Friday, June 01, 2012

Short and Sweet

Have to say that baking can be a lengthy process when quite a number of cakes need to be made. If only I had more ovens then could make one lot of cake batter in one go and bake the lot. At least managed to make three dozen cupcakes, and 50 Viennese Whirls, plus a tray-bake Chocolate Brownie. Today have to make another couple of dozen cupcakes, a Battenburg, a gingerbread, and also decorate some of the cupcakes that need to be delivered today. Yet I have woken up feeling exhausted even before I begin.
Yesterday seemed to have a type of neuralgia come over the right side of my face, used to have this when in my early teens and it is quite painful, so what with that and my back which is no better, all probably due to the extra load on my shoulders (and not all to do with cooking) but that's life.

Tomorrow will have to concentrate on making four large quiches (different fillings) decorating the remaining cupcakes (and any other cakes made between then and now), and early Sunday will have to make and bake umpteen scones and sausage rolls. Then once B has delivered will probably go to bed! On the other hand will feel I've been 'useful' and at my age this is something that rarely happens (and how I miss the feeling now my offspring have fled the nest).

I bet the Jubilee Celebrations will be causing our Queen to feel exhausted, she has been and is doing so much over these past few weeks and I bet she wishes she could put her feet up most of the time. Although a lot is (of course) done to pave her way as easily as possible, all that walking, standing, talking, can be mega-tiring even to a 'normal' person, and she is not young. We should remember that.

As again have much to do today, will press on....firstly a speedy reply to comments, then a recipe.
Good to hear how your husband helped out a neighbour Campfire, but know what you mean when you say how your needs are not always recognised. Perhaps close to home 'help' can seem a 'duty' - all too often taken for granted - whilst distant aid is 'being of help to those with more need' who will show more gratitude.
We all need to feel useful, and knowing we have been gives us a good feeling, and on a 'spritual level' this isn't what helping is all about, for when it comes to our day of Judgement the only 'real' good we have done is when it has been done anonymously. Myself have to admit I prefer any thanks while I'm still alive.

Such a pity it rained when the Olympic torch was in your region Campfire. It was a miserable day here, the rain went away but it felt very cold. A few days ago we were basking in temperatures in the high twenties, yesterday it was 11C. Last night frost was threatened in the north of Scotland.
Today we are supposed to have a cloudy day with possibly some rain, tomorrow (at least in this region) we are supposed to get some sun. Sadly, on Sunday, rain is forecast for most of the country, which will put paid to a lot of street parties. What a pity the celebrations hadn't been planned for last weekend (which was the original date for the Spring Bank holiday anyway, but moved forward a week).

Discovered another recipe for plum chutney Campfire, and this did have a couple of tablespoons of grated root ginger added, otherwise much the same, so presumably ginger an plums go together.

When making the lemonade Sarina, check the sweetness level, some lemons can be 'sharper' than others. Icing sugar dissolves easily into liquids, saves a lot of stirring.

Never heard of damsons being made into chutney Jane, but they are very similar to plums, just not as sweet. They certainly make wonderful jam, and could possibly make a 'damson sauce' similar to the 'plum sauce' used in Chinese cookery. Leave it with me and once this weekend is over will search my books to see if I can find other ways to use this fruit. Damsons can be frozen to make up later when you have the time (and the right recipe).
You are fortunate to be able to grow damsons, for they don't seem to grow easily in all parts of the UK. Our area is said to be the one noted for damsons. You might find that a local greengrocer would be happy to sell your surplus crop for you for almost certainly he would be unlikely to have many (or any) for sale. Or possibly a restaurant would be interested in your crop.
When any produce is 'regional' - and therefore a bit limited as to supply - there are usually plenty of people (in the food trade) willing to purchase.

Used the gluten-free flour for the first time yesterday, making a batch of 'Viennese Whirls', and these turned out far better than I expected. Got far more from the mix than the recipe suggested. Took a few pictures of these (and unfortunately the site today only accepted one photo, normally it takes several), the one (below) shows a box of twelve 'whirls'. These will later be sandwiched together with a little butter cream or jam (or Nutella, but not sure if that is gluten-free or not so will first have to check).

The mixture made 26 'full size' (some seen above) and a further 26 of smaller ones, and have to say was agreeably surprised by the result. Was not sure what to expect, but they tasted very similar to shortbread (possibly because some of the ingredients in gluten-free flour is a bit 'gritty', and shortbread also is 'gritty' (due to the rice flour in both).

The gluten free self-raising flour bought contains xantham gum, so no need for me to purchase any, and was then able to follow a recipe for the above 'whirls'. Also made Chocolate Brownies using the gluten-free flour as the recipe followed was made using rice flour, so felt there wasn't a million miles of difference, and this also seemed to work (although not cut/tasted as it will go to the club house still in its tray).

For anyone wishing to try the above, here is the recipe:
Viennese Whirls:
9 oz (250g) unsalted butter, softened
3 oz (75g) icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs
11 oz (300g) gluten-free self raising flour
Using an electric hand whisk, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla. When light and creamy, beat in the eggs then sift in the g.f. flour and either beat slowly, or gently fold in the flour (don't over work it).
Fit a 1.5cm star nozzle into a piping bag, fill the bag with the dough, then pipe the mixture onto a couple of parchment lined baking trays, in small 'whirls' about 2.5cm (2"?) diameter. Leave room to spread between each.
Bake at 180C for 15 - 20 minutes until turning golden and firm in the centre (they may still be slightly soft in the middle, but they will harden when left to cool on a wire rack). Best served the day made, but will keep well in airtight boxes a few days and can also be frozen (unfilled - thaw thoroughly before filling).
Although the 'whirls' can be served on their own like a biscuit, they are best sandwiched in pairs with a buttercream and/or jam filling.

Time now for me to go. Although I would like to be back again having a chat with you tomorrow, think it is best I take a couple of days off so I can get the rest of the cooking done while I still have the motivation. Hopefully will be back with you on Sunday, but if not certainly should be on Monday. Always supposing that B hasn't messed up the computer settings in the meantime. He cannot now get onto his email site, and is 'trying other ways' (this could means the whole thing will then break down and he won't know how to put it right). If the comp fails will let Eileen know and am sure she will put a message re this the comment box.
Must stop worrying about things that may never happen. I find this difficult, but will keep trying.
Do hope all of you have a good time this weekend, despite our English weather. By now we are used to it and usually have 'contingency plans'. We don't always need sun to have a jolly good time (although it helps).
Will pick up any comments (if any of you have time to send them) on Sunday, then reply to them either that day or next, and already looking forward to relaxing and having a good chat! TTFN.