Christening

And now for a happier post!

Two weeks ago we celebrated baby Sweetie’s baptism. It was in the same church as both of our sons were baptised, and where we got married. We were lucky enough to have had the same minister officiating at all of the services as well. Father David is so lovely, and so I’m really glad that he ‘dipped’ all three of them!

Lots of our friends came to share the day, which I found really touching. For some reason I didn’t quite expect people to make an effort to turn out for a christening, I’m not sure why! The church was nice and full, and we held a lunch in the church hall afterwards. We decided to spoil ourselves and had caterers to do the main food. We hired Apex Catering and they were absolutely fabulous. Two people came and served a hot carvery buffet to around forty-five of us. Everyone complimented the food, and I would definitely use that firm again and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the buffet. Perhaps someone else managed to get one before it was demolished!

I spent a large part of Friday and Saturday baking. As we were hiring caterers to provide the meal, I wanted to contribute something that I had made. It started off as just a Christening cake. Then it was a cake and a few cupcakes. Then I added in gluten free cupcakes as four of our guests (including Sweetie’s Godmother and her mother and sister) have coeliac disease. Then I couldn’t choose between two designs for the main cake so I decided to do one normal one and one gluten free. All in all, quite a lot of cake!

Here’s the main Christening cake;

This was the gluten free version;

I had a lot of fun learning to make sugar roses for the main cake, and playing with all the food colouring and fondant icing. I was pleased with the results too, and I’m looking forward to trying out some more cake decorating. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity at Christmas time to have a play!

A step in the right direction!

Baby Sweetie is exactly one month old today, and this morning I put my pre-pregnancy jeans on for the first time! Hooray! Now, they are a bit tight, but at least my figure is heading the right way. And as soon as I finish the enormous chocolate cake that GG bought me for my birthday, I can start to think about making them a bit looser. So pass me a fork!

Procrastinating

I really should be typing up Handsome’s story, but I’m delaying the struggle to decipher. I’ve visited Ravelry, have bought my mother a triple dvd set of Elvis movies (bargain sale!) and I’m about to go and check my blog reader for new entries.

I’m planning a few posts in the near future about my favourite recipes. Having studied my search engine referrals (as I said yesterday) I’ve discovered that many people reach this blog looking for cookery advice. I’m not sure that I’m at all qualified to help in this regard, but I’m happy to share recipes for our favourite meals. Also, I’m going to put myself and my family to the great hardship of experimenting a little with the ‘cake in a cup‘ microwave recipe!

Catch up time starts now!

Oh my goodness, nearly three weeks have gone by since I last managed to write anything here, and so much has happened to write about! I think a few updates will be needed to get back up to date.

First then, my best friend, Maria, celebrated her 30th birthday earlier this month. She had a fairytale themed party, and we all dressed up.

Jen and Maria at party

Maria dressed up as the blue fairy from Pinocchio (I can’t remember her name, sorry!) and I was a princess. It was nice to wear a big posh dress for once – much swooshing was done by all the ladies!

Princesses

Almost everyone really got into the spirit of the themed evening – this is Maria with her mother and younger sister, all looking beautiful!

Maria’s mother put on a tremendous spread of food – many of us feasted for a few days after the party,as well as on the night itself! And a friend of the family made the birthday cake, which was tremendous;

Maria's cake

All but the bottom layer was gluten free, as of course Maria and her sister and mother have coeliac disease and can’t eat gluten. But look at the decoration and attention to detail – it’s the ultimate dream cake for so many little girls (and big ones – Maria was thrilled!).

All in all, the party was excellent. The DJ, Jumpin’ James, was excellent. He did an hour’s entertainment for the children before the main disco started, and then played all the music that Maria and her sister had requested, together with impromptu requests from other guests. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed the music at a disco so much. Usually I find that the music is far too cheesy, but Jumpin’ James played a great mixture of pop and more rock-y tunes like ‘Queen’. I don’t think I’ve been to a fancy dress party where people have made more effort than this one – the number of people who had dressed up far outnumbered those who hadn’t, and the standard of the costumes was very high. My younger son saved up all through the summer for his costume (he dressed up as Buzz Lightyear) so I think he deserves extra credit for that! The children thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, especially being allowed to stay up until past ten o’clock! Maria enjoyed it so much that she almost immediately started talking about a Hallowe’en party!

Cup of cake

cake in a cup

GG yesterday pointed out this link to me, linking to an online recipe for Chocolate cake, made in a mug, cooked in the microwave. I had the munchies last night whilst watching TV, and as we had no other form of chocolate in the house I decided to give it a go.

It was really really simple to do. I made that whilst GG made cups of tea, in fact. Simple instructions, basic ingredients which almost everyone would have in their house as standard, and three minutes in the microwave to cook. Fabulous!

cake out of a cup

It came out of the mug easily, and then we just split it between us to eat. It was a bit dry though, and I can see why, at the end of the recipe, it was recommended to serve it with cream or ice cream. I think I’ll have to do some experimentation; I’m thinking chocolate chips, or possibly chocolate sauce in the middle. Definitely a really nice vanilla ice cream with it, and maybe I’ll whisk the mixture next time before cooking it in order to get a lighter texture. Definitely something I’d like to experiment with!

Oh, and next time I wouldn’t use a flarey-outey mug either – made for a fairly weird shaped cake!

Valentine efforts

So, our Valentine’s Day was a little…unusual, given that we spent most of it with GG’s mother, sister and brother in law. However, determined not to ignore the festival altogether, I concocted a couple of little treats with a Valentine theme.

Heart scones

We had no bread in the house for lunch and so, rather than dashing out to buy a loaf of bread (as it was too late to start making any by the time I realised the lack of it) I made these cheese scones for us to have for lunch instead. Very yummy, especially as they were eaten within an hour of coming out of the oven.

In the evening, we ate a meal with GG’s family, in order to celebrate his sister’s birthday (which is actually today, so Happy Birthday, L! Not that she reads this blog, but she might feel some sort of psychic warmth from my wishes!). L’s partner, M, cooked the meal, which was absolutely delicious. Chicken breasts stuffed with mozzarella and basil, wrapped in streaky bacon and served with roasted potatoes, mangetout and baby corn. As he was taking the time and effort to make this I volunteered to make the dessert, and as it was for a birthday meal I wanted to make something extra special.

Chocolate truffle cake

Et voila! My Chocolate truffle cake, with hand made milk and white (dyed red with food colouring) decorations. I was really pleased with how this turned out.

Chocolate truffle cake slice with raspberries

It easily gave about fourteen slices (we had it for pudding two days running) as it was very rich and tasted extremely luxurious! We served it with raspberries, which helped to counteract the richness a little, I think. Anyway, everyone was very impressed, so I think I’ll be making it again before very long! Mmmm!

Praise indeed!

So, my mother in law saw my new hat and has ordered one for herself, to take on a holiday to Switzerland (lucky thing!) that she will be enjoying in the next few weeks! I must be doing something right if I’m getting orders!

There will (of course) be photos posted as and when I finish, which shouldn’t be too far in the future, although I think you may have to put up with my ugly mug again as I’m fairly confident that MIL won’t let me post a photo of her. The wool I am using is a lovely raspberry colour, again from the stash, and I bought it years ago to make myself a cardigan or a jumper. I’ll still have plenty left to make myself something, although I really don’t know what I’ll make yet. Maybe a shrug or a poncho?

Still I have hats to make first!

In other news, as I am full of cold, I have set GG to making cake for us today. He has made lovely cake in the past but has no confidence in his own baking abilities, so this will be good for him! Just so long as he follows the recipe exactly, he will be fine. We have decided that we will eat healthily and count calories all week, but then we will treat ourselves on Sundays to cake or biscuits etc, rather than depriving ourselves entirely. Also, Handsome and I went for a short jog yesterday, and he says that he’ll take me again, so maybe 2009 will be the year that I get fit!

Quiet time with the Husband

Today I had a treat. My husband (who I won’t refer to as NDT, Jo!) took a half day holiday from work today and took me out for lunch. We went to La Tasca and enjoyed our last uninterrupted meal and calm daylit half hour which we will have for the next week and a half. Yep, school has broken up for half term, so I can look forward to a week of trying to find things to keep the boys amused (and I’m including Hubby in that!).

True to form, school has sent home a half term project for Cheeky again. This time they want him to “create a mobile representing ‘light and dark'”. Oh good. Something to keep Cheeky and Hubby entertained while Handsome and I find better things to do with our time!

But back to our meal. It was all a bit muddled up, really. We originally decided to have lunch in La Tasca because I had found a voucher entitling us to two for one on all tapas dishes. However, when I looked at it this morning, I found that it was only valid Sunday to Wednesday. Duh! And so then I remembered a £5 off voucher that I had for joining their online club. However (again), on closer inspection of that offer, it was likewise not valid for use today.

Never mind. They have a lunchtime offer of which we took advantage instead of these other promotions. I had already decided that I didn’t want a huge meal, so it suited me fine. The offer was a choice of any three tapas dishes and one of the set drinks (from the special lunchtime menu) for £7.95. We each chose three different options and then shared the lot – yummy! And then Hubby bought me a cake to have with a cup of tea after collecting the boys from school. I was spoilt rotten today!

When I got home, my Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness magazine was waiting for me, but i really wanted my cake so I’ve not opened it yet! I’ll save the guilt trip for tomorrow, when I’ll probably open it to find a whole feature about the perils of eating tapas and iced danish whirls. Ah well, it’ll get me back on track, I suppose. But I did really enjoy my meal out, and feel no guilt about the excess food that I consumed today. I might do tomorrow, but I’ll deal with that when I get to it!

Chocolate Fudge Cake

As requested on my previous post, here is the recipe for the chocolate fudge cake which I made yesterday. I originally had the recipe from my mother, but I’ve no idea where she had it from! I’ve adapted it slightly, as I found that it made too shallow a cake but it rose too much. So here is my recipe;

Ingredients

  • 9oz self raising flour
  • 6oz sugar (granulated or caster sugar work equally well)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6oz margerine
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa, blended to a paste with a little boiling water

Method

Put all the ingredients except for the cocoa paste into a large bowl and mix well. Once the ingredients are all well mixed together, add the cocoa paste. Mix until smooth. Put into a pre-prepared baking tin (I use either a 2lb loaf tin or an 8 inch round tin) and bake at 190°C for approximately 40 minutes or until it is springy to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool, and then when it has cooled down make the icing.

Chocolate fudge icing ingredients

  • 1.5oz margerine
  • 1oz cocoa
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • Approximately 4oz icing sugar

Method

Melt the margerine over a low heat, then add the cocoa (sieved) and cook gently for a minute. Remove from the heat, mix the milk in well and then sieve and mix in the icing sugar. Do this a little at a time so that the icing doesn’t become too thick. The icing is ready once it is thick enough to generously coat the back of a spoon. Ice the cake immediately that the icing is ready, as it will harden a little and become more difficult to achieve a smooth result. Oh, and there will probably be more icing than you need, so either split the cake and make it a sandwich cake or (if you are in a imilar situation to me) lean out of the kitchen door and call “chocolate icing bowl to clean”. Very soon, two small boys (and one larger one, when husband is home) will appear, magically removing all evidence of surplus chocolate fudge icing in next to no time!

You can also make this recipe into cupcakes; it will make between 18 and 36 cupcakes, depending on how full you like to fill the paper cases. Cupcakes will obviously need less time in the oven, probably about 18 to 20 minutes.

Store in an airtight tin (if it lasts long enough to get into a tin!) but it’s best eaten whilst fresh (in the first couple of days).

Enjoy!

Chocolate cake and shortbread

I’ve been busy today, doing lots of baking. My two good friends Jo and Maria are coming for tea this evening, and I promised Jo chocolate cake a long time ago. At the same time, I couldn’t leave Maria out, and so I decided to make her a special cake. She has coeliac disease and so can’t eat anything with gluten. I’ve made biscuits for her before, and made her some shortbread tooday, but I’d not tried cake until today. Well, that’s a slight fib, as I did try to make some fairy cakes a few years back for my other friend with coeliac disease, Helen, but they went terribly wrong and ended up looking more like yorkshire puddings than cup cakes!

So, I made one ‘normal’, gluten containing cake, and one gluten free chocolate fudge cake. And they both turned out remarkably well! I think the reason that the cake turned out better this time than last (it rose, for a start!) is because last time I used pure rice flour, whereas the flour I used this time is a blend of different gluten-free flours. It obviously makes a difference! The texture is good, not at all dry like some shop bought gluten free cakes I’ve tried. So I’ll definitely be making this one again! My taste testers (Handsome and Cheeky) and I have pronounced these cakes to be good enough for our guests! And, having been decorated my Cheeky and myself (I thought I better had, so that I could tell the difference between the gluten free and the other chocolate cakes!) they are, of course, beautiful!

The shortbread is remarkably similar to ‘gluten-full’ shortbread, but I think that the reason for that is probably because you would use cornflour in shortbread anyway. I made both plain and chocolate chip shortbread (the latter as a sort of experiment) although I did originally plan to do chocolate topped shortbread, but ran out of time.

I hope that my guests enjoy my home cooking. Chicken risotto for tea, with some lovely veggies added in too. Well, at least they shouldn’t go home hungry!