Unfortunately things have gone a bit pear shaped in my monthly Cooking The Books Challenge. It got to the end of the month yesterday and I realised I’d not baked two of the recipes I wanted to for the challenge. I missed out on baking some Utterly Nutterly Shortbreads and some Wedding Party Rings! Oh dear, well not to worry. Instead I have had other baking to do, including a Labrador shaped cake for my friend. I’ve also been working some extra hours, so time has been precious. Not only this but I rejoined Weightwatchers two weeks ago. I lost 6lbs the first week but last week I didn’t follow it properly as I was too busy. I can feel all those lost pounds creeping back on and I haven’t had the guts to weigh myself….
So this post is really to show what I did get around to baking. A week last Sunday the village where I go to WI (when I can get to the meetings, that is!) had their Open Gardens. I baked three things to donate to the WI tea and cake stand. I was meant to help at the end of the day but I ended up having to say no, after all hubby was out and I needed to be the children’s taxi service!
First up was the Aussie Crunch. Rather moreish and Gilchrists, the bakery in my nearby town of Boroughbridge makes delicious Aussie Crunch. It’s quick and simple to make and John includes it in the Family Bakes section of his book. Great for all the family to eat and to have a go at baking too! Though John says “Why it is called Aussie Crunch when it comes from Bolton is a mystery to me!” I was glad in a way it was heading up to the WI stall, if I’d even tried one bite, the whole lot would end up being scoffed!
To make the Aussie Crunch it was simple. I put butter and sugar into a saucepan and let the butter melt and the sugar dissolve. In a large mixing bowl I mixed together dessicated coconut and cornflakes, then tossed in some cocoa powder and self raising flour. This was all mixed together with the melted butter and then put into my greased 8″ square tin ready for baking. It only took 20 minutes to bake and smelled fab.
While the Aussie Crunch was setting in the fridge, I got on with the next bake. As I love baking bundt cakes so much I was really keen to try John’s Fig, Pecan and Orange Bundt Cake in the Friendship Feasts chapter in the book. I’m not really keen on figs and even though I wasn’t going to be baking the cake for myself I still fancied putting something else in the cake instead! So I plumped for chopped, dried dates. I wanted to use my Jubilee bundt pan again as it has such a pretty lattice design on it and hoped that it would encourage people to try it.
I was very impressed with the results I had with the bundt. I will definitely be baking this again. John says “This makes for perfect toast, toppped with some boisterous Stilton cheese!” Sounds good to me!
The final bake for the WI Open Gardens Stall was John’s Lemon Sherbet Cake. It contains the sherbet (not the lollies though!) from Sherbet Dip dabs! I’d never thought to put them in a cake before and it was funny buying Dip-dabs in the shop, haven’t done that since I was about 10! I also added my own slant to the cake by decorating it with sherbet lemon sweets instead of handmade lemon peel. I just felt a bit lazy by then and wanted to cut a few corners to save time!
The lemon sherbet cake is from the Family Bakes chapter of John Whaite Bakes At Home and is definitely one to avoid if you are on a diet but perfect for a family get-together or celebration. John’s version involves vertically slicing the two cake layers so you have four altogether. I find this dead fiddly so I kept the two and had all my filling in the middle of the cake. The filling was absolutely gorgeous: whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, icing sugar, the Dip dabs, lemon juice and zest whipped together. I piped it in the middle and on the top of the cake using my large star shaped nozzle.
Again, I was really pleased with how the cake turned out and thought I would love to try this with different flavours and sweets. Very retro. I took the three cakes around to my friend’s house as I couldn’t help at the stall myself. She was pleased with them but I haven’t had chance to ask her how they went. I hope they tasted ok.
As I type this, it is now July 4th. I’m meant to be thinking about July’s challenge. I’d better get my bum into gear or else it will be August!
Love Sam xx