Cake

CAKE

I’ve been watching the Great British Baking Show, which has to be addictive somehow. Did they get sugar over the airwaves straight to my veins?

I got so involved with the techniques, the bakes, the people, the judges that I searched Netflix and Prime Video for last season, found it, and binge-watched for hours. Then bought a $30 book that came from this season’s contest, only to discover that all the ingredients are measured in (shudder) milliliters. So how many ounces to 600 ml of milk?

Finally, I decided that my old lift mixer wasn’t good enough. I wanted a tilt mixer like the ones on the show. Mysteriously, just as I thought what a good thing it would be to have a tilt mixer, Amazon messaged me about a Gold Box special for one. Amazon is mind-reading now. Now that’s powerful marketing!

Jim bought it for me. Bless him. Although I think he knew there’d be cake in his future.

From Google, I found an American measurement recipe for chocolate sponge glazed with ganache. I do not bake often, but as I said, Jim will eat anything sweet that I make. Sponge came out perfectly. Ganache – despite my worries due to past failures – came out amazingly perfect.

Except that when I tried to take the sponge out of the half sheet pan, it broke into pieces. Color me disappointed! My visions of a many layered cake filled with ganache and raspberry jam (seedless) were dashed.

Darn. I would have tossed the whole thing in the trash, but Jim took the pieces of sponge and layered them in a bowl topped with ganache.

How was it? Achingly sweet.

Next I tried an almond sponge. I am a little suspicious of recipes that start off with two sticks of butter and six eggs, but okay. The recipe said to bake for 45 to 60 minutes in a ten-inch spring-form pan. After 75 minutes I took it out of the oven. The middle seemed a bit jiggly, but the toothpick test turned out okay.

But, when I turned it over, I had cake soup instead of cake. Jim stopped me as I went to throw it away.

“Just put it back in the oven for a while,” he suggested. “What can it hurt? You were going to toss it, and this way, it has a chance.”

Despite my suspicions about his motives – my Jim really likes his cake – I did as he suggested.

Another half-hour later, the cake was done and very, very brown. Again, no layers, but the white chocolate ganache turned out well. Our Thanksgiving dessert.

Happy holiday to everyone. Wonder what I’ll be baking for Christmas?

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Victorian Dreams

My dream garden includes a greenhouse a la the Victorian structures of wood, brick, and glass found in gardening magazines. Starting price $25,000. Surrounded by a parterre, brick walkways, and lush flowers. Interspersed by statuary of angels and fairies. Hmmm… not on my budget.

Instead I’ve been considering the mini greenhouses in catalogs and on Amazon. Looking over my shoulder, Jim said, “Oh I can make you that.”

And indeed, he did.

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The goal for this makeshift greenhouse is to over-winter my blueberries in pots. You may remember that our soil here in Kansas has a high pH, making acid-loving blueberries difficult if not impossible to grow and fruit. Pots filled with a soilless mixture might work, if I can keep the pots from freezing this winter.

The blueberries will take a lot of cold. Not so with the dipladenia that I want to keep alive this winter. I just don’t want to bring it in the house. First, I have no room. Second, I have a very low light situation, excellent for growing my African Violets, poor for the usual light hungry tropical. Will this plant survive the winter?

The polypropylene wrap that we used promises protection down to about 8 degrees Fahrenheit. Will it get colder than that? Possibly. But I can go out and wrap pots in blankets if it does. Will a tropical plant that does poorly when it’s less than 40 degrees survive. Uh, doubtful. But we’ll give it a try!

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One of the fun parts of the greenhouse is the old window Jim used as a roof. When we first thought of this project, we looked at photos of window greenhouses. Cute! But have you seen the prices of old windows these days?

We picked up a couple for less than $10 apiece – a steal, trust me – and Jim created a lift-able roof, allowing air to circulate.

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“It’s crooked,” Jim said when we were all done getting it in place. Maybe so. It sits on a patio that we (he) built so that it slants away from the house for drainage. The window roof faces the southeast. It’s protected from the wind on three sides.

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It’s not a Victorian greenhouse, but for my purposes, it will do!