Sunday, September 18, 2011

Crocheted Apple Cosy!

I'm home in Cavan this weekend (well, until Tuesday since it'll be Mom's birthday) as a trip before we abscond to London. I landed into the kitchen and saw this cute crocheted owl type looking thing on the counter and asked Siobhan what it is.
"It's my apple cosy. I asked Mom to make me one for school."
So I popped an apple into it and took a snap.
Name is Joe.

I has an apple inside of me.
It is the CUTEST thing! I kind of want one for London!
...I think Mom should start a blog of her own at this stage!:)

L x

Monday, September 12, 2011

Brooklyn Blackout Cake for Conor!

That cream was not for the cake. Rather, Conor's face...

Now that Conor's birthday has been and gone, I can post this!
Especially since it was a surprise and he actually, properly, had no idea at all. He even suggested to a friend (who was also in on it) to go for a drink in the pub we were setting up with balloons and cake. So he was even more surprised!
So yes, THE CAKE.

What a beast of a thing.

I made Conor the Hummingbird Bakery's Brooklyn Blackout cake. It is possibly the richest cake I have ever made and it's mostly due to the 'custard' like chocolate sauce. The cake made from this is the best chocolate one I have made yet, it was perfect.

Here is a quick breakdown of the recipe:

Ingredients for the cake:
100g butter
260g caster sugar
170g plain flour
160ml whole milk
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
45g cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Ingredients for the chocolate custard: 
500g caster sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
125g cocoa powder
200g cornflour
85g butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

*Preheat the oven to 170C/ 325F/ Gas 3
*Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
*Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Scrape the sides of the bowl with your spatula so no mixture is lost.
*Slowly beat in the cocoa powder , vanilla, baking powder and salt until well mixed.
*Add half the flour, then all the milk and then the rest of the flour. Mix well until it is all combined.
*Pour into two round 20cm tins greased and lined with greaseproof paper.
*Pop in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Leave the cakes to cool completely before turning them out onto a wire rack (WAIT til they're cool or they'll break!)

*While they're cooling, get making the sauce...
*Put the sugar, syrup, cocoa powder and 600ml of water into a large pot (this makes a huge amount of sauce, so make sure it's big!) and bring to the boil over a medium heat, whisking occasionally.
*Mix the cornflour with 120-200ml of water and gradually add to the mix, whisking briskly! (Do this correctly cos I didn't and I ended up needing to blend the sauce to get rid of lumps! No one wants a mouth of cornflour!)
*The consistency should be that of thick glue. I mean, it gets quite thick, but don't worry about it ripping the cake. When the cakes are cool, pop them onto plates and into the fridge. This helps stop it.
*Cook the custard until it is thick and yummy looking. Stick your spoon in for a taste.
*Remove from the heat, add the butter and vanilla and stir in. Put into a (rather large) bowl, cover with cling film and chill until quite firm.

*Grab your cakes and using a long knife (it makes it much easier), slice a very thin layer off one.
*Using a food processor, or just a knife like me, chop into fine crumbs.
*Spread some custard onto that cake, then slice the other into two, making it three tiered. Layer up the cake with the custard, leaving enough to frost the top and sides of the cake.
*Cover with the crumbs and chill for 2 hours.

Since Conor is becoming quite the wizard lately, I popped some cards into the cake along with heaps of candles for a little magic effect.

Get your strong arm out to carry this one! It took a lot of effort carrying it to the dart! The cookbook says it makes 10-12 slices... I am very generous with my cake slices and I LOVE cake, but I honestly could not finish a small slice. However, there is enough sugar in this to make it last a while, especially if kept in the fridge.
I must ask Conor how much of it is left...

Enjoy over a long chat.
Or a surprise birthday party.


Hope it's a great year, bro!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fair London

I am currently perched on a clean corner of my bed, in the midst of the fifty-seventh clean out of my room in about two months. The Velvet Underground have provided the soundtrack.

Since London is RAPIDLY approaching, I am getting rid of EVERYTHING that I physically cannot take with me. I have two bags of clothes to hopefully get some money for with Siopaella in Temple Bar, a bag for a charity shop and a bag of work clothes that Luke's sister will be availing of. Scarves, jumpers, bags, shoes, dresses and accessories are all bundled up, ready to be given to new homes and I am left with those which I believe will give me street cred in one of the most stylish cities in the world.

If you haven't been to London, you are missing out. Everyone is SO interesting looking. Whether they are the happy, smiley cash clerks in Whole Foods Market (where Luke and I got delicious watermelon) or the person sitting beside you on the Tube, everyone is so different that I cannot but help slightly staring at them. One thing that I have been told by countless people who have learnt that I am moving to London is that it is a "very unfriendly place". I mean I can count nearly ten people who have told me this. But I have now set myself the task of making note of every lovely thing I have born witness to in London.

 During our 4 day trip there last week, Luke and I met nothing but genuinely friendly people like the lovely ladies who asked us did we need directions after serving us in Harrods. I've never had that before; someone getting that, by the look of me, I was a tourist and only for Luke, I probably would have asked her for some directions! Then in the Metro on the Tube I found an article where people are compiling the compassionate things that they have witnessed on the Tube and making them into an art project "celebrating the 'value' of kindness". Some include strangers comforting a heartbroken woman and telling her that "every storm passes". Another is of a man's mobile phone being saved by a stranger who noticed he had left it behind him and so met him at the next station stop. You can see the collection here .

Another story from our trip was a man carrying a woman's suitcase up a flight of stairs in Gatwick airport when he noticed her struggling. At the top, he then ran off to get a train and she shouted after him "I owe you a pint!". So, unfriendly it most certainly is not. I cannot wait to discover this city and make my little mark on it along with the millions of others who live there. Having once been an empire, it is so beautiful in parts, the buildings dating back centuries. One of the most amazing monuments I have ever seen is the Albert Memorial directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall. It is awe inspiring.                       Albert

I simply LOVE Portobello Road for all of the stalls and quirky shops that line it and those that run them. I feel like I Angela Lansbury is beside me, hunting down the missing back of a magic book. I also get to pop into the Hummingbird Bakery for a brownie and tea.

I took some better pictures this time and on our way home, marvelled at the cameras in duty free. I plan on treating myself to a deadly camera once I get enough saved. And finally find a place to live. If anyone knows anyone else seeking housemates, I will forward you the ad Luke and I have on three sites. Le sigh.
 Stressful, but I'm certain it will be worth it for the land of Love Actually, Harry Potter and soon, Luke and Laura.