Choux Choux Be Doo

I got it into my head that I wanted to have a bash at making some choux pastry.

The original plan was for prefitoroles, but then I thought…why make life easy? Why not have a go at some classic chocolate eclairs?

Why not indeed.

I melted some butter in some water (what?)

Weird

Before adding flour, some sugar and a pinch of salt

Now for the beating…

I beat the flour into the wet mix until it formed a ball of dough…only it didn’t really form a ball. It formed a paste and in my stupidness naiveness, I thought that this would be ok. I then let the paste cook off for a couple of minutes, giving it a bash with the spatula now and again.

Choux paste-try

If it looks like this…it’s wrong.

I removed the mixture from the heat before adding and beating in eggs.  The first egg was a double yolker – WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? – so then I was a bit confused about how many more eggs I should add, plus it was chicken twins, PLUS the yolks are important, but so are whites so OH GOD THIS IS NIGHTMARE.

I landed on the side of adding less eggs, so I only beat in two more.

It’s all looking a bit…”wet”

Instead of thinking at this point “This dough looks a bit sloppy, I should probably stop adding liquids” I beat in another egg. Which left me with this:

THIS. IS. WRONGO.

Let’s skim over the fact that I actually tried to shove this mixture into a piping bag and make some desparate eclair shape.

No.

*covers eyes*

So I added some more flour to the mixture to make it more dough-like. I vacillated between putting the dough over the heat and cooking out the flour and doing something weird to the eggs, or keeping the dough cool and not fucking it all up completely. A mixture of the two seemed like the worst possible option, so of course, this was the route I took.

I managed to get a somewhat dough like substance, and piped some strips onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.

There are no words. Other than “Oh no”

Right. If you’ve followed this so far and are thinking…”Oh, it’ll be OK” then you really need to read the rest of my blog. It certainly WON’T be OK, and it certainly WILL make me swear a lot. So you might want to bail out at this point if you are of a sensitive nature.

Baked the fuckers. The fuckers didn’t rise, the fuckers didn’t brown, the fuckers were fucked.

They don’t look too awful do they? Well looks can be deceiving (AND I THINK SOME OF THEM LOOK LIKE PENIS)

They were as flat as pitta bread once cooled. There was no way they could be split in half and stuffed with cream.

Disaster!

DING DING!

Round TWO.

So, I’ve paid good money for cream and butter and chocolate. I’m not prepared to let the ingredients go to waste, and so I start again. Mum told me that she’d tried to make choux pastry for a dinner party back in the ’70’s three times before she succeeded. She said this while giggling behind her hands.

Damn Her.

Butter and water. BOIL THE BASTARDS.

FLOUR IN

Beat, beat, beat

BEAT IT.

Oh YES!

EGG IN

YAY! DOUGH! not doh!

2ND EGG IN

Getting glossy

3RD EGG

Whoa scarily split! Keep beating and it’ll mix in OK.

FINAL DOUGH

Hmmm, yellowy goodness. *arm aches*

Into a piping bag with a nozzle. In retrospect I would leave the nozzle off and pipe straight from the bag.

It’s thick and PIPEY

PIPE THE STUFF

NOT LIKE PENISES. (except for that one that looks like a penis)

BAKE.

IGNORE THE DIRTY. The eclairs are rising

TA DAH!

Comparison shot

I whipped the cream

OH! Nana rang mid whip so it’s gone a little past it’s best. You can’t judge me because I was being nice to an over 80 year old. *smug*

And then got on with the chocolate glaze.

So, I decided to half the glaze and only make enough eclairs for 4 of us – I can freeze four of the pastries.

Half the chocolate into a saucepan with some water, and then I forgot that I was halving the recipe so I shoved the full amount of icing sugar and cocoa power into a bowl and, well..

Disaster. Again!

A drop of water sorted that out.

CHOCOLATE ICING

I halved the buns. There were three types.

The good:

The Good

The bad

The Bad (eugh)

And the ugly

Eclair and knife

Um

The buns were cut in half, and piped with whipped cream

HMMM-MMMMMMM

And then I topped them with the chocolate icing

Ta fucking DAH

Here we go with an ostentaciouis picture

Naughty but ACTUALLY ANNOYING

They are delicious though.

This is a scary shot. The cream + chocolate + choux pastry = DEVIL EYES

*ominous silence*

You can find the recipe I used here.

Have a look at my plums.

Disclaimer – Yes, I know plums are funny. Yes I know I have double entendred myself to within an inch of my life. ENJOY!

Seasonal stuff going on here on partyspanner at the moment, and so we turn to fruit in the back garden. It’s not yet time for the quince to fruit but the plum tree is groaning with goodness.

HEAVING with fruit

Rather predictably my mind turns not to plum tarts or plum jam (although I am planning on making some spicy jam in the next few weeks) but instead I have decided to make some plum schnapps. Yes, yes I know I went on and on about blackberry vodka but the thing is, it’s easy to make and once again serves as a great drink to serve at Christmas.

In for a penny in for a pound of plums as they say.

A handful of plums

I used approximately 20 plums, halving them and removing the stone before placing them into a kilner jar.

A work in progress

And so, the plums go into the Kilner jar before being topped up with 70cl of vodka.

Just gorgeous!

Off this jar goes to a dark place, to be occasionally brought out and shaken, for at least 3 months. It will join it’s cousin, the blackberry vodka, in imprisonment. I almost feel a bit sad.

Farewell, sweet, soft fruits. Farewell. *sob*

I’m planning on checking on these (taste test obv) in late november. Until then, Good luck to you, my vodka friends. *salute*

The “C” Word

Christmas.

Wait!

Before you run off screaming into the hinterlands of the internet just bear with me.

It’s harvest season for blackberries NOW. These little bubbles of jet are hanging from thorny bushes as we speak and they are not only taste GREAT, but they’re FREE! FREE!

ALL FREE!

These bushes tend to grow (or rather not have been cut down) near railway lines, rivers or woodlands. I found this lovely harvest in a local green space but I have already had quite a good crop from the bushes which grow right next to the office that I work in. Ree-sult.

If you can’t be arsed to go blackberry picking then you can buy punnetts from your local supermarket. Don’t do this.

NOT FREE. In fact very expensive.

I would estimate that my haul would have cost about £30.00. Here it is:

COR!

I expect you’re wondering what all of this has to do with Christmas? Well the answer lies in the kilner jar.

Oh yes, we’re about to make some blackberry schnapps. Using fresh, wild blackberries. Aren’t I the annoying food wanker?

This is such a simple recipe, but it will need at least 3 months to develop, and as the blackberry season is upon us it seems like some sort of madness not to listen to mother nature as she croons “make some serious booze for Christmas”. I’m a listener.

So, once you’ve picked your blackberries – and ignored any jeering or pointing that may occur – they are going to need a VERY good wash.

I bung them in a colander under gently running cold water and GENTLY pick up a handful at a time and give them a jolly good swish. This fruit is crazy delicate so you must treat them as you would an elderly relative. (Make sure the water is warm in their case though, please.)

Er, a bit more gently than this.

Once you’ve washed, and discarded any berries that are a bit iffy, then you need to dry them out a little bit. Just place the washed berries onto some kitchen roll and leave them for half an hour.

Their fate awaits.

Once the berries have dried off, tumble them into a clean kilner jar. I have filled mine 3/4 of the way full of fruit. Then pour on vodka (as you can see I’m still using the old cheap version – honestly it’s a waste of money to use more expensive brands), secure the lid and leave in a cool dark place, shaking occasionally.

A thing of beauty

I haven’t added anything else. I am thinking that  a vanilla pod would be nice and maybe some sugar, but I’m just going to let it be for a month before adding anything further.

Why not join with me. Become. Become like me and make some booze for Christmas even though it’s only August. DO IT.

do it.

Chocolate Honey Cake. It’s out to take over the World.

After I had made the Ruby Wedding cake I decided to use up some of the left over marzipan.

I read a lovely recipe which used honey and little tiny marzipan bees! As I still had some almond flakes left over as wings I was all over this recipe.

I didn’t have the patience to allow my butter to come to room temperature in it’s own time so I chopped it into little squares to cut down the warming time. (This might have BEEn a factor in the disaster to come – yeah, it’s another disaster.)

I’m not ENTIRELY convinced this method works

I followed the recipe and beat the eggs and sugar followed by melted chocolate

Gently folding the chocolate. (GIVE UP AT THIS POINT)

I then sieved cocoa powder into the mix before adding boiling water – I’m fully committed at this point. Fully Fucked Up.

Enthusiastic sieving

The batter seemed a bit runny. I remember commenting on it’s consistency at the time. Oh GOD for a time travelling delorian.

This don’t look right – excuse the blurry

And then I had a cake ready for the oven.

Ah, it looks benign.

So into the oven it went.

And then…

!

I’m not sure whats going on here, but it continued in this weird bubbling over fashion for AGES until the top of the cake turned into charcoal while the underbelly of the cake carried on, lava-like, bubbling over.

Dear God.

The cake had actually coated the tin in cake. I love cake as much as the next fat person, but a cake that turns the cake tin into a cake is verging on the ridiculous.

You’ve got to admire it’s balls.

So. I do not have a happy ending to this cake. It was awful and there was no going back.

Cake of awfulness

See the bubbles? That’s honeycombe

It was weirdly delicious. It tasted like a crunchie bar but without all the Friday Feeling.

The biggest, scariest cake I have ever made.

I went to a hen night back in January and got fairly spectacularly drunk.

I’m going to gloss over the worse of my behaviour, but let’s just say that it included sambucca. And a waiter

I offered to make a cake for a friend’s joint 40th wedding anniversary and her husband’s 60th birthday party. I was full of my own ability and puffed up with the dizzying confidence of someone who’s downed a bottle of Rose wine and 3 shots of sambucca. Expansive arm gestures waved away the “Cake for 60 people”, and I just kept showing people my leopard skin shoes while claiming that cake making of that level is “no problem *hic*, I love you, I’d de- Be- de-DELIGHTED to make your cake…LOOK! There’s the wai *hic* ter! Less have anover shot yeah?”

This isn’t the first time I’ve offered to do something drunk that I would usually shy away from, but it is the first time it included baking.

So. A cake to feed 60 people. Clearly, I couldn’t make something like my Baby Shower Cake, this one is going to have to be a bleugh fruitcake and fairly traditional. Thanks so much Drunk me. I owe you one.

The cake murdered my sleep for a couple of months, I KNEW I was going to have to make this thing and I knew it was ambitious. I mucked about on the internet for a while looking for a recipe and struggling to know how big a cake I should be baking when a friendly baker told me that I needed a 12 by 12 inch square tin.

So I RENTED a tin. Yup that’s right, I live in a world where I can rent cake tins from my local cakeporn shop.

Suddenly the big day of cake bakery was almost upon me. The night before I prepared the dried fruit.

I weighed out a ridiculous amount of ingredients,

That’s just the raisins.

And soaked the ton of fruit in a mixture of brandy (Christ knows how old this shit is, I found it in the back of the liquor cabinet) and ameretto.

Soaking it for 24 hours in cheap booze will do the trick.

After allowing the fruit to soak overnight I got on with baking the cake.

I actually had to buy a washing up bowl to mix the batter.

Yes. That’s right I was actually making a cake that was too enormous to be mixed in a bowl. I would do a shocked face here, but I’m still too shocked to even type it out.

I started by mixing a daft amount of butter with an equally weird amount of sugar and black treacle in my mixer

Hmmmm, treacly

and mixing it until it formed a light fluffy weirdly split looking goo. I then added 12 eggs. Yes. TWELVE EGGS! Madness had overtaken me by this point and I vacillated between terrible fear and hysterical laughter as I cracked each egg into the, frankly disgusting, mixture.

The time had come for me to mix the wet ingredients with the dry and thus, it was time to move to the washing up bowl.

Yeah. This looks kind of vile…

Once the batter was mixed I poured it into a greased and lined, rented cake tin.

Cor! Note the newspaper and clips – I got rid of those in a moment of lucidity

I then baked the cake for about 3 weeks (5 hours actually) until I was reasonably sure it was cooked through and then I had to turn it out of the tin. This was nerve wrackingly AWFUL! Honestly, I cannot describe the terror of tipping this huge tin upside down and hoping for the best – I also didn’t even have a wire tray large enough to cope and had to use a clean oven tray. I managed it though.

God, it’s utterly gorgeous

This cake is quite “blonde” because it hasn’t had time to mature.

I then went away and got drunk thought about the cake for a couple of days before icing the beast.

Before I could start icing I needed to wrap this behemoth with marzipan.

I did not make my own marzipan (what IS marzipan made from?)

I heated some apricot jam and brushed over the cake before rolling out the marzipan

Amazingly huge ball of marzipan

I managed, in a moment of non-spannery – to roll out the marzipan AND place it onto the cake without anything interesting terrible happening and then I had an enormo cake which needed to sit for 24 hour hours before icing.

The lumps are fruit and nuts – a bit like me.

The day of the party loomed at me.

To the icing.

Have you any idea how stressful it is to roll out a massive ball of icing into a thin layer which will fit a square cake? No? LUCKY YOU!

It’s OVAL!

I managed it. The SKY engineer arrived around this time to change one of our Sky boxes over. I had to hold a conversation about the weather, the government and the price of i-phones while I iced the cake. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Oh! Ain’t she beeeeee-yoooutiful?

The icing needed to set for a day before decorations were added.

I finished the icing on Friday night, the party was on Sunday but the cake was being collected on Saturday afternoon. This was going to be tight, and annoying and MUCH harder than I had imagined.

I’d bought some red shades of pre made icing from the cake porn shop and a gerbera daisy flower cutter in two sizes. I felt that it was flowery enough for a cake, manly enough and it would hide a multiple of sins.

So I rolled out some of the red icing and pressed out the daisy.

GRRRRR!

And I did that for about two hours. It was exciting stuff. I alternated between a cherry red and a deeper, darker shade of icing. I then started by building up the sides of the cake.

Dear GOD this looks awful

I somehow managed to fruit up decorate the terrible brilliant icing and ended up with a cake that looked like this

So close to preferct (<- I KNOW)

Another shot

*polishes nails* (Ignore that slightly skewiff flower on the corner)

I boxed the cake and got it ready for collection

Boxed cake

And then I went to the party.

And watched my friends make arses of themselves

And looked at the cake it’s in glorious setting

Indeed

And then we had a laugh and that, before we got attacked in the car park by a crazy BNP type fella and we all ended up terrified and it was awful.

I have no idea how the cake tasted as it wasn’t cut during the party and I’ve been too pissed off to ask considering the dreadful end to the evening.

That was kind of a downer – on the upside? I finally wrote a new blog post?

This bread making lark can only end in tears

I haven’t made bread by hand since I left school, *mumble, mumble* years ago. I seem to remember really hating the kneading part of the process and I think I made a couple of brick like loaves before I gave up on the whole idea, and bought a bread maker.

The thing is that recently, I have fallen in love with the Hairy Bikers and have been watching their latest series on BBC2, Bakeaction, avidly. They’re so lovely and friendly and, *sigh*. I think they remind me a bit of my Dad’s friends when I was growing up. I find them very comforting.

On the german leg of their trip these two lovelies made some potato bread, and whether it was the carby imaginings of a fed up dieter, or whether it was just the fact that loaf looked chewy and tasty and keeps for a couple of days, I was set on a course of mixing, kneading, proving, shaping, proving, baking and finally gorging.

To start, I boiled some potatoes and once they were soft, I drained them, reserving some of the starchy water, and mashed them up with some vegetable oil.

Once the potato water had cooled down to a hand hot temperature, I added the dried yeast and sugar and left it in a warm place until it frothed.

It's like magic!

I added the warm, bubbling yeast to the warm oily mash (*drool* God, I really need to sort myself out a love life at some point in the future – this level of sensuality should not be confined to fucking FOOD INGREDIENTS) and mixed them well before adding the flour slowly and gently bringing all of the ingredients together with my hands. *cough*

Once I had a ball of dough I started the kneading process, the bit I was dreading the most. I really enjoyed it! Feeling the dough change from a sticky lump of ingredients to a cohesive, elastic, springy ball of dough was really gratifying.

Surprisingly satisfying and check out those veins in my hand. WORK IT!

So once I’d kneaded for 10 minutes I lightly greased a bowl and some cling film (I use an Olive Oil spray to make it a bit easier. Not that it’s hard to grease a bowl and some cling film, but I thought you might appreciate the tip) and left the dough to prove in a warm spot for an hour.

It is an exciting hour and no mistake

Once the dough had doubled in size, I knocked it back - just because I’m hard, like to make sure that the bread doesn’t have great big massive bubbles in it, and then gazed upon the beauty of it.

Gorgeous, bouncy, fluffy dough

I stretched out the dough into a square which was *technical* about a half a thumb deep.

Check out the elasticy gluten in THIS baby. (WTF is happening to me?)

And then folded the two long sides up towards one another, pinched together, and placed on a lightly greased and floured baking tray (I USED THAT OLIVE OIL SPRAY TO GREASE THE TRAY – It’s a tip, you can take it or leave it) to prove for another half an hour – hour, in a warm place. I went for the little sun trap in the corner of the kitchen.

Leave in warm spot to double in size again

Before baking, slash the dough and sprinkle some flour, before shaking some black onion seeds across the top of the loaf.

It's got that wobble, baby.

I had preheated the oven and so shoved my bread in and baked for 35 minutes.

*watches obsessively*

Now, I know you’re not meant to open the oven too often and blah blah, but I turned the loaf once during cooking time. It needed turning or I would have ended up with half the crust being burnt and the other half being aneamic. It worked for me, but I was using this first loaf as an experiment! I was feeling all arrogant brave, and luckily for me, it worked out ok.

This was my first one

This was my second loaf

The difference is entirely down to leaving the loaf to prove for longer on the second prove.

Anyway, after leaving the loaf to cool for a terribly irritating amount of time filled with “can we cut it now mum?” “”what harm could it do, if we cut it now, it won’t hurt”, “It must be time”

I cut the loaf, and buttered it.

...

To me, as Born Again Baker this whole process is just, well it’s enriching to me in some way. Urgh, I know that sounds ridiculously stupid and wanky and sentimental, but honestly? A bit of flour, a sachet of yeast, sugar, salt and potatoes can make a loaf that has persuaded Tom to have breakfast before school, that’s a pretty amazing loaf of bread.

However, I don’t get on well with bread and should be leaving it alone. I’ve eaten at least half of everything I’ve made thus far.

We’re two loaves down here, I’m scared.

For the recipe – BEWARE!! – Check out the link at the start of this post.

Pray for me…

When life gives you lemons – make sherbet lemon vodka jelly shots

I’ve got loads of stuff to tell you, but I’m going to start with waffling on about the amazing jelly shots I made for a dinner party I had a couple of weeks ago.

If you’ve ever read my blog before, then you know how to make flavoured vodka in a dishwasher. I’m trying to remember what inspired me to make a sherbet lemon flavoured vodka, but unfortunately I’ve drunk too much lemon sherbet vodka and it’s melted that section of my brain.

I used four packs of old fashioned sherbet lemon sweets – Sainsbury’s sell the old fashioned “quarter” sweets. These are perfect, four bags of these to one bottle of Sainsbury’s basic vodka (750cl) is my recommended dose recipe

Smashy smashy

So, smash the sweets up and place them all in your kilner jar.

I love this next photo. I clearly felt at this moment that the watermelon and bare breasted statue SAID something

ART!

I think the most we can gather from this is that I was already intoxicated.

Right so – blah blah, add the vodka, stick it in the dishwasher, shake it regularly while it cools. Read the link.

This vodka did not need filtering so while it cooled, I melted four leaves of gelatin in some hot water.

Melting gelatin leaves

This was a disaster! The water was far too hot and the gelatin instantly set, I ended up with a jug of stiff horribleness.

I started again using warm water and poking at it.

Melt, Melt, Melt!

Once I had a jug of soft gelatin leaves I added half a pint of hot lemon sherbet vodka and stirred vigourously.

It's gloopy

I like my jelly shots to be quite hard *face*. Depending on your preference, you could add more vodka liquid to make a more wobbly consistency, 3/4 of a pint to 4 leaves of gelatin would be pretty good.

I poured the jelly into espresso cups. I’m a bit of a wanker, let’s face it!

Hipster

I would love to show you a picture of these babies turned out onto a plate with a dusting of lemon sherbet and a little bon-bon in the front of the shot and OH MY GOD.

I can’t though because I made these and then I tried one and then the rest of my life since is a blur.

Give it a go – or don’t *aggressive*

Chocolate Eclair Cheesecake. No, I’m not joking.

My friend Vicky is pregnant (Yay! Babies!) and sent me an email telling me that she had just pigged out on Cadbury’s Chocolate Eclairs.

As I slurped on my green tea, and eyed my snack of a fresh fruit salad mournfully, it came to me in a blinding flash! A chocolate eclair flavoured cheesecake would be utterly brilliant and so, my strange and short lived obsession began.

I flirted with the idea of a digestive base with fudge pieces, a cheesecake topping with fudge pieces and a chocolate sauce with toffee shards, but then I remembered that I had a tin of Carnation Dulce de Leche in the cupboard just aching to be used.

So my plans changed and became…a chocolate biscuit base, a caramel flavoured cheesecake filling with a butterscotch sauce for the top.

NOW WITH EVEN MORE CHOC CHIPS. Yeah. Take that.

I dropped my food processor on the floor a few weeks ago and it has broken in the most annoying manner possible – the tiny little piece of plastic that locks the “bowl” thingy into the “motor” thingy snapped off and now it won’t cut or grate or blend or anything. *technical*

So for the chocolate biscuit base I used a whole pack of Maryland Double Chocolate Cookies and smashed them into smithereens with a rolling pin and a freezer bag. *Old Skool*

I do so love a bit of violent cooking

I melted 90g of butter in a saucepan and stirred in the crumbly biscuit crumbs.

I sprayed a 23cm springform cake tin with Cake Release spray and pressed the biscuit and butter mixture into the bottom of the tin.

Biscuit base

At this point I went a bit mad and couldn’t decide whether to bake the base or refrigerate it. So I baked it for ten minutes and it went all squishy and peculiar so don’t do that – instead just pop the base into the fridge while you get on with making the filling.

I used 750g of philadelphia cream cheese and beat it gently in the mixer to soften. Once soft I added 100g caster sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla essence and a tin of dulce de leche and mixed until well combined.

Seriously.

I then added three large eggs one by one, ensuring each egg was throughly incorporated before cracking the next one in.

I transferred the mixture into the cake tin and there was bloody LOADS of it – honestly it was like the magic porridge pot, and it just about fitted into the tin. *phew*

*blinks*

I didn’t want to use a bain marie to bake the cheesecake, so instead I placed a roasting tray on the bottom shelf of the oven and the cheesecake on the shelf above it. Steam should prevent the cheesecake from cracking. Should. That’s an important word.

Steamy

I baked the cheesecake for one hour on Gas Mark 3. When the topping has firmed up, but still has a slight wobble in the centre it is ready to come out of the oven.

Almost perfect!

I allowed the cake to cool in it’s tin and after 20 minutes I returned to see how it was getting on.

Crack is Wack

So, I don’t know why this happened – maybe I should have gone for the full on bain marie…or maybe there was just too much filling and it just starting collapsing under it’s own weight. Whatever it is isn’t a major big deal as there is still a sauce to go on the top. I did want to pour a thin layer of butterscotch onto the top of the whole cake and then refrigerate which would have been pretty hardcore, but that gaping chasm scared me a bit and I decided to make the sauce and just pour it over individual slices as I served them.

The cheesecake needs refrigerating for a couple of hours, but remove from the fridge about half an hour before serving.

So, a basic butterscotch/toffee sauce to top the cheesecake and give that lovely toffee flavour:

45g dark muscovado sugar

2 x tablespoons golden caster sugar

150g golden syrup

30g unsalted butter

125ml thick cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

I melted the sugar, butter and syrup in a pan.

You can get a toothache just looking at this.

I didn’t stir as I’m pretty sure stirring does something weird to sugar so just sort of swilled it all around a bit and then boiled ferociously for five minutes.

Foamy

Stir in the cream and vanilla and take off the heat. I then allowed this to cool right down to room temperature before serving.

I sliced the cheesecake and drizzled a little sauce over the top, you don’t need to be too heavy handed and the sauce is really, very sweet.

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

It was pretty tasty and did evoke the flavour of a Cadbury’s Chocolate Eclair, BUT, not quite chocolatey enough. I think I can improve this by making a toffee base, chocolate filling and toffee on the top…the experiment will continue.

Oh, I invented this recipe so please do use it – and let me know how you get on. You won’t regret it.

Marmalade Cake

I’m sorry, I have been neglecting you. I’ve been pretty pre-occupied lately with NOT SMOKING or EATING DELICIOUS FOOD and have lost my “funny” a bit. (Some may say it was never there to lose, but to those people I say “Piss off! You miserable wanker”)

I have been baking though, and because I’m not planning on any parties (apart from two dinner parties in March) you’re just going to have to put up with reading about my cakes and flapjacks *smirk* and various weird stuff I’m filling my weekend’s with rather than smoking lovely cigarettes and eating nice food that isn’t vegetable and zero fat.

At Christmas my lovely Nan received a hamper from the Railway Pension People/Old Age Community Centre/Christians (I can’t remember) and in amongst the shortbread and christmas puddings (which was also a waste as Nan was the lucky recipient of my home made Christmas Puddings, which she assured me was the best she had ever tasted) a jar of seville orange marmalade – which she promptly gave to me, even though I hate it.

Seville Oranges are in season now, and although I haven’t made my own marmalade because it’s revolting I decided to bake a marmalade cake. Marmalade Cake has the added bonus of being repellant to me and delicious to the boys, it’s a win/win.

I used a recipe from my latest CoookBook purchase, the fabulous and uplifting “Great British Bake Off” book.

I really should stop using books as mats

So, I made a cake batter by creaming together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy before adding eggs and then folding in the flour and baking powder followed by a blob of bitter marmalade and some milk.

Folding with a metal spoon

After combining all the ingredients to a smooth batter I poured the mixture into a cake tin which had been lined with greaseproof paper and sprayed with cake release spray.

A pointless exercise in smoothing batter. Just give up for Pete's sake.

The oven actually co-operated with me and the cake was baked pretty much according to the recipe – which makes a refreshing change. It emerged from the oven golden and slightly crispier round the edges than it should have been, but a success as far as my cake record is concerned.

The endless smoothing proved pointless..

I then heated some marmalade in the microwave to a bubbling molten goo – be careful, this stuff would eat through your skin and flesh until it reached the bone, at which point it would find tiny chainsaws and powersaw it’s way through – before brushing the cake with the sticky glaze.

I'm surprised it didn't melt the brush

Once I had coated the cake I left it to cool completely.

Top Tip: This cake would make a fabulous fly/wasp catcher in summer months.

SHINY!

This cake calls for a sweet topping to counteract the evil bitterness of the marmalade but that isn’t too rich. This cake is drizzled with a simple runny icing using icing sugar and warm water.

Gorgeous Sticky Marmalade Cake (I'd rather poke my own eyes out that eat it)

After cutting a piece and tasting it, I grudgingly admit that it is a pretty delicious cake for all it’s inherent wrongness. The marmalade in the batter keeps the cake moist and the sugary icing is a delicious contrast to the bitter orange flavour.

Moist and orangy

If you like marmalade, if you like cake, if you fancy making a marmalade cake then why not try this version?

Home Made Burgers

Let’s cut the bullshit.

The best beefburgers are made from MEAT without eggs as a binder and onions to add flavour – They do not break up while frying and they certainly don’t become a horrific frying pan full of  mince and egg.

I am taking Heston’s advice and using some high quality mince, combined with some cheaper mince

Meat plus salt plus Cling Film - a class act

To be honest, all mince is available in “lines”(That sounds totally weird).  Heston is big on the “lines” of mince retaining their integrity – I can get on board with that. So I took the premium mince and the less premium mince and placed them onto some cling film before salting both and squishing them together. *Technical*

Twice salted mince - keep all "lines" of mince in same direction

I then rolled up the meat in the cling film to make a Tube O’ Meat

Roll it up!

This then went into the fridge for 6 hours.

Cooking Time!

Remove the tube from the fridge and cut through the cling film and meat to make patties of about an inch thick each.

Cut into the tube o meat

The burgers keep their shape beautifully so you can add them to a pan without fear of the dreaded burger breakup. I brushed the burgers with some oil before adding to a hot dry griddle.

Sizzle those babies

I added some bacon to the griddle and brushed the other side of the burgers with a little oil before flipping.

Yeah baby - it's all beefy/porky

Oh yeah – now for some cheese:

Emmental (holey cheese) plus Kraft (plastic cheese)

Finally added to a toasted  bun.

This is my screensaver. I'm not joking.

Boys = amazed.

Provide some garnish – tomato, onion, lettuce – sauces.

BURGERS!

Me = best mum in universe (as far as the boys are concerned)

This is a non-recipe that is surely worth a try? Some mince plus a sprinkle of salt plus rolling up in cling film for a few hours will get you a mega burger and applause from your family.

Have a go!

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