Hi ten.times.tea readers,
It is I, the Cousin (also known as The Writographer), and I have returned to this blog after a very long day. I just did the calculations, and I have not written a guest post in 1236 days (it will probably be more when you are reading this, but that is how long it has been when I write my original draft. Despite being given an open invitation to write for this blog whenever I feel like it, I have not taken up ten.times.tea’s offer. But now that it is summer, and my schedule is less busy than usual, I have decided to finally write a blog post. It took me a while to decide what to blog about; this blog’s author told me that I could write about anything, but I did not think she would appreciate another nerdy blog post about Star Wars (and to be fair, I have no yet watched episode IV). I did consider writing a blog post about Downton Abbey, specifically talking about the new movie coming up. I concluded that the readers of ten.times.tea come to this blog for baking and photography; not the nerdy cousin’s rants.
One of the hardest parts about writing this guest post is that I have no idea what the recipe is, so whatever I say will have nothing to do with the baking. I can guess that the baking is probably with very little sugar, whole wheat flour, no chocolate and most likely will include rhubarb and some interesting spice combination. I am excited to see how accurate my prediction is.
After much deliberation, I concluded that my post should have something to do with ten.times.tea, so either revolving around baking or photography. Since I am not much of a baker (the closest I get to baking cool creations is when I wash the dishes for ten.times.tea), I am sticking with photography topics. So this blog post is going to be about what I think are ideal photography conditions. Disclaimer: I am not a professional photographer. These are my opinions that I find lead to good photographs.
- Good weather – While I say good weather, this depends on what you find is “good weather.” I enjoy it when the weather is slightly warm since I go for long walks when I take photos. If it is too warm then it’s annoying to stand in place for a long time to get the right shot. Also, since I normally take cityscapes and various street photography, I enjoy cloudy days since the sky looks more interesting, and then light/shadows are more interesting.
- A fellow photographer/friend – Some people might prefer to take photos on their own, but I enjoy having someone with me. Whether it is someone also taking photos or just someone whose company you enjoy. This way you have someone to talk to and they might be able to point out good photo opportunities you missed.
- Food/drinks – Since I normally go on long photography walks, it’s nice to get sustenance by stopping to get something to eat/drink. Or depending on the weather, it’s fun to get takeout drinks and walk around with them while you take photos. I’ve done both and I am not entirely sure which one is better. It probably depends on the area that you are in.
- Extra batteries/enough memory – I realize that a lot of people now use smartphones to take photos, but I am thinking of actual cameras. I have had the misfortune to have forgotten to pack batteries and to run out of room on my memory card while on a photo walk. So before leaving to take photos, check if you have charged/extra batteries, enough room on the memory card, and take a test photo to make sure your camera is working.
- A route/destination – Sometimes you are just out and suddenly see an opportunity to take a good photo. However, I find some of my best photographs have come from knowing where I want to go. While I always bring my camera (or at least my phone) when I go out, it is nice to have an idea of what you want to photograph.
Bonus: natural lighting – this is more for ten.times.tea’s benefit since she can only bake when there is natural lighting. Since I usually photograph outside this does not apply to most of my photographs.
Okay, that is all I have for you today. Ten.times.tea, I hope your baking turned out well; I am sure that it did. I am looking forward to seeing what you have created. Goodbye!
Thank you again The Cousin! I gave you a pretty difficult request by asking for a guest post without any idea of what recipe I would be posting – what a great idea to talk about photography! (If, reader of this blog post, you were not already aware, she is a brilliant photographer!). Oh and by the way, I am totally for it if you want to write about Star Wars again someday too…
If you want to see more of The Cousin’s hijinks, she has her own tag on tentimestea. You can also check out her blog, The Writographer, which features her photography and writing, or find her on Instagram!
My cousin has me pegged in terms of baking tendencies, but I decided to be unpredictable (ooh so wild!!) – this recipe has no whole wheat flour and quite a bit of chocolate. I was inspired by the flavour combination of spumoni, an Italian frozen dessert typically featuring pistachio, chocolate, and cherry: this is a fragrant pistachio cake, spotted with fresh cherries, marbled with cocoa powder and finished with a dark chocolate ganache. Due to the nuts nuts, the cake itself is very tender and moist. It also chills and eats very well from the fridge (likely as it’s an oil cake instead of butter) which is helpful in making it keep for a few days.
Cake adapted from The Milk Street Cookbook‘s pistachio cardamom cake (book edited by Christopher Kimball). Ganache from Ottolenghi Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.
- 85g pistachios
- 100g almond flour
- 130g all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 150g granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 120g greek yoghurt
- 50g olive oil (if you like the taste – otherwise use a neutral vegetable oil)
- 50g whole milk
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 150g cherries, pitted and halved
- 53g very dark chocolate (90% cocoa), chopped
- 25g granulated sugar
- 23g corn syrup
- 55g water
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a loaf tin and line with a parchment paper sling.
Place the pistachios in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Process until the pistachios are finely ground.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, yoghurt, oil, milk and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Divide the batter in two, transferring half to a second bowl. Beat the cocoa powder into one half of the batter. Add half the cherries to each half of the batter and mix. Put the chocolate batter into the prepared loaf tin, then top with the remaining half of the batter. Use an offset spatula, butter knife or spoon to dip down to the bottom of the pan and draw back up. Repeat a few times in the loaf tin to create some swirls.
Bake the cake for about 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed with a few moist crumbs clinging, or clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the ganache, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a very small saucepan, put the sugar and corn syrup. Stir together until mixed. Heat over medium-low until the sugar, then increase the heat to bring the mixture to a bubble. Cook until the sugars caramelize and turn amber (about 7 minutes).
Remove from the heat and add the water carefully – it will splatter a bit. The sugar will seize and harden so return the saucepan to the heat to allow the sugar to redissolve and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat again and let cool one minute before pouring over the chocolate.
Let the chocolate sit for 5 minutes to begin to melt, then whisk until smooth. Pour over the cake while still warm.
Let the ganache set slightly, then top with cherries and chopped pistachios as desired.
Due to the moisture content of the cake, I recommend storing in the fridge. I find this cake eats very well cold from the fridge – and I slightly prefer eating it cold too!