Monthly Archives: July 2013

Three-Berry Vanilla Cake

I’m lying.  Again.  This is not 3-berry cake.  It’s raspberry, blueberry and redcurrant cake. Unless redcurrants are berries, in which case I am not lying at all. Which  means I am a lie in credit.  I’ll keep it and use it on something more useful.

I’m tying this REALLY REALLY FAST whilst NewHuman naps, and boyfriend is out at the park doing whatever he does out there with the dog. Probably the dog has him running after balls.  Actually I know that’s the case, as they have this ‘fun’ game where the dog will pretend to want to run after the ball, boyfriend will throw it, dog won’t run, boyfriend swears at dog, and then dog watches boyfriend run to collect ball.  It’s win-win for me and the dog when this happens, but pretty much lose all the way for poor boyfriend.

Last night was not all lose, though.  Boyfriend’s mother had a birthday and we went over for supper.  Easy, casual supper, I believed.  One involving posh things such as caviar. Delicious excess.  Anyway I volunteered to make a cake, forgetting I’d be half-cut from a pub lunch with friends earlier in the day.

I was a bit pissed when I made this and it still turned out yum.  So very yum that I’ve in fact made it again today, sober, replacing redcurrants with blackberries, and a cake tin for muffin cases.  I shall eat them all.

Right. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

20130728-161503.jpg

Pre-heat your oven to 180C.  (I’m impressed that I keep remembering to tell you this kind of stuff now. I’m well professional blogger. Can’t believe I’ve not been approached to become some publishing giant).

Gather:-

200g self raising flour

200g softened butter (so much butter)

200g caster sugar

2 good teaspoons vanilla paste or quality extract

3 eggs

Fruit – I used about half a punnet of each kind, cause I like things fruity. If you’re more ascetic, then bout 50-60g of each kind will do, I guess.

20130728-161509.jpg

Cause I was half pissed I of course didn’t manage to remember to soften the butter first, so had to grate it.

Either way, cream the butter and sugar for a few mins, then add the vanilla and beat some more.

20130728-161513.jpg

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between each addition.

As usual, it’ll look like sick.

Fold in the flour, a bit gently.  You can sift it if you want to. I never do and my cakes seem to always work out fine.

20130728-161519.jpg

Pro tip!

If you dust your fruit in a little flour, any time you’re using fruit in anything baked, prior to folding through the batter, it won’t all sink to the bottom in the cooking.

So, dust your fruit.

20130728-161526.jpg

Fold it gently into the batter.

The raspberries will commit suicide and bleed all over the place, as they are wont to do. Don’t give them any mind.

20130728-161530.jpg

Batter goes into a lined 22cm cake tin, with a smoothed over top.  Into the oven for 50-60 mins or so, till a bit browned on top and done.

20130728-161554.jpg

Since NewHuman’s arrival the dog has been turning increasingly to attention-seeking behaviours.

20130728-161559.jpg

Here is the done cake, bloody boiling hot and turned out onto a cake tin lid for transporting, in the car, to boyfriend’s parents’ home. Burnt the hell out of my knees.  HURT.

Ideally you’ll have dusted the top with icing sugar but the cake was too warm for such frippery.

Serve with cream and/or ice cream.  I didn’t get a pic of that, but below is some leftover cake I had this morning for breakfast.

Recommend.

20130728-161605.jpg

Advertisements

Choc Butterscotch Chip and Oatmeal Cookies

Hullo.

Britain has been baking. Averagely. In hot weather, natch, and averagely because all the winter months are spent longing for the hot weather, then it arrives and the native Brits realise their island is not built for heat, and after 2 consecutive days of warm forecasts the weather presenters already preface their info with, ‘And I’m sorry to say it’s looking like another warm one’.

I’ve been bloody loving it, even if it means sleeping in boiled bedrooms at 27C during the night, something I’d never do in Australia. Also, I’ve been able to dress NewHuman as a proper Aussie; that is, he’s been wearing nothing but nappies and, occasionally, a Bonds singlet. Perfection.

I do miss Twinpoles, though (specific Western Australian cultural reference there, icypole fans).

Right. Please note the below:-

20130724-175725.jpg

Discovered in a shop called Outsider Tart in the posh reaches of West London. It delivers brownies of quite good quality, hilarious coffee (I once went in and ordered an iced latte and was given a nice hot latte with rapidly melting ice blocks in it), and a plethora of American goods.  Most of them seem to contain corn syrup.  We got the above in the interests of average baking, not realising at time of purchase that they retailed in the region of £6 each. OW.

Today I’ve put the butterscotch chips to work. The open packet smells rankly of decay, but the boyfriend assures me they taste better than they smell. I’ve added oatmeal/rolled oats to this made-up recipe in an attempt to give it some texture beyond that of cooked sugar. Vague success.

20130724-175729.jpg

Preheat your oven to 190C or so.  Have a couple of lined baking trays ready to go.

Gather:-

3/4 cup plain flour

half teaspoon baking powder

half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 cup rolled oats  (I used porridge oats so they were a bit broken up, ie: not in whole rolled oat form)

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla paste (or essence, whichever. Whatever)

1 egg

125g butter.  I think. I forgot to measure it.  About half a 250g packet, or close enough.  Softened, please.

Choc chips – I used about half a cup of dark choc in a lame attempt to balance out the butterscotch mentalness.

Butterscotch chips.  Do feel free to substitute these or just leave them out altogether.

20130724-175734.jpg

Cream the butter and sugar till fluffy.  I’ve been forced to use my new beaters.  £14 they cost.  Bout the same as those two packets of chop chips, actually.  Anyway, I want my old beaters back. I can’t have them.  They are dead dead dead.

Life’s hard.

After the sugar and butter is creamy add the egg and vanilla and beat some more.  It won’t look as much like sick as I’d imagined.

Add the dry stuff (excluding the chips) and stir through.

Now you can stir the chips through.  Go on.

20130724-175739.jpg

Kind of looks like frozen sick.

Tastes better.

20130724-175744.jpg

Stick loaded dessertspoons on a lined baking tray and stick into the oven for about 10-12 minutes.

So although I was fairly confident the dog would cope well with NewHuman obviously there was no real knowing until they met.

20130724-175754.jpg

I swear this was not a set up. I LOVE MY DOG.

Not so much when she’s refusing to move from my spot on the sofa, but when she does shit like this, then yes, she’s aces.

And now I have a gardening question. Please see below.

20130724-180142.jpg

That little conifer on the far left? It got bought, repotted, fed and watered same as all the others.  It’s also been suitably ignored when it comes to conifer haircutting.  Anyway it’s dying.  Dying deadly.  The others are fine.  Is it done for, properly, do you think?  Shall I chuck it?  Mulch it?  Wail disappointedly at it?

Take your cookies out of the oven after you’re done reviewing your sad, dying garden plants.  Let them settle a bit on the tray (they will emerge somewhat puffed up and slowly flatten).  Transfer to a cooling rack.  Eat.

Like I thought, too sweet.  To the boyfriend’s office they will go, joining the ranks of all the too-sweet stuff and too-burnt stuff (oh, ShitOven, how shit you were).

20130724-180329.jpg

Nana’s Honey Sponge with Vanilla Buttercream Filling

Yes, hello, sorry sorry I’ve been away for a bit. I’ve been baking OBVIOUSLY but it’s all been repeats of the usual suspects (I won’t keep you on the edge of your seat wondering what they are. Anzacs, of course, and banana bread, mostly).

Life’s been a bit busy. No-one, amongst the literal mountain of usually un-asked for advice given to me whilst upduff, mentioned the frantic social lives babies have. New Human needs his own social secretary. It’s utterly ridiculous. I should admit that prior to NewHuman’s arrival I was a bit unconvinced that there was any value in things like ‘music for newborns’ and ‘early swimming’. I have subsequently come to my senses and understand now that these classes have sweet eff all to do with the baby, and are entirely for the parent’s benefit. It’s to help you escape the otherwise doomy daily stodge of housebound chores.

I’d hate to make you think I’m either (i) unhappy or (ii) finding NewHuman a drudge. Not at all. In fact, after starting to feel, around his 4th and 5th week of life, that I’d really just been a caretaker for a rather floppy piece of semi-functional human, I needed him to start giving back. Whilst not yet evidencing any serious levels of cognitive understanding, NewHuman clearly heard me and produced a smile or two. Mostly for my Mum, the boyfriend and the dog rather than me, but at least it was something. He is improving daily, in terms of entertainment value. Lucky for him.

Right, the below is something from my Ma’s childhood, and which I remember my Nana making. Honey Sponge with what Nana would call ‘mock cream’. The term ‘mock [anything]’ fills me with horror after a rather unfortunate dalliance with mock chicken as a young teenager. I was very relieved to find out it was just a wartime term for what we, these days, call buttercream icing. Or frosting, depending on your country of origin.

I believe this cake used to make Ma the most popular girl on her dorm whenever Nana would deliver one to boarding school. If only I’d known that when I was at school. Cake. Solves all the social dilemmas. Shame you can’t get drunk on cake.

Moving on…

20130714-195012.jpg

Preheat your oven to about 180-190C or so. Grease and line the bottom of a round cake tin. No idea how big the one I used was, sorry, I forgot to measure it. Maybe in the low 20cm range? Nice and deep, though, please, none of this shallow cake tin shit.

Gather:-

For the cake:

4 eggs, separated

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup self raising flour

2 heaped teaspoons plain flour (I have just realised I put in two heaped tablespoons. Worked fine)

1 teaspoon all spice (I used mixed spice)

1 teaspoon ground cinammon

3/4 teaspoon bicarb soda (I used a whole teaspoon. I clearly cocked up this whole cake)

1 teaspoon of cream of tartar (or 1 teaspoon of baking powder)

For the buttercream:

250g butter, softened a bit

good splash of vanilla essence, or vanilla paste, or both, like I used

1 packet, ie: 500g, icing sugar. I used golden. It was all the Sainsbury’s Local had.

20130714-195018.jpg

Whisk the egg whites, with a pinch of salt, adding the caster sugar in bits. Stop when it just gets to stiffish peaks. See above.

Then add the egg yolks and honey, bicarb and tartar/baking powder – should take 5-10 seconds with the beaters.

20130714-195024.jpg

Then fold in the flours and spices with a spatula, using the scrape-and-cut technique. You know, scrape around the sides, scoop the spatula through the middle. You just want to combine the mix with the dry stuff without losing all the air. Don’t fuck it up, I am not an expert on sponges but I’m pretty confident they’re famous for being light.

20130714-195028.jpg

Into the cake tin and then into the oven for 30 mins.

Wait.

20130714-195040.jpg

We’ve been allowing perfectly natural photo opportunities to occur, encouraging interaction between NewHuman and the dog. The above clearly required no parental manipulation, nor did the dog look at all concerned.

*ahem*

20130714-195048.jpg

Anyway, while the cake is cooking, make the buttercream. Blend the butter and vanilla, then add the icing sugar in stages. It’ll be a bloody mess.

Also, if you’re me, it’ll burn out the handbeaters. The handbeaters will be broken and are now scheduled for official disposal. Very sad.

Put the buttercream in the fridge.

20130714-195057.jpg

Take the cake out, let it sit in the tin a few mins, then take out. The tin I used had one of those removal bottoms, wasn’t a springform though. Pretty sure anything would do.

Let it cool.

20130714-195102.jpg

Cut the cake in half. You’ll see from the above that I clearly over-cooked this one. I am an average baker, I have never pretended to be anything else.

Fill it with ALL THE BUTTERCREAM. It’ll seem like a shitload. It is a shitload. The cake can take it.

Put the two halves together and dust with icing sugar.

Below is the finished cake, framed nicely by my friend P’s boobs.

Enjoy (both the cake and the boobs).

20130714-195114.jpg