Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Bill's, Manchester

Bill's, Manchester
I've always fancied trying Bill's when we've been in London, but with so many exciting shiny restaurants, it's always been missed off the list. To be honest I've been pretty busy with work recently too, so didn't even know that they had opened a restaurant in Manchester until we drove past on our way to the Botanist. I had to give it a go.

Serving 'breakfast to bedtime' you'll be right at home whether you want a fancy fry up or a meaty burger. My husband is a big fan of the former, myself the latter. Luckily for us we could have both! The restaurant itself is huge, but has been split into smaller dining spaces so it's neither loud or invasive of personal space - I'm not a fan of either. 

Dried chillies hang on the walls, there's an array of oversized lampshades, and quintessential kitsch accessories fill every available space. Many of the shelves are decorated with the brightly coloured jars, packets and bottles of Bill's signature produce too. 
Bill's, Manchester
We were greeted by a friendly face and seated next to the window overlooking busy John Dalton Street. It was really weird, because despite being sat in the middle of Manchester city centre, we both got a feeling like we could have been in a burger bar in San Francisco. Not sure why...

Bill's breakfast - cumberland sausage, fried free range eggs, beans, black pudding, smoked streaky bacon and toast (sans tomatoes and mushrooms): It's a thing of beauty. As far removed from the greasy spoon with a milky brew as you can get. His only complaint? They forgot his sausage! However, this was dealt with swiftly and it had half gone before I even got change to snap the bugger.
Bill's, Manchester - Breakfast
Bill's hamburger with monterey jack cheese, red onion, tomato, lettuce, horseradish mayonnaise and skinny fries: Remember in 1999 when Burger King did ace fries? No? Maybe just the Middlebrook one then - you'll have to trust me, they were outstanding. Well these fries hit the nail on the head. Perhaps these legendary fries only exist in a clouded vodka-infused memory. Anyway, a rather pleasant burger with crisp, salty chips. My only criticism was it came well done when I ordered pink. Still tasted pretty good though.
Bill's, Manchester - Burger
Bill's is the ideal spot for a lazy brunch. In all honesty I'd still go to the likes of Almost Famous for a burger, but that breakfast was fantastic. I can't believe there are still enough punters around to fill all these new restaurants, but with a new food blogger springing up weekly, I think we'll keep them in business for some time yet! They're not doing anything groundbreaking or causing a ruckus on Twitter, but we enjoyed it all the same.

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Almond Butter Bundt Cake

Almond Butter Bundt Cake
When I set the theme for our last cake club, I was convinced that 'The Nutcracker' would be easy. The problem was choice. I had a few ideas in my arsenal, but was struggling to decide on just one. Then I remembered I had squirrelled away a jar of almond butter for just such an occasion. I like to collect nice ingredients because I know one day they will be transformed into something magical. 

It turns out that this cake is popular with the fellas. It's a big cake with a dense yet moist crumb, and has a decent weight to it when held. The cake itself isn't too sweet (despite 425g of sugar!) but the light icing and fruit on top just give it a gentle lift. Although it can also be made with peanut butter, I think the almond makes it that bit more interesting. 

  • 275g unsalted butter 
  • 425g golden caster sugar
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 6 medium eggs
  • 150g almond butter (I used Meridian). Give it a good stir before using.
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp low fat plain yogurt

  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • Cherries and whole almonds to decorate

  1. Grease and flour a regular sized bundt tin (2.4l, 10 cup, 10 inch). 
  2. Soften the butter then add in half of the sugar and beat for about a minute. Then add the rest of the sugar and beat until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the almond extract.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time on a low speed.
  5. Using a spatula, blend in all of the almond butter. It will look a bit sloppy... 
  6. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
  7. Fold in half of the flour mixture, followed by the yogurt, then the rest of the flour. 
  8. Give the whole thing a quick whizz for about 10 seconds just to combine everything properly.
  9. Pour the batter into the tin and smooth out. 
  10. Bake your cake at gas 4/180 C for 45 minutes, then turn the temperature down to gas 3/160 C for around another 25-30 minutes. As aways, you'll know it's done when a skewer comes out clean and the cake is shrinking from the edges of the tin.
  11. Leave to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out.
  12. Allow to cool completely before icing. I mean it. Unless of course you want a soggy mess.
  13. To make the icing add the almond extract to the icing sugar, with enough water to make a runny icing. Tip it over the cake with confidence! It knows... 
  14. Decorate with fresh cherries and a few whole almonds.
Almond Butter Bundt Cake
BloggersPlease respect the fact I am sharing my own ideas and recipe. Blood, sweat and many tears have gone into getting this right, so you may enjoy a perfect bundt. If you wish to re-blog a recipe from these variations, please credit my blog and link to this original post rather than pasting the recipe on your own page. 
Please see my Creative Commons Copyright information for more details. Thank you.

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - The Nutcracker

Clandestine Cake Club Bolton
So I'm playing catch up after a week of gallivanting. Last week we had a nutty themed cake club in the shape of 'The Nutcracker'. This was a theme picked by the club members, as it was decided (whilst eating cake) that they bloody love a moist, nutty bake.

This month we went to the Doffcocker Inn in Bolton; a proper old world drinker's pub with a fantastic function room. I think most of the regulars were pretty bemused by a tribe of bakers heading upstairs with huge cakes. Worry not - we assisted with the soaking up of alcohol by sharing our cake with them!

Despite losing a couple of people to illness, we still had twelve beauts. They included:

  • Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake
  • Almond and Pistachio Cake
  • Chocolate, Caramel and Nut Cake
  • Walnut Loaf Cake
  • Almond and Pistachio Cake with Lemon Drizzle
  • Almond Butter Bundt Cake
  • Pistachio Loaf
  • Nectarine and Almond Cake
  • Peanut Butter Cup
  • Semolina Lemon and Almond Cake
  • Sugar Plum Fairy and Almond Cake
  • White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Cake

Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - The Nutcracker
Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - The Nutcracker
Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - The Nutcracker
Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - The Nutcracker
Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - The Nutcracker
Cake club organisers, I can highly recommend a nutty theme! These cakes were amongst some of the best we've had. Thanks to our wonderful group for yet another brilliantly diverse range of cakes. See you next month...

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