Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ode to Fail-Bakes

A year ago my cakes were horrendous
To the point where their content was dangerous.
Once I used salt
Not sugar (in fault)
So the thought of baking was preposterous.

I kid thee not that a year ago - nay, 6 months ago! - I could not bake. I found some photos to share with you, to partially prove my point, but also for your amusement!
This was my attempt at lemon drizzle cupcakes!

Above is a fine example of a cake that I have named after the epic tv show, Lost. The 'Lost' cake is  a most excellent way to decorate (I feel 'salvage' is a little too strong a word) a cake that is lost beyond all hope. All you need is some ready-made royal icing, and some squeezy chocolate writing icing.  And don't forget your plastic googley-eyes for the Smoke Monster's finishing touches! None of that 'home made' malarky for this work of art!

Finally, my piece de resistance. Below is the cake that earned its locally infamous title 'Salt Cake'.   This recipe merely requires you to confuse sugar with salt. I highly recommend trying the batter before pouring into your baking tins, as the saltiness will recoil your tongue. Add more 'sugar' to the batter, in hope of sweetening the mixture. Eventually place the cake in the oven, and hope that the heat will change the saltiness to pure confectioner's delight. Suggested occasion for the cake is April Fool's Day. 

Simply decorate with a sea-side image, elegantly incorporating the cake's flavour with its image. Cocktail umbrellas are a must. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Once more unto the oven, dear friends, once more!

I realise I haven't blogged in a while, partially due to my struggles with this blasted device we call 'internet', coupled with the abstinence of computers.

My husband daily encourages me to keep blogging; I love photography, and baking has become a real challenge and solace to me. I'm still learning how to write these posts, as it feels rather egocentric at times.

This week I had a particularly tough Wednesday and Thursday. I really had very little to do, and money isn't great at the moment so buying baking goods was an expense we could do without. I felt quite useless and lonely, and so I went in to my husband's office to see if they needed any help, which being a church office, they inevitably did. To my comfort, the place was warm and full of smiley people. I also realised that baking has become important to me as it provides me with a sense of achievement, when often I feel quite useless after a torrent of rejections from employers. I'm not afraid about the future, but it's tough to live in the present.


On Friday I decided to bake, and attempt decorating with chocolate. We had a tonne of oranges, nutmeg, and orange flavouring, and I've never made biscuits before (edible ones at least), so I bought some eggs, and unto the oven I went.

These are chocolate and orange biscuits, with a hint of vanilla and nutmeg:
(Makes about 30 'small' ones, or 15 'big' ones)

1. Measure out 300g plain flour, 250g butter (I used soya), 250g caster sugar. I usually put them in three separate bowls so it's easy to mix in together into the big bowl.
2. Get 1 egg yolk in a separate bowl, and with 2 tsps vanilla extract and 2 tsps orange extract, whisk with a fork.
3. In the big bowl, mix together the butter and sugar with a spatular. It's hard work at first but worth it. My Mum always said..."light, white, and fluffy". Well mixed will do...!
4. Add the wet mixture (egg etc.). Mix well.
5. Grate in the zest of one orange (it will make your biscuits feels sophisticated).
6. Add in cocoa powder (if you're going milk-free, check if this has milk in as some do and some don't). Add in as much or as little as you feel necessary. I put in about 2 tbs. I had some left over dark chocolate, so I smashed it up with a hammer and chucked that in too.
7. Add the flour. Don't worry about sieving it as when you stir it with the spatular you'll get LOADS of air (so long as you make a point of stirring it in such a way that you do!).
8. I found my mixture was a bit sloppy, so really I should have chucked in a bit more flour, but didn't. If it feels to sloppy to roll-out, then add more flour.
9. NOW heat the oven, otherwise you waste the energy. My oven cooks hot, so when it says 180'c I go about 150'c. But anywhere between 150-200'c is fine, if you get to know your oven!
10. Get your chopping bored/work surface, and cover with some baking parchment, because then you're not using more flour and getting a bitter coating on your biscuits. Roll out bit by bit. I do because I struggle to cope with too much mixture.
11. Lay on a tray covered in baking parchment, not flour!!! Banish the nasty flour coating!
12. Bake! Make sure your thick ones aren't under-cooked. Mine were a bit so I chucked them back in the oven upside-down.

Make them look pretentious by adding rose petals, or whatever half-dead foliage you have lying about the house. Et voi la!