Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

Pancake Day 2010


We did get pancakes, but I also took the opportunity to try a recipe from Oliver Peyton‘s cookbook from The National Gallery – Eccles Cakes. I was particularly eager to try after the Virgin Media Short-film they ran at the local arts cinema before A Single Man: Making The Difference


It’s in the lap of the gods now


The judges are deliberating as I type so I’ll soon know. I’m not sure if I’ve done enough to defend my cup, we’ll know later this afternoon.

Here’s me with all my baking (except the jam tarts which were still cooling down).

I won’t get any points from this. Jam’s not (yet) my forte (mine always tastes ever so slightly burnt) and there’s four competing entries.

This one has stiff competition too but it tasted so wonderful I’ll be miffed if I don’t win, unless of course I persuade the winner to give me a jar of her’s 😉

I forgot to photograph the mincemeat entries. When I left there was just one other. It was a recipe for green tomato mincemeat which sounds wild. Delia’s is good though, so I’m quietly confident.

I was pleased with how my apple pie looked, but then Allison’s (behind mine to the right) looks better 😦

Who’d have thought it? I’m crap at biscuits, and keep promising myself that I’ll get some practice in before the next show, but I’m the only entrant; so unless the judges really don’t like them (which I have had happen before) I’ll get first place and three points towards the baking cup.

Now this is the class I really care about. The recipe is stipulated in the show’s schedule which makes it feel like Formula 1. And it is a simple recipe so it’s just the cook’s skill that matters. Sadly mine (on the left) caught a bit, and Allison’s (on the right) looks fantastic, though I wouldn’t use the cooling tray on the surface facing upwards myself.

I was pleased with my carrot cake (on the left here) until I saw the other two. I particularly like the look of the centre one. I hope the judges admire my Welsh slate serving idea, though I may get the “no doily” comment again.

I was pleased with this. Another fine Delia recipe that was easy, looked amazing, and tasted wonderful. I used Lancashire cheese instead of Cheshire as it’s my current favourite (alongside Double Gloucester) and thyme instead of chives. Not such a wise choice but I love thyme – especially in savoury scones and in dumplings.

Another one where we all use the same recipe. I didn’t have enough time to mature this properly (i.e. months) but I did soak the fruit for ages so that should help. Mum and Dad’s Asiatic pheasant design plate may help too.

I couldn’t see the bread from the guy I’m normally up against. He does fabulous looking white flour loaves. I’ll investigate.

Too much filling. Which is exactly what the judges wrote to me last time!

I don’t know whose entry it is with the butter and knife, but that’s a great idea.

Laser cutting the crème brûlée didn’t completely work – I needed too much un-scorched sugar underneath to protect the custard. But as it is the only entry it should get a first, unless the judges don’t like it.

Wish me luck.

Day of baking; Day of Baking; Feed me ’till I want no more.


OK. Tomorrow is the Hardwick Gardening Club Annual Village Show. It wasn’t on last ear due to building work at the school. The year before that I became the first bloke to win the baking cup. So this year I have to try and defend it.

This year the Women’s Institute cup isn’t on offer, and since my two main competitors battle it out for points towards that cup I thought I’d be OK. But no, talking to Karen (she collects the entry forms) the baking categories are looking stronger. For example, I’m putting in blackberry jam in the “1 jar of Jam – soft fruit” class. I’m not good at jam making (I over cook it – I need more practice) but last time there were only two other entries. The cup works like this: first gets three points, second two, and third one. Then the points from your highest rank in each baking class are added together. The cook with the most points gets the cup. You can enter two items per class, though I’m not doing that this year. I know of at least three other jams in the “1 jar of Jam – soft fruit” class, so I’m staring down the barrel of nil points 😦

Anyway, I’ve taken today off work to get down to baking. Here’s the plan.

E1: Home made dessert – own choice (include recipe with entry)

I’m aiming for laser etched crème brûlée. I’ve three to hone my technique on today, then I’ll use the last two to get it right tomorrow morning. How long do they last once caramelised?

E2: 1 jar of Jam – soft fruit

Done – blackberry

E5: 1 jar of Lemon Curd – cellophane covers only

Do this afternoon

E6: 1 jar of Mincemeat

Done. Delia’s recipe is wonderful. I always get favourable comments about it at Christmas.

E7: Fruit Tart (pastry top and bottom, undecorated) on a china/glass plate

Apple pie. I’ll make the pastry this morning and the pie this evening.

E10: 5 Biscuits

Oh dear. I’m awful at this but I will keep trying. I’ll probably make this this morning.

E11: Victoria Sandwich Cake with raspberry jam filling, caster sugar topping (recipe at back of schedule)

Yeah. The formula one of the show. First year I was nagged by the judges for not having a doily! Last time I won this class. Fingers crossed!

E12: Orange & Carrot Cake (recipe at back of schedule)

It’s a good recipe, but the middle can be soggy. I’ll do this sometime today.

E13: 5 Cheese scones

I’ve brought in buttermilk. I’m hopeful these will be good.

E15: Rich Fruit Cake (recipe at back of schedule)

Done – but only this week. I should have done this a month ago so it could mature. It cracked a bit on top too.

E16: Home-made Bread – white or brown (not machine made) displayed on board

Me and another guy battle for first place each year – he does white and I do brown. I won last year, though his looked amazing. I’ll kneed this over and over and over again through the afternoon and evening and then leave it to rise in the fridge overnight.

E18: 5 Jam tarts

I’ll use some sweetened pastry for this. Baking this evening.

E20: Lincolnshire fruit loaf (recipe at back of schedule)

I made this yesterday which doesn’t give it much time to mature. But It has no fat in, so I don’t think it needs ages. Sadly its base cracked as I took it out of the tin so I’ll need careful presentation.

I’m missing the other classes – you have to stop somewhere! There’s a class that only gentlemen can enter (I guess to encourage blokes to have a go), but since my main competition are women I think it would be bad form to enter that.