No matter what your politics, this has been an extraordinary week. I’ve been taking comfort in some of life’s more simple pleasures this week: family, food, fresh air and music.
A quick blog tonight but lots of baking ideas for you. It’s Burns Night on Wednesday so a chance to remind you of my haggis sausage roll recipe (pictured above) from last year. It’s a corker. My eldest daughter usually joins me in eating haggis but these sausage rolls have meant my middle daughter’s given it a try too. Let me know if you give them a whirl. I’m probably going to make a batch to take on the building site with me this week.
One of the best things about writing my own recipe book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself, is that it’s a great repository for all the scraps of paper I used to clutter up my kitchen with. People are often surprised to see me using my own book to cook from but I couldn’t be without it as I can’t remember everything off the top of my head. Good recipe writing isn’t as easy as you’d think but I’ve been really chuffed with the feedback I’ve had on my recipes from home economists and publishers over the past few years. This week, the good feedback came from my wife Sarah. She made my super quick soda bread recipe (no need for buttermilk), pictured above and available here. As she’d never made bread before, she was a bit trepidatious but worked through the instructions and turned out a cracking loaf to have with our midweek soup in less than 40 minutes. As someone said on Twitter this week, it’s the perfect “oh no! We’ve got no bread!” bread recipe to have up your sleeve.
For me, I had another set of cakes to make for this weekend. It was my Aunt- and Uncle-in-Law’s Silver Wedding Anniversary, and they (Marian and Keith) threw a big party for 100 people last night. It was a great chance to catch up with all the kids’ cousins, second cousins and extended family. I made Luis’ fantastic carrot cake recipe again (available here, though I add 100g chopped walnuts to the mix); one of my chocolate cake recipes available here; and the lemon and poppyseed cake from B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself, with the lemon curd and Italian meringue buttercream (flavoured with limoncello) also in my book. Marian still had the silk flowers from their wedding cakes 25 years ago, which I topped the carrot cake with.
One thing I find a bit confusing when I’m making wedding or party cakes is figuring out how many people each cake will serve. It’s got more complicated as people rarely have fruit cake as wedding cakes any more, which you would normally slice into smaller pieces, being so dense. But also, it’s more fashionable to have taller, multi-layered cakes too, which a lot of online cake cutting guides don’t account for. Yesterday’s were all fairly tall cakes of either three of four layers of sponge with plenty of filling, so the individual pieces didn’t need to be too big due to the depth. I sliced the cakes as per the diagram above and each 8″ cake served 36 good portions.
Marian and Keith had met through their mutual love of dance. Marian is a clog dancer and Keith is a Morris dancer. They had a ceilidh for their party yesterday with the most fantastic English and French folk musicians playing all night. Our elder daughters absolutely loved joining in all evening; learning to do-si-do and strip the willow. They totally fell in love with folk dancing and we all really enjoyed the music and the fascinating instruments. I love music but I’m not much of a dancer, so anything that tells you quite specifically what steps you should be doing is alright by me! It’s got me thinking about taking the family to Cambridge Folk Festival this year – if you’ve been with kids and enjoyed it, let me know if you’d recommend it.
We’re just back in London this evening after our weekend away in Suffolk. We spent today wandering around Lavenham, which I’ve talked about on the blog many times before. As a builder, I really enjoy the medieval architecture of the village and the kids find the buildings so interesting too, especially as Lavenham doubles up as Godric’s Hollow in the Harry Potter films. We even managed to fit in a pint at The Angel – another mega-old and beautiful pub in Lavenham. Every now and again, I find if I’ve been worrying about major world political events, I try not to forget the simple things – a bit of food, maybe a pint, and a bit of a dance and a laugh all shared with friends and family. Until next week, Happy Baking!