As people have been asking, here’s the cake that K’s very kindly made me for my birthday. I haven’t actually tasted it yet – as I write this it’s sitting in the fridge – but as all of K’s cooking is wonderful and delicious, I’m sure it will be fantastic.
My favourite pudding is tiramisu, so K came up with a tiramisu-flavoured cake, with a chocolate sponge sandwiched together with the marscapone-cream-egg mixture that she makes her tiramisu from, all liberally laced with Tia Maria. I am entirely responsible, though, for the suggestion of adding Cadburys Animal biscuits, thus turning it into a tiramizoo.
After Thursday’s post, Kahlan got back in touch, with a tip-off. Apparently there had been a rumoured sighting of a can of own-brand non-evil condensed milk, in a Waitrose. So our Saturday was spent driving 25 miles to Harrogate, the nearest branch,* to find … Nestlé products firmly on the shelves. Oh well.
To make up for the disappointment, we bought an ethical jar of dulce de leche instead, and tried to make cookies, from this recipe. They didn’t quite turn out as I expected, being rather flat and soft, but they still taste good, albeit so sweet that I can barely manage to eat a couple at once. Not surprising, given the huge amount of sugar in each one.
A quick redaction of the recipe, the way we did it: take 230g of butter, chop it up, and beat it until it’s soft. Open your jar of dulce de leche and taste some just to make sure it’s not off or something. Beat 3/4 cup of light brown sugar and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar into the butter, then add 3/4 cup of dulce de leche, assuming you can scrape it out of your measuring cup, and beat that in too, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Lick your cups clean, and your fingers, and anything else the stuff has stuck to. Add 2 eggs, mixing them in one by one, before sifting 2 1/2 cups of flour, half a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of bicarb into the mixture. Rest the dough for a few minutes before putting teaspoon-sized balls of it onto baking trays lined with greaseproof paper, and bake at 160 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the baking tray; then when they are properly cold, carefully pair your cookies up into matching-sized pairs before using the last of the dulce de leche – if you have enough left – to sandwich the pairs together. Yum.
* and the only post code district left in the country that’s free of the Mighty Tesco
I like bank holidays and long weekends. I especially like pairs of bank holidays, and extra-long weekends. Today really felt like a Friday at the office, particularly as The Secretary* was handing out buttered hot cross buns (albeit cold).
Getting home, The Mother had been baking ready for breakfast tomorrow, so the house smelled of warm cinnamon. Hot cross buns for breakfast: the one thing Christianity really has going for it.
* no, she is nothing like the film
When I was still a student, as a researcher, I was always a bit rubbish. I’m one of those people who hoovers up random, unconnected pieces of information like anything; but when it comes to use it I can never remember where it came from. Little factoids are no good unless you can judge how true it is likely to be, and you can’t do that if you don’t know their provenance.
For example: everybody knows that the Tower of London maintains a family of ravens, for there is an ancient legend that states that should they ever leave, the Tower, the monarchy and the nation will fall. Their wings are therefore clipped, to try to lessen the risk of them wandering.* Everybody knows about the legend, and its ancient origins. Just how ancient is it, though?
There’s an article on the ravens and the current Tower Ravenmaster in the current issue of Fortean Times. It claims that it was Charles II who was first warned that the ravens must never leave the Tower; but that there is no actual evidence for their presence before the end of the 19th century. So, possibly another of those ancient traditions invented by the traditionally-minded Victorians. Possibly not, though. There is another, older myth on a similar theme; but it wasn’t about literal ravens at all. It’s a much, much older myth, and it isn’t even English.
On Sunday, after reading the FT article, I spent a good hour or two reading up about it, and writing a post about it, but accidentally deleted it in a fit of stupidity, by pressing the “reload” shortcut when I meant to type the “open new tab” shortcut. It took an hour or two because, as I said above, I can remember a lot of things, but can’t remember why. So, I spent quite a long time reading the wrong books in search of information I was sure was in there. Bah. I’m going to go and reread them now, so I can go and rewrite.**
(read part two here)
* and, incidentally, the Tower now has a well-equipped isolation aviary to which they’ll be moved if there’s a bird flu outbreak in Britain.
** and to give me an excuse to break this over-long post up into parts.