On days like these I try to use my daily routines to be 'creative' and the kitchen is the perfect place for this! After all, a great deal of our time is spent eating - so why not use it as a creative outlet.
I find following recipes stressful and it makes me anxious about time, so I have always just 'put things together'. This might sound a bit simplistic - and it is. Cooking is simple at its roots - what perhaps is not so simple is knowing what tastes go with what, and perhaps cooking times. This isn't a cookery lesson - I wouldn't have a clue how, but I do encourage you to experiment. A great way to do this safely is to start with a tried and tested 'base' - say a pasta sauce for example - get creative and add your own flare - pasta sauces are incredibly forgiving and it's hard to go wrong. I have a cake mix which I would like to share right now and it's amazing because I make lots of different cakes but you know I use just one basic recipe and it's simple to remember.
Here goes . . . . . . Look at the picture first (because I've got creative with this photography too!) and get salivating . .
Wholemeal Fresh Fruit & Lemon Cake
This simple recipe is the base from which to add any type of ingredient you fancy - a list of possibilities follows
The B A S I C S
Now what's simple about this recipe is that all the ingredients (more or less!) weigh 4.oz ! - so this is how it goes:
- 4.oz Butter, sugar, eggs, flour!
- To clarify:
- 4.oz Butter or margarine - though the real thing is always healthier - yes butter is healthier!
- 4.oz Sugar - If I'm adding fruit I will reduce by 1.oz. (caster makes a smooth paste, but there are lots of sugars to try each is different and wont 'spoil' your cake - experiment!)
- 4.oz (2) Eggs - you don't need to weigh them - 2 will do, they may weigh more or less, not the issue.
- 4.oz Self-raising Flour - Actually I tend to use about 6.oz if adding wet juicy stuff, flour is the thing you can add more or less of - (though not less than 4.oz) - wholemeal or white will do.
- If making a basic sponge with no additions, bake for 20 mins at 200 in the centre of the oven.
- if adding fruit etc, use your intuition and common sense understanding that it will need longer to cook and so as not to burn the top, cook it at a lower temperature - between 150 & 200 (depending on content) - the 'heavier & bulkier' the mix is, the longer it will take to cook.
The M e t h o d
- Warm the butter in a medium/large mixing bowl and mix in the sugar beating well to a smooth paste.
- Break eggs into the mix, one at a time, mixing until smooth.
- Add flour (sifting if desired) & fold into mix until well incorporated.
- Add additional ingredients to make it your own.
- Spoon mix into lined bread or cake tin, or little cup cake papers
Half a cooking apple cut into small bits/chunks
A handful of fresh Black & red currents (these were frozen - I just added them frozen!)
A handful of fresh grapes cut in half
Handful of flaked Almonds for top
Juice of half a lemon - (Added once in tin and trickled over the top, for extra zest and moisture).
TO COOK: Because this mix ended up being quite bulky with uncooked fruits, it made sense to cook it slower and a little cooler. The cup cakes went into the oven at about 160 degrees for 25 minutes, but the cake I left in the oven for a further 20 mins. Test readiness by inserting a dry knife into middle, if it comes out clean, its ready! cook a little longer if not. Leave to cool a little, then tip out onto wire rack.
Chocolate cake, Coffee cake etc - Add a tablespoon (or more) of cocoa or Coffee powder to the flour. Make it 'special' by making a flavoured cream filling. You can add nuts, dates - anything you fancy - HAVE FUN! - share!