Disaster Revisited: The Cake

I never really understood why my cakes were soggy in the middle and hardly ever rose.
You would think that such creations would never see the light of the day. Au contraire. I always took them dished them up, mostly at picnics, never realising that in doing so I was consolidating a certain reputation.
Till not long ago, a friend arrived for lunch complete with a hand made cardboard box full of pepper-flavoured cookies, presented with the following sentence : " you have bought me some non edible desserts in the past, now it is my turn" who could blame him really and by the way, the pepper cookies were delicious.

So when I read an invitation to revisit my dessert memory vault and take another look back at...a dessert disaster. I was in. You could too: Sugar High Friday is the The Domestic Goddess' brain child.

Slightly worried though I decided to approach the cake from a "one portion angle". I also broke my rules and bought all the ingredients. To make sure of sure I got the recipe out of what I consider the best baking cook-book: The Baker by Leanne Kitchen and to leave no room for the devil to do is work I follow the recipe for Little Jam-Filled Cakes step by step.

Perfection, loveliness, risen to plume height in the sky ( may be not that high), cooked in the middle, light, great recipe ..........at least for the first batch. For the second, I decide to put a little paper-cup in the holes....disaster: the cakes ate the paper which in turn meant that if we wanted to eat the cakes we had to cut off the edges.
Little Jam- Filled Cakes
IngredientsMakes 12
75g (2 1/2 0z) unsalted melted butter, plus more for tin
170 g 960z/ 1/4 cup) granulated sugar superine
2 large eggs
280g 910oz/2 1/1 cups) self-raising flour
250ml (9fl oz/1 cup)milk
6 tablespoons strawberry jam or preserves
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
6 small strawberries, hulled and thinly slice
icing (confectioner's) sugar, for dusting (optional)

1.Preheat oven to 200C (400F/Gas6). Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin; set aside.
2. Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the sugar and stir to combine. Make a well in the center
3.In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and butter. Pour into the well in the flour mixture and gradually stir until just combined, using a large metal spoon.
4. Spoon 3/4 of the cake batter into the muffin holes. tope each with 1/2 teaspoon of the jam then cover with the remaining batter.
5. Fan the strawberry slices over each cake, gently pressing them in.
6.Bake for 20 minutes or until lighly golden or until a cake tester inserted in top cake layer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to coll in the tin for 5 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to coll completely.
7. Dust with icing sugar if desired
8. Little jam-filled cakes are best eaten the day they are made but keep well in a cake tin .......and I have just got one.....hand made by a friend.

What is in Your Pantry? Californian Prunes

It is a bit of a misnomer, Californian prunes were not in my pantry until I contacted the Californian prunes board who very kindly send me a sample of 6 individually wrapped prunes and a very classy marketing pack.

-"What" screamed another blogger, mate of mine, 6 prunes, they must be kidding! You are not going to write something about 6 prunes?
-"well yes, I am" and you know why? because in the pack there is a mouth watering recipe
Prune, Amaretti and Citrus Tart. And also I think that prunes are undrated, have an undeservedly bad reputation.
May be six prunes is the way to use prunes if you don't want the side effects which comes from the fact that prunes are high in fibre. Beside they provide high levels of antioxidants and potassium and after a long long winter we need potassium + they are low in calories.
To be honest I could not make the difference between these prunes and Agen prunes which are also plump and juicy so the trick is to choose prunes which are not shriveled up and ugly if that make sense.
I'll leave you with the recipe, it is a good one to prepare for any occasion the moisture of the prunes mixed with the tanginess of the lemon curd is a delight.

Prune, Amaretti and Citrus Tart.

Serves 8 Prep/cooking time: 1. hours this recipe is copied from californianprunes website with a few adaptations in italic

•300g California prunes
•100ml Armagnac (optional but some kind of alcool is necessary)
•180g plain flour
•pinch salt
•20g caster sugar
•100g unsalted butter chilled and diced
•1 egg yolk
•50g ground almonds
•1 large egg
•55g caster sugar
•200g creme fraiche
•natural yoghurt and ground cinnamon to serve.

Place the prunes in a bowl with the Armagnac and leave to marinate for 1 hour.
To make the pastry, put the flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a food processor and process until just combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the machine running, add the egg yolk and 3-4 tsp of chilled water and process until the pastry comes together.
Chill for around 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Roll the party out and use to line a 25cm flan tin. Prick the base with a fork and chill for another 10 minutes before lining with greaseproof paper and baking beans.
Bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and bake for another 5 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 190°C/375°F/ Gas mark 5.
Drain the prunes, reserving the Armagnac. Add to this the ground almonds, beaten egg, sugar and creme fraiche and mix together well until smooth.
Place the prunes over the base of the party case then pour over the almond mixture. Place the tin on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden.
Serve cut into wedges with a dollop of natural yoghurt sprinkled with ground cinnamon.
PER SERVING 492 kcalories, protein 10.5g, carbohydrate 43.5g, fat 30.6g, saturated fat 15.4g, fibre 3.6g, sugar 26.1g, salt 0.1g

The Week-End When I Bought an Oil Painting By Mistake and Cooked Lumberjack Cake

There is an auction house around the corner, I seldom visit it as the owner and I harbour a grudge for a reason long forgotten, if it ever existed. But Friday being a bank holiday, he and I went to the viewing. Me being ready to hear the not-charming owner welcoming me with is usual "Not dead yet?"
I spotted a frame described in the catalogue as regency frame with print. Grubby yes, print no. Being on non-talking terms with the expert, I could not let him know that this was an oil painting of a golfer so I turned to him whose eyebrows furrowed which usually means "are you sure of what you are saying? they are experts you know" but he liked it, too.
So Saturday I got myself a bidding paddle. When number 10 came up, I gaily lifted my paddle, sadly somebody else in the room was bidding against me so we quickly reached the top end of the estimate: £20, up and up it was going, this is when a women coming out of nowhere, kicked me in the guts in order to reach a seat where she had plonked a bag, my attention span flew out of the window. "Selling at £28" NOOOOO, Paddle, "£30 with the lady" "Sir, £32?" "sold for £30 to the lady". That is me! I am the lady and proud owner of a elegant black and gold regency frame but what is in it?

Came 3.00 o'clock after a well earned pub lunch in one of Greenwich best kept secret, we went to retrieve the object. It took a little longer than expected since my name had been misspelled and the receptionist eyebrows furrowed a couple of times which meant "are you sure you know your name? we are experts you know"

Back home, armed with a bottle of window cleaner and a hammer, I started on the frame, the glass, the back, the glass again, YYYES, this is an oil painting; blue field of heather dotted with pink dots, and elegant gentleman in a tailored suit playing golf. Signed by JC Drummmmmmmn or name very close to that. possibly not worth much more than the monies I handed over to the experts.

It was time to make Lumberjack cake, takes quite a long time, certainly much longer than the 30 minutes stated in the recipe but is a real winner, moist and delicious.


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