30 August 2010

Smokey with undertones of coffee...

Took a baking break and made me some jam ! Strawberry and raspberry last week... a bit random as I had left over berries from a cake and left over sugar from i don't know when...

Anyways, so about 700g be
rries to 400-500g jam sugar, JAM sugar I say (sugar with additional pectin to help the jam set) and juice of half a lemon. No method, just threw it all in the pan and bubbled away on a rolling boil for about 15mins, stirring occassionally... turned out sooooo good... the raspberry really enhances the flavour, some may have issue with the seeds, though i liked the extra texture, as well as big juicey strawberry bits... YUM ! :) Anyways, it only made 2 jars and a bit... and I gave them both away so i was only left with the "bit"... :P

During the following week, I found myself watching the "Great British Bakeoff"... a nice bit of baking fun, in the theme of masterchef for the oven, though with less dramatic music and no Greg and John to shout at you that you are out of tim
e. Anyways, theme this week was biscuits, and master artisan breadman and judge Paul Hollywood showed his hand at making the ultimate scone, suitable for royalty! :) I have to admit, scones are not really my thing... though they looked good... poofy high yet light insideand Mr L loves a good cream tea. So against my usual resistance to following recipes, I actual copied it (click here for recipe) down with a mind to give it a go this weekend. Unusual, as he uses bread flour, rather than the usual plain or self raising you see in other recipes, maybe something to do with the gluten? Also, he used a surprisingly low butter content - how would that fair? Divine is the answer. Rich and light... very good indeed. Mr Hollywood, you are the don.

Though really, my ulterior motive if I am honest is that with fresh scones, I thought it would be a good excuse to make som
e more lovely jam... actually, conserve. As apparently, cream teas are with conserve, not jam (as per Mr L). So this time, I was prepared, Friday night, whizzed around supermarket, got me a kilo of strawberries, and nabbed a bag of sugar... and was good to go.
Hulled strawberries, and layered with sugar in a big pan the night before, apparentl
y doing this firms up the strawberries before cooking. Yesterday morning brought the mixture to the boil (strawberries had been macerated, and were now swimming in beautiful juices)... again, left on a rolling boil for 20 mins with a squeeze of a lemon. Strange... it didn't seem to thicken like last time... even when cooled... it was still like strawberry soup... what had gone wrong?!! Method was the same... recipe was proportionally the same, I don't know what happened!? Left it till the afternoon, hoping that it was just a temperature thing, though to no avail. Decided to throw it all back to the pan to cook for a bit longer. Caught a glimpse of the sugar bag, the PRESERVE sugar... preserve... NOT jam sugar... it didn't have the additional pectin, and strawberries are a soft fruit with low pectin .... THAT is why it didn't set... DUH! I bought the wrong sugar... what a muppet. I remembered I had a bottle of natural apple pectin in the cupboard, so thought I could save the jam... poured in half a bottle... left it for maybe 5 mins... and boy, was that a bad idea... it burnt... not just a little heady synge... a full-on stick-to-the-bottom of your pan like toffee burned sugar, pectin strawberry mixture. Mr L said it smelt like strawberry coffee... alas... poor jam wannabe... RIP

Cake below was the original cake that gave up the leftover berries the first time around...

16 August 2010

Musings of cake

So recently, there has been a recurring question that keeps rearing it's head... just where am I going with these cakes?

I have had a couple of real commissions, though I would hardly say it was a business. My problem, I have to admit is that I don't view it as a going concern as such. It's usually a cake here, a brownie there - on request to friends and family.. though a Business venture?! That would involve an actual strategy and structure... objectives and targets right? Though I haven't the discipline. I don't even have recipes that I am capable of following, the cakes come by from an idea, a passing thought, a sponateous concept, a colour... worse still, I dislike repetition. So how can I standardise and monetise something that allows me complete creative directive and no boundaries?

I love what I am doing when it comes to the baking, and the joy it brings... though what is the next step... Am I supposed to be thinking of the next step, or just continuing to drift on my cupcake cloud... ?

8 August 2010

2 days... 49 cakes!

OK...so I cheated and 48 of those were of the cup variety... though still... that's still quite a lot of cakeage ! :)

My Brother's birthday... as the baby of the family, he always gets a bit of extra special treatment... hence the cupcakes on top of his birthday cake. Fluffy chocolate sponge cupcakes filled with raspberry jam and topped with cream cheese frosting and flake... :)

For the main event, he was also after a chocolate cherry concoction - and you know how I feel about all my cakes being very individual... so again, I had to rethink my concept... presentation. No almond this time though, brother doesn't like almond. This time I syruped my own cherries... equal proportions sugar to water in a pan and once melted,threw in some frozen pitted cherries, left it on a gentle simmer for 15ish minutes on low heat. In the last 5 mins, splash in some Kirsch to fi
nish and leave to cool. The cherries tasted just how they should, not having worked with kirsch before, though it really does do something special to enhance the flavour!

The sponge was chocolate, the cream was a layer of chocolate mousse (custard based) and the other a cherry mousse, both pebbled with the juicy cherries, and finished with a chantilly cream. Topped with 2 tone cherry glaze from the cherry syrup, though as the syrup was a bit too sweet, I offset this with some fresh raspberry purée to give it a more rounded flavour. Happy Birthday Bwo... xx