This past week has been fairly full on. With the youngest member of the family on half term, my days were filled with boys and den building and lego. With the older two still at school and college we were not a properly holiday-ish household so routine had to co-exist with mayhem. In addition I had a grant application for three years funding to complete and I’d promised Supernurse some cakes to taste by Saturday.
I’ve made it to Sunday, my den-building skills have improved massively, the grant application is finished, and yesterday was a 3 cake day. So far there have been three sponge mixtures tested. The first, which I’ll call the ‘Oh my goodness this cake is amazing’ sponge has not been tasted by the bride to be yet. We just keep telling her how good it was. It was from the recipe I shared in this post . It did taste amazing but it was quite a faff to make, so I’ve not done it again. The second cake was tested on Monday this week and is detailed here . It was referred to by various testers as ‘delicious’, ‘unexpected’, ‘looks like a Costco cake’ and ‘it tastes of stale bread.’ The person who made the stale bread comment went on to eat approximately 1/3 of the cake so I guess they like stale bread. I decided to go for a third sponge yesterday and used a favourite Buttermilk sponge from Nigella Lawson’s ‘book, How to be a Domestic Goddess’. You can find the recipe online here . It is a great cake. Delicious, light but firm enough to hold layers.
I made two different versions of sponge yesterday – lemon and raspberry and passion fruit and lime, and also a tiered chocolate cake. 3 hours 15 mins start to finish ( with a return to some washing up this morning).
Supernurse came over and we sat down for cake testing. I love how seriously we are taking it. First we have to have a good pot of tea, nice mugs, plates and forks at the ready. We lay the table with the cakes in the centre, and then, as the bride-to-be, Supernurse chooses which we try first. We make sure that we test a proper slice of each, because you really can’t judge the goodness of cake from just a mouthful, and it would be wrong to try. Important to stress at this point that it’s all about flavour and texture. Decorations are randomly assigned and icing is in the testing period too. That said, the decoration may never get any better because I am not the artist in the family. Supernurse is fully ok with that. Like me she’s a ‘but does it taste good’ person. Our combined attitudes would probably mean that the wedding cakes tasted amazing but looked like a dog’s dinner. Fortunately, my husband, who we’ll call ‘the tall Australian’, has strong views on cake and decoration. He had particularly strong views on the sponges yesterday. I think he is pickier than Supernurse and myself ,who were pretty much agreed that every piece of cake we’ve eaten so far is more than up to the task of being a wedding cake. I think we’ll have to give him the job of decorative consultant.
We progressed through the three we had. I went light on my chocolate cake slice because it’s my favourite chocolate cake – my Mum’s all-in-one recipe (which I will share on another occasion), and I know it is good, but I fully committed to proper tasting and testing of the other two. Final verdict is that I’m there on the flavours and Supernurse is happy with whichever sponge I want to go with, although she’s really curious to taste the first and faffiest, so I will make it for her at some point, even if it doesn’t make it to her wedding.
I’m pausing from cakes as I’m heading to Moldova this week. If you know where that is you are a much more geography savvy person than me. My daughter went last year, and we had to look it up. I confess that I’d forgotten exactly where it’s placed in Europe (big clue right there) until a few days ago when I looked at the map to check. It is bordered by Ukraine and Romania and is the poorest country in Europe.
We will stay in the capital city Chisinau, with a friend who works for the organisation ‘Operation Mobilisation’. They have been active in Moldova since the fall of communism in the region, working in job creation, as there is and was, very little employment. Due to the lack of jobs many people of working age leave the country which means that there is a population of elderly people looking after children. We hope to visit the family my daughter stayed with last year, as well as helping out at a day centre for children and taking part in a day retreat for girls who’ve been able to to get out of sex work (trafficking is a huge issue in the region). I don’t really know what to expect, but I am looking forward to a time of adventure but also (hopefully) some breathing and soul space, and a window on a very different part of the world to my own. I don’t know if cakes are much of a thing in Moldova but you can be sure if they are I’ll try them.
It’s been a while since I’ve had any travel adventures so I’m pretty excited about it. Here’s to a week of new experiences and less baking!