Carrot and orange cake

Carrot and orange cake with cream cheese icing and walnuts

I’ve been writing this silly little blog for nearly two years now, that’s mad isn’t it?! I’ve got to be honest, for the longest time I was a bit weird about it.

You see, the truth is I’m actually quite private. Yeah right you say! But it’s true. Yes, I realise I project my life onto the internet for full public consumption, but that’s easy when you hide behind a pseudo-name and an avatar. It took me years to get a Facebook account, I still am slightly scared by twitter and I can’t even begin to fathom Pinterest, so it came as no surprise that I took a little time to ease into the blogging.

Cream cheese icing and walnuts

For the first few months I barely even told my friends about my project, I certainly never interacted with the wider blogosphere (yes, I did just use that word, a sure sign I am now a bona-fide part-time blogger!). I was so terrified that someone might actually SEE it, shock HORROR! Over time, I have (very) slowly been working on this.

So ten days ago, when I went to a food bloggers meetup group, I was really really stepping outside my comfort zone. The people I met there were amazing and all write such unbelievably drool-tastic blogs that it made me feel immediately self-conscious. They also spoke another language, one I’m not very familiar with; SEO, engagement and PR were just some of the foreign and strange terms being bandied about. I just sipped my wine, nodded, smiled and tried to at least look like I knew what they were talking about.

Carrot and orange cake silce

Seriously though, it was wonderful to meet such lovely, energetic and creative people. Left-brained auld me can always do with a dose of inventive thinking and inspiration, check out some of their blogs below (in no particular order) to get some for yourself.

It has also made me think a little more seriously about what I want to get out of my hobby, which has been good. And I realise that I am what I am. I am never going to take the best photographs, or write the snappiest posts, get 10 bazillion hits a day or even write the most interesting recipes. But that’s all OK. As long as I’m still excited to be in the kitchen, making things that make my belly gurgle and pushing myself to write something that at the very least doesn’t put people to sleep, I’ll be happy.

Also, I made carrot cake and it was good.

Check out all of this yumness: Belly Rumbles, Simon Food Favourites, 84th & 3rd.com, Mademoiselle Slimalicious, The Littlest Anchovy, Raging CravingsOne Small Pot, and last but by no means least Chew Town.

Carrot and orange cake

Carrot and orange cake slice with cream cheese icing and walnuts

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Gone visitin’ with a new look!

This week I’ve gone off galavanting, which is always fun! I’m guest blogging and eating cheesecake at my friend Mary’s wonderful blog Where’s the Zoom.

Mary is an American friend, who I met when she (very excitedly) packed up her entire life and moved to Ireland, and all for a buachaill – swoot soooooo!!

After three years in Dublin she married the self same boy – everybody say ahhhhh. Now, she lives in sunny North Carolina with her handsome Irish hubbie and two beautiful babies, who feature regularly on her fabulous blog.  Check it out, it is beyond cute and the photos are to die for. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Hope you enjoy the new look.

I’ll be back next week for some more yumbolicious-ness!

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Wintertime pear and almond cake

It’s currently wintertime in Sydney.

Now I know that for some of you, the above statement makes absolutely no sense. In fact, you’re sitting there thinking that it’s a pure contradiction in terms. Well I’m here to drop some knowledge people: yes, they do get winter in Australia.

Three whole weeks of it in fact! Burrrr.

I’ve  expressed my opinion previously on the Sydney winter, and therefore am not going to keep talking about it, lest I start to get into rant territory. Instead, I’d just like to share some small thoughts with the dear people of Sydney. For example, did you know that wintertime can be a whole lot less traumatic if you a) get central heating in your house and b) dress appropriately? True story. Another true story: winter happens all over the world. Honestly. Everyone gets it at some point, so you’re not special, sorry. And lastly, don’t you know that winter is the perfect time to stuff your face full of all kinds of calorific yumness? It’s like, why it was invented.

So you see, you’re missing the point! It’s a time for tea and roasts and spuds and pudding with sticky sauce and melting cheese on stuff and many MANY hot ports. Fact.

Today I did some seasonal celebrating of my own by making this delicious pear and almond cake; and I would strongly encourage you all to do the same as it was totally divine. Pears are one of my favourite winter fruits and pairing them with almonds seems to work really well. This cake is dense, sticky and crumbly sweet. It’s the perfect warming reward after a chilly Sunday afternoon jaunt. It’s also a great reward for getting to the end of your chapter, or for keeping the couch warm all day, or for intending to go out, or for….

Pear and almond cake

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Happy Birthday Blog!

Yes, my blog is one year old today, whoop!

And what better way to celebrate than with cupcakes, double whoop!

After a year of writing a blog what have I discovered? Well, I’ve discovered that I’m not as good a cook as I thought I was, in fact, I am only just beginning to realise how much I’ve yet to learn. I’ve also discovered that recipes are really helpful, as is actually measuring stuff out correctly! Who would have thunk it?!

I am proud of one thing though; I’m proud that I’ve actually started trying stuff out. For so many years I watched so many cooking shows, read loads of magazines and bought cookbooks like they were going out of fashion. But I never really made anything; just day-dreamed about making stuff. I’m glad to finally be getting my hands (and apron) dirty. It feels great.

I’ve got big plans for Yumbolicious in the next year and I hope to execute at least some of them. I have a few aims too, I’m going to try and cook and post much more fish. I always use the excuse that The Fella is allergic, but if I’m really honest, I’m actually quite apprehensive about cooking fish. I’m also going to learn how to decorate cakes and cupcakes. The red velvet cupcakes I made today are just the beginning, but everyone’s got to start somewhere, right? 

Red velvet cupcakes

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Hot cross buns

Who doesn’t just love some religious iconography on their baked goods?!

As I was making these, and diligently piping out a cross on each one, I got to thinking: how does an atheist come to this? How is it these little buns are so loved that pretty much everyone, religious or not, eats them this time of year? Weird huh?

I was curious so I hit the interwebs and found out loads of interesting things about these yummie bunnies. Apparently they could have been eaten in pagan times, the cross (symbolising the four quarters of the moon) being a nod to the goddess Eostre. Which leads me to ask, did these Christians ever have an original idea?! But they were popularised in Tudor England, where they were so trendy with Catholics that Elizabeth I had to pass a law allowing them to be only made on Christmas and Good Friday. Hence how they are now associated with Easter.

Apparently there are all kinds of superstitions around them, like if you hang one in your kitchen you’ll make good bread all year, they’re also good luck to have on a ship. Who knew hot cross buns could be so interesting? If you fancy reading more try here, or here.

Or you could just skip to the recipe and enjoy these steaming hot from the oven with lashings of melted butter and a cup of tea. Yummo. It’s still the weekend after all, there’s no need to start being healthy until tomorrow.

Hot cross buns

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Hallowe’en barmbrack

It appears that Australians don’t do Hallowe’en.

It makes a lot of sense; obviously October evenings in the southern hemisphere are a lot less cold, dark and, well, scary than they are back home. Which I guess is why Hallowe’en never took off here, despite the influx of Irish immigrants over the years, and why it flourished in the States instead.

It does slightly bother me that the American version of Hallowe’en is all that’s widely known here; no one realises that it’s an ancient Celtic festival. Therefore, the focus is all on trick-or-treating, and nothing else. No bobbing for apples, no bonfires and no barmbrack. I have decided that I’m on a one-woman mission to change all this. I did have to go to stupid work today though, so I only got as far as the barmbrack, but every little counts. Right?

Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruit bread made to celebrate Oíche Shamhna (Hallowe’en night). It’s not only totally delish but is also loads of fun as it contains some odd little things you don’t normally find in baked goods, such as a ring, a coin, a pea, a piece of cloth and a stick. These objects mean different things for the person who finds them. The ring and the coin are the two best-known ones, they indicate that the finder will either get married in the coming year or get rich. The others are not so optimistic. The pea means the finder will not get married that year, the piece of cloth means they will be poor and the stick means they’ll have an unhappy marriage. Presumably, the stick was to be used a weapon! Lovely!

Hallowe’en Barmbrack

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Eastern inspired chocolate cake

So, all day I’ve been trying to think of a super interesting introduction for this post. Some exciting reason why I made this cake; something that would knock your socks off, make you rush into your kitchen and bake this immediately. But I was totally stumped.

Then I got to thinking: does a girl really need an excuse to bake a yumbo chocolate cake? Ehhh, I think not! No one should ever need a reason for chocolate. Ever. End of story.

So treat yourself and make this cake, it’s seriously good. The spices add subtle and interesting flavours, giving the cake an exotic twist. In fact, it’s so rich and dense and unusual you could serve it as a posh chocolate desert cake at a dinner party and all your friends would be mucho-impressedo.

I found the recipe in The back to basics cookbook by Maureen Tatlow and it’s an old style cake recipe. Now, I’ve always vaguely known that true bakers match the weight of the ingredients to the actual weight of the eggs they’ve used, but let’s be honest, how many of us ever do this? It works really well, but I’ve included actual quantities for those us you who need a non-efforty, super-fast chocolate hit.

Eastern inspired chocolate cake

Poshness!

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Date Night

Sorry for the recent lack of posting, I’ve been away on my holidays in the sunny Emerald Isle.  And it’s still wonderful.

Since I’ve come back winter seems to have decended on Sydney. I use the word “winter” somewhat loosely, as the weather is not dissimlar to what I just left back home.

So, what to do when the weather turns a wee bit chilly in Sydney? Well, if like The Fella, you were born and raised here; you give out, a lot, about how difficult it is to function when the temperature drops below 20 °C. The poor Fella has forgotten about his five year stint in Ireland quicker than I can say “wear thongs on a hot day”. Idiot.

Instead of moaning about the weather, I decided to made sticky date pudding and think about all the reasons that winter is class.  Number one: wearing tights and boots, love it. Number two: Christmas!!! Oh-oh, scrap that last one, I now live in the wrong hemisphere, and I think that’s why the Aussies hate the (incredibly mild) winters they get, they have nothing to celebrate during it. Poor dears. And of course, number three: you can sit in on a Friday night, watching telly, eating uber-calorific deserts, drinking buckets of tea and not feel one tiny wee bit guilty about it! Brilliant.

My sticky date pudding was warm and sticky and delish and covered in hot toffee sauce and cold ice cream; and I very nearly had to stop myself from eating it all in one go.

Sticky Date Pudding

Sticky pudding + tea + telly + couch = perfect winter(ish) date night.

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And so a blog is born

So, what to do now that one has started writing a blog? How best to celebrate this momentous occasion of putting pen to paper? The same way you celebrate any important occasion of course: with cake. Yumbo!

Having recently moved from Ireland to the big red land Down Under with The Fella (he’s Australian), I’ve been homesick for all things Irish. It’s funny how when certain things become unavailable they are immediately more desirable. I have been craving McCambridge bread with lashings of Kerrygold butter, washed down with many steaming cups of Barry’s tea. Unfortunately, Australian quarantine laws ensure such daydreams are limited to the realm of pure fantasy. So when I recently saw a bottle of coffee and chicory essence in the baking section of my local supermarket, I instantly knew that a nice sticky Irish coffee cake would be the perfect blog-starting celebration cake.

Before I moved to Australia I had never thought of coffee cake as being particularly “Irish” but apparently it is, go figure. It’s kind of a strange thing to come from a land of dedicated tea drinkers.

For my blog-starting celebration cake I just adapted an ordinary sponge cake recipe. I tossed in an extra egg to make it that little bit more sticky and gooey, and a cup of strong coffee for an extra caffeine kick. I wanted this to be a goooood celebration cake.

Irish coffee cake

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