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Sunday, February 15, 2009

One more valentine-ish post

The recipe for the elaborate Valentine's cake was a bit sketchy on some of the details, especially about amounts. This led to my making two layers of red velvet cake when only one was necessary and more than double the amount of cream cheese frosting.
So I had the inspired idea of slicing the second layer into two very thin layers, then using a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make lots of little heart-shaped cakes, which I then iced with the leftover cream cheese frosting. A few coloured sprinkles and you have perfect little Valentine's cakes. How's that for creative?
They made a perfect hostess gift for the delightful Sunday lunch I have just come home from (around 8pm), and were surprisingly nice. The only snag is that cream cheese frosting doesn't really harden at all, so they didn't transport perfectly and serving them was a bit messy.
And I forgot to photograph them, so you just have to imagine what they looked like.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine cake

It's a little different from the Bakerella version. For a start, it's not as perfect or pretty. I'm not a perfectionist, which means that what I do is rarely to a very high standard. On the other hand, I do a lot of things, even if sometimes they are a bit slapdash.
Another excuse for its less than perfect appearance is that I used marzipan instead of fondant to make the cardboard box. I've never worked with fondant, so it may well be easier to manage, but the marzipan was very soft after kneading in the food colouring. While on the topic of food colouring, neither the cake nor the marzipan came out as red as suggested. I think Green & Black's cocoa may be darker than standard American cocoa, so it overrode the redness. The food colouring itself seems to come out pink rather than red - the whole concoction used a bottle and a half of food colouring!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ambitious plans

I have very ambitious plans for a Valentine's day cake. Before you get all upset, I should reassure you that I haven't gone all soppy and conventionally romantic. This is pure self-indulgence as I take on a patisserie challenge. The Man will eat at most two or three slices, but if it works, I'll make it again the following week for a friends' wedding.
Anyway, the idea comes from a random blog, (I don't want to put up a picture because I don't want to follow that - you'll see my version first!), and it's based on an American recipe (as above) called red velvet cake. I've made the base cake and it smells gorgeous and looks very nice, but it's sort of dark chocolatey red rather than the scarlet of all the pictures. Despite two tablespoons of red food colouring!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Breakfast on Christmas morning

Now, I hate to come over all Bah Humbug, but one of the downsides of Christmas is that there's all this traditional food and I don't like any of it.
Turkey? Yuck. Dry and nasty-flavoured.
Brussels sprouts? Euch. Bitter and watery.
And mince pies, Christmas pudding, Christmas cake etc all have dried fruit in, making them a no-no from my point of view. Admittedly a picky point of view, but valid, I think.
And the cake often has marzipan on it.
So I lose weight and family good will over Christmas.
This year was different.
This year we all went (completely mad, but wonderful) to Sri Lanka for Christmas and had fresh fruit and spicy dal for breakfast and curry at every other meal. Oh it was bliss!
And the warmth, the sunshine, the baby elephants, the blue ocean and golden beach, they were good too!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Kitchen Rivals

I haven't been posting much on the blog, partly because things have been busy at work, what with the end of the world as we know it (I'm a financial journalist) and partly because I'm having to fight for space in the kitchen.
My wonderful stepdaughter is going through a manic baking phase, which has the unexpected consequence that she has a devoted fan club both in my place of work and her father's.
She will only bake cakes, muffins, cookies - sweet things all - and neither she nor her dad is greedy enough to eat all of them, and I'm not very keen at all. So every other weekend, when the Accomplice has spent three days with us, we bring tubs of chocodoodles, strawberry jam doughnut muffins, cinnamon cookies, honey and spice cake, into work and distribute them among our fellow-workers.
I have qualms about how wasteful the practice is, and I dislike being expected to eat so many cakes, but I can't bring myself to discourage her from such a wholesome, productive, self-empowering pursuit. I love coming home from work on Thursdays to a flat full of seductively sweet baking smells, being offered a still warm cookie while I'm taking my coat off, seeing her triumph when an experiment works and her determined analysis of failures.
But my belated new year resolution is not to let this deter me from writing about food - and to try to blog more regularly.