Lunch During Lockdown (or yes, godsdammit, it’s soup again)

A level of routine is, as any fule kno, essential to getting through the long haul at home without going completely cuckoo-lala crazy. As a gentleman of a furloughed persuasion, I am led in that routine by TLC, who works from home and therefore finds her days filled with meaning and purpose (and endless Teams sessions and slow-loading document uploads and all the other pitfalls and nightmares surrounding the transition to domiciled employment).

Therefore, no lollygagging in bed. As TLC showers, I am making tea. As she breakfasts, I shower. A brace of coffees as she hits the network. Then I leave her to it, and start considering the next big event of the day—lunch.

Continue reading Lunch During Lockdown (or yes, godsdammit, it’s soup again)

So This Cake Happened


I have no explanation for the fact that I have started baking cakes, other than the fact that I like baking, and I fancied a challenge that moved me away from bread. It’s very much a weekend thing, and fills me with a certain pride to be able to offer tea and homemade cake to TLC in the afternoon.

It also appeals to my economical nature. I can use ingredients that would otherwise be binned. Old, hard lemons and limes left over from Christmas are no good in your G&T. But they still have plenty of juice and useful zest for a lemon lime syrup cake.

The cake I’m going to tell you about came about because I had made a pot of coffee that we didn’t really drink. I fancied a coffee and walnut cake. But most of the recipes out there seemed to be as much about the filling and frosting as the cake. That seemed like a shame.

So, with guidance from this source, I struck out on my own. Is it any good. Well, let’s put it like this. There was more cake than the photo above when I put it away last night, so someone likes it…

Nutty Coffee Cake

Preheat your oven to 180C/Gas5, and grease a springform baking tin. Springform’s great. I love the solidity of unclamping your cake when it’s done. You might want to put some baking parchment in the bottom too. If you’re really flash, you can make a cartouche.

Chop some nuts. About 75g. I like almonds and pistachios, largely because that’s what I had at the time. Macadamias and pecans would be good too. The almonds might need toasting, if they’re blanched. Give ’em five minutes in a hot dry pan, and watch ’em. They burn in a second if you’re not careful. They just need to be golden.

Get a big bowl. Your biggest. Into it goes 175g of butter, 100g of caster sugar and 100g of brown sugar. Mash ’em together until they turn into a light, fluffy mousse-type thing. I started trying to use a fork and whisk for this, then remembered we own one of those food mixers with the interlocking whisks. Brilliant. Job done in moments.

Using your magic whippy machine, beat two eggs into the mixture. Now it looks like cake batter. Then add 100mls of hot coffee. That’s about two espressos. Now it looks like something that came out of a drain.

Now put in 200g of self-raising flour, and beat until it looks like a batter again. Throw in all but a palmful of the nuts, and beat again. Lot of beating going on. Baking is violent.

Now the whole gloopy mess goes into your baking tin, and into the oven. Give it 25 minutes, then poke it with a skewer or toothpick. You’re not taunting it, you’re seeing if it’s cooked through. If your implement of torture comes out clean, you’re done.

It’s fine like that, but this is Sunday, so make some damn effort. Throw together an icing.

200g of icing sugar in yet another bowl (your kitchen should look like a dirty bowl store by now). Add 3 tablespoons of coffee to that, then enough boiling water to make a runny icing. Think the sort of thing that goes on a doughnut. If you have lemon zest, half a teaspoon would be good here. Drizzle your icing over the top of the warm cake. It’s gonna go everywhere, so don’t try and be fancy. Scatter the nuts you held back from earlier (snicker) over the top. Let it cool a little more. Just a bit. Just to torture yourself.

Serve with fresh coffee, or if you’re a total heathen like me, the remains of the morning’s pot reheated with some milk. Sorry about that. Waste not want not.