Monday, 30 March 2009
Cakes, Bakes & Baptisms
Wow, what a busy weekend! For some time I really lost interest in baking, but I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, am getting into it again big time. It is such a rewarding activity. Saturday I made my famous Baked Gooseberry Cheesecake. Well, gooseberries are a seasonal thing and I couldn’t find any so I used black cherries in stead. Nearly as good, but not quite. The tartness of the gooseberries is a wonderful offset to the creamy richness of the cheesecake. I love the Afrikaans word for gooseberries - Appelliefies. This cheesecake has the most wonderful shortbread like crust and the filling is a heavenly concoction of cream cheese, cream, eggs and sugar. So what I did was to put the bulk of the drained pitted black cherries into the cheesecake filling before I baked it. When the cake was done, I made a glaze by mixing a little cornflower into the syrup in which the tinned black cherries came and heated it till boiling point. I then put a thin layer of that royal deep purple cherry spread on top of the cheesecake and then a circle of the remainder of the cherries on the upper edge of the cake. Lamb really does a lot of trouble when she wraps gifts, so I asked her to put a nice broad ribbon round the cake. She took a green gauzy ribbon with thin stripes in jewel colours, put it round the cake and tied the ends into a big bow. We were invited to people we do not know that well on Saturday evening and I took the cake along. Everyone there was mightily impressed. It tasted absolutely heavenly. On Sunday, Lamb invited friends over for afternoon tea, so I baked my famous Brandy Chocolate Gateau. It is an exceedingly decadent, dark, rich cake moistened with a light sugar syrup to which brandy is added. I topped it with chocolate ganache and then decorated it in the following manner. I melted two slabs of dark chocolate and poured a long broad strip of it onto a sheet of waxed paper. When it cooled enough to be set, but still pliable, I removed it from the paper and draped/wrapped it in a freeform around the cake. The edges of this chocolate wrapping stood higher than the cake. Just before serving I dusted it with a light sprinkling of icing sugar. I served it with pouring cream separately, so that the guests could put some over should they wish. I also made a pate with aubergines and garlic slowly roasted together, which is then mixed with ricotta cheese and lemon juice and blitzed together in the food processor. The guests hardly noticed the pate though and everyone was fixated on the gateau. In all this recipe calls for 5 slabs of dark chocolate. It must be sinful, it is that good. I get a real big kick out of impressing the hell out of people with my culinary and baking skills. Sometimes it goes wrong though, such as the time when I set fire to Lamb’s table arrangement when flambéing steaks on the dinner table. I also like challenges, so I am set to culture my own sourdough starter in the next two weeks, and I’ll post updates on the blog. I’ve tried unsuccessfully before, but did a lot more reading on the topic ever since. Bread made with a sourdough starter is just so much better than bread made with commercial baker’s yeast. So, that is the weekend. I suspect that I will not be able to blog much for the coming week, for tomorrow is my last day on the project I am working on. The week will be busy though. On Wednesday Lamb will be busy and since day care is closed during school holidays, I am going to have to look after Image – good for some bonding between baby and daddy. Coming Sunday Image will get baptised, so I will be busy with preparations etc. The parents are flying up and I am picking them up from the airport Thursday afternoon. The rest of family and friends lives in Gauteng. Next Monday is my birthday – so ja, I’ll do short posts and blog in all earnest from next Tuesday onwards again.