Saturday, 5 January 2013


I have never been a cake maker, apart from the odd chocolate torte for pudding.  However, when to my surprise and delight I found myself planning my wedding in June, and someone suggested that I should make my own wedding cake, I took up the challenge.   The  last fruit cake I had made was from a reduced Waitrose Delia kit after Christmas, and before then it must have been about 1975, so it was not plain sailing.

Wedding Cake

After much discussion and dithering I finally made a 10 inch square fruit cake - again a Delia recipe

The quantities were huge and I had to mix everything together in a washing up bowl.  It turned out rather well and I fed it with brandy and stored it for a couple of months.

I didn't have the courage to try and decorate it myself but fortunately a friend, whom I had first met on a food forum and lives fairly locally, just happens to be a professional cake maker and offered to do it for me.  Many thanks to Tracy who is Enchantment Designer Cakes.

Birthday Cake

In August it was my mother's 80th birthday and, as I now had several cake tins (due to dithering over what size wedding cake to make), I decided to have a go at making a birthday cake.  The one I chose was Lorraine Pascale's I Cant Believe You Made That cake, but my friend Sue L suggested a more interesting cake mix so I used this one from Dan Lepard. 

I bought the chocolate cigarillos and pearls on line and was very pleased when they arrived intact.  I bought milk and plain and alternated them around the cake, fixed on with a simple chocolate ganache.  

I was very pleased with the end result - and it really was easy to make.

And it looked even better when the restaurant served it with cream and ice cream.

Christmas Cakes

I then got a bit carried away when it came to planning for Christmas.  My parents asked me to make them a cake, and then I saw a recipe for 4" cakes and I have two 4"" cake tins, but the mixture also gave enough for a 6" cake, so I made one of those as well.

This time I had a go at decorating them and I am amazed at how well they turned out.   The fruit topped one I gave to my parents, and a friend at work swapped the 4" holly cake for a bottle of Chateau Neuf du Pape - win!

The other two cakes are sat in the office:  I admire them daily but need to decide what to do with them.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Mushroom Ravioli and Meatballs

It is the Sunday before New Year and in the fridge a small punnet of exotic mixed mushrooms need to be used before they become dried mushrooms.  Leafing through my new Michel Roux cookbook, a Christmas present from Richard, I spot a recipe for Mushroom Cappalletti.  I can do pasta, although maybe not the cappalletti shape, but the recipe is a start.  I decide to pair it with meatballs to a) add a meat element and b) a sauce. 

The pasta is simple enough because I make it in the Kenwood but, even though I don't have to work one handed whilst turning a handle, I still can't get my pasta to form neat rectangles, but for this recipe it doesn't matter.

The mushroom mix, bulked up by a couple of finely chopped button mushrooms, is sautéed in clarified butter with finely chopped shallots and parsley.

I used cutters to make the ravioli - it was easier to use two sizes of circle to accommodate the filling, which was sealed in with egg wash.
Filling them was time consuming - I'm glad I was only making a dozen. 
Very pleased they didn't burst open whilst cooking.  I thought they could have done with a couple of minutes more but Steve said they were fine.
The meatballs were from a Nigella recipe which combines beef and pork mince, breadcrumbs, oregano, parmesan and an egg and is formed into tiny meatballs which are chilled in the fridge and then cooked in a simple tomato sauce.  I used some ready shredded parmesan which looked a bit odd in the raw state but melted nicely when cooked.
The meatballs sat in the simmering sauce for half an hour but could have been left longer - just be careful not to break them up when you stir.
The end result!  It was very tasty and not too filling.   A bit of a faff but what else to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon?