Vanilla Ice

I hit the jackpot on my birthday the other week. I received some absolutely wonderful presents, including some exciting toys- a mini blowtorch for caremelizing the tops of creme brul√©es, an ice cream maker and a new camera- a proper posh DSLR. 
I’m hoping the camera will mean that my snaps on this blog will jump up a level, although I’ve really got to sit down and read through the manual and take some time to experiment.  Here are some quick initial shots in the meantime of some photogenic produce- chard, raspberries and peppers.  Admittedly, I have A LOT to learn, but already the difference compared to my crappy little point and shoot is remarkable. 

I also tried out my wonderful ice cream maker for the first time.  Following a quick Twitter survey, I was informed that it’s best to start with a classic and progress- so vanilla ice cream it was.  I made a custard-based one for a richer flavour and used vanilla pods rather than just essence.  With those beautiful raspberries, it was an absolute summer’s dream.  

 Custard-based Vanilla Ice Cream

You will need:

3 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
225ml milk
225ml double cream
seeds from 1 vanilla pod


1.  Begin by making the custard.  In a pan, slowly heat the milk until it almost reaches boiling point.  Combine egg yolks and sugar in a small bowl, whisking until smooth.

2.  Slowly pour the milk over the egg mixture, whisking all the while.

3.  Return to the pan and stir over a very low heat until thickened.  It should be slightly runnier than custard, but still coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from the heat and leave to cool. 

4.  Stir in the cream and vanilla seeds.  Pour into an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions.  I left mine to work for about an hour before returning the bowl to the freezer for the cream to firm up.  Best served with fresh berries or alongside a hot slice of pie. 

Coffee and Cake

Peaches, blueberries and cream… in a cake.

I made this cake ages ago, but haven’t had a chance to post it. Tonight I’ve got an evening off, a Coq Au Vin bubbling on the hob and Toby is providing some background piano music, so pretty good timing, I think.
This cake recipe is from the second Magnolia Bakery cookbook (‘More from Magnolia’), which is a bit of a favourite of mine. The recipes are fool-proof, the results are great and there are some slightly unusual twists to surprise (I mean you, Pumpkin Walnut cookies with Brown Butter Frosting).
This cake belongs to a more classic category. It reminds me a bit of a Swedish ‘filmj√∂lkskaka’ (buttermilk cake) in its simplicity, but it has the added complexity of a bit of fruit and a vanilla glaze. The original is called a ‘Blueberry Coffee Cake with Vanilla Glaze’ but I’m not sure about that as a name. Firstly, because it makes you think that it has coffee in it. Which it doesn’t. Although it is very nice with coffee. And secondly, because I added peaches. So I’m calling it a peach and blueberry vanilla cake. But I know that doesn’t sound nearly as good.
Peach and Blueberry Vanilla Cake
You will need (in US measurements)
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil (however, I used butter, which also worked)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberries and chopped fresh peaches, lightly coated with flour
Vanilla glaze
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees and grease and flour a 10-inch pan (I used a bundt tin and a few ramekins for the left over batter)
In a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt
In a larger bowl, beat together the oil, sugar and eggs with an electric mixer until light and thick.
Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla and mixing after each addition. You want a smooth batter.
Fold in the fruit and pour the batter into you prepared tin(s).
Bake in the oven for about an hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Leave to cool.
For the glaze:
Get a double-boiler/bain marie going. Combine the sugar, cream and vanilla in the bowl and stir over the simmering water until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Pour into a measuring jug and set aside until ready to use.
Drizzle lusciously over the cooled cake.