Saturday, 4 December 2010

Smug, me?

Was it only last week I was avoiding making pastry? And here I am all self-satisfied and smug, whipping up a batch in between other jobs.

I've made about 9 batches of mince pies this week. I'd done them with butter rather than Stork as per Judith's recipe because that's what I had in. I am a MASSIVE fan of butter, I think it is utterly delicious. That probably explains some of my girth, I expect. However, I am swapping to vegetable fat for pastry now we've done the shopping as it gives a slightly crisper pastry.

My mincemeat of choice is Rachel Allen's recipe in Bake which I made last year by the vat and am still using up. It's really easy and very tasty; the shop bought ones taste a little naff by comparison.

For all non-mince-pie related activities this week, it's been cookies, more Christmas cakes and egg free cake. I get a bit antsy about egg free cake. It isn't as structurally sound, it goes stale quickly and it doesn't have quite the same mouth-feel (pseud's corner, I know. But true anyway). I know some people require it for religious or moral reasons but, having 7 lazy cosseted hens in the garden, I feel free range hens do have a pretty good time of it and the eggs are wonderful. But it's not my call - it's up to the customer. Hell, I won't eat meat so I'm hardly in a position to comment on other people's dietary restrictions.

After some mixed results I tried this recipe. It's egg-free but not dairy free so it suits my Hindu customer and my egg-allergic pals but isn't suitable for vegans. It's a bit weird to make - basically you're making a sort of condensed-milk-alike solution by simmering sugar, syrup, milk and butter together, then stirring the dry ingredients in. I baked it for 25-30 minutes in a 20cm square tin. It would have done as a low traybake but I added a second layer with a chocolate ganache in the middle layer.

It was very good. Not overly sweet and very rich (110 grams of cocoa will do that) but the icing and ganache helped with that.

So, eggless cakes which used to make me so nervous are now easy peasy and I'm confident with the whole mince pie thing. Smug, me?