Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Some baking projects

on December 21, 2011

On 7th December, my birthday, I had a great day – my Wednesday Bible study always has its last meeting of the term, taking the form of a lunch at my friend and co-leader’s house, in the week of my birthday, so it becomes a little celebration for me, as well as for Christmas and the end of term.  I get a cake (which is fair enough when I make birthday cakes for everyone else throughout the year) and presents and it’s lovely.  This year it happened to be on my birthday, which was even lovelier.  My cake this year was a delicious Victoria Sponge, and my husband and girls had also presented me with a jam and whipped cream-filled sponge at breakfast time, so I was caked out!  Even though it’s my birthday, I still contribute to the lunch, and this year I departed from my usual mince pies to make these White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies.  They looked delicious on the website and I felt I just had to try them, although I was rather nervous about it owing to the number of exhortations not to over-cook them (I have a tendency to over-cook and that’s without taking into account the Over-Zealous Oven).  In the end I do think they came out a bit crispier than intended but everyone thought they were very good.

Cookies

What I especially liked about the recipe was not having to spread out the mixture on the tray.  When I have made cookies from the Hummingbird book in the past, the instruction has been to spread the mixture into the approximate round shape, which is tricky when your parchment keeps sliding about and curling up.  But I shall be doing that no more!  This recipe suggests placing golf-ball amounts of mixture on the tray with plenty of space in between, and sure enough the mixture spreads itself out evenly during cooking to create exactly the same effect with about 10% of the effort!

Sadly, the same day I had to say goodbye to a lovely friend who was leaving the UK.  She and her family are from South Africa and have been living here for a year while her husband was on a sabbatical.  We’ve got to know each other quite well through the mosaic making group I go to, and we’ve become firm friends.  The previous week she had contacted me to ask if I’d make some cake for her son to take to school, as a farewell to his class and teachers, as well as to celebrate his birthday which was the week after their departure.   We discussed her requirements and decided that for 30 people, cupcakes would be best.  She then came up with the idea that she could make South African flags on cocktail sticks for each cake, and we could decorate the top with Smarties to match.  So I suggested a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting as the best background to show up the Smarties.

On the Monday I got to work making the cupcakes.  I used the Hummingbird chocolate cupcake recipe (which makes 12), tripled in quantity so was expecting to have spare cakes, but in the end it made exactly 30, which was lucky!  Isn’t it odd how multiple quantities of mixture don’t always yield exactly the same multiple of cakes?  The most time-consuming part was sorting the Smarties to find the colours of the South African flag.  In the end it took 10 tubes to make sure each cake had 3 different coloured sweets on!   My friend collected the cakes the following morning to add the flags before taking them to school for her son’s last day, and I caught up with her in the school yard to see the finished product!

On the back of each flag she added a translation of an Afrikaans proverb or saying, along with its meaning.  I hope the children appreciated her efforts as much as mine!

I was pleased with the way the cupcakes had turned out and made some more for the Bookworm’s Brownie Christmas party on the Tuesday evening.  It was a week of baking as I then got onto the mince pies for my parents’ visit at the weekend!  In the end, however, we didn’t eat them because on the Saturday we went out for a Christmas lunch at Cragside which left us pretty much stuffed for the whole weekend!

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