I treated myself to a three month cookery book subscription from Willoughby book club this Christmas. I’d been hinting for nearly three years that this may be a good Christmas present for me, but no one had taken me up on the idea so in the end I decided life is far too short, especially in the middle of a pandemic, and treated myself to it. The first book that landed through my door was a little meh. So I was a little disappointed after having waited to indulge myself for three years, but the second book was Wow, oh Wow. Although I received the American version which is in Farenheight, so I am not sure what that is all about and the spine was damaged…
The book itself was from a restaurant in London and although I had never been to that particular restaurant the style of food was very familiar to me having nested in London for several years. I adore the use of pistachios and almonds along with scented floral or citrus oils in cakes, to me they add so much more interest than a gooey icing. Along with interesting pastries both sweet and savoury of a middle eastern styled nature and i’m your gal. I remember on one of my very first trips into London many, many years ago to attend a Loop workshop (Loop being a lovely knitting shop in Islington) our mid morning treat was some lovely middle eastern styled cakes filled with pistachios and almonds and they were absolutely heavenly. Coming from the middle of Warwickshire it was not something that I was used to, but having lived in London I became aware of just how popular this style of cooking is and I can completely understand why, it is just so damn tasty.
So that night, I nestled into my bed, reading glasses at hand and started at the beginning of Golden Sweet and Savoury Baked Delights from the Ovens of London’s Honey and Co, which I found out is the American version and the version you’d be looking for is The Baking Book by Honey and Co. The only difference being seems to be the usage of F or C for temperature.
Anyway I settled in and I started at page one and it was a delight. Their back story was lovely and as I read further I could feel myself drifting into the shop to watch the jams being made in the Dead of Night and the chapters that came next were filled with exactly the sort of thing I would want to eat at First Light whilst rushing off to work or for Mid Morning Elevensies on my day off, quickly followed by chapters on High Noon Lunch for the hungry office workers and Tea Time for mums and children after school and After Dark just because it was delicious. And mostly I wanted to bake them all, they reminded me of so many places I have visited and eaten at and yet my own repertoire of eastern baking has remained quite small.
But another thing happened at about two in the morning after I’d been reading the book and absorbing their recipes and stories for about two hours, I knew there was one person that would absolutely love this book, it was just so her, from the jam making to the bread baking and use of nuts in her buns and cakes and so I did a little bit of googling and by a process of elimination I assumed she had not bought this book but she had actually been to Honey and Co some years previously. So I bought her a copy! And that one simple act has given me so much pleasure because she did indeed love the book I sent and my instincts were right. I’m sure we will both get many years of laughter from this book as we share our trials and tribulations of trying new recipes.
I love a pistachio cake, I quite like it when it has been dipped in chocolate and then warmed so that the chocolate just warms and one has to eat it with a fork lest one gets messy fingers and the chocolate just glues the lips together in a delicious sounding smack, to be taken with good strong coffee in-between art galleries on a days excursion in London. So when I saw the recipe for Blood oranges and Pistachio cake I knew it was the first one to try for me. Sadly I had no blood oranges, so its not quite as pretty as it could be, but then they are not quite as pretty as they could be for more reasons than that.
It was going well until we realised that the muffin tins would be a bit small and I had to make a quick decision as to what would be okay and I found some cake tins that I don’t think I’d used for many a long year. Hubby and I rescued everything out of the muffin tins and it looked to be going well.
But in our haste to transfer the ingredients we had forgotten to butter the cake tins before putting the mix of sugar and cornflour topped with an orange slice.
So when I went to tip them out, it left every single orange slice stuck to the bottom. I just hope Paul Hollywood isn’t judging these, I would be thrown out of the competition!
But they tasted so good. I will be making these again, and maybe a few without the orange so that I can dip them in chocolate and relive a few old memories.