Saturday, 29 October 2011

Wombles and Rainbows

It was Womble's (aka my Dad's) birthday this week and of course that called for a rather smashing birthday cake.  But what to bake?  Whilst surfing the net for ideas, I came across a Rainbow Cake that someone had made for thier little boys birthday, via a forum that I visit on Natural Mamas. Now I know it's for a little person, but this cake kind of sums up my family. Sparkly, coulourful and a little bit silly!

I started out by making a plain victoria sponge. I like Nigellla's recipe:

I doubled the ingredients and mixed it all in 1 bowl so that I could then seperate the mixture into 5 disposable round trays, that I greased with my new favourite thing, Wilton Cake Release, and poured equal amounts of the cake mixture into each.

I added a drop different coloured food paste into each of the tins and stirred until I got the desired colour. As you can see I chose red, yellow, green, blue and orange. I then baked the cakes 2 at a time for 8 mins on 180 C and left to coold for a couple of mins before turning out onto wires racks to cool completely.

The next step was to layer the slices of cake in whatever colour order you want them in, with a layer of butter cream inbetween each one (make sure this is a thin layer, or it could get really sickly). I used Betty Crocker's vanilla butter cream icing, as I ran out of time to make my own, plus it tastes delicious! Then cover the whole of the outside of the cake with buttercream.

By this time you will have a 5 layered cake covered in buttercream ready for decoration. I chose smarties as they are rainbow coloured, but you could use anything: Jelly Tot's, Dolly Mixtures, Skittles etc.

I have to say that it has a real home made/lived in feel to it, which I really like. "Gronky" our family would call it. However, when you cut into it, is where the real wow factor comes in.

Wonderful! A real rainbow on a plate! It was enjoyed by all and brought a smile to everyone's face!

 Needless to say it did go down a storm, but beware, it is toothachingly sweet and I would advise against cutting yourself a huge great big hunk of it in one go, as you will probably struggle to eat it all (i know because we tried!).  But this cake keeps well in an airtight container for a couple of days, so you can continue to enjoy rainbow loveliness for a few more days! Enjoy!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Bored to the Core.

We have had a right week of it! Poor J has had some major attachment anxiety after being away from us for the weekend. On Monday I had to be called to pick him from nursery as he kept crying and calling for me, which I did like a shot. After a great big cuddle and a couple of hours of playing and reassurance, I asked J what he wanted to do. His response was "Mix mix peease, cakey. Mix mix" (like mother, like son!). Ususally this would not be a problem, however we had only one egg and not much by way of flour. So the question was what could we do? We managed to cobble together a couple of scones, but more importantly J had a really lovely smile back on his face.


On Tuesday we awoke to a pretty miserable day. Cold, grey, wet and incredibly windy. Nice!!! We pretty much exhausted all of our games and activities, so by the time we hit a very cold and wet Wednesday we needed a plan. But what to do? We could not get out to go to the supermarket as it was shut for a full week of refurbishment and all J wanted to do was make something. After looking around the kitchen I realised we had 8 apples that were on the edge of useability. That was it Eureka! Dried apples.

I did the chopping and J did the dipping in lightly salted water and threaded them onto a piece of clean dowel we had in the house, after which we left them out on the side to dry for 4 days. What a huge success! So pretty and tasty too! We quickly rinsed them and have patted them dry and they are ready to go. Fabulous! They have already been ear marked to decorate a dorset apple cake. Mmmm!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake!

So not much baking has gone on this week, as we have just come back from a fabulous weekend in Bruges. It is the first time since before we had J that we have had some quality time away, just the two of us, and boy was it needed! It was wonderful just being able to stroll around the city and have a few drinks and some amazing food at a really leisurely pace.  So I decided to share a couple of the fabulous items that we had.

After a really great flight and arriving over an hour early, we landed in Brussels at 6.30pm. We then caught two trains and arrived in Bruges at 8pm. A quick change and unpack later, we ventured out for dinner. I made a vow (as a converted fussy eater!) to try as many new things as possible whilst we were away. After meandering around the main square (where I had heard that they charged premium prices for average food) and roads, we decided to head off the beaten track and stumbled across an Italian called De Stove, where we had the most wonderful food. They brought us apetisers of smoked mozzarella and baked aubergine, with warm thick ciabatta. Si had the roast Lamb rissotto and I had the pea and saffron rissotto, followed by the most amazing Limoncello Tartuffo. Now I am not joking when I say that I would travel a thousand miles for that Tartuffo! It was heavenly! I am currently searching furiously for a recipe so that I can recreate this at home!

The day after, we spent most of the day walking around looking at the usual sights - the Belfrey, the canal tour, the lake of love, the museums etc - which we punctuated with cafe stops and lots of delicious light bites. During our walk around, the number of tourists and cars started to increase, which in turn started to frustrate Si with the continual bumping and banging of umbrellas and people. It was time for a break! We stumbled across the most amazing cupcake tea room with a sign that read "Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake". Well it would have been rude not to. So in we went!

The displays and the varieties were absolutely phenomenal. So diverse! They had everything from strawberries and cream to chilli, pepper and chocolate. I opted for a rather gorgeous chocolate and meringue topped cupcake and Si had a lemon cheese cake both to be washed down with hot chocolate (chocolate overload I know, but where else can you over indulge in chocolate other than in Bruges!) Now these were not your ordinary hot chocolate drinks that we enjoy at home. They came served on a platter with hot milk in a mig and liquid chocolate served in a little bowl to be mixed in by yourself, along with cream and sugar and a dish of chocolate (yes more chocolate!!!) thins and truffles. Needless to say we most certainly did not need to eat lunch that day!!!

After a rather indulgent bite to eat, we set about shopping for gifts for people at home. We settled on (you guessed it) chocolates. Everywhere we went we were greated by amazing displays and flavours, but sadly we could not face any more chocolate! The bag we brought home for ourselves remains untouched in the fridge as I type! It may take another week before we can face it!

The city was very gothic and romantic and absolutely breathtaking, especially at night. We usually have a rule that once we have visitied somewhere, we won't go back, but continue to travel to new and different places, however when asked if we would go back, I have replied "in a heart beat!".