Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Birthday Cake Binge! :)

I think I may have overdosed on cake this weekend... :) My sister had very kindly made a Chocolate Praline Cake so that I wouldn't have to bake my own birthday cake, it suited me nicely actually as she let me play around with some Coffee Icing and cover the side in swirly patterns! (Please excuse the crookedness of these swirls, I'm still getting the hang of symmetry in cake decorating!) I had also brought down some of the many leftover vanilla cupcakes from the farmer's market, there were just NO customers this week, it was almost a waste of time! The cupcakes went down well with my family anyway, especially when I iced them individually to suit their preferences, and let them decorate with chocolate/strawberries/sprinkles etc. It's definitely more fun to decorate with people than it is to bake with them! We topped off that sugar overdose with meringues from a local patisserie in Kinsale, just couldn't resist them once my Mum served them up with fresh cream and strawberries.. mm...
So it's no wonder my clothes are tight on me this morning!! I have no excuses for missing training this evening after that binge-fest! :D

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A little inspiration please! :)

It's my birthday on Sunday, and although I'm not too happy about turning 26, I am very much looking forward to baking my Birthday Cake! The only problem is... I don't know what to bake... :( I'm not really a big chocolate fan, I'd prefer coffee to vanilla, and I love fresh fruit desserts like pavlova but I want to make a cake so that I can pipe pretty icing swirls and rosettes!
I need some help, I need a little inspiration, so any suggestions would be welcome! :)
I'll still be baking for the market on Saturday, but then I am taking Monday off work so that I still get a full birthday weekend with my family. No major party plans this year, just heading to a concert with my Mum on Sunday night. We're going to see The Swell Season, aka Glen Hansard and Marketa Iriglova of Oscar winning fame, I can't wait!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pastry Practice

Please excuse the poorly lit photograph, and the dishevelled crust, but this is just practice! :) I don't really get a chance to work with pastry very often but I bought a new pie dish recently, and I was given some rhubarb at the market the other day, and then I saw this post on A Scone's Throw and even though the pie was a mess it looked delicious! :) So I made pie! I haven't seen Strawberry & Rhubarb as a combination in Ireland but it seems to be fairly commonplace on US foodie blogs so when I saw my roommate's strawberries in the fridge I figured she wouldn't mind if I used a few for this experiment. I loved it! More importantly, she loved it! I'm a big rhubarb fan and I'd happily eat it on its own, simply stewed with a little sugar, but add in the strawberries and it was divine!
I also experimented with savoury shortcrust, see that quiche in the background there, it was inadvertently a Vegetarian one, ie. I had spinach, mushroom & tomato, so that's what went in it. I have to admit there is a certain level of pride to baking one's dinner (& dessert). :D
I would post the recipes but they were very very simple... Just a basic shortcrust of flour, salt, butter & water for the savoury pastry, I added some caster sugar to the sweet version. The quiche was just eggs, milk, veggies, salt & pepper. The pie was just strawberries, rhubarb and some caster sugar. Simples! :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Week 12: A Challenging Weekend

For a number of reasons, this was an intense weekend, and I was left feeling physically and emotionally drained on Monday as a result. Of course this hectic time included excessive baking but as usual I found that part to be therapeutic, it was just Life getting in the way that caused the panic attacks!
The weather was not great on Saturday, it was a miserable morning, raining solidly from 9am to 1pm, but clearing up beautifully once the Market had finished! It's hard to stay cheerful when your feet are wet, your hands are cold and your hair is frizzy, and even harder when you look down at your fresh baked cakes and out at the non-existent customers... I just thanked the foresight/laziness that meant I baked fewer cupcakes this week! They sold in the end, Vanilla cupcakes & Banana bread will always find a home, but the experimental Choc Biscuit Cake and Oat Flapjacks were a non-runner, causing me to eat more than my fair share!
Saturday night was intense, it was a Birthday party for a friend of mine who tragically died in a car crash just a few months ago. I had promised to bake a Chocolate Cake, and even though I was hit with numerous difficulties (I have a love/hate relationship with my oven at the moment), I finally finished it and arrived only 2 hours late for the party. Don't worry though, I more than made up for that by staying until after 5am, consuming numerous bottles of wine, and crying a lot into various people's shoulders... I'm a good party guest like that... :) It was an emotional night, but it was a healthy release, and I think we all needed it.
Sunday morning was pretty painful... an emotional and physical hangover like none I've ever experienced... Yet an alarm rang in my head at noon and I remembered committing to make a Birthday Cake for a neighbour... Oh dear... Six hours later I emerged with a slightly dishevelled Vanilla Birthday Cake... And even though it was possibly the most physically taxing cake I'd ever made, it was actually exactly what I needed to do that day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Weekend Off!

Instead of baking dozens of cupcakes (& laboriously icing them...), I spent the weekend catching up with friends and family. It was the August Bank Holiday weekend here in Ireland, and in expectation of a low turnout we had the foresight to cancel the Market. This suited me perfectly as my sister had given birth just last Monday and this was my first chance to see the new Mummy & Baby! I had thought of baking something to mark the new arrival, but I decided to truly take the weekend off and buy a special treat instead.
When it comes to buying a treat... it had to be the Chocolate Biscuit Cake from the newest little bakery in my town, the Fairy Queen. So far I have only tried this and the Vanilla Cake, but she seems to have quite a range of flavours. The choice of novelty decoration is endlessly creative and the wedding cakes are just beautiful! I'm extremely fussy about my choice of desserts, especially those I buy from bakeries, but her Chocolate Biscuit Cake is just heavenly! I'd ask for the recipe if I wasn't afraid I'd make it (and eat it all!) And no, I'm not on commission, I'm just all for supporting local bakers!! :)