Christmas is not far off now. 2012 has been a whirlwind of a year for me, having written my first three cookery books amongst other things this year.
We’re actually going away right before Christmas is year. Not only am I looking forward to a good break, but it will be particularly nice to get away at this time of year. There is so much build up to Christmas, that when it actually arrives, it can feel something of a let down, so it will be great this year to be somewhere different.
I thought I’d share our plans with you as I’m sure it will appeal to many foodies alike. We’re off to Trelowarren Estate in West Cornwall. Its right down in the south west of Cornwall in a very remote spot between Helston and the Helford River. The Trelowarran estate is ancient – with 600 years of Vyvyans, 1000 acres leading down to the Helford River and a house that was Daphne du Maurier’s inspiration for Navron in Frenchman’s Creek.
Ferrers and Victoria Vyvyan have spent more than twenty years restoring, renovating and building high spec eco houses, an organic Walled Garden Spa and the ozone pool – all of which are warmed by a giant biomass boiler which burns coppiced wood from the land.
We are staying in one of their very lovely looking cottages. What particularly appealed about staying here, was the New Yard restaurant and pizza pop up on the Estate, so it will be a real treat to have our own space, but not have to worry about cooking and shopping whilst we are away.
I’ll let you know how we get on. We go at the weekend. Before then, I’ll be back to share some great food and drink ideas for Christmas with you.
And for now, I’ll leave you with a cake recipe we’re really enjoying at the moment, a dark, bitter chocolate and orange loaf cake. It’s very good warmed with a scoop of ice cream on the side.
Chocolate and orange loaf cake
Adapted from a recipe by Signe Johanssen
- 200g chestnut flour (I use Shipton Mill, although it is not gluten free)
- 50g ground almonds
- 2 tsp gluten free baking powder
- Pinch bicarbonate of soda
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 7 oz dark brown soft sugar
- 2 tbsp plain yoghurt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey)
- 1 tsp orange extract (I use Nielsen-Massey)
- 50g cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp Cointreau
- 200g chunky orange marmalade
- juice and zest of 3 clementines
- 100g butter, or dairy free margarine melted
- 100g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks (I like Montezuma 73% here)
1) Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and grease and line a 2lb/900g loaf tin
2) Mix the flour, ground almonds, raising agents and salt together in a large bowl.
3) Mix the eggs, yoghurt, vanilla and orange extracts and Cointreau together in a smaller bowl.
4) Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add all the remaining ingredients.
5) Gently mix until smooth, then pour the batter into the tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 30-50 minutes or until firm to the touch.