Sunday, 19 June 2016

Lemon and Matcha Bundt Cake

Lemon and Matcha Bundt Cake
A couple of weeks ago, I got sent a tin of Mighty Matcha green tea to review. I've been a fan of this stuff for ages, and have tried a few different brands over the years. Forget what you know about green tea which comes in a bag, this stuff is a potent green powder which will kick tiredness to the kerb, and fill you will free-radial fighting antioxidents. Rather than dried tea, this is ground up leaves which you tend to drink cold with water or juice, or you can add it to food; definitely not a standard brew.

Because I've done the whole drinks review thing before, this time I wanted to show you the versatility of the product by baking with it. Now I've had a Matcha cake before, and found it quite bitter and very dry, so I decided to counteract this by mixing it with a lemon base. Bundts are always beautifully moist, but I didn't want that distinctive tea taste to become overpowering. It had to be a ripple; a lime green ripple created by nothing but the tea.

It certainly got people asking a lot of questions when they saw that green streak! Feedback from the willing guinea pigs was pretty good indeed. They all agreed the tea taste came through, but was quite subtle. The sweetness of the lemon cake was the more dominant flavour. Apparently Matcha is also excellent for boosting concentration, however I think they focused on eating rather than than work...
Lemon and Matcha Bundt Cake
 Ingredients:
  • 225g butter
  • 450g golden caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 350g Homepride plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200ml lemon yoghurt 
  • Juice and zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 2 tbsp Matcha green tea
  • 300g Icing sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • More Matcha to decorate

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to gas 3/160 c
  2. Prepare a regular sized bundt tin - 2.4l, 10 cup, 10 inch with Cake Release spray and dust with flour. 
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  5. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  6. Pour the yoghurt into a jug and stir in the lemon juice and zest.
  7. Sift in a third of the flour mix followed by half the yoghurt mix. Repeat this until everything is combined.
  8. Give everything a quick mix on a low speed for about 10 seconds.
  9. Remove 5 heaped tablespoons of batter, and pop into a small bowl. 
  10. Stir the Matcha into this smaller bowl. It'll be very green... 
  11. Add half of the cake mix to your prepared tin, followed by the green batter.
  12. Spread the green batter into an even layer, and cover with the remaining 'standard' batter.
  13. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 
  14. Leave the cake to cool for ten minutes before removing from the tin.
  15. When the cake is fully cool, mix the icing sugar with enough lemon juice (or water) to make a runny icing. Tip over the cake and decorate with a dusting of Matcha.

Where to buy this stuff:
Cake Release

Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt
Mighty Matcha


A 30g tin (30 cups) is £12.50 from Mighty Matcha, which is very reasonable when compared to other products on the market.

Bloggers: Please respect the fact I am sharing my own ideas and basic 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.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Be at One, Manchester

Be at One, Manchester
I was unfamiliar with Be at One. It's a bit of an institution in London, already establishing itself as a bit of a post work drinking den for those who love a cocktail. Need somewhere to take a big group of drinking soldiers? Be at One is the place for you. Let me tell you more. Kick back, put your slippers on and let me tell you a cock-tale.

Be at One was started by three pals in the late 90s, who were sick of these fancy bars that offered rubbish cocktails and charged a fortune for the pleasure. They caned the credit cards and opened their first bar. Their menu is massive, but it can be navigated with ease as they split the drinks by size, type, spirit, and flavours, plus their lovely bar staff are always happy to offer a recommendation (I enjoy a surprise).
Be at One, Manchester
The Manchester bar is in Barton Arcade (accessible from the St Anne's Square side). You tootle down a very windy staircase into a hidden cavern of dimly lit booths and pretty lights. Since 11th June is World Gin Day, it seemed only fair for us to put the gin section through its paces.

Bee's Knees - Whitley Neill gin, lemon juice, Manuka honey and pollen syrup: Tastes like pure honey, which really complements the botanical nature of gin. Very delicate, and not overly sweet. 
Lychee Martini - Beefeater gin, lychee juice, lychee liqueur and Chombard: Wow wee, this one is strong. Our lovely bartender Katie informed us that this recipe has recently been improved, now including fresh lychee to balance the strength of the alcohol.
Be at One, Manchester
Monte Casino - Beefeater 24 gin, apricot brandy, apricot preserve, fresh lemon juice and orange bitters: Despite having jam in it, this is actually very refreshing. I thought it would be ridiculously strong because of the brandy, but not so.
Be at One, Manchester
Shaky Pete's - Created by bartender Pete Jeary, this cocktail blends gin with ginger and lemon juice before topping off with beer: I am a lifelong beer hater, and may be known for doing an uncontrollable, mental face when I so much as sip the stuff. It's quite frankly muck. However, I was intrigued by this as it was created by legendary bartender Pete Jeary, of Hawksmoor fame. You know what? It was bloody lovely. The fire from the ginger totally mutes the hops, and dare I say it... I may have enjoyed this. True. 
Clover Club - Bombay Sapphire gin, dry vermouth, lemon juice, raspberry syrup and egg white (see below): We had to try a gin classic. I love a clover club because it's pretty much a cake in a glass, complete with an egg white topping. One for the sweet-toothed.
Be at One, Manchester
When I visited Be at One's website prior to writing this up, I also found that they give you the recipe and method for all their cocktails to try at home. Brilliant idea! Brilliant, but possibly dangerous now I think about it... Nicely done though.
Be at One, Manchester
Another snazzy little gadget is their app. Although there are happy hours every day, you can also invoke your own when you arrive by getting a code from the bar, and starting your timer. Ideal for those (like me) who always rock up too early/late. It also has some other nifty little features like all the recipes, a bar finder, and you can even budget your night out before you end up wasted, by adding a credit card. They add exclusive offers to this too, so it's well worth having.

I love this place, despite knowing little about it before this visit. It has a nice vibe, which sits comfortably in the 'lively yet cosy' category for me. Go here with a big group of pals, order loads of different cocktails and try each others'!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Wahaca, Manchester - Summer Specials

Wahaca, Manchester - Summer Specials
God we've got about a bit recently. It seems that everywhere is launching an exciting new summer menu, and there just don't seem to be enough hours in the day to try them all. Is that my belly rumbling, or just gout softly calling my name...? This hobby may well kill me before long. 

Last week my blogging partner in crime (Mexican division) and I were invited to Wahaca to sample their new goodies. Not exactly a tough gig hey? There's nothing better than an early dart on a sunny day, to find yourself surrounded by food and cocktails, giggling away without a care in the world. Once again, Lee was keen to write this one up as she was so enthused about the whole experience. She'll be putting me out of a job this one... So here's what we ate, and her accompanying thoughts.

Wahaca is a firm favourite of ours, so an invite to try the new summer specials was gratefully received!

Frijoles and tortilla chips - creamy twice cooked black beans served with crumbly Lancashire cheese and crema: We started with Frijoles and tortilla chips; I always love this kind of to start a Wahaca feast, and the Lancashire cheese crumbled on top is delicious.
Wahaca, Manchester - Summer Specials
We did our usual trick of ordering food for ten, for two! The summer specials of chorizo and cheese tacos served with fresh avocado salsa, and Devon crab tostada were amazing.

Chorizo and Cheese Taco: Sautéed British free range chorizo from Trealy farm with sweet roasted red onions, melted cheese and fresh avocado salsa.
Wahaca, Manchester - Summer Specials
Devon Crab Tostada: Handpicked Devon white crab meat, with creamy mayo, fresh lime and diced tomatoes, served on lettuce with crispy tortillas on the side: The tostada in particular has been playing on my mind ever since; fresh crab meat with mayo, lime, and tomatoes served with crispy tortilla. Fortunately for me, Rach isn't a massive fan of crab meat so I tanked the lot (and will be back for more soon). It's also worth noting that 20p from the sale of each of these dishes is donated to charities here in the UK and in Mexico, so you can feel good about eating your body weight in street food.
Wahaca, Manchester - Summer Specials
Sweet potato and feta taquito - roasted sweet potato, feta and caramelised red onion wrapped in crispy blue corn and dotted with salsas and chipotle mayo: We also ordered my old favourite, sweet potato and feta taquitos, these blow me away every time.
Wahaca, Manchester - Summer Specials
Mexico City style chicken enchiladas - two classic enchiladas, with grilled chicken, tomato salsa roja and topped with melted cheese: New to the menu were the larger Enchilada dishes, so we chose to try the Mexico City style chicken enchiladas. These were delicious, and although a much bigger plate, still allowed for gorging on other dishes when it was shared.
Wahaca, Manchester - Summer Specials
To accompany these gorgeous dishes we had a bowl of spicy slaw, creamy frijoles, and sweet potato chunks; all were wonderful additions to the meal. 

Sweet potato - crispy fried chunks of sweet potato, dressed with smoky caramelised mojo de ajo.
Wahaca, Manchester - Summer Specials
Frijoles - rich, creamy black beans cooked twice for flavour. Served with crumbled cheese and crema.
Wahaca, Manchester - Summer Specials
Spicy slaw - fresh crunchy slaw mix with our chipotle dressing.
Wahaca, Manchester - Summer Specials
Churros y chocolate - our favourite! Mexican doughnuts with rich chocolate and caramel sauces: We managed to fit a portion of Wahaca's churros in to finish, served with both sauces. Needless to say I didn't need to eat again till much later in the day.
Wahaca, Manchester - Summer Specials
Another delightful meal at Wahaca, accompanied by fantastic service and heavenly cocktails (you must try the Earl of Mexico - actual game changer right there!)

Strawberry & Basil daiquiri - golden rum, winter spices, fresh lime (left)
Earl Of Mexico - gin & Earl Grey lemonade with a hint of aniseed (right)
Wahaca, Manchester - Cocktails
Classic - freshly squeezed lime with a hint of agave
Passion fruit margarita - A tropical twisted margarita

Wahaca, Manchester - Cocktails
Many thanks to Wahaca for such a beautiful afternoon; the food never fails to wow us, and the service was top notch too. See you soon for more Mexican loveliness.
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