Coffee & Walnut Cake {inspired by the Brenda and Effie series by Paul Magrs}

It's the best when you read a great book and are inspired by what you find in the pages of that book. For me it's usually food related, but that's not always it. But it is for this post. 

Paul Magrs wrote a book called Never the Bride about an older woman who lives in a little English sea side town where weird things happen to her and her best friend. She's not all that she seems and I suspect neither is her friend. He then followed it up with Something Borrowed, it was in this book after Brenda and Effie (the two heroines I just mentioned) saved the day yet again and were celebrating in there favorite cafe, The Walrus and the Carpenter, with coffee and cake. Not just any cake an English classic more specifically this cake.

Coffee Walnut Cake: 

225g caster sugar
225g soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)
4 large eggs
50g walnut pieces, chopped
200g plain flour
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 - 2 tbsp milk

Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan and line and grease two 20cm / 8inch cake tins.
Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs one by one until just mixed. Mix the flour, espresso powder, baking powder, bicarb and walnuts into the batter and mix until just combined. Add the milk a little at a time until the batter is drop like constancy.

Divide the mixture between the tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the sponge feels springy to the touch. Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, before turning them out onto the rack and peeling off the baking parchment; once they are completely cool you can make the buttercream.

350g icing sugar
175g soft unsalted butter
2½ tsp instant espresso powder (dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water)
approx. 10 walnut halves (to decorate)

Place the butter into a mixing bowl and beat for a minute or two before shifting in the icing sugar and espresso mixture. Beat until smooth and lighter in color. 

to finish: Place one layer on your stand/plate and spread about half of the frosting on the first layer and then place the other layer on top and frost it before decorating the edges with the walnut halves. 

page from Something Borrowed by Paul Magrs

Up next in the Brenda and Effie series is Conjugal Rites and I can't wait to see what they get up to next!! 

Note: The recipe is loosely adapted from a Nigella recipe from her book Kitchen, also found on her website here

You Can't Fake Passion {black bottom cupcakes}

"You can't fake passion." -Barbara Corcoran

It was years ago now that I went on a training course for a job I no longer have. It was on this training course we were asked to describe something that we enjoyed doing. It was obvious that some of the people on that training course with me said what they said just to get the exercise out of the way. But those who really enjoyed the subject they were talking about ... well, you could hear it in their tone, see it in their facial expressions, their body language. Their passion shone through. 

The company we were all there for were hoping to show us that if we talked about them that way their customers would hear it and see it and then not only believe in us, but the company. Allowing us to essentially sell to people. I have no regrets in my life, but I wish I had paid more attention to my response, because I was one of those people who had the tone and the look. 

If you like me are trying to find their way to back to that thing that brings them passion maybe talk about it out loud to yourself and really listen to your response. Record it if it helps. 

It's always been easier to find mundane jobs to get me through life. The fear of not being good enough at something I feel passionate about has always been really scary and have always kept those things to the side never thinking it's something maybe I could do as a career. 

Maybe it's time to re-think that. 

Are you passionate about your career? or do you save your passion for your hobbies? 

Sometimes keeping your passion separate from what earns you your money is best because when what you are passionate about becomes work you can loose some of that passion. Everyone will balance it differently and everyone feels differently but at the end of the day it's what makes you happy. We all deserve to be happy. 

Cupcakes make me happy and I do have a passion for baking. I don't know that it's the thing that I would want to earn money doing, but in my free time nothing picks up my mood better then spending it in the kitchen whipping up a cake or cookies or brownies. These turned out so well and they are made with oil not butter and it is my personal opinion that chocolate cake is always better when made with oil. 

Recipe can be found in the hummingbird bakery cookbook ---- also can be found on my TikTok (yes I have TikTok :/ I don't know what has become of me. lol) This isn't the first time I have ever talked about them on my blog! First post mentioning Black Bottom Cupcakes can be found here if you are interested in seeing how my photography skills have improved.  

Also posting about everything and anything over on Instagram come chat!

Coconut & Lemon Bakewell (recipe review) Inspired by Soul of Cinder by Bree Barton

Soul of Cinder by Bree Barton is the third instalment of the trilogy that started with Heart of Thorns and followed by Tears of Frost. Soul of Cinder picks up right where Tears of Frost left off with Mia and Pilar on another journey, but not really sure of where they are going. What they do know is that after having just found each other the worst thing would be to lose the other one, but it's hard to support someone when you are still trying to figure out what it is you need or want. 

The whole series is a journey of these amazing characters over coming hardships and set backs only to finally grow into who they were always meant to be. People who can make real change in a really messed up world. I don't know what else to say without giving anything away that happens in the previous books! All I can say is that I highly recommend this series, it has some really good twists and although set in a fantasy setting is one of the most real series I have read in a while.*

On to the the Coconut and Lemon Bakewell in Soul of Cinder when Mia and Pilar arrive in this new land one of the first things they expreience is a lemon coconut.

Where the image of what this hybrid fruit would look like, in my head, is still inclusive it didn't take much of a stretch to know what it would taste like and that I would have immediately thought of all the things I could bake with it!!

I finally settled on a Coconut & Lemon Bakewell Tart! I do live in England and a Bakewell Tart is a classic so why not? I found this recipe in John Whaite Bakes by John Whaite winner of The Great British Bake Off season 3! For this recipe you will need time to make the pastry as it needs to rest before baking so if time is an issue you could make the pastry dough the night before. 

Short Crust Pastry: 

250g plain flour
125g salted butter, cubed
1 large egg
cold water
1 egg white, beaten (you need the yolk so keep it!)

- In a bowl rub the flour and butter together with your hands until it resembles bread crumbs. You want to do this quick as not to allow the heat from your hands melt the butter to much. Add the egg and 1 tsp of water and bring the pastry dough together. Add water sparingly if needed until the mixture comes together. Knead gently for just a moment before wrapping in baking paper and resting in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry, line your 10 inch/25cm loose bottomed tart tin with pastry pressing it into the grooves and trimming the edges off. Don't forget to prick the base with a fork and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. 

Make the filling(s)

frangipane filling: 

175g unsalted butter, room temp
175g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
85g desiccated coconut 
90g ground almonds
1 tbsp plain flour
zest of 2 lemons

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until just combined, then fold in the coconut, almonds, flour and zest. The mixture looks a bit funny, but trust me it's okay! Fill a piping bag with the mixture and put to the side. 

lemon curd filling:

150g lemon curd
1 egg yolk

Mix the lemon curd with the egg yolk and set aside. 

continue: Preheat the oven to 190C or 170C fan. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beads or rice or whatever it is you use and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then remove from the oven and take away the baking beads and blind bake for 12 minutes. After that take the pastry out and brush over the egg white, it helps avoid a soggy bottom and pop into he oven for another minute! 

Let the pastry cool slightly before layering first the lemon curd mixture and then carefully pipe on the frangipane filling. I smoothed mine out before popping into the oven for 30-35 minutes. It should be golden brown and slightly wobbly when it comes out of the oven. Allow to cool completely before icing!

for the icing:

250g icing sugar
2 tbsp of water 
desiccated coconut and lemon zest to top

Mix the icing sugar and water together it should become a pourable but thick icing. If need be add a little more water but add it little by little so it doesn't become too runny. Top with coconut and lemon zest! 

Soul Cinder by Bree Barton is out now!!! I bought my own copy all opinions are my own. I made a recipe inspired by the first book in the series Heart of Thorns! That can be found here!! 

*Please note the series does delve into sexual assault and depression. 

John Whaite Bakes is an old book and I was sent it to review back in 2013 when it was published, but besides the book I did not receive any other compensation. It is a great book and have made several recipes from it! Full review of the book is here!!