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I mentioned in my previous post that we’d made a birthday cake for my parents, who both celebrate their birthday’s during January.  This is it.  I am pretty proud of this cake, I usually seem to have all kinds of disasters when it comes to cake making or they are disappointing.  Not this one however.

After these first few weeks back at work after the Christmas break, Mr Rigg and I, like most of the population I imagine, are exhausted.  We didn’t want to make a complicated birthday cake, so opted for this simple chocolate cake recipe.  My dad had requested a chocolate cake with fresh cream, so that’s what they got.

We also made the chocolate butter icing from the chocolate cake recipe, but just half of it.  In the centre we put freshly whipped cream, and a good layer of it too!  On the top we spread the chocolate butter icing, which was actually a brilliant recipe as it was dark and chocolately, rather than overly sweet or buttery.

I had this vision in my head of topping the cake with crushed Crunchie bar and crumbled chocolate Flakes.  We also picked up a big bag of Maltesers as I suddenly imagined them around the edge like a border.  Anyway, I am pleased to say the cake looked exactly how I imagined it, and my parents we delighted.

My only regret?  Sending them home with the majority of it.

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Where has the past week gone?  I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything for a week now – it seems to have flown past.  Mr Rigg and I have just spent the weekend with my family in Gloucestershire, which was lovely. 


Image: Izzy Burton Photography

Although very chilly we had bright blue skies and the autumn colours are started to appear.  On Friday I spent the day working at the National Trust head office in Swindon as part of my volunteer work for them.  I am the Sustainable Food Communication Officer working alongside the Local Food Co-ordinator, and I am really enjoying my work.

So after a great day’s work, my afternoon was made complete by meeting Valentine Warner – who did the fantastic tv show and books called What to Eat Now and What to Eat Now More Please! 

I loved his programmes and the recipe books, so to meet him was just incredible.  He seemed really down-to-earth and interested in the work the National Trust is doing.  What a great man!


Image: Valentine Warner

Saturday morning was spent getting measured for my wedding dress (aah!) which was both exciting and slightly surreal. 

I have already found my wedding dress in a beautiful boutique in Cheltenham but it needs some alterations.  My dress is handmade by an incredible lady who runs the boutique, and is made from 100 year-old handmade lace.  I can’t wait to wear it!


Image: Izzy Burton Photography

In the afternoon my little sister did a photo shoot of Mr Rigg and me picking blackberries – she is going to be taking photographs at our wedding and so she’s practising.  Mr Rigg and I aren’t that comfortable in front of the camera, but she managed to take some lovely shots.


Image: Izzy Burton Photography

Saturday evening we celebrated her 17th birthday with roasted vegetable lasagne and warm apple cake. 

 

Happy Birthday Iz Biz!

The weekend finished with a lovely autumnal walk on Sunday morning with my mom, dad and Alfie the deerhound.  We came across a pear tree that was overhanging the lane, so picked some pears to take home.  Then we discovered a walnut tree! 


Image: Izzy Burton Photography

We gathered pocketfuls of walnuts and once home opened some up to reveal the walnuts inside.  Mom popped one in the oven to roast it slightly and it was delicious!

I don’t really like to share to much of my personal life nor photos of me and my family that often, but today I felt I should.

My little sister, who’s nearly 17, has just started her first week of A-levels.  In the five days she’s been back at school, she’s had a miserable time of it with backstabbing friends and boyfriend mishaps.  Although the air is starting to clear now, she was very sad at the beginning of the week.

So, I did what every big sister would do.  I sent her a confidence-boosting email, reminding her not to get too down because of other people and their hurtful words or actions.  I reminded her who she is deep down inside, the confident and happy little four-year old care-free enough to dance on hotel poolsides and at firework parties. 

She is pretty and silly and funny and smart and one of the most genuine and nice people I know.  It’s hard living so far away from her, I just wanted to be there to give her a hug and sit and watch a girlie film or play Lego Indiana Jones on the X-Box (sounds silly, but we love it!).

Without the ability to make her a hot drink and snuggle up in a blanket, I did second best – I sent her a delicious packet of hot chocolate flakes from Cocoa Loco – it did the trick. 

Within almost 24 hours they’d delivered her the little gift and she could snuggle up with her luxurious hot chocolate and think of me and how much I believe in her.

If you want to show someone you love them, cheer someone up, or make up for missing their birthday I highly recommend sending them brownies (or other chocolatey gifts) from Cocoa Loco.  They make the best organic chocolate brownies and they deliver them by post – what could be better!


Image: Cocoa Loco

Tuesday was my birthday.  Mr Rigg and I took a day off work and had a lovely relaxing day pottering in Knutsford, drinking thick hot chocolate with a spoon at an Italian cafe, and eating cake for supper.

We also had a delicious lunch at The Victoria pub in Altrincham – but I’m going to save that for a separate post as it was so good!

Mr Rigg made my birthday cake – a Victoria sponge with raspberry jam and butter cream icing.  Yum.  It was our first attempt, we bought new sandwich cake tins in Knutsford and set about making Hugh’s recipe from his Everyday book.  It turned out pretty good.  We certainly aren’t complaining!

Lemon pound cake

For my granny’s 80th birthday I made her a lemon pound cake of gigantic proportions.  Decorated with pretty miniature daffodils and a scattering of purple-ish blue hyacinth flowers, it was both delicious and beautiful.

Here’s how I made it with the recipe for one cake below…

First I weighed out my ingredients, including three, yes three packs of butter – don’t worry, the recipe for one cake only requires one.  Golden yellow organic butter…

Butter

And I zested some lemons…beautiful Italian ones from Unicorn with an incredible fragrance that filled the air as I zested them…

Lemon zest

Next I creamed together the softened butter and sugar – I used fair trade golden caster sugar that hasn’t been so refined as the pure white stuff.

Pop it in your mixer…

Blitz it up – to begin with it starts to look like lumpy wet sand…

Keep going and it will start to change and look more like a crumbly dough mixture…

It’s not ready yet, so let it continue to mix and even when it looks like it does below, it’s still not quite there…

Persist until it looks like this – pale and creamy…

Next you add to your creamy butter sugar mixture the lemon zest and vanilla extract and briefly mix…

Now you add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg until it’s just combined.  These beautiful golden yolkers came from Abbey Leys Farm.

Finally, tip it out into a mixing bowl and add in the flour.  I also added in some lemon juice to give it an extra lemony flavour…

Fold in the flour until it’s all mixed through and you have a lovely cake dough ready for baking…

 

Finally, spread the mixture into your cake tin – I used a large ring shaped tin and pop it into the oven to bake…

While the cake is baking, stand back to admire how many dirty bowls and spoons a gigantic cake creates…and wonder who’s going to wash them all up…

Hopefully when you take your cake out of the oven, allow it to cool then carefully turn it out onto a wire rack to cool it should look something like this…

The little sister and I then decorated the cake with a drizzling of lemon icing (lemon juice and icing sugar mixed together) and some pretty spring flowers.  Granny was very pleased…

Below is the recipe – I tripled the ingredients to make the cake above.

Lemon Pound Cake

The Cake
250g caster sugar
250g butter, softened
250g self raising flour, sifted
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tsp lemon juice

Lemon drizzle icing
Lemon juice
Icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Lightly butter your cake tin and line with baking paper if you’re worried about it sticking – you shouldn’t need to line it if it’s a non-stick tin.

Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.

Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and mix in.

Next, add the eggs, one at a time – mixing until just combined before adding the next.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and sieve in half the flour.  Carefully fold in.

Add the lemon juice and the remaining flour, and gently fold in until well combined.

Spread the cake mixture into your prepared cake tin and pop in the oven to bake for about 40-50 minutes.  To test if your cake is cooked all the way through, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake and remove – if it is clean it is cooked, if there is cake mixture on it pop it back into the oven for a little longer.  Bake for longer if you are doubling the recipe – just keep checking on it.

Once the cake has cooled a little, carefully turn it out onto a wire rack and let it cool fully.

To make the lemon drizzle icing, simple sieve a cup of icing sugar into a bowl, and add lemon juice little by little mixing it in until you have the consistency you want.  Don’t make it too runny or it will just run straight off the cake!

Once the cake is cool, drizzle over the icing and decorate if you wish.

Blossom

Wishing everyone a happy start to the Easter weekend!  I am about to head off to get some eggs so that I can start baking a beautiful lemon pound cake for my granny’s 80th birthday tomorrow. 

It needs to feed 20 family members – wish me luck!  If it works out I’ll post the recipe…

 

Over Christmas I have been unwell, and am still now not fully back to my ‘normal’ self.  Food and eating has suffered in our house, that is until N picked up where I’ve left off and started cooking more and more. 

My love affair with food is currently on hold, but I am hoping with winter starting to dwindle and the promise of spring (tiny bright green chive shoots are poking through the soggy soil!) that all that will be rekindled.  It has, however, been a delight to have N cook so often.

So this is why I have not posted anything in so long, I just haven’t really felt up to it.  But in the last week we have cooked some nice meals, and I’d like to share some of them over the next week.  A delicious mezze-stlye birthday meal for my mom cooked by myself and the little sister, a not-your-ordinary birthday cake, a simple Ploughmans lunch, and a comforting onion and brie tart.

Plus – I am getting married, and that I am very excited about!  It means a wonderful day with family and friends, bound together by the eating of good food – so a wedding feast to remember needs to be dreamt up.

Today is my birthday.  I am turning 25 – a quarter of a century, or half way to fifty if you ask my little sister!  I have spent the weekend down in the Cotswolds with my family celebrating my birthday and today N and I took the day off work.

Apologies for not posting over the weekend, but I have some great food and garden things to tell you about over the next couple of days.  I have certainly eaten well this weekend (of course!). 

My birthday weekend menu has included: a delicious radish and pea salad, asparagus and cheese tart, some incredibly smelly French cheeses, sorrel and ricotta frittata, barbecued trout, and the star of the show – Willie’s Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake.  So if you want to share in my food adventures be sure to check back later this week.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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