Monday, July 28, 2008

The pier before and after...

Major landmark burns down

I'm still in a state of shock... I was woken this morning by a weird crackling noise & sirens coming from outside. For a while the noise sort of combined with my dreams... but as soon as our power went off and the baby monitor started beeping I was leaping out of bed.

As I headed across to the bedroom window I was thinking how strange a time it was for someone to let off so many fireworks. What I saw on opening the shutters had me transfixed in horror...

Our Grand Pier was engulfed in flames and smoke. I loved looking at it every day & night when it lit up with a myriad of green lights that reflected beautifully on the water... when the tide was in.

All that's left is a hollow burnt out shell... thank goodness there was no one hurt and the wind blew the smoke away from shore... You can see my shaky video here

Friday, July 25, 2008

Birthday cakes and other bakes... recipes

My pal Naomi, her other half Mark & their little boy Josh all moved to Devon yesterday :(

It hasn't really sunk in yet that they've gone... I expect that will happen over the next few weeks... More cake was needed to ease the sorrows so a variation of the chocolate cake was created. We all had a piece cut with a spoon as I forgot to take a knife out with me! Shortly after Lisa noticed I was coming out in horrendous hives... they look and itch like nettle rash. Unfortunately it seems I have developed an allergy to chocolate... arrgh! I had suspected it for a while (due to the regular appearance of hives) but was resistant to accepting it... So I went cold turkey on the chocolate only to discover that chocolate wasn't the only culprit... and have had to stop eating cheese and citrus fruit as well. What's going on?!?! until a few months ago I ate all of them without a problem... sigh... no more cheesecake either... sob...! Right I feel a bit better to get that out of my system... so onto the recipes :)

Chocolate cake/ Chocolate orange cake...

(my personalised/ammended version of the chocolate mud cake recipe found in Jane Price's guide to cake decorating)

Ingredients will make a 7 inch square or a 8 inch round cake

  • 190g/6oz unsalted butter

  • 190g/6oz dark chocolate/orange dark chocolate

  • 140ml/5fl oz water

  • 110g/3 1/2oz self raising flour

  • 110g/3 1/2oz plain (all purpose) flour

  • 40g/1 1/2oz cocoa powder

  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • 420g/14oz caster sugar

  • 3 very large eggs

  • 6 tsp vegetable oil

  • 95mls/3fl oz buttermilk


  • Put the chocolate, butter & water in a pan over a low heat and stir gently until everything is melted... being careful not overheat it & remove the pan from heat as soon as everything is combined.

  • Sift flours, cocoa powder & bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Stir in the caster sugar & make a well in the middle. Add the melted chocolate/butter/water, buttermilk, eggs & oil to the flours etc and stir until completely combined.

  • Pour into your desired greased/baking parchment lined tin and pop into a pre heated oven at 160C/315F/gas mark 2~3 for about 1hr 40mins. My oven cooked it about 10mins quicker as my cake tin has very thin walls and cooks very fast. You can test whether the cake is done... towards the end of the baking time.. by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean... not with gloopy mix on it... it is most likely ready!

Leave your chocolate cake to cool completely then generously fill and top with either the.....

The White chocolate & sour cream icing from her cappuccino cupcakes in How to be a domestic goddess by Nigella Lawson & after applying icing to cake... dust it with a tiny bit of cocoa powder.

Or go for serious chocolate overload with dark chocolate ganache in Nigella Lawson's Feast

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Birthday cakes and other bakes...

The last 10 days have been full of making multiple cakes for lots of very happy recipients... 

First I was helping my friend Lisa with the cake for J's 2nd birthday. A week last Saturday night we baked 4 x 6 inch square lemon sponges which Lisa then filled with lemon curd on Sunday They were then wrapped in tinfoil and popped into the freezer for later on in the week when we planned to decorate them. It took 2 long evenings to finish decorating J's cake. We had a lot of fun making all the animals, his face lit up when he saw it which made all the effort more than worthwhile.

Next was a keep F busy activity on a dreadfully rainy day... I've started the Low GI diet to shift the last of the weight I gained when pregnant with F. I'd been looking for a wholemeal cinnamon fruit loaf (suggested for breakfast in one of my low GI menu planners) without success so I thought why not have some fun and bake one instead! The only mishap was that my favourite spoon snapped when I was stirring the mixture... so I now have to hunt for a new one to be my next favourite. The end result was very yummy but maybe not V low GI?

Lastly Paul's birthday is on Friday and he'd put in a request for a chocolate cake to take into work... I made a seriously indulgent 10 inch square chocolate cake to fit my carry able cake box & make Paul's job of taking it to work by train a bit easier. The cake was filled and topped with a thick layer of dark chocolate ganache. Serious chocolate overload... I used one kilo of melted dark chocolate between the cake and the ganache! The finished cake was spectacular but also quite heavy... so Paul had a chance to work off some calories lugging it to work... before adding them back on! There were only 6 small slices (out of 30) left by lunchtime

I'll post the recipes for the cinnamon fruit loaf, chocolate overload cake and ganache next time..... so for now I'll let you drool over the photo :)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The latest on Haggis...

I thought It was about time I did another crochet related post... So I thought you'd all like to see how Haggis is coming along.

I have to admit I am a bit behind schedule with where I wanted to be at this stage... but Finn ran a temperature of 102.5 and had a touch of vomiting for a few days earlier this week. Not that you'd know to look at him as he was still so full of beans it was a job to just get him to occasionally stay still to take the Calpol between all his running around. Whatever Finn had has gone & he fought it off without any anti-biotics this time. Unfortunately for Haggis it meant he got a bit neglected... so after finishing this post I'm going to make it up to him and continue with his shaggy coat.

I'm happy with his body shape and I've sorted out where his arms and legs are going to go. He's looking a bit naked up top and a bit like a squid down below so more hair is needed and fast! The Jojoland melody is a true joy to use and I can't wait to see how the colours change on his shaggy coat when they're felted.

So that's all for now as I'm itching to give Haggis some more hair :)