A love of reading

I adore reading. From books to magazines, cereal packets to jam jars, blogs to letters... I'll read anything. 

I also really enjoy reading cookery books. Sad? I know. I usually admit it with a guilty smile on my face. Recently I discovered that my local library loans cookery books - yippee! Flick through recipes for free and copy down any you want to make; after all, nobody makes it through an entire book! (Apart from Julie Powell. And if you have ever undertaken such a cooking marathon, do let me know - I'd be fascinated to hear about what it was like!)

In an effort to make this blog slightly more personal, I thought I'd share several things that I've been reading recently. After all, it can't all be about food, can it? - Though don't worry, there is a recipe at the end. 

Let's start with a classic.

After a recommendation I began to read "Hard Times" by Charles Dickens. I'd really enjoyed "David Copperfield" - Uriah really is the most revolting character and Mr Micawber is hilarious - and though I didn't like this one quite as much, I was surprised at the amount of humour and sarcasm Mr Dickens put in. A good book, written by "one of the greatest Victorian novelists of all time" (as quoted in my English essay). 

Another thing that's been playing on my mind recently is a desire to go to South America - for a month, two months, a year - to help impoverished communities in some way. I have some knowledge of the language so it's certainly something that could be feasible! Fuelling my passion is "Cloud Road : A Journey Through the Inca Heartland". Travel, fantastic history and breathtaking descriptions - what more could you want? 

Of course, I'm a blogger - and so blogs are also part of my daily life. Some favourites at the moment: Joy the Baker, Briar Rose, Wonderful You and My Gingerbread Journey. Well-written, personal and full of interesting recipes and outfits, these blogs never fail to inspire. 

And the most recent cookery book to come into my possession: Cake Days by The Hummingbird Bakery. What can I say? Recipes for Malted Chocolate Cupcakes, Pecan Pies, Summer Berry Cheesecakes and this beauty of a cake: Courgette and Walnut Layer Cake. 

I was challenged by a friend recently to make something out of this book - and whilst it's taken me a week to get round to it, the challenge is now complete! In fact, the most difficult thing about it was perhaps choosing the recipe I wanted to make first; there are simply so many mouth-watering, American-inspired treats. No photos - it was devoured too quickly and was also a bit of a mess...

I made all three layers and sandwiched them together with a cream cheese icing (not the icing that they suggest). However, like most of my icing experiments it didn't go quite to plan - the butter wasn't blended into the sugar properly and so the icing was far too runny! I think I'll stick to loaf cakes. 

Courgette and Walnut Cake 
3 large eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g soft light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
300g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
300g peeled and grated courgettes (roughly one and a half)
100g walnuts, roughly chopped
Plus icing of your choice; I recommend cream cheese icing or buttercream

1. Heat the oven to 170°C. Line the bases of three 20cm (8in) round sandwich tins. 

2. Beat the eggs, sunflower oil, sugar and vanilla essence together.

3. Sift the flour, spices, baking powder and bicarb together. Slowly add to the egg mixture, beating well after each addition. Add the courgettes and the walnuts. 

4. Spoon into tins and baked for 35 - 40 minutes until golden on top and cooked through; the courgettes will make the cake moist but you don't want bits of uncooked batter. Allow to cool in the tins for  a few minutes before turning them out on a rack. 

5. Make up your favourite icing and sandwich the cakes together once completely cool. Decorate as you wish!

Taken from: Cake Days by The Hummingbird Bakery