Hello, blog. It’s been a while.
Circumstances have meant I’ve not really done a lot of baking during the first part of the year; batch of cupcakes here and there but nothing really worth writing home about but there’s been a couple of things that are worth shouting about.
Firstly; I’ve learnt to make bread! Well, kind of…..
As a birthday gift last year I was given an evening class at One Mile Bakery as an introduction to baking bread. It’s certainly a lot easier that I thought, and the entire evening was a lot of hands-on fun. I’d recommend the classes to anyone wanting to have a go at making a variety of bread.
(Mine’s the third on the right!)
After this, I had a crack at making traditional Guernsey Fruit Bread (known as Gache (pronounced ‘gosh’!)). Bit burnt and I needed to knead the mixture more, but passable effort.
Secondly, the return of the Cardiff branch of the Clandesting Cake Club! It’s been on a sabbatical for a while after Gladys, the previous organiser, stepped down but it’s now back up a running. Our first meeting was in the statuesque surroundings of the Cardiff Millenium Centre, with a terrific view looking down onto the oval basin and out onto the bay.
The theme of the afternoon was showstoppers; so I wanted to cook something that was both impressive and had something to do with shows / musicals etc. Helpful suggestions from my friends included: –
Crocodile Dundee Cake
Woman in Black Forest Gateaux
Cake the High Road
Rocky Road Horror Cake
Breakfast at Tiffin
…..and many more that too terrible to mention here. In wisdom, I decided the best thing to do after a break from regular baking was to attempt something (a) I’d never made before and (b) was intricate and complicated. And that would be Eric Lanlard’s Opera Cake.
All in all, it wasn’t too bad despite the many things that could have gone wrong. The sponges were a little overdone as I cooked them simultaneously on two levels of the over and one brown more than the other, leaving me to cook one longer than the other. The chocolate ganache was simple enough (it’s really just melting chocolate and cream together).
The buttercream though; heavens, that caused me some problems. Took three attempts to get close to right – the first batch was too runny, and the second I boiled the sugar too long and it crystallised in the pan. At that point I ran out of golden caster sugar and had to resort to the regular stuff; once getting it to a syrup-like state it had to be poured over eggs you’re already whisking with a hand blender.
Anyone aware with my physical dexterity can predict that this very nearly ended in disaster.
(It was the best buttercream I’ve ever made though; the coffee adds a layer of bitterness to the sweetness).
Constructing the cake was fun; layer of sponge, ganache, layer of sponge, buttercream, layer of sponge, ganache, then the chocolate topping. I ran out of time to decorate it.
The first time it came out of the tin was at the meeting and it was such a relief to see it stay together – I had visions of it collapsing due to the buttercream not being solid enough but it held together. Need to get some springform tins so I can take the cake out of the tin cleanly rather than practically chiselling it out.
Five cakes in total – all delicious, and a good variation of flavours and styles.
It’s certainly got me back in the mood for more baking, so hopefully more regular updates will be forthcoming.