BEST CAKE DECORATING BOOK - BEST CAKE
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Best Cake Decorating Book
Round Christmas cake
One of my most treasured books is Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess. Sadly, I am not one but do my very best to try at Christmas when, in the weeks before, I make a Christmas cake or two, umpteen mince pies and in the weeks or months following, a Christmas pudding for the following year.
I start playing carols around my mother’s birthday which falls on 26th November and start measuring alcohol, weighing out fruit and giving my largest cake pan a good clean.
Lots of things about Christmas are dreams, illusionary or just sheer fantasy (but let’s not start on dismantling the Nativity or goodwill toward men) – however, a most fabulous way to bridge the gap between that fantasy and reality is the realisation of years of baking traditions in the kitchen; not just the eating but the sights, smells and comfort in knowing that these things we’ve had passed on to us, we are, in turn, passing on to others.
Only this year did I realise how international a Christmas cake really is. Over the years, I’ve taken from Nigella, Delia Smith and my mother’s own recipe for both cake and pudding. The rum, the vine fruits, the citrus, the spices… And then I began to think how my own internationalism had impacted on the list of ingredients I’d just written down for a jaunt to the shops. Sure, the grated carrot is my Mum’s own addition but the grated apple came from growing up in Dorset and baking with a neighbour who, if cut in half, would have DORSET written through her like the proverbial stick of rock. The maple extract is the result of my love for all things American (the country of the United States of America as well as my darling sister in law) along with the pecans and dried cranberries. The rolled oats and whisky I attribute to living half of my adult life here in Scotland.
You will need:
•400g Californian raisins
•100g candied peel (buy whole and chop yourself)
•100g dried goji berries
•100g dried cranberries
•100g chopped and pitted prunes
•100g glace cherries
•1 English breakfast tea teabag
•150g chopped pecans
•100ml good red wine
•300g Guernsey butter
•180g dark brown sugar
•zest of one (unwaxed) lemon
•zest of one orange
•1 small carrot (grated)
•1 small cooking apple (grated)
•4 large eggs
•1 tablespoon black treacle
•1 tablespoon Seville orange marmalade
•1 teaspoon almond extract
•1 teaspoon maple extract
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•300g plain flour
•100g rolled oats
•50g ground almonds
•half a teaspoon ground cloves
•1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1 teaspoon mixed spice
•1 teaspoon ground ginger
•1 23cm round or 20cm square tin.
Don’t fret over this extraordinarily long list of ingredients. Embrace it. Drink the rest of the stout from the opened bottle along with the red wine and the rum’s not going to go off.
I should also add to the list of ingredients a couple of tablespoons of whisky and of brandy but this comes after the cooking.
1. Place all the dried fruit in a saucepan with the teabag (I use my pressure cooker) and add the rum, stout and red wine. Put the lid on and if using a pressure cooker, bring to pressure or, if not, just to a boil and then, leaving the lid on, turn the heat off. Leave the fruits to steep overnight.
2. The next day, take out and discard the teabag. Preheat your oven to 150?c/gas mark 2 and prepare your tin with a double thickness of baking parchment coming at least five centimetres proud of the tin. Wrap some foil around the outside of the tin ensuring that this is 50% taller than the tin itself.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the orange and lemon zest.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Next, beat in the treacle and marmalade followed by the vanilla, maple and almond extracts.
5. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, rolled oats and ground almonds) together, then mix the soaked fruit along with the grated apple and carrot, alternately with the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, combining thoroughly. Fold in the chopped pecans.
6. Put the cake mix into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for two and three quarter hours, after which, check to see if it’s cooked by driving a skewer into the centre of the cake and seeing if it comes out clean. If it does not, return it to the oven, turning some of the foil down over the cake to stop it burning. Check again after another ten minutes and so on until it’s cooked. It should need no more than an additional half an hour.
7. When the cake is cooked, drizzle a tablespoon of brandy and one of whisky over the top. Wrap immediately in its tin – using a double thickness of tin foil – as this will trap the heat and form steam which in turn will keep the cake nice and soft on top.
8. When it’s completely cold, remove the cake from the tin and rewrap; first in greaseproof, then in foil. Store in an airtight tin or Tupperware for at least three weeks to improve the flavour adding a tablespoon of whi
After moving to Queenscourt Road in 1948—where the Bests lived for nine years—Mona was told by Rory about a large Victorian house for sale at 8 Hayman's Green, in 1957. The Best family claim that Mona then pawned all her jewelery and placed a bet on a horse that was ridden by Lester Piggott in the 1954 Epsom Derby called, "Never Say Die", which won at 33-1, and used her winnings to buy the house in 1957. The house had previously been owned by the West Derby Conservative Club, and was unlike many other family dwellings in Liverpool, as the house (built around 1860 by an unknown architect) was set back from the road, had 15 bedrooms and an acre of land. All the rooms were painted dark green or brown, the garden was totally overgrown, and the cellar was used for storing coal.
Mona came up with the idea of the club after watching a TV report about The 2i's Coffee Bar in London's Soho where several singers had been discovered. She decided to open the club, which was located in her cellar, on 29 August 1959, for her sons, their friends and young people to meet and listen to the popular music of the day, unlike The Cavern Club, which had a jazz-only policy at that time.
Mona charged half a crown annually for membership—to "keep out the rough elements"—and served soft drinks, snacks, cakes, and coffee from an espresso machine, which no other club had at that time. Records were played on a small Dansette record player, which amplified them through a 3" speaker. Mona had booked the Les Stewart Quartet to play the opening night with Harrison on guitar, but they canceled the booking after Stewart and Brown had a quarrel. Stewart was angry that Brown had missed a rehearsal, because Brown was helping Mona to decorate the club.
As 300 membership cards had already been sold, Harrison said that he had two friends in a band called The Quarrymen who would play instead. Lennon, McCartney, Stuart Sutcliffe and Harrison went to the club to arrange the booking, to which Mona agreed, but said she needed to finish painting the club first. All four took up brushes and helped Mona to finish painting the walls with spiders, dragons, rainbows and stars, but as Lennon was short-sighted, he mistook gloss for emulsion paint, which took a long time to dry in the dark, damp cellar. Cynthia Powell, later the wife of Lennon, painted a silhouette of him on the wall, which is also still there.
Courtesy of Wikipedia
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