Recipe: Pan Moteado (Mexican-inspired tea bread)

moteado

I always think of tea loaves as a very traditional sort of cake- the kind of thing your great-great grandma would’ve made on a Sunday and rationed out during the week. There’s something quite Victorian about them, and I recently found out that they’re usually associated with Yorkshire. I love them because they’re super easy to make and I’m quite lazy…

This tea bread is inspired by a traditional bara brith, a Welsh tea bread,, but made with a bit of Mexico in mind. Thanks to Bluebird Tea Co.’s Dark Choc Chilli Chai, this has a bit of spice and a richness that I’ve not experienced in any other tea bread. I’ve also added chocolate chips in place of some of the traditional dried fruit; you can play with ratios as you see fit.

As bara brith translates as ‘mottled bread’, I decided to call this ‘pan mateado’- which translates as the same thing in Spanish. It’s a cake that I think represents a lot about me- my Welsh birth, my Yorkshire background and my love of anything Mexican. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 mug cold tea

300g self-raising flour

150g caster sugar

100g chocolate chips

50g raisins or other dried fruit

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c and grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Pour the tea into the bowl and mix with the other ingredients until it forms a batter.
  4. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
  5. After the 45 minutes, turn the oven off and leave the cake inside for another ten minutes.
  6. Remove cake from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Tea loaves are delicious on their own, or toasted with a bit of butter. Enjoy!

 

 

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Let there be light! William & Joseph ‘Wuthering Heights’ candle

This @williamjosephcandles is lovely. A really subtle herb-y, green scent- it smells way more expensive than it actually is. I fancy the Manderley candle next! #brontes #wutheringheights #emilybronte #candle #home #hygge:

I love candles. After a brief flirtation with melts etc- which I use in the kitchen, but they’ve never really won my heart- I’m back into candlelight in a big way. Everything about them is so soothing, especially when it’s January and we’re suffering fairy light withdrawal (I’ve never understood why we take away all the lights at the DARKEST point of the winter…) I always, always feel better if I have a candle burning. Although I’m a bit wary of ordering candles online, after too many ‘bathroom cleaner’ scented gambles, I couldn’t NOT buy this could I? After all, it’s one of my favourite books, I have a slight Bronte obsession and I wanted to smell the moors of my home county. I figured I’d take a risk.

William & Joseph are committed to producing high quality candles, most of which have a bookish theme (I’m after trying their Rebecca-inspired ‘Manderley’ candle especially, although their Gatsby and Sherlock scents interest me, too.) The Wuthering Heights candle takes a while warm up to its full scent, but it’s worth the wait: a subtle ‘green’ scent, slightly masculine but clean-smelling, it’s lovely. There are notes of pine and juniper mixed with jasmine and bergamot, with rosemary and cedarwood. It is perfectly representative, I think, of Catherine and Heathcliff- or Kate Bush in a field.

hqdefault I’ll admit, I was a bit worried about the pine element, as it so often is overused to the point of causing a headache, but I needn’t have worried, as here is serves to lift the rest of the scents. The overall scent is one of brooding moors after heavy rainfall, rather than bathroom after the overuse of bleach. I think the candle smells much more expensive than it actually is- very often candles are hugely pricey and smell synthetic, but this is reasonably priced for a good sized candle.

The candle itself burns cleanly, too. No smoke and an even burn mean that I’m able to light it without worrying about soot marks too, which makes Benn very happy. No one wants black marks above their mantelpiece, do they?

I’m excited to discover other scents from William & Joseph- it was hinted on Twitter that they might get around to a Baby Jane scent one day (I suggested face powder, lipstick and gardenias..) which I would buy in. a. heartbeat.

You can buy William & Joseph candles here. The candle I bought was £14.99 and  I bought it from Etsy. (Please note: the shop is currently re-stocking glass candles, but you can check out their tin candles while they do!)

A few favourite baking books

So everyone’s in a state of GBBO mourning at the moment, aren’t they? As I write, Paul Hollywood has just been confirmed as the only member of the original quartet to have signed a deal to go over to the dark side (well, Channel 4. Which, to be honest, is the next best channel after the BBC to host a show like GBBO- but I know that’s not a popular opinion.) Anyway, this got me thinking- I do own two of Hollywood’s baking books, but I NEVER bake from them. And if you follow me on any social media channel, you’ll know I bake quite a lot. I like the books, they’re very pretty- but they’re just too fiddly and faffy for the type of stuff I like to bake. I’m probably more of a Bezza baker than a Hollywood baker, although I’ve never picked up one of Mary’s books.

But there are some books I use over and over.

sidebar-bake

Bake- Rachel Allen

This was the first baking book I ever picked up (I had never seen Rachel Allen on the TV; I just wanted a baking book.) I learnt a few skills here, but I have found the recipes a bit hit and miss. However, as a first book, it was OK. I still swear by the honey cake and snickerdoodles in this, though.

51pxbskes6l-_sy291_bo1204203200_ql40_ Be-Ro Home Baked Recipes

Cheap and cheerful, the Be-Ro book is a proper, old-school classic. This is the book that I turn to when D wants to bake: gingerbread men, shortbread, tea loaves. It’s all the stuff your mum or nan probably made and the recipes are simple and straightforward (and you can get away with using margarine in most of them if you’ve run out of butter!)

510cb-crdgl-_sx258_bo1204203200_ Home Sweet Home- The Hummingbird Bakery

This book is one of the biggest bargains ever- I think I picked it up for a fiver. It’s stuffed full of what I think of as ‘showstoppers’, cakes that I pull out for fancy things and when I want to impress. My go-to brownie recipe is from Hummingbird (although I’ve tinkered with it so much now, it’s virtually unrecognisable from the basic recipe) and the strawberry milkshake cupcakes are seriously good. This is the book that really helped develop my skills onto more than just ‘basic’.

cover Flavour- Ruby Tandoh

I love Ruby’s recipes and have never had one fail. I was lucky enough that she sent me a signed copy of the book after I mentioned on Twitter that I had borrowed it from the library and loved it. Although it’s not really a baking book, but a book with baking recipes in it, I urge you to check it out. I can HUGELY recommend the easy chocolate cake- it is the only cake I’ve ever made that worked every time, and I’ll be making it for D’s fourth birthday in a couple of weeks. I’ve also made a banana cake and the shine theory truffles, which I adapted by adding rose and violet flavouring (I have plans for Christmas editions too… watch out for a future blogpost on those!) But what I really love about this book is the attitude in it- that we should eat what we like, and just ENJOY food. In a world obsessed with clean eating, it’s a refreshing change.

 

 

Super-easy, step-by-step guide to making autumn jelly

I find it hard to resist picking blackberries as I’m out and about; where we live, we have a load of wild fruit growing nearby (a bonus of living on the edge of the South Downs), including apples, sloes and plums. We also have an apple tree in the garden that grows the blandest. apples. ever. They’re only actually any good in jams, jellies and chutneys. Although my apple chutney is quite popular, I haven’t quite got the recipe right yet- but I thought I’d share my autumn jelly recipe with you, along with pictures which I Instagrammed when I was making it.

Ingredients: we picked just shy of 1kg of blackberries and used about 500g of cooking apples. A lemon is also needed at this stage. I try not to pick fruit by the road, as cars can affect the berries. Obviously I buy the lemon!

Blackberries from the local woods, apples from garden. Add some spices and BOOM…:

First things first- wash the berries and apples and roughly chop the apples and lemon and put them in a pan with about 300ml of water.

Jelly making: stage 1 #autumn #jelly #apples #brambles #cooking #food:

I had so much fruit that I needed to use two pans! (Make sure they’re fairly heavy, btw.) Bring the water to the boil and then simmer for about 40 minutes, until the mixture has thickened. Keep an eye on it, keep stirring it and make sure that the fruit doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Stage 2: straining. The fruit has been cooked for 40mins. I'll leave this now…:  Next, the messy bit! I always think this looks a bit like the aftermath of a horror film (and be aware that blackberries WILL stain wooden worktops. ASK ME HOW I KNOW.) Anyway, empty the pans out into a sieve-I prefer a plastic one-and place it over a bowl in order to collect the juice. Last year, I left the fruit to drain overnight. This year, it took a couple of hours. It’s worth keeping an eye on.

Stage 4: you need to measure the juice... then add 450g of granulated sugar per… This is the juice that will be turned into the jelly. Conventional wisdom states that you should add 450g of sugar (I usually use bog standard granulated, but am looking into using jam sugar to see if it speeds up setting) for every pint of juice. I had a pint and a half, so used about 625g of sugar. I also add spices: cloves, cinnamon and ginger- about a tsp of each- but you could use more or less according to your tastes.

Stage 5: add the sugar, bring to the boil. Then boil rapidly for 5-10 mins.:  Next, next you need to bring the mixture to the boil and then-in theory- boil rapidly for 5-10 minutes until the jelly passes the ‘set test’: drop a small amount of jelly onto a cold plate (I stick a couple in the fridge before I begin boiling the fruit) and prod it with your finger. If it has a ‘skin’ and you can leave a trail in the jelly, you’re set. This took a bit longer to get to setting point- 20 minutes- but it was worth it!

Stage..6? It took 20 mins to get setting point 😡 Anyway, it's done! Good stuff…:  Skim the cloves and the foam on top and pour quickly into warm, sterilised jars. I sterilise jars by running them through  the dishwasher. If they cool before I need them, I’ll fill them with boiling water until I need them.

As soon as you’ve poured the jelly in, stick a lid on (I don’t bother really with those jam seals in jars- it hasn’t caused a problem before…) and label it with the date. Leave to cool in a cupboard. Once opened, store in the fridge. An open jar lasts about six weeks, if it’s not eaten first!

Homemade autumn jelly on toast for the first day of autumn! It tastes GOOD…:  Let me know if you have a go!

“It’s a bit ‘Triffid’, isn’t it?”- an adventure in houseplants

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have noticed that I’ve gone a bit plant-mad lately (and not just garden-plant-mad, as it’s still quite early for a lot of planting to happen.) This is mainly because of two reasons: 1) a new plant shop has opened in the North Laine and 2) D is a bit less grabby now that he’s 3.5 and I can have nicer things (occasionally).

I’ve never been massively into houseplants before, although I did buy Benn a yucca when we first started going out. He had nothing ‘alive’ in his flat, which was a sterile bachelor pad. The original yucca, known as Geraldine, has long gone, but I repotted a cutting from it last summer which has started to magically grow a new stalk:

For @spiderplantshop- the small 'stalk' started out looking like an air root, but has sort of turned into a support for the plant! Very weird and have no idea what's happened! #houseplant:

I’ve never heard of plants doing that, but apparently it is a ‘thing’- and a pretty cool one at that!

I’ve also had a jade plant and an aloe vera for about a year. Apparently, jade plants are known as ‘money plants’ because of a Chinese proverb that says you should treat your plants like your money-carefully- as both will reward you in the long term. My jade plant was given to me by a friend and I love it. Although, like with my money, I can sometimes be a bit forgetful and nonchalant!

Repotting #gardening #greenfingers #urbangardening #succulents:

That massive aloe vera plant cost me £1.50 as a teeny tiny plant at last year’s Seedy Sunday. It has been so happy on the kitchen windowsill, despite me breaking leaves off on a semi-regular basis to treat quesadilla-related burns, that it’s happily throwing out new baby plants. It is such a useful plant (sunburn, skin burns, I even have used it on eczema for relief) that I wouldn’t be without it now. Which is good, as those babies are appearing at the same rate as baby rabbits at Easter…

A teacup full of chamomile to grow next to my bed. I think it's rather sweet and watching it grow cheers me up no end. #gardening #urbangardening #sweetdreams:

I decided, on a bit of a whim, to see if chamomile would grow in a teacup (you can see my thinking there, right?) Happily, it does! Once it’s a bit more established, this will be going by my bedside. I don’t actually like chamomile tea, but I like the idea of this in my bedroom. It’s also really tactile and I love stroking it. It would also make a nice gift idea, if you can find pretty teacups in charity shops, and chamomile seeds are cheap.

Remember my little peperomia from @spiderplantshop? I repotted it into a candle holder, where it seems very happy! #houseplant #greenfingers:

This is my peperomia plant, which is actually tiny. I liked it because it’s green and pink (you’ll spot a theme) and was just, well, CUTE. I’m having a hard time finding pots I like, so this one is plonked in a tealight holder from Tesco. I just have to be super careful when I water it, but so far, it seems happy as it has grown like the clappers since I brought it home.

New houseplant #1- jewel orchid. Apparently much easier to care for than a normal orchid, I like that it looks a bit jungle-y #houseplant #home #orchid #flower #urbangardening:

In theory, I should HATE this jewel orchid- but it’s quite the opposite. Bonus points in its favour that it will apparently take quite a lot of neglect before it dies, so that’s nice. I think I like it because it’s quite elegant, in an alien way. D calls it the ‘dinosaur plant’ and I kind of get where he’s coming from. I do need to find a good pot for it, though.

Houseplant #2- a fittonia. I had to put a heavy filter on it to show how vividly pink the veins are! @spiderplantshop is bad for my bank balance but good for the general air quality in my home, ha! #houseplant #home #plant #urbangardening:

The fittonia is tiny and whenever I photograph it, I have to use a filter, as the colours just don’t come through properly; the pink is almost neon in tone is an amazing contrast to the dark green. There are loads of variants of fittonia- light green leaves with pink veins, pink leaves with green veins and so on. Apparently they can be a bit temperamental, so I need to keep an eye on it. But for now it makes me super happy to look at it!

I’m now on the look out for interesting pots- and a Christmas cactus. Benn is only mildly despairing.