Showing posts from April, 2007

Road Test: Sunbeam Mixmaster v Kenwood Patissier

Back in 2003 when I began my most recent baking odyssey, I acquired a Sunbeam Mixmaster – the remake of the classic retro mixer from the fifties. My mother had a Mixmaster which she bought in the seventies, and which I did most of my cake baking with as a teenager (when the obsession truly took hold). She still has that Mixmaster today, although it is significantly worse for wear – the plastic cover over the light is broken and they haven’t made the bulbs for years, so there’s a “live” cavity where the light bulb should be. I can vouch for that because I stuck my finger in there accidentally last year and got a nice shock from it.

I paid quite a lot of money for my Mixmaster and it held pride of place on my kitchen bench for three years. That is until I had it running one Sunday and one of the motors blew up! I discovered that the twin motor “600 watt” power it claimed worked in two ways: 1. to run the beaters; 2. to turn the turntable the bowl sits on. After seeing flames shooting fro…

Banana Cornbread

The first cat I ever knew was Bill. Sir William Sneddon, to be precise, but Bill to everybody who loved him.

Bill was a completely black cat with yellow jewel-facetted eyes. He arrived in our family when I was about four or five years old, and became a constant source of enjoyment to my sister and I. He was an incredibly tolerant cat - allowing us to mess with him in a way most young cats would never allow.

My sister and I particularly enjoyed dressing Bill up in dolls clothes. We'd put a frock on him, complete with a lacey bonnet, then put him to bed in my sister's dolls craddle. Mostly he'd stay there for a second or two, then bolt, sending my sister and I into peals of laughter as he tried to walk away without tripping on the skirt of the frock, his dignity only just in tact. But there was one occassion when Bill actually thought the craddle was a good option - we have pictures of him occupying that little bed for a nice afternoon kip, blanket and all!

Our back yard was a …

Glazed Orange Rosettes

A few years back I took a stab at starting a cake design business. I lay in bed at night thinking about the kind of cakes I would really enjoy eating, whether I bought them from a cake shop, or whether they were sold in a chi-chi city cafe. I settled on three different creations, each one individual sized, and proceeded to work out the recipes for the cakes of my dreams. I invited six of my close friends over for an afternoon tea (a tradition that is seriously underrated, let me tell you!) and greeted them with a table covered in cakes - a pink one, a chocolate one, and an orange one. I watched pure excitement creep over their faces as I gave them free license to try ALL THREE of the cakes. They sat down, plates in hand, and began to sample my work.

I viewed the table with an overly critical eye - one is always more critical of one's own creations than is necessarily within reason, don't you think? Never the less, I announced that I felt the orange cake was incomplete. My frien…

Wedding Cake

I used the recipe for Traditional Christmas Cake as my wedding cake []! I had to cook three large round fruit cakes to produce my wedding cake, which was a three level high column cake. I actually ended up making six cakes - three that were the right size, and three smaller ones with all the cake mix I had left over.

I aged the cakes for six to eight weeks, and found they were still quite moist regardless. I consultated a lot of cake experts, and despite the cake decorating instructions saying otherwise, I did a few things to the cake which in the end caused more problems than improvements. Namely, I sandwiched the cakes together with marzipan which eventually liquified thanks to the weight and moist of the fruit cake. I also stuck wooden skewers through the cakes to provide them with more stability. The skewers ended up poking through the fondant, which luckily was covered by the flowers all over the top.

I wanted to use crispy white egg white ic…

Vanilla Cupcakes

My sister was in the Brownies when she was a kid. She put on her uniform every week and went off somewhere mysterious to me, taking pledges, doing things to win badges... she even went off on a camp (which made me interminably envious because it required she be bought a pair of bedsocks). She made Brownies look like it was fun. As soon as I was old enough, I begged my mother to let me join.

The problem was, my sister's Brownie pack was too big. So they formed a new pack which it was determined would meet in the new hall. Now the new hall wasn't like the old hall - it had been brought to town on the back of a truck and had been plonked down next to the old hall on ugly, exposed brick stilts. It had none of the dignity of the old hall - it was garish and offensive.

To make matters worse, the new pack would have a new Brown Owl. She took forever to turn up, and when she did, she didn't seem to know what she was doing. Her tongue was sharp, her tone snappish; she seemed more th…