Happy Solstice everyone. How did you spend the longest day? I spent mine outside walking my dog Astrid as I have had a rare few days off this week. It’s been far too hot for baking but walking in the sunny fields has been life-affirming!
Today I’m baking again for a private booking on a farm this Friday. This time we’re preparing a birthday afternoon tea for a 40-year-young customer and 8 friends. We’ll be parking up on their drive and setting up the tables in the sunshine while we get baking and making in the caravan kitchen. As I’ve said many times, the caravan is like a Tardis. Everything that we need is packed neatly inside the van and then quickly set up when we arrive. I’ll pop some photos up on my social media to help you picture the scene. Do you have a special birthday coming up? 50th, 60th, 70th, 80th? Imagine our lovely caravan parked up on your drive and serving tea and scones to all your guests.
In the meantime, the sun has been very kind to us over the last two weeks and so many of you have come along to the markets. This has motivated me to experiment with cakes and scones. Our specials are particularly popular – Earl Grey and Strawberry scones, Pear and Ginger scones, Lemon and almond scones, white chocolate and raspberry. Have you tried any of them? One thing I realise is that if you are going to flavour scones, you need to go big. Recipes for these combinations wildly underestimate the flavouring needed. I often find that when I follow recipes, I quickly deviate and start to adjust the quantities of herbs and spices. For this reason, I’ve bought a great book recommended for bakers who like to experiment with ratios – it’s called ‘Ratio’ by Michael Ruhlman. I’ll let you know how I get on with inventing new bakes using the ideas in this useful little book.
Who will be the first to try my next experiment: lavender scones made with especially infused lavender sugar? I made this with several spoons of culinary lavender infused in a jar of caster sugar for a couple of weeks. Want to find out if they work? Then, come and find us at Ripley Market on the 2nd Saturday of the month and Horsley Market on the 3rd Saturday in the month. We’ve also got two school fairs in July: Goldsworth School on the 3rd and Send Primary School on the 9th. Please come along and support the schools and grab yourself some tasty scones at the same time. In addition, I’ll be bringing our most popular cake, the gorgeous Battenburg, enhanced by homemade marzipan. I’ve included a recipe at the bottom of the page.
Speaking of cakes, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how popular my gluten-free cakes and vegan cakes have been. While some people are put off by the word ‘vegan’, many people who try these cakes are pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous flavour and texture. Some of my bakes have been courgette loaf, Victoria sponge, carrot cake, lemon drizzle, and blueberry muffins. I try to bake for a range of dietary needs while still providing a treat. Let me know if you have tried one of our vegan or gluten-free bakes. The trick with gluten-free baking is to experiment with your blend of flours. The better the flours, the better the crumb. I like recipes which include almond flour. I usually make my own nut flours in my Thermomix.
When baking for vegans, dairy is an absolute no. You can use vegan butter if you don’t mind the addition of palm oil but many vegan recipes such as carrot cake, use oil instead of eggs and butter. I like the flavour of oat milk mixed with the oil for an egg type mix. An extra spoon of baking powder and Arrowroot create an excellent rise. I’ll add some vegan recipes to my next blog. In the meantime, enjoy the marzipan recipe below and I hope to see you soon x
220g blanched almonds
2 medium egg yolks
240g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp natural almond extract
Make sure icing sugar is finely sieved with absolutely no lumps. Grind the blanched almonds and add these to the icing sugar and the rest of the ingredients. I have a Thermomix so these processes are very easy. Some blenders are specifically designed to blend nuts so do some research. It’s well worth purchasing these as you can also make your own peanut butter and your own gluten-free flours.
Using a paddle mixer in a blender, blend the ingredients together. When blended, knead the ‘dough’ for 5 minutes. Wrap the ‘dough’ in plant-based wrap and leave in the fridge until you need it but no more than one month in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer.