Tag Archives: Cake

Ballymaloe Day 44: Stuffed to the brim

“What am I doing to my body?!” I exclaimed in amused exasperation as I gave my dishes up for washing, “I think I’m going to explode”.

Back in the kitchen in Ballymaloe, and into the normal routine of living in a culinary bubble, I was tired but happy to be back.

As well as cooking up my normal list of dishes, I also had to make butter for the dining room – if you ever get the chance to make butter in your life, do!

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It’s so easy and simple to make that you’ll be the envy of all of your friends (though remember that you probably won’t save money if you make your own as cream can cost a fair bit).

After my teacher Sue and I mused about the size of my butter balls, I got started on my swede turnip soup.

Despite my seasoning hiccup and missing out on making a raita, I was over the moon to receive a “10” for my apple fudge cake (see lead image), and I must admit, I did think it was quite tasty!

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Ending today’s cooking on a high, I headed into the dining room where I ate like an absolute king.

Going back for seconds on a glorious Parmesan risotto and having lashings of curry and cheese, I was savouring the flavours.

Worried that I may have to be carted off on a trolley to demo, I hauled myself out of my chair and put my dish away.

Considerably stuffed to the brim and annoyed that I hadn’t worn elasticated pants, I dragged the food baby in my stomach to demo and plonked myself down in a seat.

We had Rachel in with us today and assisted by Pat and Gary she demoed various types of cakes and… BURGERS.

I’m an absolute sucker for good burgers (despite developing slight pseudodysphagia when I nearly lost my life choking on one) – but when I ogled them with hungry eyes, I was actually quite excited.

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(Rachel with pork caul fat)

Bear in mind that I had just eaten less than an hour before and though the food was firmly lodged in my stomach, I truly was a greedy gourmand today.

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By the way, you may have noticed that I haven’t spoken recently of my two children, Brienne the cheese and Alfred the sourdough starter.

Brienne’s doing well and chilling in the dairy and Alfred, well, let’s just say Sophie and I had to resurrect him from the dead today with the help of Tim. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll see him in a loaf of bread…

Tomorrow is lecture day, and though Wine Wednesdays has been moved to Thirsty Thursday, I’m looking forward to learning all about seaside foraging, hot and cold smoking and brunch!

Some random things I learned today:

  • If your fudge sauce starts to get a bit too thick, instead of watering it down with water, use cream instead – it’ll loosen the sauce and add plenty of flavour.
  • If you’re making lots of burgers but don’t want to use them straight away, tray freeze them first. Put parchment paper onto a try and place your burgers on top then freeze. After they’re frozen take them out and slide off the tray and you can store them in batches – this way they don’t stick together.
  • Frying pans are not just for frying! A decent pan can work really well when you’re making something like an upside down cake. Make sure to line it and that you’ve room in your oven and you’re sorted.
  • Seek out a butcher that will sell/give you pork caul, it’s great for wrapping around homemade burgers and making sure that the bits don’t fall off around it.
  • When buying mince for making burgers, make sure that it’s not too lean because you’ll end up with a dry burger. Check it for paler pink bits and white flecks.
  • Lamb burgers will fall apart more easily if you don’t add egg and breadcrumbs to help bind them.
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Ballymaloe Day 24: Roll of thunder, hear my cry

The palette knife made its way across the top of the sponge with slivers of raspberry filling the grooves. It was my very first time making a cake and I wanted it to look beautiful.

Every morning I wake up and for a moment I completely forget that I’m in Ballymaloe. As I slip on my chef whites and pick up my knife case, there’s a sense of calm that settles in my stomach.

Today I had not just a Victoria sponge cake on the agenda but also a tomato granita, homemade mayonnaise, crab mayonnaise and a brown bread soda to make.

Gary is my teacher this week, and with his guidance and enthusiastic manner, he helped me get myself in order and fine-tune my dishes and flavourings.

Sweet things, desserts and treats have never been my forte and apart from my secret brownie recipe, I never thought that I had skill to showcase something delicate.

With a light and fluffy sponge I was absolutely thrilled with how my cake turned out (especially considering the previous disaster with my lemon meringue tart).

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(First-time lucky!)

It’s something that I always wanted to do but never had the tools to really do it – so if you see me with oodles of flour in the supermarket, you’ll know what I’m at.

We had the lovely Pam Black taking us for demo today and she put together all sorts of scrumptious treats for us to enjoy.

Before we began we were warned about the possibility of the electricity being cut because of the storm outside, but regardless of the lack of light, the demo would go on!

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The thunder pounded and the lightning struck, and though we had a few wobbly power moments, Pam worked her magic and tackled each dish with gusto.

Demonstrating a delightful array of cakes (the chocolate one with chocolate shavings was stunning), and taking a culinary trip around the world, she brought it all together.

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I’ll say this, fair play to her, it’s not easy to do a demo when there’s a storm howling, the thunder is screaming and the lightning is bursting in the windows.

My partner David will be on cake duty tomorrow and I’ll be rustling up a Thai-spiced squash soup with noodles, chicken couscous salad with pomegranate and creamed curly kale! Our culinary abilities are constantly being tested and I LOVE it.

(I must go, my roommate Maddie has cooked up an unbelievably-awesome-smelling curry and the aromas are inspiring me to cook)

Some random things I learned today:

  • Never stir things like couscous or rice with a spoon. It clumps together, so instead use a fork!
  • When you’re decorating cakes, consider looking in a mirror after you’ve designed it. Sometimes when you’ve been looking at something for a long time, your vision is skewed. So a mirror is like fresh eyes on your creation.
  • Crystallising flowers isn’t as difficult as it sounds. All you need is an egg white, castor sugar and whatever leaf you’d like to do. Lightly stir the egg white with a fork and simply paint the leaf with it. Dip it in the sugar and leave it be. Leave them to dry overnight.
  • Sponges will take years to make and will be destroyed if you keep opening the oven. Resist the temptation and just keep an eye on it through the glass. I resisted for 20 minutes.
  • I can actually make cakes!