I could hear the baking larder door being opened and closed, the pyrex bowls being got out, the hand whisk's "whiskerators" (our name) being extracted from the mad puzzle that is the utensil drawer and the unmistakable sound of the oven buzzing into life.
All this meant just one thing - hubby had decided to bake a cake.
We had avidly watched the whole series of "Great British Bake Off", without either of us running keenly to the kitchen to follow up on inspiration gained. We had even watched the Mary Berry/Paul Hollywood baking masterclass spin-off programmes without being moved to recreate any of the recipes. (Although I do have a number of "would like to makes" on the back burner).
Hubby, however, had been harbouring a secret desire for a Coffee & Walnut cake for a while.
|Too many decorations? Does not compute!|
We do try to ride out these sorts of desires. Wait to see whether it's a real yearning, or whether it's just a passing fancy. For instance, I've been harbouring a want to make a fish curry for oh, probably some four to five months now. It's just waiting for a time when the right fish is affordable and the dish will fit into the remainder of the week's menu. I'll get there, one day!
This fancy quite obviously wasn't going to go away though - so he was acting upon it.
Now, how easy would it be, to go off to the local supermarket and buy a Coffee & Walnut cake, eh? It would be the work of minutes as Sainsbury's is literally just down the road. But no - there he was up to his neck in flour and walnuts, making the object of his desire. You've got to admire him for that!
This was a very particular Coffee & Walnut cake though. It wasn't to be one of your traditional round cake - oh no. What he was hankering after was a loaf shaped version, filled with chopped walnuts and ripe with the flavour of coffee. It was to have oodles of coffee buttercream on top, instead of sandwiched in between the two layers. Oh - and loads of chocolate decoration. Nothing else would do.
So, for those moments when you desire an outrageously decorated Coffee & Walnut Loaf that is light as a feather, deliciously nutty and rich with coffee flavours - here's hubby's recipe.
COFFEE & WALNUT LOAF
150g of self raising flour
125ml full cream milk
110g caster sugar
75g unsalted butter cut into cubes
3 tsp instant coffee granules
60g of crushed walnuts plus 16 walnut halves to decorate
1 beaten egg.
1. Butter and line (I used a loaf tin liner) an 8 by 3 inch loaf tin.
2. In a large saucepan, place the milk, butter and coffee granules and warm until the butter is melted and the granules have dissolved.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and then add the sugar and crushed walnuts. Stir until the sugar has dissolved before folding in the beaten egg.
4. Finally, add the flour in stages, stirring gently and continuously until all of the flour has been incorporated
5. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and then place into an oven, preheated to 325degF/160degC/gas3. Bake for 45 minutes before testing with a skewer - which should come out clean, if the cake is done.
6. Remove the loaf tin from the oven and leave to cool for 5-10 minutes before carefully turning out onto a wire cooling rack. Once fully cooled, decorate the cake with coffee frosting and halved walnuts.
For the Frosting
120g butter, room temperature
160g icing sugar
15ml (or more to taste) strong coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract.
7. Whisk the butter until it becomes pale before incorporating the sugar in stages. Whisk together until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Finally, whisk in the coffee and vanilla until well incorporated. If the mixture becomes too stiff, simply add a splash of milk. For a bit of variation, other trusted coffee additions such as cinnamon or hazelnut syrup can be added.
All that remains is to make a cup of tea, get out your best crockery and indulge yourself!