Sunday, 25 April 2010

Cricket teas are here again

I posted last year about taking our turn on the tea rota for The Scientist's cricket club. This year we were picked for an early slot - in fact the first home match of the season (I think that the committee has noticed that I like baking :) ). I was really chuffed that an Australian lady left me a lovely comment saying how helpful my posts about making the teas had been last year, so I thought I'd do a quick update.

The Scientist was in charge of sandwiches again, following his production-line success last time. Luckily we read over my post again to remember what quantities of things we needed as we had completely forgotten that I'd noted that we'd only really needed three loaves of bread instead of four. Three turned out to be pretty much perfect. As far as the cakery went, we stuck with the scones, tray bake, cake formula. The Nigella scones I made last time are now are absolute stalwarts in our house, so I didn't hesitate to make a double quantity of those again. It made about 26 or 27 smallish but tall scones, and while there were some leftover when I left after tea, I'm sure they got snaffled after the match. We also did jam and whipped cream with them. Obviously. This is cricket after all.

The tray bake I did last time was a chocolate biscuit cake, and I actually didn't deviate too far from that either. I happened to have seen a souped-up malteser version on Ruth's kitchen experiments just a week or two ago, and liked the idea of the whole maltesers so much that I went for that. The chocolate melts off the maltesers so you're left with the crunchy middle bit, which looks rather good when cut, I think. The topping was white chocolate which I did find a bit sweet (also it went a bit gnarly as I melted it - I don't have a bowl suitable for a double-boiler, so I had to melt it in a pan). It did look good in cross-section and The Scientist gave it a thumbs up, but I think I'd probably just add maltesers to my regular recipe in future. Still, it was fun to try an alternative.

As to the cake, last time I made a big double-layer lemon drizzle. This time I gave The Scientist a shortlist and he picked a coconut lime cake (spot a citrus theme here?!). I was just a bit worried that a single loaf cake wouldn't feed as many as the big lemon one had, so since I had some coconut milk left over from making a curry, I also made a batch of the coconut lime cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. The loaf cake (which I actually made in a square pan as my loaf tin is too small) was very good, and really easy to make - it didn't look the greatest but got a lot of good comments about its limeiness and moistness, but the cupcakes also had a good following too (I didn't mention the vegan bit - although I have to admit that the icing was a butter one). One person said they were the dampest cakes he'd ever had, and when I asked if that was good looked at me as though I was crazy. We got a lot of really nice comments about the whole tea, and The Scientist's egg sandwiches were particularly praised too :)

Coconut and lime cake

The whole process actually wasn't quite as fun as last year - we'd had to get up pretty early for a Sunday to get it all started, and since I was making an extra cake I wasn't able to help with the sandwich production line which had been the fun part last time. But it was still nice to try out a couple of new recipes, and I had a lovely cycle ride over to the ground to help out. Due to an unforeseen batting collapse I nearly arrived too late and the scones had to stay uncut - but I still got to hang around for the kudos :)

Coconut and lime cupcake. Apologies to the creators for their lack of style. I had two issues here: firstly the players were coming in for their tea as I iced; and secondly, the icing was very very sturdy and had to be dolloped on to the cake rather than piped nicely. Luckily cricketers are not fazed by these things (too busy eating)

Update on The Scientist's return: a narrow loss, but extra thanks for the tea!
Note to 2011 us: 600g of cheese is WAAAAAAAAY too much!

I don't like to post the recipe for the vegan coconut and lime cupcakes since the recipes from that book are all over the place. But if you google it you'll find it somewhere!

Coconut and lime cake - from Prima magazine
Serves 12
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
175g golden caster sugar
50g tenderised sweetened coconut [I used unsweetened dessicated]
3 eggs
150ml natural yogurt [I used low fat Greek]
finely grated zest and juice of two limes
175g butter, melted

To decorate:
1 lime
12g golden icing sugar [I used normal non-golden]
1 Tbsp tenderised sweetened coconut [or dessicated]

Preheat oven to Gas 4/180C. Grease and line a 2 lb loaf tin [I used a larger square one]. Put flour, baking powder, caster sugar and coconut into a processor. Pulse to combine.

Put eggs into a jug with yogurt, zest and juice from limes, and mix with a fork. Pour into dry ingredients with butter and pulse until just combined.

Pour into prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes until golden. Cool for 10 mins

To make icing: finely grate lime zest and peel away white pith [so you're left with a naked lime]. Put lime flesh into a mini processor and whizz till lump free. Add icing sugar. Pour over cake and sprinkle over finely grated lime zest and coconut.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Some favourite things

I have been shamed into getting back over here after Caroline pointed out that she had been seeing the same peach and basil muffins for a very long time! I didn't want to do another post until I could respond to an award Johanna gave me though, and that involved actually getting round to photographing some stuff, so that gave me the boost to use the nice spring light this morning and get myself in gear.

The award is a 'Ten favourite things' one, which is pretty much as it sounds. Since number 1 is baking, number 2 is crafting, and number 3 is the British countryside I thought I would illustrate my list with some of my recent projects and some snaps of our recent trip to the Highlands of Scotland. So, here goes:

1. Baking

The gift I made for the friends whose wedding we were going to in the Highlands: a set of table mats and coasters using some of the Liberty fabric I bought in Stratford. I know it's not exactly baking-related, but I'm it will help to show off some tasty baked goods.

2. Crafting

Some of my favourite things illustrated in embroidery (using a new book called Sublime Stitching). I know, I should have ironed it. Feminism is about choosing whether or not to do housework in my book.

3. Walking in the British countryside (current top three places: The Lakes, Dartmoor, the Highlands)

View from the top of Cairn Gorm (we got the furnicular railway; our friends did it properly and walked)

4. Should be top really: my house and all who live in it :)

Really easy knitted bag - just go round and round and round on circular needles. I need to practise my intarsia stitches, but it was my first time trying

5. My lovely friends - especially the ones I made in Cambridge and now in Leamington - plus Eco Sis and Kiwi Sis who don't get any choice in the matter.

Knitted mice, who have started a colony on the arm of the sofa

5. English tea shops - tea, scones, toasted tea cakes - who needs fancy cupcakes?

Beautiful spring day - and snow-capped mountains in the distance. Our friends couldn't have asked for a better day for their wedding

6. Second hand bookshops (best one ever: in Chatham, Kent - can't remember the name, unfortunately, but it even kept the Sci Fi-loving Scientist happy)

7. Markets - of any description.

We may have visited a whisky distillery the morning of the wedding...

8. Pick 'n mixes - I have no idea why since I can't eat most of the things in pick 'n mix sweets, but I especially love the ones with dried fruits and wasabi covered peas and things. I even got excited about a salad leaves one in an Aussie supermarket once.

Sock toy: yes, he used to be a sock, now he's too cute to give away (though the Munchkin has one of his own, made from a pair of socks that got left behind after Kiwi Family came to visit)

9. Curling up on the sofa with The Scientist and a smattering of cats to watch whatever dvd series we're currently hooked on.

Scottish castle

10. History - makes me who I am. Enough said.

Thank you, Johanna, for thinking of me for this meme, and sorry it took me so long!!