Christmas is approaching fast, and frankly, I couldn’t be any happier about it. 2020 proved to be somewhat tricky, and as always a prospect of a white Christmas feels like a relief from what was a worry-fueled year. There is currently a 9% chance of snow over Christmas and as we learned this year even the most unexpected things do become true, even more so in 2020.
It is going to be a second Christmas we are celebrating as a business. Last year, when everything was still a whirlpool of new responsibilities, ideas and plans, it flew past us. This year we are prepared to meet the season head-on and enjoy every moment.
Looking back at the year, I think we are pleased to have had some extra time to learn and improve. In the first lockdown, I like a lot of us, started with painting the walls. That lasted three very dull days, so when our walls turned beautiful “Hick’s blue” I ventured into the world of online classes. Some were brilliant, some an outright daylight robbery. Reading also became a considerable part of the day. Thor and I even finished a book on the science behind ganaches. A truly fascinating read.
If you are ever interested here is the link: bookdepository.com
Like two hampsters, we hoarded new information just to find out that covid is not going to give up its newly acquired grounds. It was time to turn new knowledge into new and exciting cakes. So we experimented—vanilla sponge proving to be our most formidable enemy. We had a perfectly good recipe beforehand, but I wanted something perfect in all aspects. It is curious how the most simple of things can be the hardest to master. We didn’t want any taste of egg, and at the same time, we wanted it to be moist but also fluffy, not to have a dome and be stable enough to carry a bit of weight. Quite a bit to ask from one little sponge. It took countless attempts and tweaks, but we got there in the end, the dragon was slain, and our beautiful vanilla princess was rescued at last. Next time I will share with few tips on sponge baking. I also will go through some common mistakes, every one of which I diligently made myself.
The success with the vanilla sponge resulted in us going through every single recipe, making sure that the balance of flavour and texture is just perfect. Of course, it is our client’s prerogative to be a judge of that, but we are very proud of every cake we make. All this work resulted not only in a tasty product and buckets of knowledge but also in a few extra kilos around my waist, so the lack of summer holidays was somewhat of a blessing this year. Thor, on the other hand, eating no less than I did, didn’t gain an extra gram. Infuriating.
Talking cake, this year we are offering a few very pretty Christmas designs. They are available as part of our signature range. Do check them out.
Lastly, in the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to share our favourite recipe for sticky toffee pudding. They are reasonably easy to make and is a seasonal favourite in our family.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
• 175g chopped dates
• 300ml water
• 50g unsalted butter
• 175g sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 175g self-raising flour
• 1tsp vanilla sugar
• 300ml double cream
• 50g demerara sugar
• 1dsp black treacle
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Lightly butter a baking dish approximately 1.7 ltr capacity or around 37cm.
2. Place the dates in a saucepan with the water and boil for 5-7 minutes or until soft.
3. Beat the butter and sugar together until well mixed and light. Beat in the eggs one by one at a time.
4. Add the bicarbonate of soda to the dates, mix well and add to the creamed mixture with the flour and vanilla sugar and beat well with the whisk.
5. Pour into the prepared dish and bake for 40-50 minutes or until firm to the touch.
6. Place the cream in a saucepan with the demerara sugar and black treacle, bring to the boil and pour over the hot sponge. Leave to soak for 15-20 minutes.
7. Place in a hot oven, 200C and cook intill the top is bubbling. Serve warm or hot.