Cardamom and yoghurt spelt cake and the number 13

 My grandmother always wore a number 13 on a golden chain around her neck. She had a tough life, raising 4 children on her own after grandfather didn't come home from sea. She worked from dawn till dusk. Nanna died from old age many years ago because her body was just completely worn down. I remember her stern nature and I'm sure my father didn't have an easy childhood. I know he wanted to go to school to become a carpenter, dreaming to work with wood and create his own furniture, but he had to work instead.

My father is a man with ambition, a fighter, a daredevil and a great teacher in life. He worked hard to become a paramedic when I was born, and got the degrees needed to save lives. His precious weekends off he spent them as a volunteer with the Red Cross and the Flemish Cross, aiding people in need of care on events, disasters and accompanying disabled children and adults on trips.

I used to joke that the reason he always went to be on the Flemish Cross care unit on big Raves was that he knew I was safe at home but that other parents didn't have that luxury fearing their children were somewhere possibly doing drugs or drinking way to much. He had many teenagers on his gurney and I know he was secretly happy about me being a New Waver and a romantic rather than a raver wearing neon trainers.

My dad taught me - not by telling me this but by example that when I wanted something, I should just go out there and do it.

2013 has been anything but unlucky and it reminds me of my grandmothers golden number 13 which I inherited after her death and is one of the only things I have to remind her by. For her, and as for many other cultures, number 13 was a lucky number. 

I got to do fantastic stuff last year but most importantly, I found a way to live with an autoimmune condition. When I got diagnosed in the summer of 2012 I found myself on a roller coaster of emotions. I got worse before I got better in 2013. I know found that living a balanced life, especially with your food is the best way to stay stable and healthy. I am fortunate to be at a stage with my condition that it can stay stable if I rest enough and stay healthy. For someone who is used to running through life rather than walking, it hasn't been easy to slow down. But I did it.

Enjoy my round-up of favourite happenings of last year.

I went on a pig keeping course and it was one of the most splendid days of my life, I have a -not so- secret dream of having a little pig farm one day. You can read the full story here.

You see, I ain't afraid of getting down in the mud with a pig!

In april I visited a watercress farm in Hampshire and met Steve from Steve's leaves. Not only is this pretty green leaf my favourite salad, it is also super healthy. You can read about my visit here and more here.
In may I organised a Food Revolution Day event cooking 'last night's leftover's' lunches for those who ordered one. The idea was to focus not only on what we eat for lunch but also on food wastage. Leftover dinners make the best lunches!


After my Food Revolution Day event I went to Torino in Italy where I was invited to visit the Food Rev events going on in the city. You can read about both of my Food Revolution Day adventures on the Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution website here

Betta from L'Aula Magna, Torino.


Also that week I was in Aosta, only a short drive from the Mont Blanc I was invited to come and stay at the Village Hotel and Swedish brasserie Bjork who are inspired by Scandinavian design. I learned to make Gravad lax, smoke meats, bake Swedish cookies and enjoyed their wonderful beers. The hotel is something completely different, you sleep in log cabins on the domain and the food is sublime. The Swedish brasserie menu is a celebration of Scandinavian culinary delights and you will always have some Knäckebröd at hand for a nibble. During dinner we had a loaf of bread in a wooden box and a glass cover so we could see the bread rise as the evening went on.


We also had the chance to visit an apple orchard that produces a very special Italian cider,  the Maley Mont Blanc. As wine has always been the national drink of Italy, this village struggled to bring back this cider which nearly completely died out during fascism. The ancient trees grow in the valley on a very idyllic spot between the mountains. 


Another highlight was the honor of being a judge in the Great Taste Awards. Every year thousands of food products are judged, from rapeseed oils to cookies and from beef pies to delicate chocolate treats. The awards was set up by Bob Farrand of the Guild of Fine Foods in 1994 in an effort to celebrate and award the quality of Britain's best small and artisan producers.
For weeks judges are gathered in Dorset judging every product with the utmost care, when not sure, another bite is taken, no decision is taken lightly. The judges range from food buyers for Harrods and Fortnum & Mason to small speciality Deli owners, seasoned food writers, critiques and then me. I must say, this years winner Marybelle Greek style yoghurt is an absolute delight, look out for it!



Then summer finally came and I got to spend some time with lovely people at Jamie's Food Tube and Jamie's Feastival. 


 




I made my first ever food video with the charming Loyd Grossman and ate some fabulous puddings with Heston Blumenthal for his new TV series.

 Oh gosh, so many things! I think I better stop here in fear of boring you! 
Let's go back to this cake shall we? I'm having a piece right now!

Cardamom and yoghurt spelt cake

What do you need

250 g spelt flour
3 large free-range eggs - separated
250 g unsalted butter, soft not melted
220 g raw cane sugar
3 tbsp of greek style yoghurt
1 tsp of freshly crushed cardamom seeds
1 tsp of organic lemon extract (if you have decent lemons, use fresh juice)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

icing
220 g icing sugar
1tsp lemon extract
30 ml
greek style yoghurt 

decoration (optional)
dried cranberries 
candied orange peel


Method
  • Prepare a 18 cm - 20 cm round cake tin with greaseproof paper and set aside
  • Preheat your oven to 180° C
  • Cream the soft butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat the mixture until light and fluffy
  • Add the egg yolks one by one, beating well 
  • Add the cardamom, lemon extract and the yoghurt and stir well
  • Sift the flour and the bicarb
  • Whisk your egg whites until stiff
  • Gently fold the ingredients together and combine well
  • Transfer the dough into the prepared cake tin and put in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour
  • Combine all the ingredients for the icing and transfer into a piping bag or use a spoon later.
  • Decorate with the icing, dried cranberries and candied orange peel


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21 comments:

  1. What a wonderful year! I am ever so happy for you that you are able to follow your passion.

    Lovely shots and divine cake!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Thank you so much for your support every time again!
      Hugs
      Regula

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  2. What a year it's been for you! Well done on all your incredible achievements, and this is only the beginning! This cake is just the sort of thing I love. So looking forward to May and more adventures. xx

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    1. You will love this cake, and it keeps quite long as well, if you can manage to keep it ;) Can't wait for may!

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  3. Stunning pictures as usually (especially those in Italy ... where I live!) and ... you' re sooo lovely in the video! My oven now is hot for baking 40 muffins and 2 cakes , but in a few days I'll try this recipe.
    Ciaociao Scake

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    1. Aww thank you, I was very nervous for the video I must admit!
      Happy baking!

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  4. Sounds like it's been an absolutely fantastic year for you. I'm so happy for you and hope the upcoming year will be even better and filled with many happy achievements and moments!
    The cakes looks so delicious. I wish I could taste just a small piece!

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    1. Thanks so much Sari xxx

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  5. Thank you for this recipe, Regula … we had a great time in Aosta valley, didn't we ? (despite the awful weather) Nice moments you had, so many thing accomplished, congrats ! (and more to come in 2014 I'm sure)

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    1. It was fun! The weather was indeed awful, what a dreadful spring it was, but nice to have met you :)

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  6. A special cake for a very special post.

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  7. The cake looks delicious! I´ll try it this weekend!

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  8. Well done and congratulations on your choices and courage and dreams!
    I love the cake, a slice and cup of tea in cosy room to celebrate a new beginning!

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    1. Sending you a virtual slice x

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  9. What a rocking year you've had - posts like this always put a smile on my face as it's so good to see good things happen to good people. Wishing you a spectacular 2014! Loving the images and my only wish was to have a slice of the cake while I browse through them.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Meeta! Wishing you the best for 2014 as well xx

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  10. I read this post a while ago but haven't had time to post a proper comment. Within all these wonderful things you've been getting up to you slipped in that bit of news and an explanation which shows your amazing courage, commonsense and core of steel. You are inspiring in so many ways. Good luck to you - and here's to many more adventures.

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    1. Dear Sally, thanks for coming back to comment. Your kind words really mean very much. I wanted to write about my health troubles many times but although I had pages written I never posted it. It was a very hard moment in my life, one that has changed me for ever, but for the better. I am awake to the fact that life is short - and that we should life it to the full and follow our passions. My illness will always be there, around the corner, so I better enjoy life while I can. Thank you x

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  11. Thank you for this beautiful blog and the cake recipe is lovely as well. What I really loved was the bit about the Italian Cider and how the locals brought it back from history.

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  12. I love your blog, the photos are soo amazing..:)

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Thank you so much for you comment, I love hearing from you!