Monday, 25 November 2013

And now for something completely different...

The third of our family birthdays last week was graced with a cake that I've only been making for only a little over a year.  It's a classic from our adopted home - Victoria Sponge. I use Delia's recipe, which is very simple, and always seems to work well.  The layers seem thin before they're baked, but once put together they're lavish.

This time, I poked holes in one of the layers with a wooden skewer, before slathering it with most of a jar of (runny) home-made strawberry jam, and then a layer of plain whipped cream, and topped with just a light dusting of icing sugar..

It's even better in the summer with fresh sliced strawberries and whipped cream.  In this version, I'll add a spoonful of sugar and a few drops of vanilla to the cream.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Birthday cake - a family recipe

Sometimes the simplest things are the still the best.  This is the cake that we always had for birthdays as children, and now I make it too.  I'm pretty sure the recipe is from my great-grandmother, so that makes 5 generations of our family that have enjoyed it.

It's a very basic cocoa-based cake.   It probably could be made into layers, but we always baked it in a square time and iced it still in the tin.  

Chocolate Cake
8"x8" pan
1/3 cup cocoa
1/3 cup butter or shortening  (80g)
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup sugar (200g)
1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt or sour milk
1 cup flour (120g)
1 rounded tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
Put cocoa, butter, water in saucepan and bring to boil. Cook until it thickens.
Pour chocolate mixture into bowl.  Stir in remaining ingredients in order listed. Beat hard for 2-3 minutes.  Pour into greased and floured pan. Bake in 350 deg. oven for 35-40 minutes

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Retro-pepper jelly

I've been craving pepper jelly for a while and when I noticed a recipe for it in the new Joy of Cooking, I thought I'd give it a go. 

Only I hadn't noticed that the Joy recipe sieved the peppers out, which is why the recipe called for 1/3 less sugar than other recipes. And I didn't have liquid pectin.  

But, crucially, all the chopping could be done in the food processor - which given that I still can't use my right hand, seemed essential.
So I improvised quite a lot to get just what I was looking for - roughly one part chopped peppers to 1 part vinegar and two parts sugar with a sachet of pectin added before-hand.  

Like the rhubarb chutney, pepper jelly was something the  neighbours used to give us.   I remembered  it being mostly clear, with little flecks of different coloured peppers in it, so I didn't want to strain it as the Joy advocated, nor add food colouring like most of the on-line recipes.

Amazingly, it turned out just like I remembered - a warm zingy heat, but mellowed by the addition of bell peppers along with hot peppers from the farmer's market. It's not something you eat everyday, but it's very nice on an oatcake with cream cheese, or with cornbread.