Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Food blog nine - to fridge or not to fridge

With less than a day to go before the party our two fridges were full. The doors barely shut. As a result I almost struggled over mattresses, coat hangers, non-ironed laundry and miscellaneous bags, all pushed to the back of our mini-kitchen, next to our bedroom, to get to the small travelling fridge. However, with all the changes of bedding, moving of furniture, constant hoovering and generally doing more, my poor back was playing up. I desisted. 

Then Richard bought extra beers for our nephew-in-law and these bottles finally broke the lower ledge inside the door on our older fridge. Bottles, milk, juices and other unmentionables crashed to the kitchen floor in an almighty mess. Just as we needed more fridge space one shelf was completely kaput!

Some of the dry cakes which I soaked in amaretto - for trifles - also had a curious fate. Richard’s brother enjoyed his trifle - see earlier blogs for the recipe - but during the night he could barely sleep. He believes the amaretto was too much of a cocktail with some of the tablets he’s on. (He is coming 80 and is otherwise extremely fit). You just can’t tell what a mixture of chocolate cake, fruit, chocolate custard and amaretto will have can you??? ( I jest!)

Getting back to the ‘to be served’ cakes: I desperately needed shelf space for my various *g-free, s-free cakes plus the ‘full of everything’ versions. I moved the trifles outside, covered in cling film, you understand, although it was blowing a gale, before I decorated them in cream and sprinkles. I even put stickers on the shelves of our second fridge declaring ‘space for cakes’. I’d iced them and they were just waiting to be wrapped - carefully - before being chilled.

Within half an hour Richard had completely ignored my stickers and filled up the larger, newer fridge with cheeses and the heavy weight beers which had broken the shelf on our older fridge. Dammit. All foods had to be moved and re-organised, yet again.

On the morning of the party we were expecting eleven for lunch. Whilst our niece, her four-year-old, their dog and her chap were out, in the pouring rain, I made a ganache for the *g-free, s-free chocolate cake. My final task before the big do. 

I used my plug-in induction hob to blend the cream and chocolate and only half the ingredients in the recipe as it was quite enough. It worked a treat:

 Chocolate Ganache

125g Green & Blacks velvet edition 70% dark chocolate, chopped then pulsed in the food processor
117 ml double cream


  1. Break up the 70% dark chocolate into smallish pieces. Food process it; it’ll sound like bricks being thrown on your roof at first.  Then transfer into a mixing bowl. 

  1. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over a medium heat. On the induction hob I turned it to P2. Bring just to the boil. It will start bubbling and watch very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds it will boil out of the pan. When the cream has come to the boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth.

  1. Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over the cake. Start at the centre of the cake and work outward. 

  1. For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy.

I was very pleased with the instant shine on the ganache. On my plug-in induction hob I used the manual switch and turned it to P2. It seemed to do the job.

That all sounds very quick and easy, which it would have been, if it wasn’t for the fact I had someone standing over me asking about the municipal swimming pool in Bath.

Why? You may well ask.

He was staying with a friend of his and, long story short, he couldn’t get a shower at her house. Yes the place needs A LOT of work! So he wanted me to find out when the pool was open so he could get a swim and a shower. I was busily breaking up pieces of orange and dark chocolate at the time.

‘Can’t you ring them?’ said I.
‘No. Their number doesn’t work.’
‘Well it’ll be open on a Saturday,’ I said, switching on the food processor, making a dreadful din while the chocolate was shattered by the processor blades.
‘But what about children’s clubs?’ he shouted several times over the racket.
‘It’s a Saturday. There won’t be school swimming classes on today.’ I switched the processor off.
‘No, but there will be some classes.’

I was forced to stop what I was doing. With buttery fingers I tapped ‘Bath sports centre’ into my iPhone and scrolled down. Hey presto! He was right - there were classes all morning. Even on a Saturday. 

‘But you can have a shower or bath here,’ I said, knowing all three of our bathrooms were free for about an hour - until another family invasion.

‘I’m only allowed up here for 20 minutes then I have to be back.’
‘Don’t ask.’ So I didn't. I wanted to get on with the ganache, preferably without an audience.

I then proceeded to heat the double cream on the induction hob but my friend-in-search-of-a-shower kept talking. I hadn’t made a ganache before and truly needed to concentrate. Before it boiled over he got the hint, said he'd see me at the party and left. Only then was I able to proceed.

The beautifully shiny ganache cooled quite quickly and looked spectacular on the chocolate cake.

Next I tried to adorn the carrot cakes with the remains of the crushed chocolate in the shape of an R for Richard.

It didn’t work and a pile of chocolate lay on the cream cheese (or butter cream icing) and simply looked ridiculous. I spread it over the cakes and stuck candles in - in an attempt to hide the mess. Once the icing sugar carrots went on all looked fine. Phew! I wrapped all four cakes in aluminium foil and lifted them into my zone in the fridge. It’s not quite as bad as the Gaza strip in our kitchen but territory is all.

At party’s end we were left with only one of the Royal icing cakes and the remnants of two carrot cakes. At morning-after-coffee I sampled the *gluten-free, sugar-free carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Then proceeded to do a taste test on my full-of-gluten-and-sugar carrot cake. There is something about the traditional method which stays truly moist. If I knew anything about gluten I’d know why it makes for a moist cake. The ‘healthy option’ was fine but definitely drier. I will investigate further. 

We now have space in one of our fridges as most of the party food was consumed. It was delicious. Thank you Lisa and Mark. Superb cheeses!
Even my brother-in-law repeated how good the food was and he’s very particular!

The square cake with Royal icing and handmade decorations is now wrapped in greaseproof paper in its locked cake carrier. It will do for Richard’s actual birthday which isn’t until the day before Hallowe’en. My aunt said it certainly doesn’t need to chill in the fridge and should last for months. It is still uncut. That will be something jolly to look forward to if it keeps...

To chill or not to chill. To fridge or not to fridge. That is the question.

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