Thursday, 10 September 2009


As I was in central London today, I dropped in to Waterstones on Gower Street on the way home. This branch of Waterstones has one of the largest cookery book sections I've seen and it's always enjoyable to browse through their collection. The highlight of this session was The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, and discovering that the Hummingbird Bakery is, in fact, here in London. The book has plenty of traditional American recipes like blueberry pie, blueberry muffins, chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake, and also some more modern recipes like white chocolate and pecan cookies, green tea cupcakes and lavender cupcakes. Mmm. This book is going on my wish list. Am temporarily having a moratorium on cookbook buying though, as we don't really have space for many more - I counted up the cookbooks we have and it was already over 100.
The International Cookery section had a number of Grub Street re-issues of old favorites - Arto der Haroutounian's North African Cookery,
Mary Taylor Simeti's Sicilian Food, Anissa Helou's Lebanese Cuisine, Margaret Shaida's The Legendary Cuisine of Persia, Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cookery, and The Book of Latin American Cooking by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz.
Next stop was the Oxfam bookshop on Gower Street - they have a pretty large selection of vintage cookbooks. Came across a recipe for Tarte au Sucre in a little book called The Little Canadian Cookbook. It's been so long since I've seen a tarte au sucre in a shop that I can't remember whether they were one crust pies like pecan pie, or like the pie in this recipe, or double-crust pies.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Sweet Potato and Pecan Bread

Made Sweet Potato and Pecan Bread from Rachel Allen's Bake last night. First time that I've used raw sweet potato in baking, although I have used cooked pumpkin, raw zucchini, and of course carrots. The cake tastes wonderful, I think the pecans go really well with the sweet potato. I decided to use only 50g of pecans though. Only one problem. The texture of the cake is nice and even, and it tastes cooked, the pecans taste toasted, but it is very, very wet, even though I baked it for 1.5 hours and when I tested it the skewer came out clean. More like mashed sweet potatoes than cake. Not sure what to do about this, whether using say, 200 or 250 g of sweet potato instead of 300 g would make it less moist, or whether not filling the baking tin so full would help it to come out drier.

I had another go at making the Sweet Potato and Pecan Bread yesterday. I thought that maybe my 9x5-inch tin was a bit too small, so I thought I would bake it in a 9x9x2-inch tin this time. This was actually a bit too big for the amount of batter, so if I make it again I would use an 8-inch square pan. I have an electric fan oven, and I think I may have been overcompensating for that and maybe baking things at too low a temperature. So this time I baked it at 350 F for 30 min, then turned the temperature
down to 325 F for another 15 min. I let it cool in the pan. I am happy to report that this time the consistency was much drier, with a crumb like a proper cake.