Monday, 24 February 2014


A week or so ago my aunt and uncle, Kate and Paul, came over for lunch. Mum fancied making Cranachan but as she had the meal itself to make, she suggested I make it instead, yay! I was actually surprised not to have had it before, what with Mum being Scottish 'n that. I think maybe I avoided it because I'm not usually a fan of boozy puddings, but this was great. It will be happening again, you can be sure of that.

First off you toast some oatmeal under the grill. It doesn't take long, but you have to pay attention. The oatmeal doesn't brown that much as it's toasted, you have to use your nose and wait for that lovely nutty smell.

While the oatmeal is cooling, start crushing up some raspberries for a purée. Note to self, don't use a red bowl with red ingredients if you want to take a photo. Leave enough aside to add in whole in the final product.

This recipe said to then smoosh them through a sieve with a spoon to get your purée. In my opinion, this results in more of a juice than a purée, I would consider maybe blending them next time, and with way more raspberries. Bloody love raspberries.

Seriously, Steph, what's with all the red bowls? Can you see how pitiful the amount of "purée" we have here is? And how thin? P'shaw. Add a bit of caster sugar here to sweeten it a bit.

Next step is to get your cream ready. Some may say this is the best part. They will be correct. Mmm. Whip up your cream until just set.

The recipe we were half working to says to add honey, we mixed it up slightly. Mum has Type 2 diabetes, so she is always thinking of ways to take that into consideration when making puddings. This time it meant rather than just adding honey, I added half honey and half agave nectar. Man tasty. Maybe next time we'll go the whole agave nectar hog? I'd be up for that experiment. 

Then add your whisky. I believe we used some of Dad's Glen Moray but, I'll be honest, I haven't got a clue. It was 3 tablespoons, but again I'd use some more. I don't like things overly boozy, but if they're gonna be you want it to be slightly more obvious than that. 

Last addition, mix in your toasted oatmeal. We used a fair bit more than in the recipe, again, and I'm so glad we did. It meant there was plenty in every spoonful, and gave it texture. 

By this point the cream will probably have whipped up more thickly from all your additions, give it a bit more if you think it needs it.

Now you can start layering it up!

I don't remember the last time these glasses were used but they were fab for this, if annoying when constructing. Super messy.

Here they are all finished! I loved it, big fan of Cranachan right here now. I doubt it would pass muster with Gregg Wallace, but I would eat this for hours. 

Though I basically would change everything about the amounts used, here's what the recipe suggested for 4 people. Before you say it, I know I made 6, when I made it I added half again to account for this. So there. 

2 tbsp medium oatmeal. Three for six people, but I probably used about 5, if not a bit more. Love those oats.
300g fresh raspberries. I used 450g, use more, use a blender, remember to leave some whole.
350mls double cream, about 525 for 6.
2 tbsp honey, or agave nectar if you're as awesome as us.
2-3 tbsps whisky, to taste. You need more. Trust my face. 

I hope you all go embrace your inner scot, or failing that, embrace your inner Gregg Wallace. 


Monday, 17 February 2014

Red Dwarf Piñata Cake

So, it was my brother's birthday so I attempted to make Roast Beef. Chortle.
What *actually* happened was that I decided I wanted to make a cake for Stu for his birthday. I started looking through all my bookmarked Stumbles and Pinned recipes to find something exciting. I originally toyed with something to do with cameras, or Star Wars, or minions, or Big Bang Theory but everything was far too advanced for me. Then I came across a Piñata cake that I had pinned a long time ago. This one was a shaped and decorated like a rainbow, not quite what I had in mind. Then I thought, why not make it look super boring, so that when it's opened it's a big surprise? Which then made me think of Lister's cake in Balance of Power, and a new plan was formed. I would recreate the cake, making it seem like the fun part about it was that it was that cake, then OH EM GEE, LOOK AT ALL THE COLOURS! I even put a quote on Facebook a day or two before I saw him, hoping it would implant Red Dwarf in his head. I'm sneaky.
I turned to my favourite cake recipe, White Velvet. It still needs some tweaking I think, but it turns out a delicious cake, and nice and flat so it's easy to decorate and stack. Problem with it is that it is for a 9 1/2 inch pan and the pans here at Pogles are 8 1/2 inches. Now it could have been absolutely fine, and probably would have been, but I had images of batter flowing over the sides of tins and a massive mess to clear up. Naturally, I went straight to Google and I found the CakeOMeter.

Hells yeah I have Flappy Bird. Also, get Dots, it's awesome. Anyway, this app is amazing. You put in the recipe you have and the tin size it is for, then the tin size you have, and it converts it for you! How brilliant is that?! It makes me want to find recipes to convert and bake, just to prove it's right.

I'm a big fan of this vanilla extract, it's slightly more expensive but worth it.

Being at Pogles I have a whole different set of equipment to work with, I left my other baking things in the care of Madeley Road until I'm back in London. I love this big bowl, makes me feel like I'm on no cooking show. When Jen and I were younger and did any baking we would measure out all our ingredients and put them into separate bowls, then pretend we were on a cooking show. You know how Delia would always have a tiny bowl with her salt in rather than just take the pinch? Aw, memories.

I saw this on Saturday kitchen last year sometime, can't remember exactly who it was, but they said if you need to soften butter you should put it between parchment paper and whack it with a rolling pin. This changed my baking life, I never remember to get butter out ahead of time to soften. This way, it's softened straight away, and you're able to easily slice it up into bits to go into your mix.

As much as I love the baking of the cake, I am NOT a fan of making icing. It never works the way I want it to, and I end up with rubbish icing and a thin layer of icing sugar dust all over everything in the kitchen. So I will invariably just buy Betty Crocker, cause I love her. This is the first time I've tried this Buttercream style icing, and it was gooooood.

I used about...half a 5p size blob of gel colouring to get this wonderfully exciting shade of grey. Just the one.

See what I mean? Very flat. Quite thin. Gonna tweak. The thing about this cake is that it is very pale, being White Velvet 'n all. When you look in the oven when your buzzer goes off you think there's no way it can be done, it looks like batter with slightly browned spots. But it is.

As I said before, I used a box mix for the middle layer, and yes it was Betty Crocker. My favourite is the chocolate swirl cake, it's really quite tasty.

Next step is to cut out the void for your piñata cake. I ummed and aahed slightly over whether to go bigger or smaller, I wanted plenty of goodie room, but I didn't want to have a flimsy edge. This pot gave me a good size edge, but did cut out most of the swirls. Note to self: swirl your mix better.

I couldn't bear to just haphazardly heap the cream on the cake hoping it was in the right areas, so I marked out the area using a bit of the gel colouring.

I'd smash my face into that right there.

Doesn't it look exciting?! I used two share bags of smarties, I considered just one, but if that was insufficient I could never have lived with myself.

The final product! The kids were very excited by it, despite my intentions. Clearly they know me too well...I don't bring boring cakes. My favourite part of the 'reveal' was Stu starting to cut into the cake and saying "This is crunchy, what?!" I'm a genius.
Cake went down well with all concerned, Keira was keen to yum up as much as possible, so I shall count this as a win. Definitely something I'll do again, interested to think of other ways I could play with the idea. I've already got my next plan in my head, but, naturally, this will be kept secret. Especially as it may go terribly, horribly, irretrievably wrong.