Archive for July, 2008

Daring Bakers- Filbert Gateaux with Praline Buttercream

July 30, 2008

The other week, when Fuchsia was here, I slept in late. She came in to wake me at about 9:30am. When I woke up, the only explanation I could give her as to why I’d slept in, was that I was dreaming of making Praline Buttercream. This challenge consumed me.

I’ll admit, when I first saw this challenge I was pretty miffed. I don’t much like nuts, especially not nuts in chocolate. If it had been walnuts, I’d have been happy. Macademia nuts, happy. Cashew nuts, happy… But Hazelnuts? Please god, please no. This fear of the nuts was made worse, when in the rules we were told we were only allowed to not use hazelnuts if we had a genuine reason for doing so, like an allergy. If we just didn’t like them, then we had to make it anyway, and give it away to someone else (or put up with it, and eat it yourself). Now, call me greedy, but I’m not too fond of slaving over a cake, spending allllllll my money on the ingredients, just to pass it on… I was pretty annoyed, I’ll be honest. I was considering sitting out, or even completely bending the rules and doing something else. But then, when I was in the shower, I had an epiphany (the shower is the place I have all my epiphanies) and I realised that this was Daring Bakers. I joined this group so I could challenge my baking skills and my taste buds.

Alas, if only this were the end of my problems… I come from a small family (there’s three of us here) and none of us like hazelnuts. I can hardly serve such a massive gateaux full of an ingredient none of us are particularly fond of… Thankfully, my Beau had recently moved in to a shiny new flat, and he was going to be having a flat warming party. Also! He likes hazelnuts! Problem solved. Only thing is, now I had to transport it all the way up to Mannie on a train… and I was going via London. Not easy.

I remembered that when I made him a fondant covered cake for his birthday, and made a similar train journey (only this time, minus London) it didn’t do so well either, so I had to think of another way to do this. I chose to cook the cakey bit down here in Swindon, then transport just that to Mannie, where I’d assemble it.

Tilly helped me make the cake. We had so much fun that we decided she’d help me make my Daring Bakers challenge every month. We’ve formed ourselves a little tag-team. I’m glad I had a helper- although I was distracted an awful lot (enough to leave a good coupla eggs out) there were bits which I definitely couldn’t have done on my own. Sometimes I think the Daring Bakers group should be renamed “the group for those privileged enough to have a stand alone mixer”, as me and my little electric whisk often get weary (and you know them young girls, they do get wearied).

Ok so! In my kitchen: Cake, done! Praline Paste, done! Swiss Meringue Buttercream, attempted- FAIL. I was trying to be vegan, only the only buttery vegan substance I could find was a tub Margarine. I needed a block margarine. Of course, I didn’t think of this until I’d wasted allllll those eggs and alllllll that sugar. Nevermind.

I cut it up into three layers (How on earth did I manage that?!) and then I quite stupidly soaked all the layers with sugar syrup. This now meant transportation was basically going to murder it. And murder it, it did. When I got to Mannie, I couldn’t pick it up without all the crusts falling off. I could’ve cried. I persevered nevertheless, and I made myself a buttercream with the aid of whisky and left over praline paste. This was plain on buttercream, butter and icing sugar, then with the above fun bits added. Mmm, whisky. It was totally delicious. I no longer morned for my swiss meringue buttercream.

I just about managed to glue the layers together, and then I did a crumb coat. Next, time for the ganache. What a glorious mess I made. The flat’s kitchen is tiny and void of any thing that could’ve helped me coat my cake with ganache. It was a wee bit of an epic challenge… but I like to think I made it pretty. Finally I decorated it with more buttercream and beautifully placed hazelnuts (a la my Beau) and then it was ready for the guests to come.

Everyone seemed impressed, and by the time the cake was cut, everybody was suitably drunk for me to not be terrified about their reactions. Everybody loved it though, but whether that was the alcohol talking or not, I guess we’ll never know. My Beau tells me it was my best cake yet.

Chances are I won’t make it again, but I might use the skills I learnt… Praline making, Swiss Meringue Buttercream (this time with a proper block of butter). I can’t wait for next month’s challenge!

Recipe here on Mele cotte’s blog, who was the host for this month. Thankyou Mele Cotte!


Posting as normal

July 24, 2008

I’m going to attempt to bring this back around to a crafting blog now, and show you what I’ve been up to. As I said, I’ve got a whole load of Works in Progress going on. But I have finished a couple of things!

Firstly, I finished this bag in time for my London visit last weekend.

I used fabric that I had patterned for the surface patterns project in my A Level Textiles. It’s a hand illustration of the Santa Maria Novella, times by four, surrounded by a cross and then screen printed across some calico. It’s quite simple but I quite like it.
I also used some cheap upholstering fabric. I’m calling it linen, even though it isn’t. I just like to pretend to myself that it is. I bought it super cheap from a new second hand shop in Old Town. The woman took a shine to my very small waist (I was as confused as you are) and gave it to me at a cut price.

I used a pattern called ‘Sepp the bag’ that mmmunki on Flickr was kind enough to send to me for free. This is one of her Sepp the Bags.

I did it quickly, and as a result there is fraying and hand stitching to hold in some fraying. I quite like it though. Rustic?

I also made an apple tart today, going for the rustic look again.

There’s a layer of toffee, then a layer of mushy apple, then a thin, sprinkled layer of lemon zest, before the top layer you see of sliced apple.

I need to do some work on my food photography, but first, I need to devour it.

Truck Festival

July 24, 2008

Ok, So I mentioned it in the last post, how could I not actually tell you about it?

Fuchsia and I (slaves to our digital cameras) decided to leave them behind and take disposable beauties. £9.99 for two, plus free processing and a CD of images. When we bought them, we were asked what colour camera we wanted. We asked the choices, and to our pleasure, we heard “Silver, Pink or Black With Handbags.” Being a lover of all things god awfully tacky, my choice was of course Black with Handbags. Fuchsia went for the second most tacky.

Here is the pink, as taken by Black With Handbags

And here’s Black with Handbags, as taken by Pink

I’m going to do a synopsis, as anything more would kill me. I have an apple tart waiting to be eaten and typing is not top of my priorities right now.

Fuchsia and Honor on the train to Didcot:

Having cow pats thrown at me by Jim:

“What’s the fuss? It’s just grass!”
“Grass and POO, Jim!”

Giant inflatable globes

Tom Whyman’s dancing

Candy Floss (And that’s my lemon sherbet dress)

Piney Gir’s set (complete with Bumble Bee)

Finding Marple Man, last thing on Sunday Night

And finally, leaving 😦

And, in non Disposable Camera news, Fuchsia, Honor and I purchased Nuts Magazine from London Paddington Station the night before. Partly by way of an ironic feminist statement, partly for curiosity, mostly for entertainment. We brought it to Truck and the boys shouted at us, lest someone think that Nuts magazine belongs to them, and they look like genuine perverts. Before long however, we were all engrossed in the truly awful format of such a terrible magazine. There were tears of laughter amidst the tales of girls jumping into bed naked with one another, and the TV times which told us to ‘give it a miss’ if it was too intellectual for the average Nuts readers’ brain. I strongly suggest a read, at least once. (If at all possible, borrow someone else’s. You don’t want to feed into the industry.)

Also, there was facepaint. Lots and lots of facepaint.

See you next year!

Busy summer

July 24, 2008

For some reason, I appear to be busier than when I was at college. I’m sure this isn’t the case, I just appear to have sent myself a whole heap of impossible tasks.

In the meantime, I’ll tell you about the meantime.

Fuchsia, one of my best friends, came to visit me, all the way over from Killaloe in southern Ireland. She came mainly for Truck Festival, but she came earlier on in the week so we could have some fun together. And fun we did have! We spent the first day making a cake, for Honor’s visit. Honor, coming from Dublin, was coming to Truck too, so we used my house as a stop off for her. This is what her welcome cake looked like:

It’s a Devil’s Food Cake, filled with whipped cream and strawberries, topped with whipped cream and raspberries. There’s an almost ganache on it too, but that went a bit wrong, so we just ate it. Chocolate and cream. Mmm.

Then we went out for a day trip to London, and after being asked if we were the Spice Girls, we found ourselves in the East End Thrift Store, as reviewed by Anushka. I vowed not to buy anything, since I’m refining my wardrobe an’ all, but then I saw the most darling lemon yellow 1960s style shift dress. I bought it after convincing myself that when wearing it, people would call me ‘Lemon Sherbet’. Alas, so far anything beyond ‘Rosa’ has just been ‘Moustache girl’. (All in good fun, y’understand.)

Then, we took a trip to Oxford Circus, because none of us had ever been, and you ought to once, you know? Primark was horrible, but that was to be expected. Selfridges however, was a delight. Not because of the shop, but because of the darling little art gallery on the Lower Ground Floor. To be honest, the best thing about the entire art gallery was a comment on how children in war torn children have to play in bunkers by Jeni Snell. Unfortunately this was presented in bouncy castle form, and the concept was soon lost between squeals of girly fun. Fuchsia took a fantastic photograph that displays the emotions beautifully:

art gallery funnn

Hello, stranger

July 15, 2008

It’s been a while. I’ve had a busy while, in all fairness. But not busy enough to forget about you.

I’ve got some pretty pictures for you though, I hope they help you forgive me.

This is a dress I made for my Textiles Unit 6. I got 56/60. That’s an A.

It’s a costume for Mae Rose Cottage from Under Milkwood. The skirt part is quilted, like she’s sleeping in a bed. It’s based loosely on Sweet Lolita style.

There’s a big cushioned bow at the back, and on my head.

The edges are scalloped, the bodice has pink tucks, and the sleeves are princess.

It’s fuller than full. It took forever to make, quilt, crochet, structure, sew. And now it’s doing nothing but lying in the corner of my bedroom. It’s a sad life.

Daring Bakers – Danish Braid

July 1, 2008

A few months back I started reading a lot of food blogs. I don’t know why, I just found them all ever so interesting. A lot of them mentioned something called ‘Daring Bakers’ which always sounded funny to me. It’s a (very) large group of internet food bloggers, who, once a month, all bake from the same recipe and then discuss that recipe together. It would not have interested me were it not for the interesting recipes that are chosen. They’re all daunting sounding recipes using expensive ingredients in long drawn out methods, the kind of thing most people just buy from super markets because it’s easier. I decided that I ought to challenge myself- and I ought to join.

This is my first challenge, I’m afraid I’m posting it late due to being at Glastonbury Festival whilst the posting date was supposed to happen.

Danish Braid

Hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cooking?

As you can see in the recipe (which is on both of the above blogs) there were an awful lot of steps in this recipe. Many steps, many opportunities for things to go wrong. And it did, oh boy, it did.

Making the ‘pastry’ or more, the dough was less like cooking and more like crying. Everything seemed sticky, so I added flour, then everything seemed hard and impossible to roll, so I put it in the fridge and gave up. Thankfully, returning to it later, found that all it had needed was a bit of a rest. I put in all the butter like a good girl and rolled it all out and felt like everything was on track, and in my head I had images of beautiful braids, all thick and tall and long and delicious looking.

Only, urr, what I got was this:

Road kill. Baking that resembles road kill. My main mistake was putting in a very sloppy rhubarb filling. My other mistake was assembling the braid on the work surface, then having to slide it on to the baking sheet, which was of course a total disaster. After proofing, it looked like mousse, so I just threw the whole thing in the oven and hoped for the best.

It did taste delicious, it just didn’t look it…

Thankfully, my pride has not totally been battered. The recipe yielded enough pastry for two braids, or one braid plus mini Danish pastries of any kind, and here is where I shone. I decided to make Spandaus because I think they’re ever so pretty (otherwise known as Envelopes) and I decided (whilst sitting in an English exam, staring at the ceiling) that I wanted to fill it with pastry cream and chocolate.

It was my first time making pastry cream and I was rather surprised at how well it went, I have little confidence in my ability to thicken liquids, and I was even more surprised by how simply beautiful the little Spandaus looked after I’d filled them with my cream and chocolate, folded them and then baked them.

Needless to say they were devoured very quickly and adored for much longer.