Rated: The Dalston Crunchie Cake.

Gird your loins, Ogglers: things are about to get RUDE

What? Quite possibly the most OBSCENE-looking treat I’ve ever laid eyes on. Sold as a Chocolate and Honeycomb Cake, it’s essentially what happens when a Crunchie Bar and Cake Mix get it on.

Namely: goo galore.

The Sponge alone was a dream come true: extra golden, extra moist, and extra tasty – not too dissimilar to Honeycomb, in fact.

It was the Icing, however, which took the whole thing to another dimension.

As far as I could tell, this comprised primarily of numerous Cadbury’s Crunchie Bars that had been melted down and mixed with some sumptuous soft Cream Cheese (occasionally lending the substance a slightly strange tang).

As if that wasn’t enough to excite me, there were even generous shards of Crunchie studded across the top.

The richness of it all was immense – and, cheese-tang aside, transported me to a state of more-or-less babbling incoherence.

By the end, I too was a sticky, wet mess.

Like I said: OBSCENE

Where? The Dalston Superstore, a trendy bar-cum-eatery on the central Hipster Highway (a.k.a. Kingsland High Street)

How Much? £3 for a takeaway slice

Rating?

9/10

I say again: OBSCENE

Rated: Jalebi in London.

IMG_1969

Sweet (toothed) dreams are made of this

What? A glistening, vaguely intestinal-looking concoction, which just happens to be MY ALL-TIME FAVOURITE INDIAN SWEET (see Pud-Hog posts passim).

Made from a Flour and Cornstarch-based batter which is deep-fried and then dunked in tangy, sweet Syrup, it could well be the naughtiest snack to come out of the East (though is possibly still not a match for the unholy Deep-Fried Cheesecake).

Texturally, it’s a Pud-Hog’s dream, and best to be eaten straight out of the pan when its hot crunchy outsides give way to a warm mess of oozing and sugary innards – like a squiggly, thin-shelled cough sweet (without the bitter medicinal tinge).

As for the taste, these things pack some serious sweetness – just what you need to keep going in the midst of a scorching summer.

In India, of course, you’ll find Jalebi sellers all over the place, with a decent-sized bag of the good stuff sold for 10 or 20 pence.

Outside of India, however, fresh Jalebi can be pretty hard to come by (though given the rate I can chomp my way through them, it’s probably for the best).

The one you can see in the picture above was my first sighting in months, and was made on the premises of a Middle Eastern-style bakery in London. It certainly looked the part, and tasted almost as good as the ones I first fell in love with.

Almost, I say, but not quite.

Allowed to cool down on the shelf of the shop, they weren’t exactly the riot of heat and goo that I was hankering after. For that, I guess I’ll just have to go back to India.

What a shame: for this Pud-Hog, at least, West London’s so much easier to reach…

Where? My Jalebi was bought from Tavazo, Ealing Broadway – who even allowed me a sample before I committed.

How Much? £8.50 per kilo – or 90 pence for about 6 pieces

Rating?

7/10

It’s good, but it’s not quite right

Rated: Beijing Yoghurt.

Beijing Yoghurt

What? The clue’s in the name, really: it’s a Yoghurt, traditionally made and sold in Beijing.

I had my first taste along with some Chilli Barbecued Pineapple (which sadly lacked both heat and smokiness), and can report it’s rather like the French Set variety: firm, light, a little bit watery, with ever so slight hints of citrus.

Those of you seeking new flavour sensations most probably won’t find it here: though pleasantly fresh, it’s pretty much just a plain Yoghurt.

Where? You’ll find Beijing Yoghurt at A. Wong in Victoria (London), where it is made in house from a traditional recipe

How Much? £6 (including Pineapple)

Rating?

6/10

Fine, but not fab

Rated: Exeter Street’s Pizza Dolce.

Pizza Dolce

Your jaw won’t know what hit it

What? One of my favourite concepts revisited: the Sweet Pizza.

Made with a thin Italian bread-style base, this particular variety lacks the exciting toppings of Custard and Fruit that I’ve sampled on other Dessert Pizzas here in London.

Nevertheless, the principle still floats my boat.

Artisinal bread impregnanted with Raisins and covered in a scattering of Sugar?

Perfection, no?

Er… No.

Alas, its simplicity didn’t quite work in its favour, despite the nice balance of flavours. The reason? The base itself.

You see, without the distraction of various toppings, the success of this dessert was almost entirely dependent on the bread, which was so tough and dry it actually hurt to eat it.

Never before has my mandible had such a work out: a few bites in and I was already feeling the pain of lactic acid in my jaw muscles.

Now don’t get me wrong, Ogglers. I’m all for burning off calories in order to justify seconds (or even firsts) of desserts and cakes.

Burning off facial tissue however?

No, thank you, Pizza Dolce

Where? Sold by the Exeter Street Bakery at various London Farmers’ Markets (including the one at Marylebone; occasional home to the Tuffet and Manor House Fruit Cake)

How Much? £1.30 for a pretty big slice (more than enough to get two jaws screeching)

Rating?

4/10

Filling me softly. Not.

Rated: Goat’s Milk Fudge.

Goat's Milk Fudge

Goat’s Milk Fudge: I kid you not

What? A pale and soft – almost shapeless – Fudge, made using Goat’s Milk and Goat’s Butter.

Unlike the usual Goat-infused Cheeses (and special Goat-flavoured Cheesecakes), this particular Fudge is almost entirely devoid of that goaty tang, with only the tiniest hints here and there – and then only if you focus very hard.

Mainly, you just get the sugar.

While I’m generally glad it’s not pungent, without the unusual flavour it kind of lacks a USP, tasting mainly like every other Fudge (albeit a great deal squidgier than the norm).

That said, if you happen to be someone who just cannot tolerate cow’s milk, this might well be the confectionery of your dreams…

Where? From the Wobbly Bottom Farm market stall (as seen in Islington Farmers’ Market)

How Much? £2

Rating?

7/10

Solid effort – liquid Fudge; probably won’t get your goat

Recipe: Sophie’s Dahl’s Spelt Banana Bread.

Be nice to your Bowel

Remember, Ogglers: always be nice to your Bowel

As body parts go, the bowel might not be the most fashionable of the lot, but let’s face it: we’ve all got one – and it’s integral to the process of ploughing through puddings. If only for that, it’s well worth paying attention to.

See, although this blog is usually more concerned with what enters the body, this month is Bowel Cancer Awareness month. And as someone who lost a close aunt to the disease a couple of years ago, this is one cause that the Pud-Hog can’t ignore.

Maybe you’re already clued up on the subject (as the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, it may well have affected somebody you know or you care about).

But for those of you who don’t know the score, the most important thing to note is that, if caught in time, bowel cancer is generally very treatable.

So, Ogglers. If you pay attention to NOTHING else on this blog, then at least pay attention to the following list from Bowel Cancer UK:

Early warning signs for bowel cancer are

  • Bleeding from the bottom, and/or blood in your poo
  • A change in bowel habit lasting three weeks or more
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your tummy

If you notice any of these things, then for crying out loud, don’t be embarrassed: GO AND TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR.

As well as keeping an eye out for changes like this, you can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer with exercise and a healthy diet.

That means cutting down on red or processed meats, eating your 5-a-day, and generally upping your fibre intake.

Thankfully, this risk-reducing doesn’t need to mean abandoning your pudding, as eating – or baking – treats made with whole grains and fibre is one of the ways you can keep things hunky-dory.

You could make your Summer Pudding with brown bread, pack your Flapjacks with oats, nuts and seeds, or substitute normal flour with one of the wholemeal or Spelt varities (like that Ginger Cake I made for my first Bakeroo).

If you’re still short of ideas, you can also check out Sharpham Park’s new website – Great British Spelt Recipes – which was launched in conjuction with Bowel Cancer UK in order to get people more clued up on bowel cancer awareness.

I’ve tried out a few of the cakes on there already, and can whole-heartedly recommend the Rhubarb Tart (like a juicy, fruity Frangipane – but better). The Spelt Bran and Raspberry Muffins are pretty darn awesome too…

My stand-out favourite so far, however, has been a recipe donated by Sophie Dahl: an extremely easy – yet beautifully textured – rendition of Spelt Banana Bread.

A version of it is listed below and is well worth having a go at. Sweet, moist, and full of fibre, your bowel and your taste buds will love it.

Spelt Banana Bread (serves 6 for a hearty breakfast or tea)

Click here for the original recipe

Banana Bread

SPELTACULAR

Ingredients:

  • 170g Wholegrain or Bakers Blend Spelt Flour
  • 75g soft butter, plus extra for greasing and serving
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed up
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Grease a 30 x 23-cm/12 x 1- inch bread tin
  2. Pour the mashed bananas into a big mixing bowl. Mix in the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract
  3. Add the bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix in the flour last [as thoroughly as you can manage or the bicarb might sit in a lump]. Pour into the prepared tin
  4. Bake for 1 hour [approx – my oven did the job in 50 minutes], remove and cool, then serve in slices with a little butter. [You can also toast it for breakfast, and serve with Natural Yoghurt, Crème Fraîche, or Mascarpone]

Happy Hogging!

P-H x

With thanks to Sophie Dahl and Sharpham Park’s Great British Spelt Recipes campaign – in partnership with Bowel Cancer UK

Rated: Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Me Up.

In honour of Free Cone Day, here’s a little B&J post to get you going…

Peanut Butter Me Up

PB and Yay

What? One of Ben & Jerry’s more exciting flavours: a new concoction consisting of Vanilla and Peanut Butter Ice Creams, a ‘core’ of Raspberry Jam, and miniature Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.

The PB Ice Cream was particularly luscious, with a rich taste and super-smooth texture.

The Jam core was excellent too – the tang of it cut through the creaminess, adding a pretty exciting dimension (with an unusual, pulpy texture).

That said, there was room for improvement.

More Jam would have gone down well, for starters.

And as for those Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups: amazing – but sadly sparse.

Without them, my teeth just got BORED

Where? Available at most decent supermercados

How Much? Typically £4.99 for 500ml (though you might get lucky and snap up a tub on offer)

Rating?

8/10

More killer, less filler – and then it might even warrant a 10

Rated: Sunwheel Fruit Spread.

Sunwheel Fruit Spread

The Brown Fruit: everyone’s favourite

What? A rather gruesome-looking dark brown spread made entirely of concentrated fruit (imagine a liquid version of Fruit Leather).

Despite its texture and appearance – uncannily like Marmite, in both respects – it is surprisingly easy to love.

The version we tried was Pear and Apricot, with a very strong taste of the latter. More Pear would certainly not have gone amiss.

The overall strength of flavour makes it pretty economical, however: you really don’t need to use much to taste the fruit, and once in the fridge it seems to last for yonks.

Sweet, smooth, and deeply tangy, it brightened my toast no end, and made for an apparently guilt-free (or at least guilt-reduced) alternative to Honey and Jam

Where? From various health food shops and supermarkets (we got ours from Holme Grown in Jersey – the place with the Gâteau St Honoré)

How Much? £1.75 for 300g

Rating? 8/10

Move over, Jam!

Oh wait, you can’t. You’re a foodstuff.

Rated: Waitrose’s Butterscotch & Pecan Danish Swirl.

Go on, give it a swirl

The Pecan Pud Canon continues

What? An oversized circular Danish, dotted with Pecans and shaped like a windmill.

Though it looks fairly plain and dry in its tin, when warmed in the oven it turns into something quite spectacular: by turns crisp, flaky, buttery, soft, and soggy from hidden reserves of BUTTERSCOTCH SAUCE (*drool*).

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, the Pastry itself is suffused with Cinnamon – clearly, whoever designed it was a genius (or out to reel me in with a dish that contains all my favourite things).

The only thing I took issue with was the recommended serving size: though hardly large, one Swirl is supposed to feed FOUR PEOPLE.

Heck knows who could possibly stop at a quarter – not this Pud-Hog, that’s for sure.

Then again, when it comes to counting calories, even this (apparently ‘four-person’) flake-fest works out healthier than a single Caramel Pecanbon.

When you think of it that way, the idea of having a second slice doesn’t seem nearly as naughty…

Where? From the shelves of your nearest Waitrose (home of the infamous Sugar Mouse Biscuit)

How Much? Currently on offer at £2.32 (normally £3.49)

Rating? 9/10

Go ahead, Ogglers: give it a swirl

The St Bart’s Body Parts Bake-Off.

Those of you who follow the Pud-Hog on Twitter might remember, way back in October, me mentioning a special little Cake sale here in London.

Held on the St Bart’s campus by a pop-up bakery movement called Eat Your Heart Out, it drummed up lots of web-based attention, and no wonder: it was full of medical edibles.

Lung Sponges, black with emphysema; kidneys, frosted with polycistic Icing; Cupcakes covered in STDs.

For the squeamish, no doubt it was gag-worthy.

But for pud pioneers like the Man and I, it was the chance to boldly go where no Hog had gone before…

Into the world of the edible Carbuncle!

… in to the world of the edible Carbuncle

With almost six months having passed now since the actual event, I’m aware that I’m rather behind in terms of reporting.

In my defence though, Ogglers, I was rather overwhelmed. With a whole file full of photos, and several tastings of note, my first drafts were several pages long.

My plan, you see, was to give you a thorough review; to impart my newfound knowledge on the taste of what we bought for a mere £3 a piece: a colourfully Wounded Bakewell (meh), a Macaroon Heart (crisp and creamy with buttercream innards), a fleshy pink Cupcake complete with rum-filled syringe (surprisingly dry), and a bar in the shape of a Carbuncle (Maltesers + Condensed Milk + dyed White Chocolate + Icing Sugar = waaaaay too much for even the sweetest sweet tooth).

After months of deliberation, however, I realised life’s too short for blog posts that long. And besides, you don’t buy goodies like these for the flavour; you buy them to wow your friends (and quite possibly make them feel sick).

So here you are Ogglers, without further ado: the photos you’ve all been waiting for.

Prepare to be awed and appalled, by…

THE WOUNDED BAKEWELL TART:

Bam!

Boom!

THE SKIN CAKE:

She'll have you in stitches!

She’ll have you in stitches!

THE ANATOMICALLY CORRECT HEART MACAROON:

Put THAT in your valves and smoke it!

Impossible to beat!

THE FLESH CUPCAKE:

STI Cupcake

A boost for your flesh AND your stomach!

THE LUNG CAKE:

A breath of fresh air!

A breath of fresh air!

THE ANATOMICAL WAX MODEL CAKE:

Head Tissue

Really gets under your skin!

THE POLYCYSTIC KIDNEY DISEASE CAKE:

Polycistic Kidney

How could you re-cyst!?

And last, but by no means least, what looks to me like

A BURNT LEG SPONGE CAKE:

INTO THE HOME OF DE-LEG-TABLE TREATS

De-LEG-table!

And with that, I’m all out of puns and photos.

I just hope you’re not out of sick bags…