Pistachio and Lemon Cake

My Dad has been complaining that all the cakes I bake are “too sweet”. Last time I saw my family I brought home a triple layer chocolate cake covered with chocolate ganache (photo of the cake in my second blog post). I am not sure I could have made the cake any less sweet (and I am not sure I would have wanted to either). It’s now Easter weekend. Time for a bit more baking! I searched for a bake which would appeal to my Dad’s more savoury palette.

Waitrose pistachio and lemon cake
Waitrose pistachio and lemon cake

I found a Waitrose receipe for a pistachio and lemon cake; it looked mouth-wateringly good and would hopefully be a bit less sweet.

My first job was to shell the pistachios. Lots of pistachios in fact (I needed 100gs worth). I am sure you can probably buy pistachios which are already shelled but I couldn’t find any in the shops so had to do it myself.

Pistachios
Pistachios

I whizzed up the pistachios in a food processor, and then added one egg white, 75g of icing sugar and 50g of ground almonds. The ingredients came together easily, and made a green, sticky, paste. It tasted really good

Ground pistachios
Ground pistachios
Ground pistachio, almond, icing sugar and an egg white
Ground pistachio, almond, icing sugar and an egg white

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Next the sponge. A pretty basic sponge receipe. I creamed 175g of slightly salted butter and 75g of golden caster sugar, the zest of two lemons, 225g of self raising sugar and a teaspoon of baking powder. When the mixture was pale and creamy I added a squeeze of lemon.

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Now for for the difficult bit. I took out the green pistachio paste, I had already dusted my work surface with icing sugar. I was then meant to roll out the mixture into two circles. The mixture was having other ideas however, and kept sticking to the work surface. It was really difficult to handle. The recipe stated they should be slightly smaller than the size of the cake tins. By this point I was getting a bit frustrated – it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to and was looking a bit of a mess.

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I put a quarter of the sponge mix in an already greased and lined 20cm loose bottomed cake tin. On top of the mixture I placed (or dropped) one of the green circles (it had holes in it) and then covered it with another quarter of the sponge mix. It didn’t look like there much in the cake tin, and I was worried I wasn’t going to have enough sponge mix for the other tin. I followed what I had done for the first cake tin with the second. Luckily I had just enough cake mix.

I put the cakes in an already 180 degree heated oven for 35-40 minutes. When they were springy soft and golden brown I took them out, and let them cool on wire rack.

I made a lemon buttercream and used it to sandwich the two halves of the cakes together. I covered the cake with chopped pistachios and icing sugar.

The finished cake!
The finished cake!

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The cake looked ok, definitely not as fluffy and is in the magazine, and the sponge not as thick. I am not sure if it needs a bit more sponge mix to give it added height. The taste was delicious (the whole family agreed), the texture wasn’t quite right. Not as moist as other cakes I have made but I think I overworked the mixture too much. If you like pistachios this cake is for you!

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Pistachio and Lemon Cake

Restaurant review: Granger and Co Clerkenwell

I recently came across the blog ‘The Londoner’. It follows the life of a young woman called Rosie (a girl who I presume is a similar age to me) living in London. Our lives have certain similarities: we love London, all that London has to offer, and most importantly food. My life, however, is not as glamorous and my job far more real. For me, the blog provides an escape into another world, and ideas of places to visit and restaurants to eat in.

One of the restaurants which often pops up on Rosie Londoner’s instagram page is Granger and Co Nottinghill. I often drool over the photos she posts, mostly the photos of soft, fluffy, sumptuous ricotta pancakes (the restaurant is particularly infamous for its brunches).

Unusually, last Friday, I wasn’t working, and I booked a table at Granger and Co Clerkenwell. This is the sister restaurant to the Granger and Co Nottinghill branch, and conveniently located close to Farringdon station. A table is easy to reserve and the menu at the two restaurants nearly identical.

The restaurant has a fantastic atmosphere. We walked in and were immediately greeted by the restaurant manager. The dim lighting, tall long windows and cool bar made it seem glamorous, chic and vibrant. It was also a good level of busy, enough people to create an atmosphere, but not so busy that I couldn’t hear the other person I was with talk.

We were shown to our table. The waitress was helpful, and obviously knew the different types of wine on the menu. She recommended a delicious wine, a sweet pinot gris – a New World wine from New Zealand.

For main I chose the five spice shin of beef, and for desert a salted caramel chocolate pot. The food was definitely good. The beef flavoursome and immediately fell apart. The chilli spiced green peas and smooth mash potato made for a delicious combination. The food was simple, and similar to something I would make at home. It was good comfort food. I wasn’t bowled over by it, or gushing about how good it was. I did, however, love the flavour combinations, and I would not have put them together myself. The salted caramel chocolate pot was smooth, rich, and indulgent. I love salt and sweet together, it was perfectly balanced.

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Salted caramel chocolate pot with butter biscuits

I am not sure if I would choose to go to Granger and Co again. I am also not sure its deserving of its relatively expensive price tag; my main was £20 and I have been to other restaurants in London which are better and not so expensive (Polpo, Flat Iron, Shoryu Ramen, Bistro Union etc etc). That said, I would happily go again if someone invited me there, and I would definitely not discourage anyone from eating there either! A solid 7/10.

Restaurant review: Granger and Co Clerkenwell

My new Kmix!

For a long time I have wanted a stand mixer. I am most definitely an amateur baker but after watching Great British Bake Off and Nigella the dream was to own a KitchenAid.

For my 26th birthday however, I received a Kmix food processor. It looked pretty swish, and it worked really well. When the time came to buy a stand mixer I was drawn to the Kmix stand mixer. It was considerably cheaper (by over £100 pounds) and the reviews were excellent. It also comes with 5 years guarantee. I quickly ordered the Kmix whilst it was on special offer, and haven’t looked back!

I have only baked a couple of cakes with the new Kmix but it was just so much easier; long gone are the days of having to cream butter and sugar by hand!

So far I have made a chocolate and pomegranate cake, apple and fudge muffins and a blueberry cake.

The recipes and photos of the cakes are below.

Reciepe Martha Collinson
Martha Collinson Recipe http://www.waitrose.com/home/tv/baking/martha-s-chocolatepomegranatelayercake.html
Waitrose reciepe
Waitrose recipe http://www.waitrose.com/home/tv/baking/apple-and-fudge-muffins.html
Kenwod Kmix
Kenwod Kmix http://www.coopelectricalshop.co.uk/Kenwood-KMX52/id-KEN-PCR-KMX52-AL
My new Kmix!

Hello world!

Life outside of work is so important. I am a doctor, and I currently work in a very busy Emergency Department. This is a blog to remind me (and everyone else who wants to read it) what I enjoy doing outside of work; so when work is getting me down and stressed I will post a blog about the other things in life which bring me happiness!

Hello world!