Home yesterday, and baking today. Just the way I like to settle back in. 

It was a case of a sleep-in, coffee with a friend, and a go at the carrot and ginger cake from Everything I Want To Eat, the Christmas gift I have loved and poured over for the past two weeks.  The recipe did not disappoint - carrot and ginger, with cinnamon, almond milk and apple sauce (though I used pear instead). It was nice to be home, to not wear shoes and water my plants and enjoy the afternoon light. 

A friend came over with a couple of pale ales (as all nice guys should), and we ate cake and talked and before you know it, the day was gone.








Have I got a story for you! Or a recipe, anyway. Well, some vague instructions since I adapted the whole thing from two recipes and the memory of some muffins I made a few years ago. I got the new Nigella book from a friend for my birthday, and was taken by a sweet sounding pumpkin bundt cake - and it's autumn, so you know, the season for that kind of thing. But I don't have a bundt tin, and without the bundt it's just a pretty plain cake. So I adapted it with a streusel recipe I had, so it would be softer, and added a pecan crumble to the top because I just felt like it needed it. That and some extra ginger and nutmeg to give it a kick. And an orange zest / juice syrup at the last minute. It was quite something.  

After a morning of yoga and a late breakfast, I pulled this out of the oven just after 12 and made a pot of Monk Pear and spent the afternoon researching NYC, LA and Mexico for October.


* 300g brown sugar
* 125 ml of vegetable oil
* zest and juice of half an orange
* 3 eggs
* 1.5 cups of pureed pumpkin
* 400g plain flour
* 2 teaspoons of bicarb soda
* 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
* half a teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
* 40g of butter
* three tablespoons each of flour and brown sugar
* handful of pecans, diced
* juice of half an orange
* half a cup of icing sugar


Lightly grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper. Steam and puree the pumpkin and while it's cooling, mix together the brown sugar, the orange zest and juice and the eggs. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, bicarb soda and the spices (instead of sifting, I use a whisk to break up the clods). Once the pumpkin has cooled, add it to the wet ingredients and beat softly until combined, then slowly add the flour until the whole thing is smooth and creamy (don't over mix). It makes a fairly wet batter, and there's quite a bit there so make sure you use a full sized tin.

In a small bowl, mix together the last of the flour and brown sugar and rub the butter in till you get a crumble, then add in the diced pecans. 

Pour the batter into the tin, add the crumble to the top and bake at 180 celsius for about 40 minutes, checking at 20 and 30 to make sure it's browning evenly. Mine rose quite a bit and took an extra ten minutes to firm up all the way through the middle. 

Once it is cooked through, allow it to cool on a wire rack while you mix together the last of the orange juice and some icing sugar - drizzle over the top of the crumble* and serve with tea. Happy Sunday folks!   

* I know what you're saying - drizzle cake or crumble, make up your mind Meg! But dammed if you can ever have too much of a good thing when it comes to cake. 





I started my week in the kitchen.

On Monday I thought the cold weather was all too much so came straight home from work and poached a few pears in vanilla, cinnamon, star anise and cloves. The house smelt like Christmas, so toasty and warm. I used Mark's recipe, but cut the (brown) sugar by half and added the other spices. My friend D and I have a Porridge Club at work (which is really just us making porridge first thing in the morning - and actually just I call it Porridge Club, he calls it breakfast). Anyway, these pears were so good I have officially declared myself Queen of Porridge Club.

On Tuesday I had friends over for dinner and made the most amazing molasses ginger cake. I'd saved it from the paper and pinned it to the fridge a few weeks ago just knowing it would be good (now online here). The golden syrup, the brown sugar, the cloves and ALL THE GINGER. I probably went a bit far with the ginger because I love it so much, but this cake was all the better for it. It was one of the best I've made (and I have made a lot of cakes). I'm already thinking about when I can make it again, and suspect it will be one of those cakes I make for the rest of my life.

And because you can't serve your friends just cake (or even just cake and wine), I also grilled some chicken and made a beautiful winter salad from Ostro. Another one I will be looking to make again, and soon - I loved the sweet beetroot, the walnuts, the lemony greens and hearty lentils. Just right for a rainy night in with a bottle of red.

That's a good Monday, a good Tuesday.

* Image, B Chaet


PIE CRUSTA long weekend, Easter Sunday, the first bit of sun in days and nothing to do but bake, praise be. Family dinner at my aunty's planned, roast and all, otherwise a morning run, a nice latte from the local and a good five hours to make a pie. The making the dough, the waiting for the dough to rest, the baking of the crust, the cooling of the crust, the making of the chocolate bit, the roasting the oats bit, the waiting for the oats to cool bit, the making of the oat bit, the putting it together and hoping for the best bit. All of it. And in between - with the all the waiting - lots of reading the paper, listening to some Bob Dylan, playing with my hair and thinking about cutting my hair, folding sheets, casual yoga in the kitchen, thinking not to cut my hair, thinking about Europe, thinking about the pie, worrying about the pie, worrying about last Christmas's pie, worrying about my kitchen skills, worrying about my life skills, worrying about my hair, worrying I hadn't had lunch, making lunch and then, FINALLY, a complete pie. A DAMN FINE pie, a restoring my faith in myself pie, all just as it should be (well, for the most part)(the other part being me not having quite enough oats because I made a big batch of granola the day before like the cliche middle-class-white-girl I am and so it was a little bit shallow as far as pies go).




IMG_4713.JPGNot terrible dramas, just kitchen ones mostly, though the whole thing can be a little exhausting. I like the calm of Christmas Eve best, everything wrapped and ready and a few wines with the family. I mean, I had a lovely time of it of course, once my health picked up and I could go for drinks and buy books for friends and wrap gifts in ribbons. But things never feel as 'just right' as I plan for. I made the Momofuku 'crack pie' for Christmas day, but failed miserably. After spending two days (biscuit prep for the base on Christmas Eve, filling on Christmas Day) and having it set poorly, the butter conversions obviously wrong, I had a bit of a cry. Or quite a cry. I'd double-checked everything, but knew as I was folding it through that it wasn't quite right.

It was my contribution to our family dinner but by 3 PM, all signs pointing towards a wreck of a pie, I had to pull myself together and used the leftover eggwhites for an emergency pavlova. Which turned out very nicely, two perfectly crisp bases which I sandwiched with thick cream and a bucket-load of fresh strawberries and blueberries. But I was nonetheless disappointed and emotional. Not to mention confused and mildly angry. As my cousin Lucy kindly pointed out, at least I'm the kind of person who can make an emergency pavlova, which I guess is something.

No qualms with the gift my father gave me though. We do a draw each year, and it's always a good year when he's buying for you, or in this case, making. We have a limit which he thoroughly disregards, making me two 18C gold fine bangles. They're delicate and just the right amount of clink as I walk or turn on the tap or, as of late, drink a glass of wine. I absolutely love them. Spoilt rotten, no question.


IMG_2281.JPGBecause you all asked (well, beautiful ladies Makara and Kell did), and because it was so amazing, I'm sharing my mid-week granola situation in a bit more detail. I ended up tweaking the recipe because I love coconut, it was late and I was tired (in spite of my commitment to THE HUSTLE). Originally from Sarah (whose recipes I always love), I have had this granola recipe bookmarked for a while now. I'm raspberry-happy most of the time - will put them in near anything with some brown sugar and a bit of flour - so knew this would be nothing short of wonderful. I often use dry fruit in my granola and muesli, but had never tried frozen, so this was something of a revelation.  I made a half batch, as that was the amount of oats I had left, but a full batch would be well worth the work.


INGREDIENTS * 2.5 cups of oats * 1 cup or so of desiccated coconut * 1/2 a cup of pecans, roughly chopped * a couple of tablespoons of white chia seeds * 1/4 of a cup of coconut oil * 1/4 of a cup of maple syrup * 1/2 a teaspoon each of cinnamon, ground ginger and nutmeg * 1 cup of frozen raspberries

METHOD In a large roasting tray, combine the oats, coconut, pecans and chia seeds (and, really, anything else you want to throw in). In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil and maple syrup and allow to cool a little, adding in the spices before combining in the large tray with the dry ingredients. Fold through the frozen raspberries at the last minute, as you'll want them to stay whole (so, frozen), until you transfer to the oven. Bake for about 25 - 35 minutes at 180, or until golden and crispy but not dried out (it will set a little as it cools).

I'm not sure how long it will keep, what with the (frozen / fresh) fruit - the beauty is this granola is so damn delicious it won't last more than a week anyway, you'll eat it all up. I had my first taste on Thursday morning. I stood at my desk (where I have my breakky on weekdays) and told half the people in my office that I loved myself and the concept of breakfast and that it was the best thing I'd ever baked and they wished they were me.

Sure, a little dramatic, but suffice to say this batch was an absolute dream.

* Adapted from A House in the Hills