Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Wedding Cake...

So, after years and years of planning, preparation, and pestering (from me), my cousin finally got married to his lovely wife yesterday. Ceremony and reception were beautiful, but after pouring my (imaginary) blood, sweat and tears into these three tiers, understandably (I think), a large portion of my mind was elsewhere on Saturday morning.

My own preparations began the Wednesday before the wedding. After the steam cleaning of the kitchen (...I wish I was kidding), collection of the bottom fruitcake tier from my Nan's, and a mad dash (the first of a few) to Tesco to find royal icing sugar, everything was in order to start baking. Oddly, because I was only making two tiers, the whole process was a lot more relaxed than some of my trials have been. The middle sponge layer was made the Wednesday, and filled the next day, and the top red velvet tier was both baked and layered on the Thursday as well. By Friday morning all three layers were iced, and the flowers were set. Everything was assembled as late as I could manage on Friday evening (to lessen the chance of casualties during the night) before I zipped off to the bride's house for a bridesmaid sleepover. My Dad and I, along with an emergency cake repair kit - flowers, icing, palate knife etc., then made the short journey from our house to the reception early in the morning on Saturday. We lost a few flowers on the way *echem*as Dad smashed the cake on its way into the car*echem* but all was fixed once we were inside. The cake held up remarkably well and I'm so pleased with how it turned out overall. Obviously, it's far from professional, but many of its imperfections (extremely thankfully) could be masked with fondant flowers, and passed off as artful decoration *phew*.

Recipes can be found in my original wedding cake post

I started this blog with intentions of documenting my first experience of making a cake of this sort of scale, and one year on I'm astounded at the readership my humble little corner of the web has brought in. With numbers fast approaching 10,000 views, I'm honoured to think that I might have inspired a few avid bakers to have a go at making their own wedding cakes, and even to know that I've exposed less enthusiastic ones to new recipes. Thanks to every single reader who has clicked on my pages (probably just my family - thanks guys) over the past 12 months. Next step, my Brother's wedding cake next year, expect big things!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Pear, Raspberry and Honey Frangipane Tart

Last summer I spent a great deal of time condensing all the recipes on scraps of paper I had lying around into one, very satisfying folder (it has sub sections and everything, don't be too jealous). I did this partly out of boredom and want of something (anything PLEASE) to do, and partly because I hoped that if I ever wanted to try something new, I could just open this delicious folder, and be inspired.

Post-A-Level Catrin was a touch optimistic. Moving away from home and all its comforts, coupled with a dire Uni kitchen and the realisation that cake isn't actually all that great for you (shocking, I know) meant that I wasn't able to delve into the collection as often as I'd have liked over the past year. Nonetheless, when my parents needed a dessert for a dinner party a few weeks back I thought it would be a perfect place to start.

Though the British weather is infuriatingly unreliable, we are definitely heading into a period of less rain and cold, so it would seem. Taking this as a thumbs up that spring was in full fledge and summer on its way, I was looking for something lighter to accompany the chocolate cake I was sending my parents along with. I'd never tried frangipane before per se, not being a great lovcr of almonds and a detester of bakewell tarts I thought it would be kind of pointless. But, for some reason, I was drawn to the frangipane.

Maybe my taste buds have matured, I don't know, but the end result was delicious. The original recipe called for cherries, but they were out of season so I had to improvise in asda and get canned pears and raspberries. It turned out divine. The addition of a tiny bit of cardamom gives the tart a wonderfully exotic flavour, and lends a fresh taste to the dessert. Laced with honey and almonds to finish, the tart has a perfect balance of sweet and slightly savoury, crunchy and smooth. It looks impressive and is great eaten hot or cold, with cream, ice cream or custard.