Archive for the ‘baking’ Category


While the eldest children are making pumpkin pie in the kitchen…

Devon (14)- “WHAT! WHY are you biting my sleeve?”

Olivia (11)- *laughs hysterically* “I don’t know!”

Devon- “You can’t just go around biting other peoples sleeves!”

Olivia- “Well, you can’t just go around biting other peoples wrists!”

Devon- “I don’t.”

Slightly maniacal laughter from both follows

Mom- (from the other room) “Have you two been drinking?”


Cake bandit

We’ve stayed up until 11:00, watched a film (Knight and Day, for anyone who cares, which is pretty good, considering), and had big pieces of chocolate cake with a decadent sweetened whipped cream and cream cheese frosting. Now to bed. My suggestion that my 14 year old brush his teeth is met with some reticence, there is a bit of back and forth, and an apology with subsequent heart to heart follows.

I make my way upstairs, plop down in front of the computer and check my email for the 10th time today, looking for a reply to an email I sent exactly 24 hours ago. It isn’t there. As I start to close down the computer there is a great *CRASH!* from downstairs. Fucking cats? I think, initially. The boy?!! I think, a millisecond later.  He assures me all is well, but he’s fallen. I race downstairs, to be greeted with darkness.  I switch on the lights, he is in the kitchen(!), he tells me he was on the way to the bathroom, and tripped. He cannot tell me why he didn’t turn on the lights. I cringe as I notice that we did indeed leave the kitchen steps in his path to the bathroom.  I notice he has something on his leg and as I reach out, I think- I know what that is, it’s cake. Why does he have cake on his cast? I then notice a smear of cake on the ground. He tells me that when he started to fall he grabbed the fridge, the door came open, the cake plate flew out and landed on the floor.  I check him, then check the cake, it seems remarkably unharmed, though a feeling that there is possibly less of it, passes over my brain.

Initially his story makes sense. Until I notice a large slice of cake on the floor some feet away, under some clothes that have fallen out of their basket. I only sliced three pieces of cake, and we ate those. And, if he had grabbed the top of the fridge as he started to fall, the entire fridge probably would’ve gone over, it’s not terribly big or heavy, and if it had only tipped over enough for things to fall out of it, why didn’t all my cans of cheapy energy drinks, on the same shelf as the cake fall out? Why is the cake in such good condition if it fell out of the fridge and onto the floor?

Despite knowing better,really, my first instinct is to ALWAYS trust my kids. It never even occurs to me that they might be lying, until I have some good reason to think so. I’m not stupid, when they lie to me I usually pick up on it, and call them out on it. But, it’s important that my kids know that I trust them, and so, in return, trust me. So, I do not consider the possibility of lying unless it’s pretty blatant to me.  They don’t get away with it very often.

On this occasion it takes only a few seconds for me to realize the cake on the floor is a nice thick slice of cake, and to see that he was using the light of the fridge to cut himself some cake, when he slipped or tripped or whatever and went down, with his ill gotten cake and all. I sent him back to bed, cleaned up the mess, and on my way back upstairs I said to him “Karma, you think? Maybe thats what you get for taking cake without asking, when you’re supposed to be in bed.”

Bless him,  (God, I’m going native), he looked straight at me and said “I wasn’t taking any cake!”.

I worry about that kid. Really, I do. He’s got the makings of a great criminal. When presented with your crimes, deny,deny, deny.

His conscience gets him every time though. I let him get away with this fib, because I know that no sooner will I have said good morning to him tomorrow morning, he will say “I’m sorry I took some cake, mom”.

I adore this kid. But, fingers crossed a life of crime is not on the cards.

Black Forest Cupcakes

I love most things cherry, and though I’m not great on chocolate by itself, when you combine it with cherry, it becomes one of my very favorite things. So, when I saw the recipe for black forest cupcakes in Eat Me, I just had to try it.

Though the illustration of the cupcakes looked divine, I was concerned when I read the recipe. It uses cocoa powder, of which I am not a big fan in baking. But, although I usually know I will not be happy with the results, I try to at least give these recipes a fair shake if I think they may be worth it. This one used golden syrup in addition to golden sugar, which I knew would make it sweeter and perhaps do a better job of countering the cocoas acidity.

These cupcakes were my birthday treat and the baby and I enjoyed making them. Toward the end of their baking time I needed to dash off to Olivia’s cross country championship and they werent quite done so instructed the husband to turn the oven off and let them sit while I was gone. This usually works well, but I was gone a fair while and by the time I had returned, they were pretty overcooked and had gone hard. Nevertheless, I finished them off with the cherry filling and whipped cream.

I have to say at this point that I don’t blame the recipe for how they turned out, I overcooked them and as a rule I don’t like cocoa flavoured baked goods anyway. So, when I say they tasted awful, I do so with the knowledge that I am entirely to blame. I ate one, my kids ate all the rest. I was dissapointed but because I love anything black forest I was determined to try again. The second time around I used a completely different recipe for the cupcakes, a trusty stand by that I’ve adapted to suit my tastes. This recipe uses melted dark(plain) chocolate in place of cocoa powder. The cupcakes turned out perfect, moist in the middle, but nice and cakelike on the outsides. I also adapted the Eat Me cherry filling to my own taste, and it soaked in lusciously with the moist cupcake centres. Instead of faffing around piping the whipped cream on top, I just spooned it on and they looked like wonderful domes, with sprinkled chocolate crunch pieces on top.

These were perfect, like manna from heaven. Sheer deliciousness and I had to restrain myself from eating more than one at a sitting. Twelve cupcakes between 5 people can only last so long though, they were gone by breakfast the next morning.

Oh, sweet sweet schwarzwälder kirschtorte. How I love thee.

So, I credit the Eat Me recipe with the inspiration, and I can’t wait to try all the other fantastic looking recipes in the book. In particular, I’m eyeing the pastel macaroons for a Sunday High Tea I’m planning for my daughter and her closest friends.

Lemon Fingers

A lovely friend sent me Eat Me, a brilliant book chock full of cupcake recipes, for my birthday. I, of course, want to try everything in it! I started off with Lemon Fingers.  These were a lot of fun to make, but I had never made anything like it before so it took some fiddling, and experimenting with different piping tools, including a contraption involving a tin can courtesy of the husband,  to get them just right.

In the end I discovered a cookie maker I bought or was given years ago and had never used. You know, the kind that consists of a long metal tube and a handle for pumping the batter/frosting out of. Usually with a little metal plate on the end with a design on it, so you can make star cookies and the like. When we had managed to put it together and get the right tube on it for the fingers, it worked a treat. The fingers were buttery and light, in fact a bit to light, if I put just a teeny to much pressure on them while spreading the frosting on, they’d crack. The children didn’t mind of course, the baby especially loved getting the broken bits.

These lemon fingers were light and lemony and absolutely delicious. Perfect for a spring picnic in a field bursting with wildflowers and butterflies. As luck would have it, I think we have one of those around here somewhere, actually… So, I suppose I’d better get planning.

Coffee Cake

Growing up, there were two cookbooks in our house that were my mothers bibles. The Panasonic Microwave cookbook and the Bisquick Recipe book. After 20odd years of constant use both were falling apart when I left home for England in 2005 and I don’t even know if she has them anymore. It is only in recent years that I have realized what a big part of my life the dishes in these books were. While I don’t use the same recipes my mom did, many of the same meals and desserts that she made from these recipes are a regular fixture on my own dining table.

On a side note, I have to give credit to Betty Crocker for the creation and phenomenal marketing of Bisquick. A staple of most American kitchen cupboards for decades, it is essentially no more than self-raising flour. When I discovered after my transatlantic move in 2005 that Bisquick was virtually unheard of here in Britain I panicked, how would I possibly bake anything??!!!? I soon realized that anything I could do with Bisquick, I could do with flour and raising agents and I never looked back. But, it shows the power of marketing, back home you use Bisquick instead of flour, pay about twice as much for it and don’t think to question it.

But lets get back to the cake, shall we? One of my absolute favourite recipes was Coffee Cake. The name is slightly misleading as it is named for being a cake you enjoy with coffee, it contains no coffee itself. I was having a look at facebook and noticed a friend had posted a picture of the British version of coffee cake, an iced “slab cake”, no doubt containing coffee flavoring and excessive amounts of sugar, I cringed just looking at it. But, it prompted memories of the delicious coffee cake I had enjoyed so much growing up. Not often, as my mother wasnt a huge fan of it, so it was even more of a pull. I had to make it. Immediately.

So, I did. The smell was wonderful, just like I remembered. The stresuel topping, amazing. The Williams-Sonoma recipe I used suggesting using a bundt pan for this cake. Friends, you know I nearly did. Nearly convinced myself that this time, I could do it! But, I pulled myself back from the edge and used my spring form pan instead.With the consequence that the edges and sides were slightly dried out and over brown.







But the cake itself! A thing of beauty. Moist. Delicious. I almost cried tears of joy at the same time as a melancholy feeling of longing for my childhood came over me. Even my husband relished every bite, before ruining it by suggesting I add glace cherries in the future. *sigh*

I’m tempted to make this an apple coffee cake next time, which would complement the cinnamon and brown sugar of streusel perfectly. A wonderful and easy cake, I recommend it wholeheartedly.

So. Freaking. Good.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

So after the disaster that was my Apple Bundt Cake, I decided to do something a bit more familiar. Everyone loves pineapple upside down cake. Well, except for the baby, who loves neither pineapple nor cherries, but was happy to peel them off and eat the cake by itself. I used a flan pan, which worked well. I had extra batter so used a loaf pan as well as means of comparison. The flan came out lovely, the loaf came out very dry with burnt edges. Both were devoured by the horde. Naturally. I used glase cherries here, which were disgusting. I’ll stick with maraschino cherries in the future. Crappy cherries aside, the cake was to die for. Moist and sweet and just amazing.  My son slept round a friends house the night I made it, and by the next night it was all gone. He moaned to me, “I didn’t get any cake”. Oops.  I blame the husband, who despite a usually deficient sweet tooth, was standing in the kitchen eating a piece of cake every time I walked in…

I’m going to do another apple cake soon, this time using my spring form pan and an adding an apple cream cheese frosting, though making that into a filling might be nice, if not to rich, as well.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Bundt Frustration

I am frustrated. When I put cake batter into a pan, I expect a cake to come out. When I put cake batter into a bundt pan, I expect a bundt cake to come out.   Like so:

proper bundt cake

Yet,  when I put cake batter into a bundt cake pan I get this:

my bundt cake. Appealing, no?

This is my apple cake. I had some apples languishing in the fruit bowl which were being utterly ignored by the children. So, I decided to make a cake. The recipe suggested a bundt cake.  I at first recoiled in horror at the mere suggestion, having had a similar experience the first time I used my silicone bundt cake pan. But, there were helpful illustrations and in depth instructions on how to grease the pan and cover it in sugar, etc, so I decided what the hell, I’ll give it another go. Obviously, I still don’t have the bundt cake magic touch. Despite looking terrible, the cake tasted lovely. I didn’t use all the apples in this cake so I suppose I’ll make another one, but this time, I’ll stick to the loaf pan. Perhaps next time I’ll do some googling and find out all the hints and tricks and secrets to a perfect bundt cake. Or, maybe not.

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