This weekend I have headed west for AyeWrite, the wonderful book festival which takes place each year in Glasgow. Over 10 days the festival features an impressive line up, which I am honoured to be a part of, appearing all over the city in various locations. Naturally, I will also be taking the opportunity for a wee foodie tour while I am in town.
If you have even the tiniest smidgen of an interest in cookery you will be aware of the exceptional restaurant scene establishing itself in Glasgow. Finnieston in particular has experienced what is being labelled as “the Shoreditch effect”.
I find it fascinating to visit bakeries while trying to set up mine. There are so many elements that don’t even cross the mind of a customer...where on earth will the coffee cups go?
Previously it was known to locals as nothing more than a grey concrete stretch joining Glasgow’s glorious West End to the bustle of the city centre. Now it has been named the hippest place in the UK, with restaurants and bars popping up at a rate so fast they are practically falling over each other.
Blossoming alongside the gaggle of high-end restaurants is an amazing reputation for baked goods. My middle sister, Hebe, studies at Glasgow University and, thankfully, her flat is just off Great Western Road which provides me with plenty of excuses for visits to Cottonrake.
Set up in 2010, its delicious frangipane tarts and flat whites make my mouth water. Not to mention the rustic and very generous sausage rolls served with a tomato chutney to die for. Also on my eating agenda is bakery47. Having made the trip (it’s located a little out of town) on a Tuesday a few months ago we were sadly greeted by a closed sign. This time I will check their opening hours.
I find it fascinating to visit bakeries while trying to set up mine. There are so many elements that don’t even cross the mind of a customer, but when planning a whole shop become massive dilemmas: enough surface space for proving baskets, storage for flour sacks, plastic containers large enough for big batches of dough, storage for decorations, cake boards and boxes… and where on earth will the coffee cups go? I watch and note all of it with keen interest.
When I get home (if I fit through the door, that is) scribbles will be translated to little sketches, and hopefully added to the growing bakery bible.
This weekend I also want to catch the last of the pink rhubarb, preserving it with some rhubarb and ginger jam, a firm favourite of my dad (I also might make another batch of rhubarb vodka, a large bottle of which is sitting on the windowsill glowing with a lovely shade of pastel pink).
The jam I recommend serving with a hearty portion of baked rice pudding, flecked with warming nutmeg and soft in texture. It may technically be the start of spring but here in Scotland its still damp and cold. Hot puddings will be here for a little while longer I reckon.
Baked rice pudding
- 50g butter
- 100g pudding rice
- 100g caster sugar
- 750ml whole milk
- 250ml double cream
- 1 vanilla pod
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Clotted cream, to serve (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas 2.
- In a large heavy-based ovenproof saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the rice and sugar and stir to coat. Once the sugar has just about dissolved, add the milk and cream.
- Split the vanilla pod lengthways with a knife, scraping out all of the seeds then add both the seeds and the pod to the pan. Stir to combine. Grate roughly half a nutmeg over the rice.
- Bake for one hour, watching that it isn’t browning too quickly. Use tin foil to cover the dish if it is.
- Check the wobble after the allotted time – if it is still very runny return to the oven for around 30 minutes. You are looking for a bit of a wobble in the centre but no liquid. Cooking times will depend on the depth of your dish.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little then serve with a big dollop of rhubarb jam and clotted cream for extra indulgence.
Rhubarb and ginger jam
two to three 340g jars
- 750g rhubarb
- 700g caster sugar
- Juice of 2 oranges
- 100g stem ginger pieces in syrup (I use Opies)
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Wash and sterilise two or three jam jars. Chop the rhubarb into rough chunks then place in a deep saucepan with the sugar and orange juice. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring often.
- Finely chop the ginger pieces then add to the pan with the vanilla paste. Simmer and stir until the jam reaches 104C on a sugar thermometer.
- Pull off the heat and allow to cool for five minutes then pour into the sterilised jars. Seal and store in a cool place for up to two months.