Sometimes I wonder why I decided to write a pudding blog. I could have written a blog about travelling. After all, Ive visited numberous places over the past year. I have dreams of a travel… More
A couple of Saturdays ago, a friend invited me to the second anniversary afternoon celebrations of a bar, that I had never heard of, in town. I’m not really a pub sort of person. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like loud places. I don’t like dark places. I don’t like places I have never been to before. I spend a lot of time planning when I go out. There are lots of “what ifs?” questions that need answering, and scenarios that I have to prepare for. It takes a lot of energy and efforts, so everything I do has to be worth it. I had already decided when I woke up that morning that my motto for the day was going to be “Just f*ucking do it”. I had spend all summer researching stained glass windows workshops. But didn’t even get as far as emailing queries. I just wasted hours on anxiety. Months of asking myself questions that didn’t matter. Wondering which course I should choose; thinking of different scenarios for how I would get to the various locations on offer, and which dates would be safest, and how many people would be in a class, and “what if something happens?”. I try to predict the unpredictable. Exhausting. But that morning I booked onto a 2 day glass art workshop. I emailed the artist. Paid the invoice. Booked the trains. It was that simple.
So when my friend asked me if I was going to go to the pub that afternoon, at first, I was reluctant. But then she said the two magic words. There would be screen printing there, and apparently the doughnuts on their Instagram looks pretty amazing. Along with an inner voice screaming “just f*cking do it”, art and cake will get me anywhere, anytime.
On the way there I ran thought the usual scenarios in my mind. Wondering where I should get off the bus (a stop sooner than usual), and what if I couldn’t find the place (its down a small side passage way), and how crowded was it going to be (turned out most people stay at home when its pouring with rain). All strange things to worry about when we have the World Wide Web, and various means of contacts constantly at our finger tips…but what if…? I had the perfect excuse to change my mind and head back home. I got soaked. Any excuse would have done though. After deliberating which doughnut (mixed berry jam, or honeycomb and custard) to get from the Wild Loaf bakery, next door to the bar, we chat, and ate, the afternoon away. I would say that honeycomb doughnut is pretty good. Now, it takes all my will power to not get off the bus a stop early.
For a while now I have wanted to make a baked Alaska. It may be a bit old fashioned, but I’ve never eaten one before, and it’s fascinates me. A Baked Alaska basically consisted of 3 layers: a sponge cake, ice-cream and a meringue. What is amazing about it, is the whole thing goes in the oven, yet the ice cream stayed frozen. You don’t need an excuse to make a Baked Alaska. The Baked Alaska is the celebration.
My mum mistakenly believed we were going to buy a sponge cake, ice cream and simply put the component together, and cover the whole thing in the meringue. But where is the fun in that?! I wanted to create a taste sensation. I wanted a challenge. I wanted to be able to say ‘I made that’. I wanted excitement, and to be proud of what we created. I had high expectations from this pudding. I wanted this to represent everything I wants out of life.
I loved making this Baked Alaska. I loved figuring out what flavours each layer was going to be. I loved researching the techniques to making a successful Baked Alaska. I loved making each individual component, and the excitement when we, for a very brief moment,were worried that it wasn’t going to fit in the oven. I loved the anticipation of watching the meringue through the glass door for the 3-4 minutes in the oven, slowly watching it turn a golden colour. I had thought I was just making a desert. But my absolute favourite thing about today was how it became a social event. I loved the fact that my parents friends heard about the Baked Alaska and came round to help us finish it off. But most of all I loved spending the afternoon with my mum, working, laughing, and for one brief moment, even dancing together! All these little things are what life is about.
So, for those of you that want to have a go at creating your own master piece I have put together a simple step by step guide (unlike the previous blog, with my fague measurements for making a pumpkin coconut cake!). Our layers consisted of a chocolate sponge cake, raspberry icecream, a basic meringue, and a chocolate-mint sauce for serving. We spent the afternoon tasting and adjusting the flavours as we went along. It’s one of the fun parts of baking! But you can be as creative and adventive as you like.
How to make a Baked Alaska in 10 easy steps.
Ice cream (homemade or shop bought)
Cake (homemade or shop bought)
Meringue – 3 eggs, 200g caster sugar, cream of tartar
Chocolate sauce – 200ml double cream, 200g chocolate
Step 1: put two layers of cling film inside a bowl
Step 2: fill the bowl with slightly melted, or not quite set ice cream. Make sure the bowl is the same size or smaller than the cake. You can cheat and buy a tub (or 2 or 3… layered ice cream would look sensational!). My homemade raspberry recipe is below. Place the ice cream in the freezer until hard.
Step 3: place your sponge cake on a baking tray without lips (any flavour you like). If you bake your own cake, make sure it has cooled down.
Step 4: make your meringue by whisking 3 eggs whites until soft peaks form. Add 100g caster sugar and a pinch of cream of tartar. continue to whisk until hard peaks form. Fold in the remaining 100g of caster sugar.
Step 5: To make the sauce, bring 200ml double cream to the boil. melt in 200g chocolate pieces (we did 100g dark chocolate, and 100g dark mint chocolate for a true taste sensation). It turns out chocolate mint and raspberry are AMAZING together!
Step 6: use the cling film to remove the ice cream from the bowl and place upside down onto the cake. Remove the cling film.
Step 7: cut the cake down to the size of the ice cream dome if necessary
Step 8. working quickly, thickly spread the meringue mixture in peaks to completely cover the cake and ice cream. Ensure there are no gaps, or the ice cream will melt in the oven
Step 9: put the whole thing in a hot oven for 3-4 minutes until the meringue turns golden.
Step 10: slide onto a serving place. Pour on the chocolate sauce. And stuffed your smiling little faces 🙂
To make Raspberry ice cream:
300ml double cream
300ml full fat milk
350g frozen raspberries
Juice from half a lemon
A cup of caster sugar
1. Blend the fruit, lemon and caster sugar.
2. Once smooth stir in the cream and milk
3. Pour the liquid thru a strainer, to remove any seeds, into an ice cream maker, and churn for an hour. If you don’t have any ice cream maker, pour into a cling film layered bowl, place directly into the freezer and stir every hour until it starts to harden (over about 6 hours).
The chocolate cake sponge
2 eggs (slightly whip)
150g butter (softened)
125g self raising flour
125g caster sugar
50g dark chocolate (melted)
1. preheat the oven, and butter the cake tin.
2. beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. beat in the eggs
4. fold in the flour
5. add the mixture to the cake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes (220C)
6. remove cake from oven and cool
Don’t forget to sing, dance and laugh, as deemed appropriate, between steps.
I am rubbish at this updating my blog malarkey. Its had been weeks. There have been too many instances to mention where I have thought “I should write about that”. I have even taken lots of photos with the intention of updating my blog. Except I have been busy. This wasn’t a problem I envisaged when I first started blogging. As mentioned in my first blog, I was anxious about leaving the house. As a result I had nothing but time. But in that first blog I made myself, and you, a promise. I was going to work my way thought the Liverpool Echo’s 9 best places to have icecream in Liverpool; which I have slowly been licking my way thought. But every blogger knows that if you don’t write about it, it didnt happen. I was also going to learn the cello and do a stainglass workshop. I haven’t done either of these yet. I simply haven’t had time. I have taken up pottery and a landscape painting class. I’ve been to a Screenprinting and a Experimental Protraits Mixed Media workshop. I have had opportunities to blog about all of these. I screenprinted the photo of the 99 with flake that costs me £2 (I had to get my money’s worth). I was also a bit early to the Experiemental Protraits workshop, which incidentently was round the corner from Hotel Chocolat, and a really nice day. So I tried their chocolate icecream (it tasted like a cold version of hot chocolate, where its was not quite as chocolately as I hoped for). I have also been on numberous bike ride, and cycled for miles; and pretty much every ride involved cake or icecream. I have sampled icecream and deserts in Romania and Lithuania. For the first time in years, I have also been baking. It is not like I have been sitting on my increasingly fat arse doing nothing. This week my time has been taken up trying (without much success), to get my parrot instagram famous (he’s expensive and needs to start earning his keep).
So let me introduce you to Jack. Jack turned 3 last weekend (in case you are interested, we had scones, strawberries and cream to celebrate). Jack is a Black-Headed Caique parrot. There is much debate about how “caique” is pronounced; ranging from “Kah-eek” to “Cake”. Jack loves cake. So, I’m going to assume “cake” would be his preferred pronunciation.
On the day this photo was taken, me, Jack and Lorna (a BFF), decided to enjoy a homemade cake in my yard. Lorna had to follow a gluten free diet, which is what prompted me to bake for the first time in years. Using ingredients that have been lying in my kitchen cupboards, and were on the verge of being just a bit too old, I knocked together a cake. In the past, I have used recipes from blogs. They are useful. Especially if there is a photo of a gorgeous cake (even if, in this case it is in the background). However, I can’t tell you the exact ingredients. It consisted of a tin of Pumpkin, approximately half a cup of coconut flour, 2 or 3 (or was is 4?) eggs (I kept adding them in until I got to the right consistently), a good squeeze of nectar sugar, an unspecified amount of desiccated coconut, and the remaining jar of coconut oil. I’m aware “the remaining jar” is a useless form of measurement, as this is subject to a lot of variation (but if I had to guess, I would say it was about a cup full). The buttercream was made of soft cheese and nectar sugar. I had to improvise as I didn’t have any butter or sugar (ingredients that are generally an essential part of baking). What I ended up with was a really light and moist carrot-cake like cake. Lorna and Jack had seconds, so I’m assuming they were satisfied with my creation.
I’m aware I am not the best food blogger out there. I’m rubbish at writing regular intervals. I don’t give you any useful information about places to go, or food to eat. I haven’t even been able to provide a recipe so that you, or I, for that matter, would be able to recreate a cake again. Also, while proof reading this, I realised I hadn’t even specified how long the cake mixture needs to go in the oven. Which, while on the subject, is “until baked” (stick a cocktail stick in it after 15 minutes, and if it is dry, it is ready … or overdone). I don’t think blogging about cakes and puddings and ice-cream is my forte really. However, I am really good at eating it. So over the next few weeks, I will have to limit my pudding supply until I have caught up with my backlog of unwritten blogs. In the meantime, bearing in mind Jack isn’t allowed chocolate, what cake should I bake next?
On another note, I was right in that very first blog. The search for a taste sensation has set me free.
It was a beutiful night, so I cycled to the river front, ate a picnic and then spent half an hour wondering if a ’99’ with a flake was really worth £2. I was kinda of sad to see it was no longer called a ’99’, but a ‘single with flake’. I wonder why they renamed it. Sure when I was a kid in the 90s they cost 99p, but can we blame inflation for the name change? A quick check online revealed that the ’99’ had been called that since the 1930s. Im pretty sure back in those days, when the UK was dealing with pennies, shillings, and pounds, that ice creams didn’t cost 99p. It also turned out that no one (including cadburys) knows the origin of the name. Maybe the ice cream industry just got feb up of arguing with the fact that a ’99’ no longer costs 99p.
So with gritted teeth I ordered a ‘single with flake’.
We celebrated a friend’s birthday at a local East Asian restaurant last night. My Thai Pad was inoffentive, and I always find East Asian deserts a bit hit and miss, so I don’t usually bother. However, when we were informed that the cake special was watermelon cake I was curious. I mean that is just wrong right? How can you have watermelon cake? What does it taste like? What does it look like? What was the texture? The waitress said it was abit like red velvet, but with watermelon. So it was definitly a cake. Not a jelly type thing. Not a sortbet or ice cream. A cake.
So while everyone else ordered their Apple Spring Rolls & Ice Cream, I opted for the watermelon cake (with coconut icecream). I figured I might as well. I can try their Apple Spring Rolls or Mango Rice pudding any day of the week, but this was their special. There might not be another opportunity.
I was still kind of surprised when a cake (that looks abit like red velvet cake) was placed in front of me. Anyway, to my (pleasant) surprise my watermelon cake tasted like watermelon.
Some days I wake up phyically and mentally tired. Exhausted. Acing. Heart pounding. Gutted that I am awake. Somehow, I am still alive, and now I have a responsibility to live. I have to find the energy, again, to get to the end of the day, again. There was a phase when I would have just stayed in bed. Now, I am able to convince myself to make myself vaguely presentable and go out. I promise myself that it will be worth the effort; and I know the dread wont last forever. I know an hour of boogie bounce will help me breath. And I have a mission to complete. I have to keep working my way thought the Liverpool Echo’s list of 9 best places to have ice cream in Liverpool.
By the time I have finish off my chocolate, and orange & biscuit ice cream from P&D Italian Deli, the imaginary hands that choke my throat starts to lose their grip. More importantly, I am already thinking about which flavours I am going to try next time. The day doesn’t look like it will be so bad afterall.
I often display meerkaks like traits. Im either consistently checking over my shoulder or up ahead. If, for whatever reason, Im busy, possibly checking my phone, or googlemap, or maybe just focusing on eating a really messy ice cream (while it melt all down my hand because I ordered a cone), then I expect another member of the group to keep look out. If I am on my own, I will sit with my back to a wall or seek shelter at a bus shop for a few minutes of safely. But Australia was different.
For a start we were enjoying these doughuts and nutella while out in the evening at a little festival during the Adelaide Fringe. Yep, that’s right. I walked round a city at night. I wasn’t hiding under a blanket or duvet, trying to keep safe, like I do at home. I don’t remember keeping an eye out for hazards and dangers (other than in the fair ground). I don’t remember thinking there are too many people, or this isn’t safe. I don’t remember thinking “what if…?” (except maybe at the fair ground…).
I remember enjoying the freedom and fresh air, and the views, and the pretty city lights, and the view of the moon, and my friends company. I remember not being able to decide what I wanted to eat, so I ordered, ate and enjoyed all my options. The festival was everything you would expect. It was quint. It had food vans, a crappy little fun fair, nice little shop stalls, music, festival type lights, and most importantly a vibe (the good kind).
So on this night, I sat at a table in the middle of the field in the middle of the evening focusing on nothing except dunking those nutella loaded doughnuts into my big fat mouth.