Sunday, 30 October 2016
We've been enjoying watching the Bake Off over the last few weeks. In fact, it is one of the few programmes we watch together as a family with husband claiming no interest and then watching after all. I've been supporting Andrew, the young engineer from Northern Ireland with the lovely smile and ginger hair. So, inspired by his performance in the final, I had a go at his Granny's recipe chocolate cake for my daughter's 17th birthday party on Friday. This is the result - not quite as neat as Andrew's version but it does taste good. If you try it, just be aware that the icing is liable to run down the sides of the cake. I followed Andrew's directions precisely but there was no way that that icing was going to pipe successfully. Perhaps I needed to cool it for longer before attempting this.
I'm not surprised that Andrew was inspired by his Granny's baking. Northern Ireland people bake more than the English and I know some of the readers of this blog in NI who are potential Bake Off contestants themselves with impressive tray bakes, lemon drizzle cakes, rhubarb tarts and wheaten bread. You know who you are! My granny always had tins full of shortbread, a Victoria Sponge with thick buttercream filling and, my favourite, a traybake with dates and nuts she called Chinese Chews, for anyone who might call in. I occasionally attempt to recreate some of these but I've never quite managed the same success.
One of my daughter's friends organised the party for her, asking me if he could invite some of her friends back here to surprise her after they'd returned from the meal out she was expecting. I agreed, breaking my no teenage house parties rule, as long as I could vet the guests. So I made the cake, put up some Hallowe'en decorations and provided a bit of food for the 12 or so teenagers who arrived. Paul and I went to the pub with the dog for an hour or two and returned to find one a bit tired and emotional in the garden. But otherwise all well and Kate happy, enjoying her surprise party when she been resigned to a rather dull birthday this year.
This is my first blog post for about six weeks. I've planned some but just not got round to writing. No excuses really - I've just got out of the habit. I'm still enjoying reading my favourite blogs and hope regular readers you haven't forgotten me in my absence.