Adventures in Baking

It’s a very important weekend in the Taylor household this weekend – Daddy T’s 65th. And I’m making the cake!

This is kind of a big deal. I’m excited, though starting to feel the baking pressure. Mum was going to ask her friend, a semi-pro cake maker, whose beautiful productions are so creative – and so neat! Mine, as you’ll see in a min, err more to the side of… rustic?… in appearance. But, it’s a family occasion, we’ve got friends coming over for a BBQ – surely at occasions like these it’s the thought that counts, right?

I’ve got quite into baking over the past 6 months or so. Weirdly not last year, when I lived with two amazing bakers, Penny and Emilie! But just as I still occasionally find dibs and dabs of their icing sugar in my recipe books, their enthusiasm must have got under my skin somehow. And while I’m nowhere near their standards, I’d like to think I’m getting better… And it’s fun!

Equipment has been a big thing. I’ve accrued an electric whisk, measuring spoons, cake tins and several mixing bowls over the past couple of months – the kind of things you won’t get very far without! I also now live somewhere with a reliable oven (our last one slid forward out of the wall if you opened the door too quickly…). Combine with my love of the Great British Bake Off (and several sweet toothed co-workers) and you’ve got a recipe for experimentation…

It started with these bad boys – and I must say, they’re still some of the best things I’ve produced! Buttermilk’s the secret – and lifting the flour nice and high above the bowl as you rub in the flour. Look at me, giving baking tips! You’d never know I nearly failed food tech…

scones

Then of course, every hopeless wanderer (/returning United Nations intern) needs a welcome-home cake, and carrot cake is his fave. I had to ice it right round the sides to hide the wobbly/creviced edges – shortly after this I taught myself to grease a cake tin…

home cake

Then, an Easter tradition. These were wolfed down by the boys at home!

crunch cake

Some cupcakes for my workmate’s birthday, and these I was pretty chuffed with. Earl Grey Tea flavour! The recipe came from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, Cake Days’, which I highly recommend.

eira cakes1

Plus we got to have cupcake anagram fun!

eira cakes

I got a bit bolder with Rob’s birthday cake this year – this mint-choc cake is adapted something I spotted on one of my fave food blogs well over a year ago. The decoration leaves a little to be desired but he had it for breakfast, so it can’t have been all bad ;-).

rob cake

What I like is that I learn something with everything I bake – notes for next time. Like the Smartie cookies I made last night for Dad’s party – 42 in total! Next time I’ll trust my oven a little more and take them out sooner, as they’ve ended up quite crispy. I’ll also top the dough with a few extra Smarties once they’re on the baking sheet. And the Earl Grey tea cupcakes – you need a little more tea (and like HALF the icing they tell you to make)!

There’s a chocolate / honeycomb cake on the cards for this weekend, as Dad’s favourite chocolate bar is Crunchie. Fingers crossed I can get it presentable, if not perfect! Wish me luck 🙂

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