Four years into parenthood, I’ve finally learned to manage my time effectively. Gone are the days of preparing dinner with hungry, crying toddlers in tow. Instead, I’ve started following the advice I’ve been giving out for years – fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
The meal plan gets us through the week, and while it doesn’t completely eliminate the yelling — from me or the toddlers — it provides a framework, a plan, and a distant goal that we can reach for bringing some home-cooked food to the table whenever possible nightly.
That being said, while my weekday cooking tends to be a bit more planned, the weekends are for enjoyment in the kitchen and a time for slow cooking and cracking the food processor for baking. Turntables on the go (Minnie Riperton is my latest listen), pumped up from the first espresso of the day, baking is often the start of my weekend. This week I have three fresh spring pies to get your whisks up and running.
The first is a tart lemon curd roulade that’s both lip-puckering and delicious — a swirl of softened whipped cream, vibrant lemon curd, and a roll of marshmallow meringue. It might seem a little daunting if you’re a beginner baker, but it’s surprisingly easy. I haven’t made one in a while, and I was reminded of how satisfying it is to roll the cozy little roulade. An ideal Sunday dessert for a crowd!
For a sweet start to your Saturday, try my Blueberry Vanilla Breakfast Bread. It has integrity from a dense batter that includes polenta and ground almonds, and really any fruit could be folded through. Garnish with the simple glaze I suggested or serve with a dollop of Irish yogurt. I love Co Mayo’s Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Milk Yogurt.
For a more festive casserole, the recipe here for Carrot Cardamom Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is a winner. The cake itself is moist enough, but for that extra special touch, you can add the delicious cinnamon cream cheese frosting. If you want to go all out, you can make mini carrots out of marzipan with some orange food coloring and angelica root for the stems.
Lemon curd roulade
Time: 1 hour 20 minutes + cool down time Servings: 8
For the lemon curd:
300 grams of powdered sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch (cornstarch)
120ml lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
4 large free range egg yolks
A pinch of salt
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
60 grams of butter
For the roulade:
Tasteless oil for brushing
4 large egg whites
225 g powdered sugar
50 g flaked almonds
icing sugar, for dusting
250ml double cream, whipped
Mint leaves for garnish
1. For the lemon curd, put the sugar, cornflour and 450 ml water in a large saucepan and stir until smooth. Stir in lemon juice, egg yolk and salt. Heat over medium-high and continue to stir until the mixture comes to a gentle simmer and begins to thicken. Stir in the lemon zest and butter and stir until the butter has melted. Then remove the pan from the stove and let it cool. Excess lemon curd can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to 10 days.
2. For the roulade, preheat the oven to 180°C/350F/gas mark 4.
3. Grease a 20cm x 30cm Swiss Roll or shallow baking tin and line with parchment paper and a little oil. Brush with a little more oil once the parchment paper lines the tin.
4. In the bowl of a food processor, beat the egg whites and powdered sugar on high speed until a stiff white meringue forms, 10 minutes.
5. Using a rubber spatula, pour all of the meringue mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with slivered almonds and bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes before reducing the temperature to 140C / 280F / Gas Mark 1. Bake another 20 minutes.
6. When cooked and while still hot, carefully place the meringue, almond side down, on a baking sheet dusted with icing sugar. Remove the top layer of parchment paper and allow to cool to room temperature.
7. Fold 4 tablespoons of the cooled lemon curd into the whipped cream. Spread the meringue evenly with 4-5 tablespoons of lemon curd and then top with the lemony whipped cream.
8. Using the parchment paper, gently roll the meringue along one of the long sides to form the roulade.
9. Place seam side down on a serving platter. Garnish with powdered sugar and mint leaves.
Blueberry Vanilla Breakfast Bread
Time: 2 hours Servings: 8
250 g butter, room temperature
250g powdered sugar
3 large free range eggs
150 grams of regular flour
150 g ground almonds
150 g fine polenta
1 heaped tsp baking powder
1 heaped tsp sea salt
3 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Zest of two lemons
200 grams of blueberries
150g powdered sugar
2 Table spoons of milk
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Grease a 23cm x 12cm loaf tin and line with parchment paper.
2. For the batter, beat the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl or stand mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Mix flour, ground almonds, polenta, baking powder and salt. Using a spatula, fold into the batter and milk until just combined.
4. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and blueberries and fold in.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes. Bake for a further hour at 160°C/320°F/gas mark 3. When there is 30 minutes left in the oven, cover with cling film to prevent over-browning. Make sure the bread is done by inserting a skewer and checking that it comes out clean.
6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely.
7. While the bread cools, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl. Once the bread has cooled completely, pour the glaze over it and let it set before slicing and serving.
Carrot Cardamom Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Time: 50 minutes Servings: 8
For the cake:
butter, for greasing
275 g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom pods, split and seeds ground
275 g powdered sugar
4 large free range eggs
250 ml canola oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
400 g carrots, peeled and finely grated
For the glaze:
200 grams of cream cheese
50 g soft butter
450 g powdered sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease two 9-inch (23 cm) springform pans with removable bottoms and line the bottoms with a round disc of parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and cardamom with a wooden spoon.
3. In a stand-alone mixer (or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer), beat the sugar and eggs until pale and fluffy. With the mixer on, pour the oil into the bowl in a steady stream and mix until fully incorporated. Then mix in the vanilla extract.
4. Sift the dry ingredients into the batter and fold in with a spatula until just combined. Add the finely grated carrot and fold in until fully incorporated. Divide the batter between the two lined cake pans and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
5. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When the molds are cool enough to handle, gently loosen the cakes and place them back on the wire rack, removing the bottom and parchment paper.
6. Allow to cool completely. If one of the cakes has risen more than the other, simply cut off the excess with a bread knife so you have a flat surface to work with.
7. Prepare the frosting by beating cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and cinnamon until you have a smooth, spreadable mixture.
8. Assemble the cake by brushing one of the layers with half of the cream cheese frosting. Place the second layer on top and spread with the remaining frosting. Cut into eight slices and serve. The cake will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.
https://www.independent.ie/life/food-drink/recipes/donal-skehans-spring-bakes-a-lemon-curd-roulade-a-celebration-carrot-and-cardamom-cake-and-a-blueberry-breakfast-loaf-41571834.html Donal Skehan’s Spring Bakes: a lemon curd roulade, a festive carrot and cardamom cake, and a blueberry breakfast sandwich