I am Neuroscience PhD, a humanist, skeptic, feminist, avid reader, science enthusiast, woolly-liberal über-nerd, and, as of October 2015, father to the Lykketroll.

I moved from England to Norway in January 2012 and live in Lørenskog with my wife, the Lykketroll, and our two aging rescue cats, Socrates and Schrödinger. 

I am on paternity leave from the 4th of July to the 18th of November. 

The job I am on leave from is as an  Associate Professor and Head of Studies at the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. My background is in child neurodevelopment (my PhD looked into the relationship between fatty acids like omega-3 and cognitive development in young children) but I now work on a hodge-podge of things roughly within the field of Universal Design of ICT 50% of the time, the other 50% of my time I am Head of the 'General' Studies (Allmenn in Norwegian) Unit, which is comprised of around 24 academics within a range of fields, including mathematics, physics, Norwegian, and technology and leadership.

In between working and doing the usual dad things,  I like hiking and running in the beautiful Norwegian outdoors, cooking and playing video games. 

If I believed in souls I would say that mine was born in Norway. 

I plan to sleep when I'm dead.

Recipe: Speckled Mocha Cake

I made this cake last weekend for Mae's grandmother and she said it was one of the best cakes she'd ever eaten. As she's not one for empty compliments, it made me so happy I thought I would share the recipe and spread the mocha-flavoured joy. Here's the science of baking a  über-delcious marbled coffee cake with chocolate chunks and a mocha filling. Diabetics beware. 

Ingredients

For the sponge: 

  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large (free-rang, organic) eggs, left at room temperature
  • 100g plain flour
  • 100g whole-wheat flour
  • 25g dried yeast
  • (the alternative is to use 200g of self-raising flour. You will still get the lovely marbled effect but lose the nutty flavour and crumblier texture of the whole-wheat flour)
  • 30ml shot of strong espresso (if using instant coffee use 25g of coffee dissolved in 30mls of water)
  • 50g of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

For the filling:

  • 50g of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • 30ml shot of strong espresso (if using instant coffee use 25g of coffee dissolved in 30mls of water)
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

2. Put butter into mix bowl and beat until creamy. Add the caster sugar and continue to beat until the mixture becomes pale and fluffy in texture.Mix in the eggs and beat until fully combined. 

3. In a second bowl, mix in half the dried yeast (12g; 3/4 of a tablespoon) with the plain flour. Chop the dark chocolate into chunks around 1/3 of the size of the thumbnail pieces and add to the flour, then add half of the butter and until the flour has combined. 

4. To the remaining half of the butter mix in half the dried yeast (12g; 3/4 of a tablespoon) with the whole-wheat flour, pour in the shot of espresso and mix again. 

5. Line the bottom of the baking tin with baking paper and butter the sides. Dollop big spoon-fulls of the plain flour/chocolate chip mix into the tin, leaving a few centimetres between each one. Fill in the gap with the whole-wheat/espresso mix and shake the tin to spread the mix evenly and remove any air bubbles. Bake for 30 minutes or until the sponge springs back when gently pressed and you can stab the cake with a knife and it comes out clean. 

6. Whilst the cake is in the oven, you can make the mocha filling. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put it into a microwave-safe bowl.  Add the butter and the shot of the espresso and heat in the microwave for around 30 seconds (this is so much easier than melting the chocolate over a steaming hot pan of water).  Stir mix until it has combined and then are no lumps of butter or chocolate. Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Stick the filling in the fridge until the cake is done so that it becomes firm enough to spread.

7. Once the sponge is done, run a knife around the inside of the tin then turn onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Once cool, slice the sponge in two and then sandwich them together with the filling. Enjoy with a fat dollop of vanilla ice-cream.

The cake tastes better the next day, and if you store it in an air-tight container it will last up to 5 days.

Recipe: Speckled Mocha Cake: A description of the methodological approach and the tastiness of the outcome.

Book review: Galileo's Finger by Peter Atkins