Friday, May 17, 2013

Jazzing up the ordinary

There is a lot going on for me at the moment, hence the late post! As many bloggers can probably attest to, when the amount of other things that demand attention build up, the desire to bake builds with them, but the time and focus required is not in such plentiful supply. This last week was my birthday and as I always bake my birthday cake it was fitting that I prepare something. Thing is, I couldn't seem to think of a single cake idea; my head is choc full of various counselling theories, abstacts from a hundred different papers, as well as hundreds of laws and legislation relating to working with vulnerable people and mental health and all sorts. So I asked my brother what kind of cake I should make. He responded in the same way that he ALWAYS responds; within a split second 'Victoria Sponge.' It's his favourite cake, he honestly has it for any situation where there needs to be cake!

I shouldn't have been surprised but I honestly don't fully understand it because this is a guy with incredible taste in food. He cooks the most delicious dinners and the sandwiches that he puts together deserve their own food network show! That might seem dismissive of victoria sponge and it's not meant to be. I like victoria sponge, it's a nice cake but it is a boringly simple cake imao!

However it worked nicely as an idea because it's a simple cake to make and when time is limited; the simpler, the better! However, I wouldn't be me if I didn't try to jazz it up a bit, which he said that he expected also.

So simple steps to jazz up the Victoria sponge. The cake is perfect, for the tiniest adjustment I replaced 1 egg with 2 egg yolks just to make a slightly more tender cake. The real changes came in the strawberry jam filling and the cream.

Instead of a strawberry jam I sliced 2 punnets of strawberries very finely and then sprinkled 1-2 tsp of balsamic vinegar and 1 heaped tablespoon of caster sugar, I mixed thoroughly and let it to sit for 20 minutes.

For the cream I made added 1 tbsp of icing sugar and 2/3 tsp of vanilla bean paste before whipping and then whipped up until it formed peaks.

To assemble in a fun way I laid down the first layer of cake then made a small circle of cream in the centre and surrounded this with the strawberries. I layered on the second circle of cake and then made a small circle of strawberries and piped the cream in circles around this before dusting with icing sugar.

Unfortunately since time was very limited I had to do all of this in my parents house minutes before serving and without my proper camera or baking utensils so you will have to excuse the picture quality and the poor piping but this is it. Trust me though: the taste was flawless!

In case you were wondering, my brother loved it =)

On a related note, I often discuss some of the lovely things I received from friends and family for my birthday and I am actually writing this blog post on one of those very shiny lovely things. However I wanted to show you another one.

I love tea and particularly one of the various fruit or alternative loose teas that are available these days. However brewing a cup of loose tea can sometimes be messy and cumbersome. A few years back my wonderful mother bought me an amazing brewing item in the states which I stupidly left over there when I came home. I have lamented this fact on a number of occassions while using my mother's one. So this year, probably to shut me up as much as anything, my sister sourced this from the internet.

A couple different brands do this so it's not an ad for ingenuiTea
 I shall demonstrate how easy and beautifully this thing works
Pour your loose tea into the brewer
Pour on your hot water

It swirls around and brews

As this tea brews it turns a nice amber colour

Then just pop your brewer on top of any cup
Et voila, a perfectly brewed cup of tea without any floating bits =)
So thank you to my sister for this wonderful present and I would recommend this type of brewer to anyone that enjoys loose tea. Enjoy =)

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