Photo Taking and Baking

As I continue to procstibake – thinking about what to bake, then actually bake something completely different – the world continues to turn and move. So we should move with it.

In my vain effort to inspire, challenge and develop myself and my skills, I took myself off for a days’ workshop on food photography, this was being run by the lovely Jane at ‘Love your Lens’.

Now anyone can take a photo.  But not everyone can tell a story from the it, build and fill it, style it and yes, add the odd filter or two. It sounds so simple. Bringing that to a reality is a little less simple. Imagine a slice of lemon tart, are you sitting in the garden?  Eating on the patio table, in sunshine, with a napkin, a cup of tea, fork or spoon? And then try and put all that into a photo. Sounds easy enough. We’ll yes and indeed no.  Finding the right props then becomes a challenge, what goes with what and where does it go. It can get so confusing and time-consuming.  Time that we don’t always have.  Something I know I struggle with.

Making small changes as we go, to get the right frame and shot. Can you over think a photo? Possibly. Does the cake dictate the props or do the props dictate the cake? I guess its down to what you have at hand.

Our venue host for the day Nikki (@NikkiHillApothcary on Instagram who blends some amazing teas – amongst other amazing things – including a wonderful White Peony Tea!!!) was trying to take a photo of some granola, after 40 minutes she was still going, so much faffing.  Good faffing though, as the setting of the photo is so important. I haven’t even started on flat lays, light, white or dark boards and camera settings, ISO and aperture! It really is a minefield, one that with careful consideration, can be easily navigated. Time and patience will only tell, time to improve, time to set the scene. Have I captured it my latest photo. I will leave that to your careful consideration.

At least, for now I have come away from ‘auto’.

It was a great day, especially when i’ve saved up for the lovely, new, all singing-all-dancing camera 😀

And now for cake……

As this weeks sun disappears, Gluten Free Rhubarb, Orange and Gin Layer Cake.

In 3 parts – roasted fruit, cake making and fool making.

Pre heat the oven to gas 4! 180c! 165c fan, line 2×7” cake tins with greaseproof.

  • 1 orange
  • 3 sticks rhubarb
  • 50ml gin – I used Tiger Gin
  • 4 eggs
  • 200ml vegetable oil
  • 200g gluten free self raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 150g low or no fat yoghurt
  • 20g icing sugar

Firstly zest the orange and set aside.

Then remove the skin from the orange and cut the orange into segments. Squeeze the juice from what is left of the orange and reserve this. Cut one stick of rhubarb in half – trim the end and cut into 2 pieces. Cut these 2 pieces into 4 long pieces and place these with orange segments and 10ml of Tiger Gin, onto a baking tray and roast for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Take the remaining rhubarb stalks, trim top and bottoms and chop into bite size pieces, place into a small saucepan, with 20ml gin, and additional tablespoon of caster sugar and half of the orange peel. Cover the saucepan and cook gently over a medium heat until the rhubarb is soft, this could take 5 – 10 minutes. Leave to cool in the saucepan for use later in the fool.

Whilst the fruit is cooling, time to make the cake.

Place the eggs, gluten free flour, Caster and brown sugars, orange zest and half the orange juice, vegetable oil, ginger into a large mixing bowl (I used my table top mixer with a whisk attachment) and whisk for about 4/5 minutes until fully combined, light and fluffy. Equally pour the batter into the 2 tins and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Before removing from the tins.

When the cake has cooled, you can make the fool. Alternatively you could make the fool, when the cake is in the oven and leave the fool in the fridge until the cake is cold.

Using your whisk (table top or hand-held), whisk the cream, yoghurt, 20ml gin, icing sugar until light, stiff and fluffy. Stir into this the stewed rhubarb.

Cut each cake through the middle, horizontally, so that you have 4 slices of cake. Place the first slice of cake onto your cake stand and cover with rhubarb fool, take the next slice of cake and repeat. Covering the top layer with fool and then the sides to finish. Decorate with the remaining roasted pieces of rhubarb and orange.

Sit comfortable with a cup of tea or a Tiger Gin and Tonic

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Our recent gluten free journey and a cake

We’ve had an interesting few weeks in Cake Towers. Our day jobs continue to develop, challenge and lead us in directions that help shape us. Outside of this, Noah and his sister continue to inspire and challenge us and the way we approach our routines. I certainly cannot remember being as challenging when I was younger! The world changes and we must change with it.

I have mentioned before about the short sightedness of some food companies not catering for children with Coeliac Disease, but slowly, very slowly this is changing. It means families can eat as families, they can eat from the same (just about) menu and enjoy some much needed family time. It’s been a short, welcome breath, of fresh air. So what have we been up to?

Firstly a family birthday gathering at The Ickworth Hotel, just outside Bury St Edmunds, allowed Noah to have a gluten free afternoon tea. To see his little face light up, when the afternoon tea stand arrived with jam and ham gluten free sandwiches arrived, was a picture of joy. There was a ‘hold-your-breath’ moment though.  As I had booked the table over a month ago and despite reconfirming numbers the week before re-iterating the need for gluten free options for children, I never really knew (or believed) if one would turn up and what the quality would be like. But Noah was happy. Although my brownies and caramel shortbread are better. Naturally 😀😀

Then of course, good old Pizza Express. Our experiences in the main have been positive for Noah and this allows us, again, to eat as a family. Quite possibly the only restaurant where Noah feels comfortable, to not only eat, but to order his own meal – stressing ‘gluten free please’. Oddly though ‘no cheese’, he just doesn’t like it.  He’ll eat the lot – gluten free dough balls, gluten free pizza and non-gluten containing brownie. There is then the nervous wait the following day, waiting to see if the processes in place are safe. On this occasion, we were trouble free. Thank you Pizza Express.

I also baked a cake.  I am trying this year to bake and share more ‘cake’ recipes rather than oddments of muffins, cupcakes and other such tray bakes.  But if I conjure up something worth sharing – it will share it.

Pre heat the oven to Gas 4, 180c, 165c fan and line 2 x 7″ cake tins.

For the cake;

  • 4 large eggs
  • 190g vegetable oil
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 200g gluten free self raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 teaspoons instant coffee powder dissolved into 4 tablespoons of hot water and allowed to cool

This is quite simple – put all the ingredients into your mixing bowl (I used my table top mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk on high speed for about 3 – 4 minutes until you have a mixed that is fully mixed and has gained volume. Separate this batter mixture between the 2 tins – roughly 400g in each – and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until an inserted dry skewer comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the tins, before turning out and cooling completely on a wire rack.

For the filling/topping – a simple butter cream;

  • 60ml coffee liqueur – or more/less dependant on taste (optional)
  • 200g soft butter
  • 380g icing sugar
  • 20g cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 30g milk – I used semi skimmed

For the initial cake covering and remaining covering – mix up the cinnamon frosting – beat 150g of soft butter until light, stir in 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 300g icing sugar and 20g milk. Mix this until it comes together and then continue to beat in a hand mixer until your frosting is fully mixed in and spreadable.

Lay out the 2 pieces of cake and drizzle 30ml of coffee liquerer on to each piece.

Place 1 piece of cake (liqueur drizzled side up) onto your cake stand/decorating table and spread the cinnamon buttercream in to cover. Place the other cake on top (liquerer side up again) spread and cover the cake with a thin layer of buttercream.  Smooth out and leave in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to firm up.

Whilst this is in the fridge, make the chocolate buttercream by beating the remaining 50g of soft butter until its light and then mixing in the 20g cocoa and remaining icing sugar and milk. Beat until its light and fluffy and pipable.

Remove the cake from the fridge and spread the bottom half with most of the chocolate buttercream – retaining some for piping.  Finish off decorating the cake with the remaining cinnamon icing.  You could – as I have – finish off with a drizzle of melted chocolate (100g) and some piped chocolate buttercream.

As this is made with vegetable oil, it will last a little longer than if it was made with butter – around 3 days.  The cinnamon buttercream does intensify a little, but not too much.