Gravey and Rice

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Birthday Cake...

It occured to me Monday evening that perhaps an Orange Sponge Cake, while looking heavenly, was not really a traditional candles and ice cream type of birthday cake. And since my Vegan SIL wasn't coming to the party after all, I could scrap the vegan chocolate cake, that frankly, looked like to much work for this particular mother of three with a house that desperatley needed to be cleaned before cake making could commence.

I needed something simple. After a disastrous attempt at making a chocolate cake 4 years ago, in which the recipe called only for cocoa and the cake came out awful, I have shied away completley from making chocolate cakes. It was only, a few years later, after tasting a bakery bought choc. cake and bakery bought swiss roll thast tasted exactly the same as that first ill fated cake of mine- that I realized it hadn't been my fault! So, I gathered up the courage to try again. This recipe looked like just the right one to try my hand at. (From: cacaoweb )

8 oz (225 g) dark semisweet chocolate (40-50% cocoa)
2/3 cup (140 g) butter
1 cup (210 g) sugar
4 eggs
4 heaped tablespoons (1 dl) all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoon baking powder or 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons sour cream

Ingredients for frosting

2/3 cup (1.6 dl) heavy cream or whipping cream

9 oz (260 g) semisweet chocolate (40-50% cocoa)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F (Gas mark 4 or 180 deg C).
  2. Line a circular 10 inch (25 cm) cake tin (3 inches tall) with greaseproof or other non-stick paper and grease the tin. (Please note that the cake will rise to 3 inches and collapse somewhat when cooled. If your cake tin is less than 10 inches wide and 3 inches tall we recommend that you use two cake tins.)
  3. Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt it with butter over hot water.
  4. Beat the eggs with sugar, mix with flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and vanilla extract.
  5. Slowly fold in the melted butter and chocolate and the sour cream.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, approximately 50 minutes.
  7. Cool the cake. Remove the crusted surface on the top of the cake, and cut in half, horizontally.
  8. Frosting
  1. Heat 2/3 cup (1.6 dl) of heavy cream or whipping cream in a sauce pan.
  2. Remove from heat, add 9 oz (260 g) of finely chopped dark semisweet chocolate, stir until smooth, and let it cool until in thickens.
  3. Use one 1/3 of the frosting between the two layers, 1/3 on top, and the rest around the cake. Put the cake into the fridge for one hour or more to harden the frosting.
  4. This cake should have room temperature when served.

It was so easy to make this cake, I was able to wrap presents and make tortilla dough at the same time. I used two 9inch cake pans and baked them for about 25 minutes. What I didn't like was that when I checked the cakes, while the knife came out clean, the middle of the cakes looked very dark and wet. So, I decided they just needed a few more minutes. It was only later, I realized they looked that way because they had burned! Hard to tell with chocolate cake isn't it? *sigh*

I cut off the burnt edges and manged to peel off the burnt bits on the tops. The frosting was still a bit liquidy, and while it worried me at first, it turned out to make it easier to frost the layers, after I doctored them. The sides were harder to frost but I managed, and after putting the cake in the fridge for half an hour the frosting hardened nicely, and made refrosting the sides a breeze!

This cake was moist and delicious, and even my MIL ( who I think sometimes just eats my baking out of politeness-too different from English baking-) even my MIL had two slices. I was so happy. Everyone loved it and there is only one piece left... and trust me- it is taking every ounce of will power to save that last piece for my husband!

Try it- it's delicious!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Carrots and Bananas

Well, it's been a couple of weeks since my last post, sorry! I never did end up making the brioche, turned out to be to much bloody work! I moved on to cakes instead- I never was one to stick with any one thing for long.

Thursday I finally had a chance to make a Carrot Cake! DH doesnt like carrot cake, and probably not a good idea to eat most of it myself (as the kids wouldnt be allowed to much) So, I made it for someone at work's birthday! I was a bit unsure about shredding carrots, thinking it would be just as much fun as shredding potatoes, cold, wet and messy! And it was, but they came out ok, not mush. So, I was pleased. It was simple to make, and came out lovely. I made a cream cheese frosting for it, (of course) that tasted just divine. The cake was a very big hit with the vets and the nurses too.
I had some frosting left over, so yesterday I decided to make a bannana cake I've had my eye on. Again, very easy to make, though alot like my bannana bread recipe, which I wasn't expecting. For some reason I was thinking it would be like a pineapple upside down cake, with the whole fruit actually on the bottom or something. But, no the bannanas were mashed and mixed in with the flour mixture. And I had a feeling this was just going to be bannana bread, but in a cake pan, with frosting! I decided to whip up a new batch of cream cheese frosting, and with the leftovers from Thursday I had enough for about 2 cakes. Great- I could make another cake with it!

The bannana cake came out peaked in the middle, very lopsided. I'm not sure why- as I don't normally have that problem with my cakes. I set it out to cool and decided just to slice the top off the layers so they'd be level and frost better. But, time got away from me and I only had time to put together a meatloaf for DH before it was time to go to work. I had Miss. O bring in the cakes and put them on the counter, with the intention of working on them when I got home, or today. My mistake was I didn't tell my mother in law, who was babysitting. Oops. When I cam home from work I was greeted with a cake. Two lopsided layers, the top absolutley teetering there, with the whole thing just drowning in frosting....

Ah, she means well. And when you scraped off most of the frosting, the cake tasted pretty good, albeit a bit to much like bannana bread for my liking- you don't frost bannana bread- you eat it warm, with melted butter!

Anyway- for the kids birthday dinner on Wednesday I'm doing an Orange Sponge Cake and a Vegan Chocolate Cake w/ Strawchoc frosting! Check back!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

English Muffin Bread!

Well, I have been craving "English" muffins for ages, but you just can't find them in England. (typical, right?) So, when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it out!

So, how did it go? One word sums it up- EASY. This bread is delicious and wonderfully simple to make! It tastes just like English Muffins, but SO much softer- but I might have preferred it with a bit more sugar- just a tad sweeter. I might try that next time.

3 cups of bread flour, 2 packets of active dry yeast and 1/4 tsp. of baking soda into a bowl. Let it sit while you warm up 2 cups of milk, 1/2 cup of water, 1 tbsp. of sugar and a tsp. of salt in a saucepan. When it's warm, dump it in the flour mixture and stir it together with 3 more cups of flour.

What do you do then? Well, simple- divide it in half into two (greased) loaf pans, and set it in a warm place to rise, about 40 minutes. (Mine rose itself right out of the pan and down the sides!) Then, pop it into the oven at 190c for about 25 minutes.

That's it! Spread some butter over a warm slice and enjoy. It's delicious. Try it, it is yummy!!!

(Did I mention how good it is?) I'll post a picture later....

As I get more and more into batking bread, I'm starting to like the recipes I see better and better, and decided that instead of just the monthly challenge of making bread, I'm going to go whole hog and make most of the bread recipes in my book- (only excepting those that require a bread machine!) next week will be Brioche, then Cinnamon Rolls!

Next week I'm going to start my July challenge a bit early, by attempting to make a Lemon Cake for Fathers Day. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Oatmeal Bread!

Bloggers Back! Finally!, I've been trying to post all week!

Ok, well finally made the oatmeal bread. Think it was actually Tuesday before I got around to making the bread, and that was in fits and starts! No pictures, unless I go home and take one of the half gone loaf... I might!

Ok, well after a busy morning I got started about 2:00; I followed the directions, substituting 2 cups of oats for the 2 cups of wheat flour called for. A suggestion from a fellow expat was to use a little plain flour to replace a little of the bread flour, so I used 2 cups oatmeal, 31/2 cups white bread flour, and 1 cup plain flour. I warmed about 1 1/2 cups water 1/3 cup brown sugar, 3 tbsp. butter over the stove and mixed that in with oat anf flour mixture. This was a very heavy dough, and I was worried about it from the start.

After I had kneaded the additional four in (the 3 1/2 cups white flour) I rolled it into a ball, into the bowl and put it in the airing cupboard while I got ready for work. After I left for work I realized I had left the dough in the cupboard! (mommy brain- again!) so a quick call to my MIL (who was babysitting) sorted that out.

When I got home I was all ready to finish it up and eat it! But, I discovered- it hadn't risen! Or if it had, it was very little. Oh, noooooooooo! I was so crushed! Well, ok. What to do? Throw it out, cry and vow never to do it again? Tempting, but no- I said screw it, and decided to bake it anyway and see how it came out. I'm glad I did. After one hour and an episode of Lost later- I had Oatmeal bread!

Now, I was still unsure. The bread was really heavy, not very brown, and I just couldnt be sure of the consistency. I tried it and it seemed...hmmm. Good. My husband tried it, and said it was.. "very oaty". *sigh* What the hell does that mean, anyway? I think he liked it initially but he hasn't had anymore....

Well, I let the second loaf cook a bit longer and it didnt have the same, to heavy taste to it. And as I sat eating this warm slice of oatmeal bread spread with melted butter, it occured to me "this would be awesome with sugar and cinnamon...." So, I spread the next slice with butter, added a bit of sugar, sprinkled on some cinnamon, spread it around with a knife and popped it in the oven for a minute. This was one of the most heavenly things I have ever tastes. Absolutley sinful! YUM! DH doesnt like cinnamon so he really missed out.

Despite being a bit worrying this bread came out great- probably not much good for sandwiches but with some melted butter, or some sugar-cinnamon- it's delicious. The kids love it, and I love it. Will definetly be making it again. I can see it as a Christmas morning sort of thing. It's that good. Yum!

Tomorrow I am doing a Lemon Cake for Fathers Day and I was going to try Foccacia this Sunday, but think I'd rather do an English Muffin loaf instead. I've always liked english muffins. So, check back for an update this weekend!

Enjoy the warm weekend all you UKers....

Monday, June 05, 2006


Well, on Saturday we went up to Essex to go to our nephews 1st birthday party. We didn't leave until 10:00 and it took at least 2 hours to get home, and we didn't get to bed until about 2.

So, I slept in yesterday and didn't roll out of bed until 10. Then to Tesco for some shopping, then make lunch and then we took the kids out for a walk and a picnic. By the time we got home I was shattered, (pushing a stroller up a steep hill will do that to you... ) and was barely up to making dinner.

I kept meaning to make the bread, but I just couldnt get myself to do it, it was just the sheer amount of time, It's at least a 3 hour investment and I just wanted to go to bed. But I ended up flicking through my recipe book, trying to find a cake to make for the kids birthdays, and watching Big Brother and Resident Evil.

Following the bad horror movie, my DH and I discussed what we do if we were faced with zombies invading our house. I'd shoot everyone and then myself to keep them from being chewed on and then turned into the walking, brain eating dead. My DH would let the zombies have us, because "then we could still be together, because we'd only be, you know, half dead."

After that there was no way I was going to stay up by myself and bake bread.

So, once I get the children off to school in an hour- bread baking will commence. I've decided that since only the kids eat wheat bread, I'd probably have to much left over- so I'm going to make a hearty oatmeal bread instead! MMMM. We'll see what happens!