Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Tea Time

Now I'm sure after Christmas and New Year everyone promises to start dieting to make up for the Christmas excess, but this week my family failed at that.

On Sunday, for my grandma's birthday, I went with mum, my two sisters and grandma to Fortnum and Masons for tea.

We started with pink champagne and canapes: cheese straws, cheese and anchovy straws, cheese tartlettes and little salmon mousse toasts.

Then it was on to sandwiches: one egg and cress, one chicken, one roast beef, one salmon on black bread, and, of course, one cucumber. All crustless, naturally.

Then we moved onto the sweet stuff - and there was mountains of it!

This tower was just for two people!

We each had a fruit scone, and a plain scone, with clotted cream and jam, lemon sponge cakes, date and walnut loaf, jam biscuits, and then we got to choose from the cake tray. There was a big cube of solid chocolate with layers of chocolate inside, a fondant fancy, a lemon meringue sandwich, chocolate eclairs, a plum tart - all sorts of lovely things.

We couldn't eat it all!

And of course we had gallons, and gallons of tea!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The cake that nearly wasn't

Recent posts suggest that I do a lot of baking (and I haven't even mentioned the mince pies!) but to be honest, I really don't. Most of the baking in my family home is done by my youngest sister, because she believes in eating a lot of chocolate, and at uni I don't really bake. The one exception to this is cheesecake. I make amazing cheesecake!

But yesterday was said little sister's 19th birthday. My parents were in the US and my middle sister was (is) in Morocco, so it was just her and I. That made me chief baker.

She'd requested a plain sponge cake with buttercream icing, which I thought would be really simple. But when I got to it, I couldn't remember the quantities for cake. My mum definitely has the ratios of fat/flour/sugar/egg in her head for cakes, crumbles, pastry etc, but I have been known to get it wrong...

So, I found a recipe (not too complicated, we have a house full of cookery books!) and set about making the cake. However....

The cake specified soft margarine, but I wanted to use butter (it tastes much nicer) and we only had hard butter.

I also didn't have quite enough golden caster sugar so I had to top it up with normal caster sugar.

Then I started putting everything in the Magimix, but that felt wrong, so I transferred it into a bowl to use an electric hand whisk.

But, with butter, flour, sugar and baking powder in, the whisk just made a terrible mess. Then I remembered - we make cakes in the big Kenwood mixer!

Got that out, added cake mix, but it still looked wrong.... Ah yes, no eggs. Oops!

Then I discovered that our cake tins are slightly bigger than the ones the recipe wanted (I reckon they are 8" not 7") so I could have done with some more mixture. Oh well...

But of course that meant that they cooked faster than planned, although the middle of one was very soft....

Anyway, as you can see from the photo above, somehow the cake turned out just fine! I added lots of chocolate buttercream (that's easy to make - icing sugar, butter and coco, and a wooden spoon), and some pink sprinkles which made my sister happy. And it tasted good. Her only complaint was that the 'G' on the top wasn't neat enough!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Christmas Pudding

Look at my Christmas Pudding!!

Normally we buy one (from M & S, so it's dairy free and can be eaten after Turkey) but this year, mum's work Secret Santa bought her a Christmas Pudding making kit. It contained a mixing bowl, a steaming basin and most of the ingredients, bar flour, alcohol and bread crumbs.

So I made it: combined all the ingredients, mainly, adding some extra alcohol, and stirring a lot.

And then we steamed it for 8 hours - with mum feeding it extra rum!

And a few days later we ate it and it was the best pudding we've ever had. Definitely something to repeat. Perhaps next year we will even manage it on Stir-Up Sunday.