Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.‏

Well, I tried.

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Erm. Yum?

Given how sewing heavy this blog has been lately (and there’s still more to come – just waiting for Hurricane Bertha to chill out a bit so I can go and get some photos), I thought I would mix it up a little by throwing some baking in the mix.

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It totally looks like this cake has been thrown somewhere alright. Ain’t no need to try and get this in focus, it won’t help any.

And to welcome the return of Great British Bake-Off to our screens, I thought that I should take this as my cue – and will theme my baking accordingly. For example, this week (the first week back), the contestants were asked to make their own take on the classic swiss roll.

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This is a swiss roll. Honest.

As this was my first attempt at a swiss roll, or anything like it (I know, right, you wouldn’t have been able to tell from the photos. Professional.), I went straight to the source. The Mother Ship. AKA Mary Berry herself. Or at least, her recipe on the BBC website for a chocolate roulade (it’s not cake if it’s not chocolate).

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This is how I imagine Ms Berry herself would react if she saw what I’d done to her creation.

The recipe itself is straightforward, although very different to the cake I’m used to. It uses 6 eggs – separated and whisked) , no other fat and no flour. Just sugar, melted chocolate and cocoa powder. And you still get a magnificent rise.The filling is simply whipped cream which you spread on the cooled cake before rolling it up/smashing it to smithereens.

I think this may have been my problem when it come to rolling it up, actually – the cake rose so well and therefore was so thick it really just didn’t roll very tight. Or maybe it still needed to cool down a little. Or maybe I needed to be a bit more forceful in the rolling. Who knows. One thing I do know is that you need to spread the cake all the way to the sides, otherwise you end up with two end slices with no filling.

Whatever it is that made it look like it came off the wrong end of one a Hulk Smash, it still tastes delicious, so I certainly can’t blame the recipe!

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Proof that someone found it tasty.

I could have pretended this never happened and not put it on the blog, but to be honest, I laughed so hard about the end result that I had to share it wide. Also because I had been so smug in the rolling process, imagining the beautiful photogenic outcome – only to instead end up with this…

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It didn’t even deserve a proper plate.

So, although this wasn’t a complete disaster (as it is completely delicious – I feel like I need to keep repeating this in order to retain a semblance of dignity), it’s certainly not one of my finest moments. What’s been your biggest disaster in the kitchen?

Today’s quote is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Lee. I bet he could roll a fine roulade in his time.

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There was an Old Person of Putney; Whose food was roast spiders and chutney; Which he took with his tea, within sight of the sea; That romantic Old Person of Putney.

It’s that time of the year when thoughts turn to sterilising jars, cutting out circles of fabric with pinking shears, and the sickly sweet smell of cooking sugar and vinegar starts to permeate the flat. Well, if you’re me anyway. Yes, it’s time to dig out the kilner jars, and start making chutney.

I’m not in the country for Christmas this year, and I’m very busy with house things, and practising the ukulele for a cabaret I’m in (sorry to my new neighbours, it’s not the best sound to hear coming through your walls on an evening), so I thought I wouldn’t try anything different this year, and instead make my life a bit easier by revisiting an old favourite – Mary Berry’s Christmas Chutney. This also has the benefit of needing to be made in advance, then left in a cool dark place to mature for a month or so before eating. As I most likely won’t be handing out presents until as while after Christmas day, this suited me fine.

“What could go wrong?” I thought to myself. “I know this recipe like the back of my hand.”

In a genius time saving flash of inspiration, I decided to chop all the vegetables the night before, ready for me to chuck them in a pan as soon as I got home from work the next day (there is a lot of chopping involved in this recipe. I recommend using a) a food processor or b) a gas mask, in order to save your eyes when finely chopping 7 onions. I used neither, as I thought it would be a lovely relaxing thing to do in front of the TV. Relaxing, if running away from the chopping board every five minutes screaming “My eyes! My eyes!” is how you like to chill out of an evening.)

Look! at all the lovely chopping I did… Glance! at the recipe below… Gasp! as you slowly realised you forgot to read the section where it instructs you to peel the tomatoes before chopping… Weep! at the acceptance that you will be having tomato soup for dinner every day for the rest of the week… 

Tomatoes. So many tomatoes. And none of them any use.

Tomatoes. So many tomatoes. And none of them any use.

If ever there was a lesson to be learned about reading the recipe in full before embarking on a project, this would be it.

The recipe makes about 2.5kg worth of chutney. This is a lot of chutney. A lot of chutney. It will fill a lot of those fancy schmancy “presentation jars” you fell in love with at Lakeland. So you need to get sterilising those jars.

Jars. Lots of jars.

Jars. Lots of jars.

I don’t have a dishwasher (although I’m hoping this will change soon – hello, January sales), so my preferred method is to wash the jars in hot soapy water, before placing them upside down on a couple of sheets of newspaper on the oven shelves and putting them in a pre-heated oven (275°F/130°C/Gas 1) for about 15-20 mins.

To stop the glass jars shattering, remember that hot food goes in hot jars, cold food goes in cold jars.

The recipe is below, from the BBC Good Food website.

Ingredients

900g tomatoes

3 red peppers, 1 large aubergine and 1 green pepper (total weight of about 900g/2lb)

6/7 small/medium sized onions (about 700g), peeled and fairly finely chopped, by hand or in a food processor

4 fat cloves garlic, crushed

350g granulated sugar

300ml/½ pint white wine vinegar or distilled malt vinegar

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed

1 tbsp paprika

2 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Peel the tomatoes. I repeat. PEEL THE TOMATOES. To do this, prick them with a sharp knife, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for a few seconds then drain and cover with cold water. The skins will now come away easily. “Easily”, but not quickly. Do this bit in front of the telly.

2. Chop the tomatoes and aubergine and seed and chop the peppers. Put in a large heavy-based pan with the chopped onions and crushed garlic and bring to the boil.

3. Cover with a lid, lower the heat and gently simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally, until tender.

4. Tip the sugar, vinegar, salt, coriander, paprika and cayenne into the pan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to boil for 30 minutes or so, until the mixture achieves a chunky chutney consistency and the surplus watery liquid has evaporated. Take care towards the end of the cooking time to continue stirring so that the chutney doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. I’ve often found this bit has previously taken me almost an hour to do, so make sure you’ve left enough time in your evening. I was sterilising jars and spooning chutney at way past 10pm. Not ideal.

5. Ladle the chutney into sterilised or dishwasher-clean jars, sealing them whilst still hot. Leave to mature for at least a month in a cool dark place.

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The finished product! Not sure how to decorate these yet – need to raid the fabric scraps.

 Today’s quote is from Edward Lear.