Scandi Christmas stall at Covent Garden: Part II

Niamh aka Eat Like A Girl and I larking around at Covent Garden on Thursday – photo courtesy of Lucy Pope

Re-arranging cinnamon buns with Lucy Pope – photo courtesy of A Forkful of Spaghetti

The Scandi Christmas baking spread…photo courtesy of A Forkful of Spaghetti

So market day at Covent Garden came and went, and what fun it was. The gods provided with sunshine and a balmy 10 degrees celsius throughout the afternoon, and I was lucky to share a stall with the lovely Niamh – also known affectionately as the “pork mistress” for her mighty pork sandwiches with lashings of the BEST crunchy crackling in all of WC1! Niamh’s a dab hand at this market melarkee as she’s been manning a stall twice a week since the summer and her pork sandwiches fast became a staple lunchtime treat for those who work nearby Covent Garden this autumn and I can see why – having sampled her fare I’m now a pork sandwich addict

We had lots of visitors throughout the day, both punters looking around the market on a Thursday afternoon and friends and food bloggers who came down to support us by saying hello, and of course to sample the food! Niamh very kindly proffered a glass of prosecco mid-afternoon and we chatted throughout the afternoon, marvelling at the friendly visitors and the occasional cheeky passesrby – you see the extremes of human nature at a market Niamh said and I completely agree, fascinating stuff to an anthropologist. Believe it or not, someone asked Niamh if she did 2 for 1 on her sandwiches, and when I put out samples of cakes mid-afternoon two modellesque girls came round not once or twice but five times to nibble on samples. The cheek! Having two crazy aunts in Norway who used to model let me repeat my maxim in life here:

“Never trust a model as beauty corrupts the brain”

Anyway, it was a brilliant day and I wish I could do it again next week as Niamh was such fun to pal around with. From Tuesday though I’m off to Lanzarote for yuletide holiday frolics with my Ma and Pa so any reprises down at Covent Garden will have to wait til 2010

Below are recipes from the most popular cakes and biscuits of the day, if you have any specific queries about them drop me an email or leave a comment

Happy holidays to you all :-)

Let’s start with the three chocolatey cakes:

tropisk aroma or spiced chocolate marble cake with nutmeg and cinnamon. The nutmeg dominates and with a coffee-chocolate icing I this is a firm family favourite which keeps up to a week and can be frozen if need be for future cake scoffing

Recipe:

Cake:

250g refined spelt flour
250g golden caster sugar
150g butter, softened
2 medium eggs
120 ml whole milk with 2 tbsp plain yoghurt
2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp strong coffee or espresso
pinch salt

Filling and icing:

200g icing sugar
200g butter, softened
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp coffee powder (depends how much coffee you like)
pinch salt

Method:

Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly oil 23cm round cake tin and fit the bottom with baking parchment

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar til pale and fluffy (circa 5-8 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time along with a spoonful of flour to stop the mixture splitting, whisking after each egg to incorporate it into the mixture. Add the spices, remainder of flour and alternate this with the milk and coffee to create a thick cake batter

Take 1/3 of the cake mixture and place in a smaller bowl, add the cocoa powder and stir through until the mixture looks even

Place half the plain mixture at the bottom of the cake tin, then layer the chocolate mixture on top. Cover with the remaining half of plain mixture and using a fork, swirl through the two mixtures to create a marbled effect. Bake on the middle shelf for 35-40 minutes. The cake is done when a skewer is inserted and no wet mixture remains on the skewer

While the cake cools on a wire rack, make the filling: cream the butter whilst adding the icing sugar, coffee and cocoa powders, and vanilla extract, taste as you go along as icing is subjective – some like it very buttery, others intensely sweet. I like a balance of butter, sugar and chocolate/coffee myself

When the cake is completely cool, spread the icing all over. Sprinkle extra cocoa powder on top if you like a cocoa hit or simply leave it plain. Savour with a cup of tea or coffee

Cardamom-Chocolate Cake

There was a run on this cake, definitely a hit with both punters on the day and food bloggers who came down to visit Niamh and I. Cardamom and chocolate is a match made in heaven – grind the cardamom pods yourself if you have the time and inclination, I like to coarsely grind them so you get a few small seeds of cardamom rather than fine powder. The occasional cardamom crunch when eating this cake is an unexpected treat I find. This recipe is an adaptation of Nigella’s dense chocolate loaf in ‘How to be a domestic goddess’ but I’ve substituted plain flour for spelt and reduced the sugar and syrup quantities and upped the chocolate

Ingredients:

250g softened butter
350g dark muscovado sugar (light will do fine)
250g refined spelt flour
150g dark chocolate, melted
2 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
2 medium eggs
200ml boiling water
1 shot espresso or strong coffee
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1-2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp salt

Method:

Preheat oven to 190 C. Lightly oil a 23 x 13 x 7 cm loaf tin

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time along with a spoonful of flour to stop the mixture splitting. Add the melted chocolate and incorporate fully before adding coffee, cocoa powder, flour, the boiling water, cardamom, bicarb and salt. It should be a thick liquid batter

Pour this into the prepared loaf tin and bake on the middle oven shelf at 190 C for the first 1/2 hour, then reduce the oven temp to 170 C and bake the cake for a further 15 minutes. The cake will rise, but once you remove it from the oven it will shrink slightly and look like it collapses. This is normal.

Cool on a wire rack. Needless to say this is great on its own but also good with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side. As Nigella says, this is like gingerbread in that it improves as it ages so worth making up in double batches if you can

Gingerbread with lemon icing

another Nigella classic. What can I say, the woman can bake

It’s worth making this in double batches, it’s VERY popular!

Ingredients:

300g spelt flour
150g butter
125g dark muscovado sugar
200g golden syrup
200g black treacle
2 teaspoons fresh ginger
1 tsp cinnamon (and I add 1/2 tsp clove, 1/2 nutmeg)
250ml milk
2 eggs
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda mixed with 2 tbsp warm water
1/2 tsp salt

Icing:

200g icing sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2-3 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

Preheat oven to 170 C. Lightly oil a 30 x 20 x 5 cm rectangular cake tin

In a large saucepan melt the butter, sugar, syrup, treacle, spices, ginger. Add the milk, eggs, bicarb off the heat.

Add the liquid to the flour in a large bowl and beat well until the mixture looks even.

Pour into cake tin and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour

As the cake is cooling, make the icing:

sift icing sugar in a bowl, whisking in the lemon juice and zest. The icing should be thick not runny so don’t add too much liquid…

spread over cooled gingerbread with a palette knife and leave to set before cutting slices. Keeps for a good couple of weeks if you can resist eating it in one go

Kokosmakroner or coconut macaroons

these mallowy macaroons are dead-easy to make and the coconut acts as a humectant so they stay soft for ages. Dip in melted dark chocolate for that ‘bounty’ effect or eat plain as they’re moreish on their own

Ingredients:

4 egg whites
180g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
250g shredded coconut

Method:

Meringue the egg whites and sugar til stiff peak, then fold in the coconut. Bake at 170 degrees celsius for 10-15 minutes and allow to dry on a wire rack before eating

Almond Raisin Cake with Manzanilla Sherry

Manzanilla may seem an odd choice for cake as it’s bone dry, but I love that ozone savouryness to Manzanilla and had half a bottle languishing in the fridge so I thought I’d bake a sherry-fied cake with it. Thanks to A Forkful of Spaghetti for tweeting me a recipe! This is my version:

Ingredients:

200g raisins
200g manzanilla sherry
150ml plain yoghurt
150ml melted butter
150g light muscovado sugar
3 medium eggs
150g spelt flour
100g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt

Method:

preheat oven to 180 C. Lightly oil a 20cm round cake tin. Whisk the eggs and sugar til pale and fluffy. Add the melted butter, the yoghurt, flour, almonds, salt and raising agents to the mixture and combine til evenly incorporated. Fold in the raisins, adding some of the sherry too if you fancy :-)

Spoon the cake mixture into the cake tin and bake on the middle oven shelf for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Drizzle with icing sugar, or skewer the cake a few times and use up the remaining sherry liquid to pickle the cake…

Needless to say, great with a glass of sherry

lefse or potato pancake – cheat’s version available at Scandinavian Kitchen

This is usually served with a cup of coffee in Norway and a childhood favourite of mine. I love lefse, which is a soft potato-wheat pancake filled with cinnamon buttercream and folded like a book.

For 10 lefse you’ll need 5 sheets of the pre-fab stuff you get at the Scandinavian Kitchen plus:

150g butter
100g creme fraiche
150g icing sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Cream the butter til pale then add the creme fraiche, whisking til its incorporated and add cinnamon, sugar, salt. Taste to see if it’s right for you – remember the potato-wheat lefse is quite bland. Place a dollop of mixture on a sheet of lefse, spread evenly and then fold in the sides. Keep in an airtight container

This entry was posted in almonds, biscuits, cake, Chocolate, Christmas, cinnamon, Covent Garden, lemon, market, nutmeg, raisins, sherry, spelt flour, spices. Bookmark the permalink.

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