. The lack of ovens in Tokyo makes me sad -- I miss baking. I'm seriously tempted to buy Scandilicious just to read the recipes... Also, those cups are delightful and I love the cat mixing bowl :).

  2. Oh great, Kate. >:( I really resent coming here and have to want to have MOAR makeups but MOAR baked fattening delicious things. More butter, please.

  3. OMG bake more and send to me in Msia PLEEEEEEASE!

  4. ooooh yum. I might try the espresso pumpkin bread - it sounds delicious, and those are two of my favorite flavors!

  5. This post is relevant to my interests.

    I like reading Dan Lepard's articles in The Guardian. I have "Short and Sweet" but have yet to bake anything from it. The Sour Cream Sandwich Bread sounds really good and may just make me brave my fear of baking with yeast...

  6. Ah! Now I want to start baking again!

  7. OMG That looks so lovely! I'm hungry now haha! xx

  8. I am DEFINITELY baking the spiced courgette and walnut cake, it looks AMAZING

  9. Oh now it is 11:45pm and I am drooling. This might be the yummiest post ever! Yay for finding canned pumpkin at a reasonable price! I love pumpkin and can't imagine not having easy access to it.

  10. Replies
    1. really can't be any more eloquent than that

  11. Oooh, I love cinnamon rolls, they look so good!

    My favourite pumpkin recipe is a vegan one, but if you don't tell any one they won't know. It's lovely and moist and I could eat the whole thing in one go!

  12. I love this post, Kate! I never notice baking soda or baking powder in baked good, as we tend to use both (sometimes a single recipe calls for both) here in North America.

  13. You are a woman of many talents! I think I should post about my baking too...