Well, I can’t seem to get back into the habit – still feeling tired, and it seems that my mojo has definitely been reduced. As such, just a very quick post tonight, while I wait for my hair dye to take effect… It’s like a race against time. Or against permanently dying my scalp red.
I still haven’t been doing an awful lot of cooking, and the main thing to report is my second LC test recipe for this month, a lovely spiced peach cake. The recipe is here if you want to try it, and I recommend that you do. The peaches are an unusual addition, although I’d recommend going for peaches in syrup and not juice. I used the latter and they were definitely quite watery, which is a shame because the sponge is deliciously light, firm and delicately spiced, and the cream cheese icing is quite frankly the kind of thing that has me reaching for a bigger spoon. I made this for a lovely colleague’s birthday – I didn’t really want a ten-inch cake kicking about the house for me and the G-man to eat, although I have no doubt that we could have, given the chance. I decided to try and get a bit fancy with the icing, and here is the finished result:
The cream cheese icing was very soft, as was the cake itself, so not very easy to cut but nobody seemed to mind getting their hands covered in icing while trying to slice themselves a bit, for some reason. I did have a slight disaster where the top of the sponge burnt and I had to salvage it, but luckily the icing was so thick that it covered up the surgery scars. The only problem then was that after I’d taken off the top and sides, even though the sponge was deliciously firm, there were a lot of crumbs that got trapped in with the icing. I’ve heard that putting a cake in the fridge will help to avoid loose crumbs, or perhaps there is some kind of glaze that could be added before icing to seal the crumbs in. For this cake, I didn’t have time to do either of those, so I went ahead and let the icing get a bit crumby. It was still a lovely cake. Plus, writing icing is really easy when you have the little writing icing tubes, I will be writing poetry on my cakes before you know what’s happening – it’ll be a creativity twofer.
Of course, I wasn’t satisfied with just making the cake – don’t be ridiculous. I also made up another batch, one quarter the size of the original, using wheat-free flour. It is hard to find a quarter of three eggs, so I used one whole one – I figured it would be useful in holding the mix together, anyway. I also added a small amount of xanthan gum to hold the sponge together, and I found the texture of the wheat-free sponge to be just as good as the wheat-full one. In fact, I barely noticed a difference, about which I was really glad. In a blind taste test, I don’t think I would have been able to accurately guess which was which. By blind taste test, I mean with my eyes closed, or perhaps covered. Not the kind of situation where someone has poked me in the eyes then offered me cakes. Of course, that’s not so much a taste test as a weird experiment in pleasure/pain reactions. In that situation I would definitely not have been able to tell the cakes apart, as I would have been too busy shouting things like ‘Argh!’ and ‘My eyes! My beauooootiful eyes!’ and so on. Just thought I’d clear that point up.
Once I had formed four peach cupcakes, I found that I have cake mix left over without any peaches in. Out came the petit four cases again to make some tiny, tiny cakes – these ones rose beautifully to give very cute looking little cake guys, like the one in the picture above. There is something very appealing about these little bite-sized cakes, and although they are more time-consuming, they are worth it. These ones would have been nice with a little star of icing on top, too, but there was enough to cover the big cake thickly and then to top the four wheat free cupcakes, so they went without, and jolly nice they were too. I also used this baking excursion as an excuse to break out the rainbow coloured sprinkles, which I used for the wheat-free cupcakes. They were cute, although somehow old-fashioned – reminiscent of sherry trifle, I think. Still, I have a soft spot for them, even though they’re not star-shaped. I now have a whole box of cake decorating items – from ready-made fondant icing, through various colours and flavours to sprinkles, stars and silver balls. It’s a cool box to have, and separating all the decorating stuff out into a box left me loads more cupboard space, too. I really must be getting old if that’s the kind of thing that makes me happy… The tiny kitchen’s getting a bit cluttered these days, it’s probably time for some spring cleaning.
I’d rather make a cake.