Happy New Year!
Firstly, may 2012 bring you happiness and joy and all that jazz :)
Secondly, I shall sum up most important (um... well, kind of) I have learnt (through food, because after all, this was what my blog was originally about... "a journey of self discovery through cooking, chocolate and Other Important Things") in 2011:
1) The longest I can go baking tee-total is 2 months. After that I start having spasms and everything starts looking round and spongey and smells of vanilla.
2) A cake can make good bribe. "I'll bake for you if you let me copy your essay!" (then give them a Sainsbury's Basics fairy cake with a bit of homemade frosting. Muahaha.) Not that I've ever done this.
3) If you ever think 'you need to get off facebook and put your face IN A BOOK. Then made a book cake, and put your face in it.
4) I discovered bento boxes. And I liked it.
5) You can write with 99% dark chocolate (see?). So when you become a top secret MI6 spy you can write notes with chocolate and then eat the pen. No danger of fingerprints being caught then.
So what New Year's resolutions have you made? Let me see if I can guess what yours are...
1) Don't be silly, you don't need to loose weight!
2) I think that's a really good idea. Try nicotine patches.
3) Ok ok, the champange you had at midnight totally doesn't count. And besides, if you stop that 150 calories in a glass can go toward another slice of cake! Yay!
4) Your old boss was pretty horrible anyway. And had a double chin.
5) Get in the car/train/plane and go visit them! I'm sure they'd be happy to see a loved one even if you've been out of touch for a while :)
6) I'll help you manage your money! Let me be your banker! (Hahaha, I wish.)
7) Do you really now? Ha, well good luck with that.
You may be wondering why I have a photo of egg yolks (and not even a nice photo at that). Well, I got a recipe book 'Homemade Cakes by Philippa Vanstone' for Christmas by one of my best friends from home, so I made the 'Lady Baltimore' (sponge cake with 'billowy clouds of fruit and nut frosting' for a party I went to last night.
The cake only uses egg whites (10 of them!), so I had lots of egg yolks left over. Apparently it makes a good face mask. I didn't want to test that theory in fear of getting salmonela, but I doing a guest post for Jill of Mad About Macarons (I know!! :D) for the egg yolk series, so watch this space!
Below are some of the steps for making this cake. The recipe is kinda long and to read (in fact, I don't really read recipes the whole way through before starting baking. This has usually led to disaster, but I have a short attention span) so I've put it in image form instead :) Not all of the steps are shown here, because at one point I was whipping eggs and beating boiling sugar and pretty scared I'd drop my camera into said sugar (and wishing I had more arms):
(Plus some baker's notes below)
1. The original recipe was really really sweet. I cut the sugar down a tad (recipe below).
4. The cake was a tad crispy round the edges, so I tried to cut that off. I recommend checking at 20 mins, and swapping cakes round wherever they are in the oven. You will be putting three pans into the oven at the same time so one might cook faster than the other.
7. This is the frosting. If you have any left over you can make Pets De Nonne.
8. I recommend frosting the top of the cake with frosting that hasn't got nuts and cherries in it (6) because then you can...
9. ...decorate with sparkly things!!
p.s. if you have a question about the recipe, please drop me an email. I respond faster to them than to comments!
Lady Baltimore Cake
Adapted from ‘Homemade Cakes’ by Philippa Vanstone
Takes about 3-4 hours including baking time and frosting time
Makes about 12 slices
For the cake
2¼ sticks/250g butter (I used Flora), softened
1 cup/200g sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups/300g plain flour
2tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup/240ml full fat milk
6 rather largish egg whites
For the frosting
1¾ cups/350g sugar
2 tbsp corn syrup (I used maple syrup, I don’t really know what corn syrup is)
4 medium egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
1½ cup of a mixture of raisins, glace cherries and nuts (I used walnuts but pecans are fine too)
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Grease and flour three 9in/23cm round cake tins.
Cream the butter and the sugar for the cake. Add half the vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour and milk alternatively to the creamed mixture.
Beat the egg whites until stiff (do this in a grease free bowl otherwise it won’t beat as well). Use a clean metal spoon to add one third of the egg whites to the cake mix to lighten it and then fold through the rest. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
Bake for 25 minutes and test if it’s done by inserting a skewer into the centre and seeing if it comes out clean.
To make the frosting, put the sugar in a medium, heavy pan with the syrup and 6 tbsp cold water. With a wooden spoon, stir to dissolve the sugar over a medium heat. If you have a sugar thermometer, a little before it reaches 245F/120C (medium ball stage), start beating the egg whites and cream of tartar. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, when it starts boiling rapidly start beating the egg whites and cream of tartar, and test if the sugar is at medium ball stage by dropping a tiny bit into a bowl of cold water. It should form a ball but lose its shape once pressed.
Once the sugar is at the right temperature (I did a bit of guessing – it turned out ok!) pour the syrup steadily into the whites, beating constantly. Continue to beat for 5 minutes, or until the frosting is thick and creamy and shiny.
Let the frosting cool then add the dried fruit and nuts, and remaining vanilla extract. Fill and frost the cake both on the top and sides.
**Note: even though the hot syrup should have cooked the egg whites, I still wouldn’t recommend this for anyone ill pregnant, or really really really little. You never know.