Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Happy Birthday!

I was quite excited when I realised that my birthday would fall on a Friday this year – I thought the whole weekend would be all me ! Then my dad booked for us all to go to West Wales to see puffins for my mum’s 50th birthday. On my birthday weekend. I’m not going to lie, I felt a little bit like my thunder was being stolen but still it would be a nice weekend full of yummy food that I wouldn’t be paying for! Then I found out that I would have to leave the house at 7.30 on my birthday in order to make the 5 hour train journey to Fishguard. I was not happy.

Seeing as I would be away for the weekend I decided to have a casual dinner with a few friends on the Thursday night. I love Brixton village and have been wanting to try French and Grace for a while. It is a tiny restaurant (I think there are just three tables inside) which started it’s life as a supper club by the girls behind The Salad Club. The special (a barley risotto with blue cheese) sounded delicious but I had been looking forward to houmous and halloumi! We shared mezze to start with which (I think) consisted of houmous, baba ghanoush, a yoghurt dip and a carrot and beetroot salad all served with flat breads. Almost everyone then had an uber wrap (halloumi and merguez sausage) which were stuffed with the same salad. They were delicious (not quite a Magic Wrap but nothing is!) and very filling.

I have to say I think we made a mistake having the mezze then the wraps as it was essentially the same thing twice. If When I go again I think I’ll have the mezze with lamb and whatever special they have on. The restaurant is unlicensed but you can bring your own alcohol for £1.50 each which helped to make it a fairly inexpensive evening (not that I paid – well it was my birthday-ish!)

We then went back to our flat for drinks and birthday cake. I had considered not making a cake as I thought it was very sad to make your own birthday cake but was told in no unceratin terms that I had to as no-one else was going to make me one! So, since it is never a chore for me, I provided cake.

I'm a big fan of the Great British Bake Off and I remember marvelling at the patterned sponge on Mary-Anne's mousse cake. http://timetocookonline.com/2011/09/27/chocolate-and-orange-mousse-cake/ I am not a fan of mousse cake but I thought this sponge was amazing and must be the result of some sort of magic. I follow Mary-Anne on twitter so I took a look at her blog and found the recipe for the cake. It turns out it was a joconde sponge and the pattern was made with a joconde paste. The paste is made from butter, icing sugar, egg whites and flour. The pattern is piped onto greased baking paper on the bottom of the cake tin and then put in the freezer to harden. Cake is then poured over the pste and baked. I felt that piping 'Happy Birthday' on my own cake might be taking it too far and seeing as my friends have been known to forget my real name, I piped my nickname 'Millers'. My housemate then pointed out that it was wierd that I'd piped my own name on my cake but I decided I didn't care and wanted to try it out.

I didn't colour the paste and used red velvet cake for the sponge. It all went well except that I lost the 'r' to the baking paper which clearly wasn't greased well enough. I decided to make a three layered cake with thin layers of red velvet at the top and bottom and vanilla sponge in the middle. The layers were sandwiches together and sides covered with a baileys buttercream that I coloured red.

I wanted to wrap the side of the cake with a sheet of chocolate so I melted plain and white chocolate and using a piping bag and small nozzle drizzled onto a long piece of greased baking paper. I left it to cool and was hoping to wrap it round the cake using the buttercream to hold it in place. Unsurprisingly this didn't work, I'm not sure whether it would have worked if I'd done it whilst the chocolate was warm or if it was doomed from the start. In the end I broke it up into pieces and used them to cover the sides of the cake. The result was this:

The only thing that was going to get me up at 6.30am on my birthday was the promise of a delicious breakfast so I had a bit of a picnic planned. I am definitely a breakfast person and NEVER leave the house without tea and breakfast. Doing so makes me very moody and irritable as my boyfriend discovered havignm arrived at Paddington after only one mug of tea and nothing to eat. We bought coffees and a pastry to share which was devoured within seconds of settling down on the train. Onmce we were moving I cracked open the cava and we tucked into oat cakes, cream cheese and smoked salmon (me)/pancetta (him). Feeling much better but unable to finish the cava so early, we hen slept for the remainder of the journey!

I recieved a wonderful array of cooking and baking goodies for my birthday:

Can't wait to use them all - I've have already been pestling in my mortar!

Sorry this is quite a long waffly post and not really about baking - back to nomral soon I promise!

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