Sounds: Roo Panes

 

I often think of music in terms of a mood or situation it evokes, which means that my summers are often spent listening to upbeat but laid-back songs, whereas winters are given over to heavier sounds and styles. The summer of 2008 was devoted to Johnny Flynn’s first album, A Larum, which had just been released and which introduced me to a style of music that was later polished and disseminated to a much wider audience by Mumford & Sons. Roo Panes is a recent addition to this sound, tentatively entitled folk/pop. His songs are spare and imbued with a raw tenderness which is achingly beautiful and addictive, and his voice is like sand, both soft and abrasive. Much of his music reminds me of Laura Marling, both lyrics and melodies. My personal favourites at the moment are probably ‘Indigo Home’ and ‘Open Road’. I’m currently relying on Youtube to get my fix, I can’t wait until I can get hold of an actual record. I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that he comes to play in Oxford soon…

 

Epidavrian Citrus & Honey Yoghurt Cake

Oranges and lemons from Epidavros

Yoghurt cake is surprisingly versatile, and a lighter option if you enjoy baking but are worried about excessive cake consumption. I made a version of this last week with just the zest of an orange as flavouring (minus the lemon zest, vanilla, and honey), and it quickly disappeared! It’s great with ice cream or plain, my sister chose to drizzle honey over it, and mum had it with a kumquat preserve that she found in the cupboard. You can experiment with accompaniments and flavours (I might try a liqueur of some sort next, we seem to have loads of different ones hanging around) – the basic recipe remains the same, and better still, you only need one bowl. Easy peasy!

Ingredients:

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 150g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 300g Greek yoghurt (I used 2% fat)
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • 2 tbsp good runny honey (I used an amazing local thyme honey)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • flaked almonds, to top (optional)

What to do:

1. Pre-heat your oven to fan 160°C (or 180°C without the fan – I generally prefer to use the fan as it cooks things more evenly). Butter a cake tin – mine was approx 20x10cm; the recipe doesn’t make a huge amount of batter, so don’t use one that’s too big!

2. Mix together the flour, ground almonds, sugar, and salt in a bowl, then make a well in the centre.

3. Throw in the eggs, yoghurt, and oil, and stir with a spoon until you have a smooth batter. (Tip: Turn the bowl as you stir to speed up the process.)

4. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well, then pour the batter into your tin. Scatter over some flaked almonds.

5. Bake for about half an hour until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. (Don’t worry if it looks like it’s burning around the edges – you can always cut these off if you don’t like crusts, but personally I love them!) Cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so and then remove to a rack to allow the cake to cool further.

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The finished product!

Currently…

Watching: Phyllida Lloyd’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ at the small ancient theatre of Epidavros, performed beautifully by Fiona Shaw and Daniel Hay-Gordon

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Reading: A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin (I’ve devoted this summer to reading the series, and 6 weeks later I’m a quarter of the way through Book 5.)

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Hearing: Awolnation, ‘Megalithic Symphony’ (this album has everything I need musically.)

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Making: orange zest and yoghurt cake (recipe to follow)