Caramelised rum and coconut pina asadas, and a big dose of guilt

As what I would consider a truly amateur food blogger, it’s always a lovely surprise when I’m contacted by anyone asking me if I would like to review their product/book/restaurant, and as long as it fits in with the content of my blog I’m happy to do it.

The only problem is, sometimes I end up with just too many things to post about and not enough time, which means it can take a little longer than I’d like to write up the posts.

I have what I think of as a guilt chest – all the things I know I should do, and feel terrible about not doing, but just haven’t quite go around to doing.

The biggest dose of guilt in it is for a cookbook I was sent months and months ago – and actually love – but until now hadn’t blogged about.

World Food Cafe: Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey has been written by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott, who run the World Food Cafe in London’s Covent Garden.

World Food Cafe Quick & Easy

The book contains more than one hundred veggie recipes, literally from all around the world. It’s split into sections by country – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Chile, Cuba, Japan, Laos, Helsinki & Lapland, Namibia, Syria and Vietnam – each with the story of Chris and Carolyn’s travels in that country, and lots of notes about the traditional dishes accompanying the recipes themselves.

Part of the reason it’s taken me so long to write this up is that I made loads of the savoury recipes straight away, but wanted to wait until I’d baked something sweet to post the recipe for. I couldn’t let it drag into the new year though, so now is the time to get rid of the guilt!

I love South American food so immediately gravitated towards Cuba to make the Huevos Habaneros (eggs from Havana) and the Sweetcorn and Caramelised Onion Tortilla de Papa, both of which were delicious.

After cooking my way around some of the other countries, I returned to Cuba to make these Caramelised Rum and Coconut Pina Asadas. I have to say, I think they would taste a million times better sat on a beach on a sunny evening in Cuba than they did in my kitchen on a cold December evening, but regardless it was a delicious dessert that I will definitely make again.

A big part of the reason I loved this recipe is the generous glug of dark rum involved – I love rum in general, but paired with pineapple, coconut, cinnamon and lime, it really is like tropical heaven.

My photos absolutely don’t do this dish justice, it was so good and I will definitely make it again. I also plan to keep trying new recipes from the World Food Cafe cookbook, as there are so may that sound amazing – the only slight downside is that a lot of them use ingredients I suspect most people don’t already have in their store cupboards, but if the ones I’ve tried so far are anything to go by it’s worth stocking up.

Caramelised rum and coconut pina asadas

  • 1/2 medium pineapples, sliced into 4 rings
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp demerara sugar
  • grated coconut
  • vanilla ice cream to serve

Melt the butter over a low heat, then add the rum, lime, cinnamon and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the pineapple and leave to marinade for half an hour.

Heat a griddle pan and lay the pineapple slices in it. Sprinkle the coconut on top, and baste with the leftover butter mixture. Once the underneath has caramelised, flip over to cook the other side and sprinkle with more coconut and baste with more butter.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – and a perhaps a side of rum if you have any going spare…

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Carrot, pineapple and orange cake

Carrot, pineapple and orange cake

I’m into baking with vegetables in a big way at the minute, so when I was flicking through Peggy Porschen’s Boutique Baking the ‘scrumptious carrot cake’ immediately caught my eye.

It’s actually somewhere in between a traditional carrot cake and a hummingbird cake, as it has the addition of crushed pineapple in the sponge.

Given that I LOVED the hummingbird cake I made ages ago for a Clandestine Cake Club, I figured a hummingbird-carrot cake hybrid could only be a good thing, and switching the suggest buttercream and sugarpaste for an orange cream cheese frosting was quite literally the icing on the cake.

All the flavours work together perfectly, with nothing too overpowering. The deliciously sticky sponge is dense without being heavy, and the icing is just sweet enough sandwiched between the layers – I think if I’d covered the whole cake in icing it might have been too much, but I hear naked cakes are all the rage at the minute anyway…

If someone specifically wanted me to make them a carrot cake I think I’d still go with the traditional version, but this is a great way to change it up a bit and try something different so I would definitely recommend giving it a go!

Carrot, pineapple and orange cake (adapted from Peggy Porschen’s Boutique Baking)

  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 5 tbsp (75ml) vegetable oil
  • 75g natural yoghurt
  • 1.5 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 320g carrots, grated
  • 1 tin pineapple chunks, drained and crushed (220g)
  • 40g pecan nuts, chopped
  • 290g plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the icing:

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 250g icing sugar

Beat together the sugar, vegetable oil and yoghurt until well combined, then add the eggs one a a time, followed by the vanilla. Fold in the grated carrots, crushed pineapple and chopped pecans, then finally sift together all of the remaining dry ingredients and fold these into the mix too. Divide the cake batter between three 6″ round cake tins and bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 30-40 minutes, or until springy to the touch and starting to pull away from the sides of the tins.

While the cakes are cooking, make the icing. Beat the butter to soften, then add the orange zest and the icing sugar, a little at a time. If it won’t come together, add 25g of the cream cheese and beat again. Once the butter and sugar has been creamed, add he cream cheese and beat on a high speed for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy, then chill in the fridge for an hour or so.

Assemble the cake by levelling the tops of the cakes if they’ve domed, then by layering sponge and frosting. Slice and serve!

Hummingbird Cake

Last week, I went to another brilliant Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club, and have been terribly slack in posting about it – apologies!

Held at a gorgeous farmhouse near Tintagel, the Cornwall and North Cornwall branches of CCC came together for a 4th of July all-American spectacular. Just look at this spread of cakes – and that was before everyone had even arrived!

I decided to make a Hummingbird cake – apparently Southern Living magazine’s most requested recipe, so it must be a true American classic!

I was a bit worried someone else would do the same, but luckily they didn’t. For those of you who haven’t heard of or tried a Hummingbird cake, it’s basically a super-charged banana cake, with added pineapple, pecans, cinnamon and cream cheese icing – ¬†an inspired combination!

This is probably one of my favourite things I’ve baked recently, as all the elements just work really well together – the bananas taste delicious and make it smell heavenly when it’s baking, same for the cinnamon which I love in pretty much anything; the pineapple makes it extra-moist, the pecans add a nice texture contrast, and cream cheese icing is my all-time favourite frosting.

Hopefully everyone else who tried a bit liked it – I took a slice home with me at my boss’s request, and even his banana-hating son approved so it must have been pretty good!

Just in case the giant flag the pony made to go in my cake wasn’t enough to let people know what it was, I made a little hummingbird to go on top, although my lack of artistic skills may have just left everyone more confused…

Hummingbird Cake (adapted from Southern Living magazine)

  • 360g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400g sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 250ml vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g can crushed pineapple
  • 100g chopped pecans
  • 450g chopped over-ripe bananas (3 large bananas)
  • 500g cream cheese
  • 250g butter
  • 250g icing sugar

Start by greasing and lining four 7″ sandwich tins – I only have two so I baked in two batches. Sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon into a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs, oil and vanilla and stir into the dry ingredients, until just combined. Fold in the banana, pineapple and pecans and stir to make sure they’re all distributed evenly, then divide the mixture between the pans and bake at 180 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until risen and springy to the touch.

For the icing, beat the butter to soften, then add the icing sugar and half the cream cheese. Using an electric mixer, beat for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy and no lumps remain, then quickly add in the rest of the cream cheese and beat until just combined. Chill in the fridge until thick enough to spread.

To assemble the cake, level off each of the cake layers, then stack with a layer of cream cheese icing between each, and cover with the rest of the icing. Keep in the fridge until half an hour or so before serving.