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So today I’m going to share a little bit about me. I have been working in the hospitality industry since I was 18. I have worked in some really great places and it all started with my first job while I was in art college as a waitress in a hotel bar. I loved it so much and realised my second calling. I soon became a cocktail bartender and then a supervisor and then over the years I worked my way to being manager. I worked pretty much five nights a week all the way through a fourty hour college week. I have worked for Bono and been lucky enough to have met and spent time with many movie stars and music stars. I’ve even had a couple of proposal of marriage from my customers but I think it may have been the cocktails talking. I really love working with my customers and providing some really good service. Every day is different and some better than others. I have kept my art up and have had sell out shows, but art is something that you have to have a lot of time for and while I love it, it doesn’t pay the bills. So I keep working in hotels, galleries, jewellery shops and cafes. It may not be the most glamorous of jobs, but it is a love and passion of mine. And every day I get closer to opening my own place.

About a year and a half ago, I took a job working in a small boutique wine shop and cafe in County Dublin. I LOVE it. I get a chance to work with some really great people and better my idea of what I want my own cafe to be. Recently I started a new angle of the job. I now do the retail orders and once a week I get to spend a day in the kitchen making scones and croissants and experimenting on cakes.

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Last week, I had a few moments free so I put together a new cake. It went down so well that this week I tried another variation on the same cake. This works well for both the cafe and myself. I get feedback and they get a great home-made treat for the customers. I have been focusing on gluten free cakes for this, as it is hard to cater for the gluten intolerant person. They always get forgotten and I hate having to tell a anyone that that we don’t have something for them.

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So now the moment I get home from working in the kitchen, I find myself planning what I’m going to make next week. I am in bliss!

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GLUTEN FREE BLACKBERRY, DARK CHOCOLATE AND ALMOND CAKE

Like I said, I have been experimenting with this cake for the past two weeks. And I have learned that once you have the right ratios, it works with most fruit and chocolates. This is my favourite version! But in close second is my raspberry and white chocolate combination. Use the same quantities but depending on what you have to hand or your tastes, substitute with different fruits and chocolates, and if you don’t have fresh fruits, frozen work too. This is my contribution to Fiesta Friday this week, even though I haven’t fulfilled the new challenge brief (to use yeast and herbs), I just really wanted to share this.

  •  175 g butter
  • 175 g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 tbsp gluten free flour
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste
  • 175 g ground almonds
  •  handful of flaked almonds, to top
  • 75 g good dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100 g blackberries (or a mix of berries and currants)
  • icing sugar to dust

THE HOW

Heat the oven to 170 C (fan oven). Grease and line a round, loose bottomed cake tin or spring form tin (about 20-23cm). Make sure you line the sides too

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Beat together the butter and sugar until light a fluffy. Then one at a time, add the eggs. Beating each egg into the mix until fully incorporated before adding the next egg. If you see that your mix is separating (curdling) add a bit of the flour to help bind it.

Next add your vanilla, ground almonds and the flour (if you haven’t already), until everything is uniformly mixed. Finally stir in your chopped chocolate. Once stirred in, transfer to your tin.

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Smooth the mix out to cover the base evenly and then top with your fruits and flaked almonds. Depending on your fruit selection it should look roughly like this:

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Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on your cake as it cooks, you don’t want it to brown too much. If it is, turn the oven down a little. The cake is done when a skewer or knife is inserted and comes out clean. Remember this mix has chocolate in it, so make sure that when doing the done test, you haven’t just hit a pocket of berry or chocolate oozy goodness. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin and then remove, plate and dust with icing sugar…

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