October 1, 2012

Nibbles and Novels Blog Party

Welcome! Thank you for coming to the very first monthly Nibble and Novels party! We're going to have so much fun, sharing my two favorite hobbies: reading and cooking! So, grab a treat and a sip of something yummy, and make yourself at home; I'll go first!
I've been reading almost since before birth. I know that isn't possible, but who cares. I was devouring chapter books out of kindergarten and first grade, whipping through them lickety-split with my own version of speed-reading, living in my own little literary world and getting in trouble in school for reading during class!  Jane Eyre is my favorite book of all time. The language, and emotions, and images in that book just give me goosebumps! But my favorite character, hands-down, no question, is Anne Shirley.
I wish I could be her!! I wish I could live in Nova Scotia (if I can't live in England!) with those beautiful woodsy places she wanders through. I wish I was slim and tall and red-headed with starry grey eyes... well, maybe not tall, Stephen wouldn't be a fan. I've always tried to emulate her rapture with life, and I think I do have a glimmer of her talent there!
I read the whole series at least once a year. Can't help myself. I'll be in the mood for a little Avonlea... but they're like potato chips - I can't read just one! As I have gotten older and had children, I desperately wanted to be the kind of mother she is. She never gets angry, or annoyed, or dismissive; she is always sweet, and kind, and SO in tune with her children! It may seem silly, but my failings in comparison caused many tearful nights. Finally, one day, horribly guilty over my latest explosion on my poor boys, I confided my wistful yearnings to a very good friend. She looked at me sympathetically, then said, "But Anne had a Susan!!" Ohhh.... I felt so silly. Not only was I measuring myself against a fictional character (however real Anne may always be to me!) but she was right! How much easier would life be if we all had someone to do all the hard stuff for us? Someone ELSE to make dinner, clean the house, deal with the children... it would be so easy to always be pleasant! Well, that was my reality check, and now I just try to do my best, and instill some "Anne" into my voice when I start to roar. 
Now, my inspiration!!
"On the table reposed a nut cake which she had baked that morning... a particularly toothsome concoction iced with pink icing and adorned with walnuts." ~ Anne of Avonlea
Do you remember this cake? It's the one she takes to cranky Mr. Harrison after she accidentally sells his cow! I love the words "toothsome concoction", don't you?? Now, a few months ago, before I was a food-blogger, I stumbled on this picture:
I immediately thought of Anne's cake. Sure, the frosting may not be pink, but isn't it a "toothsome concoction??" I spent the rest of that week, and the next (while in the hospital) reading nearly every recipe on this blog, The English Kitchen. It was my inspiration to start blogging, and it is only fitting that at my first blog party, I gave the fabulous Marie her credit! *applause* We are now fast friends and kindred spirits, and the rest is history. And it is time to make this cake!! Allright, time for you to link up (at the bottom) and see MY toothsome concoction!
*Rules: Link up posts that are inspired by Books! Recipes, fashion, projects, or just thoughts. As long as you tell us about the literary inspiration! That's all! If you, by any chance, would like to co-host, awesome! Let me know!*
And grab a button, if you like!
Dimples and Delights

Iced Coffee Walnut Cake (from The English Kitchen)
Printable Recipe
1/2 cup plus 1/2 Tb of whole milk
1/3 cup of butter, cut into chunks
1 tsp instant coffee granules 
heaping 1/2 cup of caster/ultrafine sugar
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts, plus extra whole walnut halves to decorate
1 medium egg, at room temperature and beaten
1 1/3 cup (slightly heap the 1/3 cup) self-raising flour

Coffee Buttercream Icing:
7 Tbs butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 1 tsp boiling water (I used 2 Tb heavy cream)
spash of milk, if needed

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and line a loaf tin with parchment paper, then butter/spray the paper.

Combine the milk, butter and coffee granules in a large saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until the butter is melted and the coffee granules dissolved. (mine didn't dissolve: I discovered I had used the wrong kind! If yours don't dissolve after a while, pour it through a wire strainer)  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and chopped walnuts with a wooden spoon. Stir in the egg until thoroughly combined. Stir in the flour gradually, until just combined. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the surface with a spoon.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until well risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan 5 minutes, then remove to cool completely on a wire rack. This loaf doesn't rise REALLY high, so no worries. :)

Dissolve the coffee granules for the icing in 1 tsp boiling water, then let cool. To make the icing, beat the butter and vanilla together until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, a little bit at a time, until well combined. Beat dissolved coffee into the icing. If it is too thick, add milk, 1 tsp at a time, beating well after each, until you reach your desired consistency.
I didn't make coffee icing, because I HAD to dye it pink :) And brownish-pink just isn't pretty...
I also didn't put nuts inside... Stephen grumbled... sigh. I am going to have to make another one, ALL for me, FULL of nuts!! I was weak. Put nuts in!!
Regardless, it is delicious. I don't drink coffee, but I love the smell, and love coffee-flavored things! This cake isn't smack-you-upside-the-head coffee, but it makes itself known. I love it!!
By the way, that is also a wonderful icing recipe. I can never seem to get icing right, but this was perfect!
Light and moist, smokey coffee-flavored buttery cake... tis scrumptious. And inspirational. And I am going to make another one, full of nuts, with better instant coffee. Just to see if it can get any better... :)

Thanks for joining my Nibbles and Novels party! It will be open for 2 weeks, so link up anytime!

1 comment :

  1. I feel like I'm gaining weight by just LOOKING at all of your delicious blog posts! lol I am still learning to cook, and I haven't mastered much as far as baking, but I definitely hope to try out some of these recipes...Lord knows I have a sweet tooth :-P


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