Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Baby its cold outside......

.....poor brass monkeys! Not a single flake of snow falling from our little piece of Cornish sky-just chilled rain,however after just one day in the classroom,my little dears get to stay at home with Mummy again! A Mummy with dreams,dreams of getting the dec's down & getting down to 'work'....the plans of mice & men eh? Like the Grinch I de-Christmassed the house with glee & robbed the tree of baubles(carpeting the floor in needles in the process),every year I pack the frippery away with the same thought, wondering what life has instore before those same boxes descend from the loft again in December. So having already put the rest of the days plans on hold,I decided such a cold day needed some comfort in it.....baking......warm kitchen,nice smells,yummy cake...... ......but first,hot tea & a flip through my new book for inspiration. This is a charming book which manages to combine two of my great loves,old fashioned childrens books & cake (no surprises there!). 'Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer' by Jane Brocket,celebrates the foodstuffs of classic children's stories-the wholesome picnics & nursery teas,enjoyed by Famous Five & the like,after an adventure or a bracing walk! Many of my own childhood memories are caught up in the pages of a book,or more often something lovely to eat,best of all a story with food in it! In the 'My Naughty Little Sister' books by Dorothy Edwards,is a story about an impish boy-Bad Harry who pilfers his party trifle,a creamy,spongey trifle with silver balls on the top,I didn't need an illustration of that trifle,words were enough! One of my very best books is Nigel Slaters,'Toast'-the story of a small boys hunger-never was food so lovingly & laughingly described,including a trifle that would have Bad Harry reaching for his spoon! As my own naughty little children were at home & I am trying to be good,I decided I would make jam tarts-their favourite,but not much of a challenge-except the tarts here are made with sweet pastry which I had never made! When my aunty came to visit recently she brought a little tin of macaroons she had made to use up some egg whites & two from a batch baked by my cousin Jack (baking genie) when he was home for the holidays-both scrumptious! I remembered this as I read that the sweet pastry uses two egg yolks & looked up macaroons-two whites-perfect!
As I have mentioned I am a baking novice,each new recipe is a new adventure,I tend to avoid the mountains & go for a leisurely stroll instead,so if a recipe has too many ingredients or tricky instructions I pass by & head for more familiar ground! Egg whites,icing sugar,ground almonds,almond essence-nothing scary there-however I have managed to get this far in life having never separated an egg or then beaten the white until it 'forms soft peaks'-two tiny hillocks I have climbed today!

The resulting Macaroons looked nothing like either Kaths-slim & biscuit like,or Jacks-plump & perfectly round.....mine are lumpy & as bobbly as an old cardigan! What I like most about Janes book is that there are no glossy photos,the recipes are accompanied by reproductions of the illustrations that inspired them,less chance of feeling a failure when you remove your baking tray from the oven! Thankfully,looks aren't everything......beneath that old cardi,lay a heavenly body!

My sweet pastry lay chilling in the fridge,a little unecessary given the temperature in my kitchen today,my icy hands perfectly suited to the task of handling it. I was struck by how yellow the pastry was,helped by free range yolks & marbled with butter,& when the tarts were baking they smelt like shortbread & appeared to be almost 'frying' in their patty tins! There was enough to make a tray of mini tarts also,half of which I filled with Seville marmalade-Nigel Slater again-I thought the bitter orange would be a nice contrast to the sweet pastry. The eternal wait for the molten jam to cool....then.....oh heaven,it was like eating hot,buttered toast & marmalade....a little too hot,as my tongue will testify! Now I have made this pastry I doubt I will stray onto the shortcrust path again! Not that my naughty little children seemed to notice that I had upgraded the humble jam tart,as for Mummy she was a very naughty girl & had another.....tomorrow is another day!

1 comment:

  1. Shevie, your jam tarts look absolutely scrumptious, just as well I had a cupcake with my cuppa! As for your macaroons, they look sooo yummy in the yummy pink cake tin, alot of bakey goodness, going on in your hosehold, well done, the photos are lovely.


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